By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,350)
Two years ago today, forty-seven (47) people perished in an oil train explosion in LacMegantic, Quebec. Today members of the Greater Portland area gathered in their memory at Monument Square to commemorate the anniversary of this tragedy.
This week has been designated Stop Oil Trains Week of Action in over seventy (70) cities across North America. Already in 2015, five oil trains have exploded in North America. They include West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana and Ontario. Portland faces the threat of a similar accident at any time Half of Portland’s residents are within a mile of railroad tracks and oil trains have passed through Maine as recently as February.
The spike in oil train derailments is caused in part by the increased oil train traffic, which has grown by more than 4,000 percent in the last six years. Moreover, the Bakken shale oil coming out of the oil boom in the midwest is more toxic, more explosive and more carbon-intensive than conventional oil, making it even more dangerous for the residents of Portland and people all along the route of production.
Following the reading of the names of the victims of the town of Lac Megantic, Quebec by Willow Femmechild, of Munjoy Hill, there was a moment of silence. Then Lee Chisholm, of 350Maine told those gathered that “our exploitation of fossil fuels has itself continued to accelerate notwithstanding that (Lac Megantic) tragedy. If the tragic consequences of an oil train explosion two years ago in Lac Megantic were terrifying, what manner of tragedy awaits us if we continue in our headlong rush – like a driverless train — to extract and exploit oil, coal and natural gas?
Chisholm said he knew of another tragedy awaiting us out in our oceans. “The oceans are warming. And at the same time, from absorption of fossil fuel-related CO2, they are acidifying. . And they are warming and acidifying at a stupefying rate — a rate unprecedented in the history of humankind on earth. As a result, the best scientific studies today are speaking of mass extinctions in the seas within the lifetime of our children if.and it’s an all-important IF — we are unwilling to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy,”