Olympia WA—A climate justice coalition identified as Olympia Stand has staged a blockade of an oil fracking train departing from the Port of Olympia. The protesters have constructed a camp along the tracks at 7th and Jefferson St. in downtown Olympia. The action comes upon the one–year anniversary of a similar action against the Port of Olympia’s transport of fracking proppants, in which all rail commerce to and from the Port was halted for a week. Olympia Port Resistance and other participants in the action have issued the following demands upon the Port of Olympia:
- The Port of Olympia cease all fossil fuel and military infrastructure shipments
- Horizontal and democratic control of the Port of Olympia, including participation from area indigenous tribes
During last year’s blockade, inspired by Standing Rock, hundreds of people collaborated to construct a makeshift camp on the train tracks on Jefferson and 7th in downtown Olympia. The camp was host to daily meetings, a kitchen and dishwashing station, a literature table and numerous tents where many demonstrators lived for the week. The blockade was finally evicted through the joint and overwhelming force of WA State Patrol, Olympia Police Department and Thurston County Sheriff’s Department. During the eviction, 12 demonstrators were arrested and others were struck with less–lethal weapons. This local action delayed fracking shipments for a full week, costing the fracking and proppant companies an incredible amount of money, time, and frustration, and leading oil giant Halliburton to threaten to cease all business with the Port of Olympia.
Since the previous year’s blockade, the Port of Olympia has continued to enable fracking and other harmful fossil fuel production to continue unabated. Meanwhile, 2016, the hottest year to ever be recorded on earth, saw the brutal, militarized repression of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as one of the most destructive storm seasons in living memory, with thousands of lives lost to climate change–amplified hurricanes, typhoons and floods, from Houston, to Bangladesh to Puerto Rico. In addition, the links between fracking, (an energy–intensive process of extracting natural gas from shale) and groundwater pollution, toxic air pollution and man–made earthquakes have grown stronger with a series of studies released. These deadly storms especially impact the Global South, indigenous people, people of color, women, children and poor and working class people.
In addition, just this Thursday the Keystone pipeline was announced to have recently spilled over 200,000 gallons of oil near the town of Amherst South Dakota. This is the largest spill to date from the controversial pipeline, once again proving that there are no safe methods for transporting dangerous fuels.
Olympia Port Resistance and other participants believe climate change can be stopped by engaging in non–violent direct action and civil disobedience against fossil fuel infrastructure, from train blockades and port shutdowns to occupations of pipeline construction sites. Policy–makers can continue to take no action on this issue, and doom future generations to an uninhabitable planet, or they can follow the lead of people around the world fighting for a Just Transition away from fossil fuels and extractive economies. Meanwhile, we will continue to fight, whether they like it or not.