The blaring horn of the speeding ship coming up the Columbia River reverberated through my tired bones. The repetitious be low drowned out the heckling of individuals standing above me on the dock “go home, environmentalists!”, and the beating of my heart. I checked the security of my harness and gazed out across the fog filled Columbia river at the monster coming right at me. I never once felt afraid.
In the early morning fog of a cold November day, over 30 sleep deprived activists, took to the water and docks and faced off with a 24,000 ton barge to stop the construction of the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) Project. The boat was carrying a shipment of pipe into the Port of Vancouver, Washington, to be shipped on rail to British Columbia.
TMX is currently one of the biggest threats to the future of our planet. This project alone would triple the amount of tar sands oil going to market and effectively be the end of the road for avoiding the catastrophic impacts of climate change. This pipeline is a direct threat to the lives of millions, if not billions of humans on this planet.
We have lobbied and birddogged elected officials. We have tried educating, letter writing, voting and awareness building. We have even written and performed plays. But to no avail. The oil-wells continue to pump, the pipelines continue to be built, and our politicians continue to tell us that we must be satisfied with their non-binding emissions targets and flowery speeches. cough Justin Trudeau cough Jay Inslee.
In the end, direct action emerges as our only option to materially address the climate crisis. If we are striving for a livable future, TMX cannot be built. Those of us who stand on the front lines of this effort are doing what we feel we must, and the movement is growing. It is clear that resistance will not subside until this project is stopped once and for all.
On the river that morning, I could see dozens of little lights bobbing on the water amidst dense fog from my perch on the berth. It was cold to the bone, and although everyone was geared up, we were all shivering as we waited for the boat to arrive. We felt it before we saw it — the paralyzing roar of the foghorn, coming closer with every second. And then the giant hull of the taker emerged out of the fog, approached our tiny bobbing boats and stopped.
For the better part of that day, a ragtag collection of us were able to stop a giant ship backed by corporate money and forces more powerful than any one of us can imagine. Working together, we successfully halted the arrival of dirty Tar Sands pipe to
its destination for days and drew national attention to this catastrophic project.
Attempting to halt the destructive path of the fossil fuel industry feels like the work of Sisyphus, a never-ending uphill battle against forces greater than you. But the morning of Tuesday, November 8th that we successfully stopped the giant tanker carrying Tar Sands Pipe turned out more like the story of David and Goliath.
The successful resistance we achieved was just another chapter in the story still being written. When we speak to future generations, we cannot simply tell them that we did our best. We must succeed. That means putting our freedom on the line to do what we know is not only right, but what is necessary. Whether it means putting our physical bodies on the line, sharing skills or contributing time, energy and resources toward those doing this work, we all must do everything we can.
Everyone has a place in this movement. Will you join us?