Description: Challenge to Portland zoning amendments restricting fossil fuel terminals.
Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council v. City of Portland
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 07/19/2017 Opinion and Order Download Decision approving ordinance reversed. Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals Reversed Portland’s Ban on New and Expanded Fossil Fuel Terminals. The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (Board) found that amendments to the City of Portland, Oregon, zoning ordinance prohibiting new bulk fossil fuel terminal and expansion of existing terminals violated the dormant Commerce Clause. The Board therefore reversed the amendments. The Board concluded the amendments were discriminatory in practical effect because, though facially neutral regarding the origin and destination of fossil fuels, the amendments were intended to preclude construction of new or expanded terminals that would serve interstate and international markets. The Board further found that the City had failed to demonstrate that the amendments served legitimate local interests—including a desire to reduce Portland’s contribution to climate change—that could not adequately be served by reasonable nondiscriminatory alternatives. The Board said the City had identified nothing in the amendments directed at accomplishing the goal of reducing local contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change and said that “we do not believe the city can, consistent with the dormant Commerce Clause, deliberately attempt to slow or obstruct the flow of fossil fuels from other states to consumers in other states or countries with the apparent goal or reducing generation of greenhouse gases elsewhere in the world, and justify that attempt as a legitimate local interest.” The Board also considered whether the amendments, even if deemed nondiscriminatory, could meet the Pike balancing test under the dormant Commerce Clause and concluded that they could not, citing local benefits that were “attenuated at best” and the potentially significant burdens on national and international markets in fossil fuels. The Board also sustained some challenges to the amendments based on local, regional, and state standards. 01/25/2017 Motion Download Motion to intervene filed. Environmental and public health groups moved to intervene on the City’s behalf. 01/04/2017 Notice of Intent Download Notice of intent to appeal filed. Parties Said They Would Appeal Portland’s Restrictions on Fossil Fuel Terminals. The Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council, the Portland Business Alliance, and the Western States Petroleum Association filed notice of their intent to appeal the City of Portland’s enactment of an ordinance directing adoption of zoning amendments that prohibited new bulk fossil fuel terminals and limited the expansion of existing terminals. The notice was filed in the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals. In the ordinance, the City found that extraction and combustion of fossil fuels were significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions and major contributors to climate change and pollution, and that the amendments were consistent with local and statewide planning goals and also with local and statewide climate change and public safety objectives.