© 2024 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Utility-funded effort to overturn natural gas ordinance turns in signatures

People holding banners. The most prominent banner reads "NW-Natural: Our future is not for sale."
Tiffany Eckert
About 150 Eugene students marched downtown on Mar. 3 to protest efforts to overturn the city's new natural gas ordinance.

An effort by the gas utility NW Natural to overturn Eugene’s new natural gas ordinance is one step closer to reaching the ballot.

Petitioners said they turned in 12,262 signatures to the Eugene City Recorder's office Thursday morning. The city confirmed that the signature turn-in had taken place.

The referendum attempt needs 6,460 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. The signature sheets will be sent to the Lane County elections office for validation, a process that can take up to three weeks. In any petition campaign, some signatures are typically disqualified because the person who signed it was not a registered voter, or signed twice, or whose voter status can't be confirmed.

Even so, the 12,262 signatures will likely be more than enough to force a vote, which would be held in November. That would mean Eugene's ordinance, which was scheduled to take effect June 30, would be put on hold until after the results of the election are known.

The ordinance would ban fossil fuel hook-ups in new, low-rise residential buildings. It was approved by the Eugene City Council Feb. 6.

The referendum effort has been funded almost exclusively by NW Natural, which has poured nearly a million dollars into the campaign so far, much of which has been sent to a Washington-state based firm that employs signature-gatherers.

“People very much want this to be a vote of the people," said campaign spokesperson Anne Marie Levis. "While they respect the city council, they felt this was something that should have been put out to the community to vote on.”

Supporters of the ordinance are preparing to fight on its behalf, should the signatures prove sufficient to qualify for the ballot.

"Our coalition is confident that, even in the face of what is shaping up to be a multi-million dollar misinformation campaign from Oregon's largest fossil fuel utility, Eugene residents will vote "yes" in support of common sense climate policy this November," the Oregon Sierra Club posted on social media.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
Related Content