May 20, 2019
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Employers and farmers applaud EPA for restoring Washington's 2016 water quality rules



The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed with AWB, the Washington Farm Bureau and other employer groups that the EPA was wrong to reject water-quality standards in 2016 developed by the state Department of Ecology.

EPA Regional Administrator Chris Hladick sent a letter to Washington Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon explaining his agency's reversal, saying that human-health protections proposed by Bellon's agency in 2016 will have the federal approval that was denied during the final year of the Obama administration.

However, Gov. Jay Inslee's administration no longer supports the standards that his administration submitted in the summer of 2016, Jerry Cornfield writes.

In a reversal, the Inslee administration is now threatening to sue to overturn the EPA's support of the water quality standards that the Inslee administration wrote and submitted for approval three years ago.

AWB, the Washington Farm Bureau, the Northwest Pulp and Paper Association, the American Forest and Paper Association, Greater Spokane Inc., the Treated Wood Council, the Western Wood Preservers Institute and the Utility Water Act Group petitioned the EPA to change its November 2016 decision and uphold the water quality standards that had been developed in Washington.

Rules that the EPA set up for stricter regulation of water quality in the final days of the Obama administration were “outright unattainable. We can’t find the technology to meet them,” said Chris McCabe, executive director of the Northwest Pulp and Paper Association.

Now, the EPA, under the Trump administration, says that the state of Washington got it right in 2016 after all.

However, Inslee, Bellon and Attorney General Bob Ferguson are now saying the EPA has no legal mechanism to overturn its earlier decision.

“I am prepared to defend Washington State and our residents against overreach by EPA,” Ferguson wrote. “As you are likely aware, my office has filed 10 lawsuits against EPA since January 2017. We are 5-0 in these cases.”

Expect more legal action and uncertainty for the months or years ahead.

For more on water quality issues, contact Peter Godlewski, AWB government affairs director for environmental and water quality.



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Housing Forum
Moving Backward


Gov. Inslee is wrong to flip-flop on liquefied natural-gas facility in Tacoma

By The Seatte Times Editorial Board

Gov. Jay Inslee is doing an outstanding job staying on message in his presidential campaign, making climate change his signature issue and a focus of the primaries.

But Inslee went too far last week when he pulled support for a project in Tacoma that will cut emissions and create jobs.

Early in his governorship, Inslee championed the Tacoma liquefied natural-gas (LNG) facility. That pragmatic, nuanced approach provided certainty for local companies to commit more than $500 million to a project that will substantially reduce emissions from ships sailing between Puget Sound and Alaska.

That stance no longer jibes with the current mantra of his far-left environmental base, which now advocates for halting additional fossil-fuel consumption. It also had put Inslee in conflict with one of the state's wealthiest tribes, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, which opposed the project.

Moving goal posts late in the game may discourage companies from innovating and investing in cleaner ways of doing business, at least in Washington....

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
A New Challenge for Border Towns


Lawmakers changed the sales tax exemption. Will Oregon residents still want to shop Tri-Cities?

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

Of all the new, last-minute tax measures approved by the Legislature two weeks ago, one in particular likely will cause headaches for Mid-Columbia retailers in coming months.

Oregon residents will no longer get a sales tax exemption right away at a Tri-Cities checkout counter.

Thanks to ESSB 5997, out-of-state shoppers will have to pay the sales tax upfront, save their receipts and file for a one-time, yearly reimbursement from the state of Washington.

They will qualify only if the amount they are requesting exceeds $25.

Clay Hill, government affairs director for the Association of Washington Business, said approval of ESSB 5997 was "especially disheartening" because there was a unified voice of opposition by business and retail organizations.

Democratic lawmakers are betting they will raise $53 million for a two-year budget from out-of-state shoppers who don't turn in their paperwork or who don't meet the $25 minimum threshold.

But it is the border communities that will pay the biggest price for the tax grab, and it isn't right to put the burden primarily on the edges of the state.

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald
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