For Immediate Release, August 22, 2014
Contact: Jared Margolis, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 310-4054
$4.9 Million in Oregon Lottery Funds Awarded to Company Expanding Transport of
Dangerous Crude Oil in Columbia River Corridor
State Allocates 'Connect Oregon' Money to Big Oil Instead of Communities in Need
PORTLAND, Ore.— Gov. Kitzhaber and Oregon’s Transportation Commission voted today to approve grants totaling $4.9 million that benefit Global Partners for the expansion of highly volatile Bakken oil shipments in the Columbia River corridor. The company was awarded $2 million for a dock near Clatskanie, Ore. to ship volatile Bakken crude oil down the river and $2.9 million to improve rail tracks near Rainier, Ore., an upgrade that will facilitate an increase in oil train traffic from 24 to 38 trains a month.
The grants were made through a program called “Connect Oregon” that is supposed to improve connections in the state and support local economies. However, instead of using the lottery monies to improve public transit projects, or bike or pedestrian projects, Oregon has decided to embrace dirty oil transit projects instead.
“Handing state money to big oil instead of funding much needed public transit infrastructure for low income areas is unconscionable,” says Jared Margolis an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Dumping scarce state resources into the transport of volatile oil won’t help Oregon communities in a sustainable way — to the contrary, an oil spill disaster will be incredibly costly for our communities and our environment.”
By contrast, earlier this week, Oregon’s Department of State Lands denied a permit for a coal export terminal on the Columbia River.
“It makes no sense that Oregon has decided to say ‘no’ to coal, but ‘yes’ to dirty, dangerous oil,” said Margolis. “Oregonians need to let Gov. Kitzhaber know this is unacceptable and that our state needs to be a leader in funding economic projects that are sustainable for our communities, our wildlife and endangered species and our planet.”
On Thursday, Global Partners, the beneficiary of the $4.9 in lottery monies, had an oil spill at its Albany, N.Y. oil terminal. In the past year, several fiery oil train derailments have occurred in the United States and Canada. An oil train wreck this past April set the James River on fire in downtown Lynchburg, Va., and a massive derailment in Quebec last summer killed 47 people and incinerated part of a small tourist town.
“Not a dime of Oregon’s money should be spent playing Russian roulette with oil transport,” said Margolis. “Global Partners’ operations are a ticking time bomb and Oregon’s government has just upped the odds that a major accident will happen that will harm endangered species and human communities.”
The Center for Biological Diversity along with the Northwest Environmental Defense Center and Neighbors for Clean Air has a pending lawsuit against Global Partners in federal court in Oregon over violations of our clean air laws.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.