A proposed oil terminal in Vancouver, Washington, gained approval of a key permit Tuesday.
The Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC, met in executive session before voting to release the draft notice of construction air permit for the controversial project.
EFSEC Spokeswoman Anna Gill said the draft permit triggers a 30-day public comment period lasting through June 7. Permit documents and a public hearing date will be announced on the state energy board's website Wednesday afternoon.
“We are pleased to reach this important milestone in the review process," said Vancouver Energy spokesman Jeff Hymas. "We remain committed to building a safe, state-of-the-art facility that will provide jobs and economic value and improve our energy security on the West Coast.”
The Vancouver Energy terminal, backed by Tesoro-Savage, would be the largest oil-by-rail facility in the country. The $210 million project would receive about four crude oil trains a day. The oil would be stored on site and later transferred to ships on the Columbia River. At full capacity, as many as 360,000 barrels of crude oil would pass through the terminal on a daily basis.
“We’re very concerned that Tesoro-Savage is dramatically understating the air pollution impact,” said Dan Serres, the conservation director of Columbia Riverkeeper, an environmental group that opposes the terminal.
“Moving 360,000 barrels of oil a day through a terminal would release smog-forming volatile organic compounds into the local air shed,” Serres added. “And we think that would have a very negative impact on the health of people living closest to the terminal.”
The draft air permit is one of the final steps in the regulatory process. The state energy board expects to make a recommendation to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in the coming months. The ultimate decision will be made by the governor, who has 60 days to either approve, reject, or accept with conditions EFSEC’s recommendations.