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Activists’ Protest Prevents Oil Shipments Today at Arc Logistics oil-by-rail terminal

 

Activists form blockade against oil trains at Arc Logistics, crude oil-by-rail terminal

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NW Portland: 100 people gathered in protest this afternoon at Arc Logistics, Portland’s only crude oil-by-rail terminal. Five activists risked arrest by sitting directly on the rail tracks to prevent an oil train from reaching the oil terminal. Information leaked from a worker at the facility revealed that due the controversial protest, oil shipments had been halted for the day. Protesters, including those blocking the tracks have dispersed peacefully.

Crude oil trains have caused a great deal of controversy across the county. Nearly a dozen derailments have occurred in the past two years, many ending in fireball explosions that have killed 47 people and caused hundreds of millions in property damage. Event organizers say these trains represent an unacceptable threat to our communities: risking explosive train derailments, dangerous spills and leaks, degrading air quality, and destabilizing the climate.

“I am an obstetrician, gynecologist with a degree in public health. I have devoted my career to protecting mothers and babies and worked internationally in almost 40 countries. I have taught at Harvard and Stanford. The importance of these efforts now pales,” said Kelly O’Hanley, MD, MPH, one of the five activists willing to risk arrest if an oil train attempted to enter Arc Logistics. “I have never gone to jail but the specter of climate change has moved me out of my clinic, out of the hospital and out of my comfortable living room – onto the streets and into jail if necessary.”

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“Portland is a choke point for fossil fuel transport in the Northwest. We are drawing the line to support all those affected from extraction to the climate-destabilizing combustion,” says organizer Mia Reback, “today’s action is intended to send a strong message that the community will not allow these dangerous oil trains to come through Portland.”

Today’s protest continues a series of direct actions and resistance against Northwest oil-by-rail projects. In June, activists with Portland Rising Tide blocked the Arc Logistics site in Portland when a woman locked herself to a concrete filled barrel on the tracks. Following that action, community members across the Northwest have set up blockades at oil facilities in Anacortes, Washington, Everett, Washington and most recently Port Westward, Oregon.

Arc Logistics currently ships crude by rail from fracked oil shale in Utah. The first US tar sands mine is under construction in Utah and Arc could soon be accepting this controversial fuel. The Arc Logistics terminal can also receive explosive Bakken crude oil from North Dakota without notifying Portland residents.

The Climate Action Coalition demands that the city of Portland halts the operations of Arc Logistics and imposes a ban on all new fossil fuel infrastructure that puts our climate and communities in jeopardy.

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The Climate Action Coalition is: Portland Rising Tide, NoKXL, 350 PDX, Portland Raging Grannies, First Unitarian Universalist Community for Earth Team, PDX Bike Swarm

 

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Open Letter: Laborer Challenges Union Support of Fossil Fuel Export Projects

Detail from Diego Rivera's mural at Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, "Man at the Crossroads".
Detail from Diego Rivera’s mural at Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, “Man at the Crossroads”.

The following is an open letter from  union member Tim Norgren to Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA). Read on as Tim explains why union support of fossil fuel export projects is short-sighted and generally not in the best interest of workers. 

Dear LIUNA and Fellow Workers,

In joining forces with avowed union enemies to lobby for export projects like coal and bitumen/oil terminals and pipelines, which would create some short term, but VERY FEW long term local jobs, I strongly feel we’re selling ourselves out, along with every worker in America!

The propositions stand to benefit billionaires like the Koch brothers and other members of ALEC, which as you know are behind state by state attacks on worker’s rights via campaigns like the “right to work” bill recently pushed in OR (see www.alecexposed.org for more).

Export proponents Arch and Peabody coal (ALEC members) were featured in the Labor Press last summer for shifting pensions worth over $1.3 BILLION (owed to some 20,000 beneficiaries) to a shell company- then bankrupting it, leaving retirees destitute. This “success” opened the door for Detroit to become the first city to declare bankruptcy and default on pensions. Scrutiny showed this to be an ALEC “model” scheme. Supporting companies which commit such crimes against dedicated workers is UNACCEPTABLE for anyone who purports to be part of a labor movement!

According to Greg Palast (investigative reporter for the BBC), the Koch brothers stand to save about $26 a barrel bringing in the oil from the Keystone XL instead of from H. Chavez in Venezuela. The Koch’s Houston refineries are designed to refine only the high carbon tar sands oil available from those sources and cannot even process the lighter Texas crude. $26 a barrel would add up to a lot more ammo in their union-busting arsenal.

Should proposals succeed, then when our job’s over, coal will continue being extracted from public lands, with mainly non-union miners and huge federal subsidies (taxpayer expense) in obscenely higher quantities than now, then carted though our neighborhoods alongside explosive fracked oil tankers. Tar sands oil will keep flowing into Koch Industries refineries. And while NOT keeping us working, it WILL continue to profit enemies of labor (fueling their next campaigns) as it’s shipped to Asia, providing cheap fuel for deathtrap factories where subsistence workers slave at jobs outsourced from living wage employment in America!

Indeed as industrial and other jobs are replaced with government subsidized resource extraction and privatization schemes, across the board from fossil fuels and lumber to such basic staples as water and social services, we can see in our mirror a third world nation.

In my humble opinion as a member of LIUNA, pursuing these proposals rather than insisting on cleaner, more labor-friendly energy and transmission projects IS SUICIDE! Are we truly willing to follow the short-term carrot on a stick, like an ass to the slaughter? To feed ourselves willingly to those who would destroy us? Or do enough of us still have the conscience, guts and faith to stand up with those who’ve struggled at such cost to give us rights as workers?

Sincerely,

Tim Norgren, Laborers Local 320

 

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Is Natural Gas in the Pacific Northwest Getting a Free Pass?

Natural Gas Storage TanksTouted as a transitional fuel that can help us fight climate change, shale gas is being pushed by the fossil fuel industry and politicians as a step towards energy independence and reducing carbon emissions.

If shale gas is vital for our fight against climate change, why are we planning to export it to Asia? Why is it that fracked gas releases more methane, is more energy-intensive, and plays a greater role in contributing to climate change than coal? And how is poisoning the water of millions of Americans ever acceptable? Even in “green” Oregon, we have several proposals for shale gas infrastructure that will threaten our air quality, our watersheds, and our climate while benefiting only a wealthy elite.

One proposal is for up to three gas power plants in Troutdale. These plants create higher levels of acid rain and smog that will blow towards the scenic Columbia River Gorge, a vital part of Oregon and Washington’s economy. Even Morrow-Pacific, operator of the Boardman coal-fired power plant, is questioning why this proposal is moving forward with little debate when it will have a greater impact on the air quality and scenery of the Gorge than their own coal plant. The Troutdale power plants are being bid on by Development Partners, a New York energy company that keeps tight-lipped on its involvement in other energy projects. The Troutdale city council recently gave the project a $46 million subsidy to promote its construction and operation, with the expected lifespan of the plant to be 30 years.

Another project is the Warrenton LNG terminal, where a battle has been raging on the front lines for over a decade. The hijacking of our democracy by Kitzhaber and the Land Use Board of Appeals has been egregious. While finally caving to massive public pressure on the Boardman coal export terminal, the LUBA was simultaneously declaring that a Clatsop County vote to reject the LNG terminal proposal was illegal because a county commissioner had a bias against he project. He had run a campaign promising to oppose the LNG terminal, got elected, and then voted like he promised.

Why is it legal for elected officials to take massive amounts of cash from corporate and fossil fuel interests and vote on their behalf, but it is deemed a bias of conflict-of-interest when they vote to serve the public interest?

The Jordan Cove LNG terminal in Coos Bay is another controversial project due to its impact on local fisheries and ocean pollution while using eminent domain to construct a pipeline through Southern Oregon. The project, funded by out-of-state investment group and promoted by Senator Ron Wyden (http://www.wyden.senate.gov/news/press-releases/wyden-applauds-approval-of-jordan-cove-lng-terminal) would promote increasing our exports of gas to Asia while continuing climate change at a catastrophic rate. The Pacific Connector Pipeline, powered by eminent domain land grabs, is also providing more infrastructure for this export expansion while putting rural communities in danger of ruptures and leaks.

And now right here in Portland we are facing another fossil fuel export terminal: a $500-million liquid propane terminal in the Port of Portland (Terminal 6). This terminal will accept propane (a product of gas and oil refining) via rail cars and stored underground next to the Willamette. Propane is a fossil fuel that contributes to climate change, but is also the main contributor to exploding crude oil trains. A propane rail car explosion in Tennessee killed 16 people in 1978. These tanks also sit on land that is prone to liquefication in event of an earthquake greater than a 6.0. And Mayor Charlie Hales is supporting all this as an environmentally-friendly project. With this terminal and Arc Logistics, Portland will have two fully-operational fossil fuel terminals on its banks.

We must ramp up our resistance to these projects just as we resist oil and coal projects. We act in solidarity with communities on the front lines who have no water to drink or no land to grow food. We know that if these projects are allowed to happen, more extraction will occur and their will be catastrophic consequences for those on the front lines of extraction and for all people who are experiencing the effects of climate change.

Coal, Oil, Gas.

None shall pass!

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TWACtion: Env & Gender Rights Groups Occupy I-5 Billboard

Earth First! Newswire — September 8, 2014 — Demonstrators from Trans and/or Women’s Action Camp (TWAC) and the Gender Alliance of the South Sound (GASS)  staged a dance party at a billboard along I-5 (Northbound, Exit 72).  The billboard’s former advertisement was replaced with a massive banner with the message “Transgender Health, Not Fossil Fuel Wealth.”

The protesters wish to draw attention to the fact that the investment in fossil fuels comes at the expense of the basic needs of citizens such as affordable healthcare.  In particular, transgender citizens in Washington are commonly denied health coverage for medically necessary drugs, therapy, and procedures.   More here!  Go TWAC!! RTpdx <3 U!

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Citizens Blockade Oil Train in Everett, WA

EverettBlockadeA group of citizens took direct action this morning to block a train full of Bakken Shale oil in the Delta rail yard in Everett, Washington. It is reported that they set up a tripod of long poles over the tracks. Usually such devices are at least a couple dozen feet high. Once assembled, someone climbs it, which forces authorities to extract that person before the tripod can be disassembled and removed. 

Updates: See RT-Seattle and AP story for more information (1:10 PM PST on 9/3)

More details regarding this action will be posted as we get them. 

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Oregon Approves $5M Subsidies For Oil & Coal Transport– Denies Additional $2M for Coal

OPBTony Schick and Cassandra Profita — August 22, 2014 — The Oregon Transportation Commission voted Friday to approve nearly $5 million in subsidies for rail and dock infrastructure tied to controversial coal export and oil-by-rail projects.

The port was denied another $2 million to reconstruct part of the dock, which would have been used for coal exports. Of 36 applications, it was the only denial.

The subsidies were recommended as part of a $42.3 million package of transportation funding through the ConnectOregon program. The program leverages state lottery dollars to pay for transportation projects such as airport runway upgrades, railroad improvements and dock expansions.

This year the list of grants included $4 million to expand a dock at the Port Westward near Clatskanie, Oregon, that is integral to both crude oil-by-rail and coal export projects. The commission approved half of the request from the Port of St. Helens, which owns the dock.

The port will receive $2 million to extend the dock and enable it to support mid-size tankers.

Massachusetts-based Global Partners currently uses a dock to load crude oil onto barges in the Columbia River, bound for refineries along the West Coast. Ambre Energy of Australia also planned to use the dock as a transfer site for coal in its Morrow Pacific project to export coal to Asia. That project was denied a crucial state lands permit this week.

Another $2.9 million was approved for safety improvements along the rail line in Rainier, Oregon, by adding gates, curbs, signals and intersection closures to separate trains from pedestrian and vehicle traffic. As a consequence, more oil trains would be allowed to move through town at a faster pace on their way to the Global Partners oil terminal. The safety features would allow the number of oil trains to increase from 24 a month to 38 along that route. Oil train speeds could increase from 10 miles per hour to 25 mph.

Opponents of crude-by-rail and coal exports have urged the state not to spend public money to help developers of two controversial fossil fuel projects.

“Increasing crude oil unit train traffic would not ‘connect Oregon,’ but divide it,” wrote Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, in a letter to the transportation commission. “Subsidizing the expansion of crude oil shipping at Port Westward will lead to increased crude oil unit train traffic through large and small communities in Eastern Oregon, the Gorge, Portland, and Columbia County, further impairing transportation connectivity for ordinary Oregonians and jeopardizing the safety of anyone living or working near these dangerous oil trains.”

Rainier resident Darrel Whipple says he’d rather see the oil train risk removed rather than spend public money to reduce it.

“The safety emergency is real, but it was created by the Port and Global Partners to bring hundred-car trains full of explosive crude oil through Columbia County in unsafe tank cars on unsafe tracks,” he said. “This is an impossible situation being forced on the community by the Port and its grandiose scheme for coal and oil export.”

Port of St. Helens Director Patrick Trapp said the dock expansion at Port Westward wouldn’t only benefit the oil and coal companies planning to use it in the near future. It will also help the public port as a whole and its future tenants, he said.

“This allows us to turn what we consider a single berth dock into two berths,” Trapp said before the state’s decision. “Port-owned assets in fact are used to attract a multitude of customers and this is investment in that infrastructure.”

© 2014 OPB

Oregon approves permit for Global Partners crude oil railport

Aug 20, 2014 –Rory Carroll–  Reuters — Oregon environmental regulators on Tuesday approved an emissions control permit for a Global Partners LP railport along the Columbia River that clears the way for the firm to significantly increase the amount of crude oil it can receive via rail and load onto vessels to deliver to U.S. West Coast refineries.

The project is among many along the West Coast as refiners and logistics companies seek to tap cut-price crude from North Dakota’s Bakken shale and Canada to replace more expensive imports. Those, and other energy projects, have faced growing opposition from residents and environmental groups.

Global Partners won permission to handle 1.8 billion gallons of crude oil and ethanol per year – up to 120,000 barrels per day – at its Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery facility in Clatskanie. That is up from the 50 million gallons per year, or 3,261 barrels per day, that the previous permit allowed.

Oregon considers the expanded crude transloading operations a new source of air pollution, and the permit requires vapors released during vessel loading to be captured and controlled.

The regulators also approved an oil spill contingency plan for the facility after receiving about 1,400 public comments on the proposal.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) said it found no issues with the railport’s design that would prevent permit compliance, nor would the facility present an imminent danger to human health or the environment.

The DEQ didn’t address rail safety issues, as its permitting action was limited to the stationary emissions source.

Global Partners Chief Executive Eric Slifka said in a statement that the permit was the next step toward infrastructure upgrades that will bring more jobs to the area.

The new permit approval came after the state in March fined Global Partners $117,292 for shipping six times more crude oil than the previous permit allowed. The Massachusetts-based company is appealing that decision, but it doesn’t affect the new permit.

Earlier this week, Oregon denied Ambre Energy’s request for a permit to build a coal export terminal on the Columbia River, saying the project was not in the best interests of the state’s water resources. Unlike the Global Partners project, Ambre’s proposal required a new dock that the state said would impact historic tribal fishing sites.

Global Partners’ project is similar to a much larger proposal from independent refiner Tesoro Corp about 55 miles away in Vancouver, Washington. Tesoro wants to build a railport that could bring in up to 360,000 bpd of Bakken and Canadian crude that also would help supply West Coast refineries.

Tesoro’s proposal is undergoing a detailed state review as required for projects involving crude loaded onto a waterway, and must have Gov. Jay Inslee’s approval before going forward.

David Monro, northwest region air quality manager for the Oregon DEQ, said Oregon doesn’t require that kind of review.

(Additional reporting by Kristen Hays in Houston; editing by Andrew Hay)

 

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Seattle City Council member, state House candidate block railroad tracks in oil train protest

SEATTLE — July 31, 2014– Five protesters blocked railroad tracks through the city on Thursday.  Those participating in the bold action included Seattle City Council member, Kshama Sawant, and Jess Spear, a candidate for the State House of Representatives. 

The aim of the occupation was to call attention to the proliferation of oil trains running through the streets of Seattle and the throughout the Northwest and the “near-miss” derailment of an oil train in Seattle last week.

BLOCKING THE TRACKS TO PROTEST EXPLOSIVE OIL TRAINS Later, getting arrested for it.

Mr Spear was quoted by Seattle’s weekly rag, The Stranger, “These oil trains running right through the downtown area pose a huge risk to life and to the environment. Luckily, last week’s derailment did not spill any oil; but we cannot rely on luck. We cannot stand idly by while these bombs on wheels roll through Seattle”.

Ms Sawant told the Stranger she was at the protest “in solidarity with the three activists who have the courage of their convictions. It’s an enormous sacrifice to be arrested to raise awareness… I’m also here as someone who is on the city council and who takes the task of governance seriously. This is a matter of emergency that needs to be addressed”.

FOX News reported that Seattle Police first warned the protesters, then took three of them into custody.  Two men and Spear were detained.

 According to FOX, “The trains have been a lightning rod for criticism from those who say they are both dangerous and part of an industry that is harmful to the environment”.

The occupation took place atop the tracks near the Olympic Sculpture Park along the Seattle waterfront.

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Photo: ALEX GARLANDThe Stranger

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Shale Gas Protesters Sentenced to 15 Months for Violent Clash with RCMP

from CBC News

Aaron Francis (right) and Germain Junior Breau (left). From Warrior Publications.

Two anti-shale gas protesters have been sentenced to 15 months in jail in connection to a violent clash with police near Rexton, N.B., last fall.

Germain Junior Breau, 21, of Upper Rexton, N.B., and Aaron Francis, 20, of Eskasoni, N.S., were sentenced in Moncton provincial court on Tuesday on several charges.

An RCMP cruiser and another unmarked vehicle were among those destroyed during an anti-shale gas protest near Rexton, N.B., on Oct. 17. (Courtesy of Gilles Boudreau)

Judge R. Leslie Jackson gave Breau 423 days of credit for the 282 days he has already spent in custody. That means he has about a month left to serve in his sentence.

 

Francis was given 413 days of credit, leaving him with about six weeks behind bars.

Breau was convicted last month of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and five counts of pointing a firearm, but was found not guilty of five counts of assaulting police officers with a firearm.

He had previously pleaded guilty to uttering threats against a police officer, careless use of a firearm, and breach of probation.

Francis was also convicted of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, but was found not guilty of throwing Molotov cocktails, intent to do bodily harm by causing an explosive device to explode, possession of explosives while prohibited to do so, and committing an offence while having his face masked.

He previously pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer, two counts of obstructing a police officer, careless use of a firearm, possessing a firearm while prohibited to do so, and breaching a court order, as well as assault against a correctional officer while being held in custody, and breaching a court order.

After the judge left the courtroom, a crowd of supporters who attended the sentencing hearing applauded as the two defence lawyers, Alison Ménard and Gilles Lemieux, left the court, CBC’s Jennifer Choi reported.

The protest on Route 134 near Rexton on Oct. 17, 2013, turned violent when police moved in to enforce a court injunction that prohibited protesters from interfering with the seismic exploration work of SWN Resources Canada.

About 40 people were arrested that day and six RCMP vehicles were destroyed by fire.

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Unist’ot’ten Film Screening and Fundraiser

Thanks to your support, the Unist’ot’ten Film Screening and Fundraiser on July 12 was a great success. Together, we raised over $1200 to support native resistance against exploitative industry and the Pacific Trails Pipeline.  Thanks especially to our speakers for the evening, tribal elder Cathy Sampson-Kruse of the  Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla and activist  Heather Olson of the Unit’ot’en Camp Resistance.

Unist'ot'ten Film ScreeningThe screening took place at a time of critical need as the Unist’ot’en Camp is under threat of eviction by the Canadian state. 

The Unist’oten’s Call to the Land is a short documentary that was filmed in the summer of 2013 on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory, 1000 km north of Vancouver in northern BC (western Canada) over the duration of the fourth annual Environmental Action Camp, hosted by the Unist’ot’en (C’ihlts’ehkhyu/Big Frog) Clan.

The focus of the film is on the Camp as a year-round resistance to exploitative industry, and what it represents in relation to indigenous sovereignty and the environmental, legal, and social issues surrounding pipeline projects in British Columbia. The short film documents one of the most important resistance camps in North America at this time.

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