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Sept. 24, 2020

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Vancouver Energy draws new complaint over mailer

Agency says its work has been misrepresented

By , Columbian Business Editor
Published:

The California Air Resources Board has joined the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in saying that its work has been misrepresented in a widely circulated mailer produced by Vancouver Energy, the joint oil terminal venture of Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies.

The air-quality regulatory agency appears to be listed as one of two sources for a statement on Page 5 of the Vancouver Energy mailer that says Bakken crude oil produced 30 percent fewer emissions than “Current Washington-Refined Crude” oil. Both the California Air Resources Board and the Washington State Department of Ecology are cited on the page, although there is no asterisk that connects those organizations or any other potential source to the emissions comparisons.

In a Dec. 11 email to Tesoro Corp. a California Air Resources Board official said he was writing about a “misleading attribution” in the Vancouver Energy mailer.

“Your cite (sic) uses our agency as an apparent source of the data comparing Bakken crude and current Washington refined crude,” wrote Dave Clegern, public information officer for the agency’s climate change programs. “We do not calculate full lifecycle emission values for individual crude oils. For individual crudes we only publish carbon intensity values for crude extraction and transport to the refinery. We do not estimate refining emissions for individual crude types.”

Clegern said the mailer misrepresents the agency’s data and requested that the citation to the Air Resources Board be removed immediately. “We have never gotten a response,” Clegern said Wednesday. “We’d like to hear from them.”

On Wednesday, the Washington Department of Ecology likewise questioned the Vancouver Energy mailer in response to a query from The Columbian.

“The citing in the Vancouver Energy mailer implies a comparison of refined oils in Washington to unrefined Bakken crude,” said Camille St. Onge, the department’s communications manager. “The information and citing on page 5 do not explain what the bar charts represent and are lacking numbers and appropriate citation. It’s not clear if the bar charts represent full lifecycle analysis, crude oil extraction only, crude extraction and transport or some other measure.”

Content unchanged

Vancouver Energy showed no signs of reconsidering the mailer’s content, repeating its earlier statement that the California and Washington studies support its conclusion of lower emissions from Bakken crude. It said it was reaching out to both the California Air Resources Board and the Carnegie Endowment to address their specific concerns.

“Available data supports the conclusion that Bakken crude oil is less carbon intensive than other crude oils typically refined on the West Coast,” Vancouver Energy said.

Last week, the Carnegie Endowment wrote to Vancouver Energy complaining that the information on the mailer’s Page 5 was presented in a way that left an impression that it could have been the source of the assertion that Bakken crude produces 30 percent fewer emissions than other crude refined in Washington. Vancouver Energy challenged that complaint in a response to The Columbian, saying that the information was based on carbon intensity (CI) values published by California Air Resources Board and a study completed by Life Cycle Associates for Washington’s Office of Financial Management and Department of Ecology to evaluate a low-carbon fuel standard.

Deborah Gordon, director of the Carnegie Endowment’s energy and climate program, said this week that she wasn’t sure how to respond to Vancouer Energy’s dismissal of her concern about its mailer.

“If they’re going to do their homework and make the case for a major project, they should have read our report,” said Gordon, who had just returned from the global warming summit in Paris. “I don’t really know what to do at this point .”

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