News Maury Island Bill Stripped
posted by March 29 at 12:23 PMon
Sen. Erik Poulsen’s (D-34, West Seattle) bill to stop Glacier Northwest’s from expanding its mining operation on Maury Island passed out of the House committee yesterday, but only after an emotional fight (in the Dem caucus) stripped the bill clean.
A devastating amendment offered by Rep. Al O’Brien (D-1, Mountlake Terrace) stipulates that if the commissioner of public lands (Doug Sutherland, who wants to keep Glacier on Maury Island) isn’t able to find comparable mining land for Glacier by November, 2007, the company can expand its operations as planned.
Supporters of the bill, however, are happy that it even made it out of the House Committee (it was in the Select Committee on Puget Sound—a new committee that oversees environmental issues), and they are crossing their fingers that the bill will be strengthened back to relevance on the House floor and/or in conference with the strong bill that Senator Poulsen passed out of the Senate.
However, bill sponsor Poulsen tells me that’s not likely. “The chance of it making it out of the House at all, much less with its teeth put back in is pretty slim.”
Senator Poulsen, who represents Maury Island, sounded bitter about the defeat: “Glacier got to a few key legislators [Rep. O’Brien and Rep. Larry Springer (D-45, Kirkland)] to make sure the bill never made it out of the House in tact. This is the classic story of a huge multinational corporation with unlimited resources against a tiny community that doesn’t have political muscle.”
Opponents of the bill, like lobbyist Steve Gano, argued that preventing Glacier from expanding wasn’t fair play for a company that already had leasing agreements, and more important, that it would cost the island jobs.
I’m checking into lobbyist expenditure reports to see exactly what Senator Poulsen meant about Glacier’s lobbying campaign on Reps. O’Brien and Springer. More on that soon.
Gano’s firm, Gano & Associates, is, by the way, the fourth biggest lobbying firm in the state when judged by revenues. They took in $602,000 in compensation last year according to the Public Disclosure Commission.