A pipeline installation between farms, as seen from 50th Avenue in New Salem, North Dakota. Photo by Tony Webster/flickr

A pipeline installation between farms, as seen from 50th Avenue in New Salem, North Dakota. Photo by Tony Webster/flickr

King County Council approves fossil fuel moratorium

Six-month moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure was narrowly approved

King County has approved a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure for six months, a move that environmental advocates say will help restrict possible pipelines from being built.

The ordinance was introduced by King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, who took a leading role in pushing for the moratorium over the past year after it was introduced by environmental advocacy group 350 Seattle. The moratorium will last for six months and freeze new fossil fuel infrastructure developments across unincorporated King County. It also kicks off a regulatory rewriting process designed to update the county’s land use code and permitting regulations to ban new major fossil fuel infrastructure permanently. Additionally, it requires the King County executive’s office to complete a study on the effects of new fossil fuel facilities in the county.

In particular, the ordinance will focus on changing land use zoning codes to block new bulk storage terminals and refinery or export projects. 350 Seattle hopes this will slow or stop fossil fuel infrastructure such as fracked gas pipelines and oil by rail. Activists packed the council chambers on Jan. 28, delivering impassioned pleas ahead of the vote along with statements from councilmembers.

“Reducing the pollution that causes climate change I think quite possibly is the greatest moral imperative facing my generation,” Upthegrove said during the nearly five-hour meeting.

The moratorium was an emergency action, requiring six votes to approve it. The moratorium was narrowly approved by a 6-3 vote, with councilmembers Kathy Lambert, Reagan Dunn, and Pete von Reichbauer voting against it. Councilmember Kathy Lambert previously told Seattle Weekly she had questions about how the county would meet its energy needs if new fossil fuel projects are blocked.

“What are the consequences of doing that, and how are you going to deal with the fact that you need that energy,” Lambert said in a phone interview last week.

Outside of the council, the moratorium has garnered support from other groups, including Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, which published a 14-page paper urging the council to enact the ordinance.

Their main concerns, as outlined in the paper, dealt with trains or pipelines transporting oil and gas through the county along with coal. In particular, they were worried about a possible expansion related to the proposed methanol refinery in Kalama, which they said would use one-third of the state’s current gas consumption. This could overtax the current infrastructure and possibly lead to greater development on an existing pipeline corridor that passes through King County. In recent years, at least six proposals for new gas pipelines have been made.

Around 100 people signed up to testify at the lengthy meeting Jan. 28. Several councilmembers who voted for the ordinance said it was only a first step. Councilmember Claudia Balducci said residents should also put pressure on legislators in Olympia to pass climate change measures this session.

“We have to change how we live and we have to change how we live much faster than we are used to,” she said.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Politicians get pay raises, state workers get furloughs

A citizens panel approved the hikes in 2019. Unable to rescind them, lawmakers look to donate their extra earnings.

Construction begins for Downtown Park entrance

The previously delayed entryway project is expected to be finished early 2021

Human remains in West Seattle identified

Bags of body parts were found in a suitcase along a West Seattle beach on June 19.

Summer vehicle travel projected to decrease this year

Traffic this summer will likely be lighter across Washington state than previous… Continue reading

Governor Jay Inslee smiles and laughs Sept. 3, 2019, during a speech at the Lynnwood Link Extension groundbreaking in Lynnwood. A Thurston County judge ruled he exceeded his authority when he vetoed single sentences in the state transportation budget in 2019. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)
Judge invalidates Gov. Inslee’s veto in roads budget

Lawmakers said the governor crossed a constitutional line.

King County cases among younger adults drives increase in COVID-19 numbers

Over half of all new cases are among people ages 20-39

Kirkland man found guilty of promoting prostitution in Eastside sex trafficking ring

Authorities say suspect ran “successful enterprise” for greater half of a decade.

Public and private universities, colleges, technical schools, apprenticeship programs and similar schools and programs may resume general instruction, including in-person classes and lectures, starting Aug. 1. Pictured: The University of Washington-Bothell campus. File photo
Universities and colleges may reopen in fall, governor says

His order requires masks and physical distancing, among other measures, to help prevent infections.

Photo courtesy Bellevue Police Department. Suspected stolen merchandise.
Bellevue police arrest Renton man and others in connection to downtown Bellevue looting

Police say they’ve recovered $50,000 in stolen items and identified almost 100 suspects

Most Read