Zenith Energy: A Timeline of Deception and Expansion

December 2017: Zenith moves into the Critical Energy Infrastructure Hub in Portland, transporting crude oil, about 12 tank cars per day, under an expired air quality permit.

Late 2018: Zenith is unloading up to 44 cars per day of crude oil. Zenith tells DEQ there will be “no new throughput” due to their rail line construction.

2019: Zenith crude oil throughput increases over eleven-fold. DEQ sends letter to Zenith saying, WTF? Public outcry about Zenith.

April 2019: XRPDX plants a garden on one of the rail lines. Eleven XRPDX rebels are arrested the first time and 14 the second time during nonviolent direct actions. Documentarian Jan Haaken and team film scenes that will become part of “Necessity: Part II: Climate Justice and the Thin Green Line” about the struggle against Zenith Energy and the use of the necessity defense by climate activists.

2019: Zenith asks City for permission to install new pipes under city streets. City rejects the expansion.

Late 2019: Zenith tries a different version of pipeline expansion. City says no again.

March 2019: In a meeting with Mayor Ted Wheeler’s sustainability adviser, Amy Rathfelder, and other City staffers, Zenith reps tell them that they no longer handle tar sands crude, but they do. Zenith lied. Zenith continues to operate.

May 2020: Zenith applies to DEQ for construction permit. DEQ denies the permit. Zenith continues anyway. Zenith is fined nearly $25,000 by DEQ, citing “flagrant nature of Zenith’s conduct.”

August 27, 2021: Following waves of community actions including postcard and holiday card campaigns, media interviews, rallies at Zenith, City denies Zenith the Land Use Compatibility Statement (LUCS) which leads to DEQ denying Zenith an air quality permit. Zenith continues to operate.

Fall 2021: Zenith appeals the City’s decision to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA).

February 3, 2022: LUBA rules City has authority to deny Zenith’s LUCS. LUBA requests findings to support the decision from the City of Portland.

Spring 2022: Zenith appeals LUBA’s decision. Zenith continues to operate.

May 11, 2022: The Oregon Court of Appeals upholds LUBA’s decision. Zenith is denied, again. Zenith continues to operate.

May 2022: Zenith expands for biofuels transshipment.

To be continued…

About Lynn Spitaleri Handlin

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


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