Portland Oregon: Climate Leaders

Riverkeeper and Allies Stand With Portland in Court to Defend Historic Fossil Fuel Policy

By Dan Serres, Conservation Director, Columbia Riverkeeper


In 2016, when the Portland City Council unanimously passed a strong land use ordinance barring major new fossil fuel infrastructure in the City–projects like crude oil train terminals, coal ports, and LNG export facilities–we anticipated a fight from the fossil fuel industry. Not surprisingly, the fossil fuel industry is now pressing legal action to reverse Portland’s rules, hoping to allow new fossil fuel development despite overwhelming opposition from Portland’s residents and elected leaders. With expert legal representation from the Crag Law Center and a resolute set of partners, Riverkeeper is standing with the City of Portland to defend the City’s fossil fuel policy.

In July, a single member of the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) issued a ruling that overturned the City’s policy. Undeterred by this setback, on August 2, 2017,  the City of Portland vowed to challenge LUBA’s ruling at the Oregon Court of Appeals. Setting the tone for the Council’s unanimous vote to challenge LUBA’s decision, City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said, “I am ready and willing to fight back against the state interfering in our ability to protect our environment and to protect our residents and make what we think are the best decisions for our city.”

Read the Portland Business Journal’s coverage here.
We are standing with the City in this fight. Riverkeeper and our allies–Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Center for Sustainable Economy, and Portland Audubon Society–have intervened to aid in Portland’s defense of its crucial fossil fuel ordinance. We are represented by the Crag Law Center. With support from many community organizations, such as 350 PDX, who helped to gain passage for the fossil fuel ordinance, we are working to ensure that Portland’s neighborhoods, rivers, and climate are protected from the pollution, safety risks, and health threats associated with oil train terminals and other fossil fuel projects.

You can read our brief to the Oregon Court of Appeals here. On October 13, 2017, attorneys from the City of Portland and the Crag Law Center will argue our case before the Oregon Court of Appeals. We are deeply grateful for the work of Crag Law Center’s Maura Fahey and Scott Hilgenberg who are representing Riverkeeper and our allies in defending a policy that enjoyed support from thousands of Portland residents and the entire Portland City Council.