Multnomah County Passes Unanimous Historic Resolution Opposing Oil Trains and Tesoro Savage Project


County Commissioners Stand with Cities of Portland, Vancouver, and Over 100k People Who Oppose Tesoro Savage Oil Terminal on the Columbia River

Jan. 21, 2016 (Portland, OR) –
This afternoon Multnomah County Commissioners unanimously passed a strong resolution to oppose projects that would ship crude oil by rail through Multnomah County. The resolution also authorized and approved official comments from Multnomah County about the proposed Tesoro Savage oil terminal draft environmental impact statement. The resolution passed by a 5-0 vote to loud applause in the Multnomah County Building packed with an overflow crowd. The Resolution and comments detail how the 360,000 barrel-per-day Tesoro Savage oil terminal in Vancouver would pose a risk to the health, safety, and environment of residents in Multnomah County.

Multnomah County is the first and largest County to officially oppose oil-by-rail and the proposed Tesoro Savage oil terminal. The resolution focused on potential public safety risks to schools, homes, and minority communities near rail routes for crude oil trains.

"These oil trains are reckless from a public health perspective. There is no defensible reason for putting schools, child care facilities, and Multnomah County's most vulnerable populations at this level of risk. We hope the County's resolution and comments get the close attention they deserve from decision-makers across the river,” said Dr. Patrick O'Herron, President of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.

This landmark policy comes just in time, with comments on the Tesoro Savage draft environmental impact statement due on January 22, 2016. The County’s resolution authorized the Office of Sustainability to submit comments on the Tesoro Savage to Washington Energy Council on behalf of the County. Washington’s Energy Council will make a recommendation to Governor Jay Inslee, who has the final authority to deny the oil terminal.

"Multnomah County has a long-standing role in protecting the Columbia River Gorge, and right now there is no bigger threat to the Gorge than dangerous oil trains. The Columbia Gorge is a funnel for all of the oil train traffic to the Northwest, and we have heard from thousands of people in recent weeks about the propensity for these trains to derail, spill, catch fire, and explode. Local governments throughout the Gorge have taken a stand against oil-by-rail, and the County's resolution today shows support for protecting communities on both sides of the Columbia River," said Michael Lang, Conservation Director of Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

During the hearing, Commissioners also heard testimony from people who would work close to the proposed oil terminal.

"As people who would have to work around these dangerous trains, we support Multnomah County's stand on this issue. ILWU Local 4 opposes the Tesoro project and the danger it poses to workers and the general public along all of its potential rail routes,” said Jared Smith, President of International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 4 in Vancouver.

“The resolution shows forethought and leadership. Multnomah County has identified risks that will be borne by residents on both sides of the Columbia, not just Washington. This is the first county to weigh in on the issue. The State of Washington and Governor Inslee should rely on this type of input and deny the Tesoro Savage oil terminal,” said Dan Serres, Conservation Director of Columbia Riverkeeper.

At 360,000 barrels per day, Tesoro Savage’s Vancouver project would ship almost half as much crude oil as the entire Keystone XL Pipeline. It is the largest proposal of its kind in North America. Oil trains carry crude oil through communities across the West, and oil tanker ships transport oil down the Columbia River, threatening the air, water, community health, and climate. Tesoro is one of a rash of such proposals across the Washington coast, including the NuStar proposal (also in Vancouver) and two proposed terminals in Grays Harbor, Washington.

In addition to Multnomah County, the Tesoro Savage proposal is opposed by Vancouver City Council, Vancouver Firefighters Union IAFF Local 452, ILWU Local 4, Columbia Waterfront LLC, the City of Portland, the Columbia River Inter-tribal Fish Commission, the sportfishing community, the environmental community, thousands of medical professionals and public health advocates, and people from all walks of life across the Northwest.
STAND UP TO OIL is a growing coalition of groups opposed to new oil terminals and an increase in oil transport through the Northwest, while working to improve safety measures for oil currently traveling through the region.