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Krohn said the Washington State Legislative Board is also monitoring two other House bills that affect SMART TD members.
H.B. 1620, the Contract Crew Hauler Transport Safety Bill, passed out of the House Transportation Committee Jan. 30 by a vote of 30-0, with one member absent. “This is a stronger vote than last year. The bill now moves on to the House Rules Committee and, hopefully, onto the floor for a vote by the full house very soon,” Krohn said.
H.B. 1621, the Yardmaster Hours of Service Bill, is in the House Rules Committee. “We need to get this bill pulled by members of the Rules Committee to get it to the floor,” Krohn said.
WASHINGTON – In reaction to a split between the state of Washington and federal agencies over the review process for new export terminals in the Pacific Northwest, representatives from the SMART Transportation Division, formerly the United Transportation Union, and the International Union of Operating Engineers Sept. 25 announced their overwhelming support for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers environmental review process.
“Recently, the Army Corps of Engineers announced they would conduct their site specific review of the proposed west coast terminals, just as they have always done at other port projects,” said Transportation Division Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch. “That decision is reasonable and rational and we applaud them for it. We support Environmental Impact reviews that have high environmental standards. We support building and expanding ports in environmentally sound ways and ones that require that any environmental concerns are adequately mitigated.”
Labor organizations are concerned about the potential consequences of Washington State’s unprecedentedly broad review of the export projects. Labor organizations fear the precedent set by the state review could impact infrastructure spending, trade investments and accompanying manufacturing jobs. The port expansion projects have been endorsed by a number of national and state labor organizations and will generate significant new union employment opportunities in the Pacific Northwest.
“We believe that Washington State is putting the Northwest’s primary economic driver – trade – in jeopardy with this approach,” said SMART’s Washington State Legislative Director Herb Krohn. “Washington’s proposed review process will set a dangerous precedent across our state, region and country when it comes to the development of infrastructure, and could be applied to many products – from airplanes, cars, to even agricultural or timber products.”
The announcement came in conjunction with the first hearings to be conducted separately by the Army Corps of Engineers and Washington State officials. Some oppose the terminals, on the basis that they will be used to ship coal in addition to other commodities. Increased coal shipments in particular will provide substantial private investment in infrastructure, something that will not only create new jobs, but will make the west coast ports more competitive.
Jeffrey Soth of the Operating Engineers concluded, “We urge the Washington State of Ecology to cooperate with the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a review that is fair, accurate and timely. Further delays will inhibit the growth of our economy and ensure the world’s growing energy demand is met by other countries that do not share America’s values for protecting workers or the environment.”
Washington State AFL-CIO leaders testified in front of a committee of the King County Council that not only had the state chapter come out in support last year of the Gateway Pacific Terminal, but also that the national AFL-CIO passed a resolution during its convention earlier this month in support of the project.
The King County Council committee put off its vote on a motion to oppose the terminal project after Krohn spoke in support of it.
“The national AFL-CIO resolution joins the state AFL-CIO endorsement from last year, in its strong statement in support of the Northwest coal export projects and echoes what labor in the Northwest has been saying all along — these projects will bring long-term employment for families across the state, millions in private investment for infrastructure, and money for cash strapped schools,” Krohn said.
Pictured, from left, are SMART?Transportation Division Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch, SMART?Washington State Legislative Director Herb Krohn and Jeffrey Soth, assistant director of the Department of Legislative and Political Affairs, International Union of Operating Engineers, at a Sept. 25 press conference at the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C.
The state of Washington has an opportunity to expand our ports and to secure the region’s position as a global trade leader for decades.
Private industry, using private capital, is ready right now to put people to work expanding our export facilities to allow us to export more bulk commodities — including ores and minerals like iron, coal and potash — as well as agricultural products including wheat, rye and other grains.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of folks who want to stop these projects, and in the end jobs won’t be created here and the exports will come from other countries.
In contrast, there is bipartisan support to keep Boeing manufacturing in the state. Gov. Jay Inslee is pitching in to help in that effort and has even asked for an expedited environmental review process.
The governor could have asked for a review of the environmental implications of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions where the components for these planes are built; many come from China where they use coal to power Boeing’s parts manufacturing.
Also to his credit, the governor chooses not to consider the GHG emissions from the utilization of planes manufactured at Boeing by the world’s airline industry, which is among the highest carbon-emitting activities in the world. We applaud him for these non-obstructionist decisions.
What we don’t applaud is the governor’s inconsistent approach to job creation. He takes a different approach when it comes to building trade and transportation jobs that would be created by the proposed new export facilities. There he wants a comprehensive review (read delay) of the effects the items being exported have on the world’s climate.
Inslee’s request caters to those who want to not just delay, but kill these projects and deny thousands of people construction employment as well as the many hundreds of permanent good middle-class working class jobs they will create.
It’s time for the governor and his “save the world” contingent to quit being obstructionists and allow these projects to proceed. We are not even asking for his help in creating all these jobs, even though most of the blue-collar folks who will be put to work voted for him.
All we are asking is that our governor allow the port expansions to proceed through the regular accepted environmental scoping and permitting processes.
The preceding letter was written by Herb Krohn, the SMART Transportation Division’s Washington state legislative director, and was published Aug. 8 by The News Tribune.