Monday, January 17, 2022
Jan. 17, 2022

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Oil terminal hearings finish fourth week

As Vancouver Energy touts ‘strong case’ for benefits, opponents say there’s no need for proposed project

By , Columbian Business Reporter

Another week of hearings, another week of reasons to approve or deny the nation’s largest oil terminal.

Adjudication continued into its fourth week as opponents of the proposed Vancouver Energy rail-to-marine terminal at the Port of Vancouver ramped up their case in front of the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council.

“This project is a bad idea on so many levels that that’s why it’s taking so long for this adjudication to occur,” said Kristen Boyles, an attorney with Earthjustice representing several of the terminal opponents.”What the council is hearing is all the many ways this project is a bad idea.”

Last week saw a wide range of topics covered, from the Mosier, Ore., oil train derailment and fire to seismic risks, the logistics of emergency response, air quality, landslide hazards and tribal issues.

The Department of Natural Resources, which in a filing before the hearings began recommended against the terminal’s approval, also testified about the risks of wildfire from an oil train derailment.

“(The council) cannot meet its obligations to assure the public that the proposal contains adequate safeguards for public welfare and protection and to ensure the proposal will have minimal adverse environmental consequences,” reads the DNR filing.

Vancouver Energy would handle up to 360,000 barrels per day of crude oil via an average of four 120-car trains per day through the Columbia River Gorge. The company, a joint venture of Tesoro Corp. and Savage Cos., intends to prove to the council it can operate the terminal safely.

“Through four weeks of adjudication, we feel our experts have made a strong case for how Vancouver Energy will benefit the community, region and country, with jobs, added economic value and reduced reliance on foreign oil,” Vancouver Energy spokesman Jeff Hymas said.

Another issue raised last week was the need for the project. Energy analyst Ian Goodman said in a filing that “not only is there no economic need for the (terminal) in Washington, but this testimony will show that it is likely not in Washington’s public interest.”

Vancouver Energy, which presented its testimony first, will get a chance next week to rebut some of the arguments made by opponents.

“We look forward to the opportunity next week to provide additional testimony, to correct misrepresentations about the project and provide the council with further evidence for why the proposed terminal should be approved,” Hymas said.

After hearings wrap up, the council will weigh what it’s learned and give the governor a recommendation on the project’s approval, denial or conditional approval. The governor then gets final say, though the decision can be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

For the fifth and final week of adjudication, the hearings return to Vancouver. The hearings are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Clark College conference center at 18700 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd. Public testimony will be taken Friday starting at 1 p.m.

Columbian Business Reporter