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Riddell Williams Environmental Team Helps Secure Washington Supreme Court Victory

On January 12, the Riddell Williams Environmental Practice Group obtained a significant victory on behalf of its client, the Coalition of Coastal Fisheries (CCF), at the Washington Supreme Court. Riddell Williams attorneys Gus Winkes, Emerson Hilton, and Loren Dunn filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of CCF in August 2016.

In its first opinion addressing the scope of Washington’s Ocean Resources Management Act (ORMA), the Supreme Court agreed with CCF and other parties that ORMA includes project review criteria that should have been considered in the permitting process for proposed crude oil shipping terminals in Grays Harbor. The Court adopted CCF’s argument that the statute’s plain language should control.

As the Supreme Court explained, ORMA is intended to be a “balancing tool.” The statute does not preclude coastal development in the state. But it does require permitting authorities to conduct a careful review of specific statutory project review criteria. On remand, local and state permitting authorities must now assess whether the proposed oil terminals satisfy those criteria. This groundbreaking case will likely guide the planning and permitting processes for other major coastal projects in Washington.

CCF is a non-profit trade organization that represents the interests of its members, which include Washington commercial fishing organizations, oyster growers, fish processors, and charter boat operators.

The Riddell Williams Environmental Practice Group has played a key part in addressing some of the most challenging environmental issues in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the nation.  Our group’s clients include utilities, pulp and paper manufacturers, petroleum companies, regional energy companies, airlines and airfreight carriers, steel manufacturers, waste management companies, technology businesses, real estate development partnerships, private landowners, and some of the state’s leading environmental groups.

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The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Riddell Williams or its clients.  This material is for general informational purposes and is not intended to be, and should not be taken as, legal advice.