Eugene OR – On March 19th two organizers with Sunrise Eugene, a local hub of the national climate justice non profit Sunrise Movement,put their bodies on the line to stop operations at NW Natural by blocking the gate at their office in Eugene. The action occurred at the end of a critical mass bike ride that launched from Skinner’s Butte Park and that was organized by a coalition of participating groups including Breach Collective, Earth Guardians 350, and Cascadia Wildlands. The protest and action was part of a larger effort under the auspice of the Fossil Free Eugene campaign to move the city away from climate-polluting fossil fuels and to renewable energy. Activists have been regularly protesting and testify against the NW Natural Franchise agreement which is set to expire in May. The city of Eugene has been in a prolonged dispute with the gas utility for over a year and a half over the future of using “natural” fracked gas to heat homes, schools, and businesses in the city.
Activists hope to put forward Eugene as a national model for a just transition to renewable energy. The protest coincided with the national day of climate action and such continued direct actions are considered a necessity by many organizers as the effects of climate change continue to unfold. Many locals consider the effects of climate change very close to home and point to the 2020 fire season in Lane county as evidence of its dramatic effects. Others put forward the increasing social and racial injustice that climate change continues to expose and intensify.
“Until we recognize that the wellbeing of BIPOC communities and overall public health are inextricably linked, we will constantly be succumbing to corporate industries who value profit over people. NW Natural is no exception to this, and we must stop the expansion and use of fracked gas now,” said Avery Temple, Climate Justice Fellow with Breach Collective.
Local climate activists protested the arrests of the two activists who wish to remain nameless in front of the Lane County Jail until their release at 11pm Friday May 19th.
The Fossil Free Eugene campaign continues to ramp up pressure through the month of April. Organizers encourage participation and invite people to testify against renewing NW Natural’s franchise agreement at City Council meetings every other Monday at 7:15pm digitally on Zoom.
Get more information on the campaign by emailing Sunrise Eugene at firstname.lastname@example.org