In late August 2021, after months of grassroots pressure, Portland City Council rejected Zenith Energy's Land Use Compatibility Statement (LUCS) that was required before the company could get a Clean Air permit from Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Despite Zenith's numerous appeals it looked very likely that its days as an oil-by-rail facility were numbered. But a year later, days before the Oregon Supreme Court ruled in the city's favor, Commissioner Dan Ryan announced that the city had cut a new deal with Zenith, granting them a revised LUCS after Zenith promised to switch from shipping fossil oil to renewable diesel in five years. Climate activists and community groups were blindsided and furious. Now nearly a year later, a public records search has confirmed what many activists suspected: Zenith cut a backroom deal with the city.
On this episode of Locus Focus, we talk with Nick Caleb, a staff attorney with Breach Collective, about the documents he uncovered which illustrate how city commissioners colluded with Zenith, playing an influential role in coordinating the effort to push Zenith’s new LUCS application over the finish line.
Read Nick Cunningham's story in DeSmog Blog and the latest Street Roots Story: Newly obtained records show Portland officials’ private interactions with Zenith Energy