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[Ed note: Extinction Rebellion is an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience to achieve radical change in order to minimise the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse. Recently, a string of demonstrations blocked bridges and major streets in central London, disrupted train services and saw over a thousand people arrested. The group is rallying behind warnings that significant reductions in carbon emissions must be achieved within the next 11 years to avoid devastating consequences for the planet, such as mass extinction, by the end of the century. ]
Portland, Oregon, April 22. Local citizens from Extinction Rebellion took a stand on Earth Day at Zenith Energy, dumping a truck full of soil over the train tracks and planting a “victory over fossil fuels” garden—complete with sheds, scarecrows, and a real growing garden.
Last year, Zenith Energy quietly began exporting tar sands oil from its Willamette River facility. The Oregonian reported that in 2018 alone, Zenith exported more than $71 million of crude oil, up from only $2,535 million in exports the year before. Now Zenith Energy is expanding its facility so that it can handle more than three times the number of oil train cars. Over the past year Zenith Energy transformed a sleepy asphalt operation in the heart of Portland’s industrial district into a multi-million-gallon oil spigot. The oil arriving in the tank cars is processed bitumen, to which a solvent has been added in Canada. It’s known in the industry as “dilbit”—diluted bitumen. According to its manufacturer, it is extremely dangerous.
Oil trains endanger public safety and public health. They create environmental risks for communities that live close to rail lines in Portland and along the Columbia River, and for those who rely on waterways that could be contaminated from an oil train spill. Another note of interest: Zenith Energy is a project of an international hedge fund, Warburg Pincus. Former bail-out doctor and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner is now president of Warburg-Pincus..
Extinction Rebellion PDX accompanied the action with this statement:
“We believe that local struggles, like the one we’re facing here in Portland, are critical to shutting down the fossil fuel industry. We also believe that it’s high time to begin taking the next step in our movement; that is, coordinating our resistance with our allies all across the PNW, the US and the world, and consolidating our efforts into a unified physical and political force. We want the flow of fossil fuels, and the flow of capital that supports it, to stop—at the brink of extinction, we are not asking for permission.”
For further information: To understand the consequences of the changes at Zenith, Gordon R. Friedman, a reporter for The Oregonian/OregonLive spent a month poring over thousands of pages of records from local, state and federal regulators. He interviewed officials working at nine oversight agencies, toured the Portland terminal and talked with Zenith Energy executives. This extraordinary, alarming article is worth reading. You can find it at https://expo.oregonlive.com/news/crude-oil-trains.