Track Blockade in Lewiston/Auburn


Wednesday August, 28th 2013 


350 Maine Blockade Draws Attention to Oil Trains in Auburn

Betsy Catlin

Sass Linneken

Lewiston/Auburn­— 350 Maine and Maine Earth First, the environmental groups who blockaded an oil train in Fairfield, ME this past June, blockaded tracks adjacent to the Auburn Library Wednesday evening to draw attention to the ongoing dangers posed by the transportation of Bakken crude oil by rail. Three protesters were arrested after sitting down on the tracks and were released on bail Wednesday night. The groups also performed street theatre beside Court St, demonstrating the risk of spills.   

The groups are calling for a moratorium on the transport of the same oil product that caused the tragic train explosion in Lac Megantic, Quebec last month, which killed close to fifty people. While Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, the operator of the Lac Megantic train, has ceased oil operations, its competitor Pan Am has continued oil transport through the state uninterrupted, traversing downtowns and rivers throughout Maine. Pan Am has had 4 derailments in the least year alone, demonstrating the unsafe conditions of the tracks, even while hazardous crude transport has dramatically increased over the past two years.  

WHAT: Oil Train Moratorium/ Track Blockade
WHERE: Intersection of Rt 4 and School Street, Auburn.
WHEN: Wednesday, August 28th at 6:30 p.m.
WHO: 350 Maine

Fairfield arrestee Sass Linnekin of Benton called on congressional leaders Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree to take bold action. “LePage’s executive order to review rail safety has no teeth. We’re calling for a moratorium on oil transport. We’re asserting our rights to health and safety.”    

Trains running through Maine carry crude from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. Bakken oil is “fracked” or extracted by blasting a high pressure toxic cocktail deep into the ground to release the oil from shale rock, polluting air and water in surrounding communities. 

350 Maine intends to halt oil trains coming through the state as a part of a larger movement to end extreme fossil fuel extraction and curb climate change. Worldwide, oil and gas emissions account for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. Continued extraction will make the planet unlivable.   

Meaghan LaSala of Portland was arrested in the blockade. “Fossil Fuels have never been safe. For as long as humans have been pulling this stuff out of the ground, communities at every point of development have been treated as expendable. And now the stability of our planet is at stake,” she said. 

The groups are calling on communities to perform citizen inspections of train tracks throughout the state. Betsy Catlin, who was arrested at the June blockade in Fairfield explained, “community inspections are necessary. Companies like Pan Am, and state and federal governments have failed to do critical track maintenance to lower the risks of derailments. As we watch the outrageous lack of regard for families in Lac Megantic and North Dakota, we see that we have to take matters into our own hands."