A Washington woman, who spent the last four years fighting construction of an oil terminal in Vancouver, has won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.
Linda Garcia kept the pressure on the proposed terminal despite undergoing chemotherapy. She stepped up at rallies and testified at public hearings — even when they lasted into the early hours of the morning.
Her work with the Fruit Valley Neighborhood Association helped convince Washington's governor, Jay Inslee, to cancel the company's lease — blocking a potential daily flow of about 11 million gallons of crude into the city.
Talking to OPB earlier this year, Garcia said it seemed like a never-ending battle.
“When this whole thing first started, I think we were a little bit worried that nobody would have our back,” said Garcia.
In a statement she said, “I will accept this award, fully cognizant of the fact that I could never have achieved this without the help of many.”
“People do have more power than they think. The power of the people beat the power of money in this fight. I don’t think they [the Vancouver Energy oil terminal] realized what they were up against,” said Garcia.
The Goldman prize is sometimes called the ‘Green Nobel,’ bringing a financial award and international recognition.
It honors six grassroots activists - one each from Africa, Asia, Europe, various island nations, North America, and South and Central America.
This year's other winners include:
- Ana Colovic Lesoka for her efforts to protect animal habitat, particularly that of the endangered Balkan lynx, from a planned hydroelectric power project.
- Former teacher Bayarjargal Agvaantseren who fought proposed mining operations, to protect threatened snow leopards and the livelihoods of herders in Mongolia.
- Alfred Brownell, an environmental lawyer in Liberia, for helping enact a palm oil ban, to support endangered species including the pygmy hippopotamus.
- Alberto Curamil, a member of Chile's largest indigenous ethnic group, the Mapuche, who was jailed for battling hydropower plans affecting regional water supplies.
- Marine conservationist Jacqueline Evans who helped establish protections for 125,000 square miles around the environmentally-sensitive Cook Islands.