I attended the Port of Camas-Washougal commissioners meeting where Todd Coleman, Port of Vancouver executive director, and Vancouver port Commissioner Brian Wolfe presented their reasoning for the oil terminal proposal.
Reported in the Jan. 8 “Port director defends oil terminal proposal,” Wolfe said that BNSF is currently operating the railroad near or at full capacity. Port of Camas-Washougal Commissioner Bill Ward asked about the increase in traffic on the railroad, due to shipping of coal and oil through the Columbia River Gorge. He asked how was BNSF going to handle such an increase. Wolfe replied he didn’t know, that it’s BNSF’s problem. If the port is going to accept such a large project, the first question of its feasibility study is, of course, is this project feasible, and if so, what are the impacts? Is BNSF going to stop other shipments in order to ship coal and oil? Is BNSF going to change its railroad capacity? These are the sort of questions that must be answered before committing the port’s involvement in such a project.
I’m sure a lot of time and money has already been spent on this proposal, but it appears we have commissioners who not only didn’t listen to a huge public outcry opposing this idea, but also failed at doing a proper feasibility and impact analysis. If so, I cannot wait until Vancouver gets a chance to vote them out. Having a port is good for our economy but having it badly managed is not.