Federal proposal on energy infrastructure coming

In the next few weeks, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is expected to propose the first phase of the administration’s strategy for modernizing the nation’s energy infrastructure.

The action is tied to the Department of Energy’s Quadrennial Annual review, and obscure as that sounds, it could have consequences for Washington state’s export economy, according to a guest opinion piece from Association of Washington Business President Kris Johnson published recently on The Hill’s Congress Blog.

It’s no secret the nation’s energy infrastructure needs updating, Johnson writes, but he makes the case that the nation’s needs are not identical from coast-to-coast.

In Washington state, 40 percent of all jobs are linked to trade-related industries,” he notes, adding that in addition to rail, export growth is Washington’s best opportunity to spur economic development in the coming decades.

Unfortunately, current government procedures delay infrastructure decisions and deter investment opportunities. As Johnson concludes:

Expanding capacity and improving our freight infrastructure is vital for all product shippers, energy related or not. The DOE must set a clear standard in the QER that will allow for timely and efficient review of infrastructure projects. It is important for us to act now and support infrastructure investment so that these opportunities can ultimately improve the job and trade capacities of the region.

For now, trade is one of Washington’s biggest economic advantages. Hopefully, decisions like the one coming from the Department of Energy will build upon the strength and not erode it.