Portland, OR Mayor, Activists Celebrate Trailblazing Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Ban

For Immediate Release:            

Contact: Mia Reback at 310-717-7966 or mia@350pdx.org; Daphne Wysham at 202-510-3541 or daphne@sustainable-economy.org; or Nicky Vogt at 202-331-2389 or vogt@newpartners.com

December 14, 2016

Portland, Oregon – Today, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales joined community leaders and activists to celebrate the unanimous passage of a new city ordinance banning new bulk fossil fuel terminals that renews Portland’s commitment to strong climate action, lower carbon emissions, effective seismic resilience, a safer Columbia River Gorge, and a safer environment for those in and around Portland.

This first of its kind ordinance prohibits the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure that has the capability to transload fossil fuels or is larger than two million gallons in capacity and forbids existing terminals from expanding in size, preventing any further potential damage to their local environment.nffi-victory_cities-lead-copy

(L to R): Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Walla Walla Tribal Elder Cathy Sampson-Kruse and City Councilor Amanda Fritz. Photo: Rick Rappaport

The Portland City Council passed two other climate policies on Wednesday morning: home energy scoring which will require energy audits before residential home sales and an update to the city’s electric vehicle strategy. ‘

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said, “Portland has been a world leader in ‪climate action. We were the first U.S. city to adopt a climate action plan. We were the first to bring back the modern streetcar. Now we’ll be the first to deliberately transition from dirty, dangerous fuels to ‪clean, ‪renewable ‪energy with the passage of Portland’s policy that prohibits bulk fossil fuel facilities,” said Mayor Hales. “This work would not be possible without our strong grassroots organizations that have led our city’s efforts forward. Now more than ever, these local community voices are needed, because the risks of not acting on climate change are just too severe.”

Mia Reback, Lead Organizer for 350 PDX,  stated, “Portland is taking bold steps to protect our city from the immediate risks of fossil fuels while sending a powerful message to other cities across the nation and the world that the grassroots movement will not let national politics deter cities from taking the lead on climate action. City by city we can, and will, ensure the steps are taken to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels, protecting the very essence of life on planet earth.”

Micah Meskel, Conservation Field Coordinator at Audubon Society of Portland said,“Today we saw the power of the grassroots prevail. This vote solidifies a historic climate action by the City, one that can be replicated in cities throughout the Northwest, and will spark additional community led initiatives here in Portland to severe our City’s reliance to dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure.”

Regna Merritt, Healthy Climate Program Director of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility stated, “Low-income populations and communities of color experience the worst impacts of fossil fuels and climate disruption. As we celebrate a huge victory for the health and safety of our community, we urge other communities to take similarly bold actions.”

Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, Senior Organizer at Columbia Riverkeeper said, “At a time when people around the world are grappling with how to protect clean water and accelerate a transition away from fossil fuels, Portland is setting a globally significant example and using this geographic and economic opportunity to make a bold statement. “

Steve McCoy, Staff Attorney for the Friends of the Columbia Gorge said, “The explosive train wreck in the Columbia River Gorge last June is direct evidence of the dangers of shipping fossil fuels by rail. Portland’s action not only safeguards our children from the immediate dangers of more explosive oil trains passing through our communities, but also makes a strong stand for our children’s children by blocking an avenue for increasing the use of greenhouse gas intensive fossil fuels abroad.”

Daphne Wysham, climate program director at the Center for Sustainable Economy, and a member of the Climate Action Coalition said: “With this grassroots-led victory, Portland is showing where the future lies: Not in the boom and bust fossil fuel economy, but in a more equitable low- to zero-carbon economy. Portland’s low-carbon economy now provides about 47,000 middle-wage jobs, representing over $10 billion in goods and services annually, with an average 5 percent annual growth rate–a far more sustainable economy than fossil fuel exports would provide.”

This victory is the result of over two years of organizing from local activists and community members committed to the betterment of Portland’s environment and the protection of our neighbors’ health and safety. The ordinance is an important step forward for Portland and should serve as a model for other municipalities and states.  

This policy was worked on by 350PDX, Audubon Society of Portland, Columbia Riverkeeper, Climate Action Coalition, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Center for Sustainable Economy, the Oregon Chapter Sierra Club, and more.


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    Feds Deny LNG Export Project Permit, Again, in Oregon

    For Immediate Release

    December 12, 2016

    For more information, contact Ted Gleichman, political advisor, Center for Sustainable Economy: 503-781-2498tedgleichman@mac.com

    (Portland, OR) A massive natural gas export project aimed at the Oregon coast is on life support after the federal government ruled against it late Friday afternoon, December 9, 2016.  The Jordan Cove Energy Project, a $7.6 billion terminal and pipeline plan to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia from Canada and the Rockies, was refused by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  The first-ever rejection of federal permits for an LNG export project came in the wake of an 11-year coordinated grassroots campaign against this LNG terminal and pipeline in southern Oregon.

    “We’ve been fighting this project for more than a decade,” said Ted Gleichman, a political advisor to the Center for Sustainable Economy. “Thousands of people working together are defeating billions of dirty, dangerous fossil fuel dollars. This is the first victory where FERC ruled in our favor.”


    Photo credit: Rick Rappaport

    FERC rejected the Canadian developer, Veresen Inc., because of its inability to get guaranteed contracts to sell the fracked gas overseas, though FERC had warned the company for years that this would be critical for their permission to move ahead. That market failure was compounded by Veresen’s dismal record in negotiating easements from hundreds of landowners along the 234-mile pipeline route to Coos Bay, Oregon.  FERC objected to unprecedented levels of eminent domain requirements that would hit landowners and local communities if the pipeline and terminal were approved. Ranchers, farmers, and other landholders had pledged to resist the claims of eminent domain on the 234-mile route of Oregon land the pipeline would need to cross. The company can still go to court against FERC, or reapply, but for now the only LNG export plan for the U.S. West Coast has no clear path to completion. “We are going to defeat their Oregon state permits too, then we will work for genuine good jobs in clean energy and rebuilding the clean infrastructure we all need,” said Gleichman.




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      Portland, OR Climate Action Coalition Sends Medical “Bunk Bus” To Protect Standing Rock, ND “Water Protectors”


      For more information, for interviews, or professional photographs, call:
      Bonnie McKinlay: 503-705-1943; Rick Rappaport (photographer): 503-730-5554

      (Portland, OR)  Following a recent trip to Standing Rock Indian Reservation to deliver wood stoves, clothing, food and other supplies in support of the “water protectors” from the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation, members of the Portland-area Climate Action Coalition (CAC)  decided they needed to do more. With a potentially brutal winter coming on, CAC members decided the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters needed a sturdy form of shelter that could be made available for injured, sick, or hypothermic water protectors. So they raised sufficient funds–with small donations given by individuals– to buy and retrofit a school bus, turning it into what they call the “bunk bus,” which will be equipped for use by medics. The outside of the bus has been painted with murals with the assistance of well-known Native American artists–including a Standing Rock Sioux painter–and others from Portland’s Native American Youth and Family Center, while carpenters and other crafts-people have donated their labor.

      The water protectors and their supporters have set up a nonviolent encampment in protest against plans by Energy Transfer Partners to build the Dakota Access Pipeline through territory they claim includes sacred burial grounds, while posing a grave risk to their water supply should it traverse the nearby Missouri River. Their nonviolent protests have been met with heavily armed police, private contractors and National Guard troops firing rubber bullets, spraying tear gas and using attack dogs on the protestors. The nearest hospital is many miles away.

      Members of the Portland area CAC, who have done their own forms of nonviolent civil disobedience–including blockading Shell’s icebreaker, the Fennica, when it came to Portland in July 2015, and risking arrest blockading oil trains–wanted to show solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux. Members of CAC are available for interviews; professional quality photos are available in advance of the departure of the medical bus to North Dakota. The bus is expected to depart on November 11, 2016.

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        New Policy Innovation Would Force Fossil Fuel Companies to Pay for Their Risky Behavior

        For Immediate Release

        June 3, 2016


        Press calls: Dr. John Talberth, president and senior economist, CSE: 510-384-5724

        (Portland, OR) Hours after an oil train car derailment near the Columbia River in Mosier, OR, with at least one oil tank car on fire, it was too soon to tell how much this accident would cost: In first responders’ time and resources, in time missed from school for elementary students and their teachers in nearby Mosier Elementary School, in hours of delays as I-84 was shut down, in public health costs from the thick plume of smoke that could be seen from miles away, in evacuations for nearby residents.

        A recent study produced by the Washington Attorney General’s Office found that a worst case scenario oil train tanker spill on the Columbia River could cost more than $170 million in damages.  These costs too often have the taxpayer picking up the tab, not the polluter because insurance coverage is only available for minor accidents.  A recent study produced by the Center for Sustainable Economy (CSE), “Fossil Fuel Risk Bonds: Making Polluters Pay for the Climate Crisis,” has found that fossil fuel companies are passing on huge financial risks to taxpayers, and politicians are simply turning their backs on the problem instead of holding those companies accountable.

        At each stage of the fossil fuel product life cycle, taxpayers are increasingly burdened with a litany of costs associated with oil train derailments such as the one in Mosier, fracking-induced earthquake swarms, pipeline explosions, abandoned infrastructure, water pollution and, of course, the costs of climate change. Fossil fuel risk bond programs – a policy innovation proposed by CSE  – can help reverse this glaring inequity by shifting the economic risk back where it belongs: on the polluters.

        As set forth in CSE’s new report, fossil fuel risk bond programs are systematic efforts that state and local governments can take to evaluate and respond to the financial risks they face at each stage of the fossil fuel lifecycle in their jurisdictions. The benefits could be huge for states, counties, and cities struggling with rising fossil fuel disaster-related and climate-related costs with no clear way to pay for them.

        While helping to place the burden of payment where it belongs, on the risky industry, fossil fuel risk bond programs provide a way to ramp up the funding necessary to put scores of people to work – including displaced oil, gas, and coal workers – while ramping down fossil fuel consumption, decommissioning obsolete fossil fuel infrastructure, restoring mines, oil platform sites, and gas well pads back into a natural condition and implementing climate adaptation projects to help make communities safe in the face climate disasters.

        For more, please visit our website here: http://sustainable-economy.org/fossil-fuel-risk-bonds-making-polluters-pay-for-the-climate-crisis/

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