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Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy

Abstract

Washington State's Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) is responsible for siting the state's energy facilities. The current process can frustrate robust public participation. One reason is that applicants must submit a single, comprehensive, application and these submissions have grown to enormous size and complexity. Local groups struggle with responding to these complex applications in time. Additionally, the council uses quasi-judicial adjudication where the applicant is represented by professional counsel, but local groups may lack the financial support to retain comparable counsel. Washington should learn from how New York overhauled its energy facility siting process in 2011. New York's Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (BEGSE) uses a pre-application that identifies key issues and initiates dialogue between the affected parties. Each application then receives a neutral facilitator who mediates disputes between parties during the process. Subsequently, BEGSE provides funds to interested local groups, ensuring they can fully participate in the adjudication. By adopting these procedures for the EFSEC, Washington would improve local and public participation.

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