Tag Archives: Portland OR

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.”

Tesoro Savage Port of Vancouver report: 28 more oil trains each week; salmon, earthquake, derailment risks, etc.

Repost from the Seattle Times
[Editor:  The press is full of revealing information taken from the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) analyzing the proposed Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Project.  The document was released yesterday.  Several media links are provided below.  – RS]

28 more oil trains across state each week if big terminal built, study says

By Hal Bernton,  November 24, 2015, Updated 11/25/15 9:25 am

A major oil terminal proposed for Vancouver, Wash., would bring an additional 28 oil trains per week across the state and launch a new era of oil-tanker traffic down the Columbia River, according to a draft state study released Tuesday.
…but concerns about the risks of oil-train derailments … the study noted that trains also may deliver bitumen — a heavier crude …  [FULL STORY]

Also see:


Portland votes to oppose any new projects that would increase the transportation or storage of fossil fuels

Repost from OPB.org, Portland OR
[Editor:  Significant quote: Thursday’s vote was the second climate change resolution city commissioners have voted on in as many weeks. Last week, the council voted to oppose projects that would increase oil train traffic in the metro area.   – RS]

Portland Approves ‘Landmark’ Fossil Fuel Limits

By Ryan Haas OPB | Nov. 13, 2015 1:45 p.m.
A large crowd cheered Wednesday night as the Portland City Council voted 4-0 to approve a resolution opposing projects that would increase the number of oil trains traveling through Portland and Vancouver, Washington. Alan Montecillo/OPB

Portland city commissioners on Thursday voted unanimously to oppose any new projects that would increase the transportation or storage of fossil fuels in the city.

The vote followed hours of testimony that mostly supported the resolution. Among the people testifying were students, who in recent years have filed lawsuits that asked the federal government, states and cities to take action on climate change.

Environmental groups praised the move by Portland commissioners as a “landmark,” and the most stringent action taken by any city against climate change.

Mayor Charlie Hales delivered the final vote for the resolution before the chamber erupted in loud cheers. He said the council’s decision shows a clear commitment to counteract climate change.

“It feels like things are accelerating,” the mayor said, referring to recent action by the White House and a climate summit earlier this year hosted by Pope Francis. “We have one route through those rapids that are just ahead.

“The future is not that far away, but if we are aware,” Hales said, “and we steer where we want to go, we can get to a safe and wonderful future.”

While all of the city commissioners eagerly endorsed the resolution, Commissioner Dan Saltzman noted that the vote took place before a friendly crowd.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Saltzman said. “It’s easy to proselytize among ourselves and feel a sense of excitement in the city hall chamber that’s packed with advocates. But when you step outside, we have a real world that needs to be persuaded and convinced.”

Thursday’s vote was the second climate change resolution city commissioners have voted on in as many weeks. Last week, the council voted to oppose projects that would increase oil train traffic in the metro area.

That was a largely symbolic vote, however, because the city doesn’t have jurisdiction over railways.

Both resolutions are a response to the rapid expansion of fossil-fuel development nationwide and numerous oil train accidents in recent years.

Vancouver Energy Project wants to build the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal at the Port of Vancouver. If completed, it would ship an average of 360,000 barrels of oil daily to refineries along the West Coast.

While opponents to the resolutions were greatly outnumbered, they urged the commissioners to consider how limiting fossil fuels in the region could hurt jobs.

“I wish the people in this room had the same passion for income inequality as they have for fossil fuels,” said electrical worker Joe Esmond at least week’s hearing.

Portland City Council passes resolution to prevent more crude oil trains

Repost from the Portland Business Journal
[Editor:  See also this excellent report from EcoReport (by Roy Hales).  – RS]

City Council passes resolution to prevent more crude oil-carrying trains in Portland

By James Cronin, Nov 5, 2015, 7:04am PST

Portland City Council on Wednesday passed one of two resolutions on banning fossil fuel expansion in Portland while tabling the other until next week.

Commissioners, facing a standing-room only crowd at City Hall, passed a resolution opposing the increase of crude oil-carrying trains in and around the city. The second resolution, which opposes expansion of infrastructure whose primary purpose is transporting or storing fossil fuels in or through Portland or adjacent waterways, was tabled until Nov. 12.

The Portland City Council debate on resolutions banning the expansion of fossil fuel projects in Portland drew dozens of supporters to City Hall Wednesday.
The Portland City Council debate on resolutions banning the expansion of fossil fuel projects in Portland drew dozens of supporters to City Hall Wednesday. Cathy Cheney | Portland Business Journal

The contentious topic has pitted environmentalists who want dirty fuels to be a thing of the past against economic development hawks that see sizable financial investments and job creation in things like propane pipelines and natural gas terminals.

The battle landed in City Hall Wednesday, where sign-carrying activists gathered outside as Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Amanda Fritz proposed their joint resolutions. The hearing garnered so much interest that city officials needed to open an overflow room to accommodate the crowd.

Scores of residents, activists and industry types filled the hall. Some carried small dowels with red and yellow ribbons attached. When speakers extolled Portland’s curbing of greenhouse gases or other perceived environmental wins, attendees shook their ribbons in rustling applause.

“Communities along the Columbia River are faced with an unprecedented and new threat — the idea of moving vast quantities of fossil fuels in oil trains down the Columbia River in trains that are known to derail, spill and ignite,” Dan Serres, conservation director for environmental group Columbia Riverkeeper, told the council. “The oil train resolution you are considering is both timely and appropriate because there are over a hundred trains per week that could be headed down the Columbia River. A spill in the Columbia River would decimate salmon habitat, disrupt river traffic and threaten drinking water supplies downstream.”

The resolutions resulted from Mayor Charlie Hales’ about-face on Pembina Pipeline Corp.’s planned $500 million propane terminal at the Port of Portland this summer, which he helped to stall after initially supporting the project.

Hales refused to bring a necessary environmental amendment for the project to the full city council for a hearing and potentially a vote, and went on to create the resolutions to ban future fossil fuel expansion.

The scene should be just as robust next week when council resumes its discussion on the second resolution, a broader measure that expands the city’s opposition to fossil fuel developments to projects beyond those that rely on rail cars.

That’s an issue that’s critical to the Port of Portland, which pursued the propane deal with Pembina. Curtis Robinhold, the port’s deputy executive director, said the language in the resolution is so vague that it become unclear exactly what types of energy projects the port could pursue for its property.

“There are no real definitions in the resolutions,” Robinhold said. “They clearly would apply to coal and heavy hydrocarbons like in an oil export terminal, but we don’t have any of those planned anyway. We already said we wouldn’t do coal or crude right now. What about natural gas infrastructure? What about propane? What about LNG (liquefied natural gas) used for ships The shipping industry is shifting to LNG to power vessels, reducing emissions for steaming across the Pacific. We’re not sure what it does or doesn’t apply to. The language is very vague.”