Lee Newgent, Executive Secretary of the Washington Building and Construction Trades Council, writes in the Puget Sound Business Journal that the state of Washington outside the city of Seattle needs infrastructure projects like Vancouver Energy for workers to feed their families.

While Seattle thrives with new projects and construction, other parts of the state are starved for economic development. In my line of work, that can make a world of difference for a young family struggling to get by.

Newgent was one of 30 labor leaders from 20 different unions who recently delivered a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee urging him to support the oil-by-rail terminal. The labor leaders wrote in the letter that Vancouver Energy is “an important project for our state, region and county.”

Vancouver Energy will provide 300 jobs in the building trades, and support 1,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs. Annually the terminal will also bring in $1.6 billion in labor income and more than $2 billion in total economic impact. During construction, Vancouver Energy will pay $22 million in state and local taxes and $7.8 million in taxes annually.

Newgent writes in his op-ed that energy projects like Vancouver Energy, outside the city of Seattle, improve the state of Washington’s entire economy and the state’s freight rail infrastructure.

It’s easy to criticize energy projects (like Vancouver Energy) when you live in King County and enjoy the benefits of light rail, strong public transit and a robust job market. But it’s not like that outside of Seattle. Construction work is hard to find close to home in Longview or Kelso. These families are trying to prevent foreclosures and rural flight.

It’s worth noting these energy projects are all located in parts of the state where there is no Amazon or Microsoft. There is no information technology boom in Kalama. And there is a definitive lack of other non-fossil fuel industries seeking to invest in these communities. The projects being targeted are privately funded and are the only proposed users of the proposed sites.

Rather, we should find tried and true economic drivers — working ports — that are driving private investments that are integral to our trade-based economy.

Investments in export terminals can also be used to boost our freight rail capacity for agricultural products. But without these private dollars, our ports and railways, on which our whole state relies, will also start to recede. That will be problematic for everyone — including the city of Seattle.

We are the most trade dependent state in the nation: one in four jobs here is tied to trade. And our trade infrastructure is a vital component of our economy.

Read more about the economic benefits of Vancouver Energy in Washington state here.

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