In a big win for the City of Portland, Oregon, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a ruling that the city had not violated the U.S.Constitution’s Commerce Clause by voting to ban any new fossil fuel terminals within its borders.
“This is a major victory for the climate and our communities,” said Maura Fahey, staff attorney at Crag Law Center, which represented environmental groups intervening in the case, in a statement. “Industry couldn’t even get its foot in the door of the courtroom to try to overturn the City’s landmark law. This sends a powerful message to local communities that now is the time to take action to protect our future.”
This ruling could have important implications for other communities fighting fossil fuel projects because the court ruled that the city’s ban did not violate the Commerce Clause, which is the main argument the oil industry has used against bans like the ones in Portland, Oregon and other cities.
The Commerce Clause gives Congress the sole power to regulate interstate and foreign trade, and oil companies have argued that bans like the one in Portland are impacting interstate trade. With this ruling, the Oregon Court of Appeals has dealt a significant blow to that legal argument.
“This decision sends an important message at a time, when our federal government is dropping the ball on climate change, that cities can and will lead,” said Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director at Portland Audubon Society.
Port Cities Targeted by Industry for Exports
The Canadian tar sands industry has been looking for more ways to get its product to foreign markets, especially after the cancellation of TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline to Quebec and New Brunswick and the delays in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in British Columbia.
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