If any doubt remained that Tacoma is ground zero for the Northwest’s fight over dirty energy, the recent purchase of a refinery on the city’s industrial port lays any question to rest.
US Oil began operating the refinery on Tacoma’s industrial port in the 1950s, but on November 28, 2018, its owners sold the facility to a company called Par Pacific Holdings for $340 million. The Houston-based company has made clear its intention to increase oil shipping on the Salish Sea, a move that could increase spill risks and likely further harm vulnerable populations of orcas and other wildlife.
The sale includes the refinery, the 107-car rail loop for handling oil trains, a proprietary pipeline to McChord Air Force Base, and contracted capacity on the Trans Mountain Pipeline in Canada. It also includes a marine terminal in Tacoma that the new owners have worrisome designs on.
On the same day, the firm announced its Tacoma purchase its executives gave a presentation to Par Pacific’s investors, making sure to highlight that their new Tacoma marine property, “provides blue water access, enabling the import and export of Canadian and Alaskan crude.” (Blue water access refers to ocean shipping.) In addition to exporting oil to foreign shores, they boasted that the Tacoma dock will also allow the company to “opportunistically supply our Hawaii operations with inland crude,” presumably referring to Par Pacific’s refinery on Oahu.
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Whether for export or shipment to Hawaii, it looks certain that Par Pacific will aim to increase crude oil shipping out of Tacoma’s port.
The Tacoma refinery gets 64 percent of its oil from the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota, largely delivered by rail, and 33 percent from the Cold Lake region of Alberta, Canada, delivered primarily by way of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Oil from that pipeline reaches Tacoma by way of a Burnaby, BC, terminal from whence it is barged south down Puget Sound. Par Pacific, which touts “an active, opportunistic growth strategy,” is planning to use trucks to supply 33 Cenex retail gas stations that it owns in Idaho and Washington.
The Obama Administration in 2015 lifted a longstanding ban on US crude oil exports, causing a variety of industry players to scramble to profit off the move by shipping American oil abroad. More vessel traffic in the Salish Sea is never good news for the imperiled orca pods or their ecosystem. Expert analysis indicates that spill risks are likely to increase, perhaps by a lot, and yet no one seems to know how much damage a spill might do—or what it might cost.
The refinery sale comes hard on the heels of a unanimous November 14 vote by the Tacoma City Council to renew a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure in the city’s industrial port area, known as the Tideflats. By a 3-6 vote, however, the council declined to expand the moratorium to existing fossil fuel facilities, including the refinery, which means that the new Texas owners could ramp up oil shipments out of Tacoma without restraint.
Is there any independent monitoring of the emissions from that facility?
Yes of course Don, there is an ever-increasing amount of regulatory oversight:
Thank you, but I don’t trust the Clean Air Agencies.
I don’t trust the Clean Air Agencies because:
1. You use EPA models that under-estimate the potential pollution
2. Therefore the pollution controls you require will not be adequate.
3.. The monitoring requirements are weak
4. You don’t have adequate legal authority or budget
5. You allow polluters to harm our health for years before taking action.
That is why Tesoro and Par Pacific were fined a record $428 million in for air pollution violations in 2016 and most of the fine was earmarked for pollution abatement equipment that would have been required in the first place if you had better models.
greedy bloodthirsty group of hardened criminals. In my opinion, drilling for oil should be beyond a federal offense, it will leave us with a dim future, one our future generations won’t live to see, because oil sharks destroyed this planet.
Capt. Peter Wilcox
It would be worth investigating how a Renewable diesel/Renewable aviation fuel plant from waste biomass would perform financially and environmentally at this site. Transforming existing refineries in this way appears to be one of our best hopes to build a future for next generations.
“PAR PACIFIC BUYS TACOMA REFINERY, AIMS TO UP OIL SHIPPING ON SALISH SEA
More vessel traffic is never good news for the imperiled orca pods and oil spill risks are likely to increase.”
The US has produced an independent risk assessment of potential risk associated with forecasted shipping traffic increases …including the 400 or so tankers per year from the Burnaby Westridge terminal ,loaded with diluted bitumen (dilbit) .. Canada has never understood the need for such statistical(risk assessment) babble…As per Canadian Court of Appeal order, our Prime Minister has agreed to the review the Trans Mountain Expansion(TMX) pipeline proposal, ….the “right way” he says ! Whatever that means.
The Court Order requires further discussions with Canadian First Nations…and a better understanding of potential impact of added tanker traffic….
An independent U.S. EPA funded report.. CONCLUDED “…simply…there is no guarantee that RISK increases ….. can be fully mitigated.”
Carl Shalansky, P. Eng. (Retired)
Please get all your facts correct, before writing an article,misleading the masses with your misinformation. you’re clearly against oil, but the transmontaign pipeline doesn’t go into this facility. quit spreading fake news. good day to you sir.
The facts are correct; this article is not misleading the masses; this article does not perpetuate misinformation or fake news. Here’s Par Pacific’s own press release on acquiring the facility: http://www.parpacific.com/profiles/investor/ResLibraryView.asp?BzID=2193&ResLibraryID=89225&Category=2100
– Sightline Communications Associate, Kelsey Hamlin
Eric de Place
Sorry, anonymous. In fact, the Tacoma Refinery has contracted capacity on the Trans Mountain Pipeline and has been lobbying Canada’s National Energy Board in favor of the pipeline’s expansion in order to obtain more oil from that line. The oil travels by pipeline to the marine terminal at Burnaby and from there it is barged south down Puget Sound to Tacoma. See here for more: https://www.sightline.org/2017/04/10/is-canadian-tar-sands-pipeline-pointing-to-tacoma/.
Anonymous needs to not be so anonymous. Lol.
Now we need to watch which politicians Par Pacific Holdings & their lobbyists purchase.
OpenSecrets shows they have a brand new baby PAC, which by contrast to oil & gas interests nationally (which dole out way way more to Republicans), has only given to Democrats so far. That in itself is worth more browsing.
Does the Magnuson Amendment apply to this refinery? The amount of crude by ship will drastically increase through the sound. Their original permit only allowed for oil used at their refinery. It will also triple the amount of Bakken trains transiting the sound.
Wheres the EIA? Surely they had to do an extensive look into the possible environmental impacts?? How has Tacoma not learned from its dirty past, asarco??? This is the great pacific northwest, we should be paving the way and setting examples for the world at large to begin systematically dismantling these very types of operations! So called “fossil fuels” have seen their day, they are long overdue for an overhaul, in fact we should be paving the way for a fossil fuelless world by 2050. Come on Tacoma! We are better than this, let’s shut these money grubbing, thoughtless, grimey, dirty, did I mention GREEDY sons of b*&#*s down. Dismantle that refinery and install a new manufactured clean, 0 emissions, 0 threat nuclear power plant. https://www.foxnews.com/science/scientists-say-the-dream-of-unlimited-clean-energy-is-about-to-come-true