The city council of Vancouver has voted unanimously to ban new construction for oil storage facilities and refineries in the city, as well as expansions to existing facilities.
The ban came after public protests against a proposed crude-by-rail terminal at Vancouver port and, ironically, will not affect this particular project.
The project, proposed by Vancouver Energy, a joint company of U.S. Tesoro Corp and Savage Cos., the supply chain specialist, will be the largest of its kind in Canada and has rekindled public opposition to the railway transportation of crude, due to the risk of derailment and environmental disaster. It is currently being reviewed by the state Energy Facilities Site Evaluation Council.
Despite the fact that the ban does not include the Vancouver Energy terminal, it was widely perceived as a step in the right direction. "By taking this step, the city of Vancouver is standing up for little towns like ours who don't have the same power, but who bear the risks of oil trains just the same,” said Arlene Burns, mayor of Mosier, in a statement. Mosier, a town in the Columbia River Gorge, became the scene of an oil spill and fire last month when a train carrying crude derailed there.
Protesters, some of whom testified in the city council proceedings that led to the decision on the ban, said it is a strong signal to stakeholders including the governor of British Columbia, Jay Inslee, who will have the final say on the Vancouver Energy project.
Defenders of the crude-by-rail project of Vancouver Energy insist it will create many new jobs and help the local economy in other ways as well, but opponents argued that a couple hundred new jobs were not worth the risk of having trains derail around the city and the region.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.