Friday, June 6, 2014

Vancouver Council Opposes Port Crude Oil Facility

By Mark Edward Nero

At its June 2 meeting, the Vancouver, Washington City Council approved a resolution opposing a proposed crude oil handling facility despite urging port leaders to let the project make its way through the environmental review process before taking a vote of any kind on it.

The project in question, the Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal, is a joint venture between the port’s longtime tenant Tesoro and logistics company Savage.

The two would bring North American crude oil by rail to the port where it would then be loaded onto marine vessels and shipped to US West Coast refineries in Alaska, Washington and California.

The port’s Board of Commissioners approved a 10-year lease Oct. 22, 2013.

The Council’s five-to-two vote against the project followed seven hours of testimony offered by more than 100 people, including both project supporters and opponents, about 38 of whom were industry representatives.

Testimonies by port representatives focused on the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council review currently underway and asked the Council to allow that process to complete its work, which includes determining what needs to happen to ensure that the facility can operate safely.

Port CEO Todd Coleman said the city’s resolution ignores that crude oil trains are already traveling through the community and “asks us to overlook the realities of crude oil transport and pretend that by ‘just saying no’ we can make it all go away.”

Coleman also said “a more productive approach would be for all of us to work collectively to ensure the safe transit of these types of commodities, putting appropriate regulations and robust government oversight in place to protect our communities and the environment.”