Unions endorse oil distribution center proposal in Vancouver

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Major construction  unions in Southwest Washington and Oregon have endorsed the proposed crude oil distribution terminal at the Port of Vancouver and reached an agreement with Vancouver Energy to ensure the project is built with union labor.

The Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council, the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, and  Operating Engineers Local 701 are partnering with Vancouver Energy on the project, which is expected to create thousands of jobs through the construction and operation of a $210 million crude oil loading and unloading facility.

The labor organizations and Vancouver Energy agreed that project labor agreements (PLAs) will be in place for construction of the facility, assuring it will be built with union workers.

“This project creates great family-wage jobs, fuels our economy and promotes energy independence,” said Willy Myers, executive secretary of the Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council. “We agree that transportation of crude oil by rail and marine vessel to and from the terminal can be accomplished in a safe, environmentally responsible manner, and Vancouver Energy is committed to doing that. We’re anxious to help them build it.”

Backers say the terminal will provide $2 billion in economic value to the local and regional economy through labor income and tax revenues during construction and the first 15 years of operation. They estimate  more than 1,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs on average annually;  320 full-time construction jobs and 616 direct on-site and off-site operations jobs, including 176 jobs on-site at the terminal and sourced from the local area; $22 million in state and local taxes during construction; and $7.8 million in tax revenue annually once fully operational.

“This is great — Southwest Washington needs these jobs and the economic benefits will flow to the entire region,” said Lee Newgent, executive secretary of the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council. “With all the uncertainty in the world, especially in countries that have been major sources of oil, this is also an essential infrastructure project to increase our country’s economic security and energy independence.”

“We’re impressed with Vancouver Energy’s commitment to safety and the specific safety elements to be built and designed into the facility and its operation,” said Nelda Wilson, business manager of Operating Engineers, Local 701. “Employing a safety-trained, skilled workforce and utilizing a full array of safeguards, including only newer and safer model rail cars, will help make this a great project for working men and women, their families, and local communities.”

Tesoro Refining & Marketing Company LLC and Savage Companies formed a joint venture — Vancouver Energy — to develop, own and operate the terminal at the Port of Vancouver  that will  transfer North American crude oil from rail to ship, subject to regulatory approval. At full operation the terminal would receive up to 360,000 barrels of oil a day, which would be transferred to West Coast refineries.

The project is currently being evaluated by Washington’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC), which will produce a draft Environmental Impact Statement for public review. EFSEC required Vancouver Energy to prepare a preliminary analyses to address the range of potential impacts, which the company submitted in August and September.

Ultimately, EFSEC will submit a recommendation on the project to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who decides whether Vancouver Energy should receive a permit.

1 Comment

  1. There seems to be a basic misunderstanding about what constitutes energy independence among the labor movement in the Northwest.

    While it is true that, as Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council executive secretary Willy Myers says, “This project creates great family-wage jobs [and] fuels our economy,” energy independence doesn’t exist unless fossil fuels are left behind.

    That the myth of energy independence built of fossil fuels is wrong-headed is reinforced by the fact that “the terminal at the Port of Vancouver … will transfer North American crude oil from rail to ship,” indicating that at least some of the oil arriving in the port is destined for export.

    The labor movement should use what influence it has to work for a sustainable economy, not for short-term solutions that expand the climate disaster to which this facility will contribute.

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