Photos by Alex Milan Tracy
In a dramatic action at daybreak Tuesday, activists blocked a shipment of pipeline for Canada's much-hated Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project by locking themselves to the dock in Vancouver WA where it was to be unloaded. The protesters, part of Portland Rising Tide and Mosquito Fleet, were flanked by support kayaks as they climbed up metal piles and locked themselves in; meanwhile, the arriving ship sounded its foghorn and a crowd of stalled workers gathered above them. The action was aimed at slowing the TMX, a $7.4 billion pipeline slated to run from Edmonton to Vancouver, B.C. that would triple the amount of particularly heavy, dirty crude oil from Alberta tar sands currently being moved; activists had earlier revealed that pipe was being imported to the port and blockaded a rail line there. On Tuesday, at least five of the activists were arrested.
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The TMX project, proposed by Kinder Morgan in 2012 and later approved by the Canadian government, has been delayed by fierce opposition from First Nations and environmental groups, and lawsuits from several Canadian provinces and towns, all of whom charge the project is an environmental disaster in the making. Another broader lawsuit, stalled for four years by federal officials, charges the US with complicity in promoting fossil fuel expansion that feeds the climate crisis. Tuesday's climbers included 22-year-old Kiran Oommen, one of 20 plaintiffs in that lawsuit; he said his presence at the pier spoke to his frustration with the court case as a means of addressing what young people see as an urgent crisis: “The point that my generation is at, we don’t have time to wait for systems that haven’t worked for decades.” Locked to the pier, another climber, Lydia Stolt, echoed him. "It's zero hour," she said, "and I can’t watch the earth die around me. "