News

Energy Export

Permit approved for Skagit xylene project

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Skagit County moves forward with a project to ship 15,000 barrels of xylene per day to Asia.

Hearing Examiner Wick Dufford last week approved a key shoreline permit for the Andeavor Anacortes Refinery’s proposed Clean Products Upgrade Project, finding that it would not result in negative impacts from increased tanker traffic to and from the refinery. Skagit County Planning and Development recommended approving the permit.

The refinery at March Point—formerly Tesoro—has been planning the Clean Products Upgrade Project for several years. It would include upgrading existing equipment and building new equipment to reduce sulfur in its fuel products and enable the extraction, storage and shipment of xylene. Xylene is a chemical component of gasoline. It can be used in the manufacturing of a variety of plastics and other synthetic materials.

The decision comes five weeks after a public hearing on the shoreline substantial development permit, during which dozens raised environmental and safety concerns about the proposed project.

Dufford said in his decision that the evidence he received showed no increase in overall vessel traffic in the area, no increase in the likelihood of a spill and no increase in risks associated with a xylene spill compared to a gasoline spill.

Estimates provided to Dufford indicated the expansion would increase Salish Sea tanker traffic by an additional five tankers per month.

“An adequate environmental study should have considered cumulative impacts from the massive increase in vessel traffic through the Salish Sea—not just the Andeavor refinery project, but the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline proposal in British Columbia as well,” Stephanie Buffum, Executive Director of Friends of the San Juans, commented after the decision. “Failing to require a cumulative assessment of tanker traffic and spill risks puts our beloved orcas at serious risk.”

The decision was met with disappointment by a number of local activists and environmental groups with Stand Up to Oil, a growing coalition opposed to new oil terminals and an increase in oil transport through the Northwest. More than 7,500 comments were submitted about the proposal’s inadequate environmental study.

“The state Shoreline Hearings Board recently required a methanol plant proposal in Kalama to redo their environmental study because it lowballed the climate impacts. The environmental study for Andeavor’s proposal contains similar errors,” said Alex Ramel, Extreme Oil Field Director at Stand.earth.

“The true climate impacts of this proposal are the equivalent of adding more than 75,000 cars to the road,” Ramel said. “The flawed environmental study made it impossible for Skagit County to know the significance of what they were being asked to approve. The Hearing Examiner could have corrected this mistake, but didn’t. At a time when Washington state is working to reduce the pollution that causes global warming, this project would take us in the wrong direction.”

“Andeavor has combined unrelated upgrades into one package for environmental review to mask the true impact of their export project,” said Eddy Ury, Clean Energy Program Manager at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. “Exporting xylenes and crude oil are new uses of the refinery’s terminal that have not been adequately reviewed or authorized by state agencies. Advocates for the environment are disappointed that the Hearing Examiner made the wrong decision today.”

Comments on the project’s draft environmental impact statement urged Skagit County to address concerns over worker safety standards, petrochemical spills in the Salish Sea, risks to endangered orcas, massive increases in the pollution that causes global warming, and use of the new facility for crude oil export. Commenters also asked the county to separately review the xylene export and clean products upgrade components of the project, while properly accounting for greenhouse gas pollution.

In July 2017, Skagit County Planning and Development Services issued the project’s final environmental impact statement, just two months after the public comment period on the draft EIS. The final EIS did not adequately address concerns in many areas.

The county shoreline permit is one of 18 needed for the project. It is the third to be approved, following state Department of Ecology and Northwest Clean Air Agency permits that were approved in July.

Local groups are reviewing options to appeal the decision.

More News...
Listening and Learning
County seeks public advice on criminal justice

Voters spoke. But what did voters mean?

In 2017, county voters rejected—by a wide margin, and for a second time—a public safety sales tax to construct a new jail. Staggering from that defeat and burdened with unanswered questions, Whatcom County Council assembled a committee and task…

more »
Immigration Action
AG Ferguson leads multistate lawsuit against border policy

Fearing irreparable harm to children, Washington’s leading officials asked the courts to speed their review of the Trump Administration’s policy of indefinite detention for migrant families.

The lawsuit, announced in front of the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac last week, seeks to…

more »
Muslim Ban
Supreme Court upholds travel restrictions

In a 5-4 ruling on Tuesday that further demonstrated the powerful impact of the “stolen Supreme Court seat,” the newest Justice Neil Gorsuch joined fellow conservatives on the nation’s highest court in voting to uphold President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.

“The government has…

more »
Events
Today
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Rainbow Reads

12:00pm|Ferndale Library

Plant Diagnostic Clinics

5:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Paddling Whatcom County

6:00pm|REI

Cuban Salsa

6:00pm|Bell Tower Studios

Books on Tap Two

6:30pm|Tino's Pizza & Pasta Co.

Guffawingham

9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tomorrow
Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Kids' Craft Fairs

10:30am|Whatcom County libraries

Free Paddles

4:30pm|Community Boating Center

Tuesday Evening Free Paddles

4:30pm|Community Boating Center

BIFT

6:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Books on Tap

6:30pm|Ferndale Library

Bellingham Reads

6:30pm|Bellingham Public Library

Sunset History Cruise

6:30pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Berry Bonanza

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Comedy Open Mic

7:30pm|Shakedown

2018 Cascadia Kids Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Wednesday
Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Kids' Craft Fairs

10:30am|Whatcom County libraries

Bellingham City Club Luncheon

11:30am|Northwood Hall

Sedro-Woolley Farmers Market

3:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

Wednesday Farmers Market

3:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Downtown Sounds

5:30pm|Downtown Bellingham

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

A Town Big Band

6:00pm|Seafarers' Memorial Park

Brewers Cruise

6:30pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Cookbook Club

6:30pm|South Whatcom Library

Food Preservation and Canning Series

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Intro to Improv

7:00pm|Improv Playworks

Leo Kottke

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Village Books 2018 Cascadia Kids Trove Web Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1