Trains full of North Dakota crude oil are chugging toward the Pacific Northwest.
Oil is bringing jobs and business opportunities to the Lower Columbia region but it also is raising fears that the river will become a fossil-fuel highway, The Daily News of Longview reported Sunday.
Last year, oil cars began leaving the Bakken shale region centered near Williston, N.D., en route 1,200 miles to Columbia County to be unloaded at Port Westward near Clatskanie.
Earlier this year, Tesoro proposed to build a $100 million terminal at the Port of Vancouver that would create 80 jobs. Similar proposals are being considered in Tacoma and Grays Harbor County. The oil would be loaded onto barges and sent to West Coast refineries.
Environmentalists — already spending time and money opposing proposed coal-export docks in the Pacific Northwest — say they worry about oil polluting the Columbia River. One major spill could cost millions of dollars to clean up and damage drinking water and salmon habitats, they say.
“We’re pretty concerned that you’re creating a mobile pipeline down the Columbia River carrying this dirty fuel,” Dan Serres, conservation director of Columbia RiverKeeper, said last week.