Washington Supreme Court rules against plans for oil terminal

Washington Supreme Court rules against plans for oil terminal

The Washington Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] against plans for a big oil terminal on the West Coast on Thursday. The court ruled [Seattle Times report] that the proposal must be reviewed under the Oceans Resources Management Act [Statutes 43.143], effectively canceling the plans for an oil terminal at the Port of Grays Harbor. The Ocean Resources Management Act is a 1989 state law designed to protect marine life after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska [BBC profile]. The Act was originally passed to regulate offshore oil developments. Therefore, a Washington State Board and a Washington Court of Appeals ruled that it did not affect plans for a shore-side development proposal. Advocates for the terminal claim that this interpretation is an “unfettered expansion,” but the court ruled that the previous reading was far too narrow.

Increased environmental concerns have been on the rise over the past year. Last month a privately owned coal company filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in an attempt to block new regulations promulgated by teh Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement. Earlier that week President Barack Obama announced a ban [JURIST report] on offshore drilling. Earlier in December the US Army Corps of Engineers announced that an alternate route will be investigated [JURIST report] for the Dakota Access Pipeline. In October the threshold for entry into force of the Paris Agreement [text, PDF] on combating climate change was achieved [JURIST report]. In August 2015 the federal government approved drilling [JURIST report] in the Arctic Continental Shelf while also proposing regulations to ensure the safety of such activities.