Washington governor slams plan to use West Coast military bases to ship coal, natural gas

OLYMPIA, Wa. — Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee called a Trump administration proposal to use West Coast military bases and federal properties to ship coal and natural gas to Asia “reckless” and “harebrained.”

Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, confirmed to CNN that she had discussed the proposal with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Cheney supports the “idea of using decommissioned military facilities” on the West Coast as “export terminals for Wyoming coal,” said Maddy Weast, a spokesperson for Cheney.

Zinke spoke with The Associated Press about the proposal.

“Radical environmental groups are blocking the export of Wyoming coal from civilian facilities,” Weast told CNN. “While we pursue legal challenges to the unconstitutional actions of these groups, developing decommissioned military facilities as export terminals is an important alternative.”

Inslee strongly condemned Zinke’s plan, saying in a news release that it “undermines national security” and “states’ rights to enforce necessary health, safety and environmental protections in their communities.”

“The men and women who serve at our military bases are there to keep our country safe, not to service an export facility for private fossil fuel companies,” Inslee said in the release.

Inslee did not discuss the proposal directly with Zinke, according to his news release, but was responding to public reports about it.

“Our state has been left in the dark about the Administration’s latest scheme,” Inslee said in the release. “We’ve seen the news reports but have yet to hear from them in person. This effort is just the latest attempt at an end run around Washington’s authority to safeguard the health and safety of our people.”

When asked about the proposal, Interior Department spokesperson Faith Vander Voort said, “The President and secretary are committed to the men and women of coal country, and it should come as no surprise that Secretary Zinke has put a number of options on the table to revitalize these communities and achieve American energy dominance.”

Zinke described the matter as an issue of national security in an interview with the Associated Press.

“I respect the state of Washington and Oregon and California,” Zinke told the Associated Press. “But also, it’s in our interest for national security and our allies to make sure that they have access to affordable energy commodities.”

California, Washington and Oregon ranked among the 10 states with the best energy efficiency scores in 2018, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. California was number two, Oregon was number seven and Washington was number nine.