Environment

Another Expansive Look at Coal Exports – For Longview Terminal, Ecology Will Consider Coal-Burning in China

Not that it came as a surprise to anyone, but the state Department of Ecology announced Wednesday that it will conduct a broad environmental review of a proposed coal-port terminal in Longview. It will encompass the burning of coal on the other side of the world, the impacts of train and ocean transport — and it won’t register the fact that any potential harm is likely to occur anyway, no matter what Washington does. Business and labor groups complain the state is jiggering the criteria to appease well-organized environmental groups, and warn that all industry is at risk.

Oil-by-Rail Bills Headed for Collision at Statehouse: One Deals With Trains, the Other – Boats?

Two bills that aim at public concern over oil-by-rail shipments and those ripsnorting mid-continent train explosions appear headed for a collision at the statehouse. But there is something mighty strange about this blowup. Senate and House face the same problem — the state can’t regulate rail safety. So the Senate bill focuses on disaster planning. The green House bill is even more creative. It attacks boats.

Business, Labor Say Ecology Goes Too Far – New Coalition to Protest ‘Overreach’ on Coal Port Project

Big players in business and labor finally can agree on something: The Department of Ecology has them spooked. The agency’s plan to write a wildly expansive environmental impact statement for a coal port near Bellingham is enough to make anyone scared, they say, and they are announcing formation of a coalition to press their point. Keep Washington Competitive says the same tactic could be used to block any project green groups don’t like, and Ecology is demonstrating great willingness to play politics.

Oil-by-Train Issue Proving Volatile – But Funny Thing, Green Bill is About Ships

Great balls of fire! Oil-by rail is looking like the next big thing on the environmental horizon, the kind of issue on which debates are based, rallies are staged and fund-raising campaigns are organized. The Quebec disaster calls attention to fast-rising rail shipments to the northwest. But something funny seems to have happened on the way to the statehouse. The big green oil-by-rail bill of the session isn’t about rail, it’s about the safety of oil tankers, a stale debate that was over and done with years ago. Just goes to show that where there’s a will, there’s a bill.

Ecology Under Fire – Skeptical Senate Calls State Agency on Carpet

The state Department of Ecology is getting the third degree from the Senate this year. As the 2014 session opens, a series of hearings in the Legislature’s upper chamber have put the agency in the spotlight – and there isn’t a lot of warmth involved. Lawmakers put director Maia Bellon on the hot seat last week, fish consumption remains hot, and the agency will have to answer questions regarding low-carbon fuel standards on Thursday. Sure seems like it has a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.

Governor Ducks Question on Low-Carbon Fuel Standards, Complains Transportation Chair – King Offers Inslee a Way Out

At least half the Legislature seems convinced that Gov. Jay Inslee will impose costly low-carbon fuel standards on the state of Washington, and as long as that is the case, this year’s effort to pass a gas-tax increase is up against a brick wall, says Senate Transportation Co-Chairman Curtis King, R-Yakima. While other issues hold up a transportation deal, King says suspicions about Inslee’s intentions should not.

Gov. Inslee Says Suspicions About Low-Carbon Fuel Standards are Politically Motivated, Yet Doesn’t Rule Out Executive Order

Deep-seated suspicions among many legislators that Gov. Jay Inslee may try to impose a low-carbon fuel-standard on the state – a move that could dramatically increase the price of gasoline – brought a blistering response from the state’s chief executive Thursday. But it didn’t bring the one thing some lawmakers have been demanding as they ponder an increase in the state gas tax for road construction. A promise from Inslee that he won’t do it.

Suspicious Lawmakers Prepare Bill to Prevent Governor From Imposing Low-Carbon Fuel Standards

Continued suspicions about Gov. Jay Inslee’s plans regarding low-carbon fuel standards are prompting two House Republicans to attempt a preemptive move – a bill that would eliminate the green-minded governor’s ability to impose the rule without a vote of the Legislature. Inslee failed to mollify fears Tuesday that he will issue an executive order, and Reps. Shelley Short and J.T. Wilcox say the Legislature needs to assert its authority. As long as doubt hangs over the Legislature, opposition leaders say the potential dollar-a-gallon issue bodes ill for a gas-tax increase.

King Throws Down Gauntlet to Inslee: Use State of State to Dispel Fear of Low-Carbon Executive Order

Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, the co-chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, has given all Olympia something to watch for when Gov. Jay Inslee mounts the rostrum in the House Tuesday to deliver his State of the State address. King says this would be a most excellent opportunity for the governor to make a promise: Inslee can lay to rest the fears that he might attempt to impose low-carbon fuel standards on the state of Washington by executive order. By now the green-minded governor’s speechwriters have probably seen King’s press release. Will he respond?