On Wednesday Feb 23rd 2022 I sent our letter to Washington County’s Land Use Department requesting that gas station setbacks from sensitive areas be introduced to protect our economic, health, and environmental interests. Thank you to the 130 people who signed the letter and the organizations that support the effort including Tualatin Riverkeepers, Washington County Treekeepers, and 350PDX Washington County.
As a reminder this is what we are requesting specifically:
Our request: We want Washington County land use codes updated to require that gas stations, currently operating gas stations excluded, be a minimum of 1,500 feet from any public park or playground, school, hospital, church, theater, dwelling unit, public library or building for public assembly; or any wetland, stream, river, flood plain, or environmentally sensitive area. We also want to see this applied to all zones across the County without an option for variance to ensure equitable and objective application of this requirement.
Now that we have sent the letter to the Land Use Department we need to keep the conversation going amongst Washington County residents. Please share this email or the letter with friends, neighbors, and organizations anywhere in Washington County– from Sherwood to Banks and anywhere in between.
A great way to spread the word is to write a letter to the editor to local media. We have an example letter to the editor to help you get started.
Why don’t existing laws protect us from the risks of gas stations?
Well, the problem is that there is no specific federal, state, or local entities that wholistically regulate petroleum tanks and their risks to public health and the environment. I put together two pages outlining the patchwork of State and County government organizations that currently exist and their limited scope. And because of their limited scope they can’t, say, draw the conclusion that leaking gas tanks will impact ground water quality therefore we need to introduce setbacks. So, the responsiblity of connecting the dots and suggesting policy changes falls to us as citizens.
When working hard I find it is important to laugh a bit too. The oil and gas industry have a track record of taking outsized risks and then not taking responsibility when things go wrong. And land use laws are the local tool to reduce or eliminate risky behavior to begin with. This video captures the absurdity of today’s status quo.