Oil Terminal Hearings End With Overwhelming Testimony In Opposition And Attorney General Call For Denial

Governor Inslee will make a decision after council makes its recommendation


Kristen Boyles, Earthjustice, (206) 343-7340, ext. 1033


Phillip Ellis, Eathjustice, (202) 745-5221


Liz Terhaar, Columbia Riverkeeper, (503) 784-5324

After weeks of testimony and argument about the Tesoro-Savage oil terminal proposal, at least two things are clear: first, this project will not benefit Washington citizens and consumers, and second, the risk of an oil spill into the Columbia River is too great.

The Tesoro-Savage oil terminal is proposed to be built at the Port of Vancouver.

“For Washington, this project is all risk and no reward. A remarkable coalition came together to oppose this project—these are the voices of Washington’s future,” said Kristen Boyles, Earthjustice attorney representing many parties intervening in opposition to the proposed oil terminal.

Intervening parties include: the cities of Vancouver, Spokane, and Washougal, Clark County, the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Washington’s Attorney General Office acting as Counsel for the Environment, Columbia Waterfront LLC (a local developer), Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, the Yakama and Umatilla Tribes, and eight conservation and community groups (Columbia Riverkeeper, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Climate Solutions, Fruit Valley Neighborhood Association, Spokane Riverkeeper, Stand, Sierra Club, and Washington Environmental Council).

In addition, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office announced its opposition to the project today. Attorney General Bob Ferguson said, “Protecting the environment and public safety are top priorities of my office, and we considered the evidence presented with the care those priorities demand. The bottom line is that the potential benefits of this project are dramatically outweighed by the potential risks and costs of a spill.” The Attorney General’s Counsel for the Environment had previously filed comments and commissioned expert review of certain aspects of the project, which raised serious concerns about derailment data, emergency response plans and the potential impacts to the critically important natural resources of the Columbia River, including its fisheries and other habitats.

Next Steps: The council will receive final written briefs in August, but evidence in the case is now closed. After the council issues a recommendation, Governor Jay Inslee will make the final decision on whether to site the terminal.

Background: If built, the Tesoro Savage oil terminal would be the largest oil export facility in North America, carrying 360,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day.

The five-week adjudication in front of Washington’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) demonstrated that the proposed Tesoro-Savage oil terminal poses serious threats to the health and safety of people, the local economy, rivers, wildlife, and the climate. The adjudication ended today, with a rally and testimony against the terminal. EFSEC will provide a recommendation to Governor Inslee on whether to approve or deny the Tesoro-Savage proposal.

EFSEC is responsible for providing a recommendation to Governor Inslee on the proposal. As part of their decision-making, EFSEC conducted a quasi-judicial proceeding from June 27 to July 29, 2016. The review included trial-like elements with briefs filed, expert testimony, and cross examination in Vancouver and Olympia. The proceeding closed in Vancouver with a public hearing last Friday, July 29, 2016.

EFSEC Hearing Footage
Excerpts from pre-hearing testimony

On the final day of the EFSEC adjudication, over 100 concerned community members gathered to voice their concerns about the project. Photos from the rally are available.

More than 100 community members took part in the "Stand Up to Oil Rally" on July 29.
More than 100 community members took part in the "Stand Up to Oil Rally" on July 29, to voice their concerns about the project. (Courtesy of Columbia Riverkeeper)

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