Twenty-One People Arrested Blockading Oil Train Route in Vancouver, WA

vancouverTwenty-One People Arrested Blockading Oil Train Route in Vancouver, WA

via Portland Rising Tide

Over 100 people stopped rail traffic by forming a human blockade across the tracks in Vancouver, WA on Saturday, June 18.  Watch a recap video and donate to their legal fund.

Organized by the Fossil Fuel Resistance Network in response to the recent oil train derailment in Mosier, OR, the action united voices from across the region in concern not only about the potential local impacts of continued oil-by-rail, but also about the immediate and critical threats of carbon emissions and climate change. During the blockade, many community members spoke about their grief and rage that corporate greed is putting our local ecosystems and communities at risk and fueling the sixth great global extinction.

The Union Pacific train that derailed in Mosier on June 3rd contaminated the Columbia River and local sewer system with crude oil fracked from the Bakken Shale, ignited a fire that released toxic oil smoke into the air, evacuated local neighborhoods and schools, and ultimately drained the city’s entire aquifer.  In the last three years alone, oil train derailments in North America have killed forty-seven people, spilled millions of gallons of oil into waterways, forced the evacuation of thousands and caused billions of dollars in property damage and environmental destruction.

Community members connected the local disaster to a greater climate crisis – ecosystems across the planet are rapidly destabilizing, confirming the worst case scenarios of climate scientists’ predictions.  “We need Governors Brown and Inslee to do more than just advocate for a temporary moratorium on oil trains!  We need them to enact an immediate just transition to a post-fossil fuel economy,” said Portland resident Audrey Caines.  “If governments are not going to take decisive and immediate action to keep fossil fuels in the ground, people’s movements like this one will.”

Speakers also addressed the social consequences of fossil fuel infrastructure, stating that marginalized communities bear disproportionate risks and consequences, as oil train blast zones, pipeline routes, and drilling sites typically exist in low-income rural areas and communities of color. In Mosier, the disaster threatened food and water sources for local Native tribes.

BNSF and the Vancouver city police tried to disperse the crowd multiple times.  In an act of pure intimidation, BNSF ran an engine within 50 feet of the protesters on the tracks and blew it’s horn repeatedly.  Despite the looming non-verbal threat, nobody sitting on the rails made any moves to leave.

The Pacific Northwest has seen a growing movement against fossil fuel transport throughout the region.  Concerned residents point out that proposed new fossil fuel terminals and terminal expansions, including the proposed Tesoro-Savage oil terminal in Vancouver, WA, could result in a dramatic increase in coal and oil trains passing through the Columbia Gorge each week. Mosier would see five times the amount of oil train traffic if these projects are approved. “This is not just the beginning!” said Portland Rising Tide activist Mia Reback. “This movement is growing and will not stop until all fossil fuel extraction projects are shut down and all known fossil fuel reserves are kept safely in the ground! Oil barons beware: we will be back!”

Oil Train Opponents Blockade Tracks At Port Westward, OR

Oil Train Blockade

Clatskanie, OR—Climate justice activists, local Clatskanie farmers, and oil train opponents from all over Columbia County are blockading the tracks that lead to Port Westward on the Columbia River. The blockade consists of a 20-foot-high tripod of steel poles, its apex occupied by 27-year-old Portland Rising Tide activist Sunny Glover. Any train movement would risk her life, as would any attempt to remove her from the structure. A banner suspended from the tripod reads: “Oil trains fuel climate chaos.” She has vowed to stay as long as she is able.

Donate to help Rising Tide Portland keep blockading!

Massachusetts-based Global Partners ships oil by rail from the fracking fields of the Bakken Shale to the blockaded facility. From there, it is loaded onto oceangoing vessels bound for West Coast refineries. The facility was constructed with public clean energy loans and tax credits to manufacture ethanol in 2008. The owners declared bankruptcy almost immediately, and in a twist of savage irony, it became a crude oil terminal.

“Fossil fuels are catastrophically destructive,” Glover said. “Extraction ravages land, water, and the health of local communities – transport results in deadly explosions, toxic spills and dust – and as they are burned, the Earth is forced ever deeper into immense climate instability. Fossil fuel production is violence, and on an incredibly vast scale.”

Dozens are joining Glover on the tracks. The increase in US oil production in recent years, and the consequent rise in oil train traffic, has outraged a diversity of groups and communities. Rising Tide activists, hoping to deter the most severe effects of climate change, are demanding a rapid dismantling of fossil fuel infrastructure throughout the region and the world. Residents of areas effected by oil train traffic are horrified by the propensity of Bakken crude trains to derail in fiery explosions—a May, 2014 emergency order by the US Department of Transportation describes the trains as an “imminent hazard.” Residents of the patchwork of farms, dikes, and waterways north of Clatskanie are fighting to protect agricultural land and salmon habitat from industrialization.

“When the crude oil trains began rolling through Columbia County, we had no prior warning—not from DEQ, not from the Port of St. Helens, not from the county, and not from the State of Oregon,” said Nancy Whitney. “With the close proximity of our towns, and particularly our schools, and considering the track record of crude oil derailments, my fear is that the potential devastation from leakage or explosion could be astronomical—and it will happen unless these trains are stopped.”

This is the fifth oil train blockade in the Pacific Northwest since June.

“This is only the beginning,” said Noah Hochman. “We will continue to blockade until it is financially, logistically, and politically untenable for oil trains to threaten climate and communities.”

Portland Rising Tide: 15 Activists Arraigned, Total Bail Set At $150k Following Blockade Of Tar Sands Megaloads

BAILOUTCross-posted from Portland Rising Tide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

12/18/13

Media contacts:

Trip Jennings, Portland Rising Tide – tripjennings1@gmail.com – 541.729.3294

David Osborn, Portland Rising Tide – david@portlandrisingtide.org – 503.516.8932

15 ACTIVISTS ARRAIGNED, TOTAL BAIL SET AT $ 150,000 FOLLOWING BLOCKADE OF TAR SANDS MEGALOAD MONDAY

John Day, OR: The people arrested Monday night blockading the tar sands megaload were arraigned today in the Justice Court of Grant County. Fourteen were charged with five misdemeanors, one with six and the minor arrested in the action was released Monday. Each person has had bail set at $ 10,000 for a total of $ 150,000. The arrests stem from the two blockades that were set up Monday night using two disabled vehicles to stop the controversial, 450-ton, 376-foot long tar sands megaload transported by Omega Morgan, which was delayed for several hours.

The action Monday was the sixth regional action against the Oregon megaloads in two weeks. The actions started when two were arrested successfully preventing the megaload from leaving the Port of Umatilla on December 1st. A member of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla was arrested December 2nd trying to block the megaload. Office occupations and disruptions have taken place at Omega Morgan’s offices in Fife, WA and Hillsboro, OR, as well as the General Electric subsidiary that designed the machinery moving towards the Athabasca oil fields in Alberta.

Those arrested Monday included support personal not involved in the action. Of those arrested 12 were not involved in the blockade and were standing on the side of the road to take photographs, document the police response and provide medical assistance if needed. They were not given cease and desist orders, nor told to leave by the police prior to being arrested. Police also used violence on the individuals that were part of the blockade in an attempt to coerce them into unlocking themselves.

“I was away from the actual blockades and present to support the people taking action. I was arrested without warning and charged with the same thing as those who locked down”, said Johnathan Batchelor who was arrested, “This aggravated and inappropriate response is the opposite of what is needed. The real criminals are Omega Morgan and the companies involved in the tar sands which fuel the climate crisis”.

Omega Morgan says this is the first of three megaload shipments through the region. Former routes through Idaho were blocked by an injunction filed by the Nez Perce Tribe, following major protests in Idaho and Montana. Similar opposition from the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla is growing in Oregon and Gary Burke, Chair of the Umatilla Reservation’s Board of Trustees, recently delivered a letter to Governor Kitzhaber expressing opposition to the megaloads due to lack of consultation with the tribes and the role of tar sands extraction in harming indigenous people and fueling global climate change.

Portland Rising Tide, a member of an alliance of groups organizing against the megaloads, continues to mobilize support for ongoing opposition to these and any future megaloads. During the summer some 400 people signed a pledge expressing willingness to participate in non-violent civil disobedience and direct action to address the climate crisis. “We will continue to resist the tar sands megaloads and all other fossil fuel infrastructure, including the oil, coal and gas terminals proposed for the NW, “ said David Osborn of Portland Rising Tide, “All new fossil fuel extraction must be halted, communities are being destroyed and the climate is being imperiled. The equipment transported by Omega Morgan will expand the tar sands and devastate communities in northern Alberta and throughout the world. It is immoral and we will do everything we can to stop it.”

Photos available from freelance journalist Alex Milan Tracy of December 1st and 12th actions:

http://www.demotix.com/news/3398176/activists-prevent-megaload-bound-tar-sands-leaving-umatilla#media-3398116

http://www.demotix.com/news/3487848/omega-morgan-closes-after-tar-sands-protesters-enter-facility

Photos of Monday’s action will be forthcoming when the cameras are released by the Grant County police.
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Call Omega Morgan & Tell Them To Stop Shipping The Tar Sands Megaloads!

Tar Pit #3Call Omega Morgan CEO John McCalla  at 503-647-7474 right now with a message: I oppose  tar sands mining and I want you to stop shipping equipment to process it.

Big Oil has been moving massive equipment for a tar sands oil development in western Canada.  The “megaload” shipments have been challenged in Idaho, Montana, eastern Washington, and now eastern Oregon.

Climate activists object to the shipments for their potential to worsen global warming, and tribal members say they’re worried about the possibility of environmental damage in eastern Oregon, where they assert a treaty interest and say they weren’t adequately consulted.

Last week, three people were arrested while blockading these megaload shipments near Umatilla, Oregon.  More blockades are expected this week, and we’re calling on people from all over North America to help us tell shipping company Omega Morgan to stop shipping the tar sands megaloads.

Call Omega Morgan CEO John McCalla  at 503-647-7474 right now with a message: I oppose tar sands mining and I want you to stop shipping equipment to process it. 

You can use these talking points on the call:

  • *I oppose the tar sands megaloads because tar sands will spill into our water supply and soil and cook our climate.
  • *I oppose the tar sands megaloads because tar sands pollution will harm communities from Alberta to those near refinery sites in Houston.
  • *I oppose the tar sands [megaloads] because [they] will only serve to line the pockets of oil industry executives, while landowners from Texas on up to the Canadian border will pay the price for their greed.

If you cannot reach CEO McCalla, call Holly Zander, Omega Morgan’s press spokesperson, at 503-360-7144.

After you call tell us how it went in this short survey.