Port of Vancouver USA

Port of Vancouver USA will make the following adjustments to Tariff No. 6 effective August 1, 2022

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ-red3The Port of Vancouver USA is a fascinating and complex place where trains whistle, cargo moves and work gets done, all day, every day. We get lots of questions about who we are, what we do and why we do it. We’ve developed a list of frequently asked questions to address some of the most common queries and help people better understand our world and our role in the community.

If your questions aren’t addressed here, or there’s more you’d like to talk with us about, please feel free to contact us at 360-693-3611 or info@portvanusa.com

The port developed a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to help protect the health of the economy, our community and the environment. The CAP serves as a roadmap for the port to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through various policies and actions. The CAP provides a clear path for the port to reduce emissions consistent with state and federal targets.

Developing a CAP was identified as a key strategy in the port’s Strategic Plan and is another step in the port’s continuing commitment to environmental stewardship.

The port is part of a larger local, state, national and international community that is being negatively affected by climate change. Washington State is facing serious climate change impacts, including increased drought and wildfires, more extreme heat waves, and poorer air quality. These changes threaten our infrastructure, water supplies and the health of our communities.

As stewards of our shared environment, the port is committed to doing our part to help address the climate crisis.

The first step the port took to address GHG emissions was to understand the amount of GHGs discharged into the atmosphere and their sources by port activities. To do this, the port began the CAP process by developing a GHG inventory, which is an accounting of the port’s GHG emissions. This inventory allowed the port to assess current emissions, estimate future emissions, and set targets for emissions reductions.

Working with stakeholders, the community, port staff and tenants, the port researched and brainstormed a wide range of potential actions that might be used to reduce GHG emissions. The port then assessed potential GHG emission reduction strategies, conducting cost/benefit reviews to create a shortlist of achievable actions for further evaluation. Actions were evaluated and narrowed down through input from the community, tenants and port leadership. Criteria for these potential actions included GHG emission reduction potential, implementation costs and timelines.

This information was incorporated into the CAP, which includes a table of actions and strategies the port can take to meet its targets. Over the coming years, port staff will apply the identified GHG reduction actions and monitor progress made toward the targets.

Annual progress toward GHG reduction targets will be included in the port’s annual Sustainability Report. Reporting on climate initiatives are also envisioned to occur during Strategic Plan and budget planning workshops and reports. The port’s climate action webpage will also be updated periodically to reflect progress. To sign up for email updates, sign up here.

  • In 2020, the port engaged a consultant team to help in the development of a CAP. The consultant team is comprised of experts in the fields of climate change analysis and planning, public involvement and transportation from three consulting firms: Ramboll, WSP USA and Fehr & Peers.
  • The team will collect data and evaluate port operations that contribute to port GHG emissions and evaluate new actions or programs that could be implemented.
  • The port will provide opportunities for public involvement, which will include input from the community on GHG reduction strategies through an online feedback survey and a project email; input from tenants and customers through presentations and surveys; project updates through social media, the website and email; and through Commission meetings.
  • The CAP team will present the final plan to the Board of Commissioners in a workshop following the July 13 Commission meeting.
  • The final plan will be implemented by port staff following commission direction.
  • The CAP provides port commissioners and staff with a “menu” of specific actions to reduce GHG emissions.
  • The CAP analyzes and prioritizes potential GHG reduction strategies into an implementation plan. Port staff will apply these GHG reduction actions and monitor progress made towards the GHG reduction targets as identified in the CAP.
  • The port’s Sustainability Task Force coordinates sustainability efforts and is responsible for evaluating and improving the port’s programs. The Task Force will report out annually on the actions and progress towards GHG reduction targets.

Stakeholder feedback has been essential to the development of the port’s CAP. The port sought input from the public, port customers and tenants, port staff and leadership. Feedback was incorporated into the reduction targets and proposed climate actions, which are the backbone of the plan. Specific elements of the public involvement and stakeholder outreach for the CAP included a project webpage, tenant interviews, an informational postcard, online feedback form/survey, social media and notices, and several meetings and presentations at public commission meetings.

GHGs are gases that trap the sun’s heat. As more GHGs build up in the atmosphere, the earth’s temperature increases, contributing to climate change. GHGs are primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuel products, such as coal, natural gas and oil. Some negative consequences of climate change include more extreme weather events, wildfires and poorer air quality.

Some of the most common GHGs include:

  • Carbon dioxide
  • Methane
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Fluorinated gases
  • Water vapor

The port has been working on environmental stewardship initiatives for over a decade through our WE CAN! Sustainability Program. You can read more about our ongoing initiatives on our Clean Air webpage.

 

A Climate Action Plan, also known as a CAP, is a comprehensive plan that identifies specific actions that an organization, in this case the port, may take to reduce GHG emissions and meet the emission reduction goals as well as state and federal targets

Elements of a Climate Action Plan can include:

  • An inventory of GHG emissions
  • GHG reduction targets and goals
  • Proposed actions to reduce GHG emissions
  • Community outreach
  • Documentation

Climate Action Plans are different for every organization, but they are generally tailored to the specific organization and its business operations. In addition to identifying direct GHG reductions, the port’s CAP identifies and describes co-benefits that may occur as the result of a GHG reduction action, such as improved air quality, health benefits, operational cost savings, lower water use, and waste reduction.

  • A GHG inventory is an accounting of the amount of greenhouse gases that are discharged into the atmosphere and their sources.
  • Several important pieces of information must be determined: what geographic area is being examined (a defined area of study); within a specific time frame (when the GHG discharge took place); and what the potential GHG sources could be within the study area. All of this information is then identified, quantified and reported.
  • The inventory allows an organization or agency to assess their current emissions helping the organization set targets for emissions reductions.
  • The port completed a greenhouse gas inventory of 2019 port-owned and controlled activities (Scope 1 and 2 emissions). GHG emission sources from activities in and around the port (Scope 3 emissions) were included in the City of Vancouver’s GHG inventory of 2019 emissions.

On July 13, 2021, the  Board of Commissioners authorized Julianna Marler, CEO, to develop and implement the Climate Action Plan (CAP). The plan provides direction for port staff to implement work that supports the effort to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions derived from port activities. The implementation plan is as follows:

Implementation of the plan:

The Actions and Measures table in the CAP includes tiered actions and timelines for implementing strategies to reduce GHG emissions. Staff will recommend reduction actions during the port’s annual budget review and approval process, which typically begins in late summer, with adoption occurring in November of each year. The selected actions will be implemented in alignment with the port’s strategic plan.

Implementation timeline:

Certain actions are already underway and others will be implemented as soon as the commissioners approve the strategies during the annual budget review process.

Actions will continue to be implemented according to priority and subject to available resources and additional business considerations throughout the coming years in line with the port’s GHG emission reduction targets. The anticipated timelines for implementation are included in the Actions and Measures table in the CAP.

Tracking and reporting:

With the support of the port’s executive leadership, staff will be responsible for implementation, tracking actions and reporting progress. Annual progress toward GHG reduction targets will be included in the port’s annual Sustainability Report (typically released in April each year). Reporting on climate initiatives are also envisioned to occur during Strategic Plan and budget planning workshops and reports. The port’s climate action webpage will also be updated periodically to reflect progress.

Review and adjust:

This plan is a living document. Rising to meet the challenge of climate change will require the port to periodically review and add or adjust actions and measures, to make sure we take advantage of new technologies, best practices, and changing market conditions as we move toward our 2030 and 2050 targets. The ability to evaluate and adjust the document, actions and measures in a flexible and nimble way is essential to the success of meeting or exceeding our climate goals.

The CAP addresses GHG emissions from:

  • Port-owned and controlled activities (known as Scope 1 and 2 emissions). Scope 1 and 2 emissions are those that are associated with activities that the port owns and has full operational control over.
    • Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions, such as the port’s vehicle fleet and equipment fuel consumption.
    • Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions, such as emissions that result from the production of purchased energy (electricity, natural gas, etc.) from a utility provider.
  • Scope 3 emissions refer to other activities occurring in and around the port. Scope 3 GHG emissions are from sources not owned or directly controlled by the port but related to port activities. Examples of these activities include transportation of goods (trains, vessels, cargo handling equipment, trucks and harbor craft), energy use by port tenants (heating/cooling, lighting etc.) and employee commuting.

The Climate Action Plan will also identify and describe any co-benefits to air quality (i.e., reductions in pollutants) that may occur as the result of a GHG reduction action.

We are an independent public agency, established in 1912, with a mission of providing economic benefit to our community through leadership, stewardship and partnership in marine, industrial and waterfront development.

We manage and develop over 1,600 acres of public property with the primary purpose of marine and industrial development. Port property is home to more than 50 businesses that employ about 4,000 people who generate about $3.8 billion in annual economic impact across the region.

The port was formed more than a century ago to ensure that prime industrial and marine property on the waterfront was retained for public economic benefit. Today, the port serves as landlord for more than 1,600 acres with tenants and customers that move more than 8 million metric tons of goods each year. In addition, the port serves as a critically important developer of marine, industrial and commercial property to generate additional economic activity for the public benefit.

Port customers and tenants handle a broad range of goods and cargoes. Our geographic location and infrastructure, aided by our unique confluence of river, rails and roads make the port particularly attractive for moving international goods. The Port of Vancouver is also the furthest inland deep-water port on the Columbia River, allowing ocean-going vessels to cost-effectively load and discharge their cargoes. Ten percent of the nation’s wheat harvest moves through the Port of Vancouver, and the port serves as a key West Coast point of entry for Subaru vehicles and wind energy components. The port also handles large volumes of steel and scrap metal, corn, soybeans, copper, fertilizers and petroleum products such as diesel and jet fuel.

We’re developing 15 acres of ready-to-build industrial land through our Centennial Industrial Park to support advanced manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and other industries. We are also redeveloping a 10-acre site we own on the Columbia River. Located at the site of the port’s original 1920s warehouse at Terminal 1, this waterfront destination will feature a hotel, offices, shopping, dining, a public marketplace and more.

 

From a global perspective, the Port of Vancouver is a link in one of the most efficient shipping connections between the Midcontinent and the Pacific Rim. Our deep-water inland port features four miles of waterfront, connections to all seven Class 1 railroads in North America and two interstates, and offers two of North America’s largest mobile harbor cranes. We have 800 acres of improved property that includes 2.5 million square feet of warehouse space. We are also actively seeking tenants for Terminal 5, 82 acres of rail-served property available for a new high-volume mineral bulk facility.

Our currently developed industrial properties are nearly completely leased, and global trade across our marine terminals is brisk and ever-growing. To create even more economic opportunities and jobs, we have been pursuing improvements to the flow of goods as well as the development of additional marine and industrial properties. Our current work involves improving hundreds of acres of industrial property for current and future development. We also are actively partnering and investing to achieve redevelopment goals for Vancouver’s downtown waterfront. These projects all have tremendous promise for generating economic benefit for our community and are only made possible through long-term planning and partnerships.

Definitely. As we pursue our century-old mission of providing economic benefit for the public, we build our business plans by studying marketplace opportunities in relation to our properties under development. As we seek a diversity of tenants and customers, we always examine their financial stability, investment commitment and responsible operation, as well as their past record and future plans for safety and environmental stewardship. Finally, we consider the timing and sequence of tenants relative to the port’s overall business and financial flow. Our intent is to achieve steadily improving economic benefit to our community while protecting tenants, neighbors and the environment.

The port certainly supports green energy and is considered among ports as one of the leaders in embracing green energy. The port benefits greatly from tenant and customer diversification. Virtually every company and industry has cyclical ups and downs. Our approach is to seek a diverse range of tenants and customers to help us deliver consistent economic impact. For example, we are proud of our leadership importing wind turbine components on behalf of the three largest manufacturers, but that industry has faced tremendous ups and downs due to the availability of government subsidies.

Yes. In a state where 40 percent of all jobs are trade related, the port sees opportunity for jobs and economic activity by serving as a link in the flow of goods. The port sees additional opportunity in addressing our region’s severe shortage of available land for industrial development. Currently, the port and its tenants employ 3,900 directly and more than 24,000 indirectly.

The port is a profitable organization, which is good news for local taxpayers. This means the income generated from sources like tenant leases and vessel fees more than covers operating costs such as salaries, rents, utilities and business services. The port also invests deeply in capital improvements, much like a family invests in improvements to its home. These capital improvements are paid partly from income the port generates, and they also are paid by tenants and customers through fees, port district residents through taxes, and state and federal government agencies through competitive grant programs. These investments help make it possible for the port to deliver greater economic impact to the community for years to come.

The port considers itself part of the community and routinely welcomes input and suggestions from neighbors regarding its work and projects.  Members of the public can attend our twice-monthly commission meetings to provide public comment and can provide both email and written correspondence to staff and commissioners.  There are opportunities to interact with staff and the commissioners at public tours offered each summer as well as through the port lecture series offered each spring.  The port helps sponsor events in the community by partnering with organizations such as the Vancouver Downtown Association and Columbia Springs; as well as staffing tents and tables at events such as National Night Out and Booville with the Parks Foundation of Clark County. The port also employs a full-time community relations manager who attends neighborhood meetings and can be requested to give a presentation about the port to community groups and others wanting to learn more about the port.  The port recognizes that community input has been extremely helpful in improving traffic flow, abating noise, creating bike and pedestrian paths, and in sharing neighborhood priorities.  The port also works with advisory committees to help shape our projects – such as the Terminal 1 Advisory Committee.  In addition, our tenants and customers share our sense of neighborhood responsibility and actively support schools and community activities and by volunteering. 

Please call the port’s general phone number, 360-693-3611, which is staffed during normal business hours and managed by security personnel at other times. We also welcome inquiries or comments at info@portvanusa.com, which is monitored daily and comments are routed to the appropriate person or organization for response.

Washington state laws that established ports also allow them to levy taxes from property owners within the port district.  Some ports collect no tax, but have a very different role in their communities than the Port of Vancouver. Our port uses tax dollars to accomplish large projects that benefit our community such as river, road and rail infrastructure projects that help the port create more jobs and economic growth.

For more information, visit the port taxes page on our website.

The port is governed by a three-person board of commissioners, whose members are elected to six-year staggered terms. Commissioners hold official public meetings twice a month, and participate in other meetings and activities in between. Generally speaking, they dedicate about 10-20 hours a week to port business.

No.  Tax dollars cannot be used to pay staff salaries or salaries and expenses associated with our Board of Commissioners.

For more information, visit the port taxes section on our website.

The port receives leasehold excise tax when it leases public property to a private party or business. The leasehold excise tax – which takes the place of personal property tax – is used to pay for government services provided to local area residents. 

Commissioners are paid a $800 monthly stipend and $128 per day for port-related meetings, up to 120 meetings per year. They are also eligible for health benefits and can submit expenses for reimbursement. The port has a program similar to other ports where commissioners are eligible for additional compensation as the port meets certain business growth milestones and demands on the commissioners’ time, talents and expertise increase accordingly. The adjustment to port commissioner compensation is set per RCW 53.12.260.

Tax dollars can only be used for:

  • Payment of debt service on outstanding bonds. For the port this is typically general obligation bonds (GO bonds) which are issued by the port to accomplish multi-million dollar projects such as river, road and rail infrastructure.  These bonds are backed by the credit and taxing power of the port. GO bonds are issued with the belief that the jurisdiction (in this case the port) will be able to replay its debt obligation through taxation.
  • Generally speaking, GO bonds typically carry an interest rate that is less than revenue bonds because they are backed by the credit worthiness of the taxing district versus only port revenue.
  • Purchase of new assets (cranes, work trucks, security vehicles) or repair or improvement of existing assets (rail and dock repairs and improvements).
  • Environmental remediation – the removal of pollution or contaminants from land, air and water. This might include legacy contamination from property the port  purchases, remediates, and puts back into productive use. For example, through remediation efforts, the port has returned 270 acres of contaminated land to productive industrial use – creating new job-producing opportunities in our community.

For more information, visit the port taxes section on our website.

Commissioners hire a CEO who is charged with overseeing port operations and carrying out policies. In total, the port has about 120 direct staff, about half of which are focused on security and maintenance. The other half is focused on administration, finance, human resources, real estate, contracts, operations, sales and marketing.

Property owners in the port district invest in an economic engine that produces local jobs, stimulates local business activity, and generates taxes that support schools, roads and emergency services. The port and its tenants directly employ almost 4,000 people who generate about $753 million in wages and local spending on housing, food, goods and services. Combined, the port and its tenants pay more than $132 million annually in state and local taxes that support critical services like police, fire and schools. All told, the port generates $3.8 billion in economic value to the region.

Yes. Compared to privately-owned properties, citizens have far more transparency and input into the port’s governance, decision-making, finances and operations. As an independent public agency, our structure and operations require it. The port is governed by three elected commissioners who live in the port district. We welcome and actively seek public input, beginning with hosting public comment periods at each of the port’s twice-monthly meetings, and by making port representatives available for group tours and special meetings. We also reach out to neighbors to gain input and keep them apprised of port developments by attending meetings, giving presentations and distributing updates. Ultimately, the port considers itself part of the neighborhood and strives to operate as a good neighbor.

That idea surfaces regularly and is often discussed by our commission, each of whom is mindful of the tax burden on our citizens. However, the port currently relies on property tax proceeds to leverage other investments to improve and develop port property - and in return, create jobs.

For more information, visit the port taxes section on our website.

The Port of Vancouver receives about 27 cents per $1000 of assessed value. For example, a property valued at $350,000 would be assessed about $96 annually. The total amount collected annually from taxes is approximately $11.96 million. The port’s property tax allocation is the smallest of local taxing jurisdictions behind the library, county, state, city, and local schools. 

For more information, visit the port taxes section on our website.

Washington state port districts are required by RCW 53.20 to have an official “Comprehensive Scheme of Harbor Improvements and Industrial Development” to communicate with the public about management of port assets. Usually referred to as “the comp scheme,” it’s essentially a record of how the port is managing public land, facilities and infrastructure. Whenever there are changes to the comp scheme, the port must hold a public meeting and the Board of Commissioners must approve the changes. Sometimes, comp scheme changes are also required to go through processes such as the State Environmental Policy Act to identify potential environmental impacts and necessary mitigation.

By volume, our largest tenant is United Grain Corporation, which annually exports 10 percent of America’s wheat harvest to markets abroad. The port also serves as a primary port of entry for steel, Subaru vehicles and wind energy components.

As a West Coast, deep-water port with access to rail and road, we are ideally situated to trade with countries along the Pacific Rim. We also do business in many other parts of the world, including Europe, Australia and South America.

Yes. Hazardous products have been moving safely through the port for many years. Examples include gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, propane, butane, methanol, caustic soda and biofuels. These products are part of a diverse mix of cargoes and are handled by port tenants Andeavor, NuStar Energy and NGL Supply Company.

As a matter of practice, we perform a competitive market analysis of each leased property. Features and amenities of each site are taken into consideration as part of the market analysis. By state law, the port must receive fair market value for its property, protecting both taxpayers and private business interests in our community.

The port has a comprehensive Tenant Environmental Management Program, which includes pre-lease screening of potential tenants and their practices, periodic on-site reviews of tenant environmental protection practices, outreach and communication with tenants, and sharing best management practices used by other port tenants.

Careful consideration is given to environmental, safety and business factors when determining what cargoes move through the port. Each potential cargo is thoroughly analyzed by staff with expertise in safety, economics and environmental protection. All leases, which are approved by the Board of Commissioners, take these factors into account and require compliance with all laws and port standards.

Tenants pay annual building and ground lease rates and rail fees. Marine customers pay dockage, wharfage, service & facilities, storage and terminal handling fees for products moved through the port.

About one vessel a day or about 400 a year load or unload cargo at the port. Approximately 8 million metric tons of cargo is handled each year.

The port has more than 50 tenants across a broad range of industries. Combined, the port and its tenants employ more than 3,900 people, making the port the second-largest employee base in Clark County, next to Peace Health. An additional 24,000 jobs are indirectly created by the port’s $3.8 billion annual economic activity.

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NEWSLETTERS AND REPORTS

Port of Vancouver USA

3103 NW Lower River Road, Vancouver, WA 98660

PHONE 360-693-3611 FAX 360-735-1565 EMAIL info@portvanusa.com