Tacoma City Council Turns Deaf Ears to Youth Pleading for Their Future

TACOMA, WA – November 12, 2019 – During a City Council meeting that stretched from 5pm past 10pm, concerned residents and students from Tacoma once again made their case for stronger interim regulations.  Once again, City Council turned a deaf ear to the people they claim to represent and renewed the interim regulations as is, allowing the expansion of fossil fuels in the port to continue unchecked.

“We were shocked to learn that in 2019, SeaPort Sound has increased their vessel transfers of oil by 52% compared to 2018,” testified Melissa Mallott of Citizens for a Health Bay.

This unchecked growth flies in the face of the latest findings from the scientific community, which has been warning that we have just about a decade left to kick our reliance on fossil fuels or face the worst consequences of the climate crisis.  One recent study predicts that much of the Port of Tacoma will be underwater by 2050.

“If we continue to allow existing fossil fuel industries to expand in the port, it is me and my peers who will be most greatly affected,” testified Ms. Brewster, a high school student at SAMI. “And as I speak here tonight I ask that you listen to my voice and consider your responsibility to future generations.”

Erin Rasmussen, a 21-year old UPS student and organizer with the Sunrise Movement, said “Tonight I’m asking you to take the climate crisis seriously and work hard, as hard as we are, to protect our futures…I’m asking you to strengthen the interim regulations, I’m asking you to choose to stand with the young people of Tacoma, I’m asking you to be brave and to be the leaders that we need to make sure that future generations have a safe, livable future.”

Lisa Grimm, also a student at UPS and Sunrise organizer told the council that “Recently my grades have been tanking, my mental health has also been tanking because I am worried about my future.  I stand in front of you guys week after week, month after month, I talked to the Governor of our great state, and yet all I hear is people not being strong enough on climate, not doing enough, constantly.” 

Displaying a large aerial photo of the SeaPort Sound Terminal petrochemical tank complex, Stacy Oaks, an organizer with 350 Seattle testified that “Every single one of those drum containers is a nail in the coffin of our grandchildren.  And you want to continue to expand that!”

Just part of the SeaPort Sound tank farm complex in the Tideflats.

Nancy Hausauer, a volunteer with 350 Tacoma, presented the Council with a petition from the community containing over 520 signatures.  “At the September 20th climate strike, young people presented a list of demands to the Mayor and three City Council Members. This is your first opportunity to show the youth that you take their demands seriously, that you will stand strong against fossil fuel interests and that you will join the youth in securing a livable future for all of us.”

Once the City Council voted to renew the interim regulations with no amendment to ban the expansion of current fossil fuel uses, young people and their allies took to the front of the council chambers with signs reading “Which side are you on?” and “This is an Emergency – Act Like It”.  With the Mayor calling for order and pausing proceedings, they broke out into several rounds of song:

Which side are you on now, which side are you on?
Which side are you on now, which side are you on?

Storms surge and fires burn
but you don’t hear the call

‘Cause fossil fuels are paying you
does it weigh on you at all?

Does it weigh on you at all?
Does it weigh on you at all?

Clearly, it does not weigh on the City Council at all.