The community uproar that originally started a year ago and prompted the death of a planned natural gas to methanol plant on the tideflats continues to morph into other local environmental and social justice issues as like-minded groups merge and share resources.
The grassroots effort Save Tacoma Water, for example, is gathering momentum for a ballot measure to change the term limits for City Council members from the current 10 years with a “break in service” before running again. The group hopes voters approve a change that would set the limit to eight years followed by a break of at least eight years before the elected official could run for office again.
RedLine Tacoma continues to protest the planned liquefied natural gas plant Puget Sound Energy is preparing to build. The 8 million gallon facility would provide fuel for TOTE container ships that run between Tacoma and Alaska but also serve as storage for natural gas customers to use during unexpected weather conditions. The group worries that the facility will be an added danger to the area as well as further promote the use of fossil fuels rather than greener energy sources.
Both groups are also recruiting candidates to run for political office, particularly the three seats up for votes in November on the Port of Tacoma Commission and the five open seats on the Tacoma City Council, including the mayor’s seat.
“We could actually take over the council,” Save Tacoma Water organizer Sherry Bockwinkel said. “I hate to be a single-issue person, but in this county you sort of have to be.”
The deadline for candidates to file campaign documents is May 19, which could come with many candidates filing at the last minute after they size up the candidates who have already filed.
Petitions and candidate cultivation hasn’t taken the place of good, old fashion protests and rallies. Those continue on a regular basis.
A protest at the site of Puget Sound Energy’s LNG construction site last week included members of RedLine Tacoma, Save Tacoma Water and the Green Party Tahoma that was cosponsored by Direct Action Tacoma, an umbrella group that organizes non-violent direct action such as protests and forums on environmental, social, economic and racial justice issues.
“It doesn’t seem like our elected officials are protecting us,” organizer Sarah Morken said. “And that’s not right.”
While the protest was held outside of at the LNG site, the overall protest was against fracked gas in general and the promotion of fossil fuels over more renewable energy sources. Among the protesters were members of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, which has been in a drawn out legal battle over environmental safety concerns and questions about construction activities at the former Superfund site leading to contamination leeching into the waterway.
“It’s our responsibility to stop this,” Morken said, noting that the protests could take on elements of the Standing Rock protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline through the Sioux Reservation’s primary drinking water source, the Missouri River. “We would rather not have to do something like that.”