New Policy Briefs Warn Against Washington’s Stifling Regulatory Climate

Strengthen regulatory certainty in Washington—this was the loud and clear message coming from two new studies highlighted recently in a blog post in The Lens.

The pair of studies, one from the Washington Research Council (WRC) and the other commissioned by the Washington Maritime Federation (WMF) and authored by former U.S. Maritime Administrator Dave Matsuda and maritime industry expert Steve Rothberg, both warn of the consequences of runaway permitting timelines that have plagued fossil fuel projects in Washington in recent years. These extended timelines, the WMF study says, “can be detrimental to competitiveness.”

Proposed projects in the Pacific Northwest have felt the effects of these extended reviews the hardest, like the recently canceled Morrow Pacific project in Oregon. Others, like the proposed Vancouver Energy project, are still trapped in regulatory purgatory. And unfortunately, these project delays could have implications for the state far greater than any one proposal.

Washington regulators are moving the state’s business climate in the wrong direction. Neighboring competitors including California and Canada have instituted firm timelines that are luring new investors and allowing them to strengthen local economies and support consumers.

Vancouver Energy’s proposal is a great example of a project that works for Washington. The terminal would be funded entirely from private sources and allow Washington to continue investments in its rail and maritime infrastructure – indispensable cogs in Washington’s trade dependent economy. Furthermore, the terminal’s parent companies have pledged to work tirelessly to ensure compliance with the state’s environmental and regulatory standards.

Washington’s economy is built on a foundation of trade. Existing businesses in this industry support countless jobs and have positioned the State at the forefront of maritime trade and exports. Competition is lurking, however, and if the state cannot get on board with new business opportunities, it will not be long before those who are more willing to push projects across the finish line leave Washington in the dust.