Vancouver Energy: All eyes on EFSEC as deadline passes

Final arguments were submitted to evaluation council this week

Port of Vancouver Terminal
Photo courtesy of Port of Vancouver

Update: The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) has extended the deadline referenced in this article by six days. The new deadline is this Tuesday.

August 31 marked the deadline for supporters and detractors of the proposed Vancouver Energy oil export terminal to submit final arguments and closing briefs to the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC), and by all accounts the deadline passed with little activity.

Abbi Russell, communications manager for the Port of Vancouver, said the port submitted a post-hearing brief, but that it “was nothing new.”

Vancouver Energy also submitted a closing brief this week. Although General Manager Jared Larrabee hadn’t seen the final document at press time, he said the brief essentially recapped the company’s testimony from last month’s five-week adjudication process, as well as “all the additional commitments that we made,” including paying for local fire departments to bring in support staff while their employees attend emergency response training.

“Our focus has always been to talk about the facts, share the facts and share what we’re doing to improve safety,” he said.

If approved, the Tesoro Corp. and Savage Cos.-proposed project is expected generate approximately 320 full-time jobs during construction and an estimated 176 on-site operations jobs at full build-out. The terminal would receive up to 360,000 barrels of North American crude oil a day via rail car, which would be transferred to West Coast refineries.

Dan Serres, conservation director at Columbia Riverkeeper, a water protection organization in Hood River, said that Vancouver Energy and proponents of the project are making “increasingly and incredible arguments to try to justify a huge oil terminal in the wake of the Mosier train disaster.”

“The case is, overwhelmingly, that Tesoro cannot meet the standards set for by EFSEC or the state’s rules for the protecting the Columbia River or the health of Vancouver’s citizens,” he said.

The Port of Vancouver, Russell said, has “a very stringent safety and environmental program.”

“Like any other project, this has been vetted to look at all those things,” she explained. “In our closing brief, we asked that the [council] recognize what the Port of Vancouver brings to the community and make a recommendation that supports our ability to continue providing the economic benefit of jobs.”

EFSEC is expected to issue a recommendation to Governor Inslee later this year. At that point the governor has 60 days to approve or deny site certification. He is expected to make a decision before the expiration of his first term next January.