Zen Community Advocates for Clean Water and Air

In Gratitude to the Zen Community of Oregon For Protecting Clean Air and Water

In Gratitude to the Zen Community of Oregon For Protecting Clean Air and Water

In the past few months, the Zen Community of Oregon organized effectively to protect the Port Westward area, offering support to the community and submitting powerful testimony. In multiple hearings since the beginning of 2022, volunteers at the monastery have studied the NEXT proposal and expertly highlighted significant potential human health, environmental, and public safety concerns with the project, such as likely smog-forming VOC pollution impacts from the refinery and its flare stack (which would tower more than 400 feet tall over the area).

Thanks to their efforts, in recent hearings, community testimony was overwhelmingly in opposition to the proposal by Houston-based NEXT Energy to build and operate a massive new “renewable” diesel refinery and 400-car rail yard.

The community offered valuable information to public agencies, citing data and scientific studies while also speaking from personal experience about the Port Westward area. Columbia Riverkeeper has urged public agencies to listen carefully to the voices in the community: they will find a compelling case for rejecting the refinery, rail yard, and million barrels of diesel and feedstock storage in unstable peat soils in the Columbia River Estuary. Demonstrating many hours of preparation, multiple speakers from the Zen Community of Oregon, including current and former residents of the Great Vow Zen Monastery, spoke from the heart about the tremendous impact that a refinery would have on the health of the vibrant community at Port Westward.

By speaking up and offering support to people trying to learn more about the refinery project and its impacts, the community is reaching an increasingly broad audience about the pitfalls of the NEXT refinery and rail yard, a proposal featuring bad site selection (massive diesel tanks on liquefiable soils), poor planning (a 400-car rail yard on agricultural land), and an untrustworthy company (examples include NEXT officials’ involvement in the failed Transmessis Columbia Plateau biofuels facility in Odessa, WA).

Learn More about the Controversial Project

Check out the recent Oregon Business Journal article by Nick Cunningham which gives an in-depth look at the project.