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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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June 30, 2008 8:15 AM

What Gregoire did, and didn't do, to bring plant to E. Washington

Posted by David Postman

I was talking to a smart friend over the weekend who bemoaned the oh-so-careful approach Gov. Chris Gregoire is taking to governing. He’s a supporter. But he worries that out of fear of alienating someone, somewhere, Gregoire has traded activism for near-paralysis.

Not that I would ever argue with said smart guy. But his point was made for him in an in-depth piece by Chris Mulick of the Tri-City Herald. Mulick dug into Gregoire’s role in the Tri-Cities’ push for a $2 billion uranium enrichment plant that would have created 400, high-paying jobs. The plant ended up in Idaho.

But rather than champion a project she feared would be controversial in some environmental circles, Gregoire deployed a "balanced approach" of not publicly promoting or opposing the project. …

Gregoire's unwillingness to play a more active role in recruiting what would have been a major economic development score for the state, Eastern Washington and the Tri-Cities has left even some of her strongest supporters shaken.

"There is a real disconnect between many of us in the Tri-Cities, including your friends and supporters, and you concerning your effort in support of siting the Areva plant in Richland," wrote Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Mike Lawrence, a longtime friend of the governor, in a May 7 e-mail.

Gregoire told Mulick that her support was unambiguous and that no one from Areya ever expressed any concerns about her support.

Read the well-told story.

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Posted by R. Travaille

10:24 AM, Jun 30, 2008

Well I guess that they should have made a Big Contribution to her!!

Posted by Particle Man

10:39 AM, Jun 30, 2008

I found the base story to be interesting but do not walk away the least bit shocked at our somewhat tepid effort to have the plant located here.
Look our state has suffered greatly as a result of being abandoned by the federal government in regard to clean up promises never kept. The voters have spoken on the issue of bringing more waste here even if the courts shot them down. So perhaps we should be a little less quick to give up too much in order to bring more nuke waste generating industry here.
The Gov and Mr. Baldwin have, as the record shows, done a great job of attracting jobs to our state. If they were a bit less enthusiastic in attracting a nuke industry here, I for one give them a big thumbs up.

Posted by Jimd

10:42 AM, Jun 30, 2008


Okay, I read the entire herald article.
One has to wade through fifteen rather subjective, unflattering sentences framing opinions of the governor before we get to the problem;

"Areva never demanded tax incentives or other enticements to build its plant in Washington, which would have added an annual payroll of nearly $30 million to the Tri-City economy. But it did want assurances the project wouldn't be scuttled in the permit process and sought political support from the highest levels of state government."

The rest of the impressively detailed chronology paints a picture of a company that wouldn't answer questions or provide waste management details to the governor's office, wouldn't do its own promotion outside the immediate Tri-Cities area...and basically wanted the governor to personally promise she'd support them in any permit problems that might develop.

What permit conflicts was Areva anticipating, didn't want to discuss in detail with anyone but the governor, and eventually left the state over even though the Tri-Cities location would have produced lower transportation costs?
Areva didn't say - to anyone, apparently.
Why didn't Areva provide Baldwin with the specific nature of its concerns about the permits?
Do they only bribe governors personally?

Sure - "Areva never demanded tax incentives or other enticements to build its plant in Washington."
But it certainly intended to ask for permit variance so profound, they finally skipped Washington when they didn't get a personal promise from the governor, even though the Tri-Cities location would have dramatically reduced it's transportation costs.

Sorry about the jobs, but good for Gregoire.
It would be an irresponsible dereliction of duty to make that kind of open-ended promise - especially to a company intending to produce low-level radioactive waste.
Sometimes prudent governance is just that.
If it hurts or helps her political favor - and it will no doubt do both - that's secondary.
She acted as a responsible administrator in the face of a company that clearly didn't want to play fair, so far as I can tell.

Posted by JimD

10:54 AM, Jun 30, 2008

...and if you want to consider the political ramifications, consider what republicans would be saying if she HAD done the backdoor deal Areva wanted while accepting their campaign contributions...lol

Posted by John

11:20 AM, Jun 30, 2008

What a bunch of bull.....
We really need hearings to determine the real facts.
This is one guys opinion what he thinks happen.
I'm not buying this at all, knowing her as I do.
You shouldn't either. I would bet she wanted a kickback and they wouldn't play her game.

Posted by Ezra Meeker

11:37 AM, Jun 30, 2008

She doesn't need Eastern Washington votes when she has the King County Elections Department (motto: We don't stop counting until you win).

Posted by Particle Man

11:44 AM, Jun 30, 2008

Of the two candidates for Governor, only one has a record of seeking to line his pockets by trading upon his influence and that candidate is Dino Rossi.
Tools like you John can make totally unfounded statements all you want. It is a free country after all. But you are barking up the wrong tree. We are fortunate to have a governor of the highest ethical standards who has never taken cash in connection with her duties as a public servant. Dino on the other hand did so while holding lower office and one shudders to think just how far down he would drag our state if elected.
No, this case involves nothing more than a kind of business that the state did not rush over the cliff to attract, and the kind of business that should be regulated and should meet permitting requirements.

Posted by Bothsides

11:46 AM, Jun 30, 2008

Very well put Ezra!

I'd like to know where all the companies are that Chris promised to bring to the state, such as drug compnaies and high tech?? Did Phizer build a research facility here?

Posted by John

12:02 PM, Jun 30, 2008

Particle Man wrote:

" We are fortunate to have a governor of the highest ethical standards who has never taken cash in connection with her duties as a public servant. "

You should at least post a barf alert before posting this.

So your against hearings to find the real truth?

She has never ever done anything proactive unless she gets money for it.

Posted by Particle Man

12:29 PM, Jun 30, 2008

John asks "So your against hearings to find the real truth?"
Actually John, I think we should have hearings leading to changes in how we finance elections after every election cycle.

Political contributions to a campaign party or PAC must be better managed but these do not equate with an elected official or candidate who routinely seeks cash for their own personal use in exchange for influence.
This has been the case with Dino Rossi and news organizations and voters should insist that Dino release all of the records in connection with the purchase and sale of the apartment building he purchased in partnership with lobbyists.

Posted by John

1:19 PM, Jun 30, 2008

particle man wrote:
"This has been the case with Dino Rossi and news organizations and voters should insist that Dino release all of the records in connection with the purchase and sale of the apartment building he purchased in partnership with lobbyists."

Your sounding like the bias I mention to whoever about the seattle times they do the same thing and much more.
The heading of this posting is Gregoire; I read the whole thing never seen Rossi name about this deal, except for a note about her steeling the election in 2004. When you have no defense change the subject typical "d's" tactic.
Ok you won, makes you feel good now?

Posted by Turbine

1:55 PM, Jun 30, 2008

Since the Governor could not and would not over ride he SEPA or EIS process it is apparent from the article that AREVA was not looking for any variances, but some indication that the State would not purposely their project outside of the normal review process. Gregoires unwillingness to expand existing facilities is more a reflection of her bias and that of her donor base. Now if they were talking about putting in a casino, thats a different story.

Posted by Particle Man

2:16 PM, Jun 30, 2008

John my young friend, it was you that suggested that there was a connection between the lack of an all out effort to land this employer and some sort of corruption.
This unfounded allegation was just a continuation of the bull you have posted on other threads.
I for one am not going to sit by and watch Rossi, his campaign, the BIAW or some random fool push such a notion when in fact it is Rossi with the record of seeking personal gain from offices he has held.

Posted by John

2:45 PM, Jun 30, 2008

All I said is we should have hearings to find the truth.

You know get lawyers look into any misgivings.

We don't have enough evidence to establish corruption so we need the hearings.

I thought you guys where in favor of hearings.

Posted by Moonzini

2:50 PM, Jun 30, 2008

The detractors that do not think that this economic driver (AREVA) would not have been a great shot in the arm for our community and state will be looking for answers once the $2.2 Billion dollar deficit that the state is potentially facing will come reality very soon

Posted by DLS

4:17 PM, Jun 30, 2008

It would have been nice if the Governor even wanted to be involved but since its an election year, and of course, because she's afraid of the "N" word, it's no wonder she and her handlers in Olympia let this fall to the way side. Wake up west siders....there is a difference between defense nuclear waste (bad) and commercial nuclear waste(bad, but manageable). It would be nice if instead of listening to the misinformation provided by the Pollet's of the world, you worked a little harder on educating yourself about the nuclear industry as a whole. Every other country in the world is turning back to nuclear because its clean, efficient, and RENEWABLE and produces no carbon emissions. In the last 30 years, the nuclear industry has made huge strides in waste management and the industry is still one of the safest industries in the world today.

Basically, AREVA was not trying to get a better deal, they just knew what kind of emotional ignorance exists in the state of Washington what the politics are when it comes to the nuclear industry. They just wanted to make sure if they spent the money, that at least they would be afforded a fair shake in the permitting process and the governor and her staff would not put roadblocks up to ensure they didn't get them. In the enitre process, she picks up the ohone once??? And she NEVER meets with the business recruitment folks in TC and AREVA so they talk about the opportunity to expand here in the state? Nope, she just didn't want to deal with this industrybecause she is once again more worried about her politics than the welfare of her state and constituents. Bottom line is she did not engage nor did her staff even though many people tried to get her to become involved...I don't think it's too much to ask for your state to get more hands on when it comes o looking at a possible investment of $2Billion (yes, I said billion) in your economy. True, this was a loss for the Tri-Cities; but on a much bigger scale --it was a loss to the state of Washington...union workers who would have gotten lots of work building the plant (3 yr process), four hundred $60+K jobs. And, folks this wasn't a federal job...this was private corporation already in state who already employs 625 people with high paying jobs...anybody ever heard of business retention and expansion?? Gregoire just blew off the biggest single private investment this state has seen in over a decade....after this debacle, and the fact she gave away casino $...not to mention tax and spend mentality....it is time for her to go.

Posted by DLS

5:17 PM, Jun 30, 2008

Oh, and by the way....AREVA didn't demand tax based incentives....we already have one of the most competitive corporate business climate...however, itwas Idaho who had to go to their legisalture to get the same tax incentives that WA already has in place to even the playing field for IDAHO.

This business recruitment opportunity was a no brainer for this state...and an economic developer's dream... a home run. The only reason this was not sited in WA was because our state refused to even open the door or even put out a welcome mat....period.

She shouldn't be touting the letter she rceived from AREVA...it is what we in the industry call a "courtesy" letter...

Posted by JimD

6:59 PM, Jun 30, 2008

No, DLS.
There's an initiative mandated objection to moving more nuclear industry into the state until we make some progress resolving the waste already abandoned here by the feds.
Yes - it was overruled in court.
But that did not change the minds of those who believe we should resolve previous broken promises regarding nuclear waste, before adding new ones.

You do not mention this political reality once in your two-part post, other than to dismiss Washingtonians as ignorant - apparently for not wanting to risk another deception from folks "in the industry" (this time private enterprise, but none the less managers of nuclear waste.)

The truth is, Gregoire was not willing to promise a sure thing because she answers to us - not you.

Posted by John

7:44 PM, Jun 30, 2008

Whoever,

Who is us? , Red China ,terrorist, Castro,Chavez did I miss a group?

Posted by Jan

9:31 PM, Jun 30, 2008

Paralysis and "too careful" compared to: Gary Locke?

The Locke administration that preceeded Gregoire was hands down the most careful to a fault.

Gregoire is much bolder and has accomplished more in three years than Locke did in eight.

This Tri-City thing appears to be a case of the Governor refusing to cut a sweet deal on permits even as her best friends in Richland were on the bandwagon. Looks like her staff was on to the game. Good for them.

This state is not hysterically anti-nuclear. A recent poll showed 52% of voters favor nuclear energy. People in the Tri-Cities have no monopoly when it comes to understanding nuclear. There are plenty of reasonable people all over the state on the subject.

But that's not the issue here. Thanks to the Governor and her staff for playing by the book on this one. Shame on the gang in the Tri-Cities for failing to see the obvious.

They might want to consider whether the spill the beans spleening over their failure to get Areva will make other potential employers think twice before considering the Tri-Cities, for fear of being drug the the mud if they make a different choice.

Bad form guys. Move on.

Posted by Turbine

10:10 PM, Jun 30, 2008

Jans retort is almost as weak as the Governor's formal response where she touts statewide job growth. It will not make much difference to the community watching 600 family wage jobs head east.

Posted by JimD

11:55 PM, Jun 30, 2008

I think this statement posted above, from somebody who identifies as part of the nuclear industry, says it all:

"...Basically, AREVA was not trying to get a better deal, they just knew what kind of emotional ignorance exists in the state of Washington what the politics are when it comes to the nuclear industry. They just wanted to make sure if they spent the money, that at least they would be afforded a fair shake in the permitting process and the governor and her staff would not put roadblocks up to ensure they didn't get them..."

I'm not surprised a company that holds such arrogant contempt for Washingtonians to begin with (according to the self-identified nuclear rep who posted this above), would try selling this "we didn't want any favors" BS to us ignorant and emotional people.
What kind of fools did they take us for?
Oh wait - the above poster made that perfectly clear.
Good riddance to an arrogant company that wasn't up to the task of securing permits on their objective merits, or promoting themselves to a state that's been badly burned before - and has a nuclear waste mess to prove it.
If this is representative of the born-again nuclear industry, our concerns over their competence to handle themselves professionally and responsibly are not unfounded.

Posted by Turbine

7:53 AM, Jul 01, 2008

So despite the fact that AREVA already has a substantial corporate footprint the TRI-CITIES and they were looking for buy in from the State for an expansion, the Governor snubbs them.

I think JimD needs to provide evidence that this company was looking to circumvent the permitting process based on the objective merits of their application? He cannot, because they never got that far. The Governor apparently has a "Winners" list of businesses that she will or will not allow in the State. Maybe the quickest way to resolve issues like this is simply to publish the list and not allow others to even apply. And if there are businesses that she doesn't like right now she can encorage them to move on. How is that Bio-fuels thing working out for you Governor? Way to pick them.

Posted by Particle Man

10:51 AM, Jul 01, 2008

Jan, has been paying attention. The nuke industry must be courted with a high level of caution. We are lucky that our governor brings much experience with her to the job. Her years at DOE and as our AG give her a depth of understanding about this industry and the ramifications that would come from giving "assurances" about the permit process.
This business might have located here without a few generations of harm, but we ended up in a bidding war with Idaho and a win may have exposed taxpayers across this state to far more expense than could be justified.

Posted by Bothsides

11:36 AM, Jul 01, 2008

Yeah, PM, how's that tobacco settlement money that she lead the lawsuit on going, I mean only 3% has been spent on what it was intended for. I voted for her when she was AG, never again, that was the biggest sham ever pulled over on us. Smokers ended up paying every dime of that lawsuit, so it was in essence, a huge tax increase on smokers, period.

Posted by Particle Man

3:11 PM, Jul 01, 2008

Smoking out bothsides, you really should kick that nasty addiction. Even your blog entry's are getting raspy.
AK!

Posted by Jan

8:53 PM, Jul 01, 2008

The more I look into this, the more I'd like to know the whole story, not just the one reported in the Tri-City Herald.

In looking at Idaho's play, the Idaho Falls group managed to secure the support of most all the political leadership of the state, from Hayden Lake to Rexburg, along with everyone from Idaho in Washington, DC. The Governor was a small part of the whole pitch.

TRIDEC seems to have failed at outreach - or at least failed to match the depth of the outreach in Idaho Falls.

The other thing people are talking up in nuclear circles is the idea that the Bush Administration had the final say with Areva, which is controlled by the Sarkozi government of France. For Areva, permits by the feds, as well as the state, matter. And anything internationally nuclear runs through the federal government.

It appears that the Bush Administration may havesupported the GOP of Idaho's congressional delegation, including its two GOP US Senators and GOP Governor, as opposed to Washington's D's - who are from a state no Bush has ever carried. It also appears that the Administration saw the hay TRIDEC had been making about the Governor of Washington's conditional support, whihc was one among many reasons why Washington state was not viewed as a front runner for Areva.

It doesn;t appear to me that e-mails from the Governor's office will tell the complete story. The TC Herlad might also want e-mails from the Bush Administration. Then we really might find out what sort of politics were at play.

Maybe McClatchy can turn all of its resources on this story to get to the bottom of it, as opposed to relying on the whims of the publisher of the Tri-City Herald.

Posted by upchuck

10:13 PM, Jul 01, 2008

i would love it if poster "DLS" would explain to us how nuclear energy is "RENEWABLE"???

Posted by JimD

11:14 PM, Jul 01, 2008

"...I think JimD needs to provide evidence that this company was looking to circumvent the permitting process based on the objective merits of their application? He cannot, because they never got that far. The Governor apparently has a "Winners" list of businesses that she will or will not allow in the State...."

The proof they didn't think they could pass muster on the objective merits of their permit requests is evidenced by how they packed-up and left because the governor didn't send them a fruit basket and a promise to get them over the rough spots.
What was there for them to discuss, if not a commitment from Gregoire that AREVA would receive extra-ordinary treatment?
The state might create"roadblocks"?
Well HELL yes - if their permit applications weren't worthy.

I opened a business in Washington, but I didn't ask for a meeting with the mayor first to make sure he could grease the skids if my various applications for licenses and permits didn't pass muster.

And to top it all off, the article (above) certainly makes it sound like AREVA wasn't even sure what they wanted to talk with Gregoire about, or didn't want to discuss it with anyone else.
have they yet revealed their SPECIFIC concern, except that they didn't want any "roadblocks".
They seem more offended she didn't come rushing down to kiss their feet.

Having said all that - and considering that AREVA is indeed in-state and would have dumped some serious money into the tri-cities....I'm willing to credit Gregoire with a lack of social grace.
She could have met them at Denny's for some pie and coffee.
But I like my representatives to behave in a PROFESSIONAL manner, especially with the nuclear industry.
And AREVA's insistence on a personal, private meeting with a yet undisclosed agenda, sure looks like a big, yellow caution light to me.

If they can't state their concerns and communicate effectively with the subordinate she delegated them to, it's probably best they moved on.

Posted by upchuck

11:53 AM, Jul 03, 2008

seriously, how can anyone claim that nuclear energy is "renewable"?!? (in caps mind you)

...and therefore why should i believe anything else from anyone who would make such a claim?

Posted by upchuck

10:10 PM, Jul 06, 2008

i thought so....

and i was really hoping someone would humor me by explaining how nuclear energy is "renewable" before this thread gets bumped likely by tomorrow

Posted by JohnnyK

12:23 PM, Jul 07, 2008

If a company is going to invest $2 billion in our state shouldn't the governor or her office get intimately involved in the deal to ensure success for both the state and the company? Yes they had questions, but isn't $2,000,000,000 enough to pursue the answers to those questions?

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