Another Interim Moratorium for Cherry Point Industries

In Cherry Point Industrial Area, Local Government, News, Whatcom County Council by commonnw

For a fifth time the Whatcom County Council has extended a moratorium on new or expanded fossil fuel facilities in the Cherry Point Urban Growth Area. New projects for shipping unrefined fossil fuels will continue to be banned for another 6 months until new permanent zoning laws are written. An ordinance imposing this latest moratorium was adopted Wednesday, August 8th, by a vote of 4-to-2 with council members Barbara Brenner and Tyler Byrd opposed and Tim Ballew absent. The Cherry Point Industrial Area is currently home to Phillips 66 and BP refineries as well as Alcoa’s Intalco aluminum smelter, and provides more than 2,100 family-wage jobs. The vote came after more than 2 hours of comments from members of the public. Groups with members that spoke out against the moratorium included the Whatcom Business Alliance, Laborers Union Local 292, Carpenters Union Local 70, Electrical Workers Union Local 191, and Machinists Union Local 2379.
Workers and independent contractors that rely on the industries at Cherry Point told the council that continuing to block new fossil fuel exporting projects would affect job growth as well as economic investment in Whatcom County, and would make existing industries struggle to compete as market conditions change. At least two fisherman spoke in favor of the moratorium saying it would protect the fishing industry. Other supporters of the moratorium said a permanent ban on new fossil fuel projects would save room for future industries. But Tony Larson, president of the Whatcom Business Alliance, said even non-fossil fuel companies will be scared off by the regulatory uncertainty that this moratorium would cause.
Council member Tyler Byrd made a motion to remove propane, butane and natural gas from the definition of “unrefined fossil fuels” used in the ordinance, because those fuels are “not unrefined.” That motion failed 2-4. Council member Barbara Brenner opposed the moratorium. Brenner said she doesn’t support shipping unrefined fossil fuels out of Cherry Point, but she doesn’t want to cause more restrictions on the industries there. She said she “would like to see more refining done in Whatcom County and in this country.”
The ordinance specifically states that “an interim moratorium is hereby imposed prohibiting the filing, acceptance, and processing of new applications for conversion of land or water, new building or structure permits, or other County permits or authorizations in the Cherry Point Urban Growth Area for new or expanded facilities whose purpose is to facilitate the increased shipment of unrefined fossil fuels not to be processed or consumed at Cherry Point, unless the applications:
  1. Were filed and complete prior to the effective date of this ordinance and vested pursuant to Washington statutes;
  2. Are for building permits for remodels, maintenance, or repairs of existing structures where no increased capacity for shipping unrefined fossil fuels not to be processed or consumed at Cherry Point will result; or
  3. Are necessary to protect health and safety of the community.”
Aug. 8th Council Action Taken WC Cncl Aug. 8th Video