Toppenish, Wash. — On behalf of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, the Yakama Tribal Council Chairman, JoDe Goudy, issued the following statement regarding Washington State Department of Ecology’s denial of the Millennium Bulk Terminal coal export project’s permit. The following may be quoted in part or in full.
“Yesterday, the Department of Ecology acknowledged—among other things—the significant and unavoidable harm coal export projects like the Millennium Bulk Terminal have on tribal resources. As a result of the harm this project would have on the environment, tribal rights, and people in particular, Washington State denied the 401 Water Permit Millennium Bulk Terminals sought. Without that permit Millennium will be unable to continue with its goal of constructing a major international coal export hub and transforming the Columbia River and our Ceded Lands into a coal superhighway.
The Yakama people have fished, hunted, gathered, and practiced our religion and culture in and along the Columbia River since time immemorial. The waters of the river and the lands surrounding it are sacred to us. They are critical to our people and our culture’s survival. Our ancestors fought to protect these waters and lands, and we continue their fight today for our people and for those who are yet to come.
We thank Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon for this decision, and we celebrate this victory today. We thank Columbia Riverkeeper for their ongoing work in the struggle to protect the Columbia River. Thank you to our sister tribes who have stood side-by-side with us through this ongoing fight. Indeed, this is a victory, but tomorrow is a new day, so we must stay vigilant. We have a duty to speak for those things that cannot speak for themselves. We will not rest until the threats against our people, our waters, and our ways of life are no more. The Yakamas will continue to fulfill our duty as long as we must.”