Supporters reinforce importance of jobs, workforce training at final public hearing
VANCOUVER — Supporters of the proposed Vancouver Energy oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver USA remained as adamant as ever Tuesday about the project and the need for jobs, infrastructure and energy security. Representatives from labor, business and trade groups all weighed in Tuesday at a hearing on the facility’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) industrial stormwater permit. It is the last public hearing to be held in connection with the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council’s permitting process for the facility.
In 2013, the Port of Vancouver USA initially selected Vancouver Energy for the project due to the operational experience and safety record of the partnering companies, Tesoro and Savage. Since then, EFSEC has continued to review the project and host permit hearings. In 2016, Vancouver Energy voluntarily unveiled additional safety measures to limit the initial volume of crude oil handled by the terminal, connecting it to their safety performance.
“This is an important project not only in terms of jobs but also the economy and our energy independence,” said Willy Myers, executive secretary with the Columbia Pacific Building Trades. “This project means more domestic oil will be refined and used here at home on the West Coast, rather than relying on foreign oil imports. That’s an important step in terms of energy independence. We are impressed with Vancouver Energy’s commitment to safety and to the environment. This would be a fantastic infrastructure project, one our members are eager to work on.”
Nate Stokes, field representative coordinator, International Union of Operating Engineers/Local Vancouver, said trades workers in Southwest Washington and their families are watching the project carefully.
“Our members continue to support Vancouver Energy because it will generate the kind of family-wage jobs that are in high demand in this part of the state. We’re talking about 300 jobs in the building trades alone. That is a significant investment on our training and apprenticeship opportunities,” said Stokes.
Shane Nehls of the Ironworkers added that these are the very projects needed to build the next generation of skilled workers in Washington and Oregon.
“Major infrastructure projects are the best way for skilled workers to train and apprentice,” said Nehls. “A project like Vancouver Energy would provide excellent opportunities for all skilled trades, not just ironworkers. We hope this last permit is approved so we can get closer to a final decision and, hopefully, start putting people to work.”
Tuesday’s hearing was the public’s last opportunity to comment on the project. EFSEC has held multiple public hearings on permits for the facility. The project now awaits final review by EFSEC, which will make a recommendation to Gov. Jay Inslee. The governor will then have 60 days to review the project and make his own final determination.
About Keep Washington Competitive
In 2014, AWB and representatives from labor, business, agriculture and other trade organizations formed Keep Washington Competitive, a coalition united to protect trade from overreaching regulations. KWC works to promote bi-lateral trade growth in Washington state through sound state policies and fostering a regulatory environment that encourages investment in our state trade industries. To learn more, visit http://keepwashingtoncompetitive.com/.