Portland Tar Sands Terminal Comments, Moscow Oil & Gas Talk, Monthly WIRT Meetings, Idaho Lakes Rulemaking


As prompted and supported by this Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) newsletter, please consider maximizing your opportunities to participate in resistance to a Portland, tar sands export, train terminal, a southern Idaho, oil and gas issues presentation in Moscow, rescheduled, monthly, WIRT meetings in Sandpoint and Moscow, and further, public comments and hearings on Idaho navigable lakes, negotiated rulemaking.

Portland Tar Sands Terminal Forum & Comments

Anticipating a big crowd on Monday evening, July 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, at the University of Portland Buckley Center (5000 North Willamette Boulevard), Portland City Commissioners are hosting a public forum and hearing on the Zenith Energy tar sands crude oil terminal on the Willamette River in northwest Portland [1-2].  In 2016, the Commissioners banned new, bulk, fossil fuel terminals, but this company has pre-existing permits.  Although the City is not currently deliberating any Zenith decisions, this listening session provides an important opportunity to again wear red, share concerns, and demand action.  More than seven organizations encouraging participation in the meeting suggest requesting that the City deny all Zenith permits to expand its terminal capacity and dangerous oil-by-rail, for the following, described reasons [1].  Between April 21 and 28, 2019, Extinction Rebellion Portland twice stopped tar sands trains for four days, with 11 arrested and other blockaders amidst a “victory over fossil fuels” garden planted on the terminal tracks [3].

As a former asphalt plant, Zenith has gradually converted its terminal to exporting tar sands crude, and has transformed regional rail lines to less voluminous, Keystone XL pipelines.  Climate-wrecking, Canadian, tar sands extraction and Northwest transportation and production threaten the health and safety of First Nations and their air, water, lands, and traditional subsistence practices.  Two mid-winter, tar sands train derailments and fires in northern Ontario in 2015 proved that “dilbit” (diluted bitumen) is as volatile and flammable as Bakken crude.  Oil companies mix diluents with bitumen (the tar drawn from tar sands) to form more fluid and transportable oil.  But this crude contains odorless and deadly hydrogen sulfide gas that is heavier than air and accumulates in low places if leaked.  Worse than any other grade of oil, dilbit also sinks to the beds of water bodies when spilled, while its diluents evaporate and seriously sicken or kill nearby communities.

According to the Washington Department of Ecology, one to two Alberta and Saskatchewan, tar sands trains pass through Sandpoint and Spokane every week.  Because “Ecology” does not require oil train reports from out-of-state destinations, additional such trains could also be moving across the Northwest toward Portland.  They usually travel south from Canada, through western Washington or north Idaho and Spokane, along the Columbia River, and through Camas and Vancouver, southwest Washington, before crossing the rail bridge to north Portland.  Idaho observers of the Union Pacific Railroad line, which needs more citizen monitors, note that oil train numbers have increased during the last year.  #No2ndBridge activists watching the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway tracks through Sandpoint fear that potentially derailed, sinkable tar sands trains may traverse the Lake Pend Oreille rail bridge [4].  Portland, Seattle, and Sandpoint trainspotters are working together to determine tar sands train routes and numbers, but request more north Idaho assistance: Contact WIRT if you can help! Continue reading