County hearing examiner to rule on pipeline
Whatcom Count Hearing Examiner Michael Bobbink will hear closing arguments in an appeal of a county decision denying Williams Pipeline’s application to build a 33-mile pipeline from the Canadian border to Cherry Point.
The hearing takes place next Tuesday, September 28 at 1:30 p.m. The hearing examiner will make his decision known 10 days after closing arguments.
Should the county prevail, the pipeline company is sure to appeal. The company maintains the county’s role in permitting is moot as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has already ruled months ago that since the state of Washington missed certain deadlines for comment on the proposal, they in effect waived the right to regulate construction through the normal permit process. The ruling means that most state and local permits necessary for construction are considered approved, and that the state even loses its right to make rulings designed to minimize damage during construction.
Christine Gregoire, the Washington State Attorney General, filed an appeal in the 10th District federal court in Denver last August 27 in which she argued that the state has met all deadlines and that the FERC acted prematurely by issuing an approval before environmental permits had been issued by the state, which is required by federal law.
County planners denied the permit because they said it doesn’t meet their requirements for construction of industrial projects on shorelines and has no benefit for Whatcom County. The pipeline is intended to cross Georgia Strait to Vancouver Island to power electrical plants.