Commissioner Sharon Meieran submitted the following testimony on Senate Bill 1567 on Monday, Feb. 7’s public hearing before the OR Senate Committee on Energy and Environment.
The bill would require energy terminal owners to submit comprehensive seismic vulnerability assessments and risk mitigation plans to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality no later than June 1, 2024. This legislation also requires the Oregon Department of Energy to develop a statewide Energy Security Plan to better prepare for a seismic event, protect local communities, and align with Oregon’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.
Chair Lieber and members of the Committee,
My name is Sharon Meieran, I am a Multnomah County Commissioner and I serve as our Board’s representative on the Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization. I’m also an emergency physician. I am here to testify in support of SB 1567.
The CEI Hub is located in my district, and I too am horrified when I drive past the CEI Hub. In 2019, I sponsored a resolution to our County Board that supports exploring ways the fossil fuel industry can be required to bear the full cost of damages caused by transporting or storing those fossil fuels.
I then partnered with Commissioner Susheela Jayapal to secure County funding to assess and quantify potential seismic risk to the CEI hub. That final devastating report was released today, and others have described the details.
Now that we have been able to quantify the damages and associated costs of CEI Hub disruption and failure during the Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake, the real work begins to protect Oregonians. Because it would be unconscionable to know about this risk and not act.
And because, as you’ve heard repeatedly, while the CEI Hub is located in Portland, this is not just a Portland problem. Over 90% of the state’s fuel supply, and 100% of the state’s jet fuel, goes through or is stored at the CEI Hub. If this storage facility is damaged, the state would not have fuel. The Columbia River and any trade or water use associated with it would be decimated. The environmental damage would reverberate throughout our state. Oregon Tribes would lose precious cultural resources. And the $359 million to $2.6 billion cost in damages - by the most conservative estimate - would be borne by our Oregon economy.
As Sen Dembrow, Rep Graber and others have mentioned, I pass by the CEI Hub regularly and cringe - it already looks like a post-apocalyptic landscape, and if we do nothing, a Cascadia Subduction Zone Quake WILL make an apocalypse a reality.
As I called for in my County resolution, and as directed through SB 1567, we need to hold industry to account to improve the seismic resilience of their tanks at the Hub. I also agree with directing the Department of Energy to develop a Seismic Security Plan so we are better prepared.
Community members and emergency responders have been sounding the alarm for years about the risks associated with the CEI Hub. EcoNorthwest’s report validates these concerns and quantifies them - let’s not wait for catastrophe to strike before we do something. I urge you to pass SB 1567 - a PROACTIVE step that can save lives, prevent an environmental catastrophe, preserve invaluable cultural resources, and prevent the devastation of our state’s economy.
Thank you for your time today.