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Edwards abandoned all subtlety. Reporters around the state received a departmental news release noting that Washington was due to receive $2 billion from the Department of Energy in 1983, more than any other state. The former South Carolina governor followed up with a letter saying Spellman needed to “correct a number of fundamental deficiencies in the record” of the Site Evaluation Council.
Spellman shot back: “He presupposes what is and what is not in the record. I’ll be the expert on the record by the time it’s over. He won’t. … The secretary has the process backward. The EFSEC hearings were an opportunity for all of the parties that had an interest to make their cases, to present their briefs, to make their arguments. All the federal agencies had that opportunity.”
With unemployment nearing 12 percent — 20 percent at Port Angeles, where the issue pitted neighbor against neighbor — labor was out in force, demanding that Spellman not “turn his back” on 4,000 new jobs for Washington and 8,000 to 10,000 in all from Clallam County to Minnesota. The jobs figures were hotly debated. Peak employment from the projects would be more like 2,300, the Bureau of Land Management said in the federal environmental impact statement. It also estimated that more than 40 percent of people working on the pipeline would come from out of state. State Rep. Andy Nisbet, a Republican from the Olympic Peninsula, said that once construction was over there’d be only 125 jobs. “There’s more permanent jobs for Clallam County at the new Safeway in Sequim.”
Although Lois Spellman wrote in her diary, “John seems terribly fatigued. I became greatly concerned he’s not watching his diet or getting any exercise, which troubles me,” John was having no second thoughts about his role as the decider. To Steve Excell he seemed “even calmer than usual. He was serene while they were haranguing him from all sides.”
Check back Tuesday for Part 2: Decision time, and a second threat to Puget Sound.
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