Keep Washington Competitive: Cherry Point Moratorium “Risky Action” for Whatcom County

The Keep Washington Competitive coalition has released a statement sharply critical of a proposed moratorium being considered in Whatcom County. 

Citing long-term harm to the economic stability of Whatcom County and the state’s trade-based economy, representatives of labor, agriculture, business and the state Legislature are asking the Whatcom County Planning Commission to reconsider a proposed moratorium on the Cherry Point Urban Growth section of the county’s comprehensive plan.

In a letter submitted to the commission today, members of Keep Washington Competitive urged the commission to consider the greater economic implications of a proposed moratorium on the Cherry Point Industrial Area. 

The commission is scheduled to consider the moratorium today. The Bellingham Herald reports,

The 6:30 p.m. meeting in the County Council Chambers at 311 Grand Ave. will include a town hall and State Environmental Policy Act public hearing on the proposed amendments to the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

The commission will consider three options, among which are several with serious consequences, including

Prohibiting adding any industrial piers at Cherry Point (or, alternatively, prohibit any piers not already approved under the county’s Shoreline Management Program, which provides for a fourth pier for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal).

KWC letter states,

The decision by the Whatcom County Council on September 26th establishing an emergency six-month moratorium prohibiting any new permits related to fossil fuels at the Cherry Point area was disappointing and unprecedented. We urge the Whatcom County Planning Commission not to include any such moratorium in the Cherry Point Urban Growth section of the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan. Such an addition to the County Comp Plan is a serious, risky action that will have far-reaching and lasting ramifications for our community, well beyond just the targeted fossil fuel industries.

…The extension of this ordinance will harm the Cherry Point companies that are currently operating both safely and proficiently. There are currently more than 2,100 family wage jobs connected to activity at Cherry Point that have an average salary of $114,000 per year, way above the average in the county.

We encourage you to read the letter. Members of the coalition include BNSF, the Washington State Building & Construction Trades Council, Certified Electrical Workers of Washington, Association of Washington Business and Washington Farm Bureau.

Previously, we wrote of the proposed export terminals here and here. As we wrote in our foundation report,

In terms of regulatory content, Washington regulations routinely exceed the minimums required by federal law. For example, the state chose to require a global environmental impact statement, rather than a project-specific analysis, for proposed coal export facilities in 2014.

KWC raises valid concerns.