A state regulatory board is blocking permits for two crude oil shipping terminals in Grays Harbor, Wash., saying backers have failed to address public safety and environmental issues.
The State Department of Ecology worked with the city of Hoquiam to approve permits for the terminals earlier this year.
The Quinault Indian Nation and several conservation groups successfully argued that permits issued for two terminals in Grays Harbor, Washington should be reversed.
“Those permits should have never been issued in the first place,” said Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinalt Nation.
“The shipping terminals would be a clear violation of public safety as well as treaty-protected rights. Far more jobs would be lost when the inevitable spills occur than would be gained from the development of the proposed oil terminals,” Sharp said.
The Washington Shorelines Hearings Board said the permits didn’t adequately assess the environmental risk of oil spills, seismic events, greenhouse gas emissions, and impacts to cultural resources.
The denial of these permits won’t necessarily stop the projects from going forward, but the Department of Ecology may require a more comprehensive review.
“We are in the process of reviewing the board’s decision with our attorneys to determine the full implications before making any decisons on next steps,” said Linda Kent, a spokesperson for the Department of Ecology.
There are three terminals on the table for Grays Harbor. Two are officially in the permitting process, which is now on hold.
- The Imperium terminal would draw two additional trains per day and 200 ships or barges per year. It would have storage capacity for more than 30 million gallons of oil. It would create 20 jobs.
- The Westway terminal would draw two unit trains every three days and 64 barge movements. It would have storage capacity for more than 33 million gallons of oil.
Overall, the proposed projects could lead to 520 additional vessel transits per year in Grays Harbor, and 973 unit trains per year to the Port of Grays Harbor.
The Washington Shorelines Hearings Board withdrew the permits on Wednesday, saying they were issued without appropriate review of the vessel and rail transit increases and identified “troubling questions of the adequacy of the analysis done regarding the potential for individual and cumulative impacts from oil spills, seismic events, greenhouse gas emissions, and impacts to cultural resources.”
There are now 10 places in the Northwest considering taking oil arriving by rail from North Dakota to be transported onto ships. Meanwhile, there’s talk in Congress about weakening rules against exporting American oil.