Momenta, coal export film documentary, January 16

Momenta, a documentary about coal export, was named one of the Top 10 documentaries of 2013.
Columbia Riverkeeper is proud to invite you to the NW premier of Momenta on Thursday, January 16, 2014! 


Momenta captures stories from the mines of Montana and Wyoming to the ports threatened by Big Coal. Through stunning footage of the American West and unique stories about coal export, the climate and our clean energy future, Momenta proves it’s place amongst the top documentaries of the year.The film is narrated by world-renowned climber, Conrad Anker and features environmentalist Bill McKibben and professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones.  The film also has a few of your hometown favorites from the coal export campaign, like Riverkeeper’s Executive Director Brett VandenHeuvel and activist Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky.

WHEN: Thursday, January 16, 2014– 7 PM doors, 8 PM film
WHERE:
Patagonia Portland, 907 NW Irving Street, in the Ecotrust building
SUPPORT:
$10 suggested donation at the door, includes raffle ticket for great outdoor gear; beer available for purchase. No one turned away for lack of funds.

 

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Casselton, N.D. residents flee town after oil train explosion

Minneapolis Star Tribune– David Shaffer and Susan Hogan, December 31, 2013 — CASSELTON, N.D.

Officials on Monday night were calling for the evacuation of the entire town of Casselton, N.D., after a BNSF grain train derailed and crashed into a crude oil train in North Dakota on Monday afternoon, causing tank cars to explode in towering mushroom-cloud flames.

No one was injured in the accident that happened about 2:10 p.m. near Casselton, about 20 miles west of Fargo, but smoke billowed for hours.

Monday night, however, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office was “strongly recommending” that the town’s 2,300 residents leave immediately. Those who live within 5 miles south and east of the city also were told to leave.

“Information from the National Weather Service indicates a shift in the weather resulting in a high pressure system that will push the plume of smoke down increasing the risk of potential health hazards,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

Amy McBeth, a spokeswoman for BNSF, said a grain train derailed on a track parallel to an eastbound crude oil train with 106 tank cars, striking some of the tanks and triggering explosions.

It was not clear how many tank cars were struck, nor how many were burning, she said.

“It was black smoke and then there were probably four explosions in the next hour to hour and a half,” said Eva Fercho, a Casselton resident who saw the fiery aftermath.

An estimated 11 to 12 crude oil unit trains depart daily from the oil region in western North Dakota. Lacking sufficient pipelines, 69 percent of the state’s oil is currently shipped to market by rail. The main railroads, BNSF and Canadian Pacific, have tracks through the Twin Cities.

Fercho said the BNSF main line runs right through Casselton, and just two blocks from her home.

“We are very thankful it didn’t happen in the city limits,” she said.

The accident also spared the Tharaldson Ethanol plant, west of Casselton. Plant Manager Ryan Carter said the accident was about 2 miles away from the plant, but the burning tank cars were visible from there.

“It was pretty much flames and smoke,” said Carter, who estimated that about 30 tank cars were involved.

Carter Hackmann, who lives about a mile away from the site of the wreck, said he heard at least three explosions, and took photographs from his house of billowing flames and smoke that resembled a mushroom cloud.

The city sent out e-mail alerts warning people to stay indoors.

North Dakota officials have said that even more crude oil is expected to move by rail in 2014. The state is approaching 1 million barrels per day in output, and trails only Texas and the separately counted Gulf of Mexico in U.S. oil production.

In July, a runaway train loaded with North Dakota crude oil crashed in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 people and destroying that city’s downtown as tank cars exploded and burned.

Officials on Monday night were calling for the evacuation of the entire town of Casselton, N.D., after a BNSF grain train derailed and crashed into a crude oil train in North Dakota on Monday afternoon, causing tank cars to explode in towering mushroom-cloud flames.

No one was injured in the accident that happened about 2:10 p.m. near Casselton, about 20 miles west of Fargo, but smoke billowed for hours.

Monday night, however, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office was “strongly recommending” that the town’s 2,300 residents leave immediately. Those who live within 5 miles south and east of the city also were told to leave.

“Information from the National Weather Service indicates a shift in the weather resulting in a high pressure system that will push the plume of smoke down increasing the risk of potential health hazards,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

Amy McBeth, a spokeswoman for BNSF, said a grain train derailed on a track parallel to an eastbound crude oil train with 106 tank cars, striking some of the tanks and triggering explosions.

It was not clear how many tank cars were struck, nor how many were burning, she said.

“It was black smoke and then there were probably four explosions in the next hour to hour and a half,” said Eva Fercho, a Casselton resident who saw the fiery aftermath.

An estimated 11 to 12 crude oil unit trains depart daily from the oil region in western North Dakota. Lacking sufficient pipelines, 69 percent of the state’s oil is currently shipped to market by rail. The main railroads, BNSF and Canadian Pacific, have tracks through the Twin Cities.

Fercho said the BNSF main line runs right through Casselton, and just two blocks from her home.

“We are very thankful it didn’t happen in the city limits,” she said.

The accident also spared the Tharaldson Ethanol plant, west of Casselton. Plant Manager Ryan Carter said the accident was about 2 miles away from the plant, but the burning tank cars were visible from there.

“It was pretty much flames and smoke,” said Carter, who estimated that about 30 tank cars were involved.

Carter Hackmann, who lives about a mile away from the site of the wreck, said he heard at least three explosions, and took photographs from his house of billowing flames and smoke that resembled a mushroom cloud.

The city sent out e-mail alerts warning people to stay indoors.

North Dakota officials have said that even more crude oil is expected to move by rail in 2014. The state is approaching 1 million barrels per day in output, and trails only Texas and the separately counted Gulf of Mexico in U.S. oil production.

In July, a runaway train loaded with North Dakota crude oil crashed in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 people and destroying that city’s downtown as tank cars exploded and burned.

More here

Bruce Crummy/The Associated Press

 

 

Coal Trains Run into Stiff Resistance in U.S.

The InterPress– Matthew Charles Cardinale, December 27, 2013 — SPOKANE, Wa.

Citizens and activists in the U.S. Pacific Northwest are fighting three different proposed coal terminals, including one in Oregon and two in Washington.

Meanwhile, three formerly proposed coal terminals have already been defeated. Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign recently cited these defeats as signs of progress in the broader campaign to retire the use of coal plants across the U.S. altogether.3

“There are three main reasons we oppose coal exports,” Trip Jennings, organiser for Portland Rising Tide, told IPS.

“The first reason – I think the most important for us – is the fact that we’re closing down power plants in the U.S.,” he said. “Oregon and Washington will be totally coal-free in a number of years. We as a community and as citizens decided we didn’t want to burn coal. If we allow corporations to export… it undercuts all the work that we’ve done to address the climate crisis.”

“Second, this has a huge impact on the number of trains that are coming through this area. It creates a situation where we’re committed to shipping highly destructive commodities, rather than shipping people or clean resources on our rails,” Jennings said.

“Third is the dust that is created when these cars lose one pound of dust per car per mile. They’re sprinkling the countryside, the rivers, streams, and communities with toxic, dirty coal dust .”

On May 8, energy company Kinder-Morgan abandoned plans to build a massive export terminal near Clatskanie, Oregon along the Columbia River, which would have exported 15 to 30 million tonnes of coal overseas each year from the Powder River Basin.

On Apr. 1, energy company Metro Ports, the last remaining investor in a proposed Coos Bay Terminal, in Coos Bay, Oregon, allowed its negotiating contract to expire.

International investors Mitsui & Co. of Japan and the Korean Electric Power Corporation had already withdrawn from negotiations. This terminal would have allowed for the shipment of eight to 10 million tonnes of coal each year.

The third victory for activists occurred last August, when Rail America withdrew plans for a coal terminal at the Port of Greys Harbor in Hoquiam, Washington, that would have transported about five million tonnes of coal each year.

The terminals still pending include a two-port plan called Morrow Pacific, in Morrow and St. Helens, Oregon; the Millennium Bulk Terminal at the Port of Longview, Washington; and the Gateway Pacific Terminal in Bellingham, Washington.

The Power Past Coal coalition, Portland Rising Tide and Idaho Rising Tide, the Backbone Campaign, Occupy Spokane, Spokane Riverkeeper, and the Sierra Club, are groups that have been involved in opposing these projects.

Portland Rising Tide, founded in 2007, is part of an international network of groups that works to address the root causes of climate change. It started in Europe and expanded to the U.S. in 2006.

According to Jennings, ” also blankets the rivers and streams with toxic dust, killing salmon, preventing salmon from continuing to spawn where they’ve spawned for millions of years. We’ve spent so many resources in the Northwest rehabilitating and protecting our salmon runs. These trains come in and they’ll be blanketing our salmon spawning beds with toxic coal dust.”

The coal would come from mines at the Powder River Basin in northeast Wyoming and the Tongue River Basin in eastern Montana. The proposed trains would bring the coal through the Columbia River Gorge, to boats. It would then be brought by train south through Portland and Vancouver, Washington, where the trains would turn north or continue west to one of the proposed port terminals.

Spokane, Washington would be impacted by any one of the three current coal train proposals, because they would all come through the city. Many residents there are concerned the increased train traffic will increase the number of times each day that traffic is stopped, meaning that emergency vehicles will not be able to get through.

Over 400 people attended a public hearing regarding the Millennium Bulk Terminal proposal in September 2013; most who attended were in opposition to the train.

At the hearing, Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart held up a bag of coal that he and other residents have collected, containing whole pieces of coal that had fallen off previous coal train shipments. The trains can lose up to one tonne of coal during their journey, advocates say.

Overall, the Millennium Bulk Terminal galvanised some 164,000 citizens to submit comments to the Washington State Department of Ecology and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to the end of the comment period last month.

Meanwhile, the Power Past Coal coalition, which itself is a coalition of groups, has largely spent its time focusing on the regulatory and permitting processes.

One victory from their participation in the environmental impact statement process is that the county and state agreed to consider the environmental impact not only of the carbon emissions in transporting the coal, but also the emissions that will result when the coal is consumed, for the Gateway Pacific Terminal proposal.

However, no government agency has agreed to include in its environmental impact study “what kind of pollutants are going to occur in cities that have no other connection other than that they’re a pass-through city to the ports,” Cullen Gatten, who participated as a legal observer of the protests outside the recent hearing in Spokane, on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild, told IPS.

“China is also slowly moving away from using coal. They’re looking at clean energy, too. They may use it now, but… there is some concern they are going to move on before we excavate all the coal,” Gatten said.

The most significant international investor, involved in two out of three of the proposals, is Ambre Energy, an Australian firm.

At the beginning of this week, Liz Fuller, a spokeswoman for Ambre Energy, asked IPS to email a list of questions, but the company did not respond to them.

Recently, the coal terminal proposals became an issue in the elections for county commissioners in Whatcom County, Oregon, where anti-terminal candidates won a majority of the seats on the board.

As a result, the Gateway Pacific Terminal proposal may be doomed, Gatten said.

Trust.org

 

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Security now standard cost of moving a megaload

Works for us…

earthfix.opb.org – Jessica Robinson, January 3, 2014 — Spokane, WA —

New Year Likely To Bring More ‘Megaload’ Fights —

Two large pieces of oil equipment crossing the Northwest are expected to start moving again in the new year.

The past year has been full of stops and starts for the huge shipments known generally as “megaloads.” The closure of one controversial route is only opening up other conflicts likely to continue into 2014.

Clearer weather in eastern Oregon and southern Idaho has helped Hillsboro, Ore., based shipper Omega Morgan make up some ground over the last several days. The shipper now has two loads en route to Alberta’s tar sands. They’re two lanes wide and nearly two stories tall.

This route is plan B. Over the summer, a federal judge closed Idaho’s scenic Highway 12 to megaloads, a victory for protesters.

Yet the alternatives are also meeting resistance. Adrienne Cronebaugh of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance in north Idaho is worried about a new plan by the shipper Mammoet. It’s trying to send a trio of 1.6 million-pound loads through Coeur d’Alene in early 2014.

“…I don’t want to see Lake Coeur d’Alene’s shoreline become a corridor for industrial megaloads shipments,” Cronebaugh says.

The pushback to megaloads has prompted shipping companies to step up local public outreach efforts. A representative of Mammoet says added security is also now a standard part of the cost of moving a megaload.

~~~~~~~~~

Photo by Jessica Robinson

 

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Coal Oil Gas – None Shall Pass

Portland Rising Tide has had an incredible year thanks to your support and participation.

You’ve seen our work around the megaloads over the last few weeks but we’ve done so much more and we need your support to keep building this movement. Please make a donation today if you can.

Last January we started things off with an action shutting down a Chevron Station in solidarity with the Unist’ot’en via a super fun snowball fight.

Over the spring we organized a variety of interventions building up to the Climate Action on the Columbia in July. Over 1,000 people gathered to demonstrate our region’s united opposition to the proposed oil, coal and gas terminals and our willingness to take direct action as needed.

In the fall we disrupted a luncheon by Ambre energy, who want to build a coal terminal in Longview, and we shut down the Port of Vancouver in solidarity with locked out workers and in opposition to the proposed 360,000 barrel per day oil terminal proposed there.
We ended the year by blockading the tar sands megaloads in Eastern Oregon in collaboration with allies from the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla and others. Nineteen people have been arrested in actions that by building on years of previous resistance have delayed the tar sands megaloads moving through Eastern Oregon and made them controversial throughout the nation.
We are stoked! With your help in 2014, we will continue to build a climate justice movement committed to confronting the root causes of the climate crisis. This will allow us to stop the tar sands megaloads and all of the proposed oil, coal and gas terminals in our region.
Please donate if you can to support our work. Our escalated work has come with costs, including $ 20,000 for legal, bail, organizing and action funds for the megaloads alone. Please forward this email to friends who might also be able to financially support us.
We are an all-volunteer group and we look forward to your continued involvement in 2014! Without your participation none of this is possible.
Thanks for everything you do,
Portland Rising Tide
PS – If you’d prefer to use PayPal you can or email us and we can provide an address to mail checks to!
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Are you friends with us on Facebook? Visit https://www.facebook.com/PortlandRisingTide

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Second megaload remains parked in Pendleton today

December 24, 2013 — Rising Tide is honored to have taken part in last night’s ceremony. Thank you to the Umatilla tribal members who have been working so tirelessly. It looks like last’s nights prayers and songs paid off–  the second megaload remains parked in Pendleton today!

Here’s wishing a Christmas stocking full of dirty tar sands oil to Omega Morgan CEO John McCalla, for his reckless profiteering from climate change.

Holiday Solidarity to All!

Protesters get mega-loud: Tribes sing, hold ceremony as second megaload begins trek

George Plavin, December 23, 2013 —  Pendleton climate activists joined in solidarity with Umatilla tribal members and elders Monday night as the second of three controversial megaloads rolls through Eastern Oregon to the oil sands region of Alberta, Canada.About 50 people gathered along Highway 395 near St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton, where the convoy was parked after departing the Port of Umatilla late Sunday.  Together, they held signs and sang songs of prayer while police kept watch over the demonstration.Industrial hauler Omega Morgan, of Hillsboro, is trucking the enormous shipment of oil refinery equipment on its route south through the John Day Valley, before crossing east over state lines into Idaho.  Protesters were attempting to block the first load in Hermiston and Pendleton, speaking out against oil extraction that damages the environment.

“We are contributing and allowing our state to be used to expand one of the most environmentally destructive projects on the planet,”said Trip Jennings, of the activist group Portland Rising Tide. “We’re assuming the risk, and seeing none of the benefit.  All we’re seeing is more carbon coming from the tar sands.”

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, meanwhile, has opposed the Oregon Department of Transportation’s decision to permit the megaloads over ceded land without proper consultation between state and tribal governments.

Protesters were active attempting to block the first load through Oregon, which finally crossed over into Idaho over the weekend. The second load is similar in size, though slightly smaller 380 feet long, 23 feet wide and weighing approximately 804,000 pounds.

Tribal elder Art McConville said they remain concerned about anything causing damage to the land and ecosystem.  Their prayers asked for safety and protection, not only for the environment but everybody involved along the route as well.

“It’s a lot of sacred area out there,”McConville said.  “There’s a lot of ceremonial activities that go on all across the land.  We’re concerned about anything that could contaminate the earth.”

Alexandra Amonette, of Richland, Wash., said climate change is the most important issue affecting everyone today.  People have to learn to stop burning fossil fuels and transition to a clean energy economy, she said.

“We absolutely can’t do these tar sands, where this megaload is going,”Amonette said.  “They’re unconventional fossil fuels. We can’t burn them up, or we will overheat the planet.”

In addition, Jennings said groups are looking to keep the route from becoming a long-term industrial corridor to reach the oil sands. Erik Zander, project manager with Omega Morgan, has said there are no plans to use the route beyond these three loads.

The megaload is only permitted to travel between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., with occasional daytime travel on rural highways under special conditions outlined in the project permit, according to ODOT. It will not travel Tuesday or Wednesday during the Christmas holiday.

Drivers can expect delays of up to 20 minutes when the megaload is on the road. Updates will be posted online at www.tripcheck.com.

Contact: George Plaven at gplaven@eastoregonian.com

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Vancouver fails to oppose oil terminal

Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies want to spend up to $100 million to build a 42-acre oil-handling operation involving Port of Vancouver, Washington sites.  The 380,000 barrel per day oil terminal would be the largest such operation in the Northwest (Aaron Corvin, The Columbian).  The city of Vancouver requested that state regulators conduct a  “thorough oil-terminal study”  but failed to oppose the oil terminal or request a comprehensive environmental review.

The City of Vancouver sent its concerns to the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) in December as part of the council’s scoping process to decide what should be included in the environmental review of the project. The EFSEC will study the proposed terminal and send recommendations to Governor Jay Insley in 2014.  The final decision whether or not to allow development of the terminal rests with the Governor and, ultimately, the public.

On November 4, 2013, fifty activists with Vancouver and Portland Rising Tide blocked entrances to the Port of Vancouver, WA with a community picket line in response to the Port’s re-leasing of public land to Tesoro/Savage for the proposed construction of the oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.  Trucks backed up down the block as work was delayed for the morning. More here

The Vancouver and Portland chapters of Rising Tide will continue to monitor the Tesaro/Savage oil terminal proposal and update these pages as public opposition mounts and developments occur.

Photo: Steven Lane, The Columbian

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The following article by Aaron Corvin was published in the Columbian on December 10, 2013

Vancouver neighborhoods cut off from fire and police protection by increased train traffic. A highly volatile commodity traveling near homes. An industrial area prone to liquefying in an earthquake.

Those are among more than 100 areas of concern the city of Vancouver wants state regulators to include in their examination of the environmental impacts of a proposed oil-by-rail operation at the Port of Vancouver.

City officials on Monday presented to the City Council a draft 12-page document outlining Vancouver’s concerns about the proposal by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies to run a facility capable of handling as much as 380,000 barrels of crude per day for eventual conversion into transportation fuels. It would be the largest such operation in the Northwest.

The city will send its concerns to the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC, as part of the council’s scoping process to decide what should be included in the environmental review of the project. The deadline for submitting remarks is Dec. 18.

Senior Planner Jon Wagner told city councilors that thousands of people have submitted comments to EFSEC. “I feel confident the project will be thoroughly reviewed,” he said.

Project opponents want the city to request a comprehensive environmental review and to oppose the project. They include Jim Eversaul, a Vancouver resident and retired U.S. Coast Guard chief engineer, who was among 11 people who spoke to city councilors last month. “It’s just not that many jobs for the price,” he said of the oil-handling facility.

The city’s concerns reflect many of those raised by opponents, including potential oil spills, detrimental impacts to the city’s waterfront redevelopment plan and climate change. But the city isn’t taking a position on the oil terminal, according to its scoping comments. Instead, the city “encourages EFSEC to require a full and comprehensive analysis of the probable, significant adverse environmental impacts of the entire project.”

In an email to The Columbian, Rebecca Boucher, a spokeswoman for Savage, said the company and Tesoro declined to comment for this story.

More here

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