The Inland Northwest turned out in force last week to oppose a giant oil terminal that would dramatically increase the number of explosive oil trains trundling through North Idaho and exacerbate global warming.
While the standing-room only crowd was dominated by Spokane-area residents, many other communities in the region-Bozeman, Missoula, Moscow, Wenatchee, Cheney, Coeur d’Alene and especially Sandpoint- were well represented.
Testimony ran 112 against and 11 for the proposal at the hearing, with statements coming from local tribal leaders, elected officials, firefighters, health professionals, business owners, faith leaders and many, many other community members.
Among the public officials who spoke at the hearing were Spokane Council President Ben Stuckart, David Brown Eagle, vice-chair of the Spokane Tribal Council, and Sandpoint’s new mayor, Shelby Rognstad. They echoed the concerns voiced by more than 100 other speakers that the oil terminal in Vancouver, WA, would put communities at risk from a catastrophic derailment or spill along the rail line.
While the Draft Environmental Impact Statement estimated a derailment in Washington state every other year, with catastrophic spills less often, many speakers said the study underplayed the risks associated with the project.
This was the last of three hearings around the state-all of which were dominated by opponents-before Washington’s Energy Facilities Siting Evaluation Council (EFSEC), the body that will consider the merits of the proposal, the environmental risks, and make a recommendation to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who makes the final decision.
Additionally, our partners at the Stand up to Oil Coalition collected a record-breaking 276,296 comments against the proposed terminal that were delivered to the EFSEC.
Thanks to the dozens of Idahoans who turned out last week at the hearing and spoke up for clean air, clean water and our quality of life!! And thanks to the thousands who submitted comments against the proposal!!