Governor Inslee says the project would have risked public and environmental health.
Elise Herron | January 29 Willamette Week
“Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced today that he is rejecting the development of a massive oil shipping terminal in the state.
His rejection is meant to keep additional oil trains from passing through the Columbia River Gorge, and prevent potential oil spills in the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean.
The project—proposed by Tesoro Savage (also known as Vancouver Energy)—would have shipped over 131 million barrels of oil down the Columbia River annually. It would have also required five-plus mile long oil trains to pass though Spokane, the Columbia River Gorge and Vancouver daily.
Gov. Inslee determined that the terminal posed “catastrophic risks” should there be an earthquake, an oil spill or an explosion or fire at the facility. He based his rejection on a recommendation offered by the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC).
“When weighing all of the factors considered against the need for and potential benefits of the facility at this location,” Gov. Inslee wrote in his denial letter, “I believe the record reflects substantial evidence that the project does not meet the broad public interest standard necessary for the Council to recommend site certification.”
Environmental advocates, and Columbia River and Gorge-area conservancy groups are lauding Inslee for his decision.
“This project was absurdly dangerous and destructive,” said Columbia Riverkeeper’s conservation director, Dan Serres in a statement. “”The threat of an earthquake or accident creating an oil spill in the Columbia River poses far too great a risk to the Columbia, its salmon, and its people.”
“This massive oil-by-rail terminal was a direct threat to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and every community along the rail lines,” added Michael Lang, Friends of the Columbia Gorge conservation director.
Conversely, Vancouver Energy (a.k.a Tesoro Savage) calls the EFSEC recommendation that Inslee acted on anti-development.
“EFSEC has set an impossible standard for new energy facilities,” a release from the group reads. “This decision sends a clear anti-development message that will have a chilling effect on business in the stat of Washington.”