One day after coal export plans in the Pacific Northwest took a major hit, crude oil transport plans got a big boost, as the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality approves a key air quality permit for the Global Partners oil handling facility at Port Westward. The new permit from the DEQ allows for the facility near Clatskanie to move up to 1.8 billion gallons of crude oil from trains to barges, which then travel to refineries in Washington and California. That would equate to 50 mile-long unit trains moving through Columbia County each month, double the amount that the Pacific and Western railroad tracks can currently handle. Global Partners CEO Eric Slifka says that this new permit is a key component in an expansion of the facility at Port Westward, valued at $50 million to $70 million. Slifka says that this expansion would bring hundreds of construction jobs, along with a number of permanent jobs at the facility. He did not address the impacts of additional unit trains bisecting towns like Rainier, St. Helens and Scappoose.