New Coalition Opposes Fossil Fuel Shipments at Land Board Meeting

Photo by Tammy Imholt

Photo by Tammy Imholt

from Earth First! Newswire

This Tuesday, more than a hundred activists gathered at the State Land Board office in Salem, Oregon, to protest fossil fuel exports. This was the first action of a new coalition that stands to be the first ever to pressure Kitzhaber to use “the full power of his office to stop fossil fuel exports.” The coalition includes Portland Rising Tide, Greenpeace, farmers, land-owners, concerned citizens, and indigenous peoples resisting pipelines as well as terminals.

The rally began with speakers, including a rousing speech by a member of the Warm Springs Nation, followed by a group rally. While activists gathered outside, numerous coalition members packed the meeting inside, where Governor Kitzhaber was mulling over some issues with the land board.

According to one activist, Rising Tide members, allies, and friends comprised more than three-fourths of those present at the meeting. At one point, Mike Gaskill with Rising Tide began to ask the question that had been ignored by the officials throughout the meeting: what about fossil fuel export terminals?

Gaskill put Kitzhaber on the spot, insisting that the effects of climate change be considered in the environmental impact reports pertaining to coal terminals. Although Kitzhaber seemed responsive, he did not make any statements agreeing that climate change would become a factor in his decision.

The coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest threaten to export more than 3 times the amount of fossil fuels as the Keystone XL pipeline, and would increase the amount of coal burned in East and Southeast Asia as well as Australia and New Zealand. The coal burned in Asia will blow back to the West Coast of the US in the form of harmful pollution, while also worsening the impacts of climate change.

Activists in Montana and Idaho are also protesting against the coal terminals, since they encourage further coal mining in the Powder River Basin. In recent news, coal PR executives were recorded laughing about climate change, while stubbornly pushing forward the coal agenda. “We were just in the Far East last week, and of course we’re telling everybody, ‘It’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming,’” said Matt Furgeson with Arch Coal, hinting at coal exports from the Pacific Northwest.

According to journalist Mike Stark, Lauri Hennessey, who represents the astroturfed non-profit, Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports, ”acknowledged climate change, but she asserted that the mining of Powder River Basin coal and its export to Japan, China, India or Korea would not increase the threat of global warming.”

Underlying all of this is the Trans Pacific Partnership, a free trade area of the Pacific Rim that would threaten environmental regulations and citizen action against fossil fuel terminals, mining, and oil extraction.

Activists have had a good run so far, shutting down numerous export terminals throughout Washington and Oregon. The pressure is still on Kitzhaber, who has acknowledged the problems of climate change, and even commissioned a report about its effects in Oregon. Activists are committed to keeping the pressure on, and closing down the fossil fuel agenda in the US.

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