Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Hearing Added and Deadline Extended for Tacoma Methanol Plant

Please attend the scoping meetings and add your questions/comments regarding the refinery to the city's scoping document, this is how to make your voice heard: 

The second EIS Public Scoping Meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 10, 2016, in the 5th Floor Exhibit Hall at the City Convention Center, 1500 Broadway (doors will open at 5:00 p.m. for speaker sign-up; speakers will be called upon in order of sign-up). 

The third EIS Public Scoping Meeting is scheduled for February 16at Meeker Middle School in NE Tacoma. Doors will open at 5:00 p.m.for speaker sign-up; the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. We are locating the third meeting to make it easier for NE Tacoma residents to attend. 
City staff plan to have a draft Scope of Work available and posted on the project web page no later than February 5, 2016. As much as possible, the second and third hearings should focus on the details of the Scope of Work 

NEW Scoping comment period deadline
March 4, 2016, 5 pm

Email your comment to

Please attend this week's Port of Tacoma Commission meeting:
Port Commission Meeting is this THURSDAY, the 28th, at noon. At The Fabulich Center, Room 104,3600 Port of Tacoma Road,Tacoma, WA 98421

Sign the MoveOn petition

via Citizens For A Healthy Bay

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Hundreds Turned Away at Tacoma Methanol Scoping Hearing

A glimpse of the standing-room only crowd at a hearing on a proposed methanol plant in Tacoma.

Proposed methanol plant draws debate at Tacoma hearing

via The News Tribune BY DERRICK NUNNALLY

A contentious hearing Thursday night to guide official scrutiny of a proposed Tideflats methanol plant drew hundreds more people than a 400-seat meeting room in the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center could hold, leaving city officials pondering Friday how to handle future hearings.
“We are going to fix this next time,” said Ian Munce, the city’s principal planner and manager of the methanol project. “We are going to the ballroom next time.”
The meeting room used for Thursday’s event, instead of the 1,200-capacity ballroom, resulted in a meeting that started an hour ahead of schedule, after all seats were filled and the room’s perimeter was lined by the project’s advocates and detractors jammed together into close proximity.

The hearing was the first public meeting since the Port of Tacoma agreed in 2014 on a 30-year lease of waterfront property to build the 125-acre methanol production facility, which would be the world’s largest.The project’s proposer, Northwest Innovation Works, draws financial support from China’s government and BP (the British petroleum company), and also plans to build two similar plants in Kalama and the Port of St. Helens in Clatskanie, Oregon.

Several cited troubling problematic consequences of Tacoma’s industrial past, including the much-mocked “Tacoma aroma” and the lead and arsenic that fell from the Asarco copper smelter smokestack into Tacoma’s soils for much of the 20th century.
“Yes, we need jobs,” said Bruce Hoeft, a retired teacher who lives in Tacoma, “but we need ones that will not threaten the health of the people who have those jobs and the people who live nearby. … The smelter also provided those jobs, and it poisoned the land and the water.”

Enormous Northwest refineries would feed China exclusively

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Letter: Follow will of people on oil project

(ed. note: check out the comments section)
By Al Fischer, Vancouver
Published: January 21, 2016, 6:00 AM
In his Jan. 11 letter, “Allow for rational review of project,” Tom Nelson knows we are not blinded sheep to feed on right-wing propaganda, which his British political hot air is. Reviewers show that Matt Ridley (“The Rational Optimist”) was writing what the rich bureaucrat haters’ “deregulators” like to hear.
Facts concerning fossil fuel contamination of our atmosphere cannot be kept under cover any longer. The transfer of oil, much of it volatile Bakken oil, by rail as proposed is questionable because derailment fires cannot be mitigated and derailment cannot be prevented. The now-public environmental impact statement mentions only three derailment disasters when there actually have been 11 — 3 in 2013, 3 in 2014, and 5 in 2015 — in two-and-a-half years. It is alleged that the executive summary of the statement “does not even mention any derailment, fires, or fatalities.”
Our Port of Vancouver commission, while otherwise providing great leadership, have been asked to reconsider their proposal. Opponents of the proposal, under great leadership, have thousands of followers and have stopped other coal/oil proposed projects up and down the Washington Coast. There is good reason now for the port commissioners to follow the counsel of the people.
Anyone may still write to the state council by email to mattk1@atg.wa.gov, or you can address your concern to the governor’s office.
Friends of Columbia Gorge have everything you need to make a comment.
The state is taking public comments on the project until Jan. 22. Direct link to comment:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Vancouver Needs Your Comment

Friday, January 22nd is the deadline for the Vancouver Tesoro-Savage Oil Terminal EIS comment period.

Friends of the Columbia Gorge have broken down some talking points to help us write our comments. It's very easy to pick a topic and expand on it.

Summary: The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Tesoro Savage oil terminal explains that Tesoro’s project would have significant direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on communities along the Columbia River. Rail communities and the Columbia River Gorge would be exposed to public safety risks from likely derailments, oil spills, fires and explosions. The DEIS does not adequately address the project’s contribution to global warming, and the mitigation measures proposed in the DEIS are vague, speculative, and unlikely to be successful. Despite these defects, the DEIS confirms that the Tesoro project is a threat to public safety and the environment—giving the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) and Governor Jay Inslee more than adequate justification for rejecting Tesoro’s project.
The full text of the DEIS is available for download

Comment at the official EFSEC EIS website: https://ts.efsec.wa.gov/

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Northwest Tribes unite against giant coal, oil projects

Lummi hereditary chief Bill James, on the beach at Cherry Point, says saving it is to preserve “the tribe’s very way of life.” It’s the site of an ancient Lummi village. (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)
Lummi hereditary chief Bill James, on the beach at Cherry Point, says saving it is to preserve “the tribe’s very way of life.” It’s the site of an ancient Lummi village. (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)

Northwest Tribes unite against giant coal, oil projects

As governments, tribal nations are uniquely empowered in some of the biggest environmental fights in Washington and willing to use that power.

Seattle Times  January 16, 2016  By
CHERRY POINT, Whatcom County — On this last bit of undeveloped coast between a smelter and two oil refineries, SSA Marine wants to build the biggest coal export terminal in North America, to load up some of the largest ships afloat arriving up to 487 times a year, mostly from Asian ports.

The blockbuster $665 million proposal is one of many fossil fuel transport projects under review in the region — from oil pipeline expansions in B.C., to oil-by-rail facilities in Southwest Washington and another coal port in Longview.

And while thousands of people have turned out to protest Washington turning into one of the largest fossil fuel hubs in the country, Northwest tribes appear best positioned to win the fight.

“This is different from an environmental group coming in and saying ‘you shouldn’t do this.’ Here, agencies’ discretion is limited,” said Robert Anderson, director of the Native American Law Center at the University of Washington School of Law. “Tribes have treaty rights and the U.S. has trust responsibility to uphold those rights. That is the game-changing possibility here.”

It’s a high-stakes power play. There’s already been blowback in Congress from Republican lawmakers and, if the tribes lose, that could create a bad precedent for them in future battles.

But tribes are standing together against the projects.

“Coal is black death,” said Brian Cladoosby, chairman at the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community near La Conner who, as president of the National Congress of American Indians, has brought a national voice to the opposition.

“There is no mitigation,” Cladoosby said. “We have to make a stand before this very destructive poison they want to introduce into our backyards. We say no.”

The Lummi Nation has demanded the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is reviewing the so-called Gateway Pacific Terminal project, deny SSA’s permit application because it endangers the tribe’s treaty-protected fishing rights.

The Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes have sent similar letters to the Corps, and the Suquamish Tribe also is weighing in. “We have the same amount of commitment to treaty rights protection,” said Leonard Forsman chairman of the Suquamish tribe. “We are a team and we are working with them. We are very concerned about impacts on our fishery.”

The project is proposed in a state aquatic reserve and treaty protected fishing areas of five Washington Tribes. The uplands and waters are utilized by a menagerie of state and federally protected species, and what was once the best herring run in Puget Sound, already imperiled and targeted for recovery. The project also overlaps Xwe’chi’eXen, a village site and cemetery for at least 3,500 years and thousands of ancestors of the Lummi Nation.
Video at site: Bill James discusses the Lummi Nation’s opposition to the development of a coal port at Cherry Point. The Lummi are one of several Northwest tribes fighting the transport of fossil fuel through their lands. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)
But Cherry Point near Bellingham is regarded by the industry as a prime location for a new coal port. Already home to wharves for oil refineries and an aluminum smelter, the area’s deep water close to shore can accept the biggest ships afloat with no dredging, and has nearby rail access.

The Gateway terminal would move up to 48 million metric tons of coal a year — enough to cover 80 acres in five open stockpiles by the water, each 2,100 feet long and up to 70 feet high. As many as nine trains a day more than a mile and a half long would travel to and from the terminal, all the way from Montana and Wyoming. Every 18 hours, ships, many nearly three football fields long, would load up on coal at the 3,000-foot-long wharf.

Booming across the water in a tribal fishing boat toward Cherry Point, Lummi carver Jewell Praying Wolf James said he traces his lineage to some of the first sockeye fishers with reef net sites here.

To him, and to tribal cultural leader Al Scott Johnnie, the fishery means more than money. “There is a sense of place, a sense of belonging and a culture of the water, the air, the plants, the fish, and how you conduct your relationships,” Johnnie said.
      continued below~

Friday, January 8, 2016

REG Abandons Crude Oil plans

Company Abandons Crude Oil as Part of Shipping Expansion Plan in Grays Harbor

Jan 6, 2016
Groups applaud decision, caution oil spill threats from two remaining proposals persistHoquiam, WA – One of the three companies proposing crude oil shipping terminals in Grays Harbor said it will abandon its plans to handle crude oil in comments submitted to state and local agencies in late November 2015. The company’s comments state “REG has concluded that its future plans at Grays Harbor do not include handling crude oil.” The Quinault Indian Nation, Stand Up To Oil campaign, and community groups are applauding REG’s decision, but say they will continue to closely monitor the company’s planned expansion of its existing terminal. Renewable Energy Group (REG), an Iowa-based company, purchased Imperium Terminal Services during the environmental review process.“REG’s decision is a strong affirmation the company took to heart the concerns of thousands of people who spoke out about the dangers of crude oil storage and transport to our communities and waterways,” said Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation. “The Quinault Nation looks forward to working with REG and other businesses that share a vision for a sustainable future and together build an ever stronger Grays Harbor.”
“We are pleased that REG has listened to the people and made this decision.  Now we need to continue our fight to convince the other proponents that it is time to follow this lead and abandon their risky projects to bring crude oil to Grays Harbor,” said R.D. Grunbaum with the Stand Up To Oil campaign and Citizens for Clean Harbor. “We can have a healthy environment that allows our families to prosper and a strong economy without the risk of oil spills and accidents.”
REG’s Grays Harbor facility is one of the largest producers of biodiesel in the nation, a low-carbon, sustainable alternative to petroleum-based fuel. “We are excited to see REG’s commitment to growing the markets for sustainable fuels that will reduce pollution in the transportation sector,” said Ross Macfarlane, Senior Advisor for Climate Solutions, a Northwest Clean Economy non-profit.
The groups caution that there is still a long road ahead to protect communities and economically valuable waterways from the threat of oil train accidents and spills from oil trains, storage tanks, barges, and tankers. Two other crude oil proposals remain and REG has not yet provided details of the change in the company’s expansion plans.
State and local officials received more than 100,000 public comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Imperium and Westway terminals from Tribal, commercial and recreational fishermen, local elected officials, health professionals, scientists, conservation organizations, concerned citizens, faith organizations, and local, state, and federal agencies.
Designed to handle 78,000 barrels of crude per day, REG’s proposed terminal would have been the largest of three crude oil-by-rail facilities in Grays Harbor in the city of Hoquiam on the Washington Coast. For now, the permitting process for two additional proposals continues.
Facts about the value and risks of crude oil to the maritime economy of Grays Harbor:
  • An economic study commissioned by the Quinault Indian Nation found that a major oil spill could put more than 150 tribal commercial fishermen out of a job, resulting in a direct loss of as much as $20 million in wages and up to $70 million in revenue for affected businesses.
  • Marine resource jobs support more than 30% of Grays Harbor’s workforce according to a 2013 study by the University of Washington.
  • In 2014 Washington residents took an estimated 4.1 million trips to the Washington Coast spending $481 millionaccording to a recent study. More than one-third of those visits were to Grays Harbor County to enjoy its spectacular and productive coastal and ocean waters.
  • The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife stated “Grays Harbor is an area particularly sensitive to the adverse effects of oil spills.”
In addition to the now two proposals in Grays Harbor, there are also two more proposals for oil terminals in Vancouver, Washington, as well as a proposal to increase the oil by rail capacity of the Shell Oil Refinery in Anacortes. The U.S. Congress’s recent vote to lift the crude oil export ban adds another layer of urgency to the defeat of these proposals.
From the above link to REGs comment letter; while they are taking Crude off the list, the other liquids they hope to gain approval for are alarming:
This memorandum documents a preliminary review of the assumptions, methodologies and conclusions of potential transportation impacts and mitigation associated with the proposed Renewable Energy Group (REG) terminal expansion project (Project) at its existing biodiesel production and transport facility at the Port of Grays Harbor (Port) in Hoquiam, Washington. The objective of the Project is to expand the existing facility to receive and load bulk liquids in addition to those already permitted at the existing biodiesel production and transport facility. The proposed new bulk liquids include crude oil, ethanol, naphtha, gasoline, vacuum gas oil, jet fuel, no. 2 fuel oil, no. 6 fuel oil, kerosene, renewable jet fuel, renewable diesel, used cooking oil, and animal fat. 
These liquids would be used in the existing biodiesel production facilities by the applicant or unloaded, stored in the existing or proposed facilities, and loaded for rail and marine vessel transport. It is anticipated that these bulk liquids would be transported to and from the project site primarily by rail and marine vessel. Most notably, the DEIS focuses on crude oil which would be delivered by unit trains, stored, and loaded onto tank vessels at the Terminal 1 dock for shipping to refineries on the West Coast and potentially abroad. 

“One of three companies seeking to export crude oil from Grays Harbor says they are changing directions. Renewable Energy Group purchased Imperium Renewables last summer and with it the proposed expansion to store and export crude oil pending state approval.”

The Daily World “REG abandons crude-oil storage” Kyle Mittan
“Renewable Energy Group, one of three biofuel companies at the center of environmental reviews by the DOE, will not include crude oil as part of the expansion proposed at its Port of Grays Harbor facility”

The Columbian “REG drops plans for shipping crude oil in Grays Harbor” Dameon Pesanti
“Renewable Energy Group has abandoned plans to handle the shipping of crude oil by rail in Grays Harbor County. Environmental groups opposed to the project circulated word Wednesday of the project’s demise.”

The Seattle Times “Grays Harbor biodiesel plant cancels plan to ship crude oil” Ángel González
“The new owner of the mammoth Grays Harbor biodiesel plant has pulled the plug on the controversial idea of using the facility to ship U.S. crude oil unloaded from trains. Renewable Energy Group (REG), the Iowa company that bought nearly all the assets of Imperium Renewables last summer, said in a document filed with state regulators that “its future plans at Grays Harbor do not include handling crude oil.”

King 5 “Proposed terminal at Grays Harbor won't handle crude oil” AP (also ran in KXRO, KIRO7, the Olympian, and others)
“The owner of a Grays Harbor biodiesel facility says it won't handle crude oil as it pursues an expansion project on Washington's coast. The project was one of three terminals proposed at the Port of Grays Harbor to bring crude oil by train from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana.”

Pictures from the Vancouver Tesoro Savage Terminal Hearing & News Links

As promised, here are pictures from the EFSEC 
Tesoro hearing in Vancouver WA.
We arrived about 3pm, and checked in at the hospitality suite, one of the Fairgrounds livestock barns. It was freezing, unless you huddled near the heater provided by the local Longshore Union. Thanks go to the many sponsors:
Northwest Steelheaders

Columbia Riverkeepers

Sierra Club; who also coordinated the food!
We had more than just Oreos!

Environmental groups host rally against oil terminal project


Inside the hospitality room set up by oil terminal advocates, a small crowd quietly dined on antipasto skewers and tiny ciabatta bun sandwiches. In an outbuilding across the walkway, throngs of people munched on Oreos and cheered when a man on stage held high a big dead fish.  


 Hundreds Show Up To Speak On Vancouver Oil Project by Cassandra Profita OPB/EarthFix
The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council scheduled 10 hours of public testimony Tuesday. The hearing is focused on a draft environmental impact statement that outlines the risks of the project.
R.D. & Robin give their comments

Hundreds weigh in on plan for Vancouver oil terminal The Bellingham Herald
The opponents, many wearing red shirts, appeared to outnumber the supporters. Speakers came from all over Western Washington and Northwest Oregon. Comments for the first few hours were fairly back-and-forth between supporters and opponents, however.Opponents on Tuesday hammered on the risks involved with four 120-unit trains full of oil traveling through the Columbia River Gorge and into Vancouver every day.“Our safety is in your hands. We urge you to tell Gov. (Jay) Inslee to deny the project,” said Jared Smith, president of the local Longshore union.

Oil-by-rail terminal opponents dominate Vancouver public hearing

Updated: Jan 5, 2016, 3:06pm PST  Portland Business Journal
 Hundreds of people, many in red shirts, filed into a sweeping hall today to testify in favor or against a proposal for an oil-by-rail facility in Vancouver. More than 265 speakers had already signed up to speak about the oil train terminal proposed at the Port of Vancouver USA at the public meeting in Ridgefield, Washington, just after 2 p.m. The meeting is slated to run until 11 p.m., depending on how many more speakers show up.

Oil terminal  The Daily News

Those opposed wore red and were chastised for waving signs, then their fingers, in response to anti-terminal speakers, showing their evident supermajority at the hearing.“Our safety is in your hands. We urge you to tell Gov. Inslee to deny the project,” said Jared Smith, president of the local International Longshore & Warehouse Union.During the hearing’s dinner break, a sea of red filled a cool “barn” across from the meeting hall as a rally brought music and speakers together to protest the terminal.The environmental coalition Stand Up to Oil said 1,000 people attended the hearing throughout the day.

Activists in Pacific Northwest Face Off Against Largest Oil-By-Rail Terminal in North America

By Martha Baskin, Truthout | News Analysis
Vancouver, Washington - Stand on the banks of the mighty Columbia River, and in the foggy mist of a Pacific Northwest winter, you may miss the rail tracks that lie on both of its banks. The panoramic vista will give you a sense of why front-line communities have long vowed to protect it from being expanded into a high-volume fossil-fuel corridor, years before Congress lifted the ban on US crude oil exports in late 2015.
I did go over to the other Hostility Suite.
This just isn't a group of people that get all excited about free teeshirts. 
Or free hats. Ed. note- These things were HUGE! I didn't see one on an actual human head, so I have no idea how they fit.

Nope, nobody is wearing a free hat or tee.

They really weren't having any fun.

Yakama Nation voices concerns about proposed oil terminal at Port of Vancouver
By Kate Prengaman Yakima Herald
“The Yakama Nation asks all people of the Pacific Northwest to stand united with the Yakama Nation in opposing this harmful project that threatens the earth, waters, and air belonging to all of us,” Gerald Lewis said in a news release.
“The Yakama Nation will not negotiate nor agree to so-called mitigation for any violations of our treaty rights; there is no word for ‘mitigation’ in the Yakama language,” he said in a statement. “We do not compromise on these matters of life.”
The state is taking public comments on the project until Jan. 22. More information is available at www.efsec.wa.gov