Tag Archives: Columbia Riverkeeper

PETITION: Stop Dangerous Oil Trains Today!

Repost from Columbia Riverkeeper
[Editor: The following comes from our friends in Oregon and Washington State.  All of us from the 50 United States and 10 Canadian Provinces can show solidarity with the people in Mosier, Oregon by signing the petition today.  – RS]

Stop Dangerous Oil Trains Today!

Leadership requires action. Now is the time to stand up for the health and safety of our people. The June 3, 2016 train derailment in Mosier, Oregon, highlights the risks we all face every time an oil train travels through our communities and along our waterways. We applaud leaders for their calls to stop oil train traffic pending the completion of a full investigation, but even more can and should be done.

We are on the front line. It is our children who are in schools next to the train tracks. Our homes are at risk. Our livelihoods, health, and drinking water are on the line when a spill happens.

The oil industry has shown that it is not able to transport their product safely by rail. New proposals would increase the number of trains. It is unacceptable to allow oil train traffic to continue.

We call on Governors Kate Brown and Jay Inslee to use the full power of the state to reject any permit or lease for state land or water that would allow more oil to come through our region.

We call on President Obama to use his authority to place an immediate ban on transporting oil through our communities and reject any federal permits that would allow more oil to come through our region.  Sign the Riverkeeper Petition! (click here)

Portland City Council passes resolution to prevent more crude oil trains

Repost from the Portland Business Journal
[Editor:  See also this excellent report from EcoReport (by Roy Hales).  – RS]

City Council passes resolution to prevent more crude oil-carrying trains in Portland

By James Cronin, Nov 5, 2015, 7:04am PST

Portland City Council on Wednesday passed one of two resolutions on banning fossil fuel expansion in Portland while tabling the other until next week.

Commissioners, facing a standing-room only crowd at City Hall, passed a resolution opposing the increase of crude oil-carrying trains in and around the city. The second resolution, which opposes expansion of infrastructure whose primary purpose is transporting or storing fossil fuels in or through Portland or adjacent waterways, was tabled until Nov. 12.

The Portland City Council debate on resolutions banning the expansion of fossil fuel projects in Portland drew dozens of supporters to City Hall Wednesday.
The Portland City Council debate on resolutions banning the expansion of fossil fuel projects in Portland drew dozens of supporters to City Hall Wednesday. Cathy Cheney | Portland Business Journal

The contentious topic has pitted environmentalists who want dirty fuels to be a thing of the past against economic development hawks that see sizable financial investments and job creation in things like propane pipelines and natural gas terminals.

The battle landed in City Hall Wednesday, where sign-carrying activists gathered outside as Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Amanda Fritz proposed their joint resolutions. The hearing garnered so much interest that city officials needed to open an overflow room to accommodate the crowd.

Scores of residents, activists and industry types filled the hall. Some carried small dowels with red and yellow ribbons attached. When speakers extolled Portland’s curbing of greenhouse gases or other perceived environmental wins, attendees shook their ribbons in rustling applause.

“Communities along the Columbia River are faced with an unprecedented and new threat — the idea of moving vast quantities of fossil fuels in oil trains down the Columbia River in trains that are known to derail, spill and ignite,” Dan Serres, conservation director for environmental group Columbia Riverkeeper, told the council. “The oil train resolution you are considering is both timely and appropriate because there are over a hundred trains per week that could be headed down the Columbia River. A spill in the Columbia River would decimate salmon habitat, disrupt river traffic and threaten drinking water supplies downstream.”

The resolutions resulted from Mayor Charlie Hales’ about-face on Pembina Pipeline Corp.’s planned $500 million propane terminal at the Port of Portland this summer, which he helped to stall after initially supporting the project.

Hales refused to bring a necessary environmental amendment for the project to the full city council for a hearing and potentially a vote, and went on to create the resolutions to ban future fossil fuel expansion.

The scene should be just as robust next week when council resumes its discussion on the second resolution, a broader measure that expands the city’s opposition to fossil fuel developments to projects beyond those that rely on rail cars.

That’s an issue that’s critical to the Port of Portland, which pursued the propane deal with Pembina. Curtis Robinhold, the port’s deputy executive director, said the language in the resolution is so vague that it become unclear exactly what types of energy projects the port could pursue for its property.

“There are no real definitions in the resolutions,” Robinhold said. “They clearly would apply to coal and heavy hydrocarbons like in an oil export terminal, but we don’t have any of those planned anyway. We already said we wouldn’t do coal or crude right now. What about natural gas infrastructure? What about propane? What about LNG (liquefied natural gas) used for ships The shipping industry is shifting to LNG to power vessels, reducing emissions for steaming across the Pacific. We’re not sure what it does or doesn’t apply to. The language is very vague.”

New Refinery Proposed For Washington Port on Columbia River, first on West Coast in 25 years

Repost from Northwest Public Radio
[Editor:  See also at RiverkeeperReuters, Oregon Public Broadcasting and Bakken.com.  – RS]

Refinery Proposed For Columbia River

By Conrad Wilson, April 15, 2015 4:47 pm
Port of Longview
Port of Longview, Credit Google Images

The Port of Longview has been in talks with an energy company about building a crude oil refinery in southwest Washington.

Washington’s Port of Longview says it is in talks with an energy company that last year submitted plans for a crude oil refinery on the Columbia River.

Details of the company’s planned refinery surfaced Wednesday through public records obtained and released by Columbia Riverkeeper.

A potential agreement between Riverside Energy, Inc. and the port, outlined in an unsigned memo of understanding dated July, 2014, described plans for the development of the first refinery on the Columbia River and the first on the West Coast in 25 years. The refinery would have a capacity of 30,000 barrels per day and produce a mix of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel all primarily for regional use, according to the documents, which were sent Wednesday to media organizations.

Port of Longview spokeswoman Ashley Helenberg said the proposal detailed in the documents is not an active proposal. She said the port is still working with Riverside Energy and is awaiting an updated proposal from the company. Helenberg said the port did not yet know what the new proposal would include, but that it would likely be for a crude oil refinery.

Oil prices have dropped sharply in recent months and oil production in North Dakota has fallen off, as well.

The newly released documents indicated that oil would travel to Longview by rail from the Bakken fields of North Dakota, creating an estimated traffic of 10 trains per month. The refined products would then travel by water.

Several trains carrying crude oil have derailed and exploded in recent years.

Columbia Riverkeeper Executive Director Brett VandenHeuvel said he would not want to see the proposed refinery materialize.

“This is shocking new information. Refineries are extremely polluting. Highly toxic air pollution,” he said. “And to combine a refinery with explosive oil trains — it’s the worst of both worlds.”

A presentation from Riverside Refining LLC estimated the project would create more than 400 construction jobs and 150 permanent positions, with an average annual wage of $75,000. The refinery would use “state-of-the-art processing technology” and “will have a lower carbon footprint than existing West Coast refineries,” according to the documents.

The refinery described in the documents would be smaller than the existing refineries in Washington. British Petroleum,  Phillips 66, Tesoro and Shell own refineries in Northwest Washington, each of which has a capacity of at least 100,000 barrels per day. Tacoma’s U.S. Oil & Refining Co. has a capacity of 39,000 barrels per day.