Daily News editorial

‘Witness to the Manger’

In 2015, 11 of the structures of the elaborate set for the Journey to Bethlehem production held at the Journey Adventist Church on West Side Highway in Kelso were lost to fire. That year would have been the 20th time the annual walk-through experience was held.

This year, a new tradition begins. “Witness to the Manger” is a live-action event telling the story of Jesus and the first Christmas. The production takes place at 11:07 a.m. at the church on four consecutive Saturdays this month, starting Dec. 9.

Here is a short synopsis of the events taken from a mailing we received: On Dec. 9, a shepherd tells the story of Christmas from his perspective. On Dec. 16, the innkeeper tells the story about the night Joseph and Mary arrive at his inn.

Then on Dec. 23, attendees will see Mary and Joseph thrown into hardships and disappointments as they learn to trust God in the midst of overwhelming news. And on Dec. 30, a villager in Bethlehem shares his response to the activity taking place the night Mary and Joseph ride into town.

Over the years, many people enjoyed the Journey to Bethlehem event. We are certain they also will enjoy the church’s latest production.

EFSEC decision

State Sen. Tim Sheldon sent out a press release concerning a state agency’s recent decision to recommend disapproval of Vancouver Energy’s application to build an oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

Sheldon, a Democrat who represents Mason County and parts of Kitsap and Thurston counties, called the state’s pattern of permit and project denials a “war on Washington,” and it certainly looks that way.

In the case of the oil terminal project at the Port of Vancouver, the Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC, recommended disapproval of the project to Gov. Jay Inslee. An interesting part of this story is that the EFSEC is mandated to finish its study and give a recommendation within a 12-month time period. It took the EFSEC more than four years to review the Vancouver oil terminal project.

Does this sound familiar? A state agency dragging its feet on any project it doesn’t want to approve? Much like the decisions against Millennium Bulk Terminals and the Kalama methanol project, it appears “politics over policy” is the norm in the state of Washington.

In Sheldon’s press release he said, “I feel sorry for the people who would have gotten good, high-paying jobs – for the unionized workers and everyone else who would have benefitted.” He further said, “The Inslee administration has become a killing field for anything the Seattle environmental crowd opposes, and people who live anywhere else are the ones who suffer.”

We also find it interesting that while Vancouver will be denied the jobs an oil terminal would have provided, according to Seaport Alliance budget documents, the combined ports of Seattle and Tacoma expect to handle 636,000 metric tons of petroleum in 2017. The combined ports also forecast handling more than 3 million metric tons of petroleum from 2018 through 2022.

Legislative wish list

With Christmas approaching fast and the legislative session starting, we figured a legislative wish list is in order. This list is what we would like to see achieved in the current session.

As mentioned above, the Washington state permitting process no longer appears to be evenly applied. In last year’s legislative session, the “shot clock law” was passed, which requires state agencies to come before the Legislature to explain any delays in permitting projects past 24 months.

We wish the Legislature would put more teeth in the shot clock law. The law initially was patterned after the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act of 2012, the Legislature could either use some of the tenets on the Canadian law or make up their own. Either way, it is time for legislation that will help hold the state accountable for permitting decisions.

The Washington State Supreme Court’s Hirst Decision is causing havoc in rural communities. In 2016, the court rendered the decision, which can prevent people from putting a well on their property. By denying property owners the ability to put in a well, the state also denies property owners the ability to develop their land.

We hope the Legislature will put forth common sense solutions to allow homeowners to establish wells and build homes on their property. In the prior legislative session, Senate Republicans passed several Hirst fixes, while House Democrats never voted on a fix.

Right before Thanksgiving, TDN published a story about the Headquarters Landfill. The story, written by reporter Jackson Hogan, detailed how the Washington Refuse & Recycling Association is working with the Legislature to exempt landfills from Gov. Inslee’s Clean Air Rule.

The state’s Clean Air Rule will force landfills to capture methane and carbon dioxide given off by garbage. Cowlitz County officials estimate it would cost $5 million a year to meet Clean Air Rule standards.

During TDN’s visit to the landfill, we were told landfills in other states are exempt from Clean Air Rule statutes.

We would like to see the Legislature exempt landfills in our state from the Clean Air Rule. This doesn’t mean landfill owners should be allowed to do whatever they want, but they should be given time to develop systems and processes to manage the methane emissions from degrading garbage in a responsible and efficient manner.

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