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: http://columbiariverkeeper.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/2014.4.11-Columbia-Riverkeeper-Comments-on-Globals-Oil-Spill-Contingency-Plan.pdf

Full comments by NEDC are available here: http://law.lclark.edu/centers/northwest_environmental_defense_center/projects/oil-transport-in-the-pacific-northwest/

The proposed Oil Spill Contingency Plan is available here: http://www.oregon.gov/deq/LQ/Pages/Columbia/spillplan.aspx

 

 

 

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.

 

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

(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

Struggling Ambre Energy Coal Export Terminal Dealt Another Blow With Eighth Permit Delay

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

May 30, 2014. On Friday, May 30, 2014, the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) announced that it will delay a permit decision for Ambre Energy’s struggling Morrow Pacific coal export project along the Columbia River until August 18, 2014. This is the eighth time that the permit has been delayed. On the heels of Ambre Energy’s repeated failures to provide DSL with adequate information and analysis about the project scope and impacts, the decision represents yet another blow for Ambre’s coal export proposal.

Coal Exports Protest

“Once again Ambre Energy has asked for delay on one of their permits to barge dirty coal through the Columbia River Gorge for an unprecedented eighth time! We in the City of Mosier call on the State of Oregon to deny this permit once and for all,” said Arlene Burns, city council president in Mosier, Oregon.

In March, the State of Oregon notified Ambre Energy that its controversial proposed coal export terminal requires a state land lease because the site is located on state-owned land in the Columbia. The requirement to obtain a state land lease for Ambre Energy’s dangerous coal export project was the latest in a series of setbacks for the struggling company. Oregon leaders continue to show firm opposition to coal exports, including a statement in April from Governor Kitzhaber that, “it’s time to say NO to coal exports in Oregon”.

“The Governor’s statement reflects the risks posed to Oregon families, businesses, and health. We stand with the Governor on his leadership on coal exports – there is no place for coal in a healthy, prosperous future for our state,” said Brett Vandenheuval, executive director for Columbia Riverkeeper.

Ambre Energy is plagued by financial questions and has made little progress in obtaining state or federal permits for its coal export terminal. Earlier this year, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced Ambre Energy’s proposal to build the coal export terminal will require an additional permit known as a 401 Water Quality Certification. DEQ received a record breaking 16,500 public comments on Ambre’s proposal to export 8.8 million tons of coal through Northwest communities and along the Columbia River.

In 2011, a legal challenge to the Ambre proposal in Longview, Washington, exposed internal documents showing that Ambre and their U.S. subsidiary Millennium Bulk Logistics lied to Cowlitz County and state officials about the size of their project, claiming it would ship five million tons per year when they planned a project more than 10 times that size. Following the controversy, Ambre withdrew its permit and in 2012 filed a permit for a terminal that would handle 44 million tons of coal per year.

Throughout Oregon and across the Northwest, thousands of business owners, tribal governments, elected officials, medical professionals, faith leaders and others have demanded that Governor Kitzhaber and the DSL protect Oregon families and frontline communities from the dangers of coal exports.

“Oregon State agencies like the DSL need to continue to give these projects the full scrutiny they deserve – we’re glad they’re not taking this decision lightly due to the terrible harm it poses. Governor Kitzhaber and so many other Oregon leaders have voiced their objection to this dangerous and costly project. Northwest families deserve and will accept nothing less than leadership that protects our health, safety, economy, and climate. The threats of coal exports are far too risky for Oregon families, our economies, our heritage and the precious natural resources we all share,” said Cesia Kearns, co-director of the Power Past Coal coalition.

 

Over the past few months, more than 25,000 citizens have contacted Governor Kitzhaber requesting a denial of the permit. Earlier this year, nearly 90 elected officials from Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho urged Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and the DSL to protect frontline communities throughout the Northwest by rejecting a permit for Ambre Energy’s proposed Morrow Pacific coal export project. Additionally, over 3,000 medical professionals and public health advocates contacted Oregon decision-makers to urge rejection of the Ambre Energy permit. Close to 600 Northwest businesses and business leaders have also either expressed concern or outright opposition to coal export.

Take Action Today! A letter to the editor about this delay will go a long way! Here are talking points for your letter.

 

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POWER PAST COAL is an ever-growing alliance of health groups, businesses and environmental, clean-energy, faith and community organizations working to stop coal export off the West Coast. Visit www.powerpastcoal.org for more information.