By Jim Brunner, March 17, 2015, Seattle Times
Gov. Jay Inslee says the state can’t block the Port of Seattle’s controversial decision to sign a lease allowing the use of an empty terminal for mooring of Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling fleet.
Although the Democratic governor has built a reputation as a crusader against climate change (nicknamed “the greenest governor” by some environmentalists), he said the lease is “a local decision” when asked about the issue Tuesday at his regular weekly news conference.
Environmentalists have urged Port and Seattle leaders to reverse the decision, arguing climate change is a crisis that demands an end to business as usual. But project backers say it will create hundreds of good-paying maritime jobs.
Inslee said he asked the state Department of Ecology whether the state had authority to intervene in the project, but was told no. Because the lease is for the “same level of operation” as previously in play at the Port, “essentially they are grandfathered in,” he said.
While not taking a clear stand for or against the deal, Inslee expressed concern with the Port of Seattle Commission’s process in approving the lease.
“I think there is a legitimate concern, just following a little bit in the newspapers, that the public was not engaged in this decision adequately when the Port made the decision,” Inslee said. “I know it’s disappointing to a lot of people because this does have wide ramifications of concerns, both from climate change and from potential oil spills… and I think that it’s appropriate for the public to be concerned about that.”