OLYMPIA — Legislation passed late Monday by the Senate would eliminate excess red tape for federal dredging projects in the vicinity of the Vancouver and Portland ports.
“These local shoreline development permits serve no purpose but to create confusion between our ports and the Army Corps of Engineers,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver), the bill’s sponsor. “The permits are unnecessary to begin with, because they’re redundant, and they’re not even enforceable, because you can’t override the federal government.”
Senate Bill 5125 addresses periodic dredging of a 100-mile stretch of the Columbia River, from its mouth to the general Portland area, to ensure smooth passage for barges and other large vessels. The dredging is funded by Congress and performed by local companies under the supervision of the Corps.
“This aligns our requirements with those already in place for Puget Sound,” Cleveland said. “It will give our ports and our community the geographic parity we need. It also gives my Port of Vancouver, and the residents of my community. greater assurance that the river channel will remain clear and that the movement of critical goods and freight is not impeded.”
The bill’s narrow exemption of certain requirements of the state Shoreline Management Act has the approval and support of the state Department of Ecology.