Kayaks and canoes blocking fossil fuel shipments going down the Columbia River, women and transgender activists climbing trees and studying decolonization: Summer is when activism heats up in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s just in time because Oregon is facing climate-affecting threats from all sides such as logging in native forests and shipments of oil and coal. Summer Heat: Columbia River Climate Action takes place July 27 in Vancouver, Wash., and the Trans and Womyn’s Action Camp is taking place July 24-28 in the forests outside Oakridge.
Portland Rising Tide’s Summer Heat is focusing on the onslaught of fossil fuel projects that are using the Columbia River as an oil and coal pipeline. After a morning of workshops and speakers, participants will hit the river in kayaks, canoes and watercraft for a “peaceful, symbolic blocking of the river to show that we will not stand for the Columbia River becoming a chute for dirty fossil fuels,” according to Rising Tide. Eugeneans are planning to join the action; for more information see Mary DeMocker’s Viewpoint in the Letters section.
The array of climate change inducing threats on the river is dizzying: coal trains along the river from the Powder River Basin and oil trains from Bakken and from the dirty Canadian tar sands, as well as barges on the river itself carrying megaloads of tar-sands-extracting equipment up to the Port of Lewiston. Brett VandenHeuvel of Columbia Riverkeeper, which has been fighting to protect the river from coal and oil proposals, says, “It’s all intimately connected. The Columbia is threatened to become a fossil fuel highway, coal, LNG and oil and potentially tar sands oil — this Vancouver terminal would allow any petroleum products, thousands of train loads a year of tar sands oil.”
VandenHuevel says it’s time for people to take a stand on preserving the Columbia River and its salmon runs from these threats. He adds that he is “hopeful that Gov. Jay Inslee takes a very hard look at a whether Washington and the Columbia River should become the fossil fuel middleman for the rest of the world.” Inslee will make the final decision on the oil project after review by the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council.
For those who can’t bus, bike or carpool to Portland and Vancouver for Summer Heat, or who want to focus more on forest issues, the Trans and Womyn’s Action Camp (TWAC) Cascadia — “kicking patriarchy out of the woods” — is also accessible by bike and carpool. The camp starts July 27 and runs through the weekend. The camp features workshops on confronting trans exclusion and transmisogyny in activism, strategic campaigning, dealing with the media (including one with this EW reporter), climb training, dealing with environmental racism and more. For more information or to contribute to the camp’s fundraising efforts, go to twac.wordpress.com.