Originally publised at Earth First! April 28, 2014.
BREAKING: Portland Rising Tide Occupies Department of Environmental Quality
Portland Rising Tide responds to the Global Call for 10 days of Action from Earth Day to May Day by joining other groups who together represent the public’s interest in opposing polluting fossil fuel export terminals in the Pacific Northwest.
About 70 people occupied the lobby of the DEQ and called out local toxic polluters, including ESCO and Precision Castparts (which was recently named the #1 toxic air polluter in the country).
As Governer Kitzhaber recently said in his speech on April 19th to the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, “The time has come to end all coal exports in the Pacific Northwest” to stop “the very real consequences of climate change”, as we are “the last generation that can do something about it.”
Rising Tiders say we need to stop much more than coal, and are concerned about the 15 coal, oil, and gas terminals being proposed in the Pacific Northwest that would harm our coast, the Columbia River, local communities, and the global climate.
Some handed out notices that the DEQ was being dissolved, and offering guaranteed employment with the People’s Agency, where their job would be to enforce a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure by denying all permits for coal, oil, and gas export proposals.
They also made a group phone call to Morrow Pacific CEO Clark Moseley, informing him that the DEQ had just been dissolved, that his three permits for a coal export facility at Boardman recently issued by the DEQ have been revoked (issuing what they called a “notice of termination”), and that any pending future permits have been summarily denied. They then left a message on his cell phone for his records
There is majority public opposition to exporting global climate crisis and suffering the local health and ecological consequences of fossil fuel terminals. Portland Rising Tide illustrated this tension with a crowd representing the People’s Agency, participating in a tug of war with the Department of Destruction, in the DEQ’s downtown lobby.
Portland Rising Tide’s skepticism of state regulatory agencies protecting us from fossil fuel devastation is fueled by the DSL allowing Ambre Energy 7 extensions to their deadline despite what even Kitzhaber calls ‘repeated failures’ to supply information regarding their project’s legality.
“This process shows that the permitting process is essentially one of approval – with illegal and destructive projects delayed, but never denied,” said Karen Coulter.
Furthermore, ODOT recently issued illegal permits for Omega Morgan’s hauling of tar sands megaloads through the ceded lands of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, despite substantial public and Umatilla opposition.
More recently, ODOT officials were caught lying about the volume of oil trains rolling through Oregon with their tacit consent. In the ensuing public scandal, they announced their refusal to give the public *any *further information on oil trains.
“We’re here today to show that the public can’t trust the regulatory agencies to protect our ecosystems and future. We have to show each other what it looks when the people take charge, and confront the root causes of climate change,” said Wes Kempfer, a participant in the political theater.
Fully two-thirds of the greenhouse gas pollution in the US is legally permitted by regulatory agencies1 <#sdfootnote1sym>. Oregon’s DEQ has already proven their willingness to allow this destruction in Oregon – handing out three permits for Ambre Energy’s coal export facility in Boardman, Oregon.
“I agree with Kitzhaber that it is time to get past 19th century fossil fuels, but it is equally necessary to move beyond the illusion that regulatory agencies are really protecting ecosystems and the public interest,” said Rising Tide member Stephen Quirke. “In fact, we cannot have one without the other.”
“It’s no mystery that climate change follows from the regulatory agency jigsaw puzzle approach to ecological protection, which has too many missing pieces, and doesn’t really fit together,” said Katherine Cotrell, another Rising Tider. “The public needs to intervene if we want a sane response to this truly insane situation.”
In response to the revelation that the Clatskanie oil train terminal was carrying 6 times more than their permit allowed, DEQ charged Global Partners LP $117,000, but failed to halt the oil trains rolling along the Columbia, through rural communities, and ultimately through Portland.
This is the equivalent of one penny per barrel of illegally shipped oil, being transported in the most dangerous way possible. In response to journalist inquiries, ODOT’s rail division announced they would no longer request reports of hazardous oil moving by rail, since they knew it would “not be protected” from the public.
They were over-ruled by the their director and Governor Kitzhaber one day after Rob Davis covered the story. This is just one more reason we cannot trust the regulatory agencies.
The DEQ is currently reviewing air quality permits for Jordan Cove LNG, after FERC gave their approval. DEQ appears set to approve these permits—they say it pollutes less than the Weyerhauser paper mill that used to be on the site.