First responders, businesses, labor unions, and conservationists stand united against Vancouver Energy proposal.
THE duty of first responders is to rush into dangerous situations, so we don’t say this lightly: We cannot protect people from explosive oil trains. The trains are too risky.
Oil-giant Tesoro wants to radically increase oil-train traffic in our region by building the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal, called Vancouver Energy, at Washington’s Port of Vancouver. Tesoro would receive four oil trains every day and offload the oil onto large oceangoing ships for export to West Coast refineries. A report released last week by the state highlights the proposal’s impacts and gives Gov. Jay Inslee all the information he needs to deny the terminal.
An unprecedented coalition of first responders, businesses, labor and conservation leaders have joined the City of Vancouver to oppose the oil terminal. Today, Tesoro and the Port of Vancouver sit on a lonely island of denial and spin as they continue to defend the project.
The Port, saddled with debt, gave Tesoro a 20-year lease just days after an oil-train explosion killed 47 people and incinerated brick buildings in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Tesoro said the explosion was a fluke. Since then, more than a dozen trains have exploded, including trains using the new “safer” tank cars. Instead of honestly disclosing the safety risks, Tesoro hired more lawyers and lobbyists. Thankfully, Inslee’s energy council is tasked with taking an honest look at the impacts.
Inslee should deny the oil-by-rail project. Here’s why:
• Firefighters: The Vancouver firefighters union opposes the oil terminal because of the unacceptable risk to our first responders, Port workers and the public. Its protocol for responding to oil train and terminal fires is “nonintervention,” meaning the fire department would evacuate the area and let the oil burn. That’s all we can do. In an urban or industrial area, that leaves too many lives and properties in danger.
• Business: Oil trains are bad for jobs in Vancouver. This year, 101 Vancouver businesses came together to oppose Tesoro’s oil terminal. We want to grow our economy and protect our existing jobs. As taxpayers, we don’t want to bear the risk of oil trains. And dirty oil harms our community’s reputation as a healthy place to live, work and play.
• Labor: International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 4 would gain jobs from Tesoro, but we don’t believe in jobs at any cost. ILWU opposes the oil terminal because Tesoro would put our workers at risk. And an oil spill into the Columbia River could halt shipping operations at the Port of Vancouver. Union members handle hazardous material as part of their jobs and don’t shy away from risk. But sometimes, we must put our families and personal safety first.
• Environment: The good news is that Vancouver is reconnecting to the Columbia River, improving water quality and making the city more vibrant. The nation’s largest oil terminal, however, is not compatible with a healthy river. An Exxon Valdez-type spill in the Columbia River would devastate salmon populations. Building huge oil tanks on unstable ground is irresponsible in the earthquake-prone Pacific Northwest. And, to top it off, Tesoro could try to seek approval in the future to use our state to ship climate-wrecking tar-sands oil to Asia.
First responders, businesses, labor unions, and conservationists stand united for clean water and a healthy community. The final oil-terminal decision rests with Inslee. We are hopeful that the governor will stand up for our public safety, the economy and the environment by rejecting Tesoro’s reckless oil-by-rail proposal.