Seems strange to post about good news, but I will absolutely take it where I find it. This week, there were two victories in campaigns that I’ve been associated with, and for which I’ve produced some art, some banners, some graphics, and that sort of thing.
First, the big one: the Jordan Cove pipeline and Pembina oil terminal in Southern Oregon has been cancelled! This was a decade-long struggle against an oil export terminal in the city of Coos Bay, along with an associated pipeline that would connect the terminal with the main trunk pipeline on the other side of the Coast Range. These facilities would have destroyed thousands of acres of forest, crossed farmlands and burrowed under wild rivers, and pumped massive amounts of flammable hydrocarbons through flimsy tubes in the heart of one of the most fire-prone regions on the planet, and brought massive Liquefied Natural Gas supertankers into one of Oregon’s last-remaining relatively unpolluted coastal estuaries. The fight was fought by the tribes of Oregon’s and California’s interior like the Klamath, Modoc, and Yurok, all of whom would have seen territorial encroachment by the pipeline, as well as a consortium of private landowners, environmentalists, and youth desperate for some way to turn the tide on the rapid climatic transformations that the region is experiencing. Pembina, the Canadian energy company that had been desperately scrambling for permissions to break ground and consider the project an inevitability, quietly withdrew it’s applications for permits last week, signaling the final demise of an awful proposal that threatened the people and the landscapes of this region in a variety of terrifying ways.
I helped to produce some graphics, banners and images over the last decade for organizing efforts against the pipeline, working with Klamath and Modoc artist like Ka’ila Farrell Smith and Asa Wright, as well as the powerhouse organizers of Rogue Climate in Medford, Oregon, who lost their entire office as well as almost all of their banners and communications tools in the climate-driven Almeda fire that tore through the Rogue Valley a couple of years ago. Rallies and actions have happened continually across the state since the project was announced, and these visual tools were always in use!
The second, and smaller victory: a judge this week issued an injunction against the Forest Service to stop logging in post-fire areas near the town of Detroit Lake and the Breitenbush forest southeast of Portland. In the aftermath of the catastrophic fires that swept through Oregon in 2020, destroying vast tracts of forest and several small communities throughout the heavily timbered central mountains of the state; private logging firms moved very quickly to exploit the dead trees under the guise of “salvage”. What that really meant was a rush to clear-cut areas of forest that they’d been prevented from touching for years. In the general culture of economic impunity that obtained across the region after the fires, big sections of forest were quickly razed to the ground without any oversight and against the protests of residents.
Last month a group of forest defenders blockaded a road leading to several logging concessions that the Forest Service had gazetted for clearcutting, using some banners that I painted to decorate the barricade. After a standoff with local law enforcement, the barricades were destroyed, but protestors were vindicated this morning when the news came down that a judge had halted logging in the Willammette National Forest for the second time in two weeks, ruling that the Forest Service had allowed logging to go ahead without public input.
These victories are temporary, but significant, and they show the power that people and movements have to halt the frontline work of climate destruction, and to turn back the storms that threaten to sweep us all away. These movements matter. Find one near you now.
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