Vancouver bans future oil refineries, storage facilities in the city

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — The Vancouver City Council has voted to prohibit new or expanded crude oil storage facilities in the city.

The Columbian newspaper reported that the unanimous vote (7-0) last Monday night won’t affect a massive crude-by-rail facility proposed at the Port of Vancouver. A state energy panel is currently reviewing the project by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Cos.

The city’s ban would prohibit the expansion of existing and new crude oil refineries and facilities that average less than 50,000 barrels a day.

Supporters of the ban say the facilities threaten public safety and the environment. Some who testified at Monday’s meeting recalled last month’s fiery derailment in the town of Mosier.

City officials in Hood River, Mosier, Stevenson, Washougal, North Bonneville and other Gorge communities have gone on the record opposed to a new terminal in Vancouver.

Those who oppose the ban worry it could restrict economic development in the region.

The oil hub — planned by Vancouver Energy, a partnership between Tesoro and Savage consulting firm — would handle 360,000 gallons of crude oil per day, which would be loaded onto ships for delivery to coastal refineries. It would increase the number of trains rolling through the Columbia River Gorge by an estimated four per day, according to early Washington state studies.

The city’s emergency moratorium prohibiting such oil facilities expires in August.

Meanwhile, adjudication has continued into its fourth week as speakers testified before the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, the Columbian reported.

After hearings culminate, the panel will give Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee a recommendation on the project’s approval, denial or conditional approval. Inslee is expected to make a decision, but that ruling can be appealed to the state’s Supreme Court.

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