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Regional Interests

Oil storage and transport operation in Portland pushing city for permit allowing expansion

Oil cars line up for unloading at the Zenith Energy oil terminal in Portland's northwest industrial area.
Oil cars line up for unloading at the Zenith Energy oil terminal in Portland's northwest industrial area.

With operations in Portland, Texas-based Zenith Energy has been transporting crude oil from North Dakota and Canada by rail and loading it onto ships for distribution since 2017. The company has been operating on an old land-use permit that was granted before Zenith began its operations. The company needs an air permit from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality but it can’t do that without first getting the land-use permit from the city of Portland. Environmental groups have been lobbying city hall for months to deny the permit, based in part on the city’s own commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and use of fossil fuels. Zenith is expected to sue the city if it’s denied the permit. We talk with Susan Smith about this project, the permits Zenith needs to continue and what legal issues the city has been weighing.

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