State energy council recommends Gov. Inslee reject Vancouver Energy project; business and labor leaders denounce decision

The Seattle Times reports that a state regulatory council has recommended that Gov. Inslee reject a major Vancouver Energy project. 

A state energy council, in a unanimous Tuesday vote, recommended that Gov. Jay Inslee reject a permit for a major new crude-by-rail oil terminal in Vancouver, Wash.

The action could doom a project that has sought to bring more Bakken Shale crude from North Dakota and Montana to West Coast refineries in a bid that backers say would reduce dependence on foreign oil…

The permitting review that began in 2013 was the longest in Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council history, and drew some 250,000 public comments.

Business and labor leaders were quick to criticize the EFSEC decision, says the Keep Washington Competitive coalition in a press release.

“EFSEC is not listening to its own findings. This decision fails to take into account four years of work and a record $10 million that Vancouver Energy paid to EFSEC for reviews, culminating in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, which found there would be no significant unavoidable impacts that cannot be mitigated associated with either the construction or normal operation of this facility,” said Larry Brown, legislative and political director, Aerospace Machinists 751…

“Through its actions today, EFSEC is turning its back on future investment in Washington state,” said Matthew Hepner, executive director, Certified Electrical Workers of Washington. “In the future businesses are going to think carefully, if at all, about locating here in Washington state…

John Stuhlmiller, CEO of the Washington Farm Bureau, added that today’s decision casts a long shadow on trade infrastructure projects in Washington state.

The Seattle Times story note the project faces additional hurdles.

Even if Inslee decides to approve the permit, the project also is expected to run into big problems at the Port of Vancouver, where the November elections resulted in opponents of the terminal holding two out of the three seats on the Port Commission. The commissioners are expected to take a vote early next year on whether the lease that would allow the terminal should be terminated.

As the Times reports, the EFSEC recommendation continues a trend.

The terminal is one of a series of high-profile fossil-fuel projects proposed in Washington state in recent years, all of which have faced strong headwinds from environmentalists seeking to block these developments… 

This project, for example.

Earlier today, we reported that Forbes magazine’s “Best State for Business” list dinged Washington’s regulatory environment. The pattern extended by this EFSEC decision would seem to justify the low marks.