On Friday, June 3rd, a Union Pacific train carrying crude oil fracked from the Bakken shale derailed and caught fire in the Columbia River Gorge near Mosier, Oregon. The surrounding neighborhood, including an elementary school, was evacuated, oil spilled into the Columbia River, and the fire burned into the night.
More than 100 citizens rallied and marched in nearby Hood River, Oregon, on Saturday to call for a halt to the practice of shipping oil by rail. Emily Reed, the city council president in Mosier, and other public officials joined us.
At the same time, the fate of the Pacific Northwest’s largest proposed crude oil transfer facility, the Tesoro Savage terminal in Vancouver, Washington, is soon to be decided. Grassroots opposition to existing oil train traffic, and to the climate devastation of the region’s five oil refineries, is growing. Train tracks leading to the Shell and Tesoro refineries in Anacortes, Washington were blockaded in May, 2016 by over 150 people for 36 hours—the strongest, longest-lasting, largest train blockade in the region to date—and people all over are ready to escalate the frequency and intensity of these actions.
How can we respond to this derailment in a way that meets the moral imperative to act immediately but also reflects long-term strategic thinking? How can we address the dangers of exploding oil trains in way that furthers our broader efforts to stop regional fossil fuel threats and protect global climate? How can we force the political-economic establishment to respond to the magnitude of the crisis it is causing for people and the planet?
Please join us on Monday, June 6, 6:30 pm, at the First Unitarian Church (1211 SW Main St. Room A-108) to discuss rapid response options to the Mosier oil train derailment, identifying the networks of corporate and governmental power responsible for it. We will map out the points of conflict, from the offices of decisionmakers to the train tracks, where we can push back against the oil industry’s devastating presence in our lives. We encompass a rich diversity of political approaches and there is a need for multiple actions. Therefore, we can both use this space to plan as large a response as possible and also, if we desire, to organize breakout groups for smaller actions.