Oil and Coal Project Proposals

Port of Portland looking east towards Mt. Hood

Two currently proposed projects involving increased railway transportation of fossil fuels through Vancouver have attracted broad interest within the community:

  • the Tesoro Savage oil transport project at the Port of Vancouver; and
  • the Millennium Coal Terminal proposal in Longview.

The City of Vancouver does not have the authority to permit either of the two expansion proposals, but wants to ensure both the City and its citizens have access and opportunity to offer feedback during the project review processes in the months ahead.

The City has already provided input to the State regarding those aspects of the oil terminal proposal that should be considered in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), including safety and environmental issues.

Regarding the new coal projects, the City of Vancouver is a party of interest on both the Longview project and the Cherry Point (Bellingham) project and has provided input to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) scoping for these projects.

Tesoro Savage Oil Terminal Proposal

The Tesoro Savage proposal, currently under evaluation by Washington State, proposes development of an oil distribution terminal at the Port of Vancouver on Vancouver’s western waterfront, with oil tankers cars arriving via railway, then offloading oil onto Port of Vancouver containers. This oil would then load onto ships traveling west to the Pacific Ocean and to oil refineries in the United States.

This proposal is being evaluated by the Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC). EFSEC will review the application, evaluate the community impacts via the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process and make a recommendation to the Governor for review and decision in March 2015.

For more information about this project, visit www.efsec.wa.gov.

The City's Role

This is Vancouver’s first energy project of statewide importance, which is why it's under review by State agencies and officials. Final decision authority lies with these agencies and Washington's Governor.

The City does not have the authority to independently review, condition or issue permits for the Tesoro Savage project at the Port of Vancouver.

The only aspect of the Tesoro Savage proposal the City is responsible for is certifying whether or not the proposal can meet Vancouver’s land use zoning codes and other development-related codes.

In December 2013, the City provided extensive input to the EFSEC in two letters regarding the oil terminal proposal and asked that safety, community, shoreline and environmental issues be considered in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). View the letter.

The second letter included specific comments from the Vancouver Fire Department that called for an evaluation of current and future public safety risks and resources. View the Fire Department's comments.

The City will stay actively engaged in the state permitting process to ensure the interests of our citizens are best represented. As new information is received and evaluated by City staff, we will take further action as needed.

On June 2, 2014, the City Council voted to approve two resolutions related to the Savage project, including one (Res. M-3821) that formally opposed the oil terminal project, and one (Res. M-3820) directing the City Attorney's Office to file for EFSEC Intervener Status. Learn more.

The EFSEC approval process is expected to take approximately a year and half to complete. The City encourages all interested parties to comment on the proposed Tesoro Savage projects, by emailing efsec@utc.wa.gov.

The Millennium Coal Terminal Proposal

The proposed coal terminal located in Longview, Wash. would increase the distribution of coal by rail east-west along the Columbia River and north-south through downtown Vancouver. The State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review for the proposed Millennium Bulk Coal Terminal is being completed by Cowlitz County and the Washington State Department of Ecology.

For more information about this proposal or to provide input into the SEPA process, please visit the Washington State Department of Ecology website: www.ecy.wa.gov/geographic/millennium.

The City's Role

The City does not have any permitting or regulatory role for these projects. The City of Vancouver is a party of interest on both the Longview project and the Cherry Point (Bellingham) project and has provided input as part of the SEPA scoping process for these projects as described below.

The City Council passed resolutions in October 2016 and July 2012 opposing the project and describing the City's and the community's concerns. 

The Council also sent a letter to the Washington State Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County restating these same concerns and included a copy of the resolution. View letter.