Tribal leaders from around the Northwest gathered Thursday in Mosier, Oregon, not far from the site of last week’s oil train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge.
They prayed and spoke out against oil trains.
“We should not have any fossil fuels coming through our ancestral homeland, especially along the river,” said Austin Greene, the tribal chairman for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
JoDe Goudy, the chair of the Yakama Nation, also spoke out against the proposed oil terminal in Vancouver, Washington.
OPB's coverage on the transportation of oil by rail in the Northwest.
“We’ve been a very strong advocate of the fight of a fossil fuel superhighway coming through this Columbia River Gorge,” he said.
The tribes were joined by Robert Kennedy Jr., vice chair and chief prosecuting attorney for the nonprofit environmental group Riverkeeper. Kennedy said railroads are playing Russian Roulette with communities who live along tracks.
“Fossil fuels, or dinosaur fuels, are immoral, they’re criminal, they’re harmful to our communities,” he said. “The only way that they survive is through subsidies and through government interventions that give (alternative energy) an advantage in the marketplace.”
Officials say the Union Pacific train that derailed spilled 42,000 gallons of crude oil, but so far only a very small amount has been found in the Columbia River.