Pacific Northwest Shipping Campaign

orcaFriends of the Earth has maintained an active presence in the Pacific Northwest for over 30 years covering a broad range of environmental issues. Our current efforts focus on protecting human health and the marine environment associated with the maritime trade. Vessels, and the ports and refineries in the Northwest that serve them, emit a staggering amount of air, water, and climate pollution, impacting the increasing number of endangered marine species and those who eat from, live and work near, recreate in, or simply care about Puget Sound and its marine environment. The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma comprise the third largest container port complex in the United States.  The Port of Vancouver, British Columbia is the largest container port in Canada; equivalent to Seattle and Tacoma combined. Taken together, these ports make the Strait of Juan de Fuca one of the busiest waterways in North America, exposing people and marine life to a variety of risks. In the Northwest, we work to protecting communities, wildlife, and the ecosystem in and around Puget Sound and the Olympic Coast from increased water, air and climate pollution and harm associated with escalating marine traffic and port development.

Image credit: © Fred Felleman


Gateway to Extinction: Another Exxon Valdez waiting to happen?

On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker hit the Bligh Reef off the coast of Alaska, releasing more than 11 million gallons of heavy crude oil into the ecosystem. The oil, equivalent in volume to 17 Olympic sized swimming pools, coated 1,300 miles of Alaskan coastline.

Twenty-five years later, a new infographic by Friends of the Earth and Healthy Planet/Healthy People shows how the completion of currently proposed fossil fuel export terminals and pipeline projects could make the Pacific Northwest -- from the San Juan Islands to the Columbia River -- a likely next site of another horrible and highly preventable oil spill tragedy.

Gateway to Extinction fossil fuel export infographic

Click for hi-res image or pdf.

"Gateway to Extinction," a detailed map of proposed Northwest fossil fuel exports, shows how the approval of these export projects would significantly increase transport of coal and crude oil by rail and tanker throughout the region, exponentially raising the risk of another Exxon Valdez.


Key takeaways:

  • An additional 3,833 vessels would be added to the Northwest region annually -- 1347 ships in Juan de Fuca Strait (21% increase), 314 additional ships (383% increase) in Grays Harbor, and an additional 2172 ships (153% increase) on the Columbia River.

  • The proposed tripling of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline alone would result in an additional 350 oil tankers plying the region.

  • If all of the coal and oil export terminals are built, it would mean the export of an additional 143 million metric tons of coal annually and 1.7 million barrels of oil per day from the region.

  • While the State of Washington has agreed to consider the cumulative environmental impacts of the three coal export terminals under state law, the Obama administration through its Army Corps of Engineers has refused to do the same analysis under federal law. In addition, Washington State has yet to propose a similar cumulative impacts analysis for all of the 10 proposed oil export projects in the region.

  • According to the Sightline Institute, if all of the proposed export terminals are approved, the carbon footprint of the fossil fuels would equal 5 Keystone XL pipelines.

Click here to access a table detailing fossil fuel transport via rail and ship by the numbers.

Infographic highlights:

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