End the Tesoro Savage Oil Terminal Lease!

Tesoro Savage Terminal Map 2

On Tuesday, April 12, 2016, Port of Vancouver Commissioners are conducting another public hearing [1].  The lease for the largest crude oil-by-rail transfer, storage, and shipping terminal in North America – Vancouver Energy proposed by Tesoro Corporation and Savage Companies for Vancouver, Washington – expires on August 1.  But Vancouver Energy proponents are requesting, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway is supporting (and attending the hearing), and the Port Commissioners are considering a lease amendment extending the government approval contingency period of the lease by two years and providing an additional 30 months to resolve any approval appeals, decreasing higher monthly rent after August 1, foregoing operation of a second Tesoro Savage oil facility at the port, and allowing port use of Vancouver Energy premises during the extended contingency period [2].

Initially approving the Vancouver Energy lease in 2013, the Commissioners assumed that the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) would complete its project review within 12 months per state law. In its third year of this arduous process, complicated and prolonged by widespread public resistance, Vancouver Energy has not obtained the government approvals necessary to build the terminal, as required by its Port of Vancouver lease.  The terms of the original lease, which the Commissioners wisely negotiated and Vancouver Energy accepted, include the option for both parties to terminate the lease on or before August 1 “without further cost or obligation.”  The Port Commissioners must decide by August whether they will use this critical opportunity to end the Tesoro Savage lease and thus lead the Northwest and the nation towards a clean, independent, and secure energy future.  Otherwise, they lose this option.

Last Wednesday, April 6, Port of Vancouver staff significantly recommended against extending the Vancouver Energy lease; they will present their objections at the April 12 Port Commission meeting.  Reconvening its April 12 regular meeting at 1 pm on Friday, April 15, at the Port’s administrative office, the Board of Commissioners will consider and likely take action on the lease amendment, without further on-site public comments.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Port Commissioners need to know and understand that the region supports their positive, strong action to terminate the lease for the dangerous, dead-end Tesoro Savage project. Such encouragement must come from local and up-track community residents, tribal members, labor representatives, health professionals, firefighting and emergency personnel, business people, elected officials, faith leaders, and climate activists.  Vancouver Energy oil terminal opponents of every perspective have packed each hearing to date and must again assert their concerns before Friday.

Please comment in-person or online about the proposed Port of Vancouver lease amendment requested by Tesoro and Savage for their Vancouver Energy oil-by-rail terminal!  Ask the Port Commissioners to end the lease by August 1, as terminal proponents will not have acquired all of the necessary approvals by then to continue their joint venture.  Explain how crude oil trains increasingly expose you and your family, friends, community, and environment to unnecessary risks and climate change that the Commissioners can help us all to avert.

For sample discussion points for your comments to the Port of Vancouver Commissioners, draw from these ideas and visit the Stand Up to Oil and Columbia Riverkeeper websites [3, 4]:

* The controversial Vancouver Energy oil terminal proposal and associated trains pose well-known, unacceptable risks to communities and environments from the Bakken shale fields and Alberta tar sands to the Port of Vancouver.  These potentially explosive trains would devastate public and environmental health and safety, air and water quality, wildlife habitat, and vulnerable species, if they derailed.

* The Tesoro Savage oil terminal proposal faces expanding resistance and uncertainty of government approval. Through written and oral comments in 2016 alone, over 289,000 people strongly urged Washington’s EFSEC to deny recommendation of the project to decision-maker Governor Inslee.  The Port Commission has ample citizen-offered information to reach a defensible decision rejecting the Vancouver Energy lease amendment and lease by August 1.

* The clear relinquishment terms of the Vancouver Energy lease provide the Port Commissioners with a great opportunity to show vision and exercise leadership by terminating the lease. Communities impacted or jeopardized by oil trains, ships, refineries, and other facilities across the Northwest and along the West Coast would broadly appreciate and support such a decision.

* The Port of Vancouver could seek better opportunities than assisting the financially vulnerable oil industry and declining world oil market.  Maintaining a lease for a proposed oil terminal with decreasing economic feasibility and dwindling probabilities of securing government approval and generating employment could cost the Port lost alternative opportunities.

Alert your associates to attend this Port hearing, and participate between 9:30 am and 9 pm or until the last speaker on Tuesday, April 12. The doors to the Gaiser Student Center in Gaiser Hall at Clark College, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way in Vancouver, open at 8 am for the regular Commission meeting, followed by spoken public testimony throughout the day and evening, selected by lottery from tickets available until 7 pm.

Send your written input, urging rejection of the Vancouver Energy lease amendment and termination of the lease, to Commissioners Eric LaBrant, Jerry Oliver, and Brian Wolfe via email at povcommissioners@portvanusa.com, by mail at Port of Vancouver Board of Commissioners, 3103 Northwest Lower River Road, Vancouver, WA 98660, or by phone with contact information from the Port office at 360-693-3611.  Thanks!

[1] Port Staff: Don’t Renegotiate Oil Terminal Contract, April 6, 2016 The Columbian

[2] Port of Vancouver to Recommend Board of Commissioners Decline Vancouver Energy Lease Amendment, April 6, 2016 Port of Vancouver USA

[3] Port of Vancouver: End the Oil Lease. We’ll Stand with You., undated Columbia Riverkeeper

[4] Tell the Port of Vancouver: End the Oil Lease!, undated Stand Up to Oil

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