Climate Activists in Pacific Northwest Fight Construction of World’s Largest Methanol Refinery – Green Currents

Highly controversial proposal at the mouth of one of most important ecological river deltas.

Climate activists in the Pacific Northwest have rallied against a tsunami of fossil export proposals over the last five years:  coal, oil and the latest, petrochemical projects. The fight against a proposal to build the world’s largest methanol refinery on the banks of the Columbia River using fracked gas may be their biggest fight to date. Martha Baskin reports. (Green Currents)

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40900-climate-activists-in-pacific-northwest-fight-construction-of-world-s-largest-methanol-refinery

On the Trail of an Oil Tanker – The Globe and Mail

What is happening now, and what our future will increasingly look like until we, at some distant point in time, wean ourselves off petroleum. That is not going to happen soon. We will be very lucky not to have an Exxon Valdez oil spill in the Strait or the San Juans.

Don’t miss the incredible interactive web illustration that goes with this.

The Globe follows the Eser K, carrying more than 356,000 barrels of Alberta crude oil destined for California, through the most hazardous stretch in B.C. waters to observe the risks and safeguards in place, Justine Hunter reports from aboard the Seaspan Raven

On the Trail of a oil Tanker

Court throws wrench in plans for big Washington oil terminal -AP

Good news for a change.

The Washington Supreme Court threw a major wrench Thursday in plans for a big oil terminal on the coast, saying the proposal must be reviewed under a 1989 state law designed to protect marine life following the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. In the latest of a string of victories for tribal and environmental groups challenging fossil fuel projects in the Northwest, the justices unanimously reversed decisions by a state board and the state Court of Appeals, which held the Ocean Resources Management Act did not cover plans by Houston-based Contanda to ship crude out of Grays Harbor. Gene Johnson reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.thenewstribune.com/latest-news/article126104464.html

Canada approves controversial Kinder Morgan oil pipeline – The Guardian

Well, Trudeau split the baby. The Northern Tier Gateway project, which would have gone through the  rain forest and imperiled the northern coast of B.C. will not be built. However, the Kinder Morgan pipeline to shipping facilities in Vancouver will. This raises the stakes for oil spills dramatically in the Straits. Trudeau did put millions of new dollars into updating the oil spill response network, which had been decimated by 12 years of Steven Harper’s do nothing government. While environmentalists are furious about this decision, we need to weigh the fact that the Strait already has one of the best vessel management systems in the world, and we work very cooperatively with Canada. With a much larger Canadian presence (the U.S. has had to bring the lion’s share of funding up to now) I feel we can be somewhat assured that it’s less likely than it could be to get a major spill. But this bitumen oil is far worse to clean up. With all the terrible environmental news in the U.S. from the election, we’ll just have to take this as a best of the worse case scenarios. We are going to have our hands full fighting the Trump administration’s policies, or lack of them.  We knew that Canada wasn’t going to leave it’s oil in the ground, as much as we would like them to, and the pipelines are marginally better than rail.

Canada has approved Kinder Morgan Inc’s hotly contested plan to twin a pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific coast, setting up a battle with environmentalists who helped elect the prime minister, Justin Trudeau.

The Liberal government, seeking to balance demands from both greens and the energy industry, said allowing Kinder Morgan to build a second pipeline next to its existing Trans Mountain line will help ensure oil exports reach Asia and reduce reliance on the US market.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/29/canada-approves-kinder-morgan-oil-pipeline-justin-trudeau

Is Washington ready for the next big oil spill? – Crosscut

Sadly, not. Case in point, forget Discovery Bay if there is a big one. It’s not possible to protect it from being flooded with oil. The only real way to protect for an oil spill is to focus heavily on prevention, items like the rescue tug at Neah Bay. And continuing to update our Vessel Traffic system, force continued transition to double hulled vessels (not yet required on freighters, but now required on tankers). And to not build oil ports to increase the huge output of oil carried on the water.

On a calm, clear afternoon in December 1985, the Arco Anchorage made a routine stop in Port Angeles. It was killing time, waiting its turn to drop off 814,000 barrels of Alaskan crude oil at the Cherry Point Refinery, 22 miles north of Bellingham. Somehow, despite perfect conditions, the Anchorage ran aground. Rocks on the ocean bottom tore two long slits through ship’s hull; the oil began to leak immediately. Over the next few hours, 239,000 gallons of oil spilled into the harbor. Samantha Larson reports. (Crosscut)

http://crosscut.com/2016/04/is-washington-ready-for-the-next-big-oil-spill/

Ecology working on new rules for movement of oil – Skagit Valley Herald

The long running debate on the oil and coal trains continues. This effects the Peninsula because of the vast increase in freighter and tanker traffic with increased rail cars bringing the product here, to be used or transshipped. 

The state Department of Ecology is developing new rules for transporting oil by train and pipeline. The changes could require companies moving oil through the state to improve accident response plans and provide advanced notice about the movement of oil. The changes could go into effect as early as 2016. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

http://www.goskagit.com/all_access/ecology-working-on-new-rules-for-movement-of-oil/article_382d9f10-0f07-579a-be34-9c1c6e23af30.html

Draft Environmental Review Released For Oil Terminals On Washington Coast – KUOW

Hoquim and Aberdeen ports are being slated for crude oil shipments by possible building of oil shipment facilities for trains coming from the Bakken fields in North Dakota. The plan is for 1178 more oil trains and 638 more oil tankers to be added to the Gray’s Harbor area a year. These trains would be carrying huge quantities of highly flammable crude, much the same as the oil that destroyed the Canadian town of Lac-Mégantic. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lac-Mégantic_rail_disaster for more on that). The plan is for up to 1188 oil trains per year coming into the area. Additionally, the Draft EIS talks about significant impact to the Quinault Tribal fisheries in the area, as the tribe will not be able to fish while boats are present, which essentially is all the time. As stated in the Draft EIS: “Tribal members would not be able to fish when ships or barges are moving through the area.” I guess it’s up to the Tribe to determine whether this particular fishery is worth fighting for, or whether there are other areas they can fish that are less impacted. It will be interesting to see what the Tribe has to say on this.

Also of interest is the trade off that the cities see in adding this highly polluting industry to their area. We all know that Hoquim and Aberdeen have been one of the poorest locations in the State, ever since the collapse of the logging industry due to the disastrous federal policies of allowing raw logs to be shipped to Japan in the 1980s. This  turned what had been an industry that was highly functioning with extraction and higher value processing jobs into a third world country where only cutting and transport of logs was done, wiping out mills across the area in short order. The Federal government green light to massive cutting with no concerns of market conditions or any need for local mills,  led to a short lived boom until the resources were gone. Meanwhile the industry blamed environmental organizations for suing to stop the destruction of all remaining forests to save what little habitat was being left due to a lack of oversight and planning by the Federal Government.

And so the proposal is to continue to eat away at locations where salmon can be fished and create a very large possible oil spill concern, one that not only would impact the Gray’s Harbor area but also the entire Washington and Oregon coast, if one of these vessels sank during a large storm due to mechanical failure. The trade off is to give much needed jobs to at least some of the people in the Gray’s Harbor area. How badly is this oil needed with the downturn in the Chinese economy, and other issues? Is the trade off of possible destruction of our recreational use of the Pacific Coast worth it to support the oil industry and it’s desire to sell their product to China and Japan? You can read and comment on the draft EIS if you wish at the link below.

http://www.ecy.wa.gov/geographic/graysharbor/terminals.html

KUOW summary story:

The Washington State Department of Ecology has just released its draft environmental review of two proposed oil terminals on the Washington coast. A third proposed terminal has not yet begun the environmental review process. The terminals could be built in Grays Harbor, near Aberdeen, doubling current vessel and train traffic levels there. (KUOW)

http://kuow.org/post/draft-environmental-review-released-oil-terminals-washington-coast

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