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Oil-by-rail project gets derailed

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It’s tough to find good things to write about on the climate change front these days, especially with the abomination that is Scott Pruitt in charge of the EPA, and Trumpola still around…has it been only one year?

Anyway, something positive did happen recently when Washington Governor Jay Inslee rejected a permit that was required for Tesoro-Savage to build the Vancouver Energy oil-by-rail facility, the largest such project in the nation, at the Port of Vancouver. Inslee explained the basis of his decision, which followed a several years long process, in a letter to the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council:

“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’s action on 29 January followed the Vancouver Port Commissions’ action earlier that month when it voted to not renew the company’s lease if the project did not have all required permits and licenses by March 31. This move effectively ended the project.

According to DeSmog Blog, momentum for the vote “began in November when Don Orange joined the port commission after a resounding victory against a challenger who was heavily funded by the oil industry. Orange, on the other hand, promised to oppose Vancouver Energy’s planned construction of the largest oil-by-rail facility in the country.” Washington State’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council recommended in November that the governor should reject the proposed project.

“We will not become just another polluted oil town,” said Rebecca Ponzio, director of the Stand Up To Oil Campaign. “This should be a signal for communities across the country, the oil industry does not get to decide your future. Together, people are always more powerful than the money of oil companies.”

In a written statement issued 30 January, Vancouver Energy officials said Inslee’s endorsement of the council’s “faulty recommendation” sets an “impossible standard for permitting new energy facilities in the state.” In addition Inslee’s decision sends an “anti-development” message that will have far-reaching consequences for industries across the state, Vancouver Energy officials added.

It doesn’t ever have to be development versus the environment…

Image is from the Stand Up To Oil website.


Port of San Francisco urged to restrict fossil fuels

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portofsf_jeremyredingThe San Francisco Board of Supervisors is urging the Port of San Francisco and the city’s Department of the Environment to develop policies that will bar the transportation and export of hazardous fuel materials in San Francisco.

Supervisors Malia Cohen and Scott Wiener introduced the resolution to prohibit the movement of crude oil, coal, and petroleum coke (petcoke) through San Francisco, citing safety concerns, dangers to the environment, public-health hazards, economic pitfalls, and public opposition. The resolution passed the board unanimously last week.

“San Francisco has always been known as a city at the forefront of environmental change. This resolution barring the handling of polluting, climate-warming fuels proves yet again that it is a city that leads the world in envisioning a better way to live,” said Stacey Geis, Earthjustice managing attorney of the California office. Read the rest of this entry »

GAO on freight transport: focus on community congestion impact

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3501697246_da4c3fa9a2_zThe Government Accountability Office says developing a national freight strategy should pay attention to the impact of congestion on communities.

GAO’s report (GAO-14-740), released on 26 September, found that recent trends in freight flows, if they continue as anticipated, “may exacerbate congestion issues in communities, particularly along certain corridors.”

As of 2012, the latest year for which data is available, national freight rail and truck traffic had approached the levels reached in 2007, prior to the economic recession, the report continues. “Certain trends related to specific commodities have affected rail flows, including increases in domestic crude oil production. A key negative impact of increasing freight flows is congestion at highway-rail grade crossings, where road traffic must wait to cross the tracks when trains are passing.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

6 October, 2014 at 5:05 am

Coal export terminal plan sunk by Oregon lands agency

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coal train_mckennaNow we’re down to two. Oregon’s Department of State Lands last week denied an Ambre Energy proposal to transport coal by rail to a Port of Morrow, OR terminal for eventual export to China and other Asian markets.

It’s the latest in a series of wins for opponents of six coal company proposals to move coal through the Pacific Northwest on the way to Asian markets. However the two biggest plans, both located in Washington State, are still alive: the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point north of Bellingham, and the Millennium Bulk Terminal at Longview on the Columbia River. Read the rest of this entry »

Seattle, Tacoma get EPA grants for clean diesel initiatives

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Mt Rainier over Port of SeattleThe ports of Seattle and Tacoma received nearly $2 million In grants under a new Environmental Protection Agency initiative that recognizes U.S. ports for improving environmental performance and sustainability.

It’s a great move because port areas generate some of the worst diesel emission problems in the nation, whether it’s from the cargo ships that dock at terminals without powering down their engines, the terminal equipment that services the ships, or the hundreds of trucks moving to and from terminals to load and unload the cargo. Read the rest of this entry »

PNW coal export scoping to include GHG impacts in Asia

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Photo by Paul K. AndersonThe coal industry’s plan to move millions of tons of coal through Pacific Northwest terminals to China and other Asian markets took a serious hit when Washington regulators said environmental impact reviews must consider the worldwide impact of burning the export coal in China.

A major battle surrounding the various export terminal proposals has centered on the “scope” of the environmental review process, such as whether the impact review would be limited to local port and terminal areas in the PNW region. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

3 September, 2013 at 5:00 am

Three weasels sell out for coal exports

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coal_fallsroadI practically spewed coffee and other detritus all over the front page of Tuesday’s Seattle Times when I saw this headline:
‘Green’ strategists now back coal trains

WTF? The Times subsequently backtracked on that egregiously misleading headline on its website:  ‘Green’ strategists hired by coal companies to push train proposals.

However it’s titled, the story has engendered a firestorm of controversy and push-back on the astounding sell-out of the three “green strategists” so politely quoted by the newspaper. Maybe in a different life they were green, but now they — Bruce Gryniewski, Lauri Hennessey and Roger Nyhus — are simply a clueless and pathetic group of feckless mercenary weasels sucking at coal’s black tit. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

28 February, 2013 at 12:19 pm

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