Northwest NEWS

December 14, 1998

Front Page

Pipeline resolution in doubt

by Andrew Walgamott, staff reporter

   WOODINVILLE--A simple resolution stating the Woodinville City Council's opposition to a proposed fuel line has been drawn up, but the question is, will there be enough councilmembers to pass it?

   Last week, two councilwomen in attendance vocally opposed the Olympic Pipe Line Company's Cross Cascade Pipeline, but the four councilmen there weren't willing to take a stand one way or the other. Without four votes, a resolution couldn't be passed then. The council will discuss it again tonight, Dec. 14.

   Citing concern for the environment, Councilwomen Marsha Engel and Barbara Solberg argued last week that Woodinville should make a statement against the 230-mile fuel line. It would cross Little Bear Creek two miles north of the city limits.

   "We've had major problems with oil seeping into the ground whether it's here or in Maine. I can't stand by and allow this to happen as a parent, an educator, or an elected official," Engel said.

   But their male colleagues were unsure that tossing Woodinville's hat into the ring of opposition would matter. Mayor Don Brocha felt as if he were trapped in the middle of an economic battle between the pipeline company, whose major stockholders are Texaco and Arco, and Tidewater Barge Lines, which stands to lose business if a new fuel line is built.

   Tidewater donated $100,000 to the Cascade Columbia Alliance which opposes construction of the pipeline. The company barges fuel up the Columbia River to the Tri-Cities, which would be the terminal for the proposed pipeline.

   Deputy Mayor Scott Hageman said that information from either side hasn't always been clear.

   At last week's council meeting, an opponent argued rather deceptively that Woodinville should be concerned because the pipeline will cross the Tolt River from which the city gets its water. In fact, the pipeline would cross near the mouth of the Tolt, downstream from where water is withdrawn for use.

   Olympic argues that the pipeline, which would begin near Thrashers Corner and end in the Tri-Cities, would take trucks off I-90. But a new line would also create a new corridor for risk of spills where there currently isn't a threat.

   Brocha wasn't convinced that Woodinville's position would make a "candle flicker."

   But Engel argued a resolution would "send a message to the governor's office that this municipality doesn't want to be endangered by a petroleum pipeline."

   After hearings next year, the state's Energy Facility Site Evaluation Committee will make a recommendation to Governor Gary Locke.

   "I'd rather go down fighting, knowing I'd lose than say, 'oh well,'" said Engel.

   Neither Councilmen Bob Miller or Randy Ransom were willing to take a stand at first, though Ransom appeared to have had second thoughts. Councilwoman Carol Bogue was absent from the meeting.