Washington plays a unique role in the Northwest economy. The state’s deep-water and inland waterway ports and geographic location make Washington a natural gateway for U.S. consumer goods, agricultural products, and raw materials headed overseas as well as a wide array of imported parts, equipment, and resources critical to the American manufacturing sector. But these characteristics come with significant challenges. As a leader in regional trade with a high capacity to move commodities, Washington is heavily dependent on development of trade infrastructure and decisions by our state officials on whether or not to invest in necessary projects.
Recently, Jason Pye, vice president of legislative affairs at FreedomWorks, published commentary in the National Review on how to best harness the power of robust infrastructure, specifically how the success of America’s freight rail system provides a good model for expanding other kinds of infrastructure. He says significant deregulation of the rail industry in the 1980s allowed competition and investment to establish the system that the country still benefits from decades later.
In Washington, state agencies often use an overbearing approach to regulate vital trade projects. In reality, excessive regulation stagnates growth to the detriment of working citizens. Pye recognizes this as not just specific to Washington, but a national struggle with “environmental regulations that often cause massive delays or stop a project from getting off the ground in the first place.” Responsible companies are willing to comply with Washington’s high environmental standards, but often see their projects delayed despite meeting state requirements.
Washington can’t afford to be disadvantaged with heavy regulations and tedious bureaucratic processes. Instead, Washington should focus on examining projects under our regulatory process in a timely fashion to best expand our trade infrastructure. They key is to maintain an friendly environment for investment by ensuring companies work in the interest of citizens without holding back growth with red tape. Pye writes that this allows companies to allocate more money for maintaining and improving the facilities they operate, enhancing safety for everyone involved. Encouraging companies to increase Washington’s trade capacity will improve our position in the global market for decades to come.
Read the full piece from National Review here.