On Thursday, January 14, 2016, please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allied groups carpooling from Moscow and Sandpoint, Idaho, and Pullman, Washington, to participate in the 4:30 pm regional community rally against the Tesoro-Savage Vancouver Energy Project, an oil train terminal proposed for the Port of Vancouver, Washington. At the same location – Centerplace Regional Event Center at 2426 North Discovery Place in Spokane Valley, Washington – the Washington state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) is hosting a public hearing on the project’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS), from 5 to 11 pm or until the last testifier, hopefully late at night after many opposing speakers [1, 2].
Big Oil plans to build the largest crude-by-rail terminal in North America, potentially transferring an estimated 360,000 barrels per day of explosive Bakken shale oil and volatile Alberta diluted bitumen (tar sands) to tank farms across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, and to huge, ocean-going oil tankers shipping it to West Coast refineries and the world market . Inevitable, resulting oil spills into river, lake, or sea waters along rail and ocean routes, especially releases of thick tar sands oil that sinks to the bottom of waterways, would disastrously affect local and regional environments, communities, and economies.
While moving enormous volumes of oil that ultimately impact our shared global climate, the Tesoro-Savage facility would also increase the risk of fiery oil train accidents in countless communities along Northwest rail lines, from the Hi-Line around U.S. Highway 2 in Montana, to U.S. Highway 95 corridor towns from Bonners Ferry to Rathdrum in northern Idaho, to the dangerously elevated bridge and track funnels through the Sandpoint, Idaho area and downtown Spokane, Washington, and down the Columbia River Gorge between eastern Oregon and Washington to Vancouver [4, 5]. The huge oil export terminal would bring four more 100-car trains hauling flammable cargo through climate-change-drying forests, increasingly dense cities, and ever more precious water bodies every day. Public officials and emergency responders across the Northwest have raised concerns about the severe threats of train derailments, explosions, and pollution, as such incidents continually proliferate [6-8].
Northwesterners have successfully delayed, re-routed, and/or stopped similar fossil fuel infrastructure plans over the last five years, most notably tar sands mining and refining megaloads, coal export terminals, and just this week, a Grays Harbor oil terminal . Faced with a flood of proposed coal, oil, and liquefied natural gas terminals in the Pacific Northwest, hundreds of concerned citizens like you have attended hearings to tell decision-makers no. Altogether, people power has delayed nine fossil fuel terminals and stopped nine others in Oregon and Washington.
In Spokane Valley on January 14, your help is essential to protecting the safety, health, and environment of the Idaho panhandle and inland Northwest, by halting this oil terminal and its additional trains crossing the region . Although jumping through government/industry-imposed hearing hoops held up to placate the public is not radical climate activism – wherein citizens, not their oppressors, define the terms of engagement – we encourage you to speak out and show the advising Washington EFSEC and decision-maker Governor Jay Inslee that the dirty and dangerous Tesoro-Savage proposal is all risk and no reward for our communities. Hundreds of terminal opponents are already making history at these three important public meetings . Native nations, civic groups, environmental organizations, firefighters, health and emergency professionals, and other individuals will similarly attend the Spokane Valley hearing. Continue reading