Seattle: Dozens of protesters have blocked railroad tracks leading to two oil refineries in northwest Washington state to oppose the flow of oil from trains to those facilities.
About 150 people spent the night in tents pitched on the railroad tracks near Anacortes, about 70 miles north of Seattle. Many of them were feeling jubilant today as they prepared for a second day of demonstrations targeting the nearby Shell and Tesoro oil refineries.
Dozens more are expected to join the protesters who have formed a barricade on the tracks throughout the day, said Ahmed Gaya, a spokesman with the Break Free Pacific Northwest who also spent the night on the tracks.
"The plan is to hold this space," he said. "People in the Northwest and around the world are prepared to build these movements (of mass disobedience) and keep fossil fuels in the ground."
There have been no arrests as of today morning, according to BNSF Railway and Skagit County officials.
"We're currently not running traffic on the line," BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said. "Our operations are flexible on this line. We had anticipated this and therefore adjusted scheduling with customers."
The railroad tracks, which connects BNSF's mainline to Anacortes, serves the two refineries as well as other customers.
"At this point, we're standing back, letting them protest and developing a plan and will take action as necessary," Melonas said today morning.
Skagit County spokeswoman Bronlea Mishler said authorities are monitoring and that there were no plans as of today morning to move the activists. "At this point, we're playing it by ear," she said.
The three-day event began today and includes "kayaktivists" demonstrating on water, an indigenous ceremony and a march in front of the oil refineries. A march is planned
Today afternoon in front of the oil refineries. Protesters began pitching tents, erecting colorful flags and signs and setting up the railroad blockade today. Some did yoga or mediated, others chanted and sang.
The protests are part of a series of global actions calling on people to "break free" from dependence on oil, coal and other fossil fuels. Similar events are scheduled in Los Angeles and Albany, New York, today and in Washington DC On Sunday.
Organizers say they want to transition to renewable energy in a way that doesn't leave workers or communities behind, and they're willing to risk arrest to engage in peaceful civil disobedience.