On Jan. 12, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Contanda (formerly Westway) must meet the requirements of the state’s Ocean Resources Management Act (ORMA) if it is to proceed with the development of their proposed oil terminals in Hoquiam. This week, January 23rd, the Hoquiam City Council announced that they would be putting its consideration of the permit application on hold pending information from Contanda that it can meet those more stringent standards.
The Supreme Court ruling overturned an Appeals Court ruling that ORMA did not apply to oil shipping terminals. The Court wrote: “We hold that these projects qualify as both ocean uses and transportation. Finally, though not discussed by the parties or the Court of Appeals, these projects qualify as “coastal uses” under DOE’s regulations. Accordingly, we reverse the Court of Appeals and remand for further review under ORMA’s provisions.”
This is just the latest chapter of a story that goes back several years with proposals for as many as three oil terminal facilities to be built on the Harbor. Initially, permits were issued without proper environmental reviews. Fortunately, the Quinault Indian Nation, Friends of Grays Harbor, Sierra Club, Grays Harbor Audubon and Citizens for a Clean Harbor stepped up and challenged the permitting process. A lengthy environmental review followed that resulted in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Contanda/Westway in September 2016. The EIS found that there were significant and unavoidable risks from transporting and storing crude oil that could not be mitigated. Incredibly, even after this warning, the City of Hoquiam and DOE still continued the consideration of Contanda’s permit application.
Rather than abandoning this project at any of the multiple opportunities provided, Hoquiam and DOE seemed determined to get this project approved and put our fragile environment at risk. This pushed the Quinault Indian Nation and the other concerned groups to seek a court ruling to finally put a stop to the oil terminals. Now that we have that Supreme Court ruling it is time to put a halt to the time, energy and money the citizens of our area have had to devote to this fiasco. Deny the permit! Free us to pursue ways of making our corner of the world better for all of us!
Hoquiam City Administrator, Brian Shay, should finally put a stop to this waste of resources and cancel this project – not “put (it) on hold.” Likewise, the DOE should follow its Mission Statement: “Our mission is to protect, preserve and enhance Washington’s land, air and water for current and future generations. We support environmental work throughout Washington.” DOE should not be a shill for the oil industry.
We should expect that our government and its agencies act to protect their citizens and not put their welfare at risk for the profits of corporations. Both the City of Hoquiam and the DOE need to say to Contanda that this project cannot continue, it is simply too dangerous.
I would like to thank all of those individuals and organizations who have put so much time and effort into protecting our environment and doing what our government officials should have been doing.