This letter was written by Southern Oregon Rising Tide to Senator Wyden and Senator Merkley, who were disrupted by SORT activists when they spoke at a Climate Summit on October 14. This letter, written to clarify and underscore our message, was delivered to the Senators’ offices on October 30.
Dear Senators Wyden & Merkley,
On Wednesday, October 14 you both briefly took the stage at the Our Critical Climate summit in Medford. The two day summit, organized by Southern Oregon Climate Action Now, brought speakers, elected officials, scientists, and others to talk about the impacts of climate change and ways to begin addressing the issue. That Wednesday morning when you both came to address the crowd you were silently disrupted by activists with Southern Oregon Rising Tide. We stood with signs and banners between the stage and crowd, calling on you to ‘walk your climate talk’ and oppose the LNG pipeline. We write you this letter now to clarify that it was SORT (and not SOCAN or others) who interrupted you, and to underscore our intentions and the message we sought to send to you.
In your comments at the summit and elsewhere, you both have acknowledged that the damage of climate change is real and immediate, that we need to stop continuing to extract & burn fossil fuels, and that we must turn back the tide against the corporations extracting and burning fossil fuels will not willingly participate in such a change. We agree, and that means leaving fossil fuels in the ground.
You acknowledged this yourselves in your remarks: Senator Merkley talked about opposing both the Keystone XL pipeline and Arctic drilling for oil, saying we need to “keep fossil fuels in the ground.” Senator Wyden talked about introducing legislation to close tax loopholes for fossil fuel corporations. However, your staunch unwillingness to publicly stand with the communities you’re supposed to represent in opposing the Pacific Connector LNG Pipeline project makes such a commitment ring hollow.
You left the climate summit without speaking to any constituents or members of the public, nor taking a single question from the assembled audience. Our question to you is, why are you only willing to fight fossil fuel projects in the Midwest and the Arctic? Fossil fuels need to stay in the ground, whether oil from under the Arctic sea, bitumen from the Tar Sands, or fracked gas piped through Oregon.
For a decade, the threat of a climate-devastating fracked gas export pipeline has hung over communities in Southern Oregon. Landowners, residents, conservation & climate organizations, and others have come together to protect our communities, rivers, climate, and forests. You’ve received countless questions and pleas to stand with Oregonians against this fracked-gas project that will be the largest of climate pollution in the state. And yet you have consistently chosen to avoid speaking out against it at all, much less take the sort of strong stances you have against other projects like the Keystone XL.
You can’t position yourselves as climate champions if you won’t oppose such a blatantly climate polluting project as the Pacific Connector pipeline. Your constituents are losing their patience with empty words and hypocrisy from elected officials, especially on an issue as urgent & important as taking action against the causes of climate change. This is precisely what motivated Southern Oregon Rising Tide to disrupt your address on Oct. 14, as well as what motivated the positive responses we’ve received from the broader community for doing so.
As long as there are schemes to build new fossil fuel export infrastructure through our homes to trash our climate, our communities will continue standing up and take action to turn them back, just as the communities at the center of the struggles like those against the Keystone XL pipeline and Arctic drilling have done. Southern Oregon Rising Tide and all those opposing LNG exports in Oregon are part of that broad and growing movement against LNG & new fossil fuel infrastructure, and we look forward to you joining us and speaking out publicly against the Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove LNG Export Project.