September 3, 2019
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Final public hearing on LNG plant in Tacoma sees plenty of public comment

AWB President Kris Johnson testified last week in support of Puget Sound Energy’s liquified natural gas (LNG) facility on the Tacoma tideflats. The project, which will bring significant environmental and economic benefits, is under construction and needs final permit approval before it can be completed.

The project will reduce emissions from maritime vessels, allowing them to be converted from using bunker fuel to clean LNG. It will also add resiliency to the region's natural gas network, giving homes and businesses a dependable fuel source on the coldest days.

Opponents of the project, including members of the Puyallup Tribe, said the region should not be adding new fossil fuel infrastructure, even if it's much cleaner than the fuel being used today. Supporters of the project said that in this case, a theoretical and unavailable perfect energy supply in the future is the enemy of the good solutions actually available today.

“One day, we know that renewable energy will replace fossil fuels and the shipping industry. Unfortunately, that day is not today,” said Clare Petrich, president of the Port of Tacoma Commission. “Our industry is working hard to reach those points. ... In the meantime we face the choice: Wait 30 years for new technology to become available or act now on an interim solution that, while imperfect, is a step in the right direction... To those who oppose this project I ask, if not this, then what?”

Puget Sound Energy senior vice president of policy and energy supply David Mills said his company is building the LNG plant to ensure reliable energy to its customers and to decrease their carbon footprint.

“I was part of the team that brought the first LNG-powered ships into the market,” TOTE Maritime vice president of operations Chris Rye said. TOTE, based in Jacksonville, Fla., has two ships there that run on LNG. He said that has added jobs to the area and improved the environment. “That success story I personally seek here in Tacoma,” he said.

Learn more about the project at

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Big Changes

Employers need to prepare for new noncompete laws

By Tim O'Connell of Stoel Rives

During the last legislative session, Washington took significant steps to limit noncompetition agreements for employees in the state and prohibit employer policies that ban moonlighting, impacting not only an important part of many local companies' strategies to protect their market position, but also employee loyalty.

The new state statute regarding noncompetition agreements and moonlighting policies demands attention from Washington employers...

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, employers that utilize noncompetition agreements need to carefully evaluate whether those agreements will meet the new state standards. If not, employers should revoke or revise those agreements prior to the effective date...

Properly structured noncompetition agreements and properly based policies regarding moonlighting are valid. Employers must, however, address these new limitations, sooner rather than later.

Read the full column in The Puget Sound Business Journal