A new lease extension approved Friday by Port of Vancouver commissioners would give developers of a major oil terminal more time to obtain the permits they need to start construction. The terminal would unload 28 trains a week carrying crude oil.
VANCOUVER — A lease extension approved Friday by Port of Vancouver commissioners would give developers of a major oil terminal more time to obtain the permits needed to start construction.
Vancouver Energy has struggled for three years to gain the permits to develop what would be the largest terminal in the country for unloading crude oil transported by rail.
The proposed terminal, a joint venture between Tesoro and Savage, would handle 28 tanker trains a week. The crude would be offloaded into storage tanks and then put onto vessels for transport to refineries.
The lease was approved by port commissioners in 2013. The project is seen by supporters as a source of jobs and new tax revenues, but it also has generated intense opposition due, in part, to the risks of train derailments.
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The project is deep into a lengthy review process by the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, which will recommend to the governor whether or not it should be approved.
The port staff had recommended no extension to an initial three-year permitting phase of the lease, which is scheduled to expire Aug. 1. Instead, the three commissioners Friday approved a seven-month extension. After that, either the port or Vancouver Energy could opt out of the lease at three-month intervals.
Commissioner Brian Wolfe said he held Vancouver Energy partially responsible for some of the delays. Still, he said, “To my mind … to pull the plug now is unfair to the applicant.”
Vancouver Energy officials are pleased with the port vote and plan to review the proposed lease amendment, a statement from the company said.