Supreme Court requires more review for Grays Harbor crude oil projects

The Quinault Indian Nation announced that the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the Ocean Resources Management Act (ORMA) that protects coastal areas will apply to the current crude oil project proposed for our area.

According to QIN, this decision will add more review to the crude-by-rail terminal proposed by Contanda LLC. currently in the review process for a Shorelines Permit within the City of Hoquiam.

In the decision, the court states;

“We now find that the Board and Court of Appeals erred when finding that ORMA does not apply to respondents’ proposed projects.”

They say that while ORMA was intended for use on drilling in Washington waters, according to the court it applies to other oil projects near coastal areas as well.

“The issue here is whether respondents’ proposed expansion of fuel storage terminals on the shores of Grays Harbor require review under ORMA. We hold that they do.”

ORMA states specifically that “All reasonable steps are taken to avoid and minimize adverse environmental impacts, with special protection provided for the marine life and resources of the Columbia river, Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor estuaries, and Olympic national park”.

In late 2013, the Quinault Indian Nation, Friends of Grays Harbor, Sierra Club, Grays Harbor Audubon, and Citizens for a Clean Harbor challenged a Court of Appeals ruling that the rule did not apply to the oil shipping terminal because it was “not subject to ORMA because they are not “ocean uses” or “transportation uses”.

“The Quinault Indian Nation joins all of Grays Harbor in celebrating today’s monumental victory to keep crude oil out of our shared waters and ancestral territory,” said Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation. “Like so many of our neighbors across the county, we envision a healthy and pristine natural environment and a thriving, clean, and sustainable economy. After four very long years of fighting for those basic ideals, today’s decision is a significant step toward achieving our collective vision.”

In the recent decision, the court states, “we reverse the Court of Appeals and remand for further review under ORMA’s provisions.”

The proposed oil terminal has been estimated to receive 403.2 million gallons of oil per year.

Kristen Boyles, an attorney for Earthjustice said, that the decision “not only revives state ocean protections, but effectively blocks proposed oil shipping terminals from being built in Grays Harbor.”

The decision will overturn the previous lower decision that ORMA did not apply, and looks to require the additional oversight before any approval could be given.






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