Tesoro wants us to accept significant safety, environmental and economic risks to fatten its own corporate bottom line.
THE proposed Vancouver Energy Terminal — designed to hold 360,000 barrels of crude oil — would be the largest oil storage project in the United States. For Puget Sound readers, Tesoro’s project is akin to building an oil terminal with 40 percent of the Keystone pipeline oil to anchor Seattle’s new waterfront. Seattle wouldn’t stand for it, and neither will Vancouver.
Some argue that Tesoro creates jobs and promotes safety and energy security. [“Vancouver Energy terminal: good for Washington and nation,” Opinion, Aug. 27]. They are wrong.
Concerning safety, Tesoro is opposed by state and local firefighters because of safety risks, and by International Longshoremen because they will lose jobs if spills occur as oil is transported down the Columbia River and across the Columbia Bar, one of the most dangerous river crossings in the United States. And Tesoro’s safety record in our state is not without blemish.
The Vancouver City Council opposes Tesoro. In its largest public hearing on record, hundreds of citizens spoke out against the terminal. Neighborhood associations, faith organizations, small businesses, tribes and environmental groups have joined in opposition.
Tesoro’s job claims are inflated and wrong. In fact, Tesoro will cost our community far more jobs than it will create. Vancouver 101, a business organization, estimates a job loss of 2,800 as businesses either relocate or decide to go elsewhere.
More immediately, Tesoro jeopardizes completion of a 32-acre waterfront development that can create more than 8,000 construction and permanent jobs. The development is 10 years in planning, connects downtown Vancouver to the Columbia River, and features a 10-acre park. Up to 3,000 residences and 1 million feet of retail and office space are planned, and Vancouver taxpayers have committed $40 million for this public-private partnership.
Tanker trains are touted as a safe way to transport oil. Repeated explosions, derailments, and loss of life say it isn’t so. Oil trains already clog the Burlington Northern Santa Fe lines, and if Tesoro is licensed and approved, the trains and the risk of accidents will increase exponentially.
There are also secondary rail impacts. Because of limited capacity, oil trains drive up the cost and the ability to transport Northwest agricultural projects. Passenger trains must also give way. And whether by rail or ship, a Columbia River oil spill places at risk our salmon fishery, the revival of which has cost Northwest citizens billions of dollars and upon which tribal, sports and commercial fisheries depend.
Finally, oil proponents argue “the national interest.” Leaving aside the critical issue of carbon-dioxide emissions, Tesoro’s interest is not the national interest. It is corporate profits. It simply costs less to use Northwest ports to ship oil. The oil trains could go directly to the California refineries, but it costs more.
In other words, Tesoro wants us to accept significant safety, environmental and economic risks to fatten its own corporate bottom line. And it does so by waving the flag and touting “the national interest.”
But wait: there is more. Tesoro and big oil are aggressively lobbying Congress to lift the federal ban on crude oil exports. If successful, which is entirely possible, Tesoro would double its Vancouver facility to 720,000 barrels. This change in law, which is already occurring administratively, actually will place national security at risk and cost many thousands of jobs in oil-industry dependent communities.
While the Energy Siting Council reviews Tesoro, Gov. Jay Inslee alone decides. What he says goes. And the state Supreme Court has clearly said that this is primarily a “policy decision,” not a legal one.
Approval of Tesoro, even with arguable mitigation measures, would be a blight on our community. Sensing opportunity, oil companies are already urging the ports of Longview and Grays Harbor to approve new oil terminals, and Puget Sound refineries and storage facilities have expansion plans
Washington citizens are watching. In the interest of protecting our environment, public safety, and our economy, Inslee should “just say no” to Tesoro.