Federal Announcement Underscores Problems with State Environmental Reviews
OLYMPIA – Today’s announcement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reaffirms what business, labor and agriculture leaders have been saying for months: the state’s environmental-review process for export terminals is a dramatic overreach.
Leaders of Keep Washington Competitive today voiced renewed concerns about the state Department of Ecology’s plan to expand drastically the scope of the state’s environmental policy act (SEPA) process. The statement follows an announcement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reiterating that the federal government will pursue a narrower, more reasonable and practical process, used in past project reviews, for proposed export terminals.
“The U.S. Army Corp’s decision underscores that Washington’s proposed global environmental-review process is both unnecessary and inefficient,” said Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business (AWB). “Altering Washington’s long-standing and effective process for trade-related projects increases uncertainty for businesses and communities, and will complicate major trade investments at a critical time for our region. Washington state is one of the most trade-dependent states in the nation. Having a reliable, predictable system is essential to our state’s ability to be competitive.”
Ecology’s latest decision creates more questions than it answers. Keep Washington Competitive members want to know:
- What is the timeline to complete reviews and studies for these and other projects? Is there one, or are projects captive to the whim of state preferences?
- What are the substantive differences between other major projects and this one, which already has taken two years, with no end in sight? How are investors to make their decisions given the arbitrary nature of DOE's focus?
“There needs to be a fair, balanced, science-based, EIS process that’s predictable,” said Mike Elliott, Spokesman for the Washington State Legislative Board - Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen. “If the state can pick and choose which projects receive expanded-scope reviews and which do not, based on type of commodity, that’s not a fair process. It’s certain to have a negative impact on job opportunities, our economy, and our reputation as an international trade leader.”
About Keep Washington Competitive
Keep Washington Competitive includes a diverse group of community leaders from business, labor, agriculture and other trade-related entities to combat unprecedented new regulations that will devastate Washington State’s trade industry. The coalition works to raise awareness of the broad regulatory changes of the expanded State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) – an overreach that threatens the future of Washington’s workers, undermines the health of the state’s economy and diminishes Washington’s reputation as a trade leader.