Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Oct. 21, 2020

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Kalama methanol plant review to include emissions; best wishes to Jim Moeller

The Columbian

heers: To considering the environment. A Cowlitz County judge has ruled that the environmental review of a proposed methanol refining project in Kalama must include analysis of potential greenhouse gas emissions. Northwest Innovation Works is planning a $2 billion facility to refine methanol from natural gas for shipment to China.

In considering large energy projects — such as a now-abandoned plan for an oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver and a proposed coal terminal in Longview — the state would be remiss to ignore the global impact and the threat of climate change. Carbon emissions must be counted among the costs of a project for residents in Washington and beyond. Providing a complete picture of a project’s repercussions is the only way for state regulators to make an informed decision when considering whether to approve the Kalama refinery.

Jeers: To false warnings. Some residents in Clallam County heard a false tsunami warning this week, and officials say it was the result of a Jefferson County official testing a new cellphone app. Warning sirens along the coast sent out test alarms, but residents in Clallam heard a real tsunami warning.

As false warnings go, it doesn’t match the supposed threat of incoming missiles that was sent to Hawaii residents earlier this year, but tsunami sirens can grab your attention. This follows an incident last month in which a highway sign told motorists “U SUCK” along Interstate 5 near Seattle, an episode that was attributed to a training error. We hope that officials in Washington and elsewhere get a better handle on the technology at their disposal before an incident leads to real trouble.

Best wishes: To Jim Moeller. Longtime Clark County political figure Jim Moeller revealed that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Moeller, 62, is a former Vancouver City Councilor and seven-term Democratic state representative. He has announced plans to run for Clark County Council this year and says he will remain in the race.

“It will not get in the way, because my brain is fine,” he said of the degenerative neurological disease. “I’m going to keep going until I die, because there is nothing wrong with my brain.” We wish Moeller well in battling the disease and in working for the people of Clark County, whether or not he is in office.

Jeers: To illegal gambling. Agents from the Washington State Gambling Commission have arrested four people while breaking up an illegal sports gambling ring in Wenatchee. Authorities had received complaints that several businesses in the city were taking wagers on Mexican soccer matches.

As anybody who has run an office basketball pool knows, it’s not difficult to find people willing to gamble on sports. But the extent of the Wenatchee operation is surprising; officials seized two vehicles, more than $65,000 in cash, and froze nearly $128,000 in bank accounts. For those tempted to take a few bets on Toluca vs. Club Tijuana, here’s a reminder: Unregulated gambling is illegal.

Cheers: To welcoming visitors. Workers recently performed some spring planting at the “Welcome to Washington” sign along Interstate 5 near the Fourth Plain Boulevard exit. With five types of sunpatiens — electric orange, coral, lilac, white and magenta — the small garden will offer a colorful invitation to visitors throughout the summer.

For nearly a decade, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Master Gardner Program from the Washington State University Extension have planted about 2,500 flowers at the site, providing a splash of color for those entering the state. The annual planting is a welcome sign that summer will soon be arriving.