The Canadian company says it is not dissuaded by Portland’s mayor abandoning the project.
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
The Canadian company poised to build a propane terminal at the Port of Portland says it is not dissuaded by Portland’s mayor abandoning the project in a press release.
After Charlie Hales told the company to withdraw its application early Thursday, Pembina said it wouldn’t later in the day.
The company responded with a release of its own: “We are extremely disappointed that the mayor has abruptly closed the door on the Pembina propane export facility, the largest private investment ever proposed in the city of Portland,” said Sandra McDonough, the group’s president and CEO. “The $500 million investment would have received no public subsidy and would have provided $12 million of tax revenue annually, enough to fund the equivalent of 33 Portland police officers or fire fighters, 31 teachers for Portland Public Schools and 24 deputy sheriffs in Multnomah County.”
From the Portland Business Journal:
Environmental groups were thrilled to see Hales join a growing chorus of city and county leaders along the Columbia River who increasingly oppose a raft of fossil fuel export terminals proposed to move North American coal, oil and gas to Asian customers.
“This is huge for Portland to take a lead in becoming a truly sustainable city and a leader,” said Adriana Voss-Andreae, MD and PhD, chair of 350PDX, the Portland chapter of the global 350.org climate action movement. 350PDX mobilized opponents who barraged Portland City Hall and Hales in particular with their objections. Their claims: Moving propane from Canada by rail would endanger communities along the railroad. Processing and storing it in Portland would endanger neighbors. Pembina provided Portland with a third party analysis of its proposed operation that concluded that the risk is low and the company can operate safely.
In an email to commissioners late Wednesday, Port of Portland executive director Bill Wyatt said Hales was playing politics .
Portland Tribune reports:
“Mayor Hales called me this afternoon to let me know that he was withdrawing his support for the Pembina project. He cited concerns about the level of opposition and how that might affect his reelection as the primary concern. This is deeply disappointing obviously, particularly because Pembina insisted on meeting with the Mayor prior to their announcement back in January. He could not have been more supportive, and said so on the front page of the paper, inducing Pembina to spend several million dollars doing the preliminary engineering and safety studies necessary to proceed.”
In response to a request for comment from the Portland Tribune, press aide Dana Haynes said, “I was in the room when the mayor called Bill Wyatt. I heard only the mayor’s end of the conversation because it wasn’t on speaker phone. The topic of elections never came up.”
The Oregonian editorial board, which had earlier said it would not cover climate change this year, blasted Hales for the decision in an editorial published Thursday evening.
Where did the project, which is the same now as it was last September, go wrong? Pembina failed to make its environmental case “in every way possible,” said spokesman Dana Haynes, who declined to be more specific. The mayor’s Pembina-go-home press release is more instructive, however. By “standards,” Hales isn’t referring to anything as quaint as objective rules and regulations. “‘Portlanders’ standards,'” quoth the mayor, “‘place carbon emissions and climate impact as the No. 1 cause for concern.'”
In other words, the mayor turned on Pembina – and the hundreds of people who would have worked on the project – because the terminal would have moved a fossil fuel from one place to another, facilitating its combustion and thereby contributing to global warming. Surely, the nature of Pembina’s commodity wasn’t a surprise to the mayor, who couldn’t possibly have thought last year that the company proposed to ship sunshine. And if he knew the first thing about the city he ostensibly leads (more about that below), Hales knew that some people would object to any proposal in which the city appeared to enable climate change, even though the propane in question will find its way to market in one way or another.
Five local governments in the state have joined the chorus calling for a carbon tax, Portland Business Journal reports.
The push to enlist cities and counties is the brainchild of Oregon Climate, which wants local governments to lend their voices,. The climate nonprofit says the collective action will build support for a dramatic — and controversial — new tax and, possibly, a rebate program. A report issued in December by the Northwest Economic Research Center at Portland State University says a carbon tax would be an effective incentive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and would not significantly impact the economy of jobs base. At $60 per ton, a carbon tax would trim emissions by 26 percent and raise $2.35 billion in new taxes.
The 2013 Legislature commissioned the report to guide the 2015 session. House Bill 3470, pending in the House rules committee, requires the Department of Environmental Quality to adopt rules around bringing the state into compliance with its greenhouse gas goals, including providing monetary incentives — i.e. taxes — to compel compliance. A separate bill is being introduced in the Senate.
The governments to pass resolutions:
- Benton County
- Hood River