There is much being made of the possibility of multiple oil export terminals being built on the pristine shores of Grays Harbor. And much should be made as this is a very drastic and potentially very hazardous situation.
I stand as a voice in opposition to the project for various reasons.
One of the major arguments in favor of such construction is that of the jobs such a facility will bring to the area. Crude oil storage does indeed bring a certain number of employment positions. But my question is how many jobs will there actually be?
In reviewing such facilities across the country, the number of jobs promised has always been grossly overinflated. Factoring in such things as the size and number of facilities to be built here, there cannot logically be more than 10 to 12 or perhaps 15 positions at the automated facilities.
Say, for the sake of argument, that there are 50. An important question to ask is: are those jobs, or any others, worth the cost of 10 to 20 times that number should an accident arise and petroleum is spilled into the harbor — a scenario which seems increasingly likely.
As to the vast amount of money that is said to be coming into this area from such an operation, we could just as well offer to store nuclear waste. We would likely be able to garner not only vast sums of money but the internal gratitude of a grateful nation for taking what no one else will. But would not that money simply go to the Port of Grays Harbor anyway? Would we, the city of Aberdeen and its good citizens see any of it?
Another point that I often hear is that at meetings of people opposed to oil storage on the harbor and the accompanying mile and a half long oil trains, one always sees the same people attend time after time. Really? Perhaps.
However, setting aside the fact that that is not literally true, if one turns the tables and were to attend meetings of supporters of the project, would one not see all the same people at those meetings, albeit probably a different group?
I have attended several of the meetings against oil storage and while most of the attendees are those that show up at all of the meetings, there is a constant stream of new faces.
The argument that since I drive a car that has an engine powered by gasoline, therefore I cannot be against the crude oil storage is a hollow and pointless one. It is true that I drive a vehicle that runs on petroleum fuel but had I the money to do so, I would change that situation in an instant. As my financial situation improves I shall do just that. I drive a gas powered car because I have no choice.
Additionally, all of the oil that comes here is destined for export on the open market. It is not sold to local refineries, but is pooled on the world oil market and sold there.
Lastly, petroleum is a dead technology and one with no future. It is only one of millions of commodities that can be transported to and from Grays Harbor. Support of multiple petroleum storage and shipping facilities is not in the better interest of the Grays Harbor area. The benefits are insignificant when weighed against the probable cost in money, lives and the livelihoods of thousands — a cost that will be paid by the entire area.
Alan Richrod lives in Aberdeen.