Leavitt staying neutral on oil resolution until after public hearing

The Vancouver City Council has the votes to pass a resolution pledging to fight any proposals that would result in an increase of Bakken crude oil being hauled through Clark County, specifically the Port of Vancouver’s plans to have the Northwest’s largest oil-handling facility.

Five of seven members of the council support the resolution.

Councilor Bill Turlay said he’ll wait to decide how to vote until after a June 2 public hearing. Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, who has been out of town and missed Monday’s workshop on the resolution, e-mailed me today and said he’ll wait to hear from citizens before deciding how to vote, as well.

Here’s his complete statement


I (and no doubt, council members) have received much informal testimony and commentary over the past several months — via emails, conversations on our streets, and at citizens communications forums. That testimony has largely been impassioned opposition (for numerous reasons) to the proposed project, to oil-by-rail, to fossil fuels; criticism of the Port of Vancouver Commissioners for entering into a land lease agreement for this sort of project; and inquiry as to what action their city elected officials would be taking.

As city elected representatives, our citizens expect that we embrace a broad scope of duty for the safety and welfare of our community. We have again responded to that responsibility in this specific matter, having provided exhaustive EIS scoping recommendations, agreeing to intervene in the EFSEC process, and attending numerous community conversations. Now, the City Council is considering a formal resolution of position.

I offer my commendation to the council subcommittee that has prepared a resolution for broader council consideration. It appears to be thorough and comprehensive. The resolution, as presently presented has certain merit, in my opinion. It is reasonable and warranted to express reservation about the current condition of oil-by-rail commerce. Rail, like most infrastructure investment in America, is needing immediate attention. Our infrastructure is dated, deteriorating and costing our County jobs and economy. I agree with and wholeheartedly support our Senator Cantwell’s ongoing advocacy for enhanced rail system investments and expressed concerns for the safety of our communities given the dramatic increases in rail commerce. This is the sort of leadership we deserve from our local federal elected leadership. Stated support from representatives of the oil industry, BNSF, and the Port of Vancouver for lobbying in Washington DC of stronger attention to rail commerce is also encouraging. I’m certain that minimizing the risk of any sort of spill or accident — whether onsite or during transport — is of top priority to all of these entities and their employees.

However, given that the city council has agreed to hold formal public hearings on this matter, I will appropriately withhold from formulating my “final” position on this resolution until I have heard and considered testimony from the citizens of Vancouver. My intent is to insure that each and every citizen of Vancouver feels comfortable with and recognizes that there is value in participating in the public hearing, regardless of their opinion on this matter.


Timothy D. Leavitt| Mayor

Mayor/City Manager’s Office                                 

P.O. Box
1995 • Vancouver, WA98668-1995

P: 360.487.8629 | F: 360.487.8625

Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at stephanie.rice@columbian.com or 360-735-4508.

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