Category Archives: Civil disobedience

PROTESTS AFTER MOSIER: Criminal charges dismissed, protesters speak out

Repost from Hood River News

Another voice: ‘The greenest corner in the richest nation on earth’

By Robin Cody, August 19, 2016
A group of protesters block an oil train in Vancouver, Wash., on Sunday. Photo from Inside Climate News, courtesy of Alex Milan Tracy

The fiery wreck of an oil train at Mosier is what galvanized many of us to sit on the Burlington Northern railroad tracks in downtown Vancouver on June 18. Twenty-one protesters, ranging in age from 20 to 84, were repeatedly warned of 90 days’ jail time and $1,000 fines for criminal trespassing. And still, we sat.

Protesters got arrested and briefly jailed. Our legal status remained in limbo until recently, when criminal charges were dismissed.

Now we can talk.

The whole idea — of fracking North Dakota and shipping flammable crude oil by rail through the Columbia River Gorge — is not just a threat to people who live near the tracks. It’s also a violation of nature. It’s a big wrong turn in America’s supposed transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

It’s 2016. About climate change and its causes, the evidence is in. Time is running out. Yet many more tanker loads of climate change could come barreling through the Gorge. The proposed Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Project would be the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the Northwest. It would more than double the daily frequency of mile-long oil trains to the Port of Vancouver.

If civil disobedience does any good, it’s in the context of many other groups and individuals speaking out. There were rallies in Hood River and Astoria, tribal action in Mosier, and the alarm expressed by city councils of Vancouver and Portland and Spokane. Columbia Riverkeepers, 350pdx, and many other organizations put the spotlight on industries that contribute to, and profit from, America’s dependence on fossil fuels.

This is about where we live. It would be fundamentally unlike us Cascadians, of all people, to cooperate with big oil’s distant profit.

The world expects the United States to take the lead with climate action. The U.S. looks to California and the Northwest. So here we are, in the greenest corner of the richest nation on Earth. If we don’t step up for the planet, where in the world will momentum take hold? And when we do take a stand, it might really make a difference.

Robin Cody of Portland is the author of “Ricochet River” and “Voyage of a Summer Sun.”
 
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Contra Costa Times: Judge tosses out suit seeking to stop crude oil shipments by rail

Repost from The Contra Costa Times

Richmond: Judge tosses out suit seeking to stop crude oil shipments by rail

By Tom Lochner, Contra Costa Times, 09/05/2014

SAN FRANCISCO — A lawsuit by environmental groups seeking to stop shipments of crude oil by rail to Richmond was tossed out by a judge Friday on the grounds that it was filed too late.

Communities for a Better Environment, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council sued the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in March. The suit involved a Feb. 3 permit issued to Kinder Morgan to receive crude oil by rail at its Richmond trans-loading facility along the BNSF Railway tracks off Garrard Boulevard, where the oil is transferred to trucks.

Kinder Morgan Material Services LLC and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP were co-defendants.

Tanker cars sit on railroad tracks near the Shell Refinery in Martinez, Calif. on Monday, May 6, 2013. The Bay Area’s five refineries have moved
Tanker cars sit on railroad tracks near the Shell Refinery in Martinez, Calif. on Monday, May 6, 2013. The Bay Area’s five refineries have moved toward acquiring controversial Canadian tar sands crude through rail delivery. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group)

The Feb. 3 permit amended a July 2013 permit that allowed Kinder Morgan to operate a denatured ethanol and crude oil bulk terminal. Ethanol is a volatile liquid derived from grain that is used as fuel or as a fuel additive, among other uses. The Feb. 3 amendments included modified testing procedures and standards for trucks. But the judge applied the 180-day statute of limitations to when the July 2013 permit was issued.

Both permits were issued ministerially and without environmental review.

Kinder Morgan has declined to say where the trucks are headed, citing confidentiality, but they are widely believed to be bound for the Tesoro Golden Eagle refinery in Martinez. Tesoro was an intervenor in the lawsuit, which had sought a preliminary injunction against further crude oil operations at Kinder Morgan and suspension of the air district permit pending a full review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Earlier this year, a Tesoro spokeswoman confirmed the Martinez facility receives between 5,000 and 10,000 barrels per day of Bakken crude, a light, flammable variety named after oil fields in North Dakota and adjacent areas. That amount is equivalent to about two to four trains per month, the spokeswoman said, and is received through a “third-party facility” that she did not identify.

Air district counsel Brian Bunger hailed Friday’s decision as “a correct application of the law.”

“We’re pleased with the outcome,” Bunger said.

Air district spokeswoman Lisa Fasano said late Friday that “The Air District will continue to work with state legislators and policy makers regarding where and how crude oil is transported into the region for refining.”

But Earthjustice blasted the dismissal, saying it allows Kinder Morgan and the air district to “get away with opening (Richmond) to crude oil transport by rail without public notice.”

“This is just how the agencies and industry wins — hide the information, make the change under the cover of night, and hope people don’t notice while the clock winds down on any hope to stop these dangerous and callous developments,” Earthjustice attorney Suma Peesapati said in a news release. “What’s worse is this emboldens other companies to do the same thing and hide their switch to crude oil.”

Kinder Morgan spokesman Richard Wheatley said his company is “satisfied with the outcome.”

“It was a well-reasoned and thoughtful decision by the judge,” Wheatley said in an email Friday. “We look forward to continuing to serve our customers safely and reliably.”

Tesoro did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Responding by email Friday, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, who sits on the air district board, said: “Despite this case’s dismissal, I remain concerned about the safety of transporting Bakken Crude and believe it’s important for the Federal Government to strengthen safety standards.”

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Environmentalists jeer as Calif. judge throws out lawsuit against oil company’s rail facility

Repost from Reuters

Environmentalists jeer as Calif. judge throws out lawsuit against oil company’s rail facility

By Rory Carroll and Jennifer Chaussee, Reuters, September 5, 2014

Kinder Morgan [Facebook page]SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A San Francisco Superior Court judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit brought by environmental groups against Kinder Morgan’s Richmond, California, rail terminal, which quietly began unloading crude oil from trains this year, saying the plaintiffs waited too long to file their complaint.

The groups argued that since the company was given permission from regulators to begin accepting the deliveries without public notice, they were not immediately aware of the change.

Judge Peter Busch acknowledged there were “deep concerns” about the new cargo, which passes through the densely populated city of Richmond, but said the plaintiffs missed the 180-day window to request that the permit be revoked.

Suma Peesapati, an attorney for the environmental groups that brought the suit, said the company and regulators knowingly deceived the public.

“This is just how the agencies and industry win – hide the information, make the change under the cover of night, and hope people don’t notice while the clock winds down on any hope to stop these dangerous and callous developments,” she said.

Kinder Morgan and the regulator, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, said they followed the law as written and denied doing anything in secret. California law does not require public notification or an environmental review for the permit, which was issued in February.

Friday’s ruling was met with hisses from environmentalists who attended the hearing, some of whom participated in a protest the previous day where they chained themselves to a fence at the facility.

The Kinder Morgan terminal is the most substantial oil-by-rail facility in the state, handling up to 72,000 barrels per day. The crude is unloaded from incoming trains and placed on trucks bound for a Tesoro-owned refinery in Martinez.

The number of trains ferrying crude oil by rail to California from Canada and North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation has jumped dramatically in recent years, prompting safety and environmental concerns.

In July 2013, a train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in a town in the Canadian province of Quebec, killing 47 people.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll and Jennifer Chaussee; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Ken Wills)

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