Description: Challenge to approval for construction of cogeneration facility at paper mill.
PT Air Watchers v. Washington
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 02/27/2014 Opinion Download Agency decision upheld. The Washington Supreme Court affirmed determinations of the Department of Ecology (Ecology) authorizing the construction of a cogeneration facility at an existing kraft pulp and paper mill in Port Townsend, Washington. In its review under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), Ecology issued a determination of nonsignificance for the project, which would increase the burning of woody biomass and add an electrical turbine to one of the mill’s steam boilers. In determining that greenhouse gas emissions from the project would not have significant adverse impacts, Ecology invoked the preference in state law (RCW 70.235.020(3)) for use of biomass fuel, combustion of which is part of the earth’s carbon cycle. Ecology also projected that by increasing the use of woody biomass, the project would reduce fossil fuel use by 1.8 million gallons each year. The court said that the invocation of the state statute was “a legitimate reference point” for Ecology to consider, and that SEPA did not require a statement regarding the exact amount of carbon dioxide that would be emitted by the project. The court also said that Ecology did not need to calculate the specific greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation of the biomass to the facility since its estimates of additional truck routes needed to transport the fuel were “sufficient to evaluate the general change in greenhouse gas emissions.”