Northwest NEWS

December 21, 1998

Local News

City: require 'stringent' measures on pipeline

by Andrew Walgamott, staff reporter

   WOODINVILLE--The Woodinville City Council called on state officials to "require the most stringent mitigations, standards, and inspections neccesary to protect the environment" if a proposed petroleum pipeline is built north of the city limits.

   At their final meeting of the year, in one of their last pieces of business, councilmembers reached a compromise position on the Olympic Pipe Line Company's Cross Cascade Pipeline, taking the word "opposing" from the resolution's title in favor of "concerning." They also added language expressing doubt about the need for a new fuel line.

   Councilwoman Marsha Engel, who along with Councilwoman Barbara Solberg had pushed for flat-out opposition, still believes the resolution makes a strong statement.

   "I think it's a resolution that sends a message to the governor's office that we want as much protection as possible whether they use the pipeline or waterways [to transport oil products]," said Engel.

   She and Solberg both had concerns about groundwater, and what a pipeline leak might do to the water supply. Though the new pipeline wouldn't cross the city's borders, their concern is bolstered by the fact the Cross Valley Water District in south Snohomish County is opposing the fuel line which would cross their aquifer.

   The cities of North Bend and Snoqualmie also oppose the pipeline. The pipeline would stretch from Thrashers Corner to Duvall south to Snoqualmie Pass thence to Pasco.

   For Engel, opposing the pipeline reflects the direction the city is going on environmental issues. She said passing a resolution, which seemed in doubt until the compromise was reached last week, is "representative of our efforts to become more environmentally sensitive."

   Over the past few years, Woodinville has become "greener." It's been recognized as a Tree City, USA, appointed a Tree Board, named a pair of heritage trees, passed an "urban forestry plan," encouraged carpooling, provided shuttles to city events, hired a recycling coordinator, discussed a backyard wildlife sanctuary program, and had tremendous success with planting the city's "flagship park" last October.

   Engel, one of three councilmembers who has served since incorporation and perhaps the greenest of a fairly green council, has been in the thick of things. Earlier this year, she worked on legislation protecting neighborhood trees, getting it passed despite some councilmembers' concerns about private property rights.

   Though Engel has said she doesn't intend to run for council again, she may be building a base for a re-election campaign. Rumors have circulated that a Woodinville Water District commissioner will run for her post this fall.

   Opponents of the pipeline had lobbied the city to oppose it, and Engel and Solberg seemed willing to oblige. But other councilmembers were leery. Some felt trapped in the middle of an economic battle between oil transportation industries, and another questioned whether both sides' facts were always clear.

   Mayor Don Brocha said taking an opposition stance would have required far more information and time than the council gave to the issue. He, and three other councilmen, had indicated their reluctance to even vote on a resolution two weeks ago. But with retooling, they passed the issue.

   While Brocha felt the resolution was good, he said it also reflected the reality that we are a mobile society that depends on petroleum products.

   Representatives from both Olympic and the Cascade Columbia Alliance had appeared at several city meetings on the issue. Last week, a public affairs employee for Olympic had urged the city to either table the resolution or vote against it.

   A state siting committee will make a recommendation to Gov. Gary Locke to either approve or deny the pipeline. Locke has the final say.