The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has approved a final permit for an ethanol terminal to begin transloading renewable diesel. That's despite receiving thousands of comments arguing against the permit, which still allows the facility to process crude oil.
On June 30, the DEQ approved a renewal for Global Partners' Clatskanie facility's Standard Air Contaminant Discharge Permit (ACDP) permit after holding a virtual public hearing and gathering more than 2,200 comments on the matter. The agency also approved Global Partners' application for a technical modification to the permit to include the transloading of renewable diesel.
DEQ’s approval was the last regulatory hurdle for Global Partners to begin transloading renewable diesel as well as ethanol and crude oil at its rail and ship facility on the Columbia River.
“We want to thank everyone who participated in the permitting process, and especially the local community,” CEO of Global Partners Eric Slifka said in a press release. “Without local support, we couldn’t take this next step in the use of the facility. We are thankful for our partners and neighbors in Columbia County and look forward to providing jobs and community support for many years to come.”
Global Partners is now permitted to transload up to 1.8 billion gallons of combined volatile organic liquid product per year — the equivalent of two trains per day loaded with fuel.
Environmental opponents of the approval said DEQ rushed to approve the renewal of the permit, in spite of local opposition. Environmental watchdog Columbia Riverkeeper warns that Global Partners is still allowed to transload crude oil, since that wasn't removed from the company's permit.
“DEQ's decision gives Global Partners the go-ahead to ship up to two loaded oil trains each day through Portland, Vancouver, and Columbia County towns,” conservation director for Columbia Riverkeeper Dan Serres said. “The permit could also be used to ship renewable diesel or ethanol, and while we hope that Global chooses not to ship crude oil, we are disappointed that DEQ did not use this permit process as an opportunity to protect the public from oil trains and the pollution they create.”
Global Partners VP external communications Catie Kern said the company's focus right now is moving renewable diesel.
“Earlier this year, we announced plans to start transloading renewable diesel. Before asking DEQ to include the product in our permit, we held a public open house and made sure the community could voice their opinions and ask questions,” Kerns said. “The inclusion of renewable diesel in our permit allows us to move to the next generation of green fuels, helping to fulfill West Coast low-carbon fuel standards — a move that should be applauded by the environmental community.”
Global Partners will prepare to start receiving renewable diesel in the fall.