Where’s the ‘Working Washington’ Inslee Promised?

 

Daily News Editorial, August 7, 2013, Longview Daily News

Even though he’s only seven months into a four-year term, some of us have already seen enough of Jay Inslee as governor of Washington.

Expectations weren’t terribly high. As a six-term U.S. Representative from the Puget Sound area, Inslee figured to come to Olympia with some catching up to do. While he talked quite a bit like a moderate Democrat on the campaign trail, there were reasons to expect he’d be philosophically attuned to the liberal positions and attitudes we in the rest of the state have come to expect from Seattle politicians.

This year’s Legislative Session exposed Inslee’s inexperience and inadequacies. In the few instances when he attempted to provide leadership — the transportation bill, for example — he often over-reached and came away empty-handed. When the Legislature finally adjourned after two extra sessions, both Democrats and Republicans took pains to point out that Inslee had very little to do with the final compromises.

We got another taste of Inslee in Action last week when the state’s Department of Ecology announced that operators seeking to build a coal export terminal in Bellingham would face a permitting process so demanding that it makes us wonder if the state has any intention of ever granting another shoreline permit to anyone. Not only will Ecology evaluate what’s going on at the terminal, but factors such as dust coming off rail cars (beginning at the mines in Montana and Wyoming) and the impact on the global atmosphere when the coal is eventually burned in Asia.

We’ve never seen anything like it.

First of all, as readers follow this story, they should always read “the Governor’s office” every time they encounter the words “Department of Ecology.” The department’s current secretary, Maia Bellon, is an Inslee appointee and has only been at her desk since February. We find the notion that she would be given freedom of independent action in this case highly unlikely.

Secondly, the permitting “road map” for Bellingham quite possibly will be copied for Ecology’s review of Millennium Bulk Terminals’ proposal to eventually ship 44 million metric tons of coal per year from Longview.

Thirdly, and most seriously, the plan is a potential roadblock for anyone wanting to do almost any sort of business in Washington that requires raw materials to be brought in from elsewhere. The new guidelines could be applied to a grain terminal or just about any facility handling bulk commodities. With one spectacularly wrong-headed move, the governor has handed anyone with an anti-development agenda a powerful new weapon.

In addition, he seems determined to deny this economic development to two counties — Whatcom and Cowlitz — that badly need it. This is the same Jay Inslee whose campaign slogan was “Building a Working Washington” and who promised to create “thousands of jobs today” while making the state “a leader in the industries of tomorrow.”

Based on events of last week — which also saw Boeing announce the departure of more than 300 highly skilled jobs from King County to California — Inslee and his team don’t know how to do one or the other.

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