05-23-2018  5:26 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Mississippi Avenue Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 22, 10 percent of proceeds from participating Mississippi Ave. businesses will go to SEI ...

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Lawmakers hold hearing to discuss Oregon dairy's downfall

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon lawmakers are asking questions about what went wrong with a large dairy that is facing a lawsuit, regulatory problems and bankruptcy in an effort to find ways to prevent a similar situation in the future.The Senate Interim Committee on Environment and Natural...

Editorials from around Oregon

Selected editorials from Oregon newspapers:_____The Oregonian/OregonLive, May 23, on rebuilding faith in police oversight board:Derek Ashton, an attorney representing former Portland Police Chief Larry O'Dea, didn't mince words in criticizing a committee's recommendation that O'Dea lose his police...

Amazon, Starbucks pledge money to repeal Seattle head tax

SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon, Starbucks, Vulcan and other companies have pledged a total of more than 0,000 toward an effort to repeal Seattle's newly passed tax on large employers intended to combat homelessness.Just days after the Seattle City Council approved the levy, the No Tax On Jobs...

14 vehicles destroyed in central Washington brush fire

SELAH, Wash. (AP) — Authorities say 14 vehicles were destroyed in a brush fire in central Washington.The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the fire scorched about a half square mile near Selah on Tuesday.Selah Deputy Fire Chief Jim Lange says the fire threatened multiple homes and burned up to...

OPINION

Racism After Graduation May Just Be What's on the Menu

Dr. Julianne Malveaux says that for our young millennials, racism is inevitable ...

Prime Minister Netanyahu Shows Limits of Israel’s Democracy

Bill Fletcher, Jr. on racial politics in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s uneven treatment of African immigrants ...

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

The Latest: Milwaukee NAACP head: No reason to use stun gun

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Latest on Milwaukee police releasing body-camera footage showing the arrest of Bucks guard Sterling Brown (all times local):7:05 p.m.The president of the NAACP in Milwaukee says he doesn't see anything in a newly released police body-camera video that would warrant...

Milwaukee chief apologizes for arrest of Bucks guard Brown

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales apologized to Bucks guard Sterling Brown on Wednesday for a January arrest that started with a parking violation and escalated to include use of a stun gun, and said some officers had been disciplined.Brown responded with a statement...

Offshore worker alleges bias in federal lawsuit

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An African-American offshore oil worker has filed a federal lawsuit saying he was intimidated on the job by a supervisor who drew a picture of him dangling from a high rig structure while surrounded by co-workers in Ku Klux Klan hats.The lawsuit claims the worker was...

ENTERTAINMENT

Deadliest Catch' star pleads guilty to misdemeanor assault

SEATTLE (AP) — Celebrity crab-boat captain Sig Hansen has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge that he spat on an Uber driver last year in Seattle.The Seattle Times reports (https://bit.ly/2s3scWE) the 52-year-old "Deadliest Catch" star pleaded guilty Wednesday.Under the plea deal, a...

Lawyer: Harvey Weinstein targeted by federal prosecutors

WASHINGTON (AP) — Harvey Weinstein's lawyer said in a court filing that federal prosecutors in New York have launched a criminal investigation into the film producer, in addition to a previously disclosed probe by the Manhattan District Attorney.Attorney Benjamin Brafman said in a...

Comedian Josh Denny not sorry about N-word tweets

NEW YORK (AP) — Comedian and Food Network host Josh Denny has called his tweets using the N-word and comparing use of "straight white male" to the racial slur as "very incendiary," but he said he's not sorry.The host of "Ginormous Food" appeared on Van Lathan's podcast "The Red Pill" on...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Pompeo: Fate of US-NKorea summit rests with Kim Jong Un

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he's "very hopeful" that a planned...

Teacher's win in Kentucky points to November potential

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Teachers across the country have left their classrooms this spring to protest at...

AP source: Jared Kushner granted security clearance

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been granted a security clearance...

French government orders evacuation of Paris migrant camps

PARIS (AP) — Police are preparing to dismantle makeshift camps holding close to 2,500 migrants in the...

2 patients who fled Ebola ward among the dead in Congo

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Two infected patients who fled from an Ebola treatment center in a Congo city of 1.2...

Summits give aged North Korean spies hope of returning home

GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — He's spent nearly six decades trapped on enemy soil, surviving 29 years in a...

Crumpled oil tankers sits beside the railroad tracks after a fiery June 3 train derailment that prompted evacuations from the tiny Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Ore. Union Pacific announced Wednesday, June 22, 2016, plans to resume transporting oil by train through the Oregon side of the scenic Columbia River Gorge at some point this week. (Brent Foster via AP, File)
By PHUONG LE, KRISTENA HANSEN, Associated Press

 

SEATTLE (AP) — Two companies proposing to build what would be the nation's largest oil-by-rail marine terminal along the Columbia River in Washington see it as an opportunity to link domestic crude oil from the Midwest to a West Coast port.

Critics, however, see an environmental and safety catastrophe waiting to happen, especially after a train carrying volatile Bakken crude oil derailed and burned on June 3 in Mosier, Oregon, just 70 miles upriver from the project site in Vancouver, Washington.

The battle over the Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy terminal — which would handle about 360,000 barrels of crude oil a day — unfolds Monday when the parties make their case for or against the terminal before a state energy panel.

The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council will hear testimony from dozens of experts and other witnesses over five weeks. It will make a recommendation to Gov. Jay Inslee, who has the final say.

Vancouver Energy is expected to argue that the terminal is needed to meet fuel needs; that it satisfies the council's criteria; that risks of oil spills or accidents at the facility are remote; and it adds economic benefits to the region.

The Port of Vancouver also plans to testify in support, saying the facility is designed to be as safe as possible, there's need for it and it's suitable for the industrial site.

They'll face a chorus of opposition. Tribes, environmental and community groups, the city of Vancouver and a Washington state agency will urge the panel not to recommend approval.

They plan to show that it poses too great a risk to people and the environment, the dangers extend well beyond the facility to include communities along rail lines across the state, and it's not in the public's interest.

Tesoro Corp. and Savage Cos. are proposing a $210 million terminal that would receive an average of four 1½-mile long crude oil trains a day, likely traveling on tracks between Spokane and Vancouver. Oil would temporarily be stored on site and then loaded onto tankers and ships bound for West Coast refineries.

"This is too risky for the state of Washington," said Kristen Boyles, an attorney with Earthjustice representing Columbia Riverkeeper, Climate Solutions and six other groups who intervened in the proceedings to oppose the project.

Oil trains return to Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge

On the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge, Union Pacific announced plans to resume operations at some point this week. The June 3 derailment of one of its trains caused a 42,000-gallon oil spill and subsequent fire. Nobody was hurt, but it forced evacuations and disruptions to water systems in Mosier, Oregon, a small town about 70 miles east of Portland.

The rail company's announcement comes as local officials plead with the federal government to halt the use of railroads to transport crude oil, a practice they say can never be completely safe for communities in the trains' path.

Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, who urged the Federal Railroad Administration in a letter Wednesday afternoon to exercise its emergency moratorium authority before Union Pacific resumes in the Gorge.

"Unit trains travel on tracks that pass through and near many small towns that are not well-equipped to deal with the type of fire that occurred in Mosier," Merkley and Wyden wrote to the administration.

Union Pacific officials have concluded that faulty "lag bolts" — fasteners used to attach the rail to the rail tie on a curved section of track — caused the problem in Mosier. Federal rail authorities are also investigating the cause.

The company defended its decision to restart operations in a statement, reiterating the federal obligations it's under and highlighting the tiny fraction of its Oregon shipments — less than 1 percent — that come from oil trains.

"Railroads provide the infrastructure, flexible networks and efficiency needed to move crude oil from locations where oil is recovered to customer facilities," said Wes Lujan, a public affairs vice president for Union Pacific. "The federal common carrier obligation requires railroads to transport crude oil and other hazardous materials. If a customer delivers a crude oil tank car in conformity with U.S. Department of Transportation requirements, we are obligated to transport the rail car to its destination."

Also on Wednesday, Union Pacific announced that another train spilled 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel the night before near Troutdale, Oregon, roughly 20 miles east of Portland.

Leaders at the Oregon Department of Transportation, Multnomah County and several municipalities including Portland and Mosier have called on Congress and the White House for bans on oil being moved by rail, which is under the federal government's authority.

Reacting to Union Pacific's plans, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown reiterated her previous call for a federal moratorium on transporting oil on trains until the system is unquestionably safe.

"Federal agencies and policymakers in Washington, D.C., will continue to put people and ecosystems at risk as they postpone implementation of reasonable safety measures that protect us unless we demand accountability," Brown said in a statement.

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state, where a different rail company operates along the Columbia River, has held similar discussions with federal leaders in recent weeks, although he's stopped short of requesting a moratorium.

Rebecca Ponzio, spokeswoman for the Stand Up To Oil advocacy group, blasted Union Pacific in a statement, saying the company has shown a "reckless disregard" for communities, ignored officials' pleas and, "proceeded on with what matters most to them: the bottom line."

Vancouver and Spokane file briefs against trains

In briefs filed ahead of Monday's hearing, the cities of Vancouver and Spokane, among others, say they're concerned about the risk of oil spills and accidents as more trains cut through their communities. They question whether emergency responders would be able to handle a large fire from a derailment.

"Tesoro's proposal constitutes a clear and present threat to human life and health," Vancouver city attorneys wrote. The council "simply has no ability to ensure the safety of Vancouver's citizens while the equivalent of 1,667 tanker trucks of volatile crude oil per day move into and out of the heart of the fourth largest city in Washington."

In a separate brief, the state-appointed attorney who represents the public's interest in protecting the environment writes that oil trains moving across the state and close to or on the Columbia River "presents a continuing risk of significant environmental impacts and harm."

The consequences of the worse-case oil spill would affect the Columbia River for years to come and cause losses to salmon, birds and other natural resources, assistant attorney general Matthew Kernutt wrote.

The Yakama Nation and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation also plan to show that the project interferes with their treaty-reserved fishing rights and that a potential oil spill could have devastating consequences to salmon and other natural resources on which the tribe depends.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources is also urging the council to reject the project, citing risks of blazes from increased train traffic and other concerns.

Vancouver Energy says the project can be done safely and will provide jobs and tax revenue as well as reduce dependency on foreign oil.

Vancouver Energy General Manager Jared Larrabee said the terminal has committed to only accept tank cars that meet or exceed DOT-117 standards, has purchased and placed oil spill response equipment along the rail corridor and taken other safety measures.

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