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“Planned Action” by Port of Moses lake Reduces Permitting Process for New Projects

Posted on Jan 30, 2016

Port of Moses Lake"This is a great thing and it's done," says Port of Moses Lake Executive Director Jeffery Bishop. The Port is wrapping up a "planned action" on 1,200 acres of land in and around the port, Bishop explains. This allows for faster environmental permitting when a company comes to build a new facility at the Port and that will help with recruiting new businesses to Grant County, Bishop explains.

According to Bishop, the Washington State Legislature wanted to give incentives to Boeing to build the 777x aircraft in Washington State. So they allowed for planned actions related to aviation. Bishop says that Everett did it for Boeing, Spokane did one, and now the Port of Moses Lake has done the third one in the state.

What a planned action does is allows the Port to complete ahead of a project the requirements of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), which requires assessments of environmental impacts. The Port did the planned action for all types of industries that zoning allows to build at the port. "Which for us is pretty much anything short of nuclear reactors," Bishop says. This puts companies ahead in their environmental permitting, Bishop explains. "That's a big selling point." And having the SEPA requirements taken care of, Bishop says, reduces the possibility of litigation against the project. "If you wait, it can gum up a company's process and get complicated," he adds. But now when a company applies for a building permit, they will have the SEPA portion of the permitting process finished.

This doesn't, Bishop pointed out, reduce any company's requirements for federal or state permits such as air permits or other environmental permits they may need.

The Port will soon be releasing the final environmental impact statement and then ordinances are needed to be passed by the City of Moses Lake and Grant County, and everything will be in place, Bishop says.

"It's an excellent marketing tool," says Bishop. "It enhances the certainty to the companies" knowing that the science has already been done behind what the environmental impact would be.

Bishop adds that the Port of Moses Lake is grateful for the support of the legislature, the governor, the city of Moses Lake, the county and the Grant County Economic Development Council, and for their help in this project. "Another example of how the Grant County team does well on recruitment," Bishop concludes.