The oil and gas industry creates ongoing, major stressors and risks on the Salish Sea and its peoples. Northwest Washington is an epicenter of the industry, hosting four oil refineries, five fracked gas power plants, and major shipping hubs for oil and gas imported to the U.S. from Canada by barge and tankers, pipelines, and trains.
We must stop the expansion of dangerous fossil fuels projects in our region as we face the risks of increased pollution, dwindling salmon and orca populations in the Salish Sea, and the climate crisis.
This requires both both protecting people and the local ecosystems from the hazards of shipping oil, gas, and coal through our communities and the Salish Sea, as well as phasing out our local demand for dirty energy.
RE Sources is a leading voice for environmental protection locally and works to mobilize our communities to counter the expansion of dangerous fossil fuel projects. We advocate for policies to accelerate the energy transition and strengthen protective standards for development. Working in partnership with organizations throughout the Salish Sea region, we inform the public and decision makers of project risks — from oil spills, to health and safety concerns to impact on fragile ecosystems.
Fossil fuel industries — including the two refineries and Cherry Point in Whatcom County and two at March Point in Anacortes — have been getting a pass to put nearby communities at risk and to harm air and water quality for over 60 years. Now is the time to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for their impacts, and respond to community supports for stronger protections for air, water, and public health and safety. Our goal is to ensure an updated approach to our region’s energy security, instead of encouraging a future of unrefined fossil fuel export projects — which leaves our communities with all of the risk and none of the reward.
In 2010, RE Sources uncovered a plan to build the largest coal export terminal in North America in Whatcom County at Cherry Point, one of seven terminals proposed in the last decade to ship thermal coal from the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming overseas to Asia, as domestic demand plummeted.
We helped build a broad coalition across Washington, Oregon, Montana, and British Columbia to resist seven proposed coal export terminals.
All seven terminals were defeated, including Gateway Pacific at Cherry Point in a landmark federal decision to uphold Lummi Nation’s treaty fishing rights in May 2016.
Though Montana coal power plants still supply a large portion of Northwest Washington’s electricity, in 2019 the Washington legislature passed the Clean Energy Transformation Act, requiring electric utilities to eliminate coal from our power supply by 2025.
Since then, Whatcom County placed a temporary moratorium on new fossil fuel transshipment infrastructure at Cherry Point until the Whatcom County Council could create lasting legal protections for people and the environment from impacts of fossil fuel projects. Currently, Whatcom County Council is poised to prohibit ALL new coal, oil, and fracked gas shipment terminals at Cherry Point.
Oil shipments by rail and tanker present a number of environmental and safety impacts and risk to our communities. From 1975 to 2015, a federal ban on crude oil export ensured that oil extracted in the U.S. would be refined in the U.S.
But now with the ban lifted, and Canadian interest in expanding tar sands bitumen export through the Salish Sea, oil expansion proposals are increasing the risk of oil spills and derailments, explosions, fires, polluting waterways, and air pollution.
RE Sources is a leading partner in Stand Up to Oil, a regional coalition opposed to new oil terminals while working to improve safety measures for continuing oil shipments.