Oregonians from Across State Urge Support of New Bill to Regulate Fossil Fuels And Improve Oil Train Safety

Salem, OR — On February 11, 2020, Oregon House Democrats held a public hearing for House Bill 4105, a new measure to regulate fossil fuel projects on state lands and bring Oregon in-line with Washington State’s regulations to monitor and restrict high-pressure oil trains from operating at terminals in the state. Supporters raised the Zenith crude oil terminal in Portland and the proposed Jordan Cove LNG project in southern Oregon as examples for why these regulations are necessary for public health and safety.

Credit: DeSmog Blog
On February 6, 2020, an oil train derailed and caught fire near Guernsey, Saskatchewan, resulting in the Canadian village’s evacuation. This is the second oil train to derail and burn near Guernsey, following one in December that resulted in a fire and oil spill of 400,000 gallons.

Community members from the Columbia River to the Rogue Valley including youth climate activists from the Sunrise Movement and representatives from the Stand Up to Oil and Power Past Fracked Gas coalitions converged on the Oregon State Capitol in Salem to give testimony and support the bill introduced by Representative Karin Power (D-Milwaukie), Representative Pam Marsh (D-Ashland), and Senator Jeff Golden (D-Medford). Invited testimony in support of the bill was also provided by Mosier Mayor Arlene Burns, Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, and the City of Portland’s Chief of Fire and Rescue Sarah Boone. Video of the public hearing is available online at http://oregon.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=27917

“We believe that the future prosperity of this state and the natural resources that support so many of us in rural Oregon, depend on the actions of our government to transition us away from the fossil fuel sources that threaten our economy and toward the renewable energy that Oregon is so fortunate to have in abundant supply,” said Deb Evans, a Jackson County landowner opposed to the Jordan Cove LNG project and Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline, which would cross her property. Her full written testimony is available online.

“[the Mosier oil train derailment] woke us all up to the danger of this volatile fuel […] our entire town was in the blast zone,” said Arlene Burns, Mayor of Mosier, Oregon. “The community of Mosier, and all of us working on the transition off of fossil fuels, we’ve got to work together.”

“House Bill 4105 is a great step to strengthen Oregon’s power to stand up for communities, like ours, that have lost so many years fighting fracked gas exports that could have been put towards building a thriving local renewable energy economy instead.” Said Allie Rosenbluth, Campaigns Director of Rogue Climate. “For over 15 years our communities have been held hostage by the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline. Climate action starts with stopping the projects that bring us backwards.”

“What I know from doing all this work is that we as a community can do everything that we can think of to organize and inform others of the public safety risks that transporting substances like tar sands crude oil through our home pose,” said Lluvia Merello, Energy Justice Organizer at Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. “But without knowing when and where the bomb trains will be coming through Oregon we remain at an unacceptable safety risk.”

HB 4105 would prohibit state agencies from authorizing construction of new infrastructure for exploration, development or production of oil or gas on state-owned real property or for transportation of oil or gas across state-owned real property. Facilities that unload oil or gas received by rail would be required to give advance notice to the Department of Transportation. They would also be prohibited from handling oil or gas with vapor pressure of nine pounds per square inch or more—a threshold the Washington legislature found would regulate the most explosive forms of unrefined oil and gas.

Representative Power, the chair of the House Energy and Environment Committee and one of the chief sponsors of HB 4105, announced at the end of the public hearing that the bill would not be moving forward in the 2020 session but that she intends to continue robust conversations about the bill concept for future sessions.

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For further information, contact:

Elijah Cetas – (503) 789 2352 – ecetas@sustainable-economy.org – Center for Sustainable Economy, Sunrise Movement PDX Dan Serres – (503) 890-2441 – dan@columbiariverkeeper.org – Columbia Riverkeeper

Damon Motz-Storey – (303) 913-5634 damon@oregonpsr.org – Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

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