Questions about Zenith LUCS to City Council

[These questions were submitted in writing to the Portland City Council prior to Lynn Handlin’s testimony on December 14, 2022.]

In Zenith vs City of Portland, the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals determined that Zenith’s 2021 LUCS decision was a quasi-judicial decision, meaning that this LUCS decision should have included public involvement in line with the Portland City Code, chapter 33 , section 730. Why was this ignored? How will you remedy this?

Even if it were true that the City Council (or the Bureau of Development Services) is not legally required to have public input for issuing a LUCS, why don’t you think that the City (or BDS) is morally required to have public hearing on a topic that critically impacts residents’ health and safety?

How can you approve this land use permit when you do not yet have a policy for renewables? What proof do you have that Zenith will actually reduce emissions by 80%, given the testimony at the renewable hearings?

If modeling and market prove to be wrong, what is to stop Zenith from using this as an excuse to keep moving oil and expanding? Why not do something verifiable rather than renewable fuel modeling that hasn’t been proven, which will lock in diesel as opposed to transitioning to clean energy and public transportation?

Given impending earthquakes and possible derailments, how do renewables address the dangers spelled out in CEI HUB seismic risk analysis? Don’t renewables still burn, spill, pollute and kill?

How can you justify permitting dangerous oil transport and open venting of toxics in our City?

What evidence do you have that Zenith is and will be in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan?

Is it responsible leadership to make policy based on unsubstantiated future promises?

Given the urgency required to address the climate crisis by leaving fossil fuels in the ground, how do you justify ignoring the opposition of the community and gambling on five more years of harmful oil trains based solely on promises from untrustworthy players who have repeatedly lied to regulators?

What happens when Zenith goes back on their promises? Knowing that DEQ rarely revokes a permit and the only enforcement mechanism is a fine, what is going to deter them from continuing business as usual since they’ve paid penalties in the past?

How do the benefits outweigh the dangers of Zenith’s exports for the next five years?

How does Zenith foster what the Comprehensive Plan describes – a healthy environment that sustains people, neighborhoods, fish and wildlife? The core questions are: who benefits from this investment, who is burdened by it, and who pays and who decides?

Did you consult the surrounding communities as required by the Comprehensive Plan?

What did you do to consult with the Tribes?

How did you consult youth?

Legal experts say the deal you made has loopholes you can drive trains through. Is that OK? What about upstream land use implications of renewables? There is a big difference between virgin vs waste feedstock and a big difference between 95% renewable vs 5% renewable – diesel is diesel regardless.

A lot of language for regulation is really about fuels that are being bought and sold. If Zenith does not purchase the product that they transport, there is an enforcement loophole – where is accountability for Zenith – when it’s not their job to manage the content of fuel?

How can business interests trump public health and safety?

Questions specifically for City Commissioner Dan Ryan:

How can you say, “It is time to stop kicking our declarations down the road of intention and start acting with the urgency needed at this critical time” while allowing Zenith to increase emissions for at least 5 more years under the guise of promising that they will reduce emissions in the future? In response to recent business concerns about health and safety, you quickly agreed to meet and RESET the Central Eastside Industrial District. For years we have shared our concerns about the health and safety impact of Zenith and the CEI Hub. So what about a RESET Zenith and the CEI Hub meeting with us and vulnerable citizens?

The city’s Comprehensive Plan has explicit language regarding community involvement, stating that the City works as a “genuine partner with all Portland communities and interests, providing meaningful opportunities to participate in and influence all stages of planning and decision-making.” Knowing that tens of thousands of people have expressed their concerns about Zenith, why did you make a back door deal with them, betraying our trust and violating the comprehensive plan?

If Zenith is not planning on changing anything for the next 5 years, what would be the reductions each year? Is the oil going to suddenly stop overnight on the 5-year anniversary?

About Lynn Spitaleri Handlin

Organizing member of Extinction rebellion pdx, founding member of Cascadia Magical Activists, loves doing habitat restoration for fun.


A Spark, a Seed, a Beginning

Testimony to Portland City Council: Rescind the new LUCS!