Thursday, February 19, 2015

VAN's 2015 project list and Wishlist

2015 VAN volunteer projects list

1) Listening Projects in Railside neighborhoods-- VAN is partnering with Portland Rising Tide (and other groups?) to help increase the number of most directely impacted railside residents participating in this growing movement.  This spring we plan to go door to door to conduct  Listening Projects (based on the Mountain Justice model) to learn about the concerns of railside residents, provide some technical education about oil by rail projects, and recruit volunteers for Train Watch and other direct actions.  A mandatory training will be provided prior to engaging in Listening Projects.  

2) Twitter Train Watch volunteers needed-- This is one of the most vital tools which VAN can help provide, REAL TIME  oil train monitoring data.  This is information that isn't being provided by any other group,  federal or state agency (that I know of).  If you see a 100% oil train please Tweet the time, direction of train travel if known, location such as city, state and major landmark, and the hash tag #waoiltrainwatch for Washington state, #oroiltrainwatch for Oregon and so on.   This can be done from where ever you are as long as you can see oil trains and use Twitter.
Do you live near exploding oil train railroad routes? Check this Forest Ethics map
Forest Ethics Blast Zone Map--
We also have the option of monitoring oil trains in Vancouver, WA via our live city webcam if anyone is interested.  I can't stress how important this real time data is to our budding movement.  This is one  way to provide real time data to first responders, government officials, local citizens, and those planning direct actions against oil trains.    
Contact VAN when you start monitoring so we can promote your work.

3) Railroad Infrastructure monitoring via drone-- Yep VAN has entered the drone age. We'll be using a drone with Go Pro video to monitor railroad bridges for safety violations. We will be doing visual inspections of railroad crossings which is a common place for accidents to happen. We plan to use to help provide easy to use access to our monitoring data. will map your geosynced tweets and display photos from your trip so that railroad experts and the Utilities Transportation Commission which regulates crossings in Washington state can bust the railroads.

We will not be trespassing on railroad property or breaking current drone regulatory laws.  

4) Exhausting Administrative Rememdies clerical work-- We need to compile a list of which states have complied by providing oil train shipment data to citizens and which ones haven't (so we can break their will to resist) and help locate and mobilze area residents to request this info and initiate lawsuits when possible.  (this can be done from anywhere)

5) Protest it up!-- We need to increase public protests against Washington Governor Jay Inslee and the new Oregon governor to block proposed oil and propane terminals in our states.  We also need to organize nation wide protests at DOT and FRA offices demanding an end to shipping of all explosive substances in out dated DOT 111 railcars. 

6) tabling-- We have a bunch of events where we could use some solid tabling volunteers.  You can get into music shows for free, farmer's markets, festivals and conferences.  It is pretty easy and pretty awesome to meet new folks and help build the movement.  Also doing outreach to Amtrak and crusty punk train riders to conduct Oil Train Watches as they ride the rails.

VAN's 2015 Wishlist---

Anything you could provide or loan would be most helpful.

1) funding (gas money for feild work, printing flyers, relevant conference fees, ect)

2) volunteers (any above listed projects, webmaster, willing to protest in Olympia, Salem, hunger strike on capital steps, ect)  

3) trail cam w / batteries (we would use this to monitor oil trains for historical data via Twitter like Rod Tharp in Olympia) 

4) Live web cam with streaming video feed of train tracks

5) a way to program a computer to automatically monitor for oil trains via webcam using facial recognition type technology

6) a running vehicle (a loaner is ok, with a driver is even better)
7) a rent free VAN volunteer house (we'll take anything on either side of the Columbia or Willamette rivers in Vancouver/ Portland) We would house full time interns and get so much work done!

8) Zappar augmented reality guru-- Augemented reality is a pretty cool thing.  You can use your smart phone to look at Zappar enabled items and info automatically appears on your screen, much like VH 1's Pop Up Music Videos.  We would like an app that could be used to identify contents, maker, and owner of oil tank cars which could help with Train Monitoring.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Next Generation Climate Justice Action Camp Aug 14-17, 2014 Hillsboro, OR

VAN members will be volunteering with this event.

Age 14-18?  Then register online here- 
This summer, the Civil Liberties Defense Center is teaming up with the Ruckus Society and the Backbone Campaign to host an action camp for young people ages 14-18 to gain knowledge and skills to organize for climate justice! It will be a weekend of FUN, hands-on workshops, and action!
The camp will be from August 14-17, 2014 at Camp Ireland in Hillsboro, Oregon!
For more information contact-
The Civil Liberties Defense Center  WWW.CLDC.ORG
Lauren C. Regan, Attorney at Law Email:
259 East 5th Avenue, Suite 300 A Eugene, Oregon 97401

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Matt Landon interviewed by Al Jazeera English TV and VAN solidarity statement

Thanks to Al Jazeera English TV for interviewing VAN volunteer Matt Landon on June 24-25, 2014 in Vancouver, WA about our Twitter Train Watch activities.  The piece should air the week of July 1-7.  Stay tuned for more details. 
We would also like to condemn the illegal jailing, unfair trial, and harsh sentencing of Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed in Egypt this week.  These journalists were documenting pro-government protests and two of them received seven year prison sentences while the third received a 10 year sentence.  An attack on journalists anywhere is an attack on journalists everywhere. 
"Today three colleagues and friends were sentenced, and will continue to be kept behind bars for doing a brilliant job of being great journalists. 'Guilty' of covering stories with great skill and integrity. 'Guilty' of defending people’s right to know what is going on in their world," said Al Anstey, Al Jazeera English’s managing director.
Here is a list of Egyptian Embassies in the United States.
Please take a moment to send an email and make a phone call asking that the Egyptian government release these journalists.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Citizens Receive Railroad Information in Washington

SERC - US DOT Emergency Order Re: Bakken Crude Oil by Rail

On June 6, 2014, an Emergency Order issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) went into effect requiring railroad carriers operating trains transporting 1,000,000 gallons or more of Bakken crude oil in a single train to provide information to the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) regarding the estimated volumes and frequencies of the train traffic implicated. Specifically, the notification must:
  • Provide reasonable estimate of the number of trains and volumes per week, through each county.
  • Identify and describe the petroleum crude oil expected to be transported in accordance with 49 CFR part 172, subpart C.
  • Provide all applicable emergency response information required by 49 CFR part 172 subpart G.
  • Identify the routes over which the materials will be transported.
  • Provide at least one point of contact at the railroad (including name, title, phone number, and address) responsible for serving as the point of contact for SERCs and relevant emergency responders related to the railroad’s transportation of Bakken crude oil.
Railroad carriers shall update notifications prior to making any material changes in the estimated volumes or frequencies of trains traveling through a county (U.S. DOT considers any increase or decrease of 25% or more in the number of implicated trains per week to be a material change). For more information, see the U.S. DOT website:!docketDetail;D=DOT-OST-2014-0067.
Below notification process currently being implemented:
  • Railroad carrier notification reports received by the SERC are being sent to those emergency management organizations with a “need to know” (the counties/cities/tribes the oil trains travel through).
  • All railroad notifications reports sent by the SERC to emergency management organizations contain the following direction: “Each receiving agency is independently responsible for compliance with all state and federal laws and regulations concerning the disclosure and protection of this information, including but not limited to compliance with the state Public Records Act, ch. 42.56 RCW, and 49 CFR 1520, as applicable.”
  • Anyone other than an emergency responder with a need to know who would like to see a copy of the railroads’ notifications will be asked to file a Public Records Request (PRR).
  • SERC expects that all agencies that receive this information will comply with applicable state and federal law as directed
Railroad Notifications Released Pursuant to Public Record Request:

This information can be found at

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Twitter Oil Train Watch starts up in Missouri

For more info go to
Thanks to Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) for starting the Missouri Oil Train Watch.  MORE will utilize cameras to enhance their Train Watch activities.  You can follow them on Twitter by searching for hashtag #mooiltrainwatch
MORE can be reached at 314-862-2249 or 314-780-3734 and by email at   

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

VAN organizes actions for International Week of Action July 6-13, 2014

All actions are listed at

These actions are organized to honor the 47 people who lost their lives on July 6, 2013 in the first exploding oil trains event in Canada. 

July 6 Twitter Oil Train Watch—If you can’t sit by the tracks please watch the Vancouver City Hall webcam 
When you see a 100% oil train Tweet the time(am/pm), city, direction of train travel(left to right across the screen is westbound), and the hashtag #waoiltrainwatch   Search in your city for webcams that are pointed at the railroad tracks and start a Train Watch in your town or community. 
July 7 File for public information from your state Emergency Management Agency about the DOT Emergency Order of May 7, 2014 requiring the railroads to provide information about crude oil shipments through each state.   We have the potential to cost the railroads money to deal with us as they may have to get a court injunction (at least $300 each) against each person that files a request for information.  
For more info about DOT Emergency Order--   
Information on public records request in WA-- 
Here is the request form for Washington state--
July 8 DOT Tuesday—Protest at the Department of Transportation.  12pm 11018 NE 51st Circle
Vancouver, WA   DOT has the authority and oversight of hauling of Hazardous Materials on the railways and they can end this explosive situation now by banning the use of DOT 111 railcars to haul any type of crude oil.  Organize protests at every DOT across the country sending them a clear signal that we won’t allow crude oil of any kind to be shipped in the outdated and unsafe DOT 111 and DOT 111a rail car fleet since these cars are vulnerable to regular off gassing, rupture, and explosion in our communities.  If you can’t make it to the protest call them at 360 905 2000
July 9 Say No to Nustar—Protest at Nustar.  12pm 5420 Fruit Valley Rd, Vancouver, WA  The Nustar terminal in Vancouver, WA was able to get its air quality permits from the slimy Southwest Clean Air Agency without public comment during the time when everyone’s attention was focused on mobilizing against the proposed Tesoro-Savage oil export terminal.  We have to demand that Washington’s Governor intervene in this 50,000 barrels a day Bakken crude oil terminal which flies in the face of the Vancouver City resolution banning the shipping of Bakken crude oil through our town.   
July 10  No Explosive Oil Trains or Oil Port  Rally / strategy session--  North side of Esther Short Park corner of 8th and Esther Short, Vancouver, WA  6pm-7pm  featuring the band Stone in Love a “Journey cover band” ( look for the No Oil Port sign)  
July 11 FRA Friday—Protest at the Federal Railroad Administration.  12pm 500 Broadway, Suite 240 Vancouver, WA. Organize protests at every FRA office across the country sending them a clear signal that we won’t allow crude oil of any kind to be shipped in the outdated and unsafe DOT 111 and DOT 111a rail car fleet since these cars are vulnerable to regular off gassing, rupture, and explosion in our communities. If you can’t make it to the protest call them at 360 696 7536.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Call for volunteers around the world to monitor oil trains via webcam

Vancouver City Hall live webcam  *** You may have to refresh the screen to get real time images.****

Vancouver Action Network has discovered that Vancouver City Hall has a publicly accessible webcam pointed at the railroad tracks which we can now use to monitor for oil trains.  We are calling on volunteers around the world to help us monitor 100% oil trains coming through our town.  It is easy to identify the 100% oil trains because they are 1 mile long and only contain black cylindrical rail cars with the red diamond shaped placard 1267.  Please monitor this Vancouver City Hall webcam and use Twitter to send a Tweet containing the time(am/pm listed on the webcam), direction of train travel (left to right across the screen is westbound),  city, and the hashtag  #waoiltrainwatch

Please search in your cities for webcams which show railroad tracks and start a Train Watch using them and Twitter.    If you have any questions please contact us.