The group calls themselves the Seattle Raging Grannies and they prove you are never too old to get involved.
Their mission is to “promote global peace, justice, and social and economic equality by raising public awareness through the medium of song and humor.” The group has participated in walks for mental health, marches to save emergency shelters and many public events that are listed on their website.
Today, the group is protesting oil trains at the Department of Ecology in Lacey, by blocking the street entrances to prevent employees from going to work.
They are calling the day closed for a “Workshop on How to Say No to Big Oil.”
The action is in line with numerous protests across the Pacific Northwest during the summer that question the wisdom and safety of the staggering increase in number of oil trains that cross the state of Washington, including a highly publicized protest in Everett the first few days of September.
“We’re here to help the Department of Ecology learn how to say no to the oil industry,” said Beth DeRooy. “After granting permits to four illegal oil train terminals and letting former BNSF executives write their oil study, I was worried the folks over at the Department never learned how to say no and needed a little help from their grannies.”
The following information is from SRG’s press release:
Since 2012 the Department of Ecology has granted permits for oil-by-rail terminals at four of Washington’s five refineries. Terminals in Tacoma, Anacortes and at Cherry Point outside of Bellingham, have begun taking trains while a fourth is under construction at the Phillips 66 refinery in Ferndale. Environmental groups have argued that the these terminals are illegal under the Magnuson Act, which prohibits expansions at Washington refineries that may increase the amount of oil they handle. Permits for a fifth oil-by-rail terminal at Shell’s Puget Sound refinery are currently under consideration.
“Hot on the heels of record wildfires, Governor Inslee’s so-called Department of Ecology is going to ignore the environment in this study? They’re acting more like the Department of Oil Trains,” stated Cynthia Linet.
Last year Governor Inslee directed the Department of Ecology to conduct a safety study on the extremely controversial shipment of oil by rail. The governor’s study has been criticized for ignoring impacts on the environment, treaty rights and global warming, as well as failing to question whether they should build oil-train terminals in the first place. The Department of Ecology has declared that impacts on the environment, tribal treaty rights or local economies are “ancillary” and not being considered. The Department has also come under fire after revelations that a number of the study’s authors are former BNSF executives.
“You’d think bringing exploding trains to help oil companies devastate Native American communities in North Dakota would be easy to say no to, but it looks like the Department of Ecology needs a stern lesson from their grannies,” said Carol McRoberts.
North Dakota is one of the most prolific producers of oil and natural gas in the nation.
Many of North Dakota’s oil wells are on tribal lands of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara nations. In addition to spills and other local pollution, the oil boom has brought tremendous social costs to the communities. Deaths from auto accidents, drug abuse and violent crime have exploded; housing shortages force many to live in substandard conditions; and sexual violence such as rape and sex trafficking have become prevalent in a once small community.
“My daughter is 15 months old and my heart aches that I do not even want her to be at home for fear of what she’d be exposed to,” said Kandi Mossett, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara nations who submitted written testimony to today’s oil train hearings. “This oil boom using fracking has been devastating for us and no amount of money can ever give us back what’s being lost.”
“It’s grandma’s common sense – we need to keep carbon in the ground to stop catastrophic global warming, and if they can’t ship it, they have to leave it in the ground,” said Rosy Betz-Zall.
While Washington’s Gov. Jay Inslee has been widely hailed as one of the greenest governors in America, he has yet to outright reject a major fossil fuel project, or even declare a moratorium on projects that would increase dangerous shipments of explosive oil.
“Governor Inslee talks about being a climate champion, but he keeps saying ‘maybe’ to new fossil fuel projects, when what we need is a solid ‘NO’,” said Deejah Sherman-Peterson. “Take it from your granny: if you want to say yes to something good – a just, clean energy future – you have start by saying NO to something bad – building more fossil fuel infrastructure.”
DOE Employees turned away with donuts and flyers
Protestors handed out doughnuts and coffee as they turned away employees’ cars.
They handed out fliers to explain “How to Say No To Fossil Fuels.” The flier calls on the Department of Ecology to reject all new fossil fuel projects proposed for Washington and to explicitly link their rejection to concerns about global warming.
Furthermore, climate justice activists point out that if all proposed fossil fuel terminals are built, the Northwest will be transporting five times more carbon than the Keystone XL Pipeline. Such a legacy wouldn’t jive with a state that prides itself on being green and environmentally responsible.
The protest is expected to draw other elder activists throughout the day.
***Delilah “Jean” Williams, is an environmental and political journalist; PrairieDogPress writer; Artistic Director, Keystone Prairie Dogs.***PrairieDogPress is the media channel for keystone-prairie-dogs.com, which is a fundraising website to support environmental groups for extraordinary efforts to protect Great Plains habitat and prairie dogs in the wild. PDP uses humorous images, social commentary and serious-minded political reports to challenge government on numerous levels, including accountability to the people, the protection of threatened species, the environment and Earth’s natural resources.