Washington state begins its public review Monday of what would be the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal in the country, slated to be built at the Port of Vancouver.
The hearings are one of the final steps in determining whether the project gets built.
The state will use five weeks of hearings to determine how to move forward with the Vancouver Energy Project, a joint venture backed by companies Tesoro and Savage.
The oil terminal would move an estimated 360,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken Region of North Dakota to the Port of Vancouver. From there, the oil would be transferred onto ships and sent to ports on the West Coast.
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The hearings are scheduled to take place first in Vancouver before heading to Olympia and then back to Vancouver.
Officials estimate there would be an additional four oil trains per day traveling through the region.
“This hearing is going to show that the Tesoro-Savage backed terminal is a very bad idea," said Dan Serres, conservation director at the Columbia Riverkeeper, an environmental group that opposes the terminal.
The proceedings are much like a trial, with backers and opponents making their case to the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council. The council in turn makes a recommendation to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who has the ultimate say on whether the project gets built.
Serres said sending more oil trains through the region would be reckless.
"In the wake of the Mosier derailment, EFSEC will be hearing from experts, the public and from people in Mosier about why the oil terminal is such a risky proposition," Serres said.
Backers of the Vancouver Energy Project said the hearings will be an opportunity to examine the facts.
"We expect to be able to address concerns that have been raised by various interested parties to demonstrate that the facility can be constructed and operated safely," Tina Barbee, a spokeswoman with Vancouver Energy, wrote in an email.