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About the Fossil Fuel Terminal Project

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

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Project purpose

The Fossil Fuel Terminal Zoning Amendments restrict the development and expansion of bulk fossil fuel terminals. The Zoning Code amendments were adopted by the Portland City Council on December 14, 2016. That ordinance was appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court and is now back before City Council.

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 transload 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 Industrial and General Employment zones become “limited uses” that can continue to operate. Expansion of fossil fuel storage at these existing terminals would be 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 serve more than 90 percent of the statewide market. Proposed code changes would restrict the expansion of these 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 held a public hearing on Nov. 20, 2019 to reconsider the Fossil Fuel Terminal Zoning amendments. You can continue to provide written testimony through 9:00 am on December 2 using the online Map App. You also can read the testimony that has been submitted on Map App.

City Council will continue to consider this ordinance on Wednesday, December 18th at 3:00 pm time certain. 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.

Project contact information

Tom Armstrong, Supervising Planner