Renton decision on Energize Eastside
CENSE will ask for reconsideration
The Hearing Examiner for Renton has issued his decision on the permit for Energize Eastside. In a 40-page decision focused mostly on pipeline safety, the Examiner concluded that Renton’s land use codes required him to ignore fundamental questions about the need for the project and better alternatives. In keeping with the codes, he approved the permit.
In many ways, the Examiner’s decision provides a textbook example of how dangerous infrastructure is located in our neighborhoods while lacking a holistic view of the problem. The Examiner’s primary sources were studies conducted by PSE’s paid consultants. PSE influences the process by withholding any study that isn’t helpful to the project.
Even so, the truth peeks through some of the Examiner’s findings:
- “The most time intensive and significant issue by far for this proposal was pipeline safety. This Decision contains a detailed assessment of many of the public concerns raised over pipeline safety, because the record does not contain such an applicant or staff response to many of the safety comments submitted for conditional use permit review.” In other words, neither PSE nor the City of Renton addressed public concerns about pipeline safety. The Examiner had to read potentially biased studies and craft his own response.
- “Perhaps the second most significant issue associated with the proposal is the need for the project. [CENSE] brought the need for the proposal to the forefront by well organized and extensive documentation, qualified professionals, talented presenters and a large number of concerned citizens living throughout the Eastside. … CENSE’s participation in the process has clearly been in the public interest and has served the public good by bringing important energy issues into public debate. However, CENSE’s need issues are not pertinent to the review criteria of the conditional use permit under review.” In other words, Renton’s land use codes do not require PSE to prove the project is needed!
The Examiner did not respond to our concern that taller poles and higher voltages present a potentially fatal hazard to families living near the poles. None of PSE’s studies examined this risk.
In the next couple of weeks, CENSE will exercise our right to ask the Examiner for reconsideration of technical and legal issues we feel were incorrectly decided.
We continue to prepare for a hearing in Newcastle, where the land use codes do require examination of need and alternatives. No date for that hearing has been announced.
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