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Mapping the Portlandia Fossil Fuel Corridor

It seems like just about every week Portland is receiving some sort of new award or recognition for sustainability. We certainly built up a legacy of ecological awareness early-on. Tom McCall, our republican governor in the 60’s and 70’s, advocated for protecting the Commons and cleaning up our watersheds and airsheds. Portland was also ahead of other cities in the West in its commitment to smart urban planning and transportation justice. It only makes sense that Portland is ground zero for the climate fight, but maybe not for the reasons one would think.

While we’ve been told by City Hall and the media that we’ve already won the struggle for a greener future here in Portland, the reality is even more twisted and dangerous than the fossil fuel metropolises of Calgary or Houston. While the dream of Little Beirut fades to the parody of Portlandia and the people trade their banners and blockades for hybrid cars and LEED-certified condos, the fossil fuel industry has found a way to entrench itself in our own communities without the public’s knowledge, consent, or resistance.

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Outside Arc Logistics on 2nd anniversary of Lac-Mégantic.

 The list is exhausting and in progress, but we must understand how deep the fossil fuel industry has embedded itself to our city so we can deconstruct the system that empowers them to profit off violence against us all.

Companies like ESCO and Precision Castparts make their profits off creating the drill bits and wearable parts for physically destroying the Earth through tar sands, fracking, and mountaintop removal. Precision Castparts also profits off wars by building parts designed kill for access to fossil fuel control around the world.

Climate Riders blockading the entrance to the Precision Castparts headquarters.
Climate Riders blockading the entrance to the Precision Castparts headquarters.

Heavy shipping companies like Omega-Morgan and Emmert illegally transport Megaloads to processing facilities in the Alberta Tar Sands.

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Stop Megaloads in Eastern Oregon.

 Evraz North America constructs the steel pipe for oil and gas pipelines like the Keystone XL while Greenbrier Cos./Gunderson Marine and Vigor Industrial build the oil and coal railcars and barges that turn our railroads and rivers into pipelines with zero public knowledge of how much is moving through our communities. In Seattle and Portland, Vigor Industrial and Foss Maritime are contracting with Shell to maintain and house the Arctic Drilling Fleet.

 David Evans and Associates, as well as HDR and CH2M Hill, designs infrastructure projects and promote freeway expansions like the Columbia River Crossing that increase the market for a perpetual growth in fossil fuel consumption.

 HDR and CH2M Hill build the terminals, refineries, and other infrastructure projects that move fossil fuels from the ground to market. After the land and water is inevitably contaminated by their own projects, they win massive no-bid government contracts to clean up their own mess with taxpayer dollars.

Timber companies like Koch-owned Georgia-Pacific release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, having been sequestered into the soil for millions of years while permanently harming our ability to store carbon and replenish our watersheds.

Tim Norgren lock to barrel, supporters nearby with banners
Union Member Risks Arrest at Arc Logistics

And many companies directly move fossil fuels through Portland, often to be burned in Asia. Arc Logistics operates a 1.5 million-barrel capacity crude oil terminal, accepting oil trains from fracked and tar sands sources and ships it down the Willamette. Canadian company Pembina is planning on building a $500 million propane-by-rail export terminal from fracked oil and gas. The proposed site sits in an environmental protection area across from West Hayden Island, which will be hearing testimony on June 4th for a code change to allow for more fossil fuel facilities along our already-polluted rivers. And Kinder-Morgan, currently waging a war against the city of Burnaby over a massive and illegal tar sands pipeline on unceded First Nations land, is operating two petroleum terminals on the banks of the Willamette.

Solidarity with Burnaby Mountain Defenders
Solidarity with Burnaby Mountain Defenders

Despite greenwashing efforts, our non-municipal and undemocratic utility companies continue to cause climate change by acquiring a majority of our electricity from fossil fuels. NW Natural burns fracked gas, Pacific Power is the largest miner and burner of coal in the West, and PGE burns both coal and gas while releasing massive amounts of methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere from the dead reservoirs created by its dams.

And of course, all of these businesses continue to directly pollute our air and watersheds right here in Portland on top of doing the same to frontline communities at all points of extraction and transportation. And their contributions to climate change threatens the existence of the vast majority of species on Earth, including our own.

To make matters worse, these industries receive subsidies, tax breaks, and loopholes that steal millions from the public while forcing us taxpayers to foot the bill for their environmental destruction. Accounting firms like Moss-Adams LLP specialize in helping these businesses figure out how to receive the most corporate welfare possible while also hiding their profits in tax havens overseas.

Most people don’t realize how entrenched the fossil fuel industry is in Portland. In fact, without Portland’s contributions, the fossil fuel industry and extraction would likely cease to function in its current capacity. But if we are such a sustainable city, and our government is truly passionate about fighting climate change, why aren’t they doing everything they can to shut these businesses down and strengthening our Climate Action Plan to recognize global impact on emissions?

Our local government and business institutions are supporting the fossil fuel industry from extraction to combustion, but they have greenwashed their image to make it consistent with the ideals of “Green” Capitalism. Portland has actually become a leader in creative branding and marketing, which includes the greenwashing of corporate polluters. Local public relations firms spin and obfuscate the facts on polluters while promising nothing more than “Jobs” that will apparently end our need for safe air, water, and food. PR firms like Gard Communications, Gallatin Public Affairs, Edelman, and CFM Communications are representing coal, oil, and gas terminals while simultaneously getting contracts from local institutions like Portland State, OPB, the Timbers, OnPoint Credit Union, and Travel Oregon.

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Climate Riders shutting down CFM Communications right across from City of Portland.

Even institutions that are supposed to represent the interests of the environment and the community are playing a role in greenwashing the fossil fuel industry. SOLVE, one of Oregon’s largest environmental non-profits that was started by Tom McCall himself, gets volunteers to clean up litter and remove invasive species. However, the Board of Directors is almost entirely made up of members of the fossil fuel industry and Wall Street. Their Board of Directors then hands out sustainability leadership awards to themselves so their corporations can advertise their green credentials. The work of committed community members who volunteer to plant native species is then turned around to promote the same companies that pollute our air, water, and climate far beyond their role in putting a bandaid on the problem. With their brands on full display at all of SOLVE’s events, environmental stewardship is nothing more than a minor marketing investment to these companies that would destroy the entire planet for wealth.

And public institutions have not escaped the fossil fuel industry’s influence, with Portland State’s Board of Trustees including representatives from the fossil fuel industry. The PSU Foundation, who manages the endowment, also stacks its board with fossil fuel and Wall Street executives.

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This branding of a Green® Portland allows the fossil fuel industry to continue unobstructed and invigorated while innovating new marketing strategies as more communities around the world resist the fossil fuel industry. In Portland, we have dozens of companies that profit off extraction, transport, and consumption of fossil fuels while our elected officials do nothing to address the environmental, social, and economic costs to Portlanders as part of their operations.

Industry groups lobby our elected officials for tax breaks, subsidies, and permits to pollute our air and water. One group, the Association of Oregon Industries consists of a broad range of fossil fuel interests, Wall Street banks, timber companies that tear down our carbon-storing forests, and even the Koch Brothers.

Our city council is bought by the fossil fuel industry they claim to oppose, while they simultaneously praise their role in our community. Charlie Hales went through the revolving door to HDR and Dan Saltzman worked for CH2M Hill. Mayor Hales and Commissioner Dan Saltzman have accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the local fossil fuel industry and subsequently support their operations, including Fossil Fuel Charlie Hales investing $20 million of our city money in Exxon. Even Steve Novick’s largest donor is Greenbrier Cos. This is all in spite of City Council’s strong history of repeating rhetoric about climate justice.

And of course, Oregon’s statewide elected officials have a long history of comprehensive campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry while they back oil-by-rail, LNG, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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Oregon Fair Trade Council across from Rep. Blumenauer’s office.

Portland is a city with a legacy of ecological consciousness and its residents have been lied to. Right now we are the choke point for fossil fuel movements in Cascadia. Coal, oil, and gas are coming down the Columbia and right through our communities while an entire industry profits from extraction to combustion. With all current and proposed fossil fuel terminals South of the US border, Cascadia could transport five times as much carbon into the atmosphere as the Keystone XL, sealing our fate to climate catastrophe. If the fossil fuel industry can thrive in Portland through greenwashing and deceit, then they can continue elsewhere to extract and send profits to the wealthiest 1%. This new “Green” Capitalism is just as destructive as the old and with just as many marginalized communities as before.

True democratic movements are the only way to move beyond fossil fuels and towards a city that puts people, planet, and peace over profit. Grassroots organizations around Portland and around the world are working to elect new leaders who won’t accept money from corporate interests as well as pass laws through direct democracy that fundamentally change the role of government to become trustees of the Commons, protecting our Community Rights and the Rights of Nature while effectively shutting down the fossil fuel industry’s chokehold on our democracy.

But we need action now to physically stop the extraction, transport, and consumption of fossil fuels. We need to build solidarity across all communities within our city, our bioregion, and around the planet. A growing resistance is building against the fossil fuel industry in Portland with the Climate Action Coalition: environmental and social justice groups unified to participate in civil disobedience and direct action to stop the climate catastrophe. Climate change and the systems of oppression that cause it are the biggest threat to humanity that has ever existed, a threat that has been created by a wealthy elite in the name of profit and it’s our time to rise up at resist.

#FloodTheSystem

Police Risk Protester’s Life to End 9-Hour Oil Train Blockade
Police Risk Protester’s Life to End 9-Hour Oil Train Blockade
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Climate Action Coalition Fights Climate Profiteers, Greenwashing – City Council Greenwashes Fracking

Yesterday, June 24th, the Climate Action Coalition took to the streets and City Hall to call for an end to the destruction of the climate and its open endorsement of the local fossil fuel economy. Although City Council decided to strengthen key parts of the Climate Action Plan, they failed to make many much-needed changes and actively removed a provision accounting for the methane footprint of fracked gas.

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The day started with an 8am rally by BikeLoudPDX to call for an end to our violent road system and the adoption of a Vision Zero policy for transportation justice in Portland. Car culture and the violent road system that was created to support it was an intentional product of the fossil fuel industry’s multi-generational lobbying efforts. Riders from the rally and the Tank of DOOM then moved to the rally point for the Climate Action Ride at 11am. After some local media coverage and sweet tunes from the Disco Trike, the Tank of DOOM and its 50-person escort was off!

Outside The Oregonian

The first stop, much to the joy of many rival news cameras, was the mouth of the fossil fuel industry itself, The Oregonian. The Oregonian has been a long-time advocate for the Pembina Propane-by-Rail Terminal in St. Johns, despite countless concerns about the safety and climate-sense of shipping propane cars from fracking and tar sands sources to China to be used in plastics.

Headquarters of The Oregonian
Headquarters of The Oregonian

The time has long been over to treat The Oregonian like serious credible journalism, especially after a series of full-page ads by Pembina in their printed tabloids not-so-subtly reveal who funds a significant portion of their ever-shrinking budget (and credibility).

CFM Lobby

The Tank of DOOM rode next to CFM Communications, conveniently located across the street from the Portland Building and City Hall. CFM represents Pembina, TransCanada, and Nestle as well as many public and well-known institutions.

“Local businesses that don’t participate directly in extraction, transfer, or sale of fossil fuels can still be climate profiteers. CFM Communications makes money trying to convince Portland that the Pembina propane export terminal would not be environmentally damaging or contribute to climate chaos. Effectively, they obscure the reality of Pembina’s reputation as a major polluter with their well-funded propaganda campaign. It’s objectionable to have local businesses profiting off the destruction of the planet. Their other clients and the public should be aware of their business practices.” – Nick Caleb, representing Our Children’s Trust on the Climate Action Coalition

Portlandia, meet Little Beirut

Despite security locking the elevators to their office and numerous threats police eviction, we were able to occupy their lobby and show the city bureaus across the street who CFM was representing. The Tank of DOOM, to the cheers of a tour group, then moved onto the next target: Portland State University.

PSU Administration Building

 

The Climate Riders occupied the lobby of PSU Administration, demanding accountability for the close ties Portland State’s board of trustees and the PSU Foundation have to fossil fuel extraction. Students and Alumni also talked about divestment and the fact that Peter Stott, a board member of megaload-haulin’ Omega-Morgan, has a building named after him.

The Tank of DOOM then rolled down the street to support another rally by the Climate Action Coalition, this time with faith-based groups giving speeches and preparing to testify at the City Council hearing on the Climate Action Plan. The rally began with reading the names of the victims in the AME Shooting in Charleston who were murdered because they were black. The climate movement is as much a movement about the systemic dismantling white supremacy and colonization as it is about climate change.

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As the rally participants prepared to move into City Hall to testify for a stronger Climate Action Plan, the ride continued onward to target another local public official who promotes climate catastrophe.

Members of BikeLoudPDX
Members of BikeLoudPDX

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Despite threats from security, the Tank of DOOM escort parked in the courtyard of the building that held the offices of the Department of Environmental Quality, Bonneville Power Administration, Senator Wyden, and the bike-friendly Representative Blumenauer. Tori Cole of CAC and PDX Bike Swarm spoke about the DEQ’s frequent propensity to support fossil fuel expansions, despite histories of unpermitted operations and continual violations of state permitting laws. CAC members also spoke about the BPA and its masquerade as “green” energy. Dams like those the BPA operate are massive barriers to the river ecology, including salmon runs, that indigenous communities and forests in our bioregion depend on.

Blumenauer Wanted for Climate Crimes

As folks spoke about the DEQ and BPA, members of Oregon Fair Trade Campaign dropped a banner from the top of a parking garage across the street, calling out Blumenauer for his support of the TPP FastTrack and its implications for fossil fuel exports and climate action. Fossil fuel companies could sue communities for passing laws that ban fossil fuel infrastructure, giving corporations more rights than communities or even the federal government.

Shell Station at 12th and Hawthorne
Shell Station at 12th and Hawthorne

The next stop on the tour was the Shell Station at 12th and Hawthorne. Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic this summer are based on the expectations of a catastrophic 2C rise in global temperatures. Shell’s arctic drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, experienced massive resistance reminiscent of the WTO protests. The gas station was briefly shut down and no cars could fill up with gasoline that likely came from Shell’s violent and spill-ridden extraction in Nigeria.

A local kayaktivist who just returned  from blocking the Polar Pioneer in Seattle.
A local kayaktivist who just returned from blocking the Polar Pioneer in Seattle.

The Climate Action Ride finally moved towards its last polluter, a heinous company that profits not only off climate change but also the wars fought over it: Precision Castparts. Precision Castparts makes equipment for fossil fuel extraction as well as airfoils for the non-functional F-35 jet that has cost the US taxpayers over $1 trillion. They are also Portland’s largest company and the #1 industrial air polluter in the entire US.

Climate Riders blockading the entrance to the Precision Castparts headquarters.
Climate Riders blockading the entrance to the Precision Castparts headquarters.

There is something particularly sickening when confronted with the fossil fuel economy we live in, creating almost every modern war, destroying our access to safe food, and keeping us from transportation justice. Even when politicians argue for stronger climate action, they often use it as an excuse to push for more displacement through housing injustice and gentrification.

Upon our return to City Hall and the Climate Action Plan hearing, the public was still not allowed to testify as industry groups and other groups friendly to the City’s climate inaction and greenwashing agenda continued to praise the City. Public testimony was extremely limited and almost all who signed up to testify for a stronger CAP were turned away. City Council didn’t even strengthen the existing CAP; they instead unanimously accepted a proposal from Michael Armstrong to remove a specific provision that acknowledges the city to account for fugitive methane emissions from fracking wells in reducing citywide emissions. He then proposed instead that the city praise NW Natural for retrofitting its local infrastructure to make it more sustainable, despite NW Natural’s dependence on fracking for its natural gas. City Council ended the day using the full weight of our City of Portland to greenwash NW Natural, a private fossil fuel corporation.

Members of the Climate Action Coalition are extremely disappointed with this greenwashing, and expect significant and constant public involvement in moving the implementation of the CAP forward, especially regarding equity concerns for local residents and future generations.

 

Stay tuned for when Portland Rising Tide exposes the depths of the fossil fuel industry in Mapping the PDX Fossil Fuel Corridor.

 

 

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FLOOD THE SYSTEM

Climate justice groups call for mass actions in lead up to Paris climate talks
Climate justice groups call for mass actions in lead up to Paris climate talks

Starting this September, Rising Tide North America is calling for mass actions to shut down the economic and political systems threatening our survival.

Already, hundreds of thousands are streaming into the streets to fight back against climate chaos, capitalism and white supremacy.

This wave of resistance couldn’t be more urgent. To stop climate chaos we need a phenomenal escalation in organizing, participation and tactical courage. We need a profound social transformation to uproot the institutions of capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, and white supremacy, the systems that created the climate crisis. And we need to link arms with allies fighting for migrant justice, dignified work and pay, and an end to the criminalization and brutal policing of black and brown bodies.

We need to #FloodTheSystem.

In the lead up to the United Nations climate talks in Paris, in December, we will escalate local and regional resistance against systems that threaten our collective survival. Together, we will open alternative paths to the failing negotiations of political elites.

This is not another protest. It is a call for a massive economic and political intervention. It is a call to build the relationships needed to sustain our struggles for the long haul. To build popular power along the intersections of race, class, gender and ability. To collectively unleash our power and change everything.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are mobilizing locally.  If you want to get involved, let us know.  And if you already know you are willing to take direct action to address the climate crisis and stop the fossil fuel projects in our region, sign the Rising Tide Regional Pledge of Resistance.

See you at the barricades.

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Stop NW Coal Export

Coal Export Threatens Northwest

3 minute video about coal export terminals!

Faced with declining profit and image across America, Big Coal is courting the seemingly insatiable overseas energy markets. Nearly every deep water port in the Northwest is being pursued to export coal. The first two such projects are seeking permits for infrastructure that would allow close to 110 million tons of coal export annually-roughly equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of 40 million cars.

 

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