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Qinault Indian Nation v. Imperium Terminal Services, LLC

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20008
Nos. 92552-6, (Wash., 01/12/2017)

The Washington Supreme Court held that the state's Ocean Resources Management Act (ORMA) applies to two bulk liquid storage companies' oil terminal expansions on the shores of Gray Harbor. The two companies applied to expand their bulk liquid storage terminals to allow for the receipt, storage, and shipment of crude oil, biofuels, and other fuel products. Environmental and indigenous groups claimed that the projects violated the State Environmental Policy Act because the companies' estimates ignored the cumulative impact of their own projects, as well as the foreseeable additional impact of a third, similar project. The state hearings board and the appeals court held that ORMA did not apply to the projects based on limited definitions in the state ecology department's ORMA implementation regulations. The supreme court held that ORMA is to be interpreted liberally and that the ecology department's own promulgated interpretation of the rule contradicts its finding that the rule did not apply to the two projects. The ruling was reversed and remanded to the court of appeals for further proceedings.