By Vancouver Energy On September 20, 2016
Earlier this month Vancouver Energy filed its post-adjudication hearing brief, laying out facts in support of the terminal and responding to claims from intervenors in the case. The state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) is now conducting its review after the 5-week adjudicative proceeding held in June and July.
The 98-page brief from Vancouver Energy concludes that because the oil-by-rail terminal “addresses a pressing need for energy and employs reasonable and available methods to minimize adverse effects of the Terminal, EFSEC should recommend approval.”
Here are some highlights:
--Vancouver Energy will help meet the critical need for petroleum in Washington and the rest of the West Coast, especially as the supply of Alaska North Slope crude oil continues to decline over the 20-year life of the terminal. The terminal will enable a steady, reliable supply to new North American crude oil to West Coast refineries while other major domestic sources of oil are in decline.
--Rail is the only viable way for West Coast refineries to access the Bakken oil from North Dakota and Montana. There are no crude oil pipelines connecting the West Coast to the rest of the U.S. mainland, and the only pipeline to the West Coast enters the U.S. from Canada. That pipeline has not nearly enough capacity to meet the needs of West Coast refineries.
--The Vancouver Energy terminal would connect two existing, well established and utilized supply chains to meet current needs.
--During adjudication, intervenors focused primarily on concerns over the transport of crude oil by rail and vessel, as opposed to the Vancouver Energy terminal’s design and operations, which should be the focus of EFSEC’s review. Rail transportation is governed by rigorous federal laws and EFSEC is preempted from regulating that subject matter or seeking to impose conditions on the terminal to resolve those transportation-related concerns.
From the brief:
“Because (rail and vessel) transport are currently occurring and will continue to be the most flexible and effective modes of crude oil transport into and through the State of Washington, EFSEC should not deny this Terminal based on a hope or expectation that these transport modes will somehow go away. In fact, the evidence demonstrates the contrary—crude by rail is occurring today and will continue because it is necessary to support the energy needs of this state. Washington’s economy relies on transportation of people and goods. That transportation is dependent on petroleum fuels produced at our state’s petroleum refineries. Those refineries are facing significant declines in crude oil supplies affecting existing sources. There is no other feasible and reliable alternative source of crude oil. EFSEC must acknowledge this need, recognize that the existing regulatory framework is adequate to minimize adverse effects from supplying this energy need, and recommend approval of the Vancouver Energy Terminal site certification.”
--Vancouver Energy was the only party during adjudication that presented data-supported evidence regarding the likelihood of a spill or fire. And “that evidence demonstrates that the more likely events are the minor events where design, containment and incident response measures and training are in place and adequate to respond.”
Vancouver Energy announced commitments that would exceed current regulatory requirements, including additional safety measures to increase emergency response preparedness. These are in addition to previous commitments to accept only DOT-117 tank cars or better at the terminal in advance of federal phase-in requirements, and to require a tug escort for all outgoing vessels.
EFSEC can establish appropriate conditions when it approves the Vancouver Energy terminal to minimize any impacts. Conditions imposing appropriate mitigation, in conjunction with compliance with existing federal and state regulations will adequately resolve the concerns opponents have raised.