A recent win now spares North Idaho from an increase  in oil train  traffic of  973 transits a year, or  133%. The win  relates to two proposals for oil terminal expansion in the Port of Grays Harbor in Washington State.

The Problem

The companies, Westway Terminal Company LLC (now known as Contanda LLC) and Imperium Terminal Services LLC, applied to expand their terminal capacity for oil. If approved, both  expansions would have increased the number of trains crossing through North Idaho.  Much of the oil would come from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota and Montana, riding the rails through North Idaho to its ultimate destination in Grays Harbor.

The Quinault Indian Nation and several conservation groups challenged the oil terminals four years ago.  Through representation provided by Earthjustice, the Quinault and conservation groups argued that the oil terminal companies failed to do the environmental analysis required under Washington State law. This legal argument failed at the administrative and Washington State Court of Appeals levels. But it finally found success in the Washington State Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously to overrule the Court of Appeals in favor of the Quinault and conservation groups’ position.

A Winning Result

Following this ruling, both oil terminal proposals must be further evaluated under the state environmental law, the Oceans Resources Management Act, before they can move forward. These terminals will likely be unable to meet the demanding environmental requirements of this law and are effectively blocked from future development. We’ll keep you posted on where the proposals go from here.

Four years is a long time to persevere and stay engaged. But the payoff from decisions like these is absolutely worth the time, energy and commitment-something important to keep in mind.