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We did it.

On Saturday May 5th a group of British Columbians engaged in an act of civil disobedience in order to shut down coal exports on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway line for 24 hours.  We prevented 5 BNSF coal trains from entering BC to unload coal at Westshore Terminals on that day. We physically stopped a 6th train on the tracks at White Rock BC at 6 pm, at which point 13 good citizens were arrested for violating a court order not to interfere BNSF operations.


Here's what was involved: a small number of people willing to risk arrest to stand up for what they believe in. The support of prominent people like Bill McKibben, James Hansen and Mark Jaccard, who were ready to speak up in advance and say this is the right thing to do. A stoked-up group of supporters who, through their actions, helped set a tone for the day that was peaceful, creative and hopeful, but also focused and determined. A network of people in Washington State keeping us abreast of train movements. One Twitter account.

That's all it took to stop Warren Buffett (the owner of BNSF) in his tracks for a full day -- a very important day for him personally. We were all overwhelmed by how beautifully everything unfolded. It all seemed a bit unreal at days end -- but that may have been because of the sunburn, dehydration and overall exhaustion.  Still, the next day, on a sunny Sunday morning, anything seemed possible.

The optimist

We were never worried about our physical safety because everything was planned out carefully and announced in advance. Our interactions with the police were incredible – respectful, candid and ongoing throughout the day. The White Rock detachment of the RCMP worked hard all day in the interest of public safety while also acknowledging our right to peacefully stand up for what we believe in. It was a good day to be a Canadian citizen.

Those who stood on the tracks were taken into custody after their arrest, processed, issued a $115 Federal Ticket for contravening the Railway Safety Act, then released.

Arrest in front of train

That 125  car coal train we stopped in White Rock did reach the port eventually, carrying 13,000 tonnes of coal that will release 26,000 tonnes of CO2 when burned. However, it did so under the watchful eye of hundreds of onlookers and media crews. The deal between Warren Buffett (owner of BNSF) and Jimmy Pattison (owner of Westshore Terminals) to ship dirty Wyoming coal out of B.C. is now firmly in the public eye. We've started to connect the dots between coal exports and climate change.

To everyone who took part, in any way: We did something amazing Saturday. Well done.

Check out our twitter feed for live updates from the day and new information. Find links to photo streams on the facebook site.  If you have more photos, please link there as well.  Further information on the need to stop coal on the website.

twitter: @stopcoalBC
facebook: I can't believe BC exports that much coal!




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