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Statement from Commissioner Carmen Rubio on Zenith Decision

Press Release
We are serious about moving faster and more aggressively away from fossil fuels. But today’s decision isn’t enough. As the Planning and Sustainability Commissioner, I am committed to going further.
Published

Today’s decision regarding Zenith is the right one and the right thing for Portland, and may set us up for a fight – but it’s a worthy fight. We are serious about moving faster and more aggressively away from fossil fuels.

But today’s decision isn’t enough. As the Planning and Sustainability Commissioner, I am committed to going further. In the coming months, I will bring ordinances that:

  1. Permanently halt the expansion of fossil fuel storage capacity at the Critical Energy Infrastructure Hub, located in Portland.
  2. Update our Renewable Fuels Standard to increase use of cleaner biodiesel and renewable diesel. This builds on our past work and means cleaner air for all of us to breath.

Additionally, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability will use the full strength of our regulatory and zoning authority. This longer-term work will identify additional actions to continue our transition to cleaner fuels and reduce safety risks for vulnerable communities. I will seek the council support and resources needed to get this done.

Beyond Portland’s City Hall, we also need significant action by our government partners.

  • We need Multnomah County to continue its work related to the huge risk to public health and the environment by fuel terminals in the event of an earthquake. We need to ensure these companies are held responsible for any and all monetary damages resulting from tank failures following a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake event.
  • We need the Oregon State Legislature to address the seismic instability of the fossil fuel infrastructure and require seismic upgrades in a timely manner to make these facilities safer as we transition away from fossil fuels.
  • We need the U.S. Congress to address how fossil fuels are carried over our railways, roadways, and waterways and ensure our safety.
  • And we also need you, our community members, holding us accountable. This moment demands urgency, and the public should hold us accountable when we fall short of that urgency.

We all want a city where people feel safe, respected, and supported. This is reflected by our shared desire to help people overcome houselessness and for an accountable community safety system with adequate resources.

But it’s also about climate change. Portlanders want climate action rooted in racial justice and economic opportunity so that we do not reproduce the systemic barriers that have accompanied our dependence on fossil fuels. Shifting away from fossil fuels means meaningfully centering more frontline voices and perspectives—specifically those from Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander and other communities of color, low-income Portlanders and immigrants—who experience climate change first and disproportionately.

This is why I ran, and I’m honored for the opportunity to work on these urgent issues. Know that I am fighting alongside you for a resilient, sustainable Portland.

Contact

Will Howell

Communications Director (Rubio)