Protesters including the Raging Grannies, as well Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Friends of the Columbia Gorge and high school students from the Portland Youth Climate Council, gathered in front of City Hall on Wednesday, March 13, to oppose the expansion of Zenith Terminals, which could increase the number of oil trains moving through Portland.

Protesters including the Raging Grannies, as well Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Friends of the Columbia Gorge and high school students from the Portland Youth Climate Council, gathered in front of City Hall on Wednesday, March 13, to oppose the expansion of Zenith Terminals, which could increase the number of oil trains moving through Portland.

Tony Schick/OPB

UPDATE (Monday, July 15 at 8:39 p.m.) — The City of Portland is holding a community forum Monday evening at the University of Portland, on the proposed expansion of the Zenith Energy tar sands terminal.

Zenith Energy wants to almost quadruple its rail car capacity at an old asphalt plant along the Willamette River.

Environmentalists are concerned that with the loosest rules on the West Coast, Oregon has become the path of least resistance for oil transport.

“Portlanders have every right to be concerned about the domestic and international shipment of crude and tar sands oil,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

“I am proud to serve as mayor of a city that has a long history of environmentalism. I remain opposed to any expansion or activity that would endanger the health and safety of communities in this city – and pose a serious threat to our natural environment.”

Hundreds of people are expected to attend the meeting. The city is billing it as a time to share what actions have been taken so far, where residents stand, and a discussion of the next steps.

Amy Rathfelder is the environmental policy advisor for Wheeler. She said the forum will consider all kinds of questions.

“How are cities going to look in 50 years? And what are our priorities in terms of where are we getting our energy from?” said Rathfelder.

Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said the city’s ability to regulate oil trains and Zenith’s activities is limited. 

“But we should leave no stone unturned in finding ways to protect Portlanders. From extraction to transport to refinement, tar sands oil is the dirtiest and most dangerous form of fossil fuel,” said Eudaly.

“We don’t need it and we don’t want it in Portland or anywhere on our planet.”

The meeting takes place 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the University of Portland’s Buckley Auditorium.