Twice in the past two weeks, Kinder Morgan facilities in Richmond CA were blockaded and shut down. Rainforest Action Network was excited to partner with Idle No More SF Bay, Richmond-based Communities for a Better Environment and Diablo Rising Tide to blockade the entrance to all roadways to Kinder Morgan’s terminal in the East Bay. I was on the ground at both actions to help support folks who were locking down, and reiterate that tar sands pipelines have a disastrous and disproportionate impact on Indigenous and frontline communities.
For folks who don’t know, there has been a growing resistance led by the First Nations in Canada against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion. Kinder Morgan is one of the biggest infrastructure companies in North America, and has proposed an expansion of its Trans Mountain pipeline running from Alberta to British Columbia. The expansion would nearly triple the amount of tar sands crude, taking it from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day.
Thats why activists around the country are standing in solidarity with over 140 tribes who are currently opposing all tar sands pipelines, including Trans Mountain. The project already faces 19 court challenges launched by First Nations, environmental groups and the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby. This proposed pipeline expansion would allow for tar sands oil to make its way from Alberta to the British Columbia coast to refineries on the west coast of the U.S. (including potentially the Bay Area!). That’s why our action relayed the message that the local impact on refinery communities in places like Richmond (and the greater Bay Area) of refining tar sands will impact air quality, public health and public safety with increased chances of oil spills and refinery accidents.
Over the past two weeks, 12 activists locked themselves to barrels at three different gates of the Kinder Morgan facility, shutting it down and blocking out tanker trucks attempting to fill up and distribute fuel to points in the area (you can check out live video’s here and here!). The Richmond Fire Dept. cut out four of the folks locked down and left the rest of us to sit there as tanker truck traffic resumed through the open gate. Those who were cut out were promptly arrested, and taken to jail.
Some have called this fight the Standing Rock of the North, as growing resistance has spread across the country (check out these folks in MA who blocked another Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion).
You can see even more pictures of the action at one of our awesome photographer’s Facebook albums here.
We had great live stream recorded here.
We’ve also had some great media hits, including Democracy Now (which includes an interview with CBE ally Andres Soto) and an Alternet article by RAN’S Communications Manager Ayse Gürsöz.
For folks wanting to get involved with our work to #DefundTarSands and put the pressure on banks to get out of the sector completely, please email us at: Defundtarsands@ran.org