Asked this week about this summer’s decision to preempt Kittitas County’s rejection of the controversial Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project Washington Public Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland said it was an easy call.
“Our conversation was really quite short,” said Sutherland, who has a representative on the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council.
That body recommended Gov. Chris Gregoire approve the project over the county’s rejection, which she did. The county is now appealing to the state Supreme Court.
Sutherland was asked about it in a meeting with the Herald editorial board because another wind project with potential for controversy is being touted for a Mid-Columbia icon, Rattlesnake Mountain. The mountain makes up the southwest border of the Hanford nuclear reservation.
Just like in the Ellensburg area, residents who have no legal stake in the project are beginning to worry about how it will affect their view of the mountain.
In recommending preemption of the Kittitas County decision in August, the siting council opined that proponents of the KV wind project had met most local land use requirements before county commissioners rejected it.
Sutherland said the message constituents were sending to commissioners at the time was “if they wanted to continue in office politically, you’re not going to allow these instruments. From the county’s position, it was a political decision.”
And under similar circumstances, Sutherland said he’d do the same thing in Benton County with the Rattlesnake Mountain project.
“If it’s important to this state to have alternative forms of energy, and this is an alternative form of energy, yes indeed I would recommend we continue to construct it.”
By Chris Mulick
1 November 2007
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