Yesterday morning a group of climate activists in Portland, Oregon gathered at the base of one of the city’s busiest bridges, to urge morning commuters to help put the final nail in the coffin of the Palomar natural gas pipeline. The pipeline’s main backer, NW Natural Gas, was holding its annual shareholder meeting this afternoon. This presented a great opportunity to call the company out on its support for a piece of fossil fuel infrastructure that would carve through stands of old growth in Mt Hood National Forest, cut across salmon-bearing streams, and add to the region’s dependence on fossil fuels. As one of our banners proudly proclaimed, NW Natural must learn that Oregonians won’t let the Palomar project move forward – not now, and not ever.
You can help stop the Palomar Pipeline by sending a message to NW Natural’s board of directors right now.
Earlier this spring, climate activists in Oregon celebrated NW Natural Gas’ withdrawal of its original application to build the Palomar Pipeline. This was and remains a major victory for our movement, but NW Natural is already plotting to bring back a scaled-down version of the pipeline. Palomar was originally supposed to bring imported LNG (liquefied natural gas) to the western half of the US, by connecting a proposed LNG terminal on the Columbia River to existing gas pipelines. Now the terminal associated with Palomar is dead, and NW Natural seems to have given up the western half of their project. But the company is discussing submitting a new application for a shorter Palomar Pipeline as early as next year.
No doubt NW Natural wants to cash in on the natural gas boom caused by widespread practice of fracking – even if connecting to an LNG terminal is no longer a viable option. But the “shorter” version of Palomar would still span 120 miles between the Oregon communities of Mollala and Madras, and would cut through the heart of Mt Hood National Forest. Installing the pipeline would require a clear-cut through the forest, damaging some of Oregon’s last old growth that serves as an important carbon sink.
Fortunately Oregonians are not about to let Palomar come back from the dead without a fight. This morning’s vigil at the base of the Hawthorne Bridge drew lots of supporting smiles, honks, and bike bell rings from morning commuters, showing the breadth of opposition to Palomar even among NW Natural’s own customers. By putting the Palomar Pipeline to rest once and for all, Oregon can protect its natural heritage while preventing our region from becoming ever more reliant on natural gas. The hideous environmental footprint of fracking has made it more apparent than ever that natural gas is not and never will be clean.
NW Natural, a company that claims it cares about the environment, needs to cancel any plans to bring back the Palomar Pipeline. Please help make this happen by emailing the board of directors.
A couple of short months ago, climate activists in the Pacific Northwest scored a major victory: NW Natural Gas withdrew its application to build the 220-mile long Palomar Pipeline, a liquefied natural gas project that would cut through Oregon’s farmland and forests while making our region dependent on a high-carbon fossil fuel. The defeat of Palomar was a monumental victory for our movement, and dozens of Cascade Climate Network activists helped make it happen. Now your help is needed to make sure Palmor stays defeated: and this Thursday you can take action either in person or online.
Unfortunately, there are already indications NW Natural may try to bring back the eastern half of the Palomar project. As early as next year the company may apply to build a shorter, 120-mile Palomar Pipeline, which would extend from Molalla to Madras and cut through old growth forest in Mount Hood National Forest. This Thursday, which is the day of NW Natural’s annual shareholder meeting, we need to let the company know we won’t accept any pipeline that makes a clear-cut through Mount Hood. The “Hey! NW Natural” campaign will have online action running throughout Thursday meeting, so please visit http://www.heynwnatural.org/ that day to participate.
Thursday morning there will also be an opportunity to participate in an in-person component of the day’s action to stop the Palomar Pipeline ressurection. If you’re interested in getting up bright and early to help keep fossil fuels out of the Pacific Northwest, send an email to olivia[at]bark-out.org or nicke.activism[at]gmail.com to let us know. Otherwise, you can help out on Thursday by letting others know about the online action. Let’s get the word out through Facebook, Twitter, and email. It’s time to let NW Natural know they need to pull the plug on the Palomar Pipeline – permanently.
Again, to take action online please visit http://www.heynwnatural.org/ this Thursday.
As fast as the world’s biggest coal companies move to make the Pacific Northwest an export zone for their deadly product, people across the region are organizing to prevent coal exports from Northwestern ports. From impacted community members, to students who are watching their future go up in flames as China burns vast quantities of US coal, concerned residents of the Northwest are uniting for a clean energy future.
The Northwest has already made great strides. On Thursday the Washington legislature passed the Coal-Free Future Act, which will phase out coal combustion in the state (albeit much more slowly than many of us wish). This builds on an agreement reached in Oregon last year to close that state’s only coal plant (again, we’re working to bump up the timeline). But even as the Northwest closes the book on its own coal plants, the likes of Arch Coal, Ambre Energy, and Peabody are looking to ship coal abroad.
On Earth Day the Rainforest Action Network and youth organizers at Evergreen State College delivered over 7,000 petitions to Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, asking her to oppose coal exports. Students also dropped off a list of six Washington colleges and universities where student governments are endorsing goals for a coal-free future, including a commitment to build no new coal export terminals in the state. Closer to proposed terminal sites, students and community members are building a movement to prevent export projects going through. On Saturday I joined representatives of the Sierra Club and a group of thirteen students from Portland’s Reed College, who travelled to Longview, Washington to learn about the impacts of coal exports first-hand.
On a warm spring morning we met with members of Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community, a grassroots organization fighting a proposed coal export terminal. Millenium Bulk Logistics, the US branch of Australia’s Ambre Energy, wants to export up to 60 million tons of coal yearly out of Longview to markets of China and elsewhere. Arch Coal, the second biggest US coal company, has a 38% stake in the project. If Millenium gets its way, Longview will see five coal trains charge into town every day, each consisting of 125 cars. This drammatic increase in rail use would tie up traffic and restrict access to the community’s only hospital. As Longview residents have begun to quip (and it isn’t a joke), how many babies will be born in the backs of cars that get stuck waiting for the latest coal train to pass through town? …
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By defending the Clean Air Act, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley can protect Oregonians from mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal plants
For immediate release
Eugene, OR – On Wednesday the youth-run Cascade Climate Network and the University of Oregon-based Climate Justice League called on Oregon’s US senators to defend the Clean Air Act and public health. With Republicans and conservative Democrats in Congress now attempting to restrict the Clean Air Act’s authority, students urged Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to stand strong for the law this Earth Day.
“The first Earth Day in 1970 helped usher in the wave of awareness that spurred passage of the modern Clean Air Act,” said Casey Gifford, a junior at University of Oregon. “Forty-one years later, we need to ensure regulators retain their ability to enforce the Clean Air Act and protect Americans from pollution.”
Gifford just returned this week from PowerShift 2011, a youth energy summit that brought 10,000 young voters to Washington, DC to push for clean energy and a transition away from dirty fuel sources like coal plants. “I realized how fortunate I am not to have a coal plant in my immediate neighborhood,” Gifford said. “One speaker at PowerShift began to cry as she told how she has suffered from cancer three times because her home is surrounded by coal plants.”
Oregon only has one coal plant, the Boardman facility located in the northeastern part of the state. But that single plant is Oregon’s largest source of carbon, mercury, and other pollutants that threaten human health and the environment. “Burning coal leads to smog, acid rain, global climate change, and air toxics,” said Terra Smith, who graduated from University of Oregon last term. “The Boardman Plant alone produces 200 pounds of mercury every year, when just 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury in a 25-acre lake will make the fish unsafe to eat.” …
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Today members of Portland Rising Tide and participants in a training for Power Shift 2011 set out to let major banks in Portland know it’s time to pull investments from dirty fossil fuel infrastructure. About fifty people visited local branches of Wells Fargo and Bank of America, letting customers know the banks have been “Closed for climate crimes.” While some participants staged a die-in on the sidewalks, others used mud to stick “dirty money” to the walls and windows. The group drew interested looks from people on the sidewalks and bank customers using the ATMs, and activists were happy to fill in passers-by on how these banks came to deserve their dirty reputations.
A good time was had by all, and it was great to see so much energy channeled into shining a light on the companies financing some of the world’s most destructive fossil fuel infrastructure. Yet while actions like this are designed to be both educational and fun, there’s nothing amusing about funding activities that destroy the very livability of the planet. When Bank of America and Wells Fargo customers arrive tomorrow at the branches targeted by today’s action, they’ll learn about the dirty dealings with fossil fuel companies these Wall Street players ordinarily try to cover up. …
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In the next couple of weeks Washington state legislators have a window of opportunity in which to set this green-minded state on the path to a coal free future. By agreeing on a timeline to phase out the TransAlta Coal Plant – Washington’s biggest source of carbon, mercury, and many other pollutants – the legislature can follow in the footsteps of neighboring Oregon, which has already committed to transition off its single coal plant. The US Pacific Northwest can provide an example for the rest of the country to follow by phasing out its reliance on the world’s dirtiest fuel.
In the last few months student on campuses from across Washington have been organizing for the state’s coal-free future. This school year seven student governments representing over 60,000 college and university students are passing resolutions in favor of transitioning off the TransAlta Plant. Students have been organizing campus events to educate their peers about the impacts of coal pollution and urging elected officials to support a future powered by clean energy. However student organizing is just part of a much broader movement to replace coal with clean energy in Washington. A diverse coalition of environmental, faith, health, and labor groups has risen to stand up for clean energy and a just transition away from burning fossil fuels.
After months of negotiating, there is finally a bill in the Washington legislature that would end coal combustion in the state – though not nearly as fast and many activists, including myself, would like. The Coal Free Future for Washington bill (ESSB 5769) would begin the move off coal in 2020 by requiring TransAlta Corporation end the use of one of its two coal-fired smokestacks. The remaining smokestack would come offline in 2025. Very importantly, the bill also secures funds to help the community where the plant is located transition to other sources of employment. …
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