Victory Halts Portland Fossil Fuel Development
On December 18, 2019, the Portland City Council voted unanimously to re-adopt a city ordinance restricting fossil fuels. Portland’s Fossil Fuel Ordinance sharply restricts large new oil train terminals and other fossil fuel projects in the City of Portland. Large-scale fossil fuel emissions are the leading cause of the climate crisis which has drastic stakes for the future of our planet.
“The oil industry has demonstrated its willingness to endanger our communities and our rivers with reckless oil train shipments. An oil train derailed and burned in Canada just last week. Portland’s stand against dangerous oil train terminals makes more sense than ever: there is already an unacceptable level of risk from petroleum being stored unsafely on unstable soils and shipped through our communities in vulnerable rail cars.”
– Dan Serres, Conservation Director for Columbia Riverkeeper and a member of the Stand Up to Oil Coalition.
In December 2016, the ordinance was initially passed by Portland City Council and then immediately challenged to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) by the fossil fuel industry. In 2017, Crag represented a coalition of community groups to successfully defend the ordinance from this industry challenge. While at first LUBA sided with the industry, Crag successfully appealed this decision to the Oregon Court of Appeals. In 2017 the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of our clients and determined that the City of Portland’s ordinance did not violate the Dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Shortly after this decision, the Oregon Supreme Court denied the fossil fuel industry’s request to review the Court of Appeals.
After securing this key victory, Crag continued our work with the coalition and the City of Portland to advance and defend Portland’s proactive policy. Our clients and partners include Columbia Riverkeeper, Audubon Society of Portland, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Center for Sustainable Economy, and 350PDX. Crag and our clients met with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and city staff, providing testimony and evidence in support of Portland’s ordinance. Shortly after our clients met with the City of Portland, the city voted unanimously to re-adopt the ordinance.
“Thousands of Portlanders have weighed in to support this policy, and thousands more have taken to the streets in recent months to demonstrate the need for action as bold as the scale of the climate crisis itself. Building new fossil fuel infrastructure should be seen as morally inconceivable now, and our City’s decision thankfully reflects this and sets a precedent for cities across the country.”
-Dineen O’Rourke, Campaign Director for 350PDX one of Crag’s partners
This decision at Portland City Council is a step in the right direction, however, Crag knows that fighting fossil fuels isn’t over in Portland. Fossil fuel industry opponents once again challenged the city ordinance, and Crag is prepared to stand with the city to defend this policy. In this effort Crag and our partners hope to show other local municipalities that this type of proactive solution can work for their communities too.