A group of 30 kayakers paddled about an hour from Kelley Point Park in Portland to the Port of Vancouver on Monday to protest a cargo ship carrying pipe to Canada.
The group was made up of members of the Mosquito Fleet, a water-based direct action fleet that travels around the Pacific Northwest working to make the region free of new fossil fuel infrastructure. The group was in Vancouver recently in opposition to the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which Canada’s National Energy Board approved an expansion of earlier this year.
According to The Associated Press, the expansion would almost triple the flow of oil from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific Coast, and increase oil flow from 300,000 barrels a day to 890,000 barrels a day — with tanker traffic increasing from about 60 vessels to more than 400 vessels a year.
“It’s unacceptable we would be considering this against the backdrop of climate change,” said Sam Krop of Eugene, Ore., a member of the Mosquito Fleet.
In a release from his office in June, Gov. Jay Inslee called the expansion “alarming and deeply disappointing.”
“The costs to our environment and communities are simply too high,” Inslee said. “This pipeline, if built, will impose significant negative impacts on our coastal communities, increase the risk of oil spills in our shared waters and double down on carbon-intensive fossil fuels at a time when world leaders need to double down on clean energy.”
The Mosquito Fleet found out recently that pipe heading up for the project was coming through Vancouver, and brought attention to it on Friday, saying they would travel out to the port again on Monday. Krop said that more than 50 people were on the water with the group Monday, including the kayakers, a boat of supporters and a medic boat.
Krop said the group paddled out and unfurled two banners, both reading “Stop Trans Mountain.” There was a police presence, but Krop said nobody was arrested.
The port isn’t a stranger to contentious issues involving oil pipelines. In 2018, the Port of Vancouver and Vancouver Energy mutually agreed to end the company’s lease after years where the two agencies worked toward building the nation’s largest rail-to-marine oil terminal at the port.
Krop said the group heard from people in the community angry about the current cargo ship carrying pipes.
“When community members found out about this, they were outraged,” she said.
While the group doesn’t have another demonstration planned yet, Krop said the Mosquito Fleet wants local residents to continue to be involved in their efforts.
“(Monday) is by no means the end of what we’re doing here,” she said. “Our intention is to make sure this pipe does not reach its destination.”