Port settles with NOAA over protest costs

The Bellingham Business Journal

Port of Bellingham commissioners voted unanimously at a May 4 meeting to accept a $113,000 payment from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to reimburse the port for the cost of protesting the agency’s decision to move to Newport, Ore.

“This is likely the final chapter with NOAA,” attorney Frank Chmelik told commissioners.

The port filed a protest to NOAA’s decision in August 2009, citing that the agency did not adequately address floodplain issues at the Newport site. In December, the Government Accountability Office upheld the port’s appeal, allowing the port to seek reimbursement for legal fees associated with the protest.

Though the protest was upheld, NOAA determined that Bellingham was not a practical alternative and decided to stick to its original decision. The port has been negotiating the reimbursement amount with NOAA since February 2010.

The reimbursement will cover all but roughly $55,000 of the port’s costs. Some of that remainder includes staff time, which is not reimbursable under federal rules, and billings from the law firm Perkins Coie, a national law firm that was hired to help submit the appeal.


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