• Update: New Hurdles for Proposed Oil Terminal

    WA State Supreme Court
    Our friends at Columbia Riverkeeper, Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC), and Sierra Club learned this week that the Washington State Supreme Court will review the previous lower court rulings in their lawsuit  challenging the Port of Vancouver’s closed-door meetings in 2013 during the port’s initial consideration of the Tesoro Savage Oil Terminal lease.

    If they are successful, and win at the Supreme Court level, the potential result could be the court voiding the current lease agreement.

    From the Columbian:

    “If we were to prevail at the Supreme Court, we believe the remedy the court should give us is voiding the lease and asking the Port of Vancouver to make a new decision on the lease in light of the information in a final environmental impact statement,” said attorney Miles Johnson with Columbia Riverkeeper.

    That is not the only challenge facing the Port’s lease agreement. As the deadline looms for the Port to confirm the terminal lease this summer on August 1st, Port Commissioner Brian Wolfe is re-thinking his support for the project:

    Late Thursday, Commissioner Brian Wolfe told The Columbian that he hadn’t made up his mind about how he might cast another vote.

    “Am I prepared to make a decision on it? No,” Wolfe said. “I honestly don’t know; there are so many variables to consider.”

    Wolfe’s uncertainty turns what was a 3-0 decision nearly three years ago into a big maybe.

    “It was and will remain a really hard decision between economic development and the environment, in my mind,” Wolfe said.

    The other two Port Commissioners are divided; Jerry Oliver is expected to re-affirm his support for the terminal, and Eric Labrant,  the newest commissioner, is a longtime opponent to the project, so Wolfe’s vote could sway the lease vote this summer.

    And just this past week, local elected officials have teamed up to submit op-ed pieces to two major regional newspapers slamming the proposed Tesoro Savage Oil Terminal.

    Aisha Topper, Vancouver City Councilmember, and Amanda Fritz who serves on Portland City Council penned a letter to Washington Governor Inslee in The Oregonian on February 25 titled Washington governor must save Portland, Vancouver from giant oil terminal (OPINION). It begins by stating the two cities “stand together in opposing the largest proposed oil terminal in North America.”

    Vancouver Councilmember Bart Hanson, who has led the city’s opposition to the terminal, teamed up in a letter with Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart submitted to February 27 Spokesman-Review Vancouver oil terminal is a dangerous plan.”

    Their messages could not be clearer – they urge Washington State Governor Inslee to stand up for citizens and deny the Tesoro Savage Oil Terminal.

     

  • Not Again? New Oregon Senate Bill Revives Talk of New Bridge

    ColumbiaRiverCrossingsmall
    The Oregonian reported today that a bill before the Oregon State Senate proposes increased bond measures for TriMet and allow Tri-Met to use funds on non-transit projects.

    To many, this could be a round-about way to re-open the defeated Columbia River Crossing Project.

    From the Oregonian:

    It could also let TriMet package its major transit projects with road projects that have wide appeal, a strategy that led Seattle voters to pass a record $930 million transportation-funding levy.

    In Oregon, the bill has reawakened critics of the Columbia River Crossing, including Joe Cortright, a Portland economist who has long opposed the bridge project.

    “What the bill does is greatly expand TriMet’s bonding authority, authorizing it to accept IOUs from other agencies and then use that authority to build freeways, if they choose,” Cortright said. “My concern is that this could be a stealth funding plan for the Columbia River Crossing.”

    Tri-Met officials deny they are pursuing any revival of a new bridge project. “The bill and the CRC simply have nothing to do with each other,” said General Manager Neil McFarlane in a letter to the Oregon Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means directly addressing the issue.

    We’ll be watching this issue for new developments.

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