Judge rejects Montana lawsuit over Oregon fuel transport ordinance

By Niina H. Farah | 07/10/2024 06:51 AM EDT

The decision follows a Supreme Court ruling last year that blocked challenges to state energy and climate laws.

Austin Knudsen. Photo credit: Knudsen/Facebook

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R) has failed to stop a Portland, Oregon, ordinance that hinders fossil fuel development. Knudsen/Facebook

A Portland, Oregon, ordinance aimed at limiting coal, oil and gas infrastructure has survived — at least for now — a legal challenge from Montana.

Judge Marco Hernandez of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon said in an order published Monday that a magistrate judge had gotten it right when she found earlier this year that Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, a Republican, did not have grounds to claim the city ordinance violated constitutional protections for interstate commerce.

But the court left the door open for further litigation on the issue by giving Montana the chance to file an amended complaint.


Knudsen had alleged the Portland City Council’s 2022 amendments to its zoning code unfairly allowed energy infrastructure to expand within city limits, even as it blocked construction of new interstate facilities. That, he said, went against the Constitution’s “dormant” commerce clause, which bars states from discriminating against interstate trade.