EXCLUSIVE: The state of Montana is teaming up with several energy groups to sue the city of Portland, Oregon, for blocking new energy infrastructure and allegedly discriminating against fuel users outside the city.
The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday by Montana Republican Attorney General Austin Knudsen in the U.S. District Court in Portland, says the city’s current policies blocking the transportation of fuel through its borders and banning the construction and expansion of transportation infrastructure that could be used to export fuel out of the region “intentionally discriminate in favor of local users, unreasonably burden interstate commerce, interfere with intermodal/rail transportation, and serve no legitimate local purpose.”
“The code amendments impose a flat prohibition on new fuel export infrastructure in all parts of the City and cover virtually all types of combustible fuel, including fuel designated as clean or renewable under state and federal law,” the lawsuit claims.
“Thus, the code amendments block infrastructure needed for the transition to cleaner and renewable fuels, prevent the construction of more modern, safer facilities, and freeze the decades-old existing terminals within an earthquake liquefaction zone,” it continues.
Knudsen called Portland’s policies “hypocritical” and “short-sighted.”
“American energy independence, which is critical for our national security and economic well-being, depends on reliable infrastructure to move products to consumers,” he said in a statement. “The Portland government is artificially and intentionally preventing new and expanded infrastructure in order achieve its politically motivated ‘climate action plan.’ Further, Portland’s hypocritical policies kneecap Montana industries and workers from getting our energy products to market while trying to protect its own citizens from the consequences of its short-sighted actions.”
According to a press release announcing the lawsuit, Portland is a “key transportation hub for energy distribution with a deep-water seaport, rail hub, truck distribution, and petroleum and natural-gas pipelines, including the 400-mile Olympic Pipeline that connects Puget Sound refineries with a cluster of ten petroleum terminals in the city.”
The plaintiffs named in the suit are the state of Montana, Washington-based energy company Christensen, Inc., and the non-profit groups Western Energy Alliance, the Pacific Propone Gas Association and the Idaho Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.
The lawsuit said Montana and the suing groups are being irreparably harmed by Portland’s policies, which will result in “inadequate fuel supply for end users outside the City, causing higher prices and fuel shortages, which is the City’s expressly stated goal: to reduce the consumption of fuel in other areas by cutting off fuel supply.”
The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction preventing the city from enforcing the policies, which they say violate the Dormant Commerce Clause, Foreign Commerce Clause and Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
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