Demands of Zenith: Transition from Doom to Bloom

[On April 29, 2023, these demands were read aloud by Margaret Butler during the “Doom to Bloom” protest across from the gates of the Zenith Energy facility, as the third action of The Spring Rebellion in Portland, Oregon.]

  1. Immediately begin to work with community representatives and the neighborhood associations in impacted areas to adequately address public health and safety concerns.
  2. Secure risk bonding so that Zenith Energy does not profit from our endangerment and leave the residents of Portland, Multnomah County, and Oregon to pay for the immense costs of a disaster (train derailment, earthquake, etc.).
  3. Cease self-reporting emissions estimates under AP-42; use the more accurate EPA methods 204 and 235 with actual emissions measurements by an independent entity.
  4. Following the city’s policy of not exporting and transitioning from fossil fuels, bring in renewable fuels only to serve the regional market for a short period until a transition to clean, renewable energy. No exports of fuels that will burn and contribute to climate chaos at a time when we need to eliminate GHG emissions.
  5. Renewable diesel has a similar chemical composition to petroleum diesel with the same risks of spills, fires, toxic releases, and with about the same or even higher in terms of carbon intensity in many cases. Respect the public’s right to know both the types and source of the feed stocks for renewable diesel, the fuels used for hydrogenation, and the alternative land usage values.

Spring Rebellion Sample Letter to Editor

[Please adapt and personalize this sample letter to the editor and send it to your local newspaper or neighborhood association newsletter.]

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on March 20 we must stop new oil, gas, and coal development now. Global temperatures will stop rising if we slash heat-trapping emissions, starting now. Here in Portland and Oregon, our public institutions and private corporations must step up to the task. Extinction Rebellion PDX, with other allied organizations, is challenging them to do that.  

We are launching a three-part Spring Rebellion campaign. First, along with Third Act, we are demanding that banks, specifically Wells Fargo among many others, divest themselves from fossil fuel companies. Second, in support of OPAL (Organizing People/Activating Leaders) Environmental Justice Oregon, we are demanding that TriMet work toward making public transportation (buses and light rail) fareless in order to encourage ridership and thus reduce emissions by private vehicles. And third, we are continuing our effort with others to shut down Zenith Energy, the fossil fuel storage and transshipment facility that sits on the Willamette River in an earthquake-vulnerable liquefaction zone in NW Portland.  

Time is running out. To get the details of and join us for our late April actions, go to our website at xrpdx.org.

[Image credit: annie cabeckstany]

Report Back: Scrub the Hub activists bring the truth to City Council

By Diana Meisenhelter

On February 8, 2023, over 50 citizens, dressed in red and led by Scrub the Hub coalition, showed up with small gavels shaped like oil trains with handwritten messages at City Hall. The group asked the Council to rescind the most recently granted LUCS to Zenith Energy, arguing that it is not compatible with the City’s Comprehensive Plan.  

Monday’s news of the horrific toxic train catastrophe in Ohio coupled with the devastating earthquake in Turkey were very much on people’s minds as they urged City Commissioners to prioritize public health and safety over private profit. The CEI Hub and Zenith’s facility greatly increase the level of potential disaster as documented in the County’s CEI Hub Risk Analysis. The City has refused to respond to long-standing community concerns about seismic risk, derailments and spills, lack of emergency preparedness, air pollution, and climate justice. 

Harlan Shober from Extinction Rebellion testified: “I was in this room when Council voted to ban expanding fossil fuel infrastructure. Then I watched Zenith expand its capacity many times over – all without proper permits. [In 2021], when they needed a Land Use Compatibility Statement, you recognized that their operations don’t fit with Portland’s plan, and you denied the LUCS. Zenith appealed but lost at every legal turn. Then, in what to many felt like a betrayal, you snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and granted Zenith a LUCS based on their promise to convert to renewables in five years. All the evidence and testimony from neighborhood associations, social justice groups, congregations, and climate organizations counted for nothing.” 

The only member of the Council not physically present, Commissioner Rubio replied virtually to today’s testimony saying that the City did “not have the authority to rescind the LUCS.” She added that Zenith’s promise to move to renewable energy is “an alignment in the right direction we want to go” despite repeated scientific and public testimony challenging the City’s underlying assumptions about renewables. She did not answer other questions raised in annie’s testimony.

A January 2023 letter to the council from over 20 climate justice organizations noted: The Land Use Board of Appeals found that Zenith’s 2021 LUCS decision was a “quasi-judicial” decision. As a quasi-judicial decision, the October 2022 LUCS decision should have included public involvement in line with Portland City Code, Chapter 33, Section 730. The letter went on to document that Oregon Administrative Rulings (OAR 340-018-0050) clearly state a local government may withdraw or modify its LUCS any time prior to the issuance of the DEQ air quality permit. 

Leaders of the action point to the undemocratic non-responsiveness of the City to public health and safety concerns in two recent back room deals with industry. Renewable diesel has the exact same chemical composition as diesel and poses most of the same risks. Local scientists question the models behind industry claims that renewables will lead to reduced emissions. 

“The Scrub the Hub coalition is here today to make sure Portlanders’ worries concerning Zenith’s dangers get the attention they deserve. We are here because we refuse to be ignored. We are here to tell City Council that it doesn’t matter who holds the gavel… listen to the people,” annie capestany concluded in her testimony. 

XRPDX Statement on WV v. EPA

On June 30, 2022, the Supreme Court ruled on the case West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency , 6 – 3, in favor of a lawsuit brought by fossil-fuel-producing states including coal-baron-controlled West Virginia that ensures that the P in EPA will no longer stand for protection from pollution spewed out by coal- or methane-fired power plants. This judicial decision makes federal action to phase out fossil-fueled power plants using the Clean Air Act almost impossible.

Replacing dirty plants with clean(er) plants was one of the main ways that the U.S. was supposed to meet its goal of cutting in half greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Going even beyond last week’s devastating ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade and make abortion illegal (and thus far more dangerous) for millions of Americans, the WV v. EPA decision will probably cause more damage, to living beings and the natural environment, than any other decision by this court.

As the Guardian article linked above noted: “The federal government also had the power of administrative regulations in order to force reductions in emissions but the Supreme Court ruling will now imperil this ability.” Notice the past tense: “had.”

We can’t shrug this off, telling ourselves that Oregon has better regulations.

West Virginia is on the other side of the continent, but because the effects of this ruling impact the global atmosphere, carbon dioxide or methane emitted in West Virginia will raise temperatures in Oregon.

This ruling exposes how the current court continues to ignore the science of climate change.

The EPA is a federal agency. Losing the case means we lose federal environmental protections in Oregon too.

The hypocrisy of this decision is staggering: our legal system denies children in Eugene standing to sue for climate justice so that their right to a livable planet is protected, but grants the owners of coal plants protection from EPA regulation.

This Supreme Court continues to rule against, and thus show the urgent need for, the first two demands of Extinction Rebellion: to acknowledge the reality of climate change, and to do something about it, right now. The need for rebellion – nonviolent, committed, escalating in numbers and power – has never been greater. Join us.

XRPDX was contacted by a KOIN TV news reporter for comment on this terrible ruling. Action team member Michael Fairhurst responded; please watch and share:


[Michael Fairhurst contributed to this blog post.]

The Heat Dome Inferno Monster Speaks!

[This script was audio-recorded and played aloud at the June 27 “Hot & Bothered” XRPDX action in front of City Hall, one of several events for Heat Week. At the repetition of “hot and bothered” the participants in the action waved their fans. – Ed.]

Yo, Inferno here! Apparently you Oregonians just can’t beat the heat!  If I do say so myself, I’ve had a couple outstanding years. Those wildfires in 2020… worst air quality in the world! Were you hot and bothered?  

And THEN I went and outdid myself last year with the Heat Dome: topping 118 degrees. I claimed 96 Oregon lives with that hot mess!  Yeah baby, climate inaction delay means death. We’re not just talking heat deaths… there’s all my cousins, starting with the Pollutants. They cause 50,000 national annual deaths, not to mention even more from floods, hurricanes, tornados, and my bestie – EW, you know, Extreme Weather. 

Your elected leaders make it soooooo easy… just fiddling around while Portland burns. Yeah, they promise a few resiliency measures here and there, but you don’t scare Inferno with a few heat pumps (Hahaha!). In fact, I got a feeling they’ll be the ones catching heat when they start putting in air conditioners only to find out that just fuels my flames… more energy use… more emissions… yeah baby, that’s what keeps me going! And you all are gonna Take the HEAT! Hot, but are you bothered? 

On reducing emissions you’ve really done little!  Those Zenith tar sands and Bakken oil bomb trains are still barreling through your neighborhoods… MMMMMM…

Zenith was unloading fossil fuels on that 116 degree day last summer. Fossil fuel exports are like superfood  to a Flame Demon like me… and talkin’ about crash and burn… yeah, burn, baby, burn!!! 

Now the summer of 2016 – the Mosier derailment followed by the inferno!? What a day! That was a big accomplishment for me! By any chance, were you hot and bothered? 

A few environmentalists try to hold Portland city officials’ feet to the fire (hehehe), but for naught. In 2020, the city issued a Climate Emergency Declaration and then did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for two whole years to substantially reduce emissions.

Ya just gotta LOVE these so-called leaders!  Helping those temperatures inch up slowly… like you’re the proverbial lobsters in the pot. Hot and buttered, my friends? 

In their budget process this year, they [the City Commissioners – Ed.] bragged about spending .002% to reduce emissions. WELL THAT SUITS ME FINE!  Their INACTION paves the way for MY destruction, so I’m bringing it on! In a dead heat so to speak (hehe)… no apparent winners (other than little ol’ me, and you know I’m sweet as blazes). You all must KNOW you’ll be getting hot, so I can’t figure out why you haven’t BOTHERED to do anything. 

And just when I thought things couldn’t get better, they start talking FREEWAY EXPANSIONS! Whooppee! Those extra vehicle miles traveled are just the little energy boost I need… more greenhouse gas emissions…YUMMY!  Now we’re cooking with gas (my favorite, by the way – methane’s so much stronger than plain old CO2 and fracking is deeeeelissssh in so many ways!) But I digress. Enjoy your highway to hell, my friends. It’ll be hot and you’ll be sooooo bothered.

Yep, as long as folks don’t get together and demand annual emission reductions then I’ve got it made in the shade, especially since this town is just filled with heat islands… no shade equity… no carbon sequestration… it’s my kind of place! 

Speaker, Michael Fairhurst:  And that is why we need to TURN UP THE HEAT on our electeds. We need to demand in line with the climate science that states we need a substantial downturn in carbon emissions by 2025 with emissions halved by 2030. Starting now, we need concrete action steps to reduce emissions by at least 10% annually. Spending .002% on reducing emissions [out of the annual City budget of $6.7 billion – Ed.] is a monstrous and deadly joke and we need to hold our leaders accountable. Any day now they should be releasing their annual report on the Climate Emergency and we need to be in their council chambers, letting them know that we don’t want HOT and we ARE Extremely BOTHERED! 


See this news item by KGW TV featuring the Inferno Monster: