Northwest has history of environmental activism

first_imgWhen the movement of oil trains emerged as a major controversy in the region, it wasn’t the first rodeo for many of the Northwest environmental activists who joined the fight.Plenty were already involved in the campaigns against coal and natural gas, which are still very much alive — if perhaps overshadowed in Vancouver — along with the oil effort. Opponents have turned out by the hundreds to speak against plans to expand the presence of commodities they say pose a grave threat to public health and safety.The fight over fossil fuels is the latest in a long history of environmental battles in the Northwest. One of the most transformative in recent memory was the so-called “timber wars” of the early 1990s, which dramatically reshaped forest policy and logging in Oregon and Washington. One of the icons of that era, the northern spotted owl, remains a key factor in conservation efforts today.But the recent debate over fossil fuels, particularly coal and oil, has resonated with people in a way the timber wars never did, some activists say. That’s partly because of visibility, said Beth Doglio, campaign director for Climate Solutions in Olympia. Residents can plainly see coal and oil trains rumbling directly through urban areas across the state, she said. They’ve seen stories of derailments and disasters elsewhere, then watched the same rail cars pass by homes, parks and rivers, she said.“It’s a very real thing, and it’s very tangible,” Doglio said. “A spotted owl is an owl. It’s not your children that could be harmed.”last_img read more