The activists altered the billboard with a giant banner that listed five potential coal export sites along the Oregon and Washington coast, while around forty protestors gathered below and spelled "no coal exports" with oversized letters. Those not holding signs kept the vibe high with a spontaneous dance party on the sidewalk. Portland police made an appearance, but were struck dumb with awe by the glory of the banner as well as the skill and enormous power of action participants. They quickly vacated the premises.
Coal corporations including Peabody and Arch Energy are seeking to export up to 100 million tons of coal annually from six separate sites in Oregon and Washington. Last month, with minimal public input, the Port of St Helens approved an option to lease the port to coal companies Ambre Energy and Kinder Morgan. This comes nearly a year after Millenium Bulk Logistics temporarily withdrew an application to export coal from Longview, Washington after internal documents revealed inconsistent figures regarding the intended volume of coal for export.
"Big coal knowingly poisons our land, water and communities for the sake of their bottom line. Coal is the biggest contributor to global climate change, and as we teeter on the threshold of climate chaos we must reject all coal infrastructure," said Chelsea Thaw, an activist with Cascade Climate Network.
This event was part of a regional day of coordinated action against Northwest Coal Exports. Actions occurred across Oregon and Washington near sites of proposed export and in Montana near the coal fields of the Powder River Basin. Portland Rising Tide has staged numerous protests against coal export throughout the past year including several at coal financing banks.