This was one of a series of high-profile fossil-fuel projects proposed in Washington state in recent years, all of which have faced strong opposition from environmentalists.
Vancouver Energy is ending a four-year quest to build the nation’s largest oil-train terminal along the Columbia River and won’t appeal Gov. Jay Inslee’s rejection of the project.
A company spokesman Tuesday also said it would terminate — a month early — a Port of Vancouver lease for the project, and donate the $100,000 savings in lease payments to community nonprofits.
“Our focus is on thanking our supporters who stood with us … and being able to make a positive difference through this contribution,” said Jeff Hymas, a Vancouver Energy spokesman.
The $210 million terminal would have handled up to four crude-oil trains a day carrying oil from the Bakken Shale oil fields of North Dakota and Montana. The oil would have been transferred to vessels that would have traveled down the Columbia River to make deliveries to West Coast refineries.
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This was one of a series of high-profile fossil-fuel projects proposed in Washington state in recent years, all of which have faced strong opposition from environmentalists seeking to block these developments and accelerate a transition to renewable energy.
Vancouver Energy promoted the terminal as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil and generate $2 billion in economic value for the local and regional economy. It ran into a buzz-saw of criticism, generating some 250,000 comments as the project went through a state review. The opposition grew stronger after a June 2016 derailment of a crude-oil train around Mosier, Oregon, in the Columbia Gorge, caused a fire.
“There is a very visceral reaction to oil trains rolling through towns, and I think Mosier had a huge impact on people’s perception of the project,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, an environmental group that helped to organize opposition to the project.
Another big turning point came in November, when a second opponent of the project, Don Orange, won a seat to Vancouver’s three-person port commission. Then in January, the port commission voted to end the project’s lease by March 31 if all permits were not secured.
Inslee, in a Jan. 29 decision, rejected the permit, saying the record showed the risks and impacts outweighed the need for and potential benefits of the project. Inslee agreed with the recommendation of the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, which unanimously voted in November to recommend that the Vancouver Energy project in southwest Washington be denied.
The project was proposed by a joint venture of Savage Companies and Andeavor, formerly known as Tesoro, and would have occupied a 42-acre site at the Port of Vancouver. It would have included a rail-unloading facility, storage tanks and a vessel-loading area.
“We remain convinced that our proposed terminal at the Port of Vancouver USA would have been built and operated safely,” and would have added “immense value to the West Coast and regional economy,” said Jared Larrabee, the joint venture’s general manager, in a statement Tuesday.