[Lynn Handlin testified to the Portland City Council on December 14, 2022. Thanks to Breach Collective for the image.]
On October 3, 2022, Dan Ryan, on behalf of the City of Portland, granted Zenith Energy a new LUCS, through a backroom deal with Zenith. You knew this lack of transparency was a betrayal of community trust and that there would be outrage. Thousands of Portlanders, neighborhood associations, environmental organizations, elected officials and more have spoken out for years, saying that Zenith Energy must be shut down.
Zenith Energy poses huge risks to our communities including seismic, explosive derailment, greenhouse gas emissions, cancer-causing toxins, air pollution especially in frontline communities. You did not even bother contacting the communities immediately surrounding the facility. Your priorities are clear: polluting industry over communities.
Zenith is making some unenforceable promises that at best are problematic. They have made promises in the past and broken them, they’ve lied to the DEQ and others. Zenith has continued to increase its throughput of oil while simultaneously (through greenwashing) recognizing that oil contributes to the climate crisis and creates a threat to Portlanders. This type of greenwashing is standard these days for the fossil fuel industry, if you do not believe me see the attached report from the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Do not fall for it again.
Dan, you said: “It is time to stop kicking our declarations down the road of intention and start acting with the urgency needed at this critical time” And yet, you gave Zenith permission to continue bringing crude oil through our City, to be stored on the banks of the river on a liquefaction zone, unimpeded for at least 5 more years in violation of the Comprehensive Plan.
This was done 2 days before Zenith lost yet again, this time in the Oregon Supreme Court, supporting the City’s right to deny the LUCS based on our Comprehensive Plan. When you denied the prior LUCS you mentioned consulting the tribes and other community members, what happened this time? The City has chosen to partner with Zenith rather than the communities who bear the burden of health and safety risks.
After 5 years, there is no guarantee that Zenith will actually do what they say, their local and national track record indicates that they will likely not. There are holes you can drive trains through in this seriously flawed agreement with Zenith.
Renewable fuels blow up and spill just like fossil fuels in the event of an earthquake or derailment. 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?
This was an opportunity for the City to be the climate leaders you pretend to be, for real. You failed, you caved to the usual business interests, and betrayed the community. You can fix this, hold a public hearing on whether Zenith’s current and proposed activities are consistent with the Comprehensive Plan (spoiler: they aren’t) and rescind the LUCS you erroneously granted.
Commissioner Ryan: We have asked for a meeting, you have not responded. We sent critical questions to the Council, and we’d like responses as well as a chance for the community to be heard. Rescind Zenith’s LUCS.