‘Shot clock’ permitting timeline bill advances in Washington Legislature

This session, a bill was introduced in the Washington State House of Representatives that could finally help ease the state’s permitting woes. Substitute House Bill 1086, a bipartisan measure sponsored by Reps. Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen), Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen), Larry Springer (D- Kirkland), JT Wilcox (R-Yelm), and Mark Hargrove (R-Covington), would encourage environmental permitting agencies to finish their evaluations of proposals within two years.

SHB 1086 would accelerate permitting timelines for infrastructure projects in Washington significantly and provide much-needed certainty, and those would be a welcome changes. The measure essentially gives permitting applicants and regulatory agencies a “shot clock” of 24 months in which to complete an application review.

Some projects here, like the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals project in Longview, have been awaiting a ruling for over five years, three years longer than the two-year window the bill proposes. The text of the bill itself acknowledges the impact that delays on projects could have on the state’s ability to attract new business: “excessive delays in the environmental impact analysis process adds uncertainty and burdensome costs to those seeking to do business in the state of Washington.”

The bipartisan support this bill enjoys further speaks to the serious nature of Washington’s delay problems. Republicans and Democrats alike are finally realizing that Washington’s regulatory protocols are hurting the state’s economy, and it is great to see them mobilizing together to solve the issue.

This legislation still has a ways to go this session: Last week it passed the House 98-0 and now moves to the Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee for review. It’s definitely a big step in the right direction for Washington, though. If passed, it will enable the state’s economy by allowing Washington to capitalize on its inherent advantages for international trade, like close proximity to Asian markets and natural deep water ports.

It’s good to see elected officials working together to find solutions to real problems plaguing the state’s regulatory process.