The momentum is real: Big Oil is getting its ass handed to them all over the West Coast.
Other98 was just one of a truly incredible crew of indigenous groups, conservation groups, community groups, and climate justice warriors who have been fighting the Shell oil train terminal for almost two years. It took a lot of work to get here, but when the people come together to stand up to Shell, we tend to get shit done.
Other98 members threw down hard to stop this dangerous project: in October 2015, 37,000 of them sent messages to Skagit County Comissioners urging them to reject this dangerous proposal.
As concerned locals and activists packed public meetings on the terminal, we coordinated two actions with our high-powered digital projector outside the meetings in Lynnwood and Anacortes, to make sure everyone saw the reality of what Shell’s project would mean for the region and our planet.
The resistance came to a head in May of 2016, when Other98, Mosquito Fleet and hundreds of kayaktivists took action on the shores of the refinery itself as part of Break Free Pacific Northwest.
As fossil fuel companies rush to turn our region into their private export corridor, indigenous groups like the Swinomish Tribe, Quinault Nation, Lummi Nation, and others have repeatedly been forced to defend their lands and waters from Big Oil, Gas and Coal. And firefighters, nurses, teachers, physicians, realtors, college students, school boards, local officials, and folks from every point on the political spectrum are standing up, too.
And something major is shifting: we are winning. In the last two months alone, three other potentially devastating fossil fuel infrastructure projects have been defeated:
1. In August, the Whatcom County Council in Washington launched an initiative to suspend all new fossil fuel proposals for two months. In September, the moratorium was extended to six months.
2. In Benicia, California, the City Council surprised us all when they denied Valero a proposal for a new oil train terminal at their refinery, marking “the first time the city has voted against the refinery,” according to Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson.
3. Just before the Benicia decision, the Surface Transportation Board (STB), a federal agency that primarily handles intra-railroad disputes, ruled against Big Oil in a dispute over oil train projects. The issue was the pending Benicia City Council decision: Valero was alleging that, because railroads are federally managed, local governments had no right to deny permits for oil train projects. The STB ruled against Valero, allowing the Benicia City Council to move ahead with their denial, as well as setting a powerful precedent of another dispute currently playing out in Albany, NY.
4. Just one week later, we got another surprise from the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission when they denied Phillips 66 a permit for a new oil train facility. The decision was the culmination of a three-year review process, with tens of thousands of Californians in more than 45 cities speaking out against it.
We aren’t going home until we complete the just transition from a fossil fuel economy to a clean energy economy. Our climate can’t wait. And neither can the millions of people who are stepping up to defend their communities and our shared planet.
Thank you to our good friends at Stand for the round-up of oil train victories.