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Latinos Fight Oil Trains in Vancouver WA

OneAmerica at People's Climate March

Part of the series Communities of Color ‘Front and Centered’ this Earth Day

In Vancouver, Washington, OneAmerica joined forces with a broad coalition of advocates working to prevent a new oil terminal in their community. This terminal, the Tesoro-Savage Vancouver Energy Terminal, would take oil off rails and put it on boats. Not only does the creation of new fossil fuel infrastructure conflict with our Principles for Climate Justice, this terminal would also put more explosive trains on Washington’s rails, increasing threats to communities in Clark County and across the state.

The would-be oil terminal’s fence-line community is Fruit Valley, where many of Vancouver’s Latino residents live. Nearly half of neighborhood residents live below the poverty level, compared to 18.7% of Vancouver residents in general. This community faces economic and linguistic barriers to health care and other resources that would be necessary to protect themselves from chronic negative impacts to air quality or to respond in the event of an oil spill or explosion. The state council that reviews applications like this recently released a review of the proposed terminal, called the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, and found that residents of this neighborhood would be among the first and hardest hit if an accident occurred at the terminal.

Even without explosions, the terminal would diminish quality of life in this neighborhood under business-as-usual. It could double the amount of rail traffic across the state, forcing these communities to bear the brunt of trains almost constantly running through their neighborhood. Trains run on diesel and emit a type of pollution known as PM 2.5, which causes major damages to respiratory health.

OneAmerica has joined others at the Stand Up to Oil Campaign in opposing the country’s largest proposed oil terminal, to protect the health and safety of Vancouver’s immigrant communities, and to stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Ellicott Dandy is Economic & Environmental Justice Advocacy Manager at OneAmerica