There are some who don’t want the world drinking oil through a straw that travels through Vancouver.
A dozen people pleaded with the Port of Vancouver commissioners Tuesday to turn against the proposal for the country’s largest oil-by-rail terminal.
While a contingent of oil opponents is common at port meetings, the recent Congressional move to lift the ban on oil exports drew a larger crowd.
“(Vancouver Energy) can check that off their Christmas list,” said Dan Serres, conservation director for Columbia Riverkeeper. “This is a project that poses a huge risk … the port should use this new information to change course.”
Vancouver Energy has said it still intends to ship oil only to U.S. refineries. The project’s draft Environmental Impact Statement leaves the door open for potential foreign export, however.
“In the event that the crude oil export ban is lifted, there is a potential that crude oil transported through the proposed facility could be exported to foreign markets,” reads the environmental review. “However, it is not possible to quantify the amount.”
Other terminal opponents on Tuesday repeated health and safety concerns.
“We are forced at this point to go to the state and ask them to stop this horrible mistake,” said Don Orange with the business group Vancouver 101.
The proposed terminal is currently undergoing a state environmental review through the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council. That panel will make a recommendation to the governor, who will decide the fate of the project.
One man, a retired train dispatcher, spoke in favor of the oil terminal.
“I did not like train derailments,” said Lloyd Lycan. “My general manager did not like train derailments. Union Pacific stockholders did not like train derailments. We did everything we could to prevent them.”
Port of Vancouver Commissioner Jerry Oliver was frustrated that opponents did not stick around to hear a response from the commission.
“One of the speakers implied we lack integrity in our actions,” Oliver said. “I would like to suggest that just because one disagrees with someone that does not mean there’s a lack of integrity.”
“I think my fellow commissioners and I have had the courage to make a sound decision,” he went on, “in spite of the scurrilous attacks we have received.”
Public hearings on the draft Environmental Impact Statement will be held at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds on Jan. 5 and 12.
Also at Tuesday’s port meeting, commissioners unanimously approved a raise for Executive Director Todd Coleman.
Coleman will now make about $211,800 a year, a 3.6 percent increase from his $204,400 salary.
Commissioner Brian Wolfe said Coleman can’t be judged on one project alone: “You grade him on each of the components of the strategic plan. When you do that, he rates very well.”