Activists waging a national war on coal have turned their attention to the Pacific Northwest, and the consequences for the region's economy could be dire, AWB President Don Brunell writes in his weekly column.
Specifically, they are lobbying federal officials to add a second, expensive layer of environmental review to proposals shipping terminals that would export coal to China. Such projects already undergo a rigorous review known as the Environmental Impact Statement.
The second review, which some are calling a Programmatic EIS, would look at the potential cumulative economic and environmental impacts across the region, the nation or perhaps the world.
Even if adding another layer of review didn't block a project, it would slow it down for years. And it would establish a dangerous precedent in a state where one of every three jobs is linked to trade.
No one knows if it would go so far as to require, for example, an examination of greenhouse gas effects of jet engine exhaust around the globe in order to expand an aircraft manufacturing facility.
But for employers trying to decide where to locate or expand their business, the uncertainty is enough to make them take their business elsewhere, Brunell writes.