Crude Bailout: How billionaires are counting on Portland, Ore., to save their tar sands investments

A report released today by Center for Sustainable Economy (CSE), “Crude Bailout: How Global Partners’ and Zenith Energy’s Oil Terminals Subvert Democracy, Endanger Human Life and Health, and Pollute the Planet,” reveals how billionaire investor, Koch brothers ally, and President Donald Trump legal backer Richard A. Kayne and former President Obama’s U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner are collaborating to get tar sands crude to market — by delivering tar sands crude-by-rail to export terminals in Oregon. The two proposed crude oil terminals—one financed by Kayne (Global Partners in the Port of Columbia County, OR), and the other created by Geithner’s Warburg Pincus investment firm (Zenith Energy Management, in the Port of Portland in an earthquake subduction zone) in a region that is overdue for a major quake.

“Our health and safety is being put at extreme risk in order to turn a profit for billionaire Trump supporter Richard Kayne and former Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to prop up bad investments in the world’s dirtiest crude,” said Daphne Wysham, Climate Justice Program Director with CSE. “Successful grassroots campaigns opposing tar sands pipelines across North America and Geithner’s and Kayne’s pursuit of profit at any cost is resulting in the extremely hazardous transport of tar sands crude by rail to Oregon ports, putting everyone along the rail lines from Alberta to Port Westward and beyond at risk.”

Global Partners, backed by Kayne, operates key junctions in North Dakota where crude is transferred from pipelines and trucks to unit trains destined for Portland, OR, and other outlets. Heavy oil shipments surged from Canada through North Dakota to Portland after Zenith bought the Arc Logistics terminal in late 2017. The first shipments went to a company in China that is heavily invested in tar sands.

The CSE report further reveals:

  • Some aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) on the two terminal sites in Portland and Port Westward are 40 to over 70 years old.
  • Oil tanks that share structural vulnerabilities with the Zenith or Global Partners terminals have collapsed and polluted surrounding rivers and drinking waters.
  • Campaign contributions both corporations have made to elected officials and candidates on both sides of the aisle in order to ensure support of their efforts, including over $100,000 from Global Partners to state and local policymakers in Oregon.
  • The lack of comprehensive, coordinated, publicly protective federal and state regulatory oversight of these operations.
  • The more than $1 million in fines paid by Zenith Energy and Global Partners for violating safety and environmental laws at transloading stations and tank farms in  seven states.

The Material Research, L3C, team developed the report on behalf of CSE. Material Researchers included Rick Hind, Larry Kilroy, Connie Murtagh, Caroline Pryor and Jim Vallette.