• Port of Vancouver Extends Oil Terminal Lease

    Mosier Oregon Oil Tank Car Burning June 3, 2016

    Mosier Oregon: Derailed Union Pacific Oil Tank Car Burns June 3, 2016

    In a 2-1 vote Tuesday, Port of Vancouver Commissioners extended Vancouver Energy’s proposed oil terminal lease, ahead of the potential cancellation deadline of March 31.

    Under the current lease Vancouver Energy is paying the port $100,000 a month pending a final decision by the state. The proposed $210 million Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy terminal would bring an estimated 360,000 barrels of crude oil to Vancouver per day and has been opposed by community and environmental groups, including Rosemere Neighborhood Association, since its initial proposal nearly 4 years ago.

    Eric LaBrant was the sole dissenting vote, cautioning his fellow commissioners, “Gentlemen, we’re being sold a bill of goods. We need to make a decision as a commission to move on, be done with this process, and to move on to the other things that are in store for us.”

    The oil terminal is currently being reviewed by Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) which is expected to give its recommendation to Washington Governor Inslee at any time. The final decision will be made by Governor Inslee.

    For more information read Columbian Newspaper article here.

    Contact Governor Inslee’s office to make your voice heard on the proposed Oil Terminal here.


  • Environmental Groups Clean Water Act Success: BSNF Railway Required to Cleanup Coal Pollution

    EPALogoRosemere Neighborhood Association congratulates our environmental partners on their successful Clean Water Act lawsuit against BNSF Railway coal train pollution!

    The lawsuit was brought by our friends at Sierra Club, Puget Soundkeeper, Columbia Riverkeeper, Spokane Riverkeeper, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

    In the settlement, BNSF will now pay $1 million to finance environmental cleanup throughout Washington state, including Bellingham, Puget Sound, Columbia River and Spokane River areas, and will be required to cleanup the Columbia River and Pacific Northwest waterways of coal dust, petroleum coke, and other other discharges from open-top coal train cars.

    You can read more in the Seattle Times here.

  • WA Public Land Commissioner Denies Sublease for Milennium Coal Terminal

    Train unloading coal at Millennium terminal in June 2011

    Train unloading coal at Millennium terminal in June 2011


    The outgoing Washington State Public Lands Commissioner today announced his decision to deny Millennium Bulk Terminals’ sublease of state-owned land in Longview.

    Millennium Coal’s plan was to sublease the land from Northwest Alloys to build a controversial coal terminal in Longview.

    Commissioner Goldmark explained “The message of today is I’m taking steps to protect state-owned aquatic lands.  That’s part of my responsibility as commissioner of public lands.”

    From the Oregonian:

    The company was looking to build a terminal with the capacity to export 44 million tons of coal annually to buyers in Asia. That would have involved bringing some 16 coal trains a day down the Columbia River Gorge from Wyoming and Montana. Tribes, community members along the route, and conservationists weighed in by the thousands against the project, which was first proposed in 2010. But it also attracted some support from organized labor.

    The decision continues a winning streak for opponents of fossil fuel export terminals in the Northwest. Federal, state and local authorities have rejected more than a dozen proposals in Oregon and Washington to export coal, oil, natural gas and propane. There are still three proposals pending on the Columbia, including an oil export terminal in Vancouver and two methanol export terminals at the Port of Kalama and Port Westward near Clatskanie.

    “This is a huge victory for tribes and communities that have fighting this proposal for years,” said Lauren Goldberg, an attorney for the conservation group Columbia Riverkeeper. “It’s an exciting way to start the new year.”

    Millennium Bulk Terminals could not be reached for comment. There is no administrative process to appeal the decision, Goldberg said, though the company could sue the state.

    Read the full Oregonian article here: Washington to reject coal export terminal near Longview

  • BREAKING: Port of Vancouver Holds Oil Terminal Lease Amendment Public Hearing

    Crude Oil TrainsAs we have reported, this August 1st marks the deadline for the Port of Vancouver to renew the lease for the Tesoro Savage Oil Terminal.

    Tesoro Savage has approached the Port with a proposed 2-year extension to renew the lease prior to the August 1 deadline. The Port’s staff, although still on record supporting the Tesoro project, recommends against the lease renewal, citing growing concerns with the terminal moving forward.

    Port Commissioners will vote on the lease renewal on Friday April 15th and are holding a public hearing next Tuesday at Clark College to hear public testimony in advance of their vote on the lease renewal.

    A quite different slate of Port Commissioners will vote this time compared to those on the commission in 2013 when the lease was first approved after massive public opposition.  With the addition of Eric LaBrant last year, a staunch opponent to the terminal, the three Port Commissioners are now divided in their support.  Commissioner Brian Wolfe is also now voicing his own concerns with the Tesoro project.

    From the Columbian:

    Wolfe, who has become the three-member commission’s swing vote on the oil terminal lease changes, said he won’t make up his mind on his vote until after Tuesday’s daylong public hearing at Clark College’s Gaiser Hall. The commission expects to vote on the request on April 15.

    “My position today is I’m still going to listen to everybody next week and try to do at the end of the week what’s best for the Port of Vancouver,” said Wolfe, who backed the initial lease agreement.

    Eric LaBrant was not a member when the commission unanimously approved the original lease in 2013. But he won his seat on an anti-terminal platform, easily beating a staunch terminal supporter. Commissioner Jerry Oliver remains a supporter of the terminal.

    Rosemere Neighborhood Association encourages everyone to attend the Public Hearing this coming Tuesday; voice your opposition to the terminal; and urge the Port Commissioners to not only reject the lease renewal proposed by Tesoro Savage, but to cancel the lease outright.

    Read the Agenda for the Port’s April 12 Meeting, including the full Lease Amendment Proposal between the Port of Vancouver Tesoro Savage here: Agenda-and-documents-for-April-12-2016-Commission-Meeting.pdf

    Here are the Public Hearing details:

    Oil Terminal Lease Amendment Public Hearing:

    •  Tuesday, 9:30 AM to 9:00 PM, Doors open 8:00 AM. Public testimony will begin after the Port’s regular business meeting, with speakers chosen by lottery.
    • Gaiser Hall, Clark College, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver

    Port Commission decision:

    • Friday, 1 p.m. April 15, the commissioners will make a decision on the lease amendment. No public comment will be taken.




  • WA Court of Appeals Rules County’s Plan to Manage Polluted Runoff Illegal


    September 26, 2012

    Jan Hasselman, Earthjustice
    Dvija Michael Bertish, Rosemere Neighborhood Association
    Brett VandenHeuvel, Columbia Riverkeeper
    Mark Riskedahl, Northwest Environmental Defense Center

    WA Court of Appeals Rules County’s Plan to Manage Polluted Runoff Illegal

    Taxpayer subsidy, fish-killing loopholes scrapped by judges
    as violations to clean water laws

    Tacoma, WA – In a major decision with statewide impacts in Washington State, a court of appeals ruled Clark County’s weak development rules that allow too much polluted runoff violate state and federal laws to protect clean water. The ruling, announced late Tuesday, signals an end to the county’s on-going failure to protect rivers, streams and salmon threatened with extinction.

    “We applaud the court of appeals for recognizing that Clark County’s refusal to comply with clean water laws is unfair to other cities and counties in our state, not to mention industries, that continue to work hard to clean up our polluted waterways,” said Dvija Michael Bertish of the Rosemere Neighborhood Association. “As residents of Clark County who enjoy fishing and swimming in our local rivers, we’re fed up with our elected officials’ attempts to compromise our health and safety—especially when the law requires otherwise.”

    Rosemere Neighborhood Association, Columbia Riverkeeper, and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, represented by Earthjustice, challenged Clark County’s adoption of development standards that were too weak to prevent significant harm to the county’s already-stressed rivers and streams. “The Court of Appeals ruling comes down to this—clean water is our future and everyone needs to do their share to keep our water clean,” said Jan Hasselman from Earthjustice, who is representing the groups.

    Polluted runoff, or stormwater, is a toxic stew of metals, oil, grease, pesticide, herbicides, bacteria and nutrients. When it rains, the toxic runoff drains off roofs and streets in amounts that seriously degrade water quality and kill marine life. The county and an association of developers appealed a January 2011 ruling of the state Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB) that the county is out of compliance with federal clean water laws and shifted the burden of protecting clean water from developers to local taxpayers.

    Specifically, the PCHB found Clark County’s stormwater program:

    • Is not based on any science and failed to protect water quality and salmon.
    • Unlawfully exempts development projects that “vested” prior to April of 2010.
    • Unlawfully allows Clark County to shift resources from its existing retrofit program to mitigate for new development.
    • Unlawfully fails to require “low impact development” at new development and mitigation sites.

    The Court of Appeals concurred. “Not only has Clark County violated the law, it is ignoring the very real economic and quality of life costs associated with dirty stormwater pollution,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “The County’s rogue approach to dealing with stormwater pollution ignores the very real costs of increased flooding, polluted drinking water, and toxics in fish. It’s time stop using outdated thinking and transition to much greater reliance on low impact development and better land use planning. The stakes are too high for delay.”

    The county has 30 days to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court if it chooses. Additionally, a federal court has stayed an enforcement action against the county until the appeals court rules, and is likely to open the case now that the appeal is resolved.

    A copy of the Court of Appeals ruling can be downloaded here: WA COURT OF APPEALS D2 41833-9-II PUBLISHED OPINION

    A copy is available online here: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/index.cfm?fa=opinions.showOpinion&filename=418339MAJ

    Other news links:

    Editorial: County Keeps Hearing ‘No’ – Stormwater rules fight is being lost in the courts; it’s time to give up

    Clark County loses stormwater ruling

    Washington court rules against Clark County in polluted runoff case

    Clark County loses polluted runoff case


  • Community Representatives Sign Letter to EPA & DOD Urging Inclusive Military Cleanup Discussions

    Representatives from community and environmental groups from across the United States and Puerto Rico have signed a letter to Dr. Dorothy Robyn, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense and Mathy Stanislaus, Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator, urging more comprehensive transparent and inclusive discussions on military cleanup regulatory requirements.

    We are representatives of communities that host active, closing, and former military facilities. We ask that we, as well as state and tribal regulatory agencies, be brought into this important conversation.
    We are sympathetic to the desire to have a consistent set of regulatory requirements from U.S. EPA or other regulatory agencies. However, twenty-six years after the establishment of the Defense Environmental Restoration Program, we expect some natural evolution in cleanup regulation as new problems are discovered and the scientific knowledge of the impacts of pollutants changes.

    We support Congressman Sam Farr’s suggestion that a forum be created in which regulators, the military components, and affected communities seek common ground to achieve faster, more efficient, and more protective cleanups.

    The letter dated April 14, 2012, was signed by Rosemere Neighborhood Association along with representatives of environmental and community groups, including Earth Island Institute, Arc Ecology, United Tribe of Shawnee Indians, and representatives of the Restoration Advisory Boards of former Defense sites in a dozen states.

    To view the letter please click here: Communities Letter on Military Cleanup

  • Federal Judge Suspends County’s Inadequate Polluted Runoff Standards

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 29, 2011

    Janette Brimmer, Earthjustice, 206-343-7340 ext. 1029
    Dvija Michael Bertish, Rosemere Neighborhood Association, 360-281-4747
    Brett VandenHeuvel, Columbia Riverkeeper, 503-348-2436

    Federal Judge Suspends County’s Inadequate
    Polluted Runoff Standards

    Injunction requires Clark County to shelve fish-killing loopholes
    in its development standards

    Tacoma, WA.—A Washington state county’s controversial development standards appear to violate federal laws to protect clean water, according to a preliminary ruling by a U.S. District Court Judge.

    The decision, issued December 28 by U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton, means Clark County must comply with federal clean water laws, like other cities and counties in the state, to protect rivers, streams and salmon threatened with extinction. The ruling applies to development projects permitted or approved by the county on or after the court’s order while a related state court appeal is pending.

    Rosemere Neighborhood Association, Columbia Riverkeeper, and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, represented by Earthjustice, challenged Clark County’s failure to protect threatened salmon.

    “Many cities and counties in our state are working hard to clean up polluted waterways and now Clark County must finally do the same,” said Janette Brimmer, an Earthjustice attorney who is representing the groups. “The ruling recognizes that everyone needs to do their share to protect our precious streams, rivers and salmon and that Clark County, like everyone else, must follow the law.”

    Last year, the neighborhood and conservation groups prevailed before the state Pollution Control Hearings Board, which hears appeals of state environmental regulations and permits. In January of this year, the Board rejected the county’s “alternative” plan for managing polluted stormwater runoff finding that it violated the County’s stormwater permit and was too weak to prevent significant harm to already stressed rivers and streams.

    The County’s inadequate “alternative” plan was developed in a compromise with the Department of Ecology (Ecology), which oversees the federal Clean Water Act. Stormwater runoff a major source of water pollution because it is a stew of toxic metals, oil, grease, pesticides, herbicides, bacteria that runs off pavement into streams and rivers.

    Clark County refused to implement the required development runoff standards. After finding Clark County in violation of its stormwater permit, the Department of Ecology yielded to county pressure and agreed to allow Clark County to retain inadequate stormwater standards for development in exchange for a promise to implement taxpayer-funded mitigation projects. The controversial approach did not protect streams polluted by development runoff and shifted the burden of protecting clean water from developers to local taxpayers.

    As noted by the federal court, the Board had found the program to be illegal in several important respects. Specifically, the Clark County program:

    • Is not based on any science and fails to protect water quality and salmon.
    • Unlawfully exempts development projects that “vested” prior to April of 2010.
    • Unlawfully allows Clark County to shift resources from its existing retrofit program to mitigate for new development.
    • Unlawfully fails to require “low impact development” at new development and mitigation sites.

    Clark County appealed the Board decision in state court and refused to comply with the Board’s decision, forcing clean water advocates to take the matter to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington to enforce the Clean Water Act.

    Judge Leighton’s preliminary ruling agreed that the clean water advocacy groups have demonstrated a likelihood of success on their claims that Clark County’s inadequate development standards for polluted runoff violate the Clean Water Act and that irreparable harm to the environment is the result.

    The judge therefore imposed an obligation on the County to follow the original requirements of its stormwater permit; the same requirements that over 100 other cities and counties in Western Washington have been complying with since 2008.

    Judge Leighton’s order states:

    “Environmental injury, by its nature, is often permanent or at least of long duration” (page 11)
    “The public interest favors compliance with environmental laws” (page 12) and the Clean Water Act requires strict enforcement to effectuate its purpose of protecting sensitive aquatic environments” (id)
    “…More than 100 cities and counties in Western Washington are subject to the Phase I [stormwater] Permit’s default flow control standard and are apparently able to comply with its requirements.” (id)

    “Our association applauds the judge’s order because it reinforces that we need to do everything we can to stop undermining water quality,” said Dvija Michael Bertish of the Rosemere Neighborhood Association. “Clark County has ignored the public’s concerns about stormwater violations,and we hope the court’s decision will bring the County back into
    compliance with the law in order to protect the water and endangered species.”

    “Columbia River salmon and our communities need clean water,” stated Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “Clark County must take steps to reduce pollution.”

    The clean water groups include Rosemere Neighborhood Association, Columbia Riverkeeper, and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center. They are represented by attorneys Janette Brimmer and Jan Hasselman of Earthjustice.

    A copy of the ruling is available here: SJOrderGrantingPreliminaryInjunction12-28-11.pdf

    To view this Press Release in pdf format click here: For Immediate Release:Federal Judge Suspends County’s Inadequate Polluted Runoff Standards.pdf


  • EPA Testing Results at Camp Bonneville Show Contaminated Plume Growing & Moving

    EPA has released the initial results of its testing at Camp Bonneville, the former US Military installation in Clark County, Washington.

    EPA is conducting assessment of the known and suspected release of hazardous substances at Camp Bonneville to determine whether it warrants listing under the Superfund Program following a petition from Rosemere Neighborhood Association (RNA).

    The first round of samples was collected last May (2011) and EPA’s report on that testing can be found http://www.epa.gov/region10/pdf/sites/camp_bonneville/bonneville-p1-sample-results.pdf.

    The second round of data was collected in August (2011) and that report is expected in January 2012. Following the secondary reports, EPA will score the site to determine Superfund status upon which a final report will be released.

    RNA brought the Superfund petition in 2009 citing faulty clean-up efforts at the site where live munition drills and chemical warfare had been conducted for decades. RNA contended in its petition that contamination from buried military munitions and chemicals, including the continued rise of measured perchlorate and RDX, has leached into the soil and groundwater at the site. RNA was also concerned that the plume of toxic chemicals had become mobile threatening Lacamas Creek. Lacamas Creek feeds into Lacamas Lake and ultimately into the Columbia River.

    EPA’s latest data reveal – as suspected by RNA – that the plume has traveled and has become larger, possibly entering the creek flow or infiltrating below the creek to the opposite shore. Although RNA had raised these concerns to the Washington State Department of Ecology for years, Ecology officials had maintained that topography would prevent any additional test wells from being established. Based on RNA’s petition and subsequent discussions regarding hydrologic flow, EPA successfully installed additional testing wells in suspect areas that proved the plume had moved.

    The danger to surrounding groundwater and surface water would have gone undiscovered had it not been for the Superfund petition brought by RNA. Following the incomplete clean-up led by Mike Gage and BCCRT, property ownership of Camp Bonneville was to go back to Clark County over a month ago, but the transfer of ownership has been stalled due to a dispute that Gage has with the Washington State Department of Revenue. All other contractors who worked on the initial phases of clean-up at the site have paid their taxes, but Mike Gage has thus far refused to pay his taxes. Apparently clean-up will be stalled until Gage’s tax dispute is resolved.

    Around $28 million has been spent on the Bonneville clean-up thus far including extensive efforts to alleviate the contaminated goundwater plume. The groundwater contamination was initially caused by munitions that had been buried in landfills. The landfills were evacuated but during that process the backhoes began to sink and they were not able to remove all of the contaminated soil. As a result, much of the contaminated soil was left behind and the remaining holes were filled with porous, loamy soil that was extremely permeable and allowed the plume to become mobile.

    EPA Camp Bonneville page can be found here: http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/cleanup.nsf/sites/CB

    Direct link to the Camp Bonneville Phase 1 Sample Results Report is here: http://www.epa.gov/region10/pdf/sites/camp_bonneville/bonneville-p1-sample-results.pdf


    Responding to the EPA test results announcement, Clark County Department of Public Works Project Manager, Jerry Barnett, said, “The county will meet with Ecology and the EPA to determine the significance of these results. Findings include perchlorate in sediments and subsurface water adjacent to Lacamas Creek at concentrations below cleanup levels.”

    However, while EPA might agree to discuss site assessment as a process, it is premature to be discussing the “significance” of the data. As explained above, EPA management will not conduct its complete review of the data until next year after all phases of testing have been completed.

    The Washington Department of Ecology also announced Thursday that it is opening a period of public review and comment on an updated legal agreement for the cleanup of Camp Bonneville. Under the proposed Amended Prospective Purchaser Consent Decree between Clark County and Ecology, Clark County will take the lead role in the cleanup of Camp Bonneville. Ecology will accept comments on the proposal from Oct. 14 through Nov. 17, 2011.

    For more information go to Ecology’s website here: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/news/2011/277.html

    For the amended decree, click here: https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/gsp/Sitepage.aspx?csid=11670

    You can send comments to Ecology on the draft documents from Oct. 14 through Nov. 17.

    Here’s how you can submit comments:

    By US Mail:
    Ben Forson, Site Manager
    Washington Department of Ecology
    Toxics Cleanup Program
    P.O. Box 47600
    Olympia, WA 98504-7600.

    By Email to:

  • Rosemere Neighborhood Association’s Clean Water Act settlement victory leads to changes at Millennium coal terminal in Longview, $50,000 in mitigation payments

    Train unloading coal at Millennium terminal in June 2011

    Train unloading coal at Millennium terminal in June 2011

    Rosemere Neighborhood Association and Longview based Land Owners and Citizens for a Safe Community have prevailed in their efforts to bring substantial pollution reduction changes to the Millennium Bulk Logistics coal terminal in Longview. The settlement was finalized just days before the community groups planned to file a federal Clean Water Act suit in federal district court against Millennium and their Australian parent company Ambre Energy. Millennium claimed to be operating under a permit first issued to Reynolds Aluminum over 20 years ago.

    The agreement creates substantial new limits on the operation of the facility and requires Millennium to obtain a new pollution permit that will update the outdated pollution limits which are now two decades old.

    A summary of key points from the settlement is below. The entire settlement document can be found here: FINAL Settlement Agreement RNA & LCSC vs MBTL

    Clean Water Act settlement summary:

    Under the agreement with Rosemere Neighborhood Association & Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community, until Millennium Bulk Terminals/Longview receives a new Clean Water Act discharge permit from Ecology, Millennium must:

    1. Remove coal and pet coke piles: Millennium will have to remove the massive outdoor coal and petroleum coke piles that have dominated the site in recent years. Millennium will also be prohibited from any outdoor storage of coal. Millennium has already moved much if not all of the coal pile inside the old aluminum plant buildings and plans to remove the pet coke piles within six months.
    2. No new customers: Millennium is prohibited from providing coal to any new customers and thus the terminal is limited to providing coal to Weyerhauser.
    3. New pollution reduction measures: The agreement requires Millennium to implement a capital project to cover over its coal conveyors used to move coal around the site to prevent rainfall from contacting the coal. It is also required to install EPA- certified pollution control filters at stormwater inlets.
    4. Penalty payment of $50,000. In lieu of any Clean Water Act penalties Millennium will pay a $50,000 “Supplemental Environmental Project” in two increments to Friends of the East Fork, which works on habitat restoration for salmon.
    5. Commitment to obtain new pollution control permit: After LCSC and Rosemere filed its notice of intent to sue Millennium filed for a new pollution control permit with the Dept. of Ecology. Under the settlement Millennium must continue to move forward with this new permit which should provide significantly tougher pollution limits on the terminal than those contained in the 20-year old permit Millennium says currently applies to its operations.
    6. Attorney fees and costs. Millennium will pay all of LCSC and Rosemere’s attorneys fees and costs for preparing the case.
  • MEDIA RELEASE: Community Groups Give Notice of Clean Water Act Suit to Planned Coal Export Terminal on Columbia River

    Train unloading coal at Millennium terminal in June 2011

    Train unloading coal at Millennium terminal in June 2011


    August 9, 2011

    Gayle Kiser, LCSC
    (360) 749-7029
    Dvija Bertish, Rosemere
    (360) 281-4747

    Longview, WA – Community groups from Longview and Vancouver Washington have filed formal notices of suit for violations of the federal Clean Water Act against the corporation planning to export coal from Longview to China. The sixty-day notice of suit is a legal prerequisite to filing the Clean Water Act suit that will be filed in the Federal District court in Tacoma sixty days from today. The suit targets the fact that Millennium Bulk Terminals and its parent company Ambre Energy are currently importing, storing and exporting coal to their Longview facility absent any permits that allow for such activities under the Clean Water Act.

    For complete Press Release please click here: MEDIA RELEASE_8-9-2011

    To view complete 60 Day Notice please click here: 8-9-11_FINAL_ 60_DAY_ Ambre_ Energy

    More about this story from The Daily News Online:  Groups sue Millennium over alleged Clean Water Act violations in Longview

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