| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Aug 20 Oregon environmental
regulators on Tuesday approved an emissions control permit for a
Global Partners LP railport along the Columbia River
that clears the way for the firm to significantly increase the
amount of crude oil it can receive via rail and load onto
vessels to deliver to U.S. West Coast refineries.
The project is among many along the West Coast as refiners
and logistics companies seek to tap cut-price crude from North
Dakota's Bakken shale and Canada to replace more expensive
imports. Those, and other energy projects, have faced growing
opposition from residents and environmental groups.
Global Partners won permission to handle 1.8 billion gallons
of crude oil and ethanol per year - up to 120,000 barrels per
day - at its Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery facility in
Clatskanie. That is up from the 50 million gallons per year, or
3,261 barrels per day, that the previous permit allowed.
Oregon considers the expanded crude transloading operations
a new source of air pollution, and the permit requires vapors
released during vessel loading to be captured and controlled.
The regulators also approved an oil spill contingency plan
for the facility after receiving about 1,400 public comments on
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) said it
found no issues with the railport's design that would prevent
permit compliance, nor would the facility present an imminent
danger to human health or the environment.
The DEQ didn't address rail safety issues, as its permitting
action was limited to the stationary emissions source.
Global Partners Chief Executive Eric Slifka said in a
statement that the permit was the next step toward
infrastructure upgrades that will bring more jobs to the area.
The new permit approval came after the state in March fined
Global Partners $117,292 for shipping six times more crude oil
than the previous permit allowed. The Massachusetts-based
company is appealing that decision, but it doesn't affect the
Earlier this week, Oregon denied Ambre Energy's request for
a permit to build a coal export terminal on the Columbia River,
saying the project was not in the best interests of the state's
water resources. Unlike the Global Partners project, Ambre's
proposal required a new dock that the state said would impact
historic tribal fishing sites.
Global Partners' project is similar to a much larger
proposal from independent refiner Tesoro Corp about 55
miles away in Vancouver, Washington. Tesoro wants to build a
railport that could bring in up to 360,000 bpd of Bakken and
Canadian crude that also would help supply West Coast
Tesoro's proposal is undergoing a detailed state review as
required for projects involving crude loaded onto a waterway,
and must have Gov. Jay Inslee's approval before going forward.
David Monro, northwest region air quality manager for the
Oregon DEQ, said Oregon doesn't require that kind of review.
(Additional reporting by Kristen Hays in Houston; editing by