Can you join us to stop Zenith Energy, a dangerous oil-by-rail operation?


Amazing news! Thanks to years of grassroots organizing and legal advocacy, the City of Portland heard your message and denied Zenith Energy’s application for a Land Use Compatibility Statement (LUCS). This decision follows years of policy commitments by the City to reduce carbon emissions, address the climate emergency, and oppose oil trains. 

Without this key land use approval from the City, Zenith’s application to the Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for a renewed Title V air pollution permit is incomplete. As a result, DEQ has  proposed a denial of Zenith’s application for a renewed Title V air pollution permit. Unless Zenith requests a hearing, DEQ’s denial will become effective on October 31, 2021. 

What does this mean?

Effective October 31, Zenith will no longer have a valid air permit and must immediately shut down its oil-by-rail operation. 

This is game-changing news for the Columbia Gorge, Vancouver, and Portland communities threatened by Zenith’s operations, and a climate victory! 

To operate its existing crude oil-by-rail terminal, Zenith needs to renew its Title V air pollution permit from DEQ. The facility is currently operating under an air permit that expired close to a decade ago, but has been administratively extended until DEQ makes a final determination on the facility’s renewal application. One component of that renewal application is a Land Use Compatibility Statement (LUCS) from the City of Portland.

In January 2021, DEQ notified Zenith that the company’s recent expansion project and the associated increase in throughput at the facility triggered the need for the company to obtain a new LUCS from the City. The LUCS process gave the City the opportunity to evaluate Zenith’s operations against the City’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan, which includes numerous goals and policies aimed at protecting the health and safety of City residents. On August 27, 2021, the City of Portland denied Zenith’s application for a LUCS, declaring that the potential adverse impact of Zenith’s oil-by-rail facility on the environment and historically marginalized communities is not compatible with the City’s Comprehensive Plan policies.  

The City’s decision comes just weeks after the release of a new draft study highlighting the significant risks associated with storing large quantities of fossil fuels in Portland’s Critical Energy Infrastructure (CEI) Hub. The study noted that tanks in the CEI Hub that were constructed before 1990 are likely to spill 50 to 100 percent of their contents during a major seismic event—all of Zenith’s tanks fall into this category. 

How did this happen?

Years of dedication from the community ultimately led to this victory. The science is clear and the opposition to this project is overwhelming. Here’s a snapshot of what it took:

  • 46 neighborhood organizations signed and submitted a letter demanding the LUCS be denied; 
  • 20 Oregon state legislators sent a letter to Commissioner Dan Ryan asking for a denial of the LUCS; 
  • The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners issued a statement opposing Zenith’s LUCS application; 
  • 17 environmental and community advocacy organizations sent a letter in opposition to granting the LUCS; and
  • Thousands of residents called or emailed city officials. 
What’s Next?

Zenith has appealed the City’s denial of its LUCS application to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). Columbia Riverkeeper and Willamette Riverkeeper have moved to intervene to support the City’s decision. 

DEQ’s proposal to deny Zenith's application for a renewed Title V air pollution permit in response to the City’s denial of Zenith’s LUCS application is another major step in the right direction. Zenith cannot legally operate without an air permit.  Zenith has until October 31st to request a hearing on DEQ’s proposed denial. If Zenith does not request a hearing, it must shut down its operations effective October 31. 

If Zenith does request a hearing on or before October 31, the company will be able to continue to operate it’s facility under its administratively extended permit until DEQ issues a final decision at the end of the hearing process.

Take Action

Thank Portland’s decision makers for saying NO to Zenith’s oil-by-rail terminal!

Erin Saylor
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The front cover of “Glimpses of the Lewis and Clark Exposition,” a souvenir booklet printed for the event by a Chicago publisher, shows a hand-painted overview of Guild’s Lake when the Exposition was under way on its shores in 1905. (Image: Laird & Lee Publishers)
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Take Action

Stop Zenith Energy’s oil-by-rail terminal today! 

Watch "The Fight Against Fossil Fuels: What’s Happening and What’s Next"