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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.

Megaloads
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

Cascadia Coal and Oil Export Update

Thanks to well-organized and vehement resistance to planned coal export terminals throughout the Northwest, significant victories continue in the fight for healthy communities and clean air and rivers.  Resistance to oil trafficking is beginning to coalesce but activists opposing oil by rail have a longer and much more difficult road ahead.

COAL ON THE DEFENSE

Of the six coal terminals that were proposed for Oregon & Washington, three have been withdrawn. Proponents face unprecedented opposition from tribes, business owners, public health professionals, farmers, conservationists, elected officials, and families along the rail lines.1   Falling coal prices in Asia haven’t hurt the campaigns against coal exports either.2

On April 19, after years of hedging, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber proclaimed emphatically that “It is time to once and for all to say NO to coal exports from the Pacific Northwest. It is time to say YES to national and state energy policies that will transform our economy and our communities into a future that can sustain the next generation”.

At the same time, however, the Governor claims to lack the authority to do much about the darn coal terminals right now:

“Unfortunately, Oregon law is more limited (than Washington State) in terms of what we can consider in reviewing large-scale projects such as the proposed Ambre coal export facility. I assure you, however, that we are carefully reviewing all of the issues under our authority, and that I will do all that I can within the context of existing Oregon law to ensure that we do not commit ourselves to a coal-dependent future.

“Furthermore, I have asked my staff to develop proposals for the 2015 Oregon Legislature that, going forward, will assure that there is a comprehensive public review of the costs and benefits of significant development proposals like the coal export facilities now on the drawing boards…”

So Governor Kitzhaber has proposed to propose a new and comprehensive statewide environmental law.

“Oregon law is only limited if you interpret it narrowly”, quips Nicholas Caleb, an attorney, professor at Concordia University, and presently a candidate for Portland City Council.

The question remains whether new and comprehensive statewide environmental laws are necessary in Oregon or whether the Governor could exercise significantly more authority to halt coal within Oregon’s existing legal framework.

The full text of the Governor’s address can be viewed here.

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Three coal terminals are still under consideration in the Northwest:

Ambre Energy of Australia is pushing this two-port plan to transport 8.8 million tons of coal per year by rail from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming by rail to Boardman.  From there, coal would be barged down the Columbia River to a port near Clatskanie, Oregon, where it would then be placed on ships bound for Asia.3 Both ports would encroach on sensitive salmon habitat.  Ambre has refuted tribal claims to fishing rights near the site.  It’s the smallest of the three plans left standing but the closest to being fully permitted.  Air quality, water quality, and construction stormwater permits were approved in February, 2014 by Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality.

What’s Next:  The project still must receive permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a wetland fill removal permit from the Department of State Lands (DSL).  Governor Kitzhaber was pushing the DSL to reach its final decision by  May 31 after months of delays by Ambre.  On May 29, however, DSL spokeswoman Julie Curtis “reported that this time her agency asked the company for a deadline extension on its permitting decision to August 18“, according to OPB.

Ambre Energy and Arch Coal, the second-largest coal producer in the U.S., seek to export 44 million tons of coal per year to Asia from a private brownfield site.  A record-busting 195,000 comments were received by Washington State’s Department of Ecology and the Army Corps of Engineers during the site scoping period which ended in November, 2013.4

What’s Next:  It’s clear that Washington State has been taking coal proposals far more seriously than Oregon has so far. In February, ECY and Cowlitz County announced that will conduct a sweeping environmental study of this project.  The study will include the effects of train traffic from inland mines and greenhouse gas emissions from coal-burning power plants in Asia.5 

Seattle-based SSA Marine and Peabody Energy want to build a terminal within the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve. Gateway would export 48 million tons of coal per year.  The Army Corps of Engineers and ECY received public input September 24 through January 21, 2013.  Hearings throughout Washington and online interaction drew more than 124,000 public comments which are available here.  The Cherry Point Terminal was proposed in February, 2012.

What’s Next:  As of Spring, 2014, environmental consultants CH2M Hill under the direction of the co-lead agencies, have begun to prepare the draft NEPA and SEPA Environmental Impact Statements (EIS).  According to ECY, “The purpose of an EIS is to provide the public and agency decision makers with information on likely adverse effects of a proposed project, as well as reasonable alternatives and measures to reduce those effects”.6 

Draft EISs will be made available in 2015 at which point, there will be another open public comment period and public hearings will be held.

The question central to any of these regulatory reviews, is whether the option not to build a project is actually on the table.

 

OIL ON A ROLL

While activists have been organizing pretty effectively to oppose coal exports, oil by rail has proliferated wildly, driven in large part by an 150-fold increase in the fracking and extraction of North Dakota’s notoriously explosive Bakken crude.7 More than that, enormous oil terminals to export the stuff are being proposed for Clatskanie, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. The Lac-Mégantic that derailed, killed 47 people and destroyed half a downtown, was carrying Bakken crude.8

The Oregonian’s Rob Davis reported in April that the volume of oil hauled on Oregon’s rails increased 250 percent in 20139 .  Mr Davis writes that a sharp increase in crude shipments along a rail line through Portland, Scappoose, Rainier, and St. Helens/Port Westward are driving the jump.  The history goes like this:

“In 2013, 19,065 tank cars moved more than 11 million barrels of oil through Oregon, That’s up from the 5,491 cars that moved 2.9 million barrels in 2012.

“Just a few years ago, almost no oil moved on the state’s railroads. In 2007, railroads moved just 659 tank carloads of oil.

“(The most recent annual) reports from BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific provide the best estimate to date of how much oil is moving around Oregon. Most is brought into the state by BNSF in Portland, bound for an oil train terminal near Clatskanie that loads the oil on barges bound for West Coast refineries. But millions of barrels move elsewhere, passing through the Columbia River Gorge, Salem, Eugene, Bend and Klamath Falls”.

  • The Vancouver Oil Terminal

In summer 2013, the Port of Vancouver approved a lease agreement with Tesoro Savage to ship up to 360,000 barrels of crude oil each day along the Columbia River which would make it the largest oil terminal in the Northwest, and would require at least four, mile-and-a-half long unit trains per day according to Columbia Riverkeeper10.  Riverkeeper emphasizes that the impacts to the communities along the rail lines would be “staggering”.

 

Public meetings to vet the proposed Vancouver Oil Terminal were held in October, 2013 by the Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSC).  Opposition was fierce. EFSC received 31,000 public comments during the scoping process for the study11.

 

Based on recommendations of the EFSC, the decision whether or not to build the terminal rests in the hands of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and, ultimately, the public.

 

The terminal is being pursued by the Savage and Tesoro corporations. Tesoro is responsible for the October 10th pipeline failure which spewed more than 20,000 barrels of crude oil into a wheat field in North Dakota.  Also Bakken crude.

 

  • The Port Westward Oil Terminal

 

“With little public involvement, a company called Global Partners has now started exporting oil from Port Westward near Clatskanie, Oregon,” reports Columbia Riverkeeper12.  Bakken oil trains travel through the Columbia River Gorge, Portland, and St. Helens among many other cities on the way to the export terminal.  Now, Global Partners seeks a permit to rebuild a large dock to export more oil.

 

THE ELEPHANT IN THE OIL FIELD

Given the 250 percent increase in oil train traffic and considering the apparent recent spike in oil train explosions — eight in the past year– sure, the implications for public safety are huge.  Even Governor Kitzhaber got on the safety train this month as he called on the federal government to move faster to make trains transporting crude oil throughout the state safer.   To his credit, the Governor outlined five areas where he’d like the feds to do more including higher safety standards, oil train tracking systems, and funding for emergency response.

 

The trains sure aren’t going to go away tomorrow so all these things are good– important, really, when you consider that lives are at stake. But who’s paying for increased inspections and emergency response? We are. Why? So the corporations that are profiting from the “fracking frenzy”7 in North Dakota can continue to increase their wealth? Or are we paying for all this because we believe that the oil industry will in turn provide badly needed jobs in our still sluggish economy?

 

Making oil trains safer isn’t going to reverse the trend of climate change.  It isn’t going to reverse ocean acidification or the melting of the polar caps or sea-level rise or provide the next seven generations with breathable air or drinkable water.  Safer oil trains might help to protect salmon habitat from impending disasters, but it’s not really gonna do anything for the fish.  Not the Governor, in fact, no politician that I know of is calling for a slowdown or a halt to our increasingly oil-dependent economy.

 

An economy built upon extraction and consumption is unsafe at any speed.  It is up to us, to people who value our natural heritage to change the discussion.  And it is up to us to stop the plundering of our natural resources because the corporations and the politicians and the regulatory agencies are not so inclined.

 

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1 https://portlandrisingtide.org/campaigns/coal-exports/terminated-coal-terminals-dead-or-dying/

2 http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2013/12/viability_of_oregon_washington.html

3 http://earthfix.opb.org/energy/article/oregon-issues-3-permits-for-boardman-coal-export-t/

4  http://tdn.com/news/local/state-county-order-wide-environmental-review-of-millennium-coal-project/article_d847c38c-9411-11e3-b699-0019bb2963f4.html

5 http://earthfix.opb.org/communities/article/comments-on-longview-coal-export-project-reach-163/

6 http://www.ecy.wa.gov/geographic/gatewaypacific/

7 http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/03/bakken-shale-oil/dobb-text

8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lac-M%C3%A9gantic_derailment

9 http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2014/04/oregon_oil_train_shipments_inc.html

10 http://columbiariverkeeper.org/top-stories/port-of-vancouver-approves-oil-export-lease-governor-inslee-will-now-decide/

11 https://portlandrisingtide.org/campaigns/vancouver-oil-terminal/

12 http://columbiariverkeeper.org/our-work/oil-by-rail/port-westward/

The Columbian: Just Say No to Oil Terminal

Having provided months of thorough coverage of the Tesaro/Savage proposal, the Columbian came out flat against the terminal in an editorial published on January 12 —

Tesoro-Savage proposal bad for safety, economic development, quality of life

—  In the end, it’s no contest: The drawbacks to building an oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver greatly outweigh the benefits of such a plan, and state officials eventually should reject the proposal.

At the heart of the issues are the future of Vancouver’s waterfront, the local economy, the quality of life for residents, safety concerns, and the image the city wishes to portray to the rest of the world. On each count, the proposal approved by port commissioners comes up short:

• The deal reached with Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies is butting heads with a $1.3 billion redevelopment of the former Boise Cascade site along the Columbia River, less than two miles upriver from the proposed oil terminal. Given the proximity of the projects and the fact that oil-bearing trains would pass within 100 feet of much of the development, these proposals are, indeed, mutually exclusive. It is unrealistic to think the waterfront development would not be hampered by the oil terminal, and a mixed-use project would have far greater growth potential for the city.

• The proposed $110 million oil terminal would bring an estimated 120 full-time jobs to the port, handling as much as 380,000 barrels of crude per day. It would be worth at least $45 million to the port for the first 10 years of the agreement. But broad-based economic development such as that provided by the waterfront development would have more far-reaching economic benefits.

• Trains carrying up to 380,000 barrels of crude per day through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Washougal, Camas, and then Vancouver, would do little to enhance the region’s quality of life. Port Commissioner Brian Wolfe said at a recent public meeting that BNSF Railway currently is operating at full capacity and that it’s the railroad company’s responsibility to address that, not the port’s. That is not an adequate answer. Considering a spate of oil-train explosions in North America over the past six months, port officials must do more to reassure the public regarding safety concerns.

• That brings us to an inconvenient truth: Nothing could adequately reassure the public regarding safety concerns. The fact is, regardless of how many safeguards are in place, transporting oil is fraught with peril, and transporting it through heavily populated areas is an invitation to disaster.

• Cities throughout the country in recent decades have repurposed their waterways and riverfronts. What once were conduits for heavy industry now are locations for tourism, service industries, and white-collar jobs, and that speaks to what kind of image Vancouver wishes to cultivate. Look at it this way: Will residents more effectively promote their city by telling outsiders, “Hey, we have a new oil terminal and lots more trains going through the heart of the city,” or by saying, “We have an amazing new waterfront development along the majestic Columbia River”? Or look at it this way: If Vancouver were being built from scratch, the last thing officials would do is put railroad access along the waterfront. It would be a travesty to exacerbate that unfortunate situation by becoming more reliant upon already crowded rail lines.

More than 31,000 public comments regarding the oil terminal were received by the Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, which will determine which factors to consider and then launch a lengthy evaluation process. Eventually, Gov. Jay Inslee will have the final say on whether the proposal is approved. Because of the proposal’s vast, long-lasting impact upon Vancouver, every possible environmental and economic factor should be considered. If that happens, the final decision will be no contest.

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The Climate Movement’s Pipeline Preoccupation

Yes, Keystone XL is horrible – but so are plenty of other fossil fuel infrastructure plans

–By Arielle Klagsbrun, David Osborn, Kirby Spangler and Maryam Adrangi
The following excepts were published  in  Earth Island Journal and  Waging Nonviolence, October, 2013

–Architecturally, a keystone is the wedge-shaped piece at the crown of an arch that locks the other pieces in place. Without the keystone, the building blocks of an archway will tumble and fall, with no support system for the weight of the arch. Much of the United States climate movement right now is structured like an archway, with all of its blocks resting on a keystone – President Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

This is a dangerous place to be. Once Barack Obama makes his decision on the pipeline, be it approval or rejection, the keystone will disappear. Without this piece, we could see the weight of the arch tumble down, potentially losing throngs of newly inspired climate activists. As members of Rising Tide North America, a continental network of grassroots groups taking direct action and finding community-based solutions to the root causes of the climate crisis, we believe that to build the climate justice movement we need, we can have no keystone – no singular solution, campaign, project, or decision maker.

The Keystone XL fight was constructed around picking one proposed project to focus on with a clear elected decider, who had campaigned on addressing climate change. The strategy of DC-focused green groups has been to pressure President Obama to say “no” to Keystone by raising as many controversies as possible about the pipeline and by bringing increased scrutiny to Keystone XL through arrestable demonstrations. Similarly, in Canada, the fight over Enbridge’s Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline has unfolded in much the same way, with green groups appealing to politicians to reject Northern Gateway…

The “game over for climate” narrative is also problematic.  With both the Keystone and Northern Gateway campaigns, it automatically sets up a hierarchy of projects and extractive types that will inevitably pit communities against each other. ..Our work must be broad so as to connect fights across the continent into a movement that truly addresses the root causes of social, economic, and climate injustice. We must call for what we really need – the end to all new fossil fuel infrastructure and extraction. The pipeline placed yesterday in British Columbia, the most recent drag lines added in Wyoming, and the fracking wells built in Pennsylvania need to be the last ones ever built. And we should say that.

This narrative has additionally set up a make-or-break attitude about these pipeline fights that risks that the movement will contract and lose people regardless of the decision on them. The Keystone XL and Northern Gateway fights have engaged hundreds of thousands of people, with many embracing direct action and civil disobedience tactics for the first time. This escalation and level of engagement is inspiring. But the absolutist “game over” language chances to lose many of them. If Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline, what’s to stop many from thinking that this is in fact “game over” for the climate? And if Obama rejects Keystone XL, what’s to stop many from thinking that the climate crisis is therefore solved? We need those using the “game over” rhetoric to lay out the climate crisis’ root causes – because just as one project is not the end of humanity, stopping one project will not stop runaway climate change…

Read the entire Rant here.

Arielle Klagsbrun is an organizer with Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment and Rising Tide North America, and is a 2013 Brower Youth Award winner. David Osborn is climate organizer with Portland Rising Tide and Rising Tide North America. He is also a faculty member at Portland State University. Maryam Adrangi is a campaigner with the Council of Canadians and an organizer with Rising Tide Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. Kirby Spangler works with the Castle Mountain Coalition and Alaska Rising Ride.

 

 

As Coal Exports, Its Dark Legacy Stays Home

Guest Ranter:  Tom Turner of Earthjustice, August 13, 2013 —

Earthjustice challenges industry plans to increase world market

The use of coal in the U.S. has declined over the past few years, and orders for new plants are being cancelled at an increasing rate, owing to pressure from Earthjustice and others and competition from cheaper natural gas. Meanwhile, President Obama has made increasingly stern pronouncements about moving toward a renewable energy regime.

Big coal, hoping to shore up its bottom line, has turned its attention abroad: Exports of coal from the U.S. to the Far East have increased, subsidized by the U.S. Export-Import Bank (a federal institution), and there are proposals pending to establish coal-export facilities in the Pacific Northwest. China and the other importers have far laxer pollution laws than ours; that too is another story. The impact of burning the coal affects us all.

There are so many things wrong with this picture it’s hard to grasp them all. Bad for climate. Bad for communities near the mines. Bad for people living near the tracks that carry the coal trains (which spew vast quantities of coal dust as they travel from mine to port) and others who live near the export facilities (read four personal stories here).

More Here

 

 

 

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