• Breaking News: WA Gov Inslee Rejects Oil Terminal

    In a huge victory for environmental organizations across the region, Washington Governor Inslee has officially shut down the proposed Tesoro Savage oil terminal.

    Press Release from Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC):

    Case Number: EF-131590

    Inslee issues decision to reject permit for Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal project

    Olympia, Wash. – Gov. Jay Inslee today notified state regulators that he agrees with their unanimous recommendation to reject Tesoro Savage’s application to build a new terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

    The decision follows a lengthy evaluation process by the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, which voted last November to deny the permit and last month submitted its recommendation to the governor.

    In his letter to EFSE, Inslee said several issues compelled his decision including seismic risks, the inability to sufficiently mitigate oil spill risks, and the potential safety risks of a fire or explosion.

    “The Council has thoroughly examined these and other issues and determined that it is not possible to adequately mitigate the risks, or eliminate the adverse impacts of the facility, to an acceptable level,” 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 that the application was “unprecedented both in its scale and the scope of issues it raised.”

    “While this process has demonstrated that this particular project is wrong for this particular proposed location, I am confident that our ports will continue to play an important role in regional trade, and providing opportunities for jobs in clean energy.”

    Tesoro Savage has 30 days to appeal the governor’s decision in Thurston County Superior Court.

  • 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: WA Supreme Court Unanimously Reinstates Pollution Control Hearings Board Decision to Protect Stormwater: State “Vesting” Law Cannot Undermine Clean Water Standards

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 29, 2016

    MEDIA CONTACTS:
    Jan Hasselman, Earthjustice, 206-343-7340, ext. 1025 jhasselman@earthjustice.org
    Chris Wilke, Puget Soundkeeper, 206-297-7002 chris@pugetsoundkeeper.org

    WA Supreme Court:  Developers Can’t Evade Water Pollution Standards

    State high court unanimously overturns Court of Appeals to find that state “vesting” law does not apply to clean water standards

    Olympia, WA—In a major victory for clean water, the Washington State Supreme Court today unanimously rejected an effort by counties and developers to weaken a key permit designed to reduced toxic runoff and protect waterways including Puget Sound.

    State high court justices ruled unanimously that state “vesting” laws can’t undercut clean water standards that local governments must adopt as part of the federal Clean Water Act and parallel state laws.  Under state vesting laws, development projects can apply regulations in place at the time of the project application, even if they are not built for years or even decades later.  The vesting laws have been a major impediment to the implementation of critical standards that prevent sprawl and reduce pollution.

    Stormwater runoff is a toxic brew of rainwater that drains off streets, parking lots, and other hard surfaces carrying motor oil, pesticides, fertilizers, and other urban residues into nearby streams, rivers, and marine waters.  It is the major source of pollution in Puget Sound.

    “Today the Washington Supreme Court stood up for clean water,” said Jan Hasselman, Earthjustice attorney who, along with Janette Brimmer, represented Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Washington Environmental Council, and the Rosemere Neighborhood Association in the case. “Obsolete vesting laws don’t trump clean water, and Washington state will not fall behind in its ability to protect Puget Sound and its rivers and streams.”

    In rejecting the arguments by developers that the stormwater permits are subject to vesting laws, and overturning a divided Court of Appeals, the high court justices found that state vesting law is intended to limit the exercise of municipal discretion, not undercut federal and state laws intended to reduce pollution.  The high court’s ruling ends nearly a decade of legal wrangling over the Western Washington municipal stormwater permits, which, under a 2008 court ruling, require municipalities to integrate “low impact development” requirements into their development codes.

    “We applaud our state’s high court justices for limiting antiquated vesting laws that have represented a roadblock to clean water,” said Chris Wilke, Executive Director of Puget Soundkeeper Alliance. “The days of taking advantage of the vesting loophole are over.  It’s time to move ahead with solving the problem of polluted stormwater runoff and recovering Puget Sound along with salmon, orcas and communities that rely on clean water.”

    “The ruling by our state’s high court justices is a victory for everyone.   Clean water is essential for the health of our communities, to support our vibrant economy, and protect our iconic yet endangered species: salmon and orca,” said Mindy Roberts, Washington Environmental Council’s People for Puget Sound Director.

    “We applaud the Washington high court panel for their ruling,” said John Felton, chairman of the Rosemere Neighborhood Association. “The justices gave us a wonderful gift—the gift of supporting clean water by closing harmful loopholes that allowed developers to lock in outdated standards. This is an outstanding way to start the new year!”

    Background

    Polluted runoff is the single-largest source of toxic pollution to Puget Sound. Thepollution kills salmon, damages shellfish beds and threatens our drinking-water supplies.

    Oral argument last October 13th before the state Supreme Court was the culmination of nearly a decade’s worth of effort, starting with the challenge to the 2007 Municipal Stormwater General Permits.

    In 2008, in a challenge led by Puget Soundkeeper Alliance represented by Earthjustice, the state Pollution Control Hearings board (PCHB) overturned the state permits, and held that federal and state law required green infrastructure or “low impact development” (LID) approaches to new and redevelopment throughout Western Washington. Green infrastructure, like rain gardens, treats rainfall where it lands, keeping runoff out of the sewers and pollution out of Puget Sound. It is a highly effective, and cost-effective, approach to managing toxic runoff.

    The 2012 permit–which made LID mandatory in Western Washington for the first time–was issued after several years of technical and policy input from stakeholders, but was appealed by regulated municipalities and developers.  Puget Soundkeeper, WEC, and Rosemere Neighborhood Association, again represented by Earthjustice, intervened to defend the permits.

    In 2013, the PCHB rejected all of those legal challenges, and upheld the permit. King County, Snohomish County, and the Building Industry Association of Clark County sought appellate review of that decision on a single issue: whether the state vesting law allows developers to “lock in” outdated development standards for all time.  The PCHB had comprehensively ruled that standards issued under a stormwater permit are not subject to state vesting law.

    Last January, in a surprise 2-1 decision, the state Court of Appeals Division II, reversed the PCHB on the vesting issue.  It concluded that requirements to implement LID designs and other critical standards to protect water were “land use ordinances” subject to state vesting laws.

    Today, the state Supreme Court unanimously rejected the Court of Appeals Division II ruling and reinstated the PCHB decision, holding that the requirements of a state water pollution permit are not subject to state vesting law.  The decision settles a dispute that has spanned nearly a decade and provides a platform for Ecology to further improve water pollution technologies in the next iteration of permit expected in 2018.

    You can download a pdf version of this Press Release here: Earthjustice Stormwater Vesting WA Supremes Win Final Press Release

    Read the full Supreme Court Opinion here: Supreme Court No. 92805-3 – Snohomish County, et al., v. Pollution Control Hearings Board, et al Opinion

  • Riverkeeper Celebrates 50th Anniversary with Lighting of Empire State Building

    Riverkeeper_logoWe congratulate our good friends at Riverkeeper.org on celebrating 50 years as New York’s clean water advocate protecting New York’s drinking water, the Hudson River and its tributaries!

    Commemorating the event, the Empire State Building will shine in Riverkeeper’s colors of deep blue, green, and light blue, this Wednesday evening, April 13.

    Here is a brief history of this pioneering organization, from their grass roots beginnings as Hudson River Fishermen’s Association, which paved the way for the massive Riverkeeper and Waterkeeper movements, and has inspired environmental advocates fighting for clean water all around the world:

    From Riverkeeper.org:

    Riverkeeper traces its origins back to March 1966, when a small group of recreational and commercial fishermen, concerned citizens and scientists gathered at a Westchester County American Legion Hall with the intent to reverse the decline of the Hudson River. They organized as the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association, and dedicated themselves to tracking down the river’s polluters and bringing them to justice. Right from the start, the grassroots actions taken by the HRFA went against convention.

    While other organizations sought environmental justice through protests and civil disobedience, the HRFA sought to protect the Hudson through advocacy, science and the law. At the group’s core was a belief that everyday people should be able to defend our public resources from maltreatment and damage. The Fishermen’s actions to protect the water demonstrated that ordinary citizens had legal standing in protecting our natural resources. A long string of legal victories — which provided the HRFA with bounties for turning in polluters — funded the creation of the Riverkeeper program in 1983. Three years later, HRFA merged with Riverkeeper to form one group to protect the river.

    Since then, Riverkeeper has brought hundreds of polluters to justice and forced them to spend hundreds of millions of dollars remediating the Hudson. Over its long history, Riverkeeper has worked to restore the river from harmful PCBs, sought to protect aquatic life from pollution and ill-considered development, and has worked to close the aging, troublesome Indian Point nuclear power plant on the banks of the Hudson. Today Riverkeeper fights with thousands of citizen scientists and activists to reclaim the Hudson and ensure that over 9 million New Yorkers have clean, safe drinking water. The result: Pollution levels are down, and swimming and boating are back. Riverkeeper inspired the worldwide waterkeeper movement protecting tens of thousands of miles of rivers and coastlines on six continents.

    There are now 280 Riverkeeper groups on six continents, and the clean water movement continues to grow as the need for strong community advocacy has never been greater for protecting our waterways and watersheds.

    Congratulations Riverkeeper on 50 Years of Good Works!

  • 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.

     

     

     

  • 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.

  • EFSEC Receives Record Number of Comments on Oil Terminal Proposal

    No OilFollowing record breaking attendance at open hearings in Vancouver and Spokane, EFSEC, Washington State’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, is now tasked with sifting through the volume of public input regarding the proposed Tesoro Savage Oil Terminal at the Port of Vancouver.  A record number of public comments – more than 250,000 – were submitted to EFSEC during the DEIS public comment period that ended January 22.

    Opposition to the terminal has been unprecedented, from such diverse organizations as Vancouver City Council, City of Portland, Multnomah County Commissioners, Vancouver Firefighters Union IAFF Local 452, ILWU Local 4, Columbia Waterfront LLC, Columbia River Inter-tribal Fish Commission, the sport fishing community, and the environmental community.

    Vancouver City Council voted to extend its moratorium on crude oil-handling facilities for another six months, their third extension in two years. Vancouver’s Comments on Draft EIS called the DEIS “wholly indadequate” and it’s “risk analysis is fatally flawed.”

    Even the Washington Attorney General called out EFSEC’s DEIS “…two significant deficiencies in the DEIS: (1) a flawed statistical analysis of train-derailment risk, and (2) insufficient analysis of the effort and investment required to bring first responders along the crude-oil-train route contemplated by the Tesoro-Savage project to a proper state of preparedness.”

    Rosemere Neighborhood Association has been vocal in its opposition to the terminal. The environmental risks posed by the terminal as outlined in the DEIS are too great and create excessive and unnecessary dangers to our communities and our precious water resources. RNA public commentary urges EFSEC members do everything in their power to deny the project and recommend Governor Inslee reject the Tesoro-Savage oil terminal.

    Read the full text of Rosemere Neighborhood Association Oil Terminal DEIS comments here.

    EFSEC has announced there will be a series of “adjudication hearings” this June, where the various stakeholders in the terminal will present testimony in front of the EFSEC council. The hearings will start Monday June 27 and will be held Mondays through Thursdays through July 29 in Vancouver and Olympia. Testimony at the hearings will include witness testimony and exhibits, will be open to the public and available electronically.

    To Learn more:

    EFSEC website – Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Project

    For more information about the dangers of oil by rail, and to review additional Public Comments opposing Tesoro Savage oil terminal and oil by rail:

    City of Vancouver Comments on Draft EIS

    Washington State Attorney General Comments on Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Project DEIS

    Multnomah County RESOLUTION NO. 2016-001 Opposing Oil Shipment by Rail

    Vancouver 101 Small Businesses against Big Oil terminal

    The Sightline Institute

    Stand Up To Oil

  • BIG WIN FOR CLEAN WATER: CLARK COUNTY AGREES TO IMPROVE SALMON HABITAT AND COMPLY WITH STORMWATER POLLUTION LAWS

    December 18, 2013

    Contacts:
    John Felton, Rosemere Neighborhood Association, 360‐993‐4939
    Brett VandenHeuvel, Columbia Riverkeeper, 503‐348‐2436

    BIG WIN FOR CLEAN WATER: CLARK COUNTY AGREES TO IMPROVE SALMON HABITAT AND COMPLY WITH STORMWATER POLLUTION LAWS

    County agrees to comply with stormwater pollution laws, fund significant stream restoration in lieu of
    potential federal penalties

    (Vancouver, WA) Clark County Commissioners voted today to improve salmon habitat and reduce dirty stormwater pollution as part of a binding settlement agreement with neighborhood and conservation groups.

    “This is a win for clean water and healthy salmon runs in Clark County,” said John Felton, chair of the Rosemere Neighborhood Association. “This is a good result for the community as a whole.”

    Rosemere Neighborhood Association along with Columbia Riverkeeper and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center challenged Clark County’s violation of laws designed to protect salmon and reduce pollution. After the County lost several rounds of litigation, the County has agreed to take steps to correct the problem. Clark County agreed to comply with the Clean Water Act and to provide $3 million in funding to an independent third party, the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board, that will oversee projects to protect and restore Clark County rivers and streams harmed by stormwater pollution. The settlement will need to be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice and the federal
    court overseeing the lawsuit.

    “This agreement means cleaner water and more salmon for the region as a whole,” stated Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “The County will now act to reduce polluted stormwater and invest in protecting salmon. It’s a win‐win.”

    Stormwater pollution, which is created when rain mixes with debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and flows into storm sewer systems and then into local waterways, is the number one source of water pollution in urban and developing areas in Washington state.

    The settlement comes after a state appeals board found that the County’s stormwater program violated the law—the state appeals board’s decision was upheld by the Washington Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court. At the same time, a federal judge concluded that the County’s stormwater program violated the Clean Water Act and the Court blocked continued implementation of the County’s illegal stormwater program. The federal court ruled last June that the County was liable for violating federal law, exposing it to potentially millions of dollars in penalties and corrective action for projects that were built to inadequate standards.

    Under the County’s disputed stormwater program, damage to rivers and streams from the stormwater pollution had shifted burdens to taxpayers, from developers, to pay for the impacts of urban stormwater runoff. Impacts range from

    Plaintiffs in the litigation were represented by attorneys Janette Brimmer and Jan Hasselman of Earthjustice.

     

    *****

    To view or download Press Release click here (pdf format)

    Related articles:

    The Columbian: Clark County to pay $3.6 million for violating Clean Water Act
    The Oregonian: Clark County to pay $3 million as part of pollution settlement

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