From: Break Free Pacific Northwest Local Action Working Group

We are writing on behalf of the Break Free PNW Coalition in order to make clear our intentions and to make public statements that we have made in conversations with a variety of community members.

Made up of environmental and social justice organizations from Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho, the Coalition is mobilizing against the Shell and Tesoro’s Anacortes refineries on May 13, 14, and 15. We believe that the urgency of the climate crisis demands immediate action. Locally and globally, governments have failed to put in place the necessary protections and policies to ensure the survival of our communities and our ecosystems. By organizing these actions in Anacortes, we aim to create pathways to a better future. There will be ample opportunity for families and individuals to participate. We hope you will join us.

We are committed to working for a just transition to a post-fossil fuel economy. We believe a just transition must provide economic alternatives to communities dependent on fossil fuels, create new well-paying union jobs, and increase control by communities and workers over our energy systems. Some of our members joined USW members on the picket line at Tesoro during last year’s strike. We are educating our communities about the importance of fighting for family-wage jobs as we transition to a post-fossil fuel economy, protecting job security amidst declines in fossil fuel consumption, and minimizing job losses as the necessary action is taken to curtail dangerous climate disruption. We hope that this can be an opportunity to more widely educate our grassroots movement about these principles, and build support for them. We see this as one step in a long process of building a  common vision together.

We are eager to engage in productive conversation about a just transition. It seems important that the transition be addressed not just in a general way, but rather reflect the realities of the impacted communities. Although there will be many similarities from place to place, what such a transition looks like in Anacortes will be different from what it looks like in a large urban center. A statement incorporating input from the Anacortes community — including refinery workers — will be an important step. We are hopeful that we can find ways to continue the dialogue and we are committed to getting this right.

We have heard many concerns about the possibility of some of our members engaging in civil disobedience around the refineries. Our coalition is committed to safety: a major focus of our mobilization is training our members in nonviolent principles and practices in an effort to ensure that no one suffers unintentional harm. We will take care to avoid placing others in danger, including coordinating our actions to avoid placing each other in unexpected situations. We understand that the refinery is a complex and dangerous facility and we will take care in our actions not to create unsafe conditions for workers or the surrounding community. With this in mind, we will not block refinery workers from entering or exiting their job site. We are committed to sharing these concerns with everyone who attends a training, and also, more broadly, through our coalition. And we will do our best to keep clear lines of communication open with workers and community leaders so that further concerns can be addressed.

We have also heard concerns about the potential impacts of large groups of people gathering near the heron rookery at the southwest corner of March Point. We are committed to making sure that our presence won’t disturb the herons during their breeding season, we are consulting with local experts, and we are planning all of our activities well away from that unique and precious habitat.

We believe that despite the challenges inherent in finding a just transition to move away from fossil fuels (particularly in communities where the economy is reliant on refining those fuels), we all share a great deal of common ground in our concerns for the future. We strongly believe in the importance of our movement finding ways to stand in genuine solidarity with labor and fenceline communities. If we aren’t talking to each other, it is too easy for corporations to divide us with confusion and misinformation. We look forward to continuing this dialogue and seeing what fruit it can bear.

Sincerely,

The Break Free PNW Local Action Team