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.