In January 2018, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee rejected the Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal (VEDT), the largest proposed crude-by-rail terminal in the US – and the largest proposed oil terminal on the West Coast. In response to the Governor’s decision, Tesoro Savage (the project applicant) terminated all development activities and cancelled the project in February 2018.
TGG supported Earthjustice in evaluating Washington’s need for the project before the State of Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC). EFSEC was the regulatory body responsible for reviewing the project, holding public hearings and making a final recommendation to the state governor. Earthjustice represented a coalition of river protection, conservation and neighborhood groups, who opposed the controversial project. At full capacity, the project would handle 360,000 barrels of crude daily, transported by rail along the Columbia River to the terminal. Oil would then be transloaded at the terminal to tankers and barges, destined for Pacific ports.
In May 2016, TGG filed written expert testimony before EFSEC on behalf of Earthjustice: Expert Testimony on the Need for the Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal (VEDT) and a Technical Appendix on the Market Analysis Underlying the Need for the VEDT. The testimony concluded that the VEDT would do little if anything to supply Washington with energy. Consequently, there was no economic need for this project to supply the state. The testimony also demonstrated that the VEDT was likely not in Washington’s public interest. TGG’s cross-jurisdictional study of the costs and benefits of energy logistics facilities for host jurisdictions consistently concluded the following: the benefits are relatively small; the cost/risks are relatively large; and the economic benefits and costs/risks tend to be unevenly distributed (across stakeholders and regions), with the project proponents getting the majority of the benefits and the hosting jurisdiction bearing the majority of the costs/risks.
TGG recommended the rejection of the project based on the conclusion that it is highly likely that the VEDT was not in the public interest of Washington.
In July 2016, TGG’s Ian Goodman appeared as an expert witness before EFSEC and provided oral direct testimony to support TGG’s written testimony:
- Video of oral direct testimony of Ian Goodman; Morning Day 13 (7/19/16) of the VEDT hearings
- Video of oral cross-examination of Ian Goodman; Afternoon Day 13 (7/19/16) of the VEDT hearings.
On November 28, 2017, EFSEC voted unanimously to recommend that Governor Inslee reject the Tesoro Savage oil terminal. This recommendation came days after EFSEC issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project. The FEIS identified multiple significant and unavoidable impacts of the project, that could not be fully mitigated.
On January 29, 2018, Governor Inslee agreed with EFSEC’s unanimous recommendation to reject the project. In the letter of denial justifying his decision, the governor concurred with TGG’s findings and recommendations, stating: “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.”
Complete TGG Filings
ORAL TESTIMONY | July 19, 2016
Video of oral direct testimony of Ian Goodman; Morning Day 13 (7/19/16) of the VEDT hearings
ORAL TESTIMONY | July 19, 2016
Video of oral cross-examination of Ian Goodman; Afternoon Day 13 (7/19/16) of the VEDT hearings
Other Project Products
SUPPORT TO COUNSEL | 2016