Hundreds of American climate change activists join others around the world calling for clean energy
Hundreds of climate change activists in Washington state and New York mobilized on Saturday as part of a global protest against fossil fuels, event organizers said.
The so-called Break Free 2016 is a 12-day protest event seeking to call attention to climate change and demanding a transition to clean energy, according to the organization’s website. Events are planned on six continents.
Hundreds of activists were holding a protest in Anacortes, Washington, after about 150 demonstrators spent Friday night occupying railroad tracks leading to Tesoro Corp and Royal Dutch Shell refineries some 70 miles (113 km)north of Seattle.
Tesoro spokeswoman Destin Singleton said operations at the refinery were not affected. A Shell representative could not immediately be reached.
Break Free Pacific Northwest organizer Ahmed Gaya said, “Break Free is about pressuring the system so we get the change we need, but it’s also about imagining an alternative.”
Gus Melonas, a spokesman for BNSF Railway Co [BNISF.UL], said train service had been shut down for the day on the Anacortes tracks leading to the refineries. He added however that rail officials were planning with local authorities to have the protesters removed.
“Obviously these people can voice their opinion, but we ask that they do it off our property,” Melonas said. “We can only put up with it for so long.”
Skagit County Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Kathy Watson said there had been no arrests made by Saturday afternoon.
In Albany, New York, about 1,500 people gathered to protest against trains carrying crude oil into the Port of Albany, said Break Free Albany spokeswoman Aly Johnson-Kurts.
She said organizers expected that 40 people would spend Saturday night at an encampment set up on train tracks leading into the port to blockade the oil shipments.
Earlier on Saturday, two activists were arrested after suspending themselves from a railroad bridge over the Watervliet Reservoir in nearby Guilderland and stopping a train, Johnson-Kurts said.
New York authorities could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday. Representatives for the Port of Albany were also not immediately available.
Other actions were planned for Saturday in Colorado and Los Angeles, as well as in Ecuador, South Africa and Germany, according to the organizer’s website.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Matthew Lewis)