Crude Oil Trains

Transport of Hazardous Materials by Rail

Lake Pend Oreille | Pend Oreille River

Crude oil trains pose inherent risks for our community

Our watershed faces increasing threats from crude oil that is carried by rail through our communities and sensitive ecosystems on their way to refineries or port facilities on the western coast of the US.

​Oil trains pose inherent risks including increased long-term pollution and the potential for catastrophic environmental impacts from accidental derailments or explosions.

In response to proposals for new oil-by-rail projects in the Pacific Northwest, we have advocated for comprehensive environmental reviews that study all potential threats associated with these projects.

We work to ensure that the interests of our watershed and its residents are included in a mine-to-port assessment to determine whether these facilities should be permitted.

We encourage all residents of the Lake Pend Oreille region to stay informed about oil-by-rail issues and to participate in the review process for all the proposed oil-by-rail projects.

Oil by Rail proposals to increase crude oil shipments continue to compound our rail worries in North Idaho. The shipping of Bakken crude oil through our communities and sensitive ecosystems leave us with compounded threats of pollution from hazardous materials transported by rail plus additional public health and safety concerns.

​As part of a growing coalition across the Northwest, our team is committed to tracking this issue and speaking up for the rights of our Lake Pend Oreille communities.

Tesoro Savage Oil Terminal

Project Highlight

​If permitted, the Tesoro Savage oil terminal would have been the largest one of its kind in North America. Located in Vancouver, Washington, the proposed terminal sought to ship over 131,000 barrels of crude oil per day down the Columbia River. This would have resulted in an additional 5 oil trains per day traveling through downtown Sandpoint every day.

In January, 2018, Governor Inslee of Washington rejected the Tesoro Savage proposal after a unanimous recommendation from the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC).

Tesoro Savage has decided not to appeal the Governor’s decision. The Tesoro Savage oil terminal proposal received the most public comments in Washington State history. Your voice matters and is powerful!

Protecting our Community

Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper is committed to protecting our watershed, its people and its resources. We believe our communities have a strong voice in oil-by-rail issues and a right to be heard.

As part of a growing coalition, we have been raising awareness and taking direct action on rail issues since 2011. LPOW will stay involved in oil-by-rail advocacy as long as this issue threatens our well-being and quality of life in the Pend Oreille Basin.

Our team has worked diligently to inform citizens about this issue and encourage grassroots advocacy through public comment periods, petitions and sign-on letters to state and federal officials.

Public involvement in this issue is key, and will help protect our communities from the negative impacts of dangerous rail traffic in the future.

​To stay updated and to get involved, please submit our contact form.


Sandpoint Oil by Rail Resolution
Read the City of Sandpoint’s resolution to protect its citizens and natural resources from the potential negative impacts of increased oil-by-rail traffic.

Off the Rails – Forest Ethics Report
This Forest Ethics report details combined potential impacts of oil-by rail and coal proposals. *Note – the number of coal and oil proposals has changed since this report was published.

Runaway Risks
Oil Trains and the Government’s Failure to Protect People, Wildlife and the Environment.

Federal safety recommendations for Oil-by-Rail transport: What they mean for taxpayers.

Types of Crude Oil
EPA definitions of class A-D oils and their characteristics.

Watch a September 5, 2013 investigative report from NBC News on how unsafe the crude oil trains are that roll through our communities everyday: Danger on the tracks: Unsafe rail cars carry oil through US towns.

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