At the Idaho Conservation League, we are gearing up for a jam-packed ride through public comment periods for no fewer than seven proposed oil terminals and port facilities for the West Coast.
Each of these facilities will bring more dangerous crude oil trains through Bonners Ferry, Sandpoint, Rathdrum and other North Idaho communities. Combined with traffic heading to existing facilities in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, 100 loaded mile-long crude oil trains could cross North Idaho every week.
Demand for these facilities is destined to increase if Congress lifts the export ban on domestic oil, which is looking like a bigger threat every day. Just last week, the House Energy and Power subcommittee approved a bill to lift the export ban-established in 1975-and open the spigot for oil to flow overseas.
The first stop on our oil-by-rail odyssey will be Grays Harbor, Wash., where two new shipping terminals are planned that would add another three to four oil trains a day through North Idaho. These trains add to the concerns about the risk of derailment, disaster and oil spills in Lake Pend Oreille. They also raise a host of concerns for the ecologically rich Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge.
By themselves, these are not huge projects. But combined with the dozen other terminals and refineries proposed or in the works, our safety, water quality and quality of life are clearly at risk in North Idaho.
On Oct 1, I’m heading to Elma, Wash., to testify at a hearing on behalf of Idahoans. I’m also helping arrange rides and carpools for anyone interested in attending. Contact me for more information. A second hearing is scheduled for Oct 8 in Aberdeen.
If you can’t hop a train or catch a ride for that West Coast hearing, you can still comment on these proposals. We’ve made it easy with our online form, so please speak out against an onslaught of crude oil trains through Idaho communities.