Court decision means Portland can sharply restrict fossil fuel terminal expansion
The city of Portland's 2016 ordinance barring new or significantly expanded fossil fuel terminals survived a legal challenge to the state's highest court.
On Tuesday the Oregon Supreme Court declined to review an Oregon Court of Appeals decision from January that upheld the city's constitutional right to enact the ordinance.
"This is a major victory for the climate and our communities," said Maura Fahey, staff attorney at Crag Law Center, in a statement welcoming the court decision.
Crag Law Center represented Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Audubon Society of Portland, the Center for Sustainable Economy, and Columbia Riverkeeper as intervenors in the case, which was brought by the Portland Business Alliance and allied oil industry groups.
The business groups initially prevailed when they appealed the ordinance to the state Land Use Board of Appeals, known as LUBA. LUBA overturned the ordinance by ruling that it violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The Oregon Court of Appeals then overturned the LUBA decision, and that ruling has now been sustained by the Oregon Supreme Court's decision not to take up the case.
The ordinance, passed unanimously when Charlie Hales was mayor, was enacted as part of the city's aggressive efforts to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.
The measure largely affected about 11 sizable terminals in the city's Northwest industrial district, whose owners include Chevron, Phillips 66, Shell, BP, Kinder Morgan and NW Natural. Those facilities store and distribute most of the petroleum and natural gas consumed in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
Business groups are alarmed the ordinance could leave the state without enough energy to serve the growth of manufacturing, transport and other sectors.
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