Several weeks ago, the Washington Department of Ecology announced a two-year (unfortunately, this is not a typo: two-years) environmental review of the proposed export expansion in Cherry Point. The review will include study of the export facility, the multi-state transportation of coal, and the global influence of coal.

Washington’s announcement left me shaking my head, wondering: How on earth will this review actually be conducted? And, moreover, what does this mean for Oregon?

The environmental study is vast and completely unchartered territory, leaving me to question how Washington plans to, or even if they have the capability to, track not only a multi-state, but global review of this commodity. It seems pretty outlandish.

There are two underlying items that should be brought to light: has this study gone outside the state’s jurisdiction and, as a result, this overreach sets a dangerous precedent for future business development.

Washington has literally chosen to conduct an international review –I think the overreach speaks for itself. The majority of increased regulations can be pointed to as a display of an overreach a state’s authority, but rarely does a state so egregiously overstep their boundaries. The scope of this project is so far-reaching that it feels a little more like a stall tactic by the state government than a feasible review.

Washington, as well as Oregon, has stringent environmental rules and regulations to allow our states to both prosper economically, while preserving the environment. This change in regulation, especially at the expense of economic activity, may ward off any future investments in our trade an export industry. Inconsistent regulations will undermine business development, and this review is about as unpredictable has regulations could be.

Now, this does have some consequence on Oregon. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has not announced their environmental review of the proposed expansion of the Port of Morrow facility. My fear is that Oregon would follow suit and announce a review of similar magnitude –this would be a complete disaster.

We cannot afford to gamble the future of the trade and export industry on unfeasible and unpredictable reviews. I hope, and urge, Oregon’s DEQ to put forth a review  that will protect our environment and keep our economy moving.