© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Environmental Groups Rally For More Fossil Fuel Restrictions In Portland

<p>Environmental groups rally in support of more fossil fuel restrictions in Portland.</p>

Courtesy of Rick Rappaport

Environmental groups rally in support of more fossil fuel restrictions in Portland.

Climate activists say the city of Portland’s proposal to ban "bulk" fossil fuel terminals isn’t restrictive enough.

They held a rally Tuesday calling for the city to ban all new fossil fuel terminals. The event was timed to precede the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission's first public hearing on the proposal. It calls for banning terminals that handle more than 5 million gallons of fossil fuel.

Mia Reback is with the climate group 350.org. She says she sees room for improvement.

“Right now the proposal would allow a 5 million-gallon fossil fuel facility, and we definitely want to see that number come down," she said. "We don’t need new fossil fuel facilities. There's so much we can gain when we transition away from fossil fuels, and saying no to new fossil fuel terminals is a first step to doing that."

The commission will make a recommendation to the Portland City Council -- something that's scheduled to happen on Oct. 11. The commission's staff is recommending the city allow limited expansion of existing terminals by no more than 10 percent of their current capacity. They say the purpose of the ban is to block gateway facilities like the 91-million-gallon oil terminal proposed in Vancouver, Washington, that would bring large volumes of fossil fuels into the region. The city rejected a proposal by Pembina Pipeline Corp. to build a propane terminal that would have had 34 million gallons of storage capacity.

The council passed a resolution last year opposing new infrastructure that would expand fossil fuel storage or transport in the city.

In discussion, Michael Armstrong of the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability told planning commissioners that staff set 5 million gallons as the cap for the allowable terminal size to allow companies to use larger fuel tanks when doing seismic upgrades to their existing tanks.

The city council's resolution called for restrictions that wouldn't interfere with improvements in efficiency and seismic upgrades, Armstrong said.

Many existing fuel storage tanks are at risk of malfunctioning during a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.

"About one tank per year is being retrofitted," said Armstrong. "When those tanks are upgraded, they are slightly larger. That's how companies justify the investment. You get a little bigger tank, but it's seismically hardened."

Another consideration, he said, is the need for companies to mix cleaner fuels to meet the state's new low-carbon fuel standard.

"To enable blending to meet the low-carbon fuel standard, you've got to mix different things in a tank," he said. "We want to recognize we're going to be doing different things with our fuel supply. ... There are tanks of some size that are helpful."

Copyright 2020 EarthFix. To see more, visit .