A group of Spokane, Washington citizens are currently protesting on the BNSF railroad tracks off Trent, east of Napa. The action is being carried out to alert the region to the rapidly expanding impacts of climate change. The undisputed leading cause of global climate change is the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil that are currently being transported daily through Spokane in large volumes and destined to be burned.
“Oil and coal trains traveling through Spokane to west coast terminals are kicking the can down the road of adding to green house gases which contribute to global warming whether consumed in Asia or here at home in the United States”, says George Taylor, protester, Veterans for Peace member, and visiting pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church in Spokane. “For me, it is a moral issue to stop these trains carrying these fossil fuels.”
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.
“The hyper-pollution won’t stop until the destructive extraction stops, and that won’t stop until ordinary individuals challenge the trafficking of the ill-gotten, obsolete fuel. I am an ordinary citizen, taking an ordinary stand against an extraordinary threat”, says protester and Veteran for Peace member Rusty Nelson.
Veterans for Peace is an international organization made up of military veterans, military family members, and allies. Their focus, through chapters including one in Spokane, has been speaking out against the true impacts and costs of war. However, Veterans for Peace recently released a statement in support of the protest at Standing Rock in North Dakota against an oil pipeline saying, “We understand that different nonviolent struggles for social and ecological justice are linked by the common thread of resistance to subjugation and oppression.”
Today’s action in Spokane for the climate and against the fossil fuel trains comes on the heels of a similar action that took place at the end of August where three Raging Grannies were arrested for refusing to leave the tracks. The three – Nancy Nelson, Margie Heller, and Deena Romoff – were charged with trespass and blocking a train. Separate pre-trial hearings have been set for each, with the first happening next week.
“It is my duty as a patriot and citizen of our city and nation to stand up against big oil and coal exports to China. The fossil fuel filled air of China travels on a jet stream right into North America. We as Spokane residents breathe this air too”, says Maevea Aeolus, who is sitting on the tracks as a nurse, counselor, and Veteran for Peace.
Direct Action Spokane stands in solidarity with ongoing actions around the country working to stop the 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.
Also read about the recent Deep Green Resistance coal train blockade in Bellingham.