Peterson v. Dep't of Revenue (Majority)Annotate this Case
More than 70 years ago, two railroad companies helped the United States Atomic Energy Commission build a track to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in return for the right to use the track without paying rent. After the nuclear reactors at Hanford were decommissioned, the United States transferred nearly 800 acres, including the track at issue, to the Port of Benton (Port), subject to existing agreements and potential reversion to the United States if certain conditions were not met. The Port continued to honor the agreements and operate the railroad. The Port’s decision not to charge rent was challenged by a taxpayer, Randolph Peterson, as an unconstitutional gift of public funds. This challenge was dismissed at summary judgment. After review of the trial court record, the Washington Supreme Court found no constitutional violation and affirmed dismissal.