Blocked Portland Oil-By-Rail Facility Faces One More Test
Monday, December 20, 2021
An effort to block an oil-by-rail facility in Portland could be solidified this week.
This summer, the city of Portland decided to deny a land-use compatibility statement for the Texas-based company Zenith Energy, which receives oil via trains, stores it, and then it sends it to ships.
Noelle Studer-Spevak, board member of Families for Climate, which is among a coalition of groups working to stop the facility, said people have been fighting for it because there has been a dramatic increase in oil-by-rail traffic.
"We are so grateful and heartened that we're actually looking out for the health and welfare of our citizens and not seeing companies from outside Oregon run over us and our well-being and our land-use laws," Studer-Spevak asserted.
Zenith Energy said it plans to increase the amount of renewable energy, such as biofuels, moving through the facility. The company emphasized its plans are in compliance with Portland's zoning codes and comprehensive plan. It has appealed the city's decision to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals, which is expected to decide the case Thursday.
Studer-Spevak pointed out one of the biggest concerns is about potential accidents, which could affect Portland neighborhoods.
"I'm thinking particularly to Northeast and North Portland along the tracks," Studer-Spevak explained. "There are lots of front-line community members right there standing to lose the most if there were a major disaster."
Studer-Spevak also noted most if not all the oil coming into the terminal is not being used by Oregonians, but destined to refineries in Washington state and California.
"Portland was bearing the most risk with the least to gain by allowing this transloading facility to continue operation right here in our community," Studer-Spevak contended.
Studer-Spevak believes more communities should stand up against the shipping of fossil fuels.
"I hope more people join the fight to hold this thin green line that keeps our oil in the United States and doesn't send it out to the rest of the world," Studer-Spevak urged.
Studer-Spevak is also advocating for wide-scale adoption of electrification in Oregon to move it away from fossil fuels.
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