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About the Fossil Fuel Terminal Project

Purpose, background, timeline, and contact information for the Fossil Fuel Terminal Zoning Amendments project.
On this page

Project purpose

The Fossil Fuel Terminal Zoning Amendments restrict the development of new and expansion of storage tank capacity at existing bulk fossil fuel terminals. 

These code changes restrict development and expansion of bulk fossil fuel terminals. 

  • Bulk fossil fuel terminals are characterized by (a) marine, railroad, or pipeline transport access and (b) either storage capacity exceeding 2 million gallons or transloading facilities (such as rail-to-ship loading) 

  • Fossil fuels include petroleum products (such as crude oil and gasoline), coal, natural gas, and propane, and methanol, which is produced from natural gas.   

  • No new bulk fossil fuel terminals are allowed. 

The existing bulk fossil fuel terminals in Portland are “limited uses” that can continue to operate. Expansion of fossil fuel storage tank capacity at these existing terminals is prohibited with limited exceptions. 

Project background

Why is this important?

  • Climate action goals – Fossil fuels are major contributors to climate change and pollution. The City’s Climate Action Plan seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with fossil fuels being the largest source of emissions. 

  • Public safety and environmental protection – Several recent accidents involving fossil fuel distribution across the nation highlight public safety risks in cities and environmental risks along rivers. Most of Portland’s industrial areas, where the fossil fuel terminals are located, have moderate to high liquefaction susceptibility in a major earthquake. The zoning code changes limit the future risk in the event of a potential catastrophe. 

  • Oregon’s industrial center – Portland is Oregon’s largest, most diverse distribution hub, and existing Portland petroleum terminals handle more than 90 percent of fossil fuel consumed in Oregon and Southwest Washington. The code changes restrict the expansion of the existing facilities in Portland, but allow these terminals to continue to operate and reinvest in safer facilities as Oregon transitions away from fossil fuels to more renewable energy sources. 

Project steps and timeline

City Council voted to adopt the ordinance on December 18, 2019. The ordinance was appealed to Land Use Board of Appeal (LUBA) by the Western States Petroleum Association, Portland Business Alliance, Oregon Business and Industry, and Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council.

LUBA has remanded the case back to City Council for additional findings and policy interpretations. BPS is working to determine what additional evidence is needed to address these issues before returning to City Council for re-consideration.

Past Events

When Council reconvenes, there may be amendments to this ordinance. If, at that time, Council determines additional public testimony is warranted for any proposed amendments, Council may re-open the record for the limited purpose of testimony on the amendments.