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Across the Northwest, Environmental Groups Act to Prevent Coal Transport

Anti-coal activists out in force this week against coal transport, export to China

- Common Dreams staff

Two major anti-coal actions this week highlighted the blight of the coal industry on Canada, the US, China and the world.

In British Colombia a group of concerned residents, along with scientists, blocked four trains of Wyoming coal bound for Asia. (Photo: 350.org.) In Portland, Oregon activists held a rally against coal companies invading the Pacific Northwest with six separate coal export terminals that would send large amounts of US coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana to Asia. The plans will make Oregon and Washington the largest coal traffickers in North America, sending a constant flow of dirty coal trains through towns and communities across the northwest.

The uncovered coal trains spew toxic coal dust as they blow through both neighborhoods and farmlands.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., environmentalists and energy experts joined hundreds of anti-coal protesters this week at a large rally in Portland, Oregon

“Oregon and Washington leaders are faced with a choice between healthy communities with a clean energy future or becoming tied to trafficking coal, the most toxic fuel on earth,” stated Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. “Blocking coal export is critically important to the health of our families and our climate.”

Hao Xin, the Qiantang River Waterkeeper in China, spoke about the threat of US coal in China. “China should not become the dumping ground for your coal industry. Our people need clean air, not dirty U.S. coal.”

Likewise, across the border in British Columbia, 13 protesters were arrested for blockading a coal train in transit from the US in order to prevent the passage of coal destined to be burned in Asia.

Protesters gathered on the train tracks, temporarily blocking the coal from passing.

"The window of opportunity for avoiding a high risk of runaway, irreversible climate change is closing quickly. Within this decade we will either have steered away from disaster, or have locked ourselves onto a dangerous course," wrote Nobel Prize winner Mark Jaccard, who was among those arrested.

"Our governments continue to ignore the warnings of scientists and push forward with policies that will accelerate the burning of fossil fuels. Private interests—coal, rail, oil, pipeline companies and the rest—continue to push their profit driven agenda, heedless of the impact on the rest of us. This has to stop."

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Ecowatch: Hundreds Protest Coal Exporting at Rally with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

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Mongabay: 13 arrested for blockading coal train, including Nobel Prize winning economist

Thirteen Canadians were peacefully arrested this weekend for blockading Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railway tracks in order to prevent the passage of coal from the United States and destined to be burned in Asia. Among those arrested was Mark Jaccard, an economics professor with Simon Fraser University, who won the Nobel Prize for his work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The act of civil disobedience was a protest against the on-going burning of coal for energy, since coal is the world's most carbon-intensive fuel and thereby a major driver of climate change. [...]

Not long after the IEA warning last year, Canada announced it was withdrawing from the Kyoto Treaty. Since signing the Kyoto Protocol, Canada's emissions have risen over 35 percent from 1990 levels, in part due to aggressive exploitation of the tar sands for oil. Canada had pledged under the Kyoto Protocol to cut emissions 12 percent by the 2012 deadline.

The thirteen individuals arrested were charged with trespassing, fined $115, and then released.

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