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WA Building Trades: Jobs, Not Politics, Should Drive Export Terminal Decisions

Vancouver Energy Export Terminal

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In an op-ed for the News-Tribune, Teamsters Joint Council 28 President, Rick Hicks, and Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary, Lee Newgent, ask those opposed to the proposed Gateway Pacific, Millennium Bulk, and Vancouver Energy export terminals to reconsider their position given the jobs and expanded infrastructure that the projects will bring to the region.  The projects are opposed by Governor Jay Inslee as well as members of the Seattle and Tacoma City Council due to reservations about shipping natural resources abroad. 

The state’s geographic location means it relies heavily on trade, and Hicks and Newgent suggest this makes it a gold mine for job growth:

Developing these export facilities would create more than 9,000 jobs during construction and more than 2,100 permanent, full-time, family wage jobs with an annual payroll of more than $115 million.

It is estimated that the Gateway Pacific project alone will be responsible for 4,400 full-time jobs during two years of construction and 1,250 ongoing positions after construction is complete. Some crafts in the building trades have sustained 30 to 40 percent unemployment for more than three years, so this is no small thing.

What’s more, nearly $1.5 billion in private investment has been proposed to get shipping at these terminals up and running. That has dual benefits: additional family wage jobs, coupled with critical upgrades to aging road, bridge, rail, and other transit infrastructure to handle the expanded shipping capacity now and into the future.

Finally, the additional tax revenue for our communities provides significant benefit – an estimated $25 billion annually – to our schools, community and social support programs.

The reality of the situation is that these natural resources — coal, oil, methanol, and other fossil fuels — will wind up in China regardless, as they seek to increase their trade capacities with the United States.  Both California and Canada are simultaneously attempting to beef up their ports to send these goods abroad if Washington cannot.  Inaction will only hurt the state’s economy. Politicizing fossil fuel trade with China is convenient for those running for office, but does not look out for the long-term interests of the region, Hicks and Newgent insist:

Our leaders should take the long view and recognize the payoffs the investments associated with these terminals will have both today and well into the future. It is time to set aside political ideology, listen closely to the growing support for these projects from a broad range of supporters, and take the action necessary to invest in our workers.


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