Propane in Portland

PDX Mayor Told Pembina to Pull Permit Applications for Controversial Propane Export Terminal Proposed at Port:

“At some point, those of us in power have to listen to those who put us there,” – Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, 5/7/15

The Columbia River is threatened with unprecedented fossil fuel export terminals. We have the choice to move to clean and renewable energy now: building large, new fossil fuel infrastructure today locks in dirty energy production and consumption for decades. This May, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales announced he had withdrawn his support for a propane export terminal that Pembina Pipeline Corporation had proposed at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 6 on the Columbia River.

Portland’s stance against Pembina reflects the larger regional movement of municipalities opposing dirty and dangerous fossil fuel projects. Mayor Hales’ position is informed by the thousands of people who opposed Pembina, as well as Portland’s longshore union (ILWU Local 8), dozens of neighborhood associations, faith and community groups. Special thanks to the Audubon Society of Portland for steadfast work to protect Portland’s environment.

Background on Pembina and propane export
The largest pipeline company in the Alberta tar sands mining industry, Pembina, wants to export propane from the Port of Portland’s Terminal 6 on the Columbia River to Asian markets. Pembina’s proposal would create: more profits for fracking and tar sands companies; more mile-long unit trains of explosive propane cutting through our communities; dangerous, pressurized propane storage tanks endangering workers and neighborhoods; and propane supertankers on the Columbia River with the possibility of large ‘security zones’ that restrict other ships and recreational boats. Even more, Pembina’s proposal comes at a time when the City of Portland is attempting to establish itself as a leader in climate policies and sustainability.

Pembina proposes to send mile-long pressurized unit trains of propane to the Port of Portland. From the trains, the propane would be stored in massive storage tanks (up to 33 million gallons) that are refrigerated to negative 44 degrees Fahrenheit. After storage, the LPG would be transferred by pipeline across an area currently protected from this type of industrial activity onto massive ships. Because piping propane through an Environmental Conservation Zone is prohibited, Pembina is must receive an amendment to Portland’s Conservation Habitat zoning from the Portland City Council – a change the council can reject.

The first phase of Pembina’s propane export proposal would bring one unit train in or out of the facility daily and load 2-3 outgoing ships of propane per month. However, Pembina has already stated plans to double the size in the future, shipping nearly 80,000 barrels of LPG per day and doubling rail and ship traffic.

Columbia Riverkeeper worked with a broad coalition of groups to ensure that Pembina’s controversial propane export plan did not go uncontested. We want to thank the Audubon Society of Portland, Portland’s Longshore union (ILWU Local 8), north and northeast neighborhood Portland associations, faith and health organizations and numerous climate change organizations associated with the Climate Action Coalition.


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