Note: BP and Phillips 66 received permits without benefit of an EIS review because area advocates were focused on the GPT scoping process and those refineries, along with Tesoro Anacortes, slipped under the radar. Also, at the time of permit review, no one knew the scale of crude transportation the state would experience, nor the dangers posed by “bomb trains” with their half-mile blast radii. By the time we realized what was happening, Shell had just received a mitigated determination of nonsignificance under the Statement Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), and the Skagit County Planning Dep't was about to permit the facility. That action resulted in requests for reconsideration and, ultimately, the filing of appeal by Earth Justice on behalf of several environmental groups.
The hearing described below is the county's administrative procedure in response to requests for reconsideration, not part of the formal appeal. Because the state has not acknowledged that it has power, under SEPA, to limit this dangerous activity, the Shell action has the potential to change attitudes in Olympia about the limits of the Commerce Clause and the power of the permit. This call to action came from Sandra Spargo, an officer of Evergreen Islands, one of the parties in the appeal.
SHELL BAKKEN OIL RAIL TERMINAL PROJECT
PUBLIC HEARING, THURS., JAN. 29, 2015
(Testimony from the public is sought.)
Thurs., Jan. 29 (Please see times below.)
County Commissioners Hearing Room
1800 Continental Place, Mount Vernon (map)
The hearing process will consist of five parts:
- Skagit County Planning & Development gives its case.
- Shell Oil gives its case.
- The public gives testimony—and may direct questions to the hearing examiner for his consideration.
- The hearing examiner asks questions of Skagit County and Shell Oil.
- Shell Oil and Skagit County give rebuttals.
- The hearing process begins at 9 a.m.
- Although public testimony begins at 11 a.m., you are advised to arrive no later than 10 a.m. to sign up for oral testimony. First come, first served.
- Hand in written comments at the public hearing or send them beforehand to Skagit County Planning & Development, arriving in-house no later than 4:30 p.m., Tues. Jan. 27.
- No emails accepted. The online comment form and snail mail address are found at How to Comment on Permit Applications and Appeals. Scroll down. The permit number is PL13-0468. The title is Shoreline Substantial Development Permit/Variance.
What comments/testimony may you make to Wick Dufford, the Hearing Examiner?
Tell/write him that you want an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Not enough information has been provided to determine the full impact of Shell’s proposed Bakken oil rail terminal. An EIS determines that a proposal is likely to have significant adverse environmental impacts. An EIS provides an impartial discussion of significant environmental impacts, reasonable alternatives and mitigation measures that would avoid or minimize adverse impacts. On Jan. 16, 2015, Skagit County Hearing Examiner Wick Dufford determined that impact considerations are not limited to any particular limited geographic area. See County Hearing Examiner to Take Comments on Shell Rail Project. Skagit County last determined an EIS in 1999. !!
Suggested areas of application/concern:
- Cumulative impacts of Shell’s proposed rail terminal with other oil-by-rail and coal export facilities in Puget Sound.
Risks of derailment and explosion, oil spills along the rail line and into saltwater/freshwater, impacting the Anacortes water treatment plant, saltwater/freshwater species and the aquatic environment—who pays for the destruction?
Risks to human health from air toxics released during oil transport, transfer and storage.
- Why Bakken Oil Explodes
- Shell Refinery No 2 in NW Clean-Air Fines, Nov. 7, 2011
- Anacortes Refineries Pay, Accrue Fines in November 
- Shell Puget Sound Refinery, Anacortes, Washington, was fined $291,000 from 2006 to 2010 for violations of the Clean Air Act making it the second most-fined violator in the Pacific Northwest. As of 2011, it was listed as “high priority violator” since 2008.
Harm to safety, recreation and surrounding environmental beauty.
- March Point Heronry Property: Herons have nested on Padilla Bay since the late 1970s. Today it's believed to be the largest nesting area for Great Blue Herons in all of Western North America, with recent estimates ranging from 600-700 nests. (Washington Department of Ecology, May 9, 2014)
- Oil Train Blast Zone, including along Highway 5—impacting Mount Vernon, Burlington, Sedro-Woolley—and along Highway 20 Spur to Anacortes.
- SHELL OIL, A Record of Environmental and Corporate Malfeasance, June 2012, Alaska Wilderness League (will take a few moments to download).
Risks of oil transport first by rail and marine vessel, including risks to commercial, recreational and fishing activities; risks of oil spills in the Salish Sea.
Old railway bridge infrastructure.
- RustyBridges_LarryGraf photos. This folder is accessed on the Microsoft “cloud” and contains pictures of Skagit and Snohomish rusty bridges, complementary of Larry Graf, Burlington. The pictures will take a few moments to download. All oil trains pass over the Swinomish Channel Bridge, built in 1891, to reach Tesoro and Shell Oil refineries.
- Appealing Crude-by-Rail Decision in Skagit County, Earth Justice
- Trains Plus Crude Equals More Trouble Down the Tracks
These areas of concern are meant as a suggested guide.
Thank you so much for your patience.