Press Release: Shell Withdraws Anacortes, Washington, Oil Train Proposal

October 6, 2016

Announcement follows two major blows to oil industry’s plans for West Coast oil train expansion

Bellingham, WA –  Earlier today, Shell (NYSE: RDS.A) announced that it will cease its efforts to secure an oil train facility in Anacortes, Washington. This great news for Skagit County, the Pacific Northwest and the climate follows on the heels of two other stinging defeats for the oil industry on the West Coast: 24 hours ago the San Luis Obispo, CA planning commission rejected an oil train proposal by Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) and two weeks ago, the City Council in Benicia, CA rejected a proposal by Valero (NYSE: VLO) to build an oil train facility. 

Combined, the Shell, Benicia and San Luis Obispo decisions represent at least 1,500 tank cars per week of explosive crude oil that were destined to run through our communities, and now will not. 

“Today’s announcement by Shell confirms a sea change in sentiment over the acceptability of allowing explosive oil trains through our communities,” said Matt Krogh of  “A few years ago, oil trains were the industry’s back-door approach to getting crude oil to the market. Today, communities and decision makers along the West Coast are slamming that door shut.”

Shell proposed to build a rail loop that would bring six one-mile long crude oil trains each week to its refinery. Shell’s plans would have meant an increase in dirty, dangerous oil trains that threatened critical waterways, schools, businesses, property values, public health and the safety of every community in the blast-zone

The proposal would have risked the safety of Skagit County residents in Mount Vernon and Burlington and the many uprail communities including Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Vancouver, Olympia, Spokane and the Columbia River Gorge, all of which are in the oil train blast-zone

The extreme oil filling these outdated and unsafe cars is not only more volatile and dangerous than conventional crude, but also far worse for the climate. 

Earlier this week the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Shell’s Anacortes proposal was released by the Washington Department of Ecology and Skagit County. Fierce public opposition to the project was expected at a series of upcoming public hearings: already, 35,000 people have written in with their concerns.

“The environmental review released this week painted a bleak and very realistic picture for Shell and the communities impacted by this proposal: it highlighted the unavoidable risk of an oil train derailment and fire,” said Alex Ramel of “When you have public outrage, precedent-setting rejections like the two we’ve seen in the past two weeks, and cities like Mosier, Oregon still reeling from the near catastrophe of this summer’s derailment, the writing is on the wall for oil trains.”