The Port of Vancouver Commission voted unanimously today to approve a lease for a controversial oil terminal proposed by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies.
Commissioners said the benefits of the project outweigh the risks, and that if the terminal isn’t built at the Port of Vancouver it will be built somewhere else.
Commissioner Brian Wolfe said it was “probably the hardest decision I’ve made as port commissioner” but that in the end, he saw more pros than cons.
“I’m not sure this is the right venue for us to try to put a cork in the bottle of fossil fuels and climate change,” he said.
At full buildout, the terminal could move up to 380,000 barrels of oil per day from trains to ships at the port. At that volume, it would be the largest such terminal in the Northwest.
The project would create 250 construction jobs and 80 permanent jobs in its first phase, according to its developers.
The project will need approval from the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council and Gov. Jay Inslee before it can be built.
The oil would come from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, and it would be shipped to refineries in Washington, California and Alaska, according to the project developers.
The proposal has generated outcry from environmental groups, who are planning a protest on the Columbia River on Saturday.
Dozens of people told port commissioners not to approve the lease at a workshop on the proposal Monday night.
Climate activist Bill McKibbin, founder of the group 350.org, visited the site proposed for the oil terminal last week to oppose the project, which he says enables the burning of fuels that contribute to climate change.
But at the Port Commission meeting today, representatives from the Columbia Pacific Building Trades, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, and the Columbia River Economic Development Council voiced support for the project.
The port would lease around 42 acres to the companies for 10 years with two five-year extension options. It is expected to generate $45 million in revenue for the port over the first 10 years.