We in XRPDX and our allies have fought for years against expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure. Finally, after years of appeals and delay by the Western States Petroleum Association, Portland Business Alliance, Oregon Business and Industry, and Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council, the City of Portland is getting ready to implement the Portland Fossil Fuel Terminal Zoning Amendments (FFTZA) banning new or expanded bulk fossil fuel infrastructure. As usual, the decision-makers in City Hall need a good, firm push from the grassroots for climate justice and protection from environmental catastrophe. So let’s testify! Talking points and instructions on how to send in your oral or written testimony on or before June 30 are below.
These amendments are a necessary first step toward averting catastrophic impacts from the forecasted magnitude 9.0 earthquake. As a recent report from Multnomah County and the City of Portland makes clear, Portland’s Critical Energy Infrastructure (CEI) hub poses catastrophic risk of spills, explosions, and toxic fumes in the event of the Cascadia Earthquake. Let’s help the City government protect the health of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers and our communities by stopping the reckless expansion of dangerous infrastructure.
These amendments are important public policy, in line with Portland’s Climate Emergency Declaration, statewide planning goals, the Governor’s executive order on the climate crisis, and recent legislation to protect communities from risks posed by fossil fuel storage in Portland. This struggle has inspired Whatcom County in NE Washington to follow Portland and enact historic bans on new fossil fuel infrastructure.
The City Council should hold the line, and not weaken the amendments in exchange for industry promises, or make any allowance for further fossil fuel storage expansion. Fossil fuel terminal owners should retrofit their facilities, but this should not come at the expense of further increasing risk to our communities and watersheds from reckless expansion.
Council should go further to strengthen the amendments, clarifying potential loopholes and establishing enforcement and safety mechanisms for renewable fuel storage. Currently, terminal owners are not required to state how they use their storage tanks, and could potentially use this ambiguity to free up space for more fossil fuels. Likewise, any renewable fuel storage development must come with mandatory reporting requirements to prevent more fossil fuel storage being created under the guise of renewables.
This is just the beginning. Council should commit to further action to prevent catastrophe in the CEI hub by mandating seismic retrofits, and requiring the phaseout of fossil fuel storage in line with reducing demand.
Council must set a policy agenda toward 100% electrification. Renewable, or bio-fuel, expansion increases seismic risks in the short and long term if it does not replace fossil fuel storage. Zenith Energy, for example, moved as much or more crude in 2021 as any year prior, even as it began moving biodiesel as well. Council should avoid this possibility by moving toward full, citywide electrification—not more combustion.
Sign up for the Fossil Fuel Terminal Zoning Amendments hearing on Thursday, June 30 at 2 PM, a hybrid in-person and online meeting. We need your support by signing up to testify.
To testify before City Council in person or virtually:
- Easy sign-up form to testify on June 30 HERE; or
- Visit the Auditor’s Office on the first floor of City Hall, Room of 130; or
- Call 311 to sign up over the phone.
Registration for virtual testimony closes one hour before the Council meeting.
Written testimony may be submitted through the Map App until July 7 or via U.S. Mail before the close of the hearing on June 30th to:
Fossil Fuel Terminal Testimony
1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 130
Portland, OR 97204