UC Law Environmental Journal


Kayla Race


Five port cities—Portland, Oregon; South Portland, Maine; Oakland, California; Longview, Washington; and Salt Lake City, Utah—have something in common: they all restricted the handling of fossil fuels at their shipping terminals. Moreover, impacted industries have responded with nearly identical dormant Commerce Clause-based lawsuits against the first four of those localities. This Article examines how much latitude cities have under the dormant Commerce Clause to restrict the handling of fossil fuels at their ports, using as case studies two recent court decisions upholding the ordinances of Portland, Oregon and South Portland, Maine under the dormant Commerce Clause. In addition, because the shipment of Utah coal ties together the ports in Oakland, California, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Longview, Washington, this Article evaluates the constitutionality of Oakland’s and Salt Lake City’s fossil fuel handling ordinances, concluding that the dormant Commerce Clause provides ample room to restrict fossil fuels at these and other ports.