Crude Oil Terminal’s Oil Spill Plan Lacks Adequate Protection and Response

Blog post by Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, Riverkeeper’s Community Organizer—

April 14, 2014. Oregon’s only crude oil terminal is taking more heat for their dangerous crude oil terminal on the Columbia River. Riverkeeper and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC), as well as farmers who make a living near the oil terminal, agree that the oil company’s plan, currently under review by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ),  doesn’t go far enough to protect the Columbia River or local water supplies from an oil spill. 

Both Riverkeeper and NEDC submitted comments to DEQ about the oil spill plan and criticized the plan’s lack of financial assurances for spill response, and the lack of funding for local emergency responders who are underequipped to deal with a crude oil fire, explosion or spill.

 “Recent accidents prove that response time is essential to limiting damage from an oil spill,” stated Marla Nelson, Legal Fellow for NEDC. “This plan fails to demonstrate that Global is taking the risk of an oil spill seriously.”

Farmers near the new crude oil terminal also stand to lose if oil spills into local waterways.  Mike Seely, owner of a mint farm near the crude oil terminal, casts a worried eye towards his new neighbor.  “I couldn’t harvest a marketable mint crop, maybe for years, if there was a major oil spill that impacted our irrigation water,” said Seely.

Global Partners LP has a history of flaunting environmental and safety regulations.  In March, Oregon DEQ fined the Port Westward crude oil terminal for illegally shipping 250 million gallons of crude in 2013, a violation of its air pollution permit.  Global Partners LP applied for a new air emission permit with DEQ that would allow it to expand oil shipment to 1.8 billion gallons annually, or 50 full trains a month. The comment period for this application closes May 5, 2014. Submit your air emission permit comment here! Riverkeeper and NEDC plan to comment on that permit as well. The deadline for comments on the Oil Spill Contingency Plan is May 1, 2014.

Full comments by Riverkeeper are available here:

Full comments by NEDC are available here:

The proposed Oil Spill Contingency Plan is available here:




DEQ not enforcing safety laws, oil dock critics say

The Daily News. April 4, 2014.

Unpermitted Oil Terminal Seeks DEQ Approval

 Blog post by Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, Riverkeeper’s Community Organizer—

March 21, 2014. The oil terminal along the Columbia River at Port Westward has been, and continues, operating outside the law by moving more explosive Bakken crude oil than their current air pollution permit allows. According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the crude oil company Global Partners (aka “the Columbia Pacific Biorefinery”) violated air quality laws by moving nearly six times more crude oil than their permit allows.

Photo by Trip Jennings

Photo by Trip Jennings

Global Partners is now applying for a new permit with DEQ to bring 1.8 billion gallons of oil annually through Columbia County, enough to fill 50 trains per month. Submit a comment about Global’s attempt to increase crude oil train traffic. DEQ will be accepting comments through 5:00PM on May 5.

Recent oil spills and train explosions pose serious threats to rail communities. Last year, 47 people were killed in Lac Megantic, Quebec, when a unit train of crude oil, identical to those traveling to Port Westward, from the Bakken region derailed and exploded. Additional derailments and explosions in Alabama and North Dakota of Bakken crude oil trains have raised alarms at local, state and federal levels across the nation, including a moratorium on new crude oil infrastructure in Albany, New York, where Global Partners operates a Bakken crude oil terminal.

Click here for an in-depth report from The Oregonian





Oil train terminal near Clatskanie violated state law by growing without required permit, DEQ says

The Oregonian. March 3, 2014.

Riverkeeper and Allies Team Up to Tell DEQ to Reject Oregon LNG Air and Water Permits

On Tuesday, November 12th, over 80 people from Astoria, Warrenton, Forest Grove, Yamhill, and Washington state urged Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to use its authority to reject the Oregon LNG project. We sent a clear message to DEQ: Oregonians and Washingtonians oppose Oregon LNG and the pollution it would create. Attendees asked pointed questions about how DEQ can use its authority to protect water quality, salmon habitat, and air quality in its review of the proposed Oregon LNG export terminal. The hearing occurred only weeks after Clatsop County Commissioners voted unanimously to reject the Oregon LNG pipeline. Oregon LNG cannot build its proposed LNG export terminal without air and water pollution permits and DEQ has the authority to deny them.

Check out Riverkeeper’s letter to DEQ on Oregon LNG’s proposed water pollution permit. 

Photo by Laurie Caplan

Photo by Laurie Caplan

Oregon LNG’s Proposed Pollution Permits
















People’s Hearing Preferred Over DEQ’s Narrow Scope on Coal Export

jasmine and dan peoples hearingAs the marathon 12 hour hearing on Australian-owned Ambre Energy’s Morrow Pacific coal export project came to a close on July 9th, hundreds of citizens converged outside the Oregon Convention Center in Portland for a People’s Hearing and rally. That day, inside the Convention Center, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) provided two rooms for the public to testify. The room’s capacity was limited so only a handful of observers could enter and hear citizen testimony. Speaking slots were filled via online sign ups and a very small number of ‘walk-ins’ were accepted.

The resounding testimonial both inside the Convention Center and outside at the People’s Hearing was that DEQ has the power to fully study the impacts of the proposed Morrow Pacific coal export project. Yet, DEQ is choosing to limit the scope of their review to just the Port of Morrow. This approach does not serve Oregonians. DEQ must fully analyze all impacts of this controversial coal export project and deny the permits.

DEQ can protect Oregon from coal export and ask them to do it today! The comment period for the first permits for coal export ends August 12, 2013.

coal export hearingThroughout the day and into the People’s Hearing, photo petitions opposing coal export were posted to Oregon Governor Kitzhaber’s Twitter account and phone calls were made to his citizen hotline.

The DEQ hearing in eastern Oregon regarding the Morrow Pacific project was also held on July 9th for a 12 hour duration in the town of Hermiston. This hearing drew project opponents from near and far. Residents of eastern Washington and Idaho traveled to Hermiston to inform DEQ about the broad impacts of the Morrow Pacific project. For these residents, the coal export project would bring up to five coal trains per day rumbling through their cities.

Tell DEQ to stop dirty coal – deny the permits!

Send DEQ your public comment about the Morrow Pacific project today.


peoples hearing 
















DEQ: Protect Oregon from Dirty Coal Export!

terminalThe Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is recklessly moving towards permitting the first coal export terminal in the Northwest at the Port of Morrow in Boardman, Oregon.

DEQ has opened a public comment period on draft air quality permits for the controversial Morrow Pacific coal export project proposed by Ambre Energy. The comment period runs through August 12th.



(1) Sign the Petition

Tell DEQ to use their authority to protect Oregon from dirty coal export by signing this petition.

(2) Attend a Public Hearing + Portland Rally

Public hearings will be held on July 9 from 8AM-8PM in both Portland and Hermiston, Oregon. Click here for details about the public hearings. And, DEQ is requiring those that want to testify at a hearing to register beforehand – REGISTER NOW!

There will be a rally in Portland outside the hearing at 5:30PMplease wear red to the rally!


Click here for Riverkeeper’s suggested talking points & questions for DEQ


Ambre Energy’s proposed Morrow Pacific coal export terminal would result in coal dust and diesel emissions that would likely exceed National Ambient Air Quality Standards and worsen pollution in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, where air quality is currently suffering from air pollution. The proposal would result in doubling barge traffic on the Columbia River, harming salmon, river recreation and navigation. Due to concerns over these likely impacts, local governments, tribes, federal agencies and elected officials, including Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio, have called for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement on the project.


Read more about this bad move that could make Oregon the first state to break ground for coal export.







DEQ to hear from public on coal exports Tuesday

Hermiston Herald. December 1, 2012.

Judge calls runoff standards inadequate

The Seattle Times

Oregon LNG Update: Public & Agencies Weigh in on FERC’s 1,000+ page EIS



 Oct. 7, 2015 (Warrenton, OR) – A flood of harsh criticism from federal and state agencies, as well as local governments, tribes, and a coalition of fishing and public health groups, poured into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as the comment period on the controversial Oregon LNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal and pipeline drew to a close. Agencies and the public weighed in on FERC’s1,000-plus page environmental impact statement for the proposed Oregon LNG terminal and over 200 miles of new gas pipeline extending from the Washington State-Canada border to the mouth of the Columbia River. In the draft environmental review, FERC concludes that the project would cause adverse impacts to the environment, which the company can reduce through mitigation and engineering. Other federal agencies, the states of Oregon and Washington, and a coalition of fishing and public health groups disagreed.

“This project flies in the face of good science and good public policy,” said Columbia Riverkeeper Conservation Director, Dan Serres. “It is not surprising that federal and state scientists blasted FERC’s review. FERC has a storied history of ignoring and downplaying valid objections to LNG development.”

Agencies that weighed in to criticize FERC’s environmental review included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and over a dozen Oregon and Washington state agencies. For example, the U.S. Department of the Interior expressed “considerable concern about environmental impacts related to the potential development…including the potential impact to natural and cultural resources, as well as other trust resources.” Interior, which filed comments on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service, criticized FERC’s opinion on the project’s impacts to the National Park system, the safety of park visitors, and endangered species.

EPA joined the states of Oregon and Washington in criticizing FERC for ignoring the project’s impacts on climate change. Oregon LNG would use natural gas feedstock from Western Canada or the western U.S. This type of gas, known as shale gas, requires the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking). FERC concluded that federal law does not require evaluating the impacts of natural gas drilling and gas burning. EPA and the states disagreed. EPA ultimately concluded that FERC’s environmental review contained “inadequate information” and the states of Oregon and Washington called on FERC to make a laundry list of revisions to the draft environmental review before reaching a final decision on the project.

A large coalition of commercial and sport fishing, public health, property rights, and environmental groups joined agencies in calling on FERC to recognize the significant impacts of Oregon LNG’s project and deny permits for LNG export on the Columbia.

Read a selection of the agency, tribal, and local government comments:

Background information
Currently, there are two proposals to locate LNG facilities on the Oregon Coast and the Columbia River, coupled with associated proposals to construct hundreds of miles of new natural gas pipelines throughout Oregon and Washington. Oregon LNG has faced a rocky path over the last ten years since initially proposing an LNG import terminal in the Columbia River estuary. Oregon LNG was the subject of a criminal investigation into its illegal action to obtain the terminal land lease; Oregon LNG sued the Port of Astoria when the Port wanted to get out of the questionable lease; and Oregon LNG sued Clatsop County after the County rejected the LNG pipeline application.

About Columbia Riverkeeper
Columbia Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. Representing over 8,000 members and supporters, Columbia Riverkeeper works to restore a Columbia River where people can safely eat the fish they catch, and where children can swim without fear of toxic exposure. The organization is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, the world’s fastest growing environmental movement, uniting more than 200 Waterkeeper organizations worldwide. For more information, go to

Supporting documents: