In a unanimous vote on Nov 28, 2018, the Washington State Energy Site Evaluation Council recommended that Gov. Jay Inslee reject a permit for a major new crude-by-rail oil terminal in Vancouver, Washington. The Vancouver Energy terminal would be the region’s largest oil-train terminal, capable of unloading 15 million gallons of Bakken crude from four trains daily. The oil would be put on barges and shipped to coastal refineries.
The port is transited by BNSF Railway, Union Pacific, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railroads. Tesoro-Savage agreed to a 10-year lease, and expected to create 175 permanent jobs on site, with 1,000 jobs total surrounding the project.
Trains bringing 15 million gallons of Bakken crude daily through the pristine Columbia River Gorge was not a prospect many looked forward to – especially after the 2016 Union Pacific oil train fire near a school in Mosier, Oregon. Mosier residents were evacuated and the sewage treatment plant was shut down. The disaster could have been much worse.
Vancouver Energy suffered another major setback in November when an opponent of the project, Don Orange, was elected to the Port of Vancouver board of commissioners.
The Oil Shale Boom — and Bust
Once impossible-to-reach shale deposits are now producing light sweet crude at Bakken and other Midwestern spots. But the boom turned to a bust and other pipelines opened to move the oil.
The Department of Energy reported that domestic oil production was at the highest level in over 20 years. U.S. crude oil production was forecast to reach 8.5 million barrels per day by the end of 2014 – up from 5 million barrels per day in 2008 – due mostly due to North Dakota’s Bakken oil boom.
In mid 2013, domestic oil production was at a 24-year high while foreign oil imports was at a 17-year low. The result: domestic production exceeded imports for the first time since February 1995, although the nation still imports 35% of the petroleum it uses.
Total U.S. crude production averaged 8.5 million barrels per day in July 2014, according to Bakken.com. It is expected to average 8.5 million barrels per day for all of 2014 and rise to 9.3 million barrels average in 2015, which would be the highest since 1972. U.S. petroleum imports have fallen from 60 percent of consumption in 2005 to 33 percent in 2013 and will hit 22 percent in 2015. That would be the lowest level since 1970.
China is the world’s second-largest consumer of oil behind the United States, and the second-largest net importer of oil as of 2009.
The federal government predicts trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year during the next two decades, causing more than $4 billion in damage and possibly killing hundreds of people. The analysis predicted by the Department of Transportation predicts about 15 derailments in 2015, declining to about five a year by 2034. Here’s an interactive map showing train oil spills.
Horrific explosions of oil trains seem to be in headlines almost routinely as oil train traffic increases. But pipelines can also be dangerous to communities.
On June 10, 1999, approximately 277,000 gallons of gasoline were released from a rupture in the Olympic Pipeline into Whatcom Creek in Bellingham, Washington. As the toxic vapors flowed downstream, fire officials began ordering evacuations along the river corridor. Less than 40 minutes after the initial 9-1-1 call, a fire-ball shot down the river killing two 10-year-old boys playing near the creek. A third person succumbed to the gasoline vapors and collapsed into the water and drowned. One building was destroyed and several acres of forested land were burned.
An oil train derailed in the Columbia River Gorge near Mosier, Oregon, on June 3, 2016. Eleven cars from the 96-car Union Pacific train derailed and several cars caught on fire. Nobody was killed although it was near a Mosier school. Hood River News has more.
The derailment in the Columbia River Gorge follows a string of fiery accidents in the U.S. and Canada.
Pipeline on Rails
Moving the millions of gallons of crude produced daily at the Bakken oil fields to refineries is a problem. There is currently no pipeline that can do the job. The capacity of the planned Keystone XL Pipeline is about 700,000 barrels per day. Vancouver’s planned oil terminal would have a capacity of about 380,000 barrels per day — about 4 unit trains daily. Each train carries between 70,000 and 90,000 barrels of oil.
I shot the above pictures on 02/24/15, showing a Union Pacific oil train passing through Troutdale. Troutdale’s main street is on the other side of the buildings. East of Vancouver, B/N mainline is on a berm, about 100 feet to the south and about 15 feet above State Route 14. What damage the next earthquake will cause around the railbed seems to be anybody’s guess (and the fire department’s responsibility).
The Port’s four marine terminals lie in close proximity to major rail and highway connections. Rail routes near Hayden Island are highlighted in red (for Union Pacific) and green (for Burlington Northern). An earthquake could create slides, blocking tracks or derail cars, potentially a serious issue when so much oil is now being moved by train.
The Oregon Fire Marshall recommends that in the event of a large oil train incident/spill, downwind evacuation should be at least 1,000 feet and if the car is involved in a fire, evacuation for 0.5-mile (800 meters) in all directions is recommended. That would be much of Hayden Island if the BNSF mainline in Vancouver is affected.
The Oregonian created this Google Map flyover of the 3 routes Pembina could take through Portland to transport their propane trains (every other day) to the Port of Portland’s Terminal 6. The orange overlay is a mile wide evacuation zone required by regulators in case of a derailment.
BNSF’s route through Vancouver carries most of the Balken crude north to refineries in Pudget Sound. Oregonian’s flyby shows evacuation zones in red (.5 miles either side of a fire). A derailment and fire in Vancouver would result in evacuation of most of city.
Pembina pushed ahead for the terminal 6 facility, despite the fact that Portland Mayor Hale’s now opposed the Pembina facility.
The Port of Portland lost nearly all Portland’s container business this year. That means Portland’s containers now will arrive (or be shipped) by rail from other west coast ports. That will increase rail traffic. Never mind the projected increase in rail traffic from oil, coal and gas trains going to Columbia River or Pudget Sound ports.
Amtrak will be the loser. Schedules? Furgetaboutit. Viability of Amtrak as a transportation option? Questionable. Ports don’t care about Amtrak. Freight rules.
The Port of Vancouver also appears partial to cash on the barrel head. Public be damned. The Port of Vancouver lease for a 42-acre Tesoro-Savage oil terminal (pdf) was not available to the public before the port’s three-member commission unanimously approved it. According to Rick Weyen, vice president for logistics for Tesoro, “If you start in North Dakota, Vancouver, Wash. is the closest place you can get to load onto ocean-going vessels. The Port of Vancouver minimizes the amount of miles crude goes by land.”
As many as 18 oil trains a week now pass on the Washington side of the gorge, reports The Oregonian. Oil also moves on the Oregon side, between Clatskanie and Portland, with three oil trains a week moving to an oil terminal near Clatskanie. The eighteen oil trains weekly on the Washington side could increase dramatically if the proposed Vancouver, Washington, oil terminal opens.
More than 18 trains PER DAY may be soon be added. They’ll carry oil, coal and gas, traveling though the Gorge and Vancouver, Washington.
Three oil trains each week now carry crude over the Portland and Western Railroad tracks on the Oregon side. Those trains pass between Portland and Columbia River towns including Rainier, St. Helens and Scappoose. That traffic is likely to grow to about one train daily (not including the returning empties).
Shipping is the Achilles Heel of the fossil fuel industry. Trains have become a “pipeline on rails”. The most efficient train route to the West coast is often along the Columbia, avoiding the North Cascades.
Crude oil isn’t classified as a sensitive security commodity, a U.S. Department of Transportation spokesman, Michael England, told the Oregonian.
Union Pacific representatives told The Oregonian they were legally prohibited from publicly sharing information about oil train routing, volumes or schedules.
The two proposed oil export terminals on the Columbia River are the smaller Port Westward terminal, run by investor Global Partners (near Clatskanie OR), and the larger Vancouver Washington oil export terminal, run by Tesoro Corp. Both will bring in highly flammable oil by train from North Dakota’s Bakken Formation and ship it out by barge to US refineries in Washington and California.
The proposed Port of Vancouver oil-by-rail terminal will be capable of handling 380,000 barrels of Bakken crude per day. The Vancouver oil terminal, now using the name Vancouver Energy, would store oil in six above-ground tanks. Each tank would have a shell capacity of 380,000 barrels for a total storage capacity of 2.28 million barrels. The oil would be loaded onto ships bound primarily for West Coast refineries.
According to Sightline Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on sustainability issues, as many as 11 oil refineries and port terminals in the Northwest have been planned, are building or already operating oil-by-rail shipments in Washington and Oregon. Their Northwest’s Pipeline on Rails reviews the proposals and adds up the rail traffic.
The Port of Grays Harbor, Washington’s only deep water port on the Pacific Coast, is considering projects to develop crude oil facilities. That oil may also travel by BNSF rail though Vancouver, Washington.
BNSF says about 10,600 rail cars of crude entered Clark County through the Columbia River Gorge in the 12 months from July 2012 to June 2013. That may increase dramatically.
According to the Washington Department of Ecology each railcar holds about 680 barrels and each barrel of oil holds 42 gallons. A 100 car unit train would hold 68,000 barrels, so between 4 and 5 new trains daily would be required to pass through Vancouver, Washington, to keep the terminal operating near its capacity.
The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries has determined that Oregon’s Critical Energy Infrastructure (CEI) hub, on the Willamette’s NW industrial area, will be a huge problem should a major earthquake occur. “Damage to liquid fuel, natural gas and electrical facilities in the CEI Hub is likely. The waterway would likely be closed and require cleanup.”
It is currently not legal to export crude from the United States since the country still imports so much crude oil. Instead, the proposed oil terminals simply barge the oil to domestic refineries in Pudget Sound and the Bay area. Exporting crude, it is thought, would increase the price of oil in the United States. There is a move by oil companies to change that law, however, primarily due to new North Dakota crude oil supplies.
Domestic Oil in North Dakota’s Bakken Formation
Recent discoveries in the Bakken Formation, which underlies large areas of northwestern North Dakota and northeastern Montana, as well as southern Saskatchewan and Alberta is why the United States is producing more domestic oil.
The Bakken oil fields could become the world’s largest discovery in the last 30-40 years, with tens of billion of barrels. Production is outstripping pipelines so trains are becoming the primary method of moving oil. Crude production in the Bakken exceeded 1 Million barrels/day at the end of 2013, up from 200 Mb/d in 2012.
Oil Export from Vancouver WA and Clatskanie OR
Vancouver’s planned oil terminal would have a capacity of about 380,000 barrels per day — about 4 unit trains daily. A majority of the Vancouver City Council now publicly opposes the Port of Vancouver’s plans to build the Northwest’s largest oil-handling facility.
Todd Coleman, the Port of Vancouver’s executive director, said he thought the city was prepared to learn all of the facts that will come out during the review process overseen by Washington state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC. “I think it’s premature,” he said of the council’s stance.
A June 2, 2014 Vancouver City Council meeting ended at 1:25 a.m. with the council voting unanimously to formally intervene in the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council process, voting 5-2 to adopt a council policy to fight not only the Tesoro-Savage project, but all proposals that would result in an increase of Bakken crude oil being hauled through Clark County.
The resolution urges Port of Vancouver commissioners to terminate the lease the port signed with Tesoro-Savage last year — something Port of Vancouver Commissioner Brian Wolfe has said isn’t likely to happen, regardless of what the city says, reports The Columbian. Breaking the lease would amount to a breach of contract that could lead to litigation and damage the port’s reputation, he said.
One oil export terminal currently exists at Port Westward, near Clatskanie Oregon. The Global Partners terminal is currently operating and imports near one unit train a day (80,000 barrels). The oil export terminal planned for Vancouver WA is expect to handle more than ten times the rail traffic and capacity of the Global Partners terminal in Oregon.
Oil terminals on the Columbia River
- At the Port of Vancouver, Tesoro Corp and Savage Services plan a $100 million, 42-acre oil-handling operation, using the Terminal 5 rail loop and Terminal 4 marine-loading facilities. Four unit trains (80,000 barrels per train) would supply the 380,000 barrels of oil to the Vancouver terminal daily, and leave with 4 empty oil trains daily, for a total of 8 trains though Vancouver.
- At the Port of St Helens, near Clatskanie, Oregon, Global Partners wants to upgrade their existing Port Westward dock, to accommodate Panamax-class vessels — vessels that are the largest capable of moving through the Panama Canal. Global Partners currently brings their North Dakota oil in by trains. They pass within feet of local businesses. Currently about one train a day disrupts the small Oregon communities along the Oregon side of the Columbia.
Other (non-oil) Export Terminals proposed for the Columbia
The 4 full and 4 empty unit trains (total of 8 daily) feeding Vancouver’s proposed oil terminal, by itself, represents a big increase in rail traffic. But big increases in unit trains coming through Vancouver, Washington are also expected from proposed coal and liquified natural gas export facilities. Add them all together and train traffic appears to be poised from increasing from 18 trains a week to 18 trains a day — roughly a 7X increase over 2013-2014.
- Pembina’s proposed propane export terminal in Portland near Terminal 6, would receive approximately 37,000 barrels of propane per day. That’s one unit train every two days. It would bring propane in by rail and export it on ships.
- Haven Energy’s proposed propane terminal in Longview would ship propane and butane in pressurized rail cars from North Dakota to Longview. The terminal would be capable of handling 47,000 barrels of liquefied gases per day, which would mean one train delivery every day and a half and three ships per month. Combined, Portland’s proposed Pembina export terminal and Longview’s proposed Haven propane terminal would total about 84,000 barrels per day. Since a unit train carries between 70,000 and 90,000 barrels of oil, the two terminals would add about 1 unit train daily. That’s 2 trains daily, 1 arriving full and 1 leaving empty).
- Coos Bay and Astoria also plan LNG export terminals but they would bring natural gas in by pipeline, not trains.
- Just to complicate matters, two other export terminals are planned on the lower Columbia. Those would be for Methanol, not oil, and would NOT cause train congestion since they would use a natural gas pipelines that already exist.
Coal Export Terminals proposed for the Columbia
- Millennium Bulk Terminals plans to build a coal export terminal in Longview, Washington with a capacity of 44 million tons of coal a year (18 trains/day).
- The proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, in Cherry Point, Washington, would have a capacity around 48 million tons of coal a year (18 trains/day).
- The Morrow Pacific coal export terminal, near Clatskanie, Oregon is being proposed by Ambre Energy, which also is backing the larger Longview coal export terminal. Morrow Pacific would have an operational capacity of two barge-tows per day and ship between 3.5 to 8 million metric tons/year. Trains would transfer coal to barges in Umatilla.
Crude oil shipped by railroad from North Dakota is drawing fresh scrutiny from regulators concerned that the cargo is adding environmental and safety hazards.
Quebec’s derailment in 2013 incinerated at least 30 buildings and killed 47 people in the core of Lac-Mégantic, a tourist town of 6,000 people about 150 miles east of Montreal. The Federal Railroad Administration is investigating whether chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing are corroding rail tank cars and increasing risks. Investigators in Canada are considering whether the composition of the crude, from North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation, may have played a role in the accident.
The February 2015 fiery derailment of a train carrying crude oil in West Virginia is one of three in the past year involving tank cars that already meet a higher safety standard than what federal law requires. Carrying crude oil from North Dakota, 26 cars left the tracks and 14 caught fire, including one that plunged into the Kanawha River. It forced the evacuation of hundreds of families and the shut down of two nearby water treatment plants.
Tesoro Corp and Savage Services want to spend up to $100 million to build a 42-acre oil-handling operation at Port of Vancouver sites, including the Terminal 5 rail loop and Terminal 4 marine-loading facilities.
Savage and Tesoro Corp. want to handle as much as 380,000 barrels of crude oil per day, hauled by train from the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota. Vancouver Port commissioners on July 23 approved leasing 42 acres to the companies, despite public testimony overwhelmingly against the oil-handling plan. Tesoro says it would supplant imported crude and compensate for declining Alaskan production, reports the Oregonian.
The Tesoro-Savage project would create an estimated 250 temporary construction jobs and, initially, 80 full-time jobs, according to Kelly Flint, general counsel for Savage. At peak operation, the companies would employ “110-ish” full-time workers, nearly all of them from the local market.
“We depend on the Columbia for moving freight, generating power, irrigating farms, fishing,” said Eric LaBrant, president of the Fruit Valley Neighborhood Association, which represents about 2,000 Vancouver residents living near the rails.
“Anywhere on the Columbia, an oil spill would cripple our economy,” he said.
If the current rates of growth continue then crude production in the Bakken will reach 1 Million barrels/day by the end of 2013, up from 200 Mb/d in 2012.
BNSF says a single dedicated train can carry approximately 69,000-81,000 barrels of crude. A unit train must have a minimum of 100 crude railcars for unit pricing.
The oil export terminal in Vancouver is expected to receive up to 360,000 barrels a day, nearly half the capacity of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline through the Midwest.
Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter has joined a group of Nobel laureates in an open letter calling Barack Obama to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. Opponents say it would encourage more tar sands mining that would damage the environment.
“An environmentally risky and economically dubious project that would have boosted the balance sheets of oil producers at the expense of American families.”
Tesoro says the crude from the Vancouver terminal would be transferred to barges or ships and sent to 19 refineries in California, Washington, Alaska and British Columbia.
The Cherry Point refinery in Pudget Sound is the fourth largest on the West Coast with 202,000 barrels of crude processed each day. The Vancouver WA and Port Westward OR oil terminals receive the Bakken oil by trains then move it to refineries by barge. Most of the barge traffic is expected to go to Cherry Point or San Francisco Bay.
Public records obtained by The Vancouver Columbian show that Tesoro and Savage expect to handle as much as 380,000 barrels of crude per day, in a Jan. 23 “statement of interest” document (Download .PDF).
The companies wrote in the 42-page letter to Mike Schiller, the Port of Vancouver’s general manager of operations.
“Implementation of this plan will occur prior to any public notice or the filing of permit applications in order to encourage early collaborative stakeholder communication, garner support for the Project, and reduce the risk of potential opposition,” it read.
Tesoro and Savage weren’t the only companies to come to Vancouver looking to take advantage of the U.S. oil boom, reports The Columbian. The port had already been getting numerous inquiries “around the movement of crude oil and liquid petroleum,” said Theresa Wagner, the port’s communications manager. So it decided to ask for formal proposals.
The state review could take a year, and the companies hope to start construction in 2014. The applicants say the oil terminal could bring $4.5 million in revenue to the Port of Vancouver annually and support 120 jobs.
The state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council would review the proposed crude oil facility and make a recommendation to Gov. Inslee, who has the final say.
Columbia Riverkeepers, told commissioners during a July 9 public hearing that they should demand a full public safety analysis now, before signing a lease, instead of kicking the issue to the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council.
Author and environmental activist Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org is also opposed to the terminal and toured the site of Tesaro/Savage’s proposed 380,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) crude-by-rail facility at the Port of Vancouver, Wash.
Oil by Rail to Oregon’s Port Westward
With little public involvement, a company called Global Partners has now started exporting oil from Port Westward, at the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery, about 15 miles downriver from Longview, on the Oregon side.
Commissioners at the Port of St. Helens, which leases the Port Westward site to Columbia Pacific, agreed to change its lease in October 2012 to allow the company to move products other than ethanol over the dock.
The Oregon DEQ is deciding whether to issue an air quality permit for the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery to both boost crude exports and restart ethanol production.
On August 19, 2014, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality approved an air pollution permit for Global Partners enabling it to move 1.8 billion gallons of oil annually. That’s enough to bring 50 oil trains per month through Portland and small towns along the Columbia River, reports the Oregonian. Earlier this year the agency fined Global Partners $117,292 because the terminal moved 300 million gallons of oil last year, surpassing its permitted amount of 50 million gallons.
Global Partners significantly increased crude oil storage and loading and now intends to receive and transload as much as 1,839,600,000 gallons per year. Under DEQ rules the significant expansion of the crude oil storage and transloading operation established a new source of air contaminant emissions for which the company needed to obtain a new permit.
Oil trains from the Bakken formation, in North Dakota, currently travel through the Columbia River Gorge, Portland, St. Helens, and Rainier, among other cities, to the oil export terminal at Port Westward Oregon, about 15 miles downriver from Longview, Washington.
The (now dead) Kinder Morgan coal export terminal proposal would also have used Port Westward. That proposal was scrapped in May, 2013. The Kinder Morgan coal terminal proposal for Oregon was upfront describing how they would bring coal in by trains along Highway 30.
The Oregonian reports that the Kinder Morgan coal export facility would have triggered 12 round-trip coal trains a day — arriving full, returning empty. Each would be 1- to 1 1/2-miles long, running 10 mph. Communities like Rainier, Oregon (above) would be particularly affected.
Ambre Energy says they would not bring coal in by trains to Port Westward. Instead, Ambre proposes to export about 8 million tons of coal by barge. No trains.
Barge traffic is gated by lock capacity on the upper Columbia while rail traffic is gated by the BNSF interstate railroad bridge, just West of the I-5 vehicular bridge.
If Amber wanted to expand their proposed Oregon barge terminal, they may have to use trains. While Ambre has denied they will bring coal in by trains to Port Westward, Ambre’s other proposed coal export facility, in Longview, WA, plans 60 million tons/year – all by rail. That proposal was strategically hidden from commissioners and the public. They originally proposed a coal facility in Longview only one tenth the size that they actually planned to build. Presumably, expansion (by train) could be in Oregon’s future, too.
Delaying trains for barge traffic headed to Port Westward is not in the game plan for railroads. Train delays in Portland-Vancouver are already greater than Chicago, one of the nation’s most congested, according to Washington’s 2009 rail plan.
Washington’s rail infrastructure, from Vancouver to Longview, is superior than Oregon’s infrastructure from Portland to Port Westward, and can accommodate much more rail traffic. If Vancouver Washington’s oil export terminal is approved, 4 trains, each more than a mile long, will run through Vancouver daily. That’s in addition to the coal trains.
Oregon’s Port Westward now supports an oil export facility, (now operational by Global Partners), and may also support the proposed coal facility (by Ambre).
Communities like Rainier Oregon could be virtually cut in two by rail traffic. It’s a battle between railroads and barges. Each hinders the other one. Commuters may be caught in the drive-by.
Sightline Institute’s The Northwest’s Pipeline on Rails (blog) has a comprehensive, region-wide review of all the oil-by-rail projects planned or currently operating in the Northwest. It does not count trains carrying coal down the Columbia.
A mudslide derailed a BNSF freight train near Everett last year and a coal train derailed north of Pasco, Washington, on July 2, 2012, spilling coal from 31 cars.
Vancouver’s proposed oil export-facility at Terminal 5 isn’t the only project planned for Vancouver’s 218-acre Terminal 5.
Global mining giant BHP Billiton planned to build an export facility at Terminal 5 to ship potash — a crop nutrient — primarily to Asian markets. In 2010, BHP, based in Melbourne, Australia, selected the Port of Vancouver’s Terminal 5 as its preferred site for potash export. Construction of the facility was expected to begin in 2014, “with operations commencing as early as 2017.”
Now the Potash deal is off.
BHP Billiton, the Australian mining giant, ended nearly four years of exclusive negotiations with The Port of Vancouver, reported The Columbian on June 20, 2014. BHP expected to ship 8 million metric tons of potash annually from the port. That would have more than doubled Vancouver’s cargo tonnage. The Port of Vancouver now handles about 5 million metric tons of cargo annually.
Tesoro and Savage Companies also plan to use a portion of Vancouver’s Terminal 5 to build the Northwest’s largest oil-by-rail terminal at the port.
Now it appears the Port of Vancouver is more likely to export explosive shale gas from terminal 5 rather than inert and benign potash.
The West Vancouver Freight Access project by the Port of Vancouver is investing in freight rail infrastructure to move “unit” trains through the Port without disrupting the BNSF yard in Vancouver, WA.
Portland’s terminal 5 has also operated a $48 million Potash export facility since 1997. The potash export business has been good for the Port of Portland and the region. It has generated little or no controversy.
Imports and exports at the Port of Portland total about $15.4 billion annually. The Port of Vancouver contains five terminals along with the largest mobile harbor crane in North America, for wind energy equipment. The average port district taxpayer pays about $78 per year to the Port of Vancouver on a home valued at $250,000. Their top exports include wheat, scrap metal, bulk minerals and pulp. Both ports can accommodate Panamax vessels (half full).
The future profitability of coal and oil exports are speculative. Wood exports, on the other hand, have been a sure thing recently, reports the Longview Daily News.
Wood Resources, a timber consulting group, reported that U.S. log exports to China skyrocketed 2,300 percent from 2007 to 2010. U.S. companies shipped 2.4 million metric tons of timber to China in 2010, up from 100,000 metric tons in 2007.
Fueled by China’s booming economy, Teevin Bros. is becoming a timber shipping powerhouse on the banks of the Columbia River near Longivew. The company is shipping 250 to 300 log truck loads of timber a day to California, Hawaii, Japan and China and is on a pace to export 280 million board feet by the end of this year. The Port of Longview ships close to 300 million board feet of logs a year.
Oil exporting from the Port of Vancouver and coal exporting from the Port of Longview will add more than a dozen new trains daily along the Columbia and through Vancouver, Washington. Real estate developers and environmentalists oppose the dramatic increase in rail traffic and the commitment to a fossil fuel economy.