Justin Wight, an independent consultant working for the recently formed North Coast Railroad Company, LLC, says the corporation’s plans have been misrepresented.
“It’s not as it has been made to appear to most people,” he told the Outpost in a phone interview Monday.
Our conversation with Wight came on the heels of a story in the Salt Lake Tribune that reveals details of a March conference call between government officials in Utah, Wiyot Tribal Administrator Michelle Vassel, two representatives of the coal industry and Wight himself.
Vassel previously denied to the Outpost that the tribe had received or accepted any proposals related to coal, and U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman said she’d told him the same thing, “unequivocally” denying that the tribe would support this rail line takeover effort.
The email suggests otherwise. “Both Justin [Wight] and Michelle [Vassel] stated there is strong local support for revitalizing the harbor and port operations,” it says. “Michelle mentioned she would expect some, but not overwhelming opposition to the project.”
Numerous calls and emails to Vassel over the past few weeks have not been returned.
The Humboldt Bay Harbor District is already preparing to take action to block their plan. Harbor Commissioner Stephen Kullmann said he’s not sure if the board will pass an ordinance or take some other approach, but he’s working on something that will have “as much teeth as possible,” he said.
Kullmann said the mysterious project backers “seem to have the idea that they can do it without any local buy-in, that they can force their will through. I highly doubt they’ll be able to do that.”
McGuire reiterated his determination to block the project. “We will fight this at every level and make damn sure this ridiculous idea goes away,” he said.