Stand.earth statement: Washington state panel’s rejection of massive oil train proposal a victory for public safety, climate

Washington State’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) announced its decision on the proposed Tesoro Savage oil train terminal, voting unanimously to recommend that Washington Governor Jay Inslee reject the project.

Bellingham, WA — Today, Washington State’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) announced its decision on the proposed Tesoro Savage oil train terminal, voting unanimously to recommend that Washington Governor Jay Inslee reject the project.

After EFSEC’s final recommendation is published, Governor Inslee will have 60 days to issue his decision.

The Vancouver, WA proposal would be the largest oil train terminal in the United States. If built, the project would receive and offload up to 360,000 barrels of crude oil each day, one-third of which would be dedicated to tar sands crude. Up to five mile-long oil trains daily would transport crude to the facility, including fracked Bakken oil from North Dakota and tar sands from Alberta, Canada. Some of these oil trains would roll along the Columbia River, while others would pass through downtown Seattle and dozens of other cities en route to the facility.

Stand.earth is a leading nonprofit in the nationwide effort to stop the growth of fossil fuel infrastructure. The Bellingham, WA-based group co-produced the 2015 “Deadly Crossings: Neglected Bridges & Exploding Oil Trains” report, has co-authored environmental justice analyses of communities impacted by toxic oil train traffic, created and maintains the Oil Train Blast Zone map, and helps coordinate national resistance to oil train terminals and other new fossil fuel infrastructure.

In response to the recommendation, Stand.earth Extreme Oil Campaign Director Matt Krogh issued the following statement:

“A relatively obscure government body in Washington State was tasked with making an incredibly important decision about America’s future — and they made the right one. Today, Washington’s energy facility siting council rejected a massive oil train proposal in Washington State, a critical linchpin for producers struggling to get land-locked crude oil to export facilities on the West Coast.

Given the reality of climate change, there is simply no reason to build new fossil fuel infrastructure, especially for the export of extreme oil. The entire reason behind this proposal was to move crude oil from the middle of North America to overseas markets. Simply put, this oil is not for us — and the proposal would leave every single community along the rail lines with all of the risk and none of the reward. 

We’re calling on Governor Inslee to respect the hundreds of thousands of people who have told him to reject this proposal and stop our climate from heading in the wrong direction. If we’re ever going to meet the commitments set in the Paris Climate Agreement, we know most of the remaining oil needs to stay in the ground. We don’t need explosive oil trains rumbling through America’s downtowns and endangering our health, our communities, and our climate.”

BACKGROUND

Stand.earth (formerly ForestEthics) challenges corporations and governments to treat people and the environment with respect, because our lives depend on it. With a focus on tar sands oil and fracked shale oil, Stand.earth’s Extreme Oil campaign works to defeat existing and proposed transportation infrastructure like oil trains and pipelines. Read more in our blog post Top 5 Reasons to Ban Oil Trains Immediately.

In 2015, Stand.earth and the Waterkeeper Alliance released the investigative report “Deadly Crossing: Neglected Bridges & Exploding Oil Trains.” The report explores the condition of rail infrastructure in the U.S. and how it is being stressed by oil train traffic. 

Also in 2015, Stand.earth created the Oil Train Blast Zone map, which outlines the more than 25 million people across the U.S. who live near railroad tracks and within the evacuation zone as advised by emergency responders for oil train derailments with fires.

Stand.earth’s Crude Awakening Network, which counts more than 275 organizations as participants, brings communities together to share knowledge, and is a powerful tool to fight against Big Oil’s strategy of isolating communities and pushing through new projects before citizens even know what’s being proposed. In 2015, Stand.earth co-authored the report “Crude Injustice on the Rails: Race and the Disparate Risk from Oil Trains in California” analyzing communities impacted by toxic oil train traffic.

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Media contact: Virginia Cleaveland, virginia@stand.earth, 510-858-9902