For the good of the region in both the present and the future, The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends a vote for Don Orange as Port of Vancouver commissioner from District 1.
This race is largely a referendum upon a proposed oil terminal at the port, and Orange wisely opposes what would be North America’s largest rail-to-marine oil facility. In the coming months, commissioners will have an opportunity to cancel the lease signed with Tesoro Corp. and Savage Cos. in 2013.
While Orange lands on the appropriate side of the terminal discussion, voters must recognize that this is not a single-issue campaign. As debate over the proposal has festered, it has amplified the importance of having a clear vision for the future of the region. As Orange told the editorial board: “We need to decide if we want to be a prison town or an oil town or a nuclear waste town. It’s our Vancouver.” In other words, decisions made now will define the city for generations to come.
That vision strengthens our conviction that Orange is the superior candidate in his race against Kris Greene. While we strongly recommend a vote for Orange, this is only a recommendation. It is essential for voters to study the issues and to make an informed decision.
In examining the proposed terminal, voters will discover that the project would bring an average of 15 million gallons of crude oil per day through the Columbia River Gorge and past populated areas to the port. There, it would be placed on marine vessels to be carried downstream to the Pacific Ocean.
The Columbian editorially opposes construction of the terminal, recognizing the danger posed by oil-bearing trains and the impact the facility would have upon the community. The terminal would be like a battleship that requires various support vehicles and would turn Vancouver into an oil town. That runs counter to the vision of a vibrant city that is positioning itself for a prosperous future.
Greene is blind to that vision and has linked his campaign to Vancouver Energy, a consortium formed by Tesoro and Savage. As of Oct. 1, Greene had accepted $225,000 in campaign donations from Vancouver Energy, an exceptionally large amount for a local race. In addition, The Columbian has detailed how representatives of the oil consortium have taken over management of Greene’s campaign.
That leads to questions about which candidate has the best interests of Vancouver in mind and which one would be beholden to the interests of corporations based thousands of miles away. It also leads to questions about Greene’s independence when the next multinational conglomerate seeks a project that would be harmful to the health of the region. These are crucial questions; after all, it’s our Vancouver.
Greene told the editorial board that he has not made up his mind regarding the terminal and that he is waiting for studies from state regulators. This does not pass the smell test; in fact, it stinks about as much as a giant oil terminal.
Orange’s campaign also has generated questions. He only recently moved into Port District 1, and says that he moved in order to run for this position. Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey heard a challenge to Orange’s voter registration and ruled that it is valid.
While the final decision on the oil terminal will be up to the governor upon receipt of the report from regulators, port commissioners will have an opportunity to end the lease ahead of time. Don Orange should be given that opportunity.