In another sign that crude-by-rail is a losing proposition, Shell Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes 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.
“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, Oil Campaign Director at Washington Environmental Council. “This is a win for our communities, our waterways, and our climate.”
“Communities have been working toward this victory for the past two years,” said Crina Hoyer, Executive Director of RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. “When we fought for a full environmental and public health review, we did so because oil by rail threatens the health and safety of communities all along the rail lines. We are proud of the strong citizen voices and grassroots efforts that are defeating dangerous fossil fuel projects up and down the West Coast.”