Tag: Jay Inslee
The regulatory agencies joining forces on the environmental study of the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export pier have issued a report summarizing the comments received on the scope of that study.
UPDATE: The comments from federal and state agencies may be of special interest. With few exceptions, those agencies join environmentalists in calling for a sweeping scope of study for this terminal. Those comments begin on p. 81.
The Washington Department of Commerce is the only such agency aligning itself firmly with Gateway Pacific’s backers on climate change issues. The Commerce comment letter asks that regulatory agencies not establish “new precedents under state law that would unduly burden a wide variety of future projects,” and not allow this and other projects “to serve as proxies for bigger debates such as how best to reduce global reliance on fossil fuels.”
Commerce also wants the environmental impact statement to do a thorough job of adding up the economic benefits from the project.
But Commerce also calls for a wide-ranging review of possible negative impacts on property values near the rails, the economic impact of rail crossing delays “for the Puget Sound region and beyond.”
Commerce also suggests that public costs to improve those rail crossings should be subtracted from additions to public revenue.
Commerce’s Jan. 22, 2013 letter is signed by Rogers Weed, the executive director appointed by former Gov. Chris Gregoire. Brian Bonlender, Gov. Inslee’s former chief of staff in Congress was appointed by Inslee to replace Weed. Bonlender took over Commerce’s top post on Feb. 1.
The Washington Department of Agriculture, whose leaders had expressed some enthusiasm for Gateway Pacific as a possible export outlet for wheat, expresses misgivings in a comment letter. Agriculture’s letter calls for an analysis of the project’s impacts on rail traffic throughout the state, especially as increased demands on rail capacity might affect the availability of rail for crops that are already reliant on access to a share of that capacity.
Agriculture officials also want study of possible disruption of rail links to existing agricultural ports, and how changes in air and water quality could affect agriculture.
The document made public April 1, 2013 is a summary of comments, not the key decision on what the scope of the environmental impact statement for Gateway Pacific will be. The summary says that decision will be made “in the near future.” I have asked for (but will not necessarily get) some specific information on what “near” means in this context.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Washington Department of Ecology, and Whatcom County Planning Department are pooling their resources to develop a single environmental impact statement to analyze how SSA Marine’s proposed Cherry Point terminal will affect the environment, and what steps would need to be taken to compensate for (mitigate) any negative effects.
Opponents of the terminal have argued that the environmental impact statement must study global and regional impacts, not just local ones. Global impacts would include climate change and its associated ills (rising sea level, ocean acidification) from the burning of exported coal in China. Gov. Jay Inslee recently joined Oregon Gov. Jon Kitzhaber in calling for such a review by the federal government.
Regional impacts would include the possible disruptions from increased rail traffic from Cherry Point to the mines in the Powder River basin of Wyoming and Montana. The terminal would attract an estimated nine loaded trains per day–trains that would pass through Bellingham and Ferndale on their way to Cherry Point. They would return empty along the same route.
During recent hearings on Bellingham waterfront development, many commenters expressed fears that waterfront revitalization efforts would be hamstrung by the railroad tracks that slice through the old Georgia-Pacific Corp. mill site.
But the business interests and labor unions backing Gateway Pacific have argued that an environmental impact statement that is too broad and comprehensive would be unfair, setting a precedent that could harm other proposals. They characterize a review of global impacts as “bureaucracy.”
Backers of the Gateway Pacific Terminal project and other proposed Northwest coal export facilities have been quick to react after the governors of Washington and Oregon asked federal regulators to consider greenhouse gas emissions and other global impacts as those projects get review.
The governors, Jay Inslee of Washington and Jon Kitzhaber of Oregon, sent this letter to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality Thursday, March 25, asking that council to give broad scrutiny to the projects.
“We believe the decisions to continue and expand coal leasing from federal lands and authorize the export of that coal are likely to lead to long-term investments in coal generation in Asia, with air quality and climate impacts in the United States that dwarf those of almost any other action the federal government could take in the foreseeable future,” the governors’ letter states.
But business, union and agriculture leaders making up the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports have expressed opposition to the governors’ stance. They argue that the “expanded regulation” the governors want would set a precedent that would affect other projects and cause economic harm.
The argument seems to be that the economic benefits of exporting U.S. coal as a cheap power source for China and other Asian countries outweigh any potential negative impacts to global climate or human health. If that is the argument, why not subject that argument to both economic and environmental scrutiny before permits are granted?
Some coal export backers (such as Brian Schweitzer, former Montana governor) have argued that the Northwest terminals won’t have any measurable impact on coal burning in China: Denied U.S. coal, the Chinese will get and burn the same amount of coal from other sources. ( Read Schweitzer’s arguments here.)
If that argument has merit, advocates of coal exports should be able to offer evidence for it during the environmental impact statement process — if these broader questions are included in the scope of that process.
That is why the upcoming decisions on scope-of-study are crucial. Will local, state and federal regulators take on these global questions, as Inslee and Kitzhaber and thousands of local residents prefer? Or will they decide that the law requires them to stick closer to Whatcom County and its environs, focusing on Cherry Point eelgrass beds, ship and rail traffic, etc.? We shall see.
Here is the full text of the rebuttal to Inslee and Kitzhaber from the Alliance For Northwest Jobs and Exports:
SEATTLE, Wash. – Labor and business leaders responded forcefully to the call from Governors of Oregon and Washington for expanded federal review in the approval of coal export projects in the Northwest. They reiterated strong support for the proposed bulk export terminals and expressed concern over the precedent that expanded regulation would have on future exports from the Northwest.
The governors wrote a joint letter to the Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) urging that it undertake a thorough review of greenhouse gas emissions and other air quality impacts prior to any final decisions on coal export projects. Three proposed projects are currently undergoing rigorous government environmental impact assessments in the Northwest. If approved, these port projects would expand trade and exports to Asia and the rest of the world, contributing to the regional economy in addition to creating thousands of good family-wage jobs at these facilities.
“Just last week the U.S. Senate voted to oppose any new requirement or regulation that federal agencies account for greenhouse gas emissions in their analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Such a requirement could be particularly damaging to the Northwest, where trade and exports are so vital to the local economy,” said Lauri Hennessey, spokeswoman for the trade advocacy group the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports, which represents nearly 400,000 workers and 46,000 businesses.
“We have always been and remain committed to making these projects a reality,” said Mike Elliott, Spokesman for the Washington State Legislative Board of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET). “We will continue working with the Oregon and Washington Governors towards the best outcome for these multi-commodity facilities.”
“This is déjà vu all over again,” said John Stuhlmiller, CEO of the Washington Farm Bureau. “We saw this kind of intervention when the CEQ stepped in 20 years ago on the issue of federal timber harvests in the Northwest. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now. Tying GHG emissions to export projects is a bad idea and an ineffective policy for addressing the Governor’s climate policy objectives. It sets a precedent that could be used to slow or stop exports of agriculture and other bulk commodities – hurting our trade economy.”
“Existing federal law requires exhaustive environmental review of development projects to ensure that our environment is protected,” said Don Brunell, president of the Association of Washington Business. “In addition, Washington has some of the most stringent environmental standards in the nation and every project must meet or exceed those standards in order to go forward. Imposing additional, unwarranted and unnecessary regulatory burdens in an attempt to derail a particular project would set a dangerous precedent that will jeopardize our state’s economic future,” Brunell added. “We continue to support a balanced approach that ensures both environmental protection and economic opportunity.”
“Virtually every product we export, from cars to turbines to planes to grains, has an environmental impact,” said Ross Eisenberg , vice president of energy and resources policy for the National Association of Manufacturers. “The already-too-long permitting process for new projects–a process that takes on average 3.4 years–would become completely unmanageable if the law were expanded to require the type of review the two governors are now seeking.”
Trade and exports have played a central role in the Washington and Oregon economies for decades. One in four jobs in the region is tied to the trade industry, which annually produces hundreds of millions in tax revenues. Economic studies show the private investment proposed for five new bulk export terminals would create thousands of new jobs and generate millions in additional tax revenue for schools and other services in Washington and Oregon.
“We disagree with this approach and believe current regulations ensure rigorous environmental review of each individual project. We will continue our efforts to make the case to Governors Inslee and Kitzhaber, as well as others, that these terminal projects are good for our region and can be done right,” said Hennessey.
(End press release)
By John Stark
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has joined Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber in calling for a broad environmental review of global impacts of coal export terminals proposed for Whatcom County and elsewhere, but he has stopped short of outright opposition to those terminals.
Inslee and Kitzhaber used strong language in a letter to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality:
“We believe the decisions to continue and expand coal leasing from federal lands and authorize the export of that coal are likely to lead to long-term investments in coal generation in Asia, with air quality and climate impacts in the United States that dwarf those of almost any other action the federal government could take in the foreseeable future,” their letter said in part. “For these reasons, we urge the CEQ in the strongest possible terms to undertake and complete a thorough examination of the greenhouse gas and other air quality effects of continued coal leasing and export before the U.S. and its partners make irretrievable long-term investments in expanding this trade.”
The letter to the federal council was released Monday, March 25. At the same time, Inslee also released a letter to Maia Bellon, director of the Washington Department of Ecology, stressing that no decision has been made on coal terminal projects, and the Department of Ecology should continue its assessment of their environmental impacts as the law requires.
That letter has received less attention.
Key excerpt in Inslee’s letter to Bellon: “I emphasize in the letter (to the federal environmental council) that no final decisions have been made on the applications for state permits for the proposed coal export facilities that would be located in our state. Washington state must remain committed to a rigorous, fair and objective process to review these applications, within the scope of our laws. I know you share this commitment and will execute your regulatory role accordingly.”
By John Stark
Will the Obama administration allow the state of Washington to overturn federal law by referendum?
That’s one question overshadowing the controversy over how the federal government should respond to the state vote that decriminalized recreational marijuana possession — while directing state officials to set up a system to enable state residents to buy the stuff legally too.
The AP reports that Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson emerged from a Tuesday, Jan. 22 meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder saying that they heard nothing to dissuade them from moving ahead to implement the law that this state’s voters approved last November.
Inslee als0 made it clear that Holder listened, but did not talk. As yet, there has been no indication of how the feds will react when and if the state sets up a marijuana sales system n the state.
A lot of people are deeply committed to the legalization of drugs, for a variety of reasons.
But aside from the specifics of that issue, this case raises larger legal and constitutional problems. Can Holder and his boss allow a state to set aside a federal law by initiative? Before you answer yes, stop to think about how other states might wish to apply this principle.
If Obama accepts the principle on marijuana, he will have a harder time rejecting it when hostile states pass initiatives blocking the individual health care mandate, greenhouse gas emission controls, and so forth.
MORE INFO: A Seattle law group is using its website to advertise its expertise in marijuana law, including the new pot initiative 502. Among other things, Canna Law Group notes that it sued the city of Bellingham in an (unsuccessful) effort to block prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries.
The law group offers this disclaimer: “Please be mindful that possessing, using, distributing and selling marijuana are all federal crimes and neither the forms we provide you nor any legal advice we give you are intended to assist you in violating federal law nor will they in any way assist you in complying with federal law.”
By John Stark
Washington state residents had to wait three whole days after the Nov. 6 general election to find out for sure who their next governor will be, and a lot of people seem to find that kind of delay unacceptable.
I don’t know about you, but I slept quite well during this long statewide nightmare. My appetite was also not affected.
But it is a fact that this state’s election procedure is untypical. Around the nation, residents of many states still expect to take time off from work to wait in line at fire stations and schoolhouses to cast ballots that can be quickly tabulated on election night.
In other states with mail-in ballots, voters are required to mail early, because ballots that don’t arrive in the mail by election day are tossed. Procrastinators are disenfranchised.
In Washington state, if you can get an election day postmark on your envelope, you’re good. Election officials check the mail bag on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and beyond in search of ballots that must be counted. When a race is close–as in this year’s contest between Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna in the race for governor–the state’s residents live in a fog of uncertainty for days. Even worse, political reporters have to keep coming up with new versions of their “too close to call” story for each day’s edition.
Jason Mercier, Director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center, provides a roundup of election laws in other states, as well as a link to a roundup of newspaper editorials demanding reform.
“According to the National Association of Secretaries of State, the vast majority of states require mail-in ballots to actually be received by Election Day:
“In three states, absentee ballots must be returned prior to Election Day.
“In 36 states, absentee ballots must be returned by Election Day.
“In 11 states and the District of Columbia, additional time for the arrival of absentee ballots is provided after Election Day, as long as the absentee ballot is postmarked by Election Day.
Thanks for the info, Mr. Mercier.
What do you think? Washington state policies seem to be designed to maximize voter turnout. Is that more or less important that instant election night gratification?
I do think that in the Presidential race, a quick determination has value. Uncertainty about which party will control our nation’s highest office can have harmful effect on financial markets, foreign policy matters, and so forth.
If Washington ever evolves into a swing state in presidential politics, our voting system has the potential to drive the entire nation insane.
But I remain to be convinced that a few days of uncertainty about a governor’s race is hurting much of anything. Maybe I’m missing something.
As of this morning, the election turnout in Whatcom County is a robust 74 percent, and election officials estimate that thousands more remain to be counted.
By John Stark
Former Seattle Times reporter Bill Dietrich revisits the uproar over the Seattle Times’ decision to give free ad space to Rob McKenna, and uses that episode to make some observations about the seeming ineffectiveness of hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign spending.
If Dietrich is right, and voters are becoming increasingly immune to the caricatures, half-truths and empty patriotic symbolism of political advertising, that is good news for everybody. If he is right (and I’m not yet ready to declare that he is) then we can all stop worrying about Citizens United and amending the Constitution and all that.
Maybe people are smarter than we thought. Maybe it was always elitism to argue that somebody other than me and my followers would be weak-minded enough to base political decisions on television advertising.
Maybe we’re at the point where political advertising is like advertising for beer and soft drinks. Coke, Pepsi, Bud and Miller spend millions just to maintain market share.
Maybe we’re at the point where people realize that candidates for public office are not beer and soft drinks. They are more like cars. Advertising can get your attention, to be sure. But a car or a political candidate should not be an impulse purchase.
Footnote: Bill Dietrich is a Fairhaven College graduate who started his journalism career at The Bellingham Herald, and provided this newspaper with legislative coverage through Gannett News Service in the 1980s.
By John Stark
With three rounds of ballot-counting completed, Republican Rob McKenna trails Democrat Jay Inslee by more than 54,000 votes in the race for governor. But the McKenna camp continues to predict victory.
On Election Night, I saw two big-name political consultants on a Seattle television station–one a Democrat, the other a Republican–agreeing that a GOP gubernatorial candidate needs to top 40 percent of the vote in King C9unty to have a chance at getting elected. Dino Rossi was the last Republican to do that: He barely topped 40 percent in King County in 2004, and came within a whisker of defeating Chris Gregoire.
How’s McKenna doing in King County? Not good: At this point his vote total there is shy of 38 percent.
Why do McKenna’s staffers continue to predict victory? They claim that the people who dropped their ballots in the mail at the last minute will vote McKenna by a 2-1 margin. Why do they think that?
If this prediction turns out to be true, these guys are going to look like geniuses.
By John Stark
Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, GOP candidate for governor, is bringing his statewide RV tour through Whatcom County Saturday, Nov. 3.
McKenna and other elected officials have announced a 10 a.m. rally at Axton Warehouse, 150 W. Axton Road just off Guide Meridian.
McKenna is in a tight race with former Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee, who visited Bellingham on Thursday, Nov. 1.
By John Stark
U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen. will be at Squalicum Boathouse this morning (Thursday, Nov. 1) at 11:15 to discuss their “Jobs for Washington” program.
In case you just joined us, all four are Democrats. Cantwell and Larsen are campaigning for reelection. Inslee is in a close raise to fill the seat of departing Gov. Chris Gregoire, facing Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna.
Campaign aides say the Bellingham stop will focus on federal support for higher education, and Western Washington University students will be there to talk about Pell Grants and related programs that help students and their families pay for college.
By John Stark
At 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, four Seattle television stations will air a live one-hour debate between Washington’s gubernatorial candidates–Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna.
Northwest Cable News will also broadcast the debate.
Here’s a press release provided by KING5:
SEATTLE— Gubernatorial candidates Jay Inslee (D) and Rob McKenna (R) have agreed to a one hour live debate to be aired on five stations at the same time. The debate will be October 11 from 9:00- 10:00 PM. The unprecedented partnership between KING, KIRO, KOMO, KCPQ and NWCN provides the widest possible audience for the candidates to speak directly to voters.
The broadcast will also be made available to all television and radio stations in the state.
The debate will be held at the KOMO studios in Seattle and will be moderated by Glenn Johnson, professor of communications at Washington State University. The candidates will be questioned by a panel of anchors and reporters including Jean Enersen from KING 5, Dan Lewis from KOMO TV, Angela Russell from KIRO, and C.R. Douglas from KCPQ.
“This is a rare moment for competitors to set aside rivalries and work together as colleagues,”said Mark Ginther, Executive News Director at KING and NWCN. “It reflects the seriousness of our election season and the weight of the decision voters will be asked to make in November.”
Inslee and McKenna agreed in August to a debate co-sponsored by KING 5 and the Seattle Times and carried on KIRO Radio. That debate is set for October 16, three weeks before Election Day. It will be held in the KING 5 studios and televised live from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. immediately following the second Presidential debate. It will also be carried live on king5.com, NWCN and KIRO radio.
end press release
Jay Inslee, Democratic candidate for governor, will visit Bellingham Friday, April 20 for a downtown walking tour.
Here’s the press release from Inslee’s campaign:
When: Friday, April 20, 2012 (11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
Where: 1100 Railroad Ave., Bellingham – Meet under the Clock Tower
What: Jay Inslee, the Democratic candidate for governor, will be in Bellingham on Friday, April 20th for a tour of Bellingham’s downtown business district.
Organized by Downtown Bellingham Partnership and led by Board President and past City Council Member, Leslie Langdon, the tour will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Depot Market Square where the Saturday Farmer’s market is held, a public project created 10 years ago.
From there the group will stop by and hear about local development projects including the Pickford Film Center, Logos Building, The Woods Coffee, Bayou on Bay and Spark. At 12 p.m. after reaching Bay Street, Jay Inslee will meet members of the Downtown Bellingham Partnership for a short Q&A session.