New financial requirements for fossil fuel and non-hydroelectric generation facilities were approved Tuesday by the King County Council’s Local Services and Land Use Committee Tuesday.
New financial requirements for fossil fuel and non-hydroelectric generation facilities were approved Tuesday by the King County Council’s Local Services and Land Use Committee Tuesday. There are currently no such facilities in unincorporated King County, nor are there any known applications pending.
Coming out of a study required under the 2020 Comprehensive Plan updates, the preemptive proposal would require private fossil fuel facilities and non-hydroelectric generation facilities to show proof of financial responsibility sufficient to cover costs for maximum damages resulting from a worst-case fuel release incident, such as a spill, explosion or other incident, and for decommissioning a facility and any potential impacts from that.
Fossil-fuel-related uses that fall under the definition of fossil fuel facilities and are subject to the County’s permitting authority are oil terminal, liquified natural gas plant, and thermal (gas) electric power plants. Non-hydroelectric generation facilities that fall under the purview of this ordinance are electrochemical power generation.
“Today we took important action strengthening environmental protections in the case of a spill, explosion or decommissioning of a fossil fuel facility in unincorporated King County,” said King County Councilmember Sarah Perry. “Recognizing the potential risk both fossil fuel and non-hydroelectric generation facilities can pose to community health and the natural environment, I am proud to offer this legislation that helps protect public health and safety, air and water quality, habitats, and natural resource lands.”
The financial responsibility would likely take the form of bonds for these facilities and the amount would be determined by the Executive based on studies provided when a company applied for such facility. The facilities would also have to undergo reviews every five years. This ordinance builds on legislation previously passed by Council under the leadership of Councilmember Dave Upthegrove.
“Fossil fuel facilities can pose a significant risk to the community, whether it be through the daily pollution of our air or the worst-case scenario of a spill or explosion,” Upthegrove said. “Requiring private facilities to be financially responsible for major impacts to the community is one more step in making King County a cleaner and safer place to live for all.”
The proposal now heads to full council for final consideration.