City Moves Hearing on Oil Terminal to Larger Venue

By Stephanie Rice, May 28, 2014, The Columbian


Anticipating a large crowd, the city has moved a public hearing on a resolution opposing an oil transfer terminal to a larger venue and earlier time.


The Vancouver City Council meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, next door to City Hall.


Previously, the meeting had been scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at City Hall.


City Manager Eric Holmes said Tuesday that the Hilton’s Heritage Ballroom, which has room for up to 1,000 people, will “afford a more orderly and inclusive testimony process.”


The meeting will be aired live by CVTV on Comcast Channel 23.


The city also will vote Monday to formally intervene in the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) process, which would give the city standing to appeal if the project wins approval.


An estimated 320 people came to a May 19 council workshop on the resolution. The council chambers was standing room only, and a room set up downstairs where the overflow crowd could watch a live feed was at capacity, Holmes said. The workshop did not include time for public comment.


The resolution was offered by Councilors Jack Burkman, Bart Hansen and Larry Smith. It pledges to fight an oil-handling facility that Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies want to build at the Port of Vancouver, along with any other proposals that would result in an increase of Bakken crude oil being hauled through Clark County.


Councilors Anne McEnerny-Ogle and Alishia Topper support the resolution. Mayor Tim Leavitt and Councilor Bill Turlay have said they’ll wait until after the public hearing to say whether they’ll vote with the majority. Leavitt and Turlay agree the city should intervene in the EFSEC process, however, so the city can take a more active role.


Leavitt said he’s withholding his opinion on the resolution because he wants to make sure “each and every citizen of Vancouver feels comfortable with and recognizes that there is value in participating in the public hearing, regardless of their opinion on this matter.”


The resolution calls on Port of Vancouver commissioners to terminate the lease with Tesoro-Savage, which Port Commissioner Brian Wolfe said last week the agency will “probably not” do. It has no grounds to terminate the lease, Wolfe said.


Additionally, the resolution urges EFSEC, Gov. Jay Inslee, the Department of Ecology “and any other relevant state agencies” to “decline to permit crude-by-rail oil terminal projects, and specifically the proposed Tesoro-Savage project.”


The resolution focuses on safety risks associated with oil tank cars. It notes that while older tank cars are being phased out it will be years before all tank cars meet stricter requirements.


If built, the Tesoro-Savage facility would be the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the Northwest, capable of handling up to 380,000 barrels of crude per day.


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