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Groups to Defend Portland's Historic Fossil Fuel Ordinance from Industry Attack

Today Columbia Riverkeeper, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Audubon Society of Portland, and the Center for Sustainable Economy filed a motion to intervene in an industry-backed lawsuit challenging Portland’s historic fossil fuel ordinance. Last year the City of Portland unanimously passed a first-in-the-country ban on new bulk fossil fuel storage facilities that exceed two million gallons; the ordinance also forbids existing terminals from expanding.

Coalition of Public Health, Environmental, & Sustainable Economy Groups to Join City of Portland in Opposing Industry Lawsuit Challenging Ban on Fossil Fuel Terminals January 25, 2017 (Portland, Ore.)

Today Columbia Riverkeeper, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Audubon Society of Portland, and the Center for Sustainable Economy filed a motion to intervene in an industry-backed lawsuit challenging Portland’s historic fossil fuel ordinance. Last year the City of Portland unanimously passed a first-in-the-country ban on new bulk fossil fuel storage facilities that exceed two million gallons; the ordinance also forbids existing terminals from expanding.

“People in Portland and throughout the Northwest will fight tooth and nail to defend what we love from dirty fossil fuel projects and their climate-wrecking impacts,” said Dan Serres, Conservation Director for Columbia Riverkeeper. “The City of Portland made history when it adopted the fossil fuel ordinance. Today we stand in solidarity with the City and will work to defend the groundbreaking ordinance against industry attack.”

Portland became a national North Star, providing a leading example for how cities can combat climate change as the Trump administration works to dismantle federal climate policies. Earlier this month the Western States Petroleum Association, Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council, and Portland Business Alliance filed a lawsuit against the City of Portland challenging the ordinance.

"Oil and coal transport and storage are reckless from a public health perspective. We can't forget what happened in in Mosier. There is no defensible reason for putting schools, child care facilities, and our most vulnerable populations at increased risk. We're appalled, but not surprised, that Big Oil puts profit above human health and safety. We will aggressively defend Portland's new and historic protections," said Dr. Pat O'Herron of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.

A diverse coalition and countless Portland residents spurred the city to action in the wake of multiple controversial fossil fuel projects proposed within Portland and along the Columbia River. This includes a proposed propane export terminal at the Port of Portland, which the city denied in 2016.

"Today the City of Portland's leadership on addressing climate change is more important than ever," said Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director for Audubon Society of Portland. "The community overwhelmingly supported the ban and it is deeply disappointing to see the Portland Business Alliance, which represents primarily big business interests, and the petroleum industry trying to undo this progress."

Mia Reback, lead organizer for 350 PDX, summarized the resolve of Portland residents to see the fossil fuel policy succeed. "Portlanders understand the urgent need for bold climate action and for keeping fossil fuels in the ground. The community came out in force to support Portland's ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure. Now we are standing with the City in defending this policy against attack by a fossil fuel industry that cares more about profiteering than about the health and safety of our children and community."

Industry groups appealed the fossil fuel ordinance to the Oregon Land Use Board Appeals (LUBA) on January 4th. Under Oregon law, individuals and organizations that participated in a city land use matter have the right to participate as a formal party at LUBA under certain circumstances. The coalition is represented by the non-profit law firm the Crag Law Center.

Legal documents, including the industry’s Notice of Appeal and the coalition’s Motion to Intervene, are available here:

Coalition’s Motion to Intervene

Coalition’s Motion to Intervene, Exhibit A

Industry’s Notice of Intent to Appeal 

Policy via City of Portland

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