Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

Tesoro-Savage oil train proposal: This one’s personal

Tesoro-Savage wants to build what would be the largest oil by rail terminal in the country along the Columbia River, but we have the opportunity to stop them. And for me, this one’s personal.

photo credit: Corrine Krogh Photography

The author and his wife, watch the sun set over the Columbia River on their wedding day.
photo credit: Corinne Krogh Photography

This past October, my wife and I were married on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge, a beautiful stretch of the river that lies between Washington and Oregon, mere miles upriver from the proposed terminal site.

The Gorge is an absolutely spectacular place, and has been a special one for generations, from the Native American tribes who fished the river for its once-abundant salmon, to the vibrant outdoor-oriented communities calling it home today.

And for me, it will always be the site of one of the very best days of my life.

So often campaigns we work on are aimed at projects slated for some far-off place we may or may not have a connection to. They’re personal in some ways, sure; any project that threatens my future and the future of people I care about is personal. And often we have relationships with communities impacted directly by the projects — be it ranchers along a pipeline route, families along the Gulf Coast refinery corridor, or neighborhoods threatened by bomb trains in their backyards.

But in many ways, dangerous oil projects can also often be distant things that we know are bad and so despite the distance we dedicate our time and energy to stop them.

But sometimes they’re aimed straight at a place dear to our hearts. For me, the Tesoro-Savage terminal proposal is one of those times.

Everyone has special places dear to their hearts. They can be big places with grand views, or small, modest spots where something special in your life took place. Whatever they are, they’re special and you hope they will never be spoiled; that you’ll be able to return to them someday and remember that important moment in time and soak in the essence of that special place.

For many, including me, the Columbia River is one of those places. For generations, the Columbia River has been a lifeline for Native American tribes living along its banks. Today it remains a place of beauty and awe; a place to connect with the wonder of this world.

That’s why I’m so particularly furious about Tesoro-Savage’s proposal that could seriously endanger the very essence of a simply amazing place, not to mention our climate. It threatens one of those special places for me and so many, all while imperiling our climate future at the same time.

If built, this new terminal would be the largest in the country and would process a staggering 360,000 barrels of oil per day, dramatically increasing the number of dangerous oil trains carrying explosive crude oil through communities across the West Coast.

The good news is we can stop this. The public comment period is open until THIS FRIDAY January 22nd and your voice can help make a big difference. Sign the petition to the right to add your voice against this terrible project.

The Washington Energy Council recently released its draft environmental impact statement (DEIS), which shows the problems and risks posed by the Tesoro-Savage terminal. It found that if this terminal is built, an oil train derailment is expected once every two years! The unique environment and the people who call this place home can’t afford those odds.

The DEIS also exposes the risks of oil spills into the Columbia River, the dangers of building in an earthquake zone, public health concerns, and the massive amount of climate pollution that this terminal would cause.

Tesoro-Savage’s unprecedented and reckless proposal is drawing huge opposition from groups across Washington: Columbia River tribes, local longshoremen, firefighters, business leaders, health professionals, climate activists, neighborhood associations, faith leaders, and the cities of Spokane, Portland, and Vancouver. These local heroes are doing amazing work, and we can help by shining a national spotlight on this dangerous proposal.

Add to the mounting pressure and help ensure this terminal never sees the light of day. Add your voice using the form to the right, or go here.

This proposal isn’t just a local issue. It poses a very real threat to the climate and communities both near and far. And for me, it poses a threat to a spot that holds an incredibly important place in my heart.

It’s up to Governor Inslee to take a stand to protect this special place, and send a clear signal that the fossil fuel era is over. Let’s be sure he hears from all of us.

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