Washington Supreme Court Finds No Fault With Vancouver Energy Lease

Last week, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Port of Vancouver and its lease for the proposed Vancouver Energy Terminal.

In a 5-4 vote the court upheld a decision by the Port of Vancouver commissioners to extend Vancouver Energy’s lease in order to allow the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFESC) to finish their review of the project. Environmental groups brought a lawsuit against the Port of Vancouver, alleging that the port had violated the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) by leasing land to Vancouver Energy prior to the completion of an environmental impact statement (EIS) on the company’s proposal.

Port Commissioner Brian Wolfe, the deciding vote to extend the project’s lease to allow for a full review when commissioners voted on it in early March, should be commended for his insistence that the terminal be allowed to go through a fair and complete process. Speaking to The Seattle Times earlier this month, Wolfe said, “To my mind…to pull the plug now is unfair to the applicant.”

The importance of letting the objective review processes play out, like the EFESC’s review of the Vancouver Energy project, cannot be overstated. Backlash from environmental groups has plagued Pacific Northwest infrastructure projects in recent years, and the groups bringing the disturbances seem ignorant to the dangerous precedents that said interventions set for the state’s economic future. If Washington is to attract businesses to move their operations here, the state must make it abundantly clear that they are ready to play ball. For-profit companies will not take financial risks when the playing field has a history of double standards and broken promises.

The Washington Supreme Court’s backing of the Vancouver Port Commissioners’ decision only affirms the importance of setting and maintaining fair standards, and we are happy to see them supporting Commissioner Wolfe’s “yes” vote on the project’s lease. The Vancouver Energy project would be an economic boon to Clark County and the state as a whole. This project, like any other, deserves to be evaluated in fair, timely, and complete manner.