Portland/ Transportation & Infrastructure
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Published on February 29, 2024
Portland's Fossil Fuel Crackdown Stands Firm as Judge Dismisses Industry's Commerce Clause ClaimsSource: Google Street View

Portland's push to put a lid on new fossil fuel infrastructure within city limits just hit a judicial tailwind. A federal magistrate has green-lit the city's stringent legislation, swatting down most grievances cited by Montana and several fuel industry players. According to Courthouse News, the 2022 Portland ordinance, which clamps down on the construction and expansion of bulk fossil fuel terminals, is under legal fire for alleged discrimination against interstate commerce. However, Judge Youlee Yim You has largely deflated those claims, recommending dismissal on the grounds that the city's regulations don't violate commerce clauses enshrined in the Constitution.

Not all contentions were tossed aside, however. One fuel distributor, Christensen, managed to carve out a small victory. With claims of a dive in property value driven by the city's ordinance, the magistrate found sufficient standing for their grievances to be heard in court, as per Law360

Much of the industry's discontent stems from the perceived hampering of fuel exports from Portland's port, which is considered a major gateway to the Pacific. The plaintiffs, including the Western Energy Alliance and other industry challengers, had argued that the city council's decision was detrimental to their interests. "The plaintiffs say in the suit that the ordinance “blocks energy companies from siting fuel export facilities at the West Coast’s fourth largest port, obstructs transport of fuel to users in other states and countries and restricts fuel transportation facilities to only that infrastructure necessary to serve its own citizens," as mentioned by Courthouse News.

Despite the magistrate's ruling tilting largely in favor of Portland's legislation. The recommendation against dismissing fuel distributor Christensen's case means that the courtroom will have to entertain, at least, their singular claim further. This small fissure opens a door to the possibility that competitors might find other avenues to challenge the city's stance on new fuel terminals.

Portland-Transportation & Infrastructure