Judge Orders State to Find Solution to Millennium Aquatic Sublease

Calls previous lease decision “arbitrary and capricious” 

SEATTLE — A Cowlitz County judge’s decision will force the state of Washington to revisit its hasty decision to deny an aquatic lands sublease to Millennium Bulk Terminals.

Calling the state’s actions “arbitrary and capricious, the judge ordered the parties involved in the sublease agreement — in this case the state, along with Northwest Alloys and its sublease holder, Millennium — to work out a solution. Comments made by the judge from the bench confirm what many have believed to be true, namely that the state is acting politically rather than following legal precedent.

“The message the judge sent today seems to be very clear: At the end of the day, state regulators must still follow the law,” said Mariana Parks, spokeswoman for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports. “For too long, the state has acted on its political leanings rather than follow the proper regulatory procedures and protocols in reviewing Millennium’s permits. Today is a small but important victory for the project because we finally see common sense and the rule of law being applied appropriately.”

“It is highly unusual to hear comments of this nature from the bench,” said former state attorney general Rob McKenna. “To me, they suggest the judge is frustrated with the state. For the court to find that a state agency’s decision was ‘arbitrary and capricious’ highlights how out of line the decision really was.”

Parks added: “We hope to see more of this in the future, though it is frustrating that these decisions have to go through the courts to prompt a fair analysis of proceedings.”