A loud 'no' so far on oil terminal in Vancouver

Siting council says public opinion largely against proposal

By Erin Middlewood, Columbian special projects reporter

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The report summarizing public comments so far on an oil terminal proposed for the Port of Vancouver is available through the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council.

Those who have commented on the proposal by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies to build the Northwest's largest oil-by-rail facility at the Port of Vancouver are overwhelmingly opposed to the project, according to a report released by the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council this week.

It's perhaps the biggest, most complicated project the council has ever seen. The EFSEC received 31,074 comments on the oil terminal proposal between October and December, the so-called scoping phase of the environmental review process that identifies issues for further study.

Form letters comprised 97 percent of public feedback, with 352 form letters in favor of the project and 30,494 opposed.

The EFSEC is responsible for reviewing Tesoro and Savage's proposal for the terminal, which would receive as many as 360,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The terminal would store the oil temporarily before loading it on ships for delivery to West Coast refineries.

The council will make a recommendation to the governor, who has the ultimate say. If Gov. Jay Inslee gives a nod to the proposal, the EFSEC will be responsible for issuing and monitoring the necessary permits.

In launching the public review, the EFSEC said the Tesoro-Savage proposal "is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment" that warrants a full environmental-impact study.

According to the scoping report, compiled by consultant Cardno ENTRIX, 3 percent of the comments about the Vancouver oil terminal proposal were original letters, and less than 1 percent each came from public meetings and agencies.

The form letters centered on worries about environmental health and safety, as well as emergency response.

At an October public meeting in Vancouver, 14 percent of the comments addressed environmental health and safety, and 11 percent were about climate change. At a similar meeting in Spokane, 19 percent of the concerns raised were related to transportation.

The council will review the report at a public work session, yet to be scheduled.