PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland City Council has again voted to limit the expansion of fossil fuel terminals in the city.
Mayor Ted Wheeler said the move made Wednesday will bolster efforts to take action against climate change and help safeguard the city should a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake occur.
Dan Serres, Columbia Riverkeeper conservation director, called it “an important first step to protect the health, safety, and climate of Portland’s residents.”
The zoning code change prohibits the construction of new fossil fuel terminals and prevents Portland’s existing 11 terminals from expanding.
The existing terminals are collectively referred to as the Critical Energy Infrastructure hub. The area — along the bank of the Willamette River in North Portland — is home to approximately 90% of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel used in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
Many of the tanks were built before scientists fully understood the region’s seismic vulnerability. The tanks sit on soils researchers say would likely give way during a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.
A study commissioned by the City of Portland and Multnomah County in 2020 found between 95 million and 194 million gallons of fuel could be released in a major earthquake. The study also said fuel would spew into the air and into the Willamette River, and cause $359 million to $2.6 billion in damage.
The city passed a similar ordinance in 2016 but industry groups appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court. The case eventually went to the state’s Land Use Board of Appeals, which ruled the city needed to modify the ordinance to be consistent with city land-use policies.