Editor’s note: Today’s editorial was written by Cowlitz County Commissioner Dennis Weber. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.
Alas, in this business, headlines often color the reader’s understanding of what actually happened. (See “Weber Lobbies for Coal Decision”, June 10 2018)
It is my civic responsibility to follow my sworn oath to faithful uphold the laws and constitution of the State of Washington and the Constitution of the United States of America. When one state abuses is environmental protection authority to attempt to regulation foreign trade, as well as interstate commerce, and in the process strangles economic growth for our community, I must protest. And I had the support of the BOCC to go to our nation’s capital and register our dissent.
While honorable people may disagree about the role of coal, I remain rather ambivalent about whether or not coal is exported from Longview. I’d rather have more jobs per acre and I certainly do not want a coal-fired utility. But as long as the cases are being dealt with unfairly by the Olympia overlords, the litigation will continue to run on and on. My hope was to gain quick resolution. And in my opinion, that lies with the very rarest of court cases: When states sue each other, only the U.S. Supreme Court hears the case. Quick resolution so we can proceed with job formation – whatever side wins.
The historical fact is that the U.S. Constitution, the one that enshrines the right of dissent also tasks Congress — not individual states — with the regulation of foreign trade and interstate commerce. We must protect the Constitution, first and foremost.
One other important constitutional protection worth fighting over is the concept of “Rule of law, not of man.” The arbitrary and capricious actions taken by Olympia elitists who refuse to give Cowlitz County residents the opportunity to conquer poverty with real jobs is a serious violation of due process. We should champion fair play, playing by the rules, and oppose changing the rules mid-stream.
The original draft environmental impact statement (DEIS), all 3,000 pages of it, carefully applied the scientific method required by law and described plenty of impacts the project would have. But, tellingly, the significance of the impacts were placed in the perspective of global scale of the world coal market. At maximum built-out Millennium’s impact on the coal market in Asia would not be significant – the volumes are just not high enough, although a slight improvement on air quality would occur by allowing the substitution of low-sulphur coal from America for the high-sulphur coal currently used. (That would certainly benefit the people of the main customers, our strongest military allies in Asia: South Korea and Japan, both signers to the Paris Climate Accords.) This is what the research showed.
Mitigations on-site were expected as with any project reviewed under state law. In fact negotiations were virtually completed for cultural and historic mitigation and, while some environmental clean-up is underway, demolition of deteriorating and dangerous buildings are halted pending permits held up by the state. Potential cancer cases resulting from the increased diesel fumes might be as high a one case in 70 years per 100,000 people and possible coal dust escaping was measured at an extremely, extremely low level. Mitigation of transcontinental railroads is left to federal authorities and is river traffic on the Columbia – pursuant to the Commerce clause of the US Constitution – so again no mitigations at the state level. The applicant stipulated to these facts as outlined by the DEIS.
What does the state do? They ignored the research that the scale of the impacts were low and rewrote key passages declaring there are too many significant impacts for which there is no mitigation. In a devious Catch 22, the hearings examiner then claims the company didn’t offer to mitigate enough impacts the state described almost after-the-fact as significant in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.
Please don’t let the perfect be the evil of the good. And please speak out against Olympia tyranny.