Truthout, May 25, 2013
By Nick Engelfried, Waging Nonviolence | Report
Earlier this month, grassroots climate and anti-extraction activists in the Pacific Northwest scored a victory over one of the world’s most powerful industries. Kinder Morgan, an energy company that operates 26,000 miles of pipelines and owns 170 largely energy-related export terminals, announced it is scrapping plans to build a large coal export terminal on the Columbia River. The company has downplayed the role of community opposition to its terminal, claiming logistical considerations led to abandonment of the project. But local activists see more to the story than that.
Kinder Morgan’s decision to walk away from the Columbia came after months of steady grassroots opposition, and the company made the announcement two days after locals turned out in large numbers at a hearing to oppose the project. For environmental groups in the region, this looks like the culmination of a well-coordinated effort to protect communities along the Columbia from coal pollution.
“This announcement is great news for the Columbia Gorge and its communities who face the impacts of coal train traffic, coal dust and diesel pollution,” said Michael Lang, Conservation Director for Friends of the Columbia River Gorge, one of the groups that opposed the Kinder Morgan terminal. Along with other nonprofits like the Sierra Club, Columbia Riverkeeper, Climate Solutions, as well as a diverse coalition of volunteer-led community groups, Friends of the Gorge has been rallying citizens to speak out against the Kinder Morgan terminal and other proposed coal export projects in the region.