School navigation

Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC)

Oregon Refuses to Protect Public from Oil Terminal’s New Air Pollution

December 11, 2014

  • News Image

Increased Pollution from Oil Train Facility on Columbia River Remains Unchecked

PORTLAND, Ore.— Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality today rejected a petition submitted on behalf of tens of thousands of Oregonians asking the agency to protect Oregon’s air from harmful new oil terminal pollution by requiring Global Partners to obtain a more protective air pollution permit.

In late 2012, Global covertly transformed a mothballed ethanol facility in Clatskanie into a Bakken crude oil terminal. In doing so, Global violated clean air laws by failing to obtain appropriate air pollution permits. DEQ decided to both prosecute Global’s legal violations and issue the company an air permit allowing oil transport to continue and sparking strong opposition from Oregonians in communities threatened by the pollution and dangerous oil train traffic. In response, regional and national conservation organizations petitioned DEQ to put in place additional protections for Oregon’s air.

“It’s hard to understand why state regulators won’t do what’s right for Oregonians and the air we breathe,” said Tanya Sanerib senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “DEQ summarily rejected each request to better protect Oregon’s air including simple things like accounting for oil train and barge pollution.”

Global Partners moves highly volatile crude oil by train through the Columbia River Gorge and local communities, including Hood River, Portland and Rainier, to its crude oil hub in Clatskanie along the Columbia River.   

“DEQ once again is insisting on giving Global the wrong air permit,” said attorney Marla Nelson with NEDC. “Given Global’s operations and the amount they pollute, a more protective air permit is required, but DEQ has fought this reality at every turn.”  

“Global flagrantly violated our clean air laws and slipped the wool over DEQ’s eyes when it started moving volatile crude through our state without telling anyone,” said staff attorney John Krallman with Neighbors for Clean Air. “But now DEQ is backing this violator, not our air quality.”

“The State of Oregon should use its full authority to protect communities along the Columbia River from the serious threats posed by oil trains and Global’s mega crude oil terminal,” said executive director Brett VandenHeuvel of Columbia Riverkeeper. “We are disappointed by DEQ’s decision to put the interests of out-of-state Big Oil before public health.”  

Northwest Environmental Defense Center, the Center for Biological Diversity, Neighbors for Clean Air, Columbia Riverkeeper and Sierra Club submitted the petition to DEQ.

News coverage: