science environment

Multnomah County Moves Forward To Hold Fossil Fuel Industries Accountable

By Monica Samayoa (OPB)
Oct. 31, 2019 11:45 p.m.

Multnomah County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Thursday that will require fossil fuel industries to be held accountable for any future damages caused by the transportation of fuels like crude and oil.

The resolution is part of a partnership with the city of Portland. It calls for a risk analysis study to determine the amount of infrastructure costs by developing worst-case scenario models in the Critical Energy Infrastructure Hub – commonly called the "tank farm" – where fuel and chemicals are stored in industrial Northwest Portland.


“The study that’s going to be commissioned today along with the policies that will be put in place about a year from now, will force these companies to pony up the money in advance to make sure that taxpayers aren’t left holding the bag,” Center for Sustainable Economy’s President and Senior Economist John Talberth said.


The resolution will also oppose new and expanded infrastructure for transporting or storing fossil fuels in Multnomah County.

“Portland and Multnomah County are leading the way and we ... hope it provides inspiration for other cities and states to step forward and take up these kinds of policies, polluter pays policies,” Talberth said.

No representatives of affected industries spoke during the public testimony period that preceded the commissioners' vote.

Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said the risk analysis will give the city of Portland and Multnomah County a better idea of what policies need to be put in place to protect public health and safety in the Portland metro area.

“I’m thrilled to be partnering with Multnomah County because we all have a role … We have to make sure that the city is able to come back and be resilient and recover and what we know is that the recovery is expensive,” Hardesty said.

The study is set to begin in January and will include researchers from Lewis and Clark College and Portland State University.