Used to be Keep It In The Ground

Not here, not anywhere: a recap of the Stop Zenith Vigil

As part of the Climate Strike Week of Action, our community hosted the Stop Zenith Vigil for 60 continual hours from Tuesday, September 24 at 7:00 AM to Thursday September 26 at 7:00 PM. It was a beautiful, moving, and strategically important time. About 150 people participated in the Vigil during those 3 days, many holding shifts late into the night or before sunrise very early in the morning. It was a time of deep learning about ourselves, our community members, the NW Industrial district, and about the movement of oil trains at the Zenith facility.

In the middle of the 60 hours, we held a Night of Illumination, where we heard from tribal elders, musicians, community leaders, and vigil participants about the necessity of stopping the Zenith tar sands facility and returning the land to its original habitat. Click here to view moving photos of this event from the Oregonian.

In the news…

Demonstrators Hold 60-Hour Vigil at Zenith Energy in NW Portland – The Oregonian

Portland Activists Won’t Let City Council Forget About Zenith – Portland Mercury

In their own words: Direct quotes from the Vigil’s guest book

  • “So excited to be here at the final hours of the vigil!  Missing 4th period to be here today in support of something so important, and bringing awareness to such a large issue that is largely unknown.”
  • “Here for my grandkids.  What else can I say.”
  • “I’m here because the earth is fragile, life is precious, people are beautiful,  but all of it is precarious and in peril.  We unite to save what we have and to radically change everything so our children and their children and their children can live.”
  • “I am so moved by the people I’ve met in this space, and by the wild love and commitment that brought us together.  It’s 3 AM in the morning and I’m tired and grateful.  Tonight has felt like a song or a prayer.  Tonight I feel like we can win a better world, like this place can be restored, like this struggle can restore us.  Thank you, organizers who made this happen.  Onward to more!”
  • “I am here to do my part in a great effort to have our concerns heard and seen.  Great to see strangers come through to offer support.”
  • “I’m here because I believe we need to make change, and that we can, and must, make a different world.  I’m also here because there is strength and hope in working and being together with others who share the commitment to work for change. NO TAR SANDS.  NOT HERE.  NOT ANYWHERE.”

Thank you.

Thank you to everyone who participated, who held a shift during the vigil, who brought food or warm drinks, who spoke or sang at the Night of Illumination, who supplied materials, and so much more. And a special thank you to 350PDX all-star volunteer Melanie Plaut, who led the organization of the Vigil from start to finish, thought of all the details from small to large, and made everyone participating feel supported. 350PDX is incredibly grateful (every single day!) to work with all of the incredible volunteers in our community. Thank you, thank you! Let’s keep it up.

Zenith Tar Sands Testimony & Demands to City Council

This testimony was delivered by Jessica on July 15 2019 to a packed public hearing about the Zenith tar sands terminal in NW Portland. It was co-written by Jessica, Dineen and other 350PDX staff and volunteers.


My name is Jessica Beckett and I’m the Executive Director at 350PDX. Thank you for this opportunity to share our deep concerns about Zenith Energy’s operations in our city. 

Right now, our City is complicit in the expansion, storage, transportation, and burning of the most destructive form of energy on Earth. We appreciate the City’s recently-proposed plans to address the problem of tar sands and toxic crude oil, but we must be moving more boldly and quickly if we are ever to reach 100% renewable energy – and to redress the harms done to frontline communities who must every day breathe and live in this injustice. 

350PDX urges you to do the following:

  • Deny any upcoming permits, including the recent application for a new pipe on Front Avenue. Treat all such permits with a deserved skepticism. Insist on public hearings like this before permitting decisions are made. 
  • Work with the DEQ to ensure Zenith’s plans receive detailed agency and public review, including environmental, public health, and climate assessments of Zenith’s operations. 
  • Implement the fossil fuel zoning code amendments that made history when passed unanimously in 2016, and hold companies like Zenith accountable for attempting to circumvent them.
  • And until all of this is complete, we urge the City to place an immediate stop work order on Zenith’s operations. 

The Northwest Industrial District is where Portland’s just transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy can become reality. This industrial zone can become a model for community-driven renewable energy projects — like those made possible by the Portland Clean Energy Fund! — which can power our city on affordable clean energy and provide jobs to thousands of Portlanders. We have a vision for our community. We ask you, our elected leaders, to join us in this vision by following our demands and putting an end to Zenith.

We have ten short years to save this planet. The time for incrementalism is over. We need action that we’ve never seen before. Mayor Wheeler, Commissioners, what will our legacy be? 

Thank you.

Inside the Methane Monster

I volunteered to become the most vile and justifiably loathed creature in modern times – the methane monster.  The monster that adds to global warming by trapping heat 86 times more potently than carbon. Some call it a ‘bridge fuel’ but only because they stand to benefit financially.  It’s everywhere. It’s what we call ‘natural gas’ and ‘fracked gas’. It comes from cow burps, and rotting vegetation. It even seeps up and sometimes explodes out of the melting permafrost.  We need to stop it. So I volunteered to take the ridicule and become methane personified in a creatively fashioned large purposely ugly costume.

As the personification of methane I was able to get in touch with its power and potency.  I growled and took in a stance like a Maori warrior whose native lands are being overtaken by sea level rise.  I jumped in the air, skeleton hands raised high and shouted ‘BOOM’. I grasped at the innocent by standers and shouted, ‘I want to testify.  I am death’. I went to entertain the supporters of the Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove liquid fracked gas plant. I wanted dialog but one can’t reason with methane so I shouted ‘BOOM’ in hope they would see how deadly dangerous I can be to them.

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Press Release: Record Number of Comments Submitted In Opposition to Jordan Cove LNG Export Terminal and Pacific Connector Pipeline

Taken by Rogue Riverkeeper

More than 42,000 comments were submitted to Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), overwhelmingly in opposition to the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline. This unprecedented number of comments ask the agency to deny the Clean Water Act permit required for the project. In the last month, thousands of comments flooded in after Oregon DEQ extended the comment period as a result of public pressure. The comment period closed on Monday, August 20.

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Press Release: Industry Attack on Portland Fossil Fuel Policy Fails

Initially published on July 31, 2018 by Nicholas Caleb on Center for Sustainable Economy

Oregon Supreme Court Declines Review, Leaving in Place Oregon Court of Appeals Ruling in Favor of Portland’s Fossil Fuel Ordinance

July 31, 2018 (Portland, Ore.) — Today, a coalition of public interest groups celebrated news that opponents of Portland’s fossil fuel ordinance have failed in their efforts to overturn the City’s landmark law. In 2016, Portland’s City Council voted unanimously to prohibit new fossil fuel infrastructure such as oil and gas terminals. Last week, the Oregon Supreme Court declined to review a January 2018 ruling by the Oregon Court of Appeals that upheld the Constitutionality of Portland’s Fossil Fuel Terminal Zoning Amendments, dealing another blow to the legal challenges brought by the Portland Business Alliance and the oil industry.

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Press Release: Portland Clean Energy Fund Brings in Over 60,000 Signatures

Reverend E.D. Mondainé, President of the NAACP Portland Branch and a Chief Petitioner of the Portland Clean Energy Fund

Contact: Damon Motz-Storey 303.913.5634

(PORTLAND, OR) – The broad network of groups backing the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Initiative, known as the “Portland Clean Energy Fund,” held a press conference today outside Portland City Hall to announce they had collected over 60,000 signatures for the initiative in under two months. With support from hundreds of volunteers, the Portland Clean Energy Fund collected 25,000 more signatures than needed to qualify for the November election. The large number of signatures gathered exceeded the campaign’s goals and reflects the strong level of support for the Portland Clean Energy Fund at a time when measures to promote renewable energy are being rolled back at the federal level. Read more

Jordan Cove Fracked Gas Project – Comment Period Open

Photo courtesy of Rogue Climate

In my previous post on Jordan Cove, I highlighted the dangerous climate warming effects of this project.  However, there are many more reasons to oppose the LNG terminal and Pacific Connector Pipeline.  

The pipeline would negatively affect many communities that lie in its path.  In 2017, Counterpunch wrote an article about a protest against Jordan Cove LNG Project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission mandated that four open houses be held for citizens to give their input on this project. These events brought many different stakeholders to speak, including tribal members, ranchers, timber farmers, and environmentalists. I would encourage you to read their testimony. Read more

The Facts about the Proposed LNG Terminal in Southern Oregon

Supporters of a proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Oregon are at it again, hoping the third time’s a charm. Twice, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has ruled that Jordan Cove is not in the public interest. Now, FERC is stacked with Trump appointees. Could the already rejected terminal and Pacific Connector natural gas pipeline be headed for approval? There are plenty of reasons why this project would be a bad deal for Oregon and the climate. Read more

Putting a Price on Greenhouse Gases in Oregon: an Update

Great progress was made in the short Legislative session. Portland is lucky to have as climate champions in the Oregon Legislature, Senator Michael Dembrow, and Representative Ken Helm who have moved the Clean Energy Jobs bill ever closer to the finish line. Below is a quote from Sen. Dembrow that summarizes well where things stand now:

“The 2018 Legislative Session generated the kind of grassroots support we’ve been dreaming of for years. We had another incredible round of hearings early in the session with an enormous amount of outside advocacy, including more than 500 Oregonians from all over the state descending on the Capitol for a lobby day on February 12. Oregon’s tribes voted to support the legislation and came to the Capitol to show support. Nike formally joined the business organizations supporting the legislation, as have many other Oregon businesses and farms. Scores of high school students and even younger children have been roaming the halls calling on us as adults to take action to secure a better future for them and their peers.”

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