In another sign that crude-by-rail is a losing proposition, Shell Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes today announced that it is dropping its plans to construct a crude-by-rail facility. Originally proposed in 2014, community opposition and legal challenges forced Shell and Skagit County to undertake a full environmental and public health review under the State Environmental Policy Act. That delay, growing local and regional opposition, and uncertain economics contributed to Shell’s decision.
“This is an extraordinary victory for the people of Skagit County and Washington State,” said Kristen Boyles, an attorney at Earthjustice who represented conservation groups in their legal challenge. “Having a full and transparent public process exposed everyone — including apparently Shell itself — to the risks and harms of this project.”
Skagit County joins two California communities — Benicia and San Luis Obispo — celebrating decisions to stop further crude-by-rail facilities in the last month.
“The writing was on the wall for Shell,” said Alex Ramel of Stand.earth. “Public opposition to this project was strong and getting stronger in communities along the rail routes. The environmental review released this week was bad news for Shell: it highlighted the unavoidable risk of an oil train derailment and fire. In the last two weeks two oil trains projects have been denied by city and county decision makers in California. From California to the Northwest, communities are saying no to dangerous oil trains. This project was going to be stopped, it was only a matter of when.”
“Communities from Skagit County to Spokane can breathe a little easier knowing they won’t be subjected to more dangerous oil train derailments, oil spills into our waterways, pollution, and blocked traffic. There is overwhelming opposition to these types of projects, and today we celebrate the power of people,” said Rebecca Ponzio, Washington Environmental Council. “This is a win for our communities, our waterways, and our climate.”
“This is a historic victory for the people of Skagit and across Washington,” said Stephanie Hillman of the Sierra Club. “The people of Washington continue to lead the charge to keep dirty fuels in the ground, with tens of thousands of people blocking this dirty and dangerous project.”
Media contact: Rebecca Ponzio, Oil Campaign Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 206.240.0493