Washington Governor Jay Inslee today rejected the largest oil shipping terminal proposed in North America as not in the best interests of the state and its people. The Tesoro Savage project (also known as Vancouver Energy) sought to ship over 131 million barrels of oil per year down the Columbia River. Governor Inslee cited the comprehensive review and recommendation of the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC), which found unavoidable catastrophic risks from earthquakes, oil spills in the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, and the threat of fire or explosion at the facility. The project would also cause up to five, mile-and-a-half long oil trains to pass through Spokane, the Columbia River Gorge, and the City of Vancouver every day with additional harms to public health and safety and increased climate changing pollution.
In his denial letter, Governor Inslee found that: “When weighing all of the factors considered against the need for and potential benefits of the facility at this location, I believe the record reflects substantial evidence that the project does not meet the broad public interest standard necessary for the Council to recommend site certification.”
“This project was absurdly dangerous and destructive, and Governor Inslee saw these risks clearly,” said Dan Serres, Conservation Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “The threat of an earthquake or accident creating an oil spill in the Columbia River poses far too great a risk to the Columbia, its salmon, and its people.”
“Thank you Governor Inslee for protecting Vancouver’s reputation for clean air, a clean Columbia River, and a healthy community,” said Don Steinke, a local activist leader who opposed the oil terminal in Vancouver.
“Governor Inslee reviewed the overwhelming evidence of the harms and risks to our state and came to the only logical conclusion: Washington said no,” said Kristen Boyles, the Earthjustice attorney who represented environmental and community groups during the EFSEC process.
“The Governor put the health of our communities and the Columbia River ahead of the oil industry’s profits,“ said Rebecca Ponzio, campaign director of Stand Up To Oil and Climate and Fossil Fuel director of Washington Environmental Council. “People across Washington and the greater Pacific Northwest are standing alongside him in this denial. This what leadership looks like.”
“This massive oil-by-rail terminal was a direct threat to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and every community along the rail lines,” said Michael Lang, Friends of the Columbia Gorge Conservation Director. “Governor Inslee and the energy siting council carefully considered all the facts, correctly applied the law, and concluded that this terrible project must be denied.”
“After thoughtful analysis by our state agencies, tens of thousands showing up to public meetings, and the most public comments in our state’s history, we can finally put this destructive project behind us,” said Joan Crooks, CEO of Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. “Governor Inslee made it clear where our state stands—Washington will leave the dirty polluting industries of the past behind and continue leading the clean energy economy.”
“Governor Inslee’s rejection of the largest oil train terminal in all of North America is a historic victory for our climate and the Washington communities that have fought tirelessly to protect their families and communities from this dirty and dangerous project,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “This is further proof that Big Oil is no match for communities that organize and fight back against the dirty fossil fuels of the past. We invite Governor Inslee to continue this climate leadership by taking the next step and opposing all new fossil fuel projects in Washington.”
“Huge thanks to Governor Inslee, who stood up for the safety, well-being, and public health of our communities by denying the largest proposed oil-by-rail terminal in the US!” stated Dr. Stan Freidberg, who practiced cardiology and internal medicine at The Vancouver Clinic for 37 years, and spoke on behalf of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.
“Governor Inslee stood up for Spokane by rejecting the intrusion of five more oil trains each day through our downtown—a proposal with enormous risks for our drinking water, our public safety, and our climate,” said Ben Stuckart, president of the Spokane City Council. “We wholeheartedly support this decision, and we believe it is in the best interests of the entire state.”
“Governor Inslee did the right thing by denying the permit and reducing the number of dangerous oil trains barreling above downtown Spokane,” said Mike Petersen, Executive DIrector of The Lands Council in Spokane. “Governor Inslee remains serious about addressing climate change.”
According to Dr. Bruce Amundson, President of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, “Stopping the development of this massive crude oil terminal is one of the most important victories in the history of our state for protecting human health and the quality of the Columbia River watershed while also aiding the struggle against climate change.”
Tesoro Savage has 30 days to appeal the Governor’s decision to Thurston County Superior Court.