Shortly before noon on August 21, a group of Spokane citizens occupied BNSF railroad tracks to protest the transport and eventual burning of fossil fuels in defense of climate change. The peaceful, non-violent direct action consisted of 30 protesters and eventually three arrests. The three people arrested were Nancy Nelson, Margie Heller, and Deena Romoff, all of whom are associated with the group Raging Grannies – an activist group dedicated to nonviolence in the name of social and environmental justice. The charges against each are obstructing a train and misdemeanor trespass.
Today’s action in Spokane blocked a number of rail lines including an empty oil car train headed east and a fully loaded coal train headed west. The track occupation stopped all rail traffic for over one and a half hours.
“There is incredible denial surrounding this issue of fossil fuels and no one is talking about the perils that await us if government and societies do not take action now,” said Deena Romoff, one of the arrestees, in a written statement that she read during today’s protest. “This is why I need to take action now…I can no longer wait!”
Trains from BNSF, Union Pacific, and Canadian Pacific that pass through the city and county of Spokane carry Bakken crude oil from North Dakota, Tar Sands crude oil from Canada, and coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming. The crude oil is bound for refineries in the Northwest and Canada and will eventually be burned domestically and internationally. The coal is bound for export terminals in the United States and Canada for shipment to Asia to be burned in coal-fired power plants.
“Transporting fossil fuels is done for one purpose only: they will be burned”, said Margie Heller in a prepared statement. “If burned, they will add to the greenhouse gases which are already causing serious climate change. Continuing to add to climate change factors puts the health and perhaps the very existence of future generations at risk”
Direct Action Spokane stands in solidarity with on-going actions around the country working to stop the extraction, transportation, processing, and burning of fossil fuels. Direct Action Spokane is also committed to stopping the transport of oil and coal trains through Spokane and calls on other communities, up and down the rail line, to do the same.