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Ecology on Hot Seat About Coal-Port Analysis — Business Calls it Bizarre, Worrisome

September 10, 2013 J,

OLYMPIA, Sept. 3.—Ever since the state Department of Ecology announced a month ago that it would measure a coal-port proposal near Bellingham against an unprecedented yardstick – air pollution on the other side of the world – critics have been wondering if the state’s environmental review process will have even a distant relationship with fairness.

Now a letter from Ecology to state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, seems to confirm the worst of their fears. Nowhere does it mention that the state pollution analysis plans to ask a fundamental logical question – “compared to what?” And it asserts that state regulators have the right to determine which products can be shipped from the state of Washington whenever they believe the environmental impact will be “significant” – an expansion of authority some lawmakers and business figures see as a frightful principle that could be applied to every other major enterprise in the Evergreen State, from port facilities to agriculture, crude-oil shipments by rail, and the manufacture of trucks and airplanes.

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