Boardman Coal Terminal Scuttled

On Monday August 18, the Oregon Lands Board denied a key permit requested by Ambre Energy for a coal terminal in Boardman, Oregon that would have transported and exported 8.8 million tons of coal annually to Asia.  As one of the thousands of Oregonians who invested countless hours of personal time informing the public and state representatives of the many harms that would be caused if Oregon approved this project, I am proud to witness our State leaders representing the people and environment of Oregon over the powerful international corporations who would have been the only winners had this project been completed.

Thank you Governor Kitzhaber and the Oregon Lands Board.  Your courageous decision will help protect generations of Oregonians.

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Alarming IPCC Prognosis: 9°F Warming For U.S., Faster Sea Rise, More Extreme Weather, Permafrost Collapse


The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) now says we are as certain that humans are dramatically changing the planet’s climate as we are that smoking causes cancer.


So perhaps the best way to think about the IPCC, which has issued a summary of its latest report reviewing the state of climate science, is as a super-cautious team of brilliant diagnosticians and specialists (who, like many doctors, aren’t the greatest communicators). They are the best in the world at what they do — the climate equivalent of the Cleveland Clinic or Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins — where you and the rest of humanity have just gone through a complete set of medical tests and are awaiting the diagnosis, prognosis, and recommended course of treatment. (It has a big waiting room — called planet Earth.)


The diagnosis is that humans are suffering from a fever (and related symptoms) caused by our own actions — primarily emissions of carbon pollution. Indeed, team IPCC is more certain than the last time we came in 6 years ago and ignored their advice. They are 95% to 100% certain we are responsible for most of the added fever since 1950. They explain:

The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.


Oregon Transportation Commission Testimony, July 17, 2014

Oregon Transportation Commission Testimony, July 17, 2014
presented by Jim Powers

Good afternoon.  My name is Jim Powers and I live in Albany, Oregon.

As a five generation Oregonian, human being, and member of our Earth Ecosystem I must oppose three grant applications: 1M0294 (Berth 2)[i], 1M0352 (Berth 1) [ii] and 1R0350 (A-Street rail construction) because ConnectOregon funds should not subsidize coal and crude oil shipping, an activity that substantially increases Carbon Dioxide pollution.

Civilization has moved beyond the time when the effects of CO2 pollution are in doubt.  We understand that the decisions made by ConnectOregon are inter-connected to the entire planet.

We can all observe the economic and social costs of CO2 pollution:

  • Rising sea levels and bigger storms and flooding in our coastal cities,
  • Rivers running dry with costs to our farmers, ranchers and ecosystems,
  • Bigger and hotter fires, destroying timber, grasslands, homes and businesses,
  • Loss of ocean food sources caused by acidification,
  • Higher costs for drinking water and

We all know that burning oil and coal is harmful to the public health and that humanity must lower atmospheric carbon levels below 350 ppm if we have any hope of continuing civilization, as we have known it into the next century.

So…this is not a small issue.  Your decisions to make that will affect all future generations.

Civilized societies learn from the past and progress.  We now value and weigh the social and environmental costs of our decisions – money and jobs are not our only values.

  • In 2014 it is unacceptable for smokers to pollute the air others will breathe, even at the cost to tobacco profits and jobs.
  • It is unacceptable to export mad-cow tainted meat.  Even if it was in the economic interest of the cattle industry.
  • In 2014 the social cost of constructing new coal-fired power plants in Oregon is unacceptable, even if it produced hundreds of jobs.
  • In 2014 you would reject economic development that eliminated pollution devices.  Why?  Because we now recognize the social costs of air & water pollution and have decided they are unacceptable.

In 2014 it is also unacceptable to fund these three projects that will increase the amount of carbon pollution in the Earth’s atmosphere and that will have, not may have a high social cost to not only Oregon’s citizens but to all life on the planet, is just unacceptable in 2014.

The ConnectOregon recommendation process has failed us all and I am asking you to reconsider your criteria before final decisions are made.

By ignoring the social cost of carbon dioxide pollution when weighing the economic impact of your projects you have come to a false conclusion and scored these projects as “significant net positive impacts.”  Or 3 on your Point System.

When taken into considered you will re- categorize these as “significant net NEGATIVE impacts” on the economy.

Let’s do the math and see what the economic impact is.

Step 1:  What is the cost of the damage Carbon Dioxide pollution causes?

Scientists at the EPA publish a table with the best scientific data establishing a range of  Economic costs in dollars to society of the damage from each ton of CO2 pollution.  This is called the Social Cost of Carbon Table[iii].  (It is sourced in my written testimony).

This indicates that each ton of CO2 released into the atmosphere in 2015 will cost us from $12 to $116 over the remainder of the century.  The difference in these figures depends on the discount rate you apply to the future harm.

These figures go up each year in the future and the 30 year average costs are $17 and $170 per ton of CO2.

So lets use the lowest figure $17 / CO2 ton

Step 2: How much oil will move through this port and end up burned?

If these port improvements are completed with your help, Global Partners plans to move 24 unit trains per month / 288 trains per year through the Port onto Panamax ships.

Each unit train will carry 1-2 million gallons of crude oil[iv]. And produce between 13 and 27 Thousand Tons of CO2 pollution. [v]

288 trains will produce 4 MILLION tons of CO2 Pollution (at the 1 million gallon level) and twice this for larger trains.

Again, let’s use the lowest figure 4 Million tons of CO2 release per year.

Step 3: What is the economic impact of this pollution?

At 2015 rates the minimum Social Cost is $47 Million per year & $2 Billion over 30 years.

This is the lowest, possible, Cost / Harm of approving these projects.

A $2 Billion Environmental Cost makes these a minus 3 on your scale:  “significant net NEGATIVE impact.”  And must be rejected.

The maximum EPA rates of damage and larger or more unit trains unloading at the port put the damage to all of us in the $40 BILLION range.

Just do the math.

Weigh these harms against the advertised benefits.  Make your recommendations.

And then go home and tell your children and grandchildren that you are looking out for them.

Thank you

Jim Powers
Albany, Oregon


CO2 Pollution Calculation                                     

Study: Coal Project Would Help One Puget Sound County But Others Would Pay

If it’s built, the coal-exporting Gateway Pacific Terminal will create more than two thousand jobs in Whatcom County during construction and several hundred permanent jobs once it’s operational.

The outlook for the the central Puget Sound region isn’t as optimistic, according to a new economic study from the Puget Sound Regional Council issued Thursday.

“It’s an economic model that creates very few jobs, certainly very, very few in the region … and has grave consequences for mobility here in Puget Sound,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in response to the study.

Low income communities in Kent and Seattle will be disproportionately affected by the coal train traffic, according to the study. Residential and commercial properties along coal train routes could decline as much as $282.3 million and $133 million, respectively.

Crew Fatigue Persists As Oil By Rail Increases Risks

BNSF Railway is the largest hauler of crude oil in North America. Safety advocates say the shipment of crude oil by rail has raised the stakes for a solution to the long-standing safety issue of fatigued workers | credit: Katie Campbell | rollover image for more

BNSF Railway is the largest hauler of crude oil in North America. Safety advocates say the shipment of crude oil by rail has raised the stakes for a solution to the long-standing safety issue of fatigued workers credit: Katie Campbell

BNSF Railway is the largest hauler of crude oil in North America. Safety advocates say the shipment of crude oil by rail has raised the stakes for a solution to the long-standing safety issue of fatigued workers | credit: Katie Campbell | rollover image for more

Rail Workers Raise Doubts About Safety Culture As Oil Trains Roll On

SNOHOMISH, Wash. — Curtis Rookaird thinks BNSF Railway fired him because he took the time to test his train’s brakes.

The rail yard in Blaine, Washington, was on heightened security that day, he remembers, because of the 2010 Winter Olympics underway just across border in Vancouver, B.C.

The black, cylindrical tank cars held hazardous materials like propane, butane and carbon monoxide. The plan was to move the train just more than two miles through three public crossings and onto the main track. Rookaird and the other two crew members were convinced the train first needed a test of its air brakes to guard against a derailment.

But that kind of test can take hours. A BNSF trainmaster overheard Rookaird talking over the radio about the testing. He questioned if it was necessary. The crew was already behind schedule that day.

21 Arrested on Monday at the Utah Tar Sands!

Support the Land Defenders Arrested on Monday at the Utah Tar Sands!

DONATE: Jail Support for the Utah Tar Sand Action

People at the  one of the sites of extraction for tar sands in Utah, PR Spring. On Monday, July 21, about 80 climate justice land defenders peacefully expressed their First Amendment right to free speech, by staging a massive direct action at the site of U.S. Oil Sands’ tar sands strip mine at PR Springs in the Book Cliffs, Utah.  The protest that blocked mining facilities construction culminated a week-long direct action training camp held within two miles of the mine.  Participants of Climate Justice Summer Camp traveled from numerous organizations, states, and sovereign tribal nations to learn direct action skills and build networks.  These inspiring heroes left the comfort of their homes, the company of their families, and the security of their jobs to fight for the future of this beautiful, historical area.

Map Link: 39.4572840, -109.2776570

<Google Earth Link>
Early in the morning, activists and supporters of Canyon Country Rising Tide, Peaceful Uprising, and Utah Tar Sands Resistance locked themselves to equipment, and a fenced storage cage around it, used to clear-cut and grade an area designated for the tar sands mining company’s processing plant.  Other protesters formed a physical blockade with their bodies, to halt construction work and to protect their locked-down comrades.  They hung and displayed banners off the cage that read: “You Are Trespassing on Ute Land” and “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance.”

Various law enforcement agencies arrived with dogs and arrested 13 people for locking to the equipment and cage, and six additional folks for sitting in the road to prevent the removal of those arrested and transported in two police vans to the Uintah County Jail in Vernal, Utah.  Two of the arrested protesters incurred injuries not disclosed by county sheriffs, who took one to a nearby hospital, while the other received medical treatment at the jail.  Among a total of 21 persons held in custody overnight and most of Tuesday, police arrested legal observers, independent media workers, and jail support volunteers, as well as several indigenous and trans individuals, whose safety in jail raised deep concerns.

Another two people sacrificed arrest when they arrived at the Uintah Country Jail to provide support for the land defenders.  An estimated ten armed deputies with police dogs stood outside the jail wearing bullet-proof vests and told people coming to the jail that they were there to deter them.  All 21 arrested have been bailed out and released from the Uinta County Jail, including an Unedited Media representative and Cindy Spoon of Tar Sands Blockade.  But several are facing felonies and urgently need financial support for legal processes.

Please donate to the legal support fund for all of our brave network friends and allies, who put their hearts and bodies on the line to defend the eastern Utah plateau from the first tar sands mine in the United States.  Utah Tar Sands Resistance and Rising Tide North America are accepting donations through The Action Network first link below.  Follow updates on Twitter at #NOTARSANDS and @tarsandsRESIST and @Peace_UP_, and widely share this fundraising request.

Support Utah Land Defenders! (July 21, 2014 Utah Tar Sands Resistance)

Blockade, Lockdown Halts Utah Tar Sands Mine (July 21, 2014 Earth First! Newswire from a Utah Tar Sands Resistance media release)

Urgent Help Needed: Tar Sands Shutdown Ends in Police Brutality, Injuries (July 21, 2014 Earth First! Newswire from Utah Tar Sands Resistance posts)

Tar Sands Shutdown: Support Still Needed for Arrestees as Reports of Police Brutality Surface (July 22, 2014 Earth First! Newswire from Utah Tar Sands Resistance posts, with Democracy Now! coverage at 3:41)

Uintah Deputies Arrest Anti-Tar Sands Activists (July 21, 2014 Salt Lake Tribune front page)
“Twenty-one activists were arrested Monday during a ‘blockade’ of a tar sands company’s construction equipment in eastern Utah, according to anti-tar sands groups who accused Uintah County sheriff’s deputies of ‘brutality.’”

21 Arrested at Tar Sands Site (July 22, 2014 Moab Sun News)
“The protests will continue and, if anything, we feel galvanized in our mission to stop tar sands mining in Utah.”

Thank you!

Wild Idaho Rising Tide
P.O. Box 9817, Moscow, Idaho 83843