The City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to make Portland the first city in the nation to block the expansion of fossil-fuel pipes and tanks within city limits.
"Over the last months, I've spent more and more and more time thinking about climate change," Mayor Charlie Hales said. "We have one route through the rapids that are just around the corner. We can get to a better future."
The resolution follows a similar ordinance by City Commissioner Amanda Fritz to discourage oil trains from traveling through the city.
But this vote has more teeth.
City Hall has instructed planners to rewrite city building and zoning code so if a company wants to move more oil or coal through Portland, it'll find city rules standing in its way.
The most immediate consequence of the vote: It appears to permanently block the Canadian energy company Pembina from building a liquid propane terminal at the Port of Portland—completing a move by Hales, who yanked the terminal's permits in May.
City Hall sources tell WW that the mayor's office hurried through Thursday's vote because Hales was worried Pembina had found a loophole that would allow it to start construction at the port.
A crowd dressed in red shirts—color-coordinated with the Greenpeace protest that this summer blocked an ice-breaking ship headed for Arctic oil fields—cheered on the vote.
Environmental activists said they saw yesterday's vote, while limited in scope, as the start of a historically significant movement to arrest climate change.
"Using all this fossil fuel is just, in so many ways, leading to catastrophe: for the environment, for the people, for the oceans, for the air," said Wiley G. Barnett, a resident of the Bridgeton neighborhood in Northeast Portland. "It's no secret. Everybody knows: This is it."