Office of the Mayor
CITY OF HOQUIAM
609 – 8th Street, Hoquiam, WA 98550
(360) 532-5700 ext. 219 FAX (360) 538-0938
To: City Council Members
From: Mayor Jack Durney
Date: March 6, 2015
Re: Moratorium on Oil Terminal Facilities
Dear Council Members:
I have been a longtime advocate of national energy independence as well as local economic development. For those reasons, I didn’t have any particular opposition to the expansion projects at Imperium Renewables and Westways Terminals in Hoquiam that would add additional storage tanks for crude oil. I also felt that the local, state and federal permitting requirements, along with the environmental review process for the proposed oil terminals would be sufficient safeguards for our community.
However, I have come to the conclusion – as have a lot of people over time – that wholesale liquefied petroleum storage and sales facilities are not compatible with our lifestyle, our safety, or our current and future economy. The unfortunate rail disasters seen in other parts of the country could happen here.
The known fragile local condition of rail infrastructure could result in derailments causing explosions endangering our residents and/or causing major oil spills that could destroy our seafood industry as well as our enjoyment of recreational opportunities on our rivers and streams. The increased rail traffic for crude oil when added to the existing amount of time that trains are blocking streets and entrances to business areas will create unacceptable traffic mobility issues.
I have stated at Council meetings, on the radio, and in presentations to individuals and community groups that the City of Hoquiam land use ordinance permits bulk liquid storage and we have no regulatory authority over the railroads. As co-leads with the State of Washington Department of Ecology, we have been working daily to make sure that the current applicants must comply with all environmental and safety requirements in the environmental impact statement which should be available for public review and comments this summer.
Because Westways Terminals, Imperium Renewables, and US Development have vested rights in their applications for these facilities, we cannot change the past. We are required to evaluate these projects based upon the City, State and Federal laws, rules and regulations that were in place at the time the applications were submitted. However, we can change the future!
I am presenting the City council two documents. One is a resolution requesting our land use hearing examiner to hold an open public hearing to consider an amendment to our land use plan to forbid wholesale liquefied petroleum facilities in ANY zone within the City of Hoquiam. The other is a resolution that I urge the City Council to adopt IMMEDIATELY that establishes a moratorium on the “licensing, regulation, location, and permitting of wholesale liquefied petroleum storage and sales facilities” in any zoning district in the City of Hoquiam while we revise the City land use plan.
These actions will immediately take the Rayonier-GH Paper, Anderson-Middleton, the Port of Grays Harbor’s IDD-1, the Lamb-Grays Harbor, Bowerman Field and other potential sites off the market for future crude oil storage and sales.
And if any of the three current applicants decide not to proceed, their facilities will not be able to be used in the future for this purpose.
I appreciate your consideration of this very important action. Moreover, I believe the cities of Aberdeen, Montesano, and Elma and Grays Harbor County should similarly consider taking this action.
We have far too much to lose if we don’t.
Mayor Jack Durney
City of Hoquiam