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.

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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 Occupies Department of Environmental Quality

(Photo by: Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA)Portland Rising Tide responds to the Global Call for 10 days of Action from Earth Day to May Day by joining other groups who together represent the public’s interest in opposing polluting fossil fuel export terminals in the Pacific Northwest.

About 70 people occupied the lobby of the DEQ and called out local toxic polluters, including ESCO and Precision Castparts (which was recently named the #1 toxic air polluter in the country).

As Governer Kitzhaber recently said in his speech on April 19th to the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, “The time has come to end all coal exports in the Pacific Northwest” to stop “the very real consequences of climate change”, as we are “the last generation that can do something about it.”

Rising Tiders say we need to stop much more than coal, and are concerned about the 15 coal, oil, and gas terminals being proposed in the Pacific Northwest that would harm our coast, the Columbia River, local communities, and the global climate.

Some handed out notices that the DEQ was being dissolved, and offering guaranteed employment with the People’s Agency, where their job would be to enforce a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure by denying all permits for coal, oil, and gas export proposals.

They also made a group phone call to Morrow Pacific CEO Clark Moseley, informing him that the DEQ had just been dissolved, that his three permits for a coal export facility at Boardman recently issued by the DEQ have been revoked (issuing what they called a “notice of termination”), and that any pending future permits have been summarily denied. They then left a message on his cell phone for his records.

There is majority public opposition to exporting global climate crisis and suffering the local health and ecological consequences of fossil fuel terminals. Portland Rising Tide illustrated this tension with a crowd representing the People’s Agency, participating in a tug of war with the Department of Destruction, in the DEQ’s downtown lobby.

Portland Rising Tide’s skepticism of state regulatory agencies protecting us from fossil fuel devastation is fueled by the DSL allowing Ambre Energy 7 extensions to their deadline despite what even Kitzhaber calls ‘repeated failures’ to supply information regarding their project’s legality.

“This process shows that the permitting process is essentially one of approval – with illegal and destructive projects delayed, but never denied,” said Karen Coulter.

Furthermore, ODOT recently issued illegal permits for Omega Morgan’s hauling of tar sands megaloads through the ceded lands of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, despite substantial public and Umatilla opposition.

More recently, ODOT officials were caught lying about the volume of oil trains rolling through Oregon with their tacit consent. In the ensuing public scandal, they announced their refusal to give the public *any *further information on oil trains.

“We’re here today to show that the public can’t trust the regulatory agencies to protect our ecosystems and future. We have to show each other what it looks when the people take charge, and confront the root causes of climate change,” said Wes Kempfer, a participant in the political theater.

Fully two-thirds of the greenhouse gas pollution in the US is legally permitted by regulatory agencies1 <#sdfootnote1sym>. Oregon’s DEQ has already proven their willingness to allow this destruction in Oregon – handing out three permits for Ambre Energy’s coal export facility in Boardman, Oregon.

“I agree with Kitzhaber that it is time to get past 19th century fossil fuels, but it is equally necessary to move beyond the illusion that regulatory agencies are really protecting ecosystems and the public interest,” said Rising Tide member Stephen Quirke. “In fact, we cannot have one without the other.”

“It’s no mystery that climate change follows from the regulatory agency jigsaw puzzle approach to ecological protection, which has too many missing pieces, and doesn’t really fit together,” said Katherine Cotrell, another Rising Tider. “The public needs to intervene if we want a sane response to this truly insane situation.”

In response to the revelation that the Clatskanie oil train terminal was carrying 6 times more than their permit allowed, DEQ charged Global Partners LP $117,000, but failed to halt the oil trains rolling along the Columbia, through rural communities, and ultimately through Portland.

This is the equivalent of one penny per barrel of illegally shipped oil, being transported in the most dangerous way possible. In response to journalist inquiries, ODOT’s rail division announced they would no longer request reports of hazardous oil moving by rail, since they knew it would “not be protected” from the public.

They were over-ruled by the their director and Governor Kitzhaber one day after Rob Davis covered the story. This is just one more reason we cannot trust the regulatory agencies.

The DEQ is currently reviewing air quality permits for Jordan Cove LNG, after FERC gave their approval. DEQ appears set to approve these permits—they say it pollutes less than the Weyerhauser paper mill that used to be on the site.

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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Two Lockdown to Controversial Tar Sands Megaload Shipment Stopping Departure from Port of Umatilla as Tribal Members and Climate Justice Groups Rally Nearby

megaload pdx rt12/1/13
Media contacts:
Trip Jennings, Portland Rising Tide – TripJennings1@gmail.com - 541.729.3294
Jim Powers - jp@ccpvideos.com - 541.829.2114

Umatilla, OR – Sunday: Near the Port of Umatilla two people locked down to a megaload of equipment bound for the Alberta tar sands halting its planned
departure at 10:00 PM as tribal members and climate justice groups rallied nearby. The equipment, a 901,000 lb. water purifier 22 feet wide, 18 feet
tall and 376 feet in length was met by fifty people and was prevented from departing as scheduled. It had planned to leave the Port of Umatilla, head
south on 395, then east on 26 on Sunday night.

This week’s protest was larger than a similar protest last week as news of the shipment has spread throughout the region. An estimated 50 people
greeted the megaload with signs as it’s schedule departure time neared. Before it could depart two participants locked themselves to the trucks
hauling the megaload, the first time they have been blockaded in this way. This is the first of three megaloads the Hillsboro, OR based shipping
company Omega Morgan has scheduled to move through the region in December and January. Similar loads sparked major protests moving through Idaho and
Montana including a blockade by the Nez Pierce tribe in August.

Groups organizing the protest, including chapters of Rising Tide and 350.org, oppose the shipments due to the final use of the equipment in the expansion
of the Alberta tar sands. This expansion would supply oil for the controversial Keystone XL and other pipelines and many have called the tar
sands most destructive industrial project on earth. Umatilla Tribal Member Shana Radford said, “We have responsibility for what happens on our lands,
but there are no boundaries for air, the carbon dioxide this equipment would create affects us all. The Nez Pierce tribe said no to megaloads, and
so should we.”

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) have stated concerns due to the lack of consultation about the project headed
through their ceded territory as required by law. The shipment would also cross Warm Springs tribal land where members have stated opposition as well.

Warm Springs tribal member Kayla Godowa said, “It’s our duty to protect the native salmon runs in this area. They want to make this a permanent heavy
haul route without even consulting our tribes. Loads like this are unprecedented here. What if a bridge collapses? And what about the impact
to native communities being destroyed by the tar sands where this equipment will end up? We can’t just look the other way while native lands and the
climate are being destroyed. We have to stand up.”

High resolution photos available at:

Photo (first lockdown):
http://portlandrisingtide.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/photo-1.jpg

Photo (rally):
http://portlandrisingtide.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/photo-2.jpg

Photo (second lockdown):
http://portlandrisingtide.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/photo-3.jpg

Photos may be used with attribution to Portland Rising Tide.

Info: www.PortlandRisingTide.org <http://www.portlandrisingtide.org/>

Facebook live updates: PortlandRisingTide

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