Three members of DGR Lower Columbia attended the September 17, 2013, EIS hearing for construction of a coal terminal. The DGR members voiced radical opposition, by recognizing the uselessness of protesting in the ways permitted by the system, and explicitly supporting anyone who takes matters into their own hands to carry out strategic, militant attacks against industrial infrastructure.
This sort of public advocacy for underground resistance is crucial, and something anyone can do at a local level.
A DGR member reported back on the event:
“Ambre energy wants to ship coal from Montana and Wyoming to markets in Asia. A $643 million Millenium Bulk Terminals dock has been proposed to make this transfer possible.
The hearing in Longview (one of 5 happening in WA) is a step in the EIS process to ensure that “all opinions on this topic are heard and taken into account”. The panel included one representative from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, one from Cowlitz County, and one from the Department of Ecology as well as a scribe. Knowing that our words would have no impact on the EIS itself, we were hoping to reach the protesting activists in the room (you’ll notice our members politely ignoring the MC’s efforts to make us face the panel).
The audience was comprised of two opposing parties: those in the blue and those in the red (think Democrats and Republicans reversed). Blue was worn by Millenium supporters largely arguing that Longview needs the jobs offered by the construction and operation of the terminal. Red was worn by Beyond Coal activists concerned about local and global environmental impacts of the coal industry. For three hours we listened to speakers from both sides chosen through a lottery to convey a two-minute opinion.
Particularly poignant was a speech given right at the beginning by an indigenous man. He argued against bringing the coal industry to Longview for the jobs it might create, by comparing the situation to a bartender who keeps selling alcohol to an obviously drunk man just because he needs the money, or to parents buying their children drugs and alcohol because “they’re gonna get their hands on it anyway.” Another man argued loudly against the “advantage” of bringing new industry to Longview by reminding us of the booming economy in Germany when they were building Auschwitz.
Our own speeches were met with mixed reactions. I heard people complaining next to me that extremism hinders the cause and that these hearings do make an impact. But we also noticed wide smiles on the faces of a few in the audience. And Travis’ parting words were met with cheers and applause. By the end, Charles was busy collecting email addresses and it was clear our message reached at least a few new ears.
Who knows what the outcome of the coal terminal argument will be? But if we got some more people to understand the severity of our situation and the action that is actually necessary to save the planet, I’ll deem the excursion a success and these hearings worthwhile.