Rising Tide protesters gather at port gate

About 50 activists from Rising Tide deride $110 million proposed project

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

Published:

 

About 50 environmental activists paraded and chanted Monday morning near the entrance to the Port of Vancouver, in the latest protest against proposed construction of an oil-transfer terminal at the port.

The demonstration was organized by the Portland and Vancouver chapters of Rising Tide, an environmental group that is focused on “confronting the root causes of climate change,” said Stephen Quirke, a Portland member. Rising Tide is opposed to a proposal by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies to build a $110 million terminal at the port.

The Port of Vancouver commission has unanimously approved a lease for the proposal, which is undergoing a lengthy environmental review by the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC. Several hundred people attended an EFSEC hearing last week in Vancouver, and a vast majority registered their opposition to the project. Gov. Jay Inslee will make the final call on the project.

Demonstrators carried signs as they circled the roadway leading into the port’s main checkpoint, but they stood back to allow trucks to enter or leave. Vancouver police and port security personnel were on hand, but demonstrators said they did not intend to break any laws. Many chanted: “No tankers. No pipelines. No oil on the rail lines.”

Quirke said he and others are concerned about safety issues surrounding the terminal, in addition to the continued use of fossil fuels for energy. “We’re just here to say the port shouldn’t be doing this,” Quirke said.

Kathy Lane of Vancouver said she’d become involved in environmental activism because of the oil terminal proposal. She is helping to develop a Vancouver chapter of Rising Tide. That group also organized a river protest against the oil terminal in July.

“I’m totally against the proposed oil terminal,” she said.

Under the Tesoro-Savage proposal, oil would be hauled to the Port of Vancouver by train from the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota, where crude is extracted by hydraulic fracturing. The oil would be stored at the port and transferred to ships headed to U.S. refineries, which would convert the crude into transportation fuels.

The oil-by-rail operation, at its peak, will involve four unit trains (each composed of 100 to 110 rail cars) coming into the port and leaving it per day, according to the companies.