Montana coal production USA via: serc.carleton.edu

By Dave Jones, Montana

One thing is becoming increasingly clear. Neither corporations, politicians nor the so-called “free market” are going to initiate the deep change we need. Therefore it is up to We The People. The reality is, only our collective commitment and action can push this country to Break Free From Fossil Fuels, so this May 13-15 we will draw attention to the role of coastal infrastructure, specifically the refineries on Marsh Point, in the greater Fossil Fuel economy. The Pacific Northwest is a key front in our struggle to prevent climate chaos because the industry needs these ports, train tracks, and refineries to distribute its toxic product. Knowing what we know about CO2 emissions, to invest in the expansion of this infrastructure is beyond absurd, it is eco-cidal. So we plan to keep it from happening.

But this infrastructure is just one piece of the larger “dirty energy supply chain”, and as a Montanan, I wanted to explain a little about the place so much of these filthy fuels originate. Montana has a long, often sordid history of being a resource colony for the rest of the nation. “Extractivism”, to use a term coined by author Naomi Klein, could be called our state religion!

Our timber, minerals, soil fertility, (and often our young people), have long been exported to distant places where value is added and profits made while Montanans have been left with a boom/bust economy and huge, toxic messes to clean up.

The city of Butte is the poster-child of this “tradition” with its laid –off workers, boarded up buildings and poison-filled Berkley pit. Right now we are witnessing the dying gasps of King Coal (halleluja!) and with his demise we can expect the all-too-familiar legacy of abandoned communities and unfunded liabilities.

Now every good resource colony needs a subservient government

Finally, we have to add the Baaken shale “revolution” to this poisonous brew. Tanker car after tanker car of explosive crude oil rolls through our cities and along our precious waterways 24/7, threatening downstream communities and natural resources in Montana, Idaho and Washington. Now every good resource colony needs a subservient government,
so our state lawmakers have tied public spending to corporate profits through our Coal Tax Trust Fund. This also creates a culture of dependency in the population, with the corrupt, enabling politics that goes with it. The threat of “jobs” holds a de-unionized, low-paid workforce hostage (we rank 48th in the nation) to polluting, often dangerous occupations.

But as we locals like to say: ‘you can’t eat the scenery!’

The Belly River in Waterton Lakes National Park, via wikipedia.org

Which brings us right back to Anacortes and the refineries on Marsh Point. With our up-coming action we will be sending a clear, concise message to the entire Fossil Fuel industry, along every link of this chain, from source to inter-state transport to over-seas shipping: Out With The Old, In With The New! From here on out, any infra-structure build up will support clean, renewable energy, produced and used as locally as possible. With this new direction in mind, many folks from the Northern Rockies region will be travelling west this May to support this bold action. Breaking Free from Fossil Fuels we also break free from our tired, demeaning old role as a resource colony. Come be part of this growing movement. We urge you to join us!

– Dave Jones, Montana

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