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Friday, June 2, 2023
June 2, 2023

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Local View: Oil terminal will be safe, beneficial

The Columbian

In response to letters to the editor and columns published in this newspaper, I’d like to offer clarifying facts and correct misstatements about the proposed Tesoro-Savage Energy Distribution Terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

What we are proposing is not a refinery or oil exploration operation. We won’t be processing crude oil, nor producing gasoline, diesel or other fuels. Comparing hazards and emissions of those operations to the proposed terminal is inaccurate and might, understandably, cause undue concern.

The facility will be a transload terminal for receiving North American crude oil via unit trains containing 100 to 118 railcars, traveling on the BNSF main line. The crude will be safely transferred into marine vessels for transit down the Columbia River to West Coast refineries. Claims the terminal is being constructed primarily to export crude to foreign nations are simply not true; U.S. regulations prohibit export of American-produced crude.

Several articles and letters focusing on air emissions also contained misrepresented information. Through the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council permitting process, we’re required to perform rigorous analyses to determine how project air emissions compare against health-based standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state of Washington. These thresholds were established to protect the general public and such sensitive groups as the elderly, youth and those with breathing conditions. Our analysis, as disclosed in our permit application, indicates terminal air emissions will not pose health risks.

Also, the permitting process requires details outlining our planned use of the “best available control technology” for air emissions. As state and federal law requires, EFSEC reviews our proposal to ensure that proposed control methods and equipment meet established criteria for overall technical feasibility and achievable emissions control rate.

Tesoro-Savage is committed to safety and the environment. Our proposed controls, operating procedures and equipment combine to ensure we will build and operate a safe, environmentally sound terminal. Comprehensive details are provided in our 850-page application being reviewed by EFSEC, which has one of the most stringent permitting processes in the nation and will verify our proposals meet requirements.

Savage, which will be the facility’s main operator, has been recognized by industry groups, customers and communities for safety. We value our reputation and work diligently to identify and mitigate any potential hazard at our 200 operations. Tesoro and Savage have previously partnered many times, and — together — have safely handled crude oil by rail, ship and pipeline for years. Our safety track record at joint operations is strong.

Some have commented that 120 full-time, well-paying jobs are not worth the risk they believe the facility will create. We firmly believe these jobs will make a positive difference in the lives of employees, and that every job helps Vancouver’s economy. Also, 250 jobs during construction, along with those created in railroad, marine safety and vessel operations, will contribute to Vancouver’s economic health. Over 10 years, the terminal will provide millions of dollars in city, county and state taxes plus more than $100 million in fees and lease payments. This financial contribution is a direct benefit of this project.

As residents of and partners with this community, we have a vested interest in its safety, air quality, employment and prosperity. Tesoro-Savage cares about our employees and communities where we operate. I’m confident our proposed terminal is good for Vancouver, and good for America’s energy security.

Jared Larrabee is general manager of the Tesoro-Savage Energy Distribution Terminal.