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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Rejects Vancouver Oil Terminal

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has rejected a permit to build the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal in Vancouver.

January 29, 2018

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has rejected a permit to build the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal in Vancouver. 

Inslee sided with state regulators, who unanimously voted late last year to reject the project, citing significant and unavoidable risks.

In a letter to the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, Inslee wrote, “When weighing all of the factors considered against the need for and potential benefits of the facility at this location, I believe the record reflects substantial evidence that the project does not meet the broad public interest standard necessary for the Council to recommend site certification.”

Inslee also noted several concerns, including damage to the facility from a potential earthquake and increased risk of an oil spill or fiery explosion. 

Opponents of the terminal applauded Inslee’s decision to essentially end plans for an oil terminal on the Columbia River.

“This project was absurdly dangerous and destructive, and Governor Inslee saw these risks clearly,” Dan Serres, conservation director of Columbia Riverkeeper, wrote in a statement. “The threat of an earthquake or accident creating an oil spill in the Columbia River poses far too great a risk to the Columbia, its salmon, and its people.”

Vancouver Energy, a joint venture of Tesoro and Savage, had proposed to send four additional oil trains, carrying 360,000 barrels of oil, through the Columbia River Gorge daily. From there, the oil would be loaded onto ships bound for West Coast refineries.

The governor’s long-awaited decision is the latest blow to the oil terminal project. Earlier this month, the Port of Vancouver Board of Commissioners voted to end their lease with Vancouver Energy if the company did not have all necessary permits in hand by March 31.

Vancouver Energy now has 30 days to appeal the governor’s decision.


Port Commissioner Don Orange joined opponents of the Vancouver Energy oil terminal at a rally to celebrate Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to reject the terminal proposal.

Molly Solomon/OPB