Northwest Communities Oppose Coal Exports


On Saturday, August 16, and during the previous week, grassroots groups are holding a coordinated day of peaceful actions, to protest the passage of coal trains through interior Northwest communities [1, 2].  From Montana and Wyoming to Oregon and Washington, proposals to bring more polluting coal trains through the region impact dozens of communities along rail lines, who are organizing to protect their towns from coal exports.  This summer, 350-Missoula, Blue Skies Campaign, Indian People’s Action, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, and other organizations are together catalyzing this movement against dirty energy in new and bolder ways, evident in this regional day of action.

As inland Northwest citizens largely dismissed by the federal and state regulatory processes that determine the fate of three proposed coal export facilities at Cherry Point and Longview, Washington, and Boardman, Oregon, we stand in solidarity with Northwest tribes and climate activists resisting these West Coast ports and Powder River Basin coal mines that despoil native lands and watersheds and ultimately global climate [3].  While Oregon agencies deliberate their possible issuance of key permits allowing financially risky, Australia-based Ambre Energy to begin construction on the controversial Morrow Pacific coal train terminal dock and warehouses at Boardman, we support friends among the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, who rejected  the companies’ bribes of up to $800,000 per year to partner in and benefit from building this Coyote Island Terminal and shipping 8.8 million tons of coal per year down the Columbia River [4, 5].

Residents of four states will continue to work to stop coal exports by every means, including arrestable, nonviolent civil disobedience, as we pressure coal and railroad companies and political officials who support them.  With our protests, we honor the 71 brave Northwest activists who have endured arrest and citation during occupations of coal train tracks and public buildings in Bellingham, Washington (December 2011), White Rock, British Columbia (May 2012), Helena, Montana (August 2012 and September 2013), Spokane, Washington (June 2013), and Missoula, Montana (April 2014), as interior Northwest groups further coordinate regional demonstrations resisting coal export that started in January 2013 [6, 7].

Citizens involved in these August 2014 protests express heightened concerns about proposals to massively increase coal export by rail through their region: corporate ventures that would cost substantial taxpayer investments supporting the required coal export project infrastructure and mitigating the predictable damages of this corporate onslaught.  Unlike the threatened impacts of oil trains, each of the dozens of additional, heavy coal trains per day, 1.5 miles long with their 125 cars, would incessantly spew toxic coal dust, diesel fumes, derailed loads, and noise (especially in and around Lake Pend Oreille), would disrupt local transportation, businesses, emergency responses, and economies, and would degrade public health, quality of life, property values, railroad tracks, and regional identity.  Three proposed West Coast and Columbia River coal terminals and ship transport of coal to Asian markets for combustion would compromise air and water quality, jeopardize aquatic ecosystems and fisheries, and significantly exacerbate global climate change.

Converge with WIRT and allied activists from across northern Idaho for a march and protest of coal export in downtown Sandpoint, beginning at the clock in Farmin Park, at North Third Avenue and Main Street, at 12 noon on Saturday, August 16.  Please bring your family and friends, coal export protest signs, banners, and props, musical instruments, voices, and chants, but especially your spirit of King Coal resistance and solidarity with the thousands of frontline communities who live along railroad sacrifice zones.  Carpools from the Palouse region depart the WIRT Activists House in Moscow (call 208-301-8039 for the address) at 9:30 am and return by 5 pm.  Please join us for this day of nonviolent actions, whether or not you are ready to risk arrest, as we together peacefully escalate this movement.

[1] Northwest Communities Oppose Coal Exports: Join the Action on August 16 (Blue Skies Campaign)

[2] Northwest Communities Oppose Coal Exports (Blue Skies Campaign)

[3] Four-State Coal Export Protests and Hearings (November 8, 2012 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[4] Ambre Energy: Caveat Investor (February 13, 2013 Sightline Institute)

[5] Umatilla Tribes Resist Coal Train Export Terminal (July 9, 2014 Union-Bulletin)

[6] 148 Northwest Fossil Fuel Resistance Arrests and Citations (August 1, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[7] Coal Export Resistance Solidarity Actions: 1-11 to 1-20-13 (January 11, 2013 WIRT and allied photos)

2 thoughts on “Northwest Communities Oppose Coal Exports

  1. Pingback: Report on Three Actions: Northwest Communities Oppose Coal Exports | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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