Oil

There are two crude oil distribution terminals in Oregon: the ArcLogistics facility in industrial Northwest Portland, and Global Partners’s facility in the Port Westward industrial park, north of Clatskanie. Both offload oil from trains, store it, and transfer it to oceangoing ships, which make their way to refineries on the West Coast.

Port Westward:  The third week of August was rough for anyone who still cares about clean air or rivers or opposes government subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.  Reuters reported on August 20 that Global Partners won permission from the Department of Environmental Quality to handle 1.8 billion gallons of crude oil and ethanol per year - up to 120,000 barrels per day - at its Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery facility in Clatskanie. That's a 3679% increase-- up from the 50 million gallons per year, or 3,261 barrels per day, that the previous permit allowed. That was on Wednesday.

In a slavish race to the bottom, the Oregon Department of Transportation, announced on Friday, August 22, that it would award Global Partners $2M dollars to ramp this stuff up. In fact, ODOT voted Friday to approve nearly $5 million in subsidies for rail and dock infrastructure tied to coal export and oil-by-rail projects.

Northwest Portland:  With essentially no public involvement or regulatory proceedings, the ArcLogistics terminal began operations in January of 2014. (1) This was possible because the site did not require construction, and thus a permitting process, like other controversial fossil fuel infrastructure projects in the region. It operates under modified permits issued to the facility’s previous owners, who were in the business of producing asphalt. (2)

Union Pacific trains carry oil along Interstate 84 in eastern Oregon and into the gorge before reaching the ArcLogistics terminal, which has the capacity to store around 1.5 million barrels of oil (3). The volume they are currently transporting is unknown; it is telling, however, that in recent months, for the very first time, UP trains carrying nothing but oil have been seen in the Columbia River Gorge. (4) The facility is currently undergoing construction that will increase its operational capacity, anticipated to reach 16,250 bpd. (5)

One might think that, with climate change killing Washington coast shellfish (6) and threatening to quadruple the size of Pacific Northwest wildfires from 20th century levels, (20) the DEQ, confronted with a facility shipping crude oil, at quantities that wantonly break the law, in a facility paid for with public clean energy money, would do everything in its power to shut that facility down.

 Instead, it is reviewing a permit for the facility to expand the scope of its operations. (7)

What's goin' on?

If you haven't heard, things are go-go in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. What with all the new fracking technologies and all that bad craziness in places like Russia and Iraq, all a corporation has to do really is invoke "energy independence". Or "jobs".  Or "rail safety".  And that bi-partisan approval sure is reassuring...

According to Sightline Institute, if all of the oil-by-rail projects under consideration are permitted, they will have a capacity of 858,800 barrels per day-- more than the Keystone XL pipeline. These projects are indeed pipelines on wheels.  An investigative report by the Oregonian revealed that the volume of oil hauled on Oregon’s rails already increased by 250% in 2013Rob Davis writes that a sharp increase in crude shipments along a rail line through Portland, Scappoose, Rainier, and St. Helens/Port Westward is driving the jump.

Public debate is centered around the safety of oil trains. The oil trains are indeed unsafe as we have discovered over the last year. Clearly, the consequences of a spill on the Columbia or an explosion in a populated area would be catastrophic. Hence, ODOT is willing to throw a considerable chunk of our tax dollars at anything that could be construed as "safety".

We believe, however, that the press and most public officials are missing a key point: these trains are streams of carbon pollution destined to be dumped into an atmosphere and ocean already beyond their capacity to absorb it. From the standpoint of climate change, there is no such thing as a safe crude oil tank car. This is why we say, "None Shall Pass!" Please check our site frequently to get updates on our efforts to stop oil-by-rail in the Pacific Northwest. 

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More background on Oregon's oil-by-rail facilities here:  Oil Trains in Oregon: The Bakken Shale, the Uinta Basin, and the Climate Crisis

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The Port Westward Oil Terminal

September 22, 2014 -- The third week of August was rough for anyone who still cares about clean air or rivers or opposes government subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.

Reuters reported on August 20 that Global Partners won permission from the Department of Environmental Quality to handle 1.8 billion gallons of crude oil and ethanol per year - up to 120,000 barrels per day - at its Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery facility in Clatskanie. That's a 3679% increase-- up from the 50 million gallons per year, or 3,261 barrels per day, that the previous permit allowed. That was on Wednesday.

In a slavish race to the bottom, the Oregon Department of Transportation, announced on Friday, August 22, that it would pay Global Partners $2M dollars to ramp this stuff up. In fact, ODOT voted Friday to approve nearly $5 million in subsidies for rail and dock infrastructure tied to coal export and oil-by-rail projects.

The subsidies were recommended as part of a $42.3 million package of transportation funding through the ConnectOregon program. According to OPB's Earthfix, "the program leverages state lottery dollars to pay for transportation projects such as airport runway upgrades, railroad improvements and dock expansions".  At the same time, ODOT rejected $2M sought by Ambre Energy for its Boardman coal terminal.  Apparently "coal" is becoming a dirty word in the capital, so it's okay to fund the industry as long as you don't use the c-word.

On September 18, Portland Rising Tide and allies from Columbia County erected a 20-foot-tall tripod of steel poles to blockade the Port Westward oil terminal. Dozens of police, working at night under floodlights, were mobilized to remove 27-year-old Sunny Glover from the tripod’s apex. After an initial attempt to remove her with a bucket truck—which she foiled by locking her neck to one of the tripod’s poles—the police resorted to far more drastic and perilous measures.

Rising Tide and allies will continue to oppose Port Westward and the expansion of oil terminals throughout the northwest and the nation.

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Background:  Without public hearings or notification, Massachusetts-based Global Partners began exporting oil from Port Westward in 2012 at the site of a publicly financed and short-lived ethanol terminal near Clatskanie, Oregon.  Explosion-prone  Bakken oil trains travel through the Columbia River Gorge, Portland, and St. Helens among many other cities on the way to the export terminal. 

The Port Westward terminal was permitted by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to handle 50M gallons crude per year. In March, 2014, Global Partners was slapped on the wrist with a $117,000 fine for exporting six times the legal maximum.

Tar Sands Import & Export

suncor-oil-sands-2009

Called "the most destructive project on earth," the mining of Alberta tar sands is the second-largest source of deforestation in the world and a major driver of climate chaos. Ignoring legally-required consultation with Native American tribes, fossil fuel companies are attempting to turn the Pacific Northwest into a corridor for transporting heavy equipment used in tar sands extraction to Canada. Portland Rising Tide and our allies are determined to stop them.

Tar Sands FAQ Megaload Tracker Megaload Campaign

Our Allies:

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla         Read the letter Gary Burke, chairman of the CTUIR Board of Trustees, wrote to Governor Kitzhaber

Vancouver Action Network

Wild Idaho Rising Tide

Northern Rockies Rising Tide

Portland 350.org

 Corvallis350.org

 All Against the Haul

Arc Logistics’ Portland Oil Terminal

With essentially no public involvement or regulatory proceedings, the ArcLogistics terminal began operations in January of 2014. (1) This was possible because the site did not require construction, and thus a permitting process, like other controversial fossil fuel infrastructure projects in the region. It operates under modified permits issued to the facility’s previous owners, who were in the business of producing asphalt. (2)

 Union Pacific trains carry oil along Interstate 84 in eastern Oregon and into the gorge before reaching the ArcLogistics terminal, which has the capacity to store around 1.5 million barrels of oil (3). The volume they are currently transporting is unknown; it is telling, however, that in recent months, for the very first time, UP trains carrying nothing but oil have been seen in the Columbia River Gorge. (4) The facility is currently undergoing construction that will increase its operational capacity, anticipated to reach 16,250 bpd. (5)

On August 30, 2014, climate justice activists with Portland Rising Tide shut down the ArcLogistics crude oil terminal in Northwest Portland resulting in one arrest.

Portland resident Irene Majorie, 22, locked herself to a 55-gallon barrel filled with concrete that was placed on the railroad track leading into the facility. Train cars enter from a nearby yard to offload oil into 84 storage tanks, before it is piped onto oceangoing ships bound for West Coast refineries. Over a dozen supporters joined her at the site.

Rising Tide and allies will continue to oppose Arc Logistics and the expansion of oil terminals throughout the northwest and the nation.

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Vancouver, WA Oil Terminal

Public meetings to vet the proposed 380,000 barrel-per-day Vancouver Oil Terminal were held in October, 2013 by the Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSC).  Opposition was fierce. The EFSC received 31,000 public comments during the scoping process for the study. Based on recommendations of the EFSC, the decision whether or not to build the terminal rests in the hands of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and, ultimately, the public. The oil terminal being pursued by the Savage and Tesoro corporations would be the largest on the west coast.  Tesoro is responsible for the October 10th pipeline failure which spewed more than 20,000 barrels of crude oil into a wheat field in North Dakota. This is the same oil from the Bakken shale fields that the company aims to ship through Vancouver to domestic and/or foreign ports.

In December, the City of Vancouver sent a list of 100 concerns to the EFSEC as part of the council’s scoping process to decide what should be included in the environmental review of the project but fell short of opposing the project.

Check back here for updated EFSEC news and plans for resistance.

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Brief History: Plans to develop and operate the new 380K barrel-per-day (bpd) crude-by-rail unloading and marine loading facility in Vancouver, WA were announced by Tesoro and Savage in April, 2013.  The Vancouver Port Commission voted unanimously to approve the plan in July.  "With their action...port commissioners underscored the fact that Vancouver has become an epicenter of global energy market gyrations and national environmental concerns." the Columbian wrote on July 23, 2013. In November, fifty activists with Vancouver and Portland Rising Tide blocked entrances to the Port of Vancouver, WA with a community picket line in response to the Port’s re-leasing of public land to Tesoro/Savage for the proposed construction of the oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.  Trucks backed up down the block as work was delayed for the morning.

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