Editor’s note: This article is cross-posted with permission from Oil Check Northwest.
Across the Pacific Northwest, residents are talking about the growing risks from oil train traffic in their communities. The numerous derailments and fiery disasters since oil-by-rail became the go-to form of transportation for Bakken shale oil has many speaking out about concerns for public safety and health.
There are new projects currently seeking permits in Vancouver, Grays Harbor, and Longview, Washington; refineries increasing capacity in Anacortes, Washington; and a facility already in operation in Port Westward, Oregon. The trains run the length of Washington State, cutting across the Columbia River and through some of the region’s largest population centers.
This regional conversation came to a head last week with the first public hearings for the proposed Tesoro Savage oil-by-rail facility. With capacity to bring in 360,000 barrels per day, it would be the largest facility in North America. Between two hearings in Vancouver and Spokane, nearly 2,000 people showed up, the overwhelming majority in opposition. What’s more, over 275,000 people sent in public comments on the project, believed to be a record for Washington State.
Final delivery of public comment comes on the heels of Multnomah County formally opposing oil trains and officials with the Washington State Attorney’s office expressing deep concerns that the initial environmental impact statement downplayed risks to public safety and health.
With this swirl of public statements and voices of concern on oil trains, it can be difficult to get perspective on who has said what and what their statements mean. To that end we’ve created a map organizing all the formal statements against oil trains and highlighting who has spoken up and how strong their opposition was.
More on how Northwest communities are stopping coal and oil in their tracks.
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We’ve broken them up into four categories (increasing from light to dark coloring):
- determination of safety/careful analysis (lightest blue)
- expression of concern or reconsideration
- formal written opposition
- request for moratorium or to decline permit (darkest blue)
There are a total of 3 counties, 11 major organizations, 29 cities, and the Quinault Nation that have officially voiced concern or outright opposition to oil trains in their communities. With groups ranging from the Washington State Council of Firefighters to the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, and cities stretching from Spokane and Aberdeen to Bellingham and Hood River (basically anywhere the trains would run), it’s clear how diverse and widespread public opposition is in both Oregon and Washington.
You can check out the full interactive and updated map here, as well as in table format below. As new cities and groups consider the risks, we will continue to add to that live map. You may also view the groups opposed in the table below.
Nick Abraham is the editor of Oil Check Northwest, a watchdog group focused on oil and coal’s influence in the region. He can be reached at email@example.com and at @oilchecknw.
|City, County, Nation, or Organization||
|Aberdeen||WA||formal written opposition to oil trains||Link|
|Anacortes||WA||determination of safety/careful analysis||Link|
|Auburn||WA||determination of safety/careful analysis||Link|
|Bainbridge Island||WA||request for moratorium or to decline permit||Link|
|Bellingham||WA||determination of safety/careful analysis||Link|
|Bingen||WA||expression of concern or reconsideration||Link|
|Camas||WA||expression of concern or reconsideration||Link|
|Chehalis||WA||determination of safety/careful analysis||Link|
|Clark County Democratic Central Committee||WA||formal written opposition to oil trains||Link|
|Columbia River Gorge Commission||WA||request for moratorium or to decline permit||Link|
|Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission||OR||formal written opposition to oil trains||Link|
|Edmonds||WA||request for moratorium or to decline permit||Link|
|Elma||WA||expression of concern or reconsideration||Link|
|Grays Harbor County Democrats||WA||formal written opposition to oil trains||Link|
|Hood River||OR||determination of safety/careful analysis||Link|
|Hoquiam||WA||formal written opposition to oil trains||Link|
|ILWU Local 4||WA||formal written opposition to oil trains||Link|
|Kent||WA||determination of safety/careful analysis||Link|
|King County||WA||expression of concern or reconsideration||Link|
|Montesano||WA||expression of concern or reconsideration||Link|
|Mosier||OR||determination of safety/careful analysis||Link|
|Mount Vernon||WA||determination of safety/careful analysis||Link|
|Mukilteo||WA||determination of safety/careful analysis||Link|
|Multnomah||OR||formal written opposition to oil trains||Link|
|Ocean Shores||WA||formal written opposition to oil trains||Link|
|Olympia||WA||request for moratorium or to decline permit||Link|
|Port of Olympia||WA||expression of concern or reconsideration||Link|
|Portland||OR||formal written opposition to oil trains||Link|
|Quinault||WA||formal written opposition to oil trains||Link|
|Rainier||OR||expression of concern or reconsideration||Link|
|Scappoose||OR||determination of safety/careful analysis||Link|
|Seattle||WA||request for moratorium or to decline permit||Link|
|Skamania County Fire District 4||WA||request for moratorium or to decline permit||Link|
|Spokane||WA||determination of safety/careful analysis||Link|
|Stevenson||WA||formal written opposition to oil trains||Link|
|The Columbia Waterfront LLC||WA||formal written opposition to oil trains||Link|
|The Dalles||OR||determination of safety/careful analysis||Link|
|The Washington State Council of Firefighters||WA||expression of concern or reconsideration||Link|
|The Washougal School District||WA||request for moratorium or to decline permit||Link|
|Vancouver||WA||request for moratorium or to decline permit||Link|
|Vancouver 101 Business Against Oil||WA||formal written opposition to oil trains||Link|
|Washougal||WA||expression of concern or reconsideration||Link|
|Westport||WA||formal written opposition to oil trains||Link|
|Whatcom County||WA||determination of safety/careful analysis||Link|
Your article is great. Thank you for your research and reporting. But I was shocked when I looked at the interactive map of resistance points and saw that everything just ends at the Canadian border. I know there is resistance among citizens to the north. Can you talk about international cooperation in this struggle to stop the Oil/Coal trains and put Canada’s efforts on this interactive map? Thanks. Julia Moore
Thanks for reading and the kind words! I am a fellow for Sightline but I also write for Oil Check Northwest which is where this map is from. Oil Check only works on issues in WA and OR so I haven’t compiled a list of Canadian oil train opposition (although I know its been just as fierce in many areas).
Canadian oil and coal opposition has been a frequent subject for Sightline and definitely something that will be in future posts. For this one, since its from Oil Check the map will just focused on the two American states.
Larry Thevik vice president of Washington Dungeness Crab Fishermen's Association
I do not see any mention of the written opposition statement by the Coastal Coalition of Fisheries a fifteen member association of commercial fishing groups, charterboat associations,oyster growers and associate seafood processing representatives.
Thanks for the heads and I’m happy to add them. Feel free to email me the info at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be sure to get it up.
When are you people going to realize that oil is essential for your lives? It makes, or transports EVERYTHING you buy and use including your vehicle. For you to enjoy even the bare minimum of basics of life you have to have oil transported. Frankly I wish all of industry would turn their back on you and not furnish the items made and transported by oil including your FOOD. In a day or two you would be begging for it to return.
This “not in my backyard” stuff is getting very tiresome.
All of us realize that oil is an ever-present part of daily modern life, but a just transition away from a pollution based economy is what we are working towards. This isn’t going to happen tomorrow but building more oil and coal infrastructure today locks those investments in for decades. Making personal choices as consumers is part of the solution but customers can rarely effect how safely and reliably companies transport their products, that comes from political action.
Everyone is up against an industry that spends billions in our political system to hold onto the status quo. There’s a big difference between being locked into a destructive system and trying to change it and actively perpetrating and preventing change.
For an excellent read and well thought out explanation I hope you’ll read KC Golden’s blog on the same subject: http://climatesolutions.org/article/1432250679-we-have-met-wrong-enemy