May 27, 2015
Press Contact: Angie Viands, 312-217-0145 / email@example.com
Chicago, IL—Members of Rising Tide Chicago disrupted the North American Rail Shippers Association, held Wednesday at the Drake Hotel in Chicago, by interrupting a speech by the Burlington-Northern Santa-Fe (BNSF) CEO and dropping a banner in the hotel. These actions drew attention to BNSF’s role in the continued transport of high volumes of dangerous crude through the Chicagoland area.
Burlington-Northern Santa-Fe President Carl Ice was interrupted by two protesters who stood up and chanted, “oil trains kill, shame on you Carl Ice,” while they held a banner that read “BNSF: Bomb Trains Kill.” Just minutes earlier a banner was dropped behind the registration table of the event that had the BNSF logo and read “BNSF: Profits over Safety,” referring to the company’s role in shipping oil and their actions to undermine their rail workers’ safety.
Chicago is a major hub of the nation’s rail traffic, including a recent spike in the transport of crude oil from the Bakken shale fields in North Dakota. Obtained by the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, Bakken oil has proven to be highly volatile. Local concerns were raised when a unit train carrying 103 cars of Bakken crude derailed near Galina, Illinois while in route to Chicago. Had the resulting explosion occurred in a more populated area like Chicago, there would be mass fatalities.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe, owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, is responsible for the transport of the majority of Bakken crude coming into Chicago. Despite the public claims of working towards safer transportation of their cargo, BNSF continues to lobby behind closed doors, opposing reforms designed to protect workers and the communities along the tracks. BNSF has opposed new regulations requiring more stringent speed limits and improved braking technology, as well as launching attacks against requiring multi-person crews.
Participant in the disruption, Kevin Oliver, addressed the cradle-to-grave impacts of developing the Bakken. “From the violence and environmental devastation caused by the extreme extraction of Bakken shale, along the rail lines that cut through our communities on the way to the coasts for export, and to the burning of fossil fuels that contribute to climate chaos, we need to rethink our reliance on the forms of energy that harm our people and planet. BNSF makes billions of dollars putting our communities and climate at risk, so we took this action to take a stand against the obscene wealth that is being generated at the expense of our safety.
Rising Tide Chicago promotes local solutions that empower communities to democratically confront the climate crisis. We believe that our rails should move people, and not dirty and dangerous fossil fuels.