Today at the Port of Bellingham, U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) announced his support for Bellingham’s bid to be the new site for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Marine Operations Center Pacific (MOC-P). This fall, NOAA began the process of identifying and assessing future sites for the facility, which is currently located in Seattle. Larsen was joined at the Port today by Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike, Port of Bellingham Executive Director Jim Darling, Dean of Western Washington University’s Huxley College Brad Smith and All American Marine CFO Del McAlpine. Larsen released the following statement:
“I am here today to announce that I stand with you, the Port and City of Bellingham, Western Washington University, and the Whatcom County community in support of Bellingham as a new home and a new beginning for NOAA.
“After carefully considering the merits of Bellingham’s case, I have come to the conclusion that NOAA belongs in Bellingham.
“As NOAA begins the process of evaluating future sites for the Marine Operations Center, now is the time to take a stand and make our case.
“NOAA has a blank slate to make this decision and will evaluate each site on its merits. Ports in and around Washington state will throw their hats in the ring. Our task is to make it clear to NOAA what we already know -- that Bellingham offers the best new beginning for this important facility.
“The Port of Bellingham has put us in an excellent position to offer NOAA a new home. Bellingham offers flexibility, with piers and facilities that can be improved and expanded to meet NOAA’s needs.
“A Bellingham-based NOAA facility would build partnerships and take advantage of research and education opportunities offered by Western Washington University and other area schools.
“Finally, Bellingham offers NOAA tremendous community support, a strong marine trades industry, and a skilled labor pool.
“As the Representative for not only Whatcom County, but all of Northwest Washington, I am excited about this and other opportunities to bring new assets and new ships to Northwest Washington ports.
“After careful consideration, in my mind there is only one answer for NOAA -- Bellingham.”