City of Vancouver Puts Six-Month Hold on New Bulk Fossil Fuel Facilities

The construction of any new large-scale fossil fuel infrastructure businesses in the city of Vancouver has been halted, at least temporarily.

That decision was preceded by nearly two hours of public testimony, during which only one citizen spoke out in opposition to the temporary ban. Vancouver Audubon Society submitted written comments and verbal testimony in favor of the ban.

The moratorium was initially approved on June 8, by emergency ordinance, which required the council to hold a public hearing and a full vote within 60 days in order to uphold the ban.

That ordinance was introduced by Councilor Laurie Lebowsky, who said she wanted to give city staff time to craft a cohesive resilience plan without any new companies trying to obtain permits for a bulk fossil fuel business ahead of any changes.

“I want to do what we can to support a resiliency plan to promote safety and livability of our city,” said Lebowsky, “and focusing economic development on safe and renewable energy sources and green businesses.”

Under the moratorium, fossil fuels are defined as petroleum or petroleum-based products, as well as natural gases such as propane, methane, and butane. It would exempt byproducts such as fertilizer, paint, asphalt, plastics, and denatured ethanol.

A “large-scale” fossil fuel facility is defined as those engaged in the wholesale distribution, extraction, refinement or processing of fossil fuels, the bulk movement of fossil fuels, coal storage, coal power plants, natural gas processing facilities, storage and handling of natural gas, or bulk storage of more than two million gallons of any combination of fossil fuels.

Direct-to-consumer fossil fuel businesses, such as gas stations and propane refueling are exempt from the moratorium.

The city of Portland and the Port of Vancouver have already passed their own bans on new bulk fossil fuel terminals, and the city of Vancouver has taken a stance against increasing shipments of bulk crude on trains that run along the waterfront and through the west side of the city.

Published by Susan Saul

Conservation Chair, Vancouver Audubon Society

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