Portland rejects Zenit Energy required certification

Photo of OPB file on taxis outside the Zenit Energy Oil Terminal in Portland. On Friday, the city was hit hard by Zenit’s expansion plans.

Tony Shiek / OPB

The city of Portland has been hit by a landslide in the oil and gas sector that has caused a major setback for Zenit Energy’s controversial North West Portland oil terminal.

Portland Development Services Bureau Zenit has denied the Land Use Compatibility Statement (LUCS) required to renew air quality licenses with the Oregon Department of Environmental Protection. The Texas-based Portland Petroleum Terminal receives crude oil and renewable fuels from trains, stores them in tanks and delivers them to pipelines. The company said it plans to expand the supply and delivery of renewable fuels. But Friday’s decision was to send fossil fuels.

“The journey to this decision was important – building on the need for understanding, mutual understanding and consultation with the region’s tribal governments,” said Dan Ryan, the commissioner for development services. We recognize that the activities at this site and the transport of fossil fuels have the potential to directly affect tribal territories, cultural resources, and tribal agreements.

Photo taken at the Zenit Energy terminal in northwest Portland, May 2020.

Photo taken at the Zenit Energy terminal in northwest Portland, May 2020.

Colombian River Guard

Ryan, who is overseen by the bureau, said the decision underscores the city’s commitment to tackling climate change and reducing its dependence on fossil fuels.

Zenith said she plans to appeal the city’s decision.

“We are confident that our work will be in line with current zoning codes and the city’s overall plan,” said Gradi Remer, vice president of a Texas-based company.

The Compatibility Statement is the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality certification required to determine whether a company’s plans comply with city or county general plans and land use regulations. Zenith requires LUCS to renew air quality license with DEQ.

In a statement, the company said it was disappointed with the city’s decision to switch to renewable energy in line with the city’s 2035 comprehensive plan.

Contrary to recent reports, Zenith wants to keep updating our terminal, not to increase its capacity. We want to increase the amount of fossil fuels at the expense of fossil fuels, ”said the company’s American operations manager.

Zenit announced on Thursday that it would triple the amount of renewable fuel stored at the plant. Renewable energy is projected to be half the capacity of the plant by 2026.

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. Zenith has been seeking to renew licenses inherited from his previous owner, who used the facility for asphalt. Zenith acquired the institute in 2017. Since then, it has been operating under an expired air quality license.

But Portland City Council’s decision a year ago calls for the expansion of a new fossil fuel infrastructure – a council-approved position in 2019 – for Zenit. Zenit has not been banned from expanding fossil fuels since the air quality renewal application was submitted prior to the ban.

DEQ Communications Manager Harry Steve, for his part, said the agency will review the city’s decision before deciding on the renewal of the air quality license and the individual DEQ decision.

The decision by the city bureau gave due credit to environmentalists, community advocates and dozens of elected officials. The five multidisciplinary county commissioners and more than 20 Oregon state legislators have publicly called on the Office of Development Services and its overseas commissioner, Dan Ryan, to deny the certificate required to expand Zenith. In a letter to Ryan and the bureau, the lawmakers argued that a cessation of fuel or a tank would be detrimental to the communities they represent. He said the approval of the certificate would go against the city’s land use goals and climate obligations.

Texas-owned Zenith renamed the Portland facility the city’s tank farm, known as the Northwest Industrial Energy Center. The six-mile stretch of the Wilmete River covers 90% of Oregon’s oil supplies. And in the event of a major earthquake, Vilimite Bank, which has a good record of drinking, oil spills and accidents. Zenith operates part of the Portland facility in the northwestern industrial area of ​​the city’s so-called critical energy infrastructure, known as the city’s tank farms. The six-mile stretch of the Wilmete River covers 90% of Oregon’s oil supplies. And in the event of a major earthquake, Vilimite Bank, which has a good record of drinking, oil spills and accidents.

Related: Earthquakes could jeopardize Oregon’s oil supply by 90%

One of the authors of the Legislative Letter, Kan Can of the Republic, de-Portland, praised Friday’s decision.

“In Portland, activists and community members who work tirelessly for climate justice are working hard,” he said. “The decision on Zenit Energy is not just a step in the right direction for Portland’s climate obligations. It also represents an example of the courageous action that other cities and counties should take as climate change accelerates.

Lauren Goldberg, Colombia’s director of law and program, said the city of Portland has taken a historic position on the former fossil fuel infrastructure. She said she was accustomed to the fossil fuel industry for rubber-seal approval of existing fossil fuel terminals and facilities. But that is not the end of the world.

“The rules have changed. No more 1990, not 2000. It’s 2021 and this is no longer happening. ”

Goldberg Zenith said the team would look to DEEK to see what the agency would do with the pending renewal of air quality licenses if it planned to fight the refusal.

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