Category Archives: Stop Oil Trains Week of Action #StopOilTrains

Blocking the Bomb Trains: Nationwide Protests On Lac-Megantic Anniversary

Repost from DeSmogBlog
[Editor:  See also video coverage of the Portland vigil on WMTW8 ABC TV.  – RS]

Blocking the Bomb Trains: Nationwide Protests On Lac-Megantic Anniversary

By Justin Mikulka, July 6, 2015 – 16:35
Portland Climate Action Coalition Blocks Rail Tracks on Anniversary of Lac Mégantic Disaster

It’s corporate greed versus the common good, whether it’s rail safety or climate change.”

Those were the words of Lowen Berman, a Portland activist involved in a blockade of oil train tracks to mark the second anniversary of the Lac-Megantic oil train disaster.

Berman and 60 other activists protested in Portland today as part of a national Oil Train Week of Protests led by 350.org and ForestEthics.

A Portland, OR, memorial to the 47 people incinerated by a bomb train in Lac Megantic. photo courtesy of Climate Action Coalition

Portland’s Climate Action Coalition sponsored the blockade at Arc Logistics for a memorial service on the two-year anniversary of the oil train derailment that killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

While activists in Portland were protesting against the danger of bomb trains on the anniversary of the disaster in Lac-Megantic, activists in Lac-Megantic were also marching.

Emotions and politics are tied together in this, unfortunately,” Jonathan Santerre, an activist and founder of the Carré bleu Lac-Mégantic citizens’ group told the Montreal Gazette. “It’s shocking that after everything that happened, people’s lives still come second to money.”

Santerre has a point. As detailed on DeSmogBlog, the events in Lac-Megantic can be directly attributed to corporate cost cutting.

In Portland, the activists were blockading tracks where oil trains travel weekly through North Portland. The Climate Action Coalition is calling for an end to fossil fuel development and an immediate transition to a renewable energy.

At the same time, a new report by the Sightline Institute predicts that if all of the currently planned projects for oil-by-rail infrastructure in the Northwest are completed, they would require more than 100 loaded mile-long trains per week to traverse the Northwest’s railway system.

And residents along the tracks are becoming increasingly aware of the threats. In addition to the protests in Portland, activists were arrested in Benicia, California today protesting the oil trains.

In Albany, New York — the largest distribution hub on the East coast for oil trains, earning it the nickname Houston on the Hudson — there was another protest.

There is much to fear among residents living near the tracks within the blast zone, and you certainly don’t have to be an environmentalist to care about this public safety threat. Sadly, The Hill suggests that this whole week will be marked by protests by “greens.”

There is no doubt that there is increased awareness and efforts to try to protect the millions of people who live near the tracks carrying dangerous oil trains. However, as we wrote over a year ago here at DeSmog, the people of Lac-Megantic still want the executives at the top to be held accountable. As one local said at that time as they arrested the train engineer and other low level employees involved in the Lac-Megantic disaster, “It’s not them we want.”

With the new rail regulations doing little to protect people, and the CEOs of rail and oil companies supporting lawsuits challenging the new weak regulations, it is unlikely things will change. As the Portland activist said today, “It’s corporate greed versus the common good.”

Lac-Megantic is a stark example of how corporate greed is winning.

 

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    Protesters against oil trains detained at Benicia-Martinez rail bridge

    Repost from KRON4 TV, San Francisco CA
    [Editor:  Also, see the organizations’ Press Release and a later report with names of those arrested.  – RS]

    Protesters against oil trains detained at Benicia-Martinez rail bridge

    By Sharon Song, July 6, 2015, 1:51 pm Updated: July 6, 2015, 1:55 pm
    oil train protest arrest
    Oil train protest arrest, Benicia-Martinez Rail Bridge, Benicia, California, Monday, July 6, 2015. Photo KRON4.

    BENICIA (KRON) — Activists protesting the threat of crude oil transporting trains were detained Monday morning as they attempted to hang a 60-foot banner in front of the Benicia-Martinez railroad bridge.

    The banner read “Stop Oil Trains Now: Are You in the Blast-Zone.org.”

    Protester detained as she attempted to hang banner in front of the Benicia-Martinez rail bridge. Photo KRON4

    Activists say the move was part of a plan to kick off a week of action with some 80 scheduled events in opposition to oil trains across the US and Canada.

    The Benicia-Martinez Rail Drawbridge crosses the Carquinez Strait near refineries operated by Valero, Tesoro, Shell, and Chevron. Protesters say the span has been identified as a route used on the Blast-Zone.org map as the route used by oil trains moving through the Bay Area.

    Organizers say this week’s protests coincide with the second anniversary of the fatal oil train rail disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec that killed 47 people. Here in the Bay Area, the week of action will culminate with a demonstration and march in Richmond on Saturday, demonstrators tell KRON 4 news.

    Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), and ForestEthics are all a part of the protest efforts. The groups say the concerns are over the threat of fatal oil train accidents, increased air pollution near railways and refineries, and carbon pollution from the high-carbon crude oil carried by oil trains.

    “We are facing a triple threat. Oil trains dangerously roll though to burn filthy crude in refineries from Richmond to LA and Wilmington, all contributing to toxic pollution and global climate catastrophe,” says Jasmin Vargas, CBE, associate director.

    Organizers say Saturday’s rally in Richmond is designed as a community event aimed at highlighting the stories of the neighborhoods and residents at risk because of crude oil transporting trains. The demonstration is set for 11 a.m. at Atchison Village Park at Collins Street and West Bissell Avenue.

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      Activists Detained Hanging “Stop Oil Trains Now” Banner to Kick off Week of Action

      Press Release from Communities for a Better Environment and ForestEthics
      [Editor:  UPDATE… see later news coverage and photos on KRON4 TV News and a later report with names of those arrested.  – RS]

      Activists Detained Hanging “Stop Oil Trains Now” Banner to Kick off Week of Action

      Contact:

      Megan Zapanta, APEN, megan@apen4ej.org, 619-322-1696
      Jasmin Vargas, CBE, jasmin.vargas@cbecal.org, 323-807-3234
      Eddie Scher, ForestEthics, eddie@forestethics.org, 415-815-7027

      For Immediate Release: Monday, July 6, 2015. 7:00AM
      [Richmond, CA] Activists protesting the threat of oil trains were detained this morning as they attempted to hang a 60-foot banner in front of the Benicia-Martinez railroad bridge. The banner reads “Stop Oil Trains Now: Are You in the Blast-Zone.org.” The railroad bridge, which runs between the RT680 bridges, crosses the Carquinez Strait near refineries operated by Valero, Tesoro, Shell and Chevron. The Benicia-Martinez bridge is identified by the rail industry and on the blast-zone.org map as the route for oil trains moving through the Bay Area.

      This action coincides with the second anniversary of the fatal oil train fire in Lac Megantic, Quebec, and the Stop Oil Trains week of action with more than 80 planned events opposing oil trains across the US and Canada. Climbers, who are risking arrest to drop the banner, are representing three groups: Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, and ForestEthics. Baykeeper also provided support for the action.

      The groups cite the threat of fatal accidents, increased air pollution near railways and refineries, and carbon pollution from the high-carbon crude oil carried by oil trains. Oil trains have derailed and exploded five times in 2015, including high-profile events in West Virginia, Illinois, North Dakota and Canada.

      “Richmond has been my home my entire life. My family, friends, and neighbors are here, and we refuse to live in fear of these bomb trains blowing up our neighborhoods, and we’re tired of living in the shadow of the Chevron Refinery and the oil industry,” said Laiseng Saechao, APEN Member and Summer of Our Power Fellow. “That’s why I’m speaking up, not just to revoke Kinder Morgan’s permit to bring oil trains into Richmond, but also to build community-led alternatives to dirty oil through the Summer of Our Power Campaign.”

      “We are facing a triple threat. Oil trains dangerously roll though to burn filthy crude in refineries from Richmond to LA and Wilmington, all contributing to toxic pollution and global climate catastrophe,” says Jasmin Vargas, CBE, associate director. “Communities for a Better Environment is working in communities challenging the worst cases of environmental racism in CA.”

      “I am risking arrest today because crude oil trains are too dangerous for the rails,” says Ethan Buckner, ForestEthics, California campaigner. “We don’t need this dirty crude oil and we can’t wait for the next oil train catastrophe to act. Our railways will play a huge part in our new, just clean energy economy, but oil trains have no part in that future.”

      On June 30 ForestEthics and CBE released the report: Crude Injustice on the Rails: Race and the Disparate Risk from Oil Trains in California. The report maps the threat to oil trains to environmental justice communities in California, including Oakland and Richmond.

      ##
      APEN advances environmental justice campaigns and policy with the leadership of low-income Asian Pacific American families in Richmond, Oakland, and across California. www.apen4ej.org

      CBE works to build people’s power in California’s communities of color and low-income communities to achieve environmental health and justice by preventing and reducing pollution and building green, healthy and sustainable communities and environments. www.cbecal.org

      ForestEthics demands environmental responsibility from government and the biggest companies in the world. Visit Blast-Zone.org to see if you are one of the 25 million Americans who live in the dangerous one-mile oil train evacuation zone. www.ForestEthics.org

       

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