The governor of Washington on Monday rejected a permit that would allow North America’s largest oil-by-rail terminal to be built in the state.
Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said that he was in agreement with state regulators who unanimously recommended last month that he reject oil companies Tesoro and Savage’s application to build a terminal at the Port of Vancouver.
Washington’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council voted last November to deny the permit and submitted its recommendations to Inslee in December.
“The Council has thoroughly examined these and other issues and determined that it is not possible to adequately mitigate the risks, or eliminate the adverse impacts of the facility, to an acceptable level,” Inslee said in a letter to the council.
“When weighing all of the factors considered against the need for and potential benefits of the facility at this location, I believe the record reflects substantial evidence that the project does not meet the broad public interest standard necessary for the Council to recommend site certification.”
Vancouver Energy, a joint venture of Tesoro and Savage, had prosed building an energy terminal that would accept crude oil delivered by rail from mid-North America and the Bakken oil fields. It would ship over 131 million barrels of oil per year down the Columbia River.
Inslee, however, insisted in the letter that Washington’s ports would remain open to future trade opportunities.
“While this process has demonstrated that this particular project is wrong for this particular proposed location, I am confident that our ports will continue to play an important role in regional trade, and providing opportunities for jobs in clean energy,” he said.
Environmentalists reacted positively to the news, seen as an immense blow to the oil terminal project.
“This project was absurdly dangerous and destructive, and Governor Inslee saw these risks clearly,” said Dan Serres, conservation director of Columbia Riverkeeper, in a statement. “The threat of an earthquake or accident creating an oil spill in the Columbia River poses far too great a risk to the Columbia, its salmon, and its people.”
Vancouver Energy has 30 days to appeal the governor’s decision.