Tuesday’s decision by the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council was a victory for Vancouver, the Columbia River Gorge and residents who value this region’s strengths. As the council rejected a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver that would have brought in a daily average of 15 million gallons of crude by train, it provided the punctuation to years of public opposition while reinforcing a simple notion: This is the wrong plan at the wrong time in the wrong place.
The decision does not mark the end of a plan by Andeavor (formerly Tesoro Corp.) and Savage Cos., working together as Vancouver Energy; it simply means the council will recommend to Gov. Jay Inslee that the proposal be rejected. Given Inslee’s stated desire to be remembered as “the green governor” for his attention to environmental concerns, it is unlikely he would go against the council’s recommendation.
That marks a victory for those who have opposed the effort to establish Vancouver as an oil town. It also marks a reinforcement of the area’s desire to maintain and enhance the region’s strongest attribute: its natural beauty. Building the largest rail-to-marine oil terminal in North America would run counter to the appropriate vision for Vancouver’s future, a vision that must look forward rather than embrace industries of the past.
Supporters of the terminal are correct in stating that our economy is — and will continue to be — dependent upon oil. But the oil scheduled to come through Vancouver would not stay here; it would be shipped off to refineries elsewhere. And that does not mitigate Clark County’s moral duty to help develop and promote clean energy to help reduce global reliance upon fossil fuels.
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The proposed terminal is the wrong idea in the wrong place. That should have been recognized by previous port commissioners. Because it wasn’t, a portion of the port has been sitting vacant for four years while waiting for approval of a plan that was doomed to fail.