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The amendment would allow for a broader range of fuels. It will give us the flexibility to change as the market changes. The amendment will not increase the existing rail traffic limit. 

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - The Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery on the Columbia River, north of Clatskanie.

For the past seven years, I've worked at the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery at Port Westward. I know the men and women who run the terminal and I'm proud of the work we do.

Recently, Global Partners LP asked the Port of Columbia County to amend their lease. Since then, I've heard a variety of misleading and just plain untrue statements about the plant. As someone with a firsthand view, I'd like to use this space to correct the record.

Let's start with basic facts. Global Partners purchased the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery (CPBR) in 2013. At that time, we were shipping oil through the terminal. When the market changed, we switched to ethanol. Opponents claim that we promised never to ship crude oil in the future. That's simply not true.

Here's what we did promise: to run the terminal in a safe, environmentally sound way. That's a promise we've kept. Since 2013, there hasn't been a single recordable spill. We've safely moved more than 1 billion gallons of product in that time.

Each day, my coworkers and I inspect the facility a dozen times. In addition, the facility has passed

more than 170 state and federal inspections. The rail line that serves the plant has one of the best

safety records in the business. We work closely with experts in marine shipping and emergency services to meet the highest levels of safety.

Some other facts: The lease already permits shipping oil through the terminal. The amendment would allow for a broader range of fuels. It will give us the flexibility to change as the market changes. The amendment will not increase the existing rail traffic limit. 

Most importantly, the additional flexibility could lead to the kind of investment that's good for jobs, for families and the community. My friends and family rely on the local economy and we want to see it prosper.

When Global bought the facility, the port officials said they would consider amending the lease if — and only if — Global met high standards for safety, performance and the ability to manage spills. Global has kept its end of the bargain.

I'm also proud of how Global has supported organizations in our communities - like the Clatskanie Little League, the Rainier Senior Center, the food bank, the Elks Veterans Bunker and many others.

For me, what this really comes down to is the future. On behalf of the men and women who work so hard every day, I urge the Port of Columbia County commissioners to support the lease amendment, and to help build a stronger future for Columbia County.

John Blodgett is director of safety and outside operations at the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery. He lives in Clatskanie and coaches Tiger Basketball at Clatskanie High School.

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