OLYMPIA — In today’s closing arguments for the environmental review of a proposed crude oil terminal in Vancouver, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s Counsel for the Environment will announce its opposition to the project.
The Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal is currently under review by the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC), which is tasked under state law with recommending to the Governor either that he approve or reject the project.
“Protecting the environment and public safety are top priorities of my office, and we considered the evidence presented with the care those priorities demand,” Ferguson said. “The bottom line is that the potential benefits of this project are dramatically outweighed by the potential risks and costs of a spill.”
The Attorney General’s Counsel for the Environment had previously filed comments and commissioned expert review of certain aspects of the project, which raised serious questions about derailment data, emergency response plans and the potential impacts to the critically important natural resources of the Columbia River, including its fisheries and other habitats.
After weeks of testimony before EFSEC from a variety of parties, Counsel for the Environment concluded that Tesoro Savage has not shown that the need for the project outweighs the potential environmental harms.
If the Tesoro Savage facility is completed, according to testimony in the hearings, vessels loaded with crude oil would make 365 trips a year along the Columbia River, and an additional 3,000 oil trains would run through the state annually to service the project.
Even if EFSEC concludes the risk of a worst-case oil spill or public safety disaster from those trains and vessels is statistically low, the potential environmental consequences and impacts to the public of such a spill are massive.
Tesoro Savage cannot guarantee that a worst-case spill or public safety disaster would not occur if this project is built. Testimony at the EFSEC review showed that a spill would negatively impact Washington’s environment, and the communities that depend on it, for many years.
Given the weight of the evidence presented, the project is not in the public interest. The Attorney General’s Counsel for the Environment will therefore urge EFSEC to recommend the project be rejected.
Counsel for the Environment
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Kernutt was appointed by Attorney General Ferguson as Counsel for the Environment, representing the public and its interest in protecting the environment on proposed developments of large, non-hydro energy facilities in Washington.
Under state law, the Attorney General appoints an Assistant Attorney General as Counsel for the Environment (CFE) when EFSEC receives a site application for review. That attorney operates independently of EFSEC, other state agencies and parties involved in the site application.
The CFE plays an important role in the overall project review. In addition to soliciting public input, providing general information concerning the EFSEC process, helping citizens inform the EFSEC of their concerns, the CFE participates in the adjudication held before the EFSEC.
More information is available here.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov