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Whatcom County Council’s “Moratorium Government” may cost Whatcom Taxpayers Millions

British Petroleum’s Comments to the Whatcom County Council on the Comprehensive plan update claim that the Council  is Guilty of Breaking State Law; Zoning laws, and is in violation of the Constitution of the United States with ongoing “Moratorium Government” activity. 

In a 12 page document produced by the law firm of Arnold and Porter for British Petroleum and introduced as Comment on the ongoing process to update the Comprehensive plan in Whatcom Counties’ Cherry Point area the document points out several points of contention with the result being a probable lawsuit that may cause local taxpayers to pick up a multi million dollar tab.

The document:

  • Claims moratoriums defy both the letter and spirit  of the Growth Management Act of 1993 as amended.
  • The moratorium’s as used is “not only is the Proposed Moratorium inconsistent with the GMA, State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan, but also violates the U. S. Constitution.

Illegal use of the emergency aspect of the Moratorium process and State Law:

  • Contrary to the spirit of the law Council Members knew that they were using the ‘moratoriums’ to delay action; not because of an emergency.
  • It has been disclosed that barely 4 days after passing the first moratorium in 2016 the County Clerk e-mailed Council Person Barry Buchanan that she would begin working on drafting an interim measure to extend the moratorium into 2017.
  • The continued use of moratorium government without an environmental analysis is unlawful under the SEPA (Ch. 43.21.C RCW)

Illegal use of the Moratorium process and any ordinances coming forth because of the moratorium resolutions is Unconstitutional in 4 ways:

  • Local Governments – the Supreme court has long held that states and municipalities cannot take advantage of local resources by requiring companies to process received resources locally before exporting.
  • Moratorium purports the local interests in public health and safety … reducing train derailments and explosions.  Yet transport to the refineries is allowed.
  • Unconstitutionally regulates out-of-county conduct.
  • One council member stated the Council does a delicate dance “since all the lawyers I have consulted with agree the County does not has the authority to just ‘ban fossil fuel exports.’
  • Energy and transportation are critical to national comerece.
  • There are Three areas of exclusive or near exclusive federal regulation:
    • Railroads
    • Transportations of hazardous materials
    • Interstate pipelines

It puts the almost 4 year delay at Cherry Point on notice that the taxpayers of Whatcom County may have to pay dearly for the process to continue.

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Long time observer of State and Local Politics. Charlie was born and raised in Whatcom County Washington. Served in the US Air Force in the 70's and served for 12 years on the Meridian School Board (north of Bellingham Washington) and a stint on the County Charter Review Commission. Retired except for Blogging and enjoying life.

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