What is Solutionary Rail? Thom Hartmann Show with guest Bill Moyer

Thom Hartmann invited me onto his Tuesday program to speak with him about Solutionary Rail. It was a special honor to be able to talk with Thom about the project. Please check out the interview and then PLEASE forward this to your friends and family.

I got to talk with Thom while I was in DC to meet with a number of important potential allies. I learned a great deal and enjoyed meeting folks at the Democracy Collaborative, NARP (National Association of Rail Passengers), NRECA (National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association), as well as Sam Daily-Harris the founder of Results who has been working with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Needless to say, it was a very fruitful visit.

Lead with Vision, Governor Inslee – Transform Rail from Problem to Solution

PETITION: Governor Inslee – Champion a Just Transition to Safer, Sustainable Railroads via Solutionary Rail

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, MosierBombTrainGIFMedSpeed.gif

The June 3, 2016 explosive oil train derailment in Mosier, Oregon reminded us that the railroads that run through our communities are being utilized in ways that are endangering public health and safety, polluting our water and air, and ultimately harming our oceans and climate. Current railroad uses also negatively impact agriculture shipments, strand rural communities, delay passenger trains, and displace other higher-value potential for rail. As we have told you before, this does not have to be the case.  We need your leadership to change it.  And we need it now.

Bomb Trains have no place in the railroad industry’s business model nor in the future of safe and sustainable rail transport.  We therefore echo our allies in the call for a moratorium on the shipping of explosive Bakken oil through our communities.  But it is not enough to say “No.” That is why we have worked for three years to craft a vision to which all can proclaim a  resounding  “YES!” 

Solutionary Rail is a proposal that places railroads at the center of a sustainable transport infrastructure redefining the future of US rail.  It charts a path that overcomes the impediments to infrastructure improvement on our privately owned railroads through public-private partnership to finance, build and run a publicly owned electrification and transmission system.  It mandates that this system be fed by distributed renewable energy generation along the route and raises the bar on protecting railroad workers and communities along the tracks.

Solutionary Rail is a catalyst project that creates synergies for positive movement and a broader just transition away from fossil fuel use and transport.
Shipping freight by electrified rail is efficient, requiring approximately 10-25 percent of the energy required to ship by diesel truck.  Rail electrification results in dramatic capacity improvements and track speeds up to 80 and 120 MPH for high-value freight and passengers respectively.  Electrifying corridors unlocks the potential for distributed renewable energy generation and prosperity for rural communities, tribes, and power co-operatives along the route.

Running rail on renewable energy results in near-zero carbon emissions. This addresses trains’ contribution to rural and urban public health problems caused by burning diesel. Rail electrification will nearly eliminate the need for long-haul trucking and therefore reduce that source of emissions as well.  This will make freeways more safe, less burdened by the trucks that cause the most traffic fatalities and exact a disproportionate physical toll on the infrastructure itself.

Solutionary Rail is a key component of a just transition away from the fossil fuel economy. Improvements in speed, service and capacity will draw passengers and freight off deteriorating, overcrowded freeways and clogged airports and back onto the trains and tracks. This increase in capacity combined with establishing regular freight and passenger schedules will improve service and undue a systemic cause of worker fatigue.  No longer living without a schedule, on call 24/7/365 rail workers and communities they travel through will be safer and happier.

Farmers and businesses will be able to confidently rely on rail to ship their crops and products to market in a timely manner. This increase in higher value use will displace railroads’ current business model dependent upon the transport of dirty and dangerous fossil fuel commodities.  It will be replaced by a business model that serves rail companies, their workers, and the communities and regional economies they connect.

Solutionary Rail’s phase I is the route from Salish Sea to the Great Lakes, principally on BNSF’s Northern Transcon.  Successful rail electrification and modernization in the United States must start with a successful demonstration on a major rail line.  The Northern Transcon is a nationally important transport route, crossing diverse weather patterns and regional economies. It offers the perfect opportunity to successfully demonstrate rail electrification’s potential to deliver of renewed vitality for US railroads and economy.

Electrified, higher-speed rail provides the foundation for sustainable jobs and prosperity through improved transportation access and stable long-term costs. By spurring the creation of a Steel Interstate Development Authority to finance electrification with low interest public bonds and building a rail electrification partnership with BNSF and others across the Northern Transcon, you Governor Inslee will be making Washington State a launch pad for the clean energy revolution you have long sought. We implore you Governor Inslee to lead with vision and champion the Solutionary Rail proposal.

SR-Map-Cab-BuildoutGIF.gifHere are the action steps we need you to take Governor Inslee: 

  • Personally Champion the Solutionary Rail vision for a future railroad industry and infrastructure that is no longer dependent upon shipping dirty and dangerous fossil fuel commodities.
  • Create an executive level task force of cabinet and agency leads to work with the Solutionary Rail technical team to study and enhance the proposal and guarantee that its key public benefit components cannot be negotiated away.
  • Convene a leadership summit, drawing in relevant governors, agency and elected officials to adopt an implementations plan for this inter-jurisdictional proposal and a pathway for creating a multi-state Steel Interstate Development Authority able to implement Solutionary Rail’s phase I pilot from the Salish Sea to the Great Lakes.
  • Negotiate a win/win partnership with Northern Transcon railroad owners including BNSF and its owner, Berkshire Hathaway led by Warren Buffett to access all necessary right of ways to build out and maintain the electrification and transmission infrastructure across the Solutionary Rail phase I corridor.
  • Begin the electrification build-out and development of stranded renewable energy assets across Solutionary Rail route, and transition to a duel powered and pure electric locomotive fleet for higher-speed freight and passenger rail to creates new customers and draw old ones off of the roads and back onto the tracks.

So once again Governor Inslee:

We the undersigned call upon you to be the champion we and future generations need you to be. Re-spark your passion for clean renewable solutions articulated in your book Apollo’s Fire.  Protect our land and people from bomb trains and the fossil fuel driven economy. Lead boldly and use your power to get railroads on a track to a future we can all be proud of. 

Champion Backbone Campaign’s Solutionary Rail proposal.

With Respect and Urgency,

Solutionary Rail Team
The Backbone Campaign
& Undersigning Allies

Roll up our Sleeves: Fight TPP! February 3rd Signing Protest

Rally at City Hall, then march to the Federal Building (5 blocks downhill) to deliver our message, (we might also pay a visit to the Chambers of Commerce).

Fight the TPP or Mr Money bags wins monopolyOn February 3, (February 4th in New Zealand), head trade negotiators from 12 countries around the Pacific Rim will gather to sign the biggest corporate trade agreement ever brokered: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). All over the world, from Malaysia to Mexico to Seattle, they will be met with protest.

We are tired of corporate interests stealing our jobs, ruining our environment, and undermining our health and security. Now, the decision rests with US Congress — accept this deal, or reject it and demand fair trade policy?

The Chambers of Commerce announced that they are “rolling up their sleeves” to pass TPP, so we are rolling up our sleeves to fight back. Join us to send a message here in Washington and to the world – TPP = Betrayal.

Join 350 Seattle, WFTC (Washington Fair Trade Coalition) Backbone Campaign and many more coming together as a global uprising to #StoptheTPP!

sHellNo Nighttime Luminary Flotilla on World Environment Day

Join us this Friday, June 5th, on World Environment Day for an eveningof art-making, inspiration, music, wise words, and creating a communitythat’s acting in harmony with our shared values and visions of betterway forward.

Rent a Kayak to join the Luminous Flotilla
culminating withprocession to the rig and light action! (you can enjoy music beginningat 6pm from the water or on land). Join the Luminary Flotilla


  • Paddle with lanterns from 9-10pm
  • On-the-water Light Action near the rig 10-11:30pm


Boaters, please email Capt Marnie. Lantern-makers and artists, please email Denise.

(more info on Luminary Flotilla below)

We need kayaks!
Ask everyone you know. Help us sniff out spare kayaksthroughout Seattle and beyond. Click HERE to offer to Loan Kayaks!

We are looking for loaners for the month of June, beginning IMMEDIATELY. We have more Kayaktivists than there are kayaksfor them to use. The success of the Rapid Response Network and ourability to defend the Arctic from Shell’s destructive drilling may hingeupon your assistance locating and coordinating boats to loan us.

We are interested in kayaks for Kayaktivists considering engagement inboth non-arrestable and elevated risk of arrest actions.

Click HERE to offer to Loan Kayaks!

Join the Flotilla Raft up with kayaktivistsFinal Kayaktivist Trainings – Shell could attempt toleave for the Arctic as early as June 10th. Join us and tell all yourfriends to attend these final trainings!

Last Saturday we were joined by participants from Barcelona, Liverpool,London, Canada and people from throughout the Salish Sea.

Stay tuned for more info about the rapid response efforts. . .

Luminary (ˈlo͞oməˌnerē/)- noun

  1. a person who inspires or influences others.
  2. a celestial body, as the sun or moon.
  3. a body, object, etc., that gives light.

Inspire others to join the climate justice movement! Unite with fellowKayaktivists to share your inner light, bask in the moonlight on thewater, and shine a light of truth on Shell’s depraved plans to drill theArctic.

CLICK HERE to RENT a KAYAK for the sHellNO! Luminary Flotilla

Join the Luminary Flotilla!

We are reclaiming the territory of our imaginations and aspirations,creating a Solutionary Culture of resistance and possibility.

Celebrate our collective creative force with this luminous flotilla andvigil for the Earth! Local artists from throughout the region will bedisplaying their magical light works. The event will open with music andhands-on arts projects to “hold the light” for what is threatened byArctic drilling and climate change. Then we paddle to the Polar Pioneer.

Reserve a spot in a kayak and please pay in advance. We are working withAlki Kayak Tours to provide a Pay-What-You-Can Sliding scale opportunity(it costs us $20-30 per person).

Please finish payment after you RSVP. If you need to find it again visitBackbone’s Kayak Training Payment Portal. Thank you in advance!

Once you register we’ll send you some more info, but plan to wearquick-drying clothing like what you might wear to yoga or hiking, aswell as something warm and a windbreaker (Just about anything butcotton).

Make a meaningful contribution TODAY!
If you think this is worthwhile work, we invite you to support our ability to keep doing it. Thanks for sharing in our enthusiasm!

Donate online HERE or send checks to PO BOX 278, Vashon, WA 98070

Successful Climate Justice Activism

Look what we have accomplished together! (see the media roundup below)
Paddle In Seattle
Together we were:

Paddle in Seattle Stranger CoverLed by the beauty and spirit of the moment,

Emboldened by the drums and wise words of the Duwamish and Native Canoe families and the voices of those on the front-lines of the climate crisis,

riven by a moral obligation to take principled and bold action in service of a habitable planet and younger generations.

300+ people (and countless others on land) took to the water, paddling straight to Shell’s Arctic destroyer to demand climate justice.

It is in these moments that we solidify the courage to act upon our convictions. The Paddle In Seattle has seized headlines across the world and has inspired others to join the movements for climate justice.

Thank you for sharing in our vision and for striving to manifest it. Collectively we have done something truly beautiful and powerful.

Kayaktivists confront artic destructionNow, we must use this momentum and spotlight to push onward.

Right now, we are resuming kayaktivist trainings and organizing a rapid response network for when Shell dares to leave for the Arctic. We’re also connecting the solar powered People’s Platform with upcoming night-time paddle actions.



Media Round-Up:

Chief Seattle is Watching banner at Jack Block with Native      Canoes by Alex GarlandThe news from the weekend made national and global headlines in addition to completely saturating Seattle media (best- KOMO 4 TV, KIRO 7 TV, Q13 Fox TV, Stranger, Seattle PI, West Seattle Herald) This has completely changed the conversation around Arctic drilling and rocketed it to being a top national and even international issue. Even Obama found himself extolling the virtues of protecting the Arctic at a USCG Academy commencement address.

Here are a few highlights: on Saturday, the protest was #3 on BBC World News (right beneath the ISIS raid and Morsi’s death sentence, to give you perspective). The Guardian went wild with coverage as well (here, here, here, and here) and it even reached Australia!

The Associated Press story was picked up in nearly every major paper across the country from Atlanta to Minneapolis to Dallas and on ABC and Yahoo news.

The coverage from the NBC affiliate, King 5 TV, was picked up nationally.

The photos were particularly well-traveled with even Leonardo Dicaprio posting the aerial kayak photos on his Instagram.
Paddle In Seattle
Here is a roundup of the photos from Grist.

The speeches all came from native and impacted people telling us powerful truths. In fact, after traveling to Seattle from the North Slope, Mae Hank and Faith Gemmill-Fredson – founder and executive director of the grassroots indigenous network REDOIL- confronted Shell at the AGM meeting in London. Faith spoke directly to Shell shareholders saying “The moral and financial burden of the irresponsible decision to drill in the Arctic is too risky to consider.”

Paddle In SeattleArctic drilling dominated the coverage of the meeting, casting serious investor doubt on the project.

Earlier in the week, Kayaktivists were live on MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, followed by an amazing segment on Rachel Maddow during which she spent several minutes reading out-loud the riveting and terrifying piece “The Wreck of the Kulluk.”

The Monday following the actions, there was even more national coverage. Here are just a few of the highlights: USA Today, NPR, Slate.

Lastly, #ShellNo and “Arctic drilling” were trending on Twitter and Facebook, respectively!

Floating Banner Defend The Arctic Climate Justice Now

New Kayaktivism Training Dates:




Donate online HERE or send checks to PO BOX 278, Vashon, WA 98070

[Breaking] Kayaktivists Confront Shell's Arctic Destroyer


Kayaktivists Take Action, Now It’s Your Turn!

Register for the 100% Corrected Kayak Training Dates & Times
Today, Kayaktivists from the sHellNo! Action Council confronted Shell’s Arctic Destroyer in the Port Angeles.

Arctic Destroyer Arrives in Port Angeles`

Do you appreciate beautiful, principled, creative action?

Help Backbone Campaign skill-up more Kayaktivists by supporting the kayak safety trainings with a meaningful contribution today.

Donate online HERE or send checks to PO BOX 278, Vashon, WA 98070

Support effective and creative                artful activism by making a meaningful contribution                TODAY!The growing fleet of kayaks took their clarion call to “Save the Arctic” from the land, out to sea, and even the air! Equipped with paddles, PFD’s and a whole lot of heart, they brought their message, “Arctic Drilling = Climate Chaos,” right to Shell. Paddlers probed the 100 yard “safety zone” of the Polar Pioneer, the platform being prepped for Shell’s pillaging of the arctic.

Even an Orca whale joined the protest, albeit in the form of a 10 foot large kite. More unusual sights will follow as the creative, beautiful, and powerful movement grows to preserve the arctic and stop catastrophic climate change.

Join the sHellNo! Action Council!

Take the pledge of resistance!

Become a Kayaktivist!

Sign-up for this weekend’s kayak trainings, and Thursday’s Training for Trainers to become a Action or Safety Lead.

  • Note Ignore other times, 5pm is the official start time! – Intro to Kayaktivism: Saturday April 18th – 5pm – Register HERE
  • Intro to Kayaktivism: Sunday April 19th – 10 am – Register HERE
  • Kayaktivism Training for Trainers: Thursday April 23rd 5pm – REGISTER HERE

Arctic Destroyer Arrives in Port Angeles

Arctic Destroyer Arrives in Port Angeles


Support Solutionary Rail

Feature Backbone Images

URGENT: Is one of your WA State Legislators on the House Appropriations Committee?
(ALSO – See Solutionary Rail article at Crosscut.com)

Friends, Solutionary Rail is one of those rare projects that is nearly bullet-proof for interests across the State regardless of political affiliation. Agriculture, labor, municipalities, and environmentalists and more have reason to unite unite behind this common sense plan. A WSU team wants to do a feasibility study of our proposal. This proviso to allocate $250k for WSU study is in the House Appropriations Committee. Representative Larry Haler (R) has said he would bring this to the budget, but we need to have his back from both sides of the aisles to keep this about a win/win for all of Washington State.Please contact your legislators this coming week, or attend a town hall event this weekend. Here’s a Map of WA State Legislature Town Halls. Here’s an article in Crosscut about our effort and a link to a conference we are co-sponsoring with railroad workers next weekend in Olympia. Print out and bring a copy of the Solutionary Rail feasibility proviso and the new “Solutionary Rail “one-sheet” (front/back).

Language urging support for proviso:

Dear Representative _________ (Appropriations Committee member)

I urge you to take a close look at a budget proviso being offered by Rep. Haler to allocate $250,000 for WSU transport economists to conduct a study of the benefits and costs of a public-private partnership to electrify freight rail along the northern rail route from Seattle to Chicago, allowing higher speed transport of goods to market.

This study would explore the feasibility of a Steel-Interstate Infrastructure Development Authority to use public bonding authority in a public-private partnership with BNSF to make infrastructure improvements to this important rail route.

Bringing this rail route into the 21st century will have important positive benefits for Washington’s agriculture, manufacturing, ports and other of sectors of the Washington State economy. It will also benefit Washington’s municipalities, tribes and workers. The study would determine potential tax-payer savings on highway infrastructure through diversion of freight transport from roads to rails and the potential for increased development and transmission of renewable electric power in the right-of-way. It would also help achieve State climate goals and stimulate rural economic vitality.

Below is a list of the members of the House Appropriations Committee. These are the folks we need to focus on to get a proviso into the budget.

Thank you for doing what you can. This is a pivotal moment for Solutionary Rail, when a few people could make a huge difference. Please send me an email report on what calls, emails or other contact you made.

In Gratitude & Collaboration,

Bill Moyer
Executive Director
Backbone Campaign
o. 206-408-8058
c. 206-356-9980


An alternative to the Dems

Hell with the DNC! We’ve got to be able to do better than the Pepsi versus Coke brand war of Republicans versus Democrats and their Bush versus Clinton dynastic choices. We need an independent progressive party and independent candidates.

It’s not that I don’t agree that any party championing progressive policies couldn’t inspire more Americans to vote. I do. What I think is now a tired, recycled every four year idea is that the Democrat Party has enough democracy left in it to actually change.

We voted for “hope and change” in 2008. We delivered the mandate and the majorities and what did we get? We got Wall Street bailouts, Insurance co. enshrinement, more perpetual war, zero accountability for war criminals, torturers, liers, pussy-footing on climate and the fracking oiligarchy, with zero defense of people losing homes, etc, etc. Too-little-too-late leadership post 2014 election loss, with meaningless pandering gestures are just desperate attempts to rescue relevance after a massive betrayal of our aspirations and real momentum for actual change.

Even now, when the Democrats have supposedly seen the light… THIS WEEK we saw a ramp up in the active campaigning to “fast tracking” of perhaps the most catastrophic transfer of power – from real human citizens to oligarchic transnational capital and the corporations – in the history of the world, i.e. TPP and its companion so-called “free trade” agreements.

If you want final proof on how little it matters to the Democrats or Republicans what you think, check out this recent presentation by Lawrence Lessig – and note the literal “flat line” on the how public opinion matters. And note the graph on who recovered in this “recovery”. And remember the money primary statistic “.024%” that puts us on par with China (or Hong Kong anyway) in terms of actual democracy.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwWH307tDYE

How stupid, desperate, dysfunctional are we that our perpetual hope against hope argument is to keep looking to our abuser the DNC to stop suckling at the tit of the oligarchy and come back to the People?

DNC – kiss my ass! It’s time for a real choice.

See How the Democrats Could Win Every Election.

Originally on facebook.

Support Senate Bill 5553 to create a state bank and support vital infrastructure


Create the Washington State Investment Trust, Support Vital Infrastructure

Get SB 5553 a Public Hearing – Call the Committee Members
We need creative solutions to spur investment in Washington State to support infrastructure for schools, stimulate economic development, put more Washingtonians to work and make projects like Solutionary Rail closer to becoming a reality.

The American Society Of Civil Engineers rated 372 of Washington state’s bridges as structurally deficient in 2013. With little investment in vital infrastructure, it’s only gotten worse. If you think this is outrageous, then we need your help.

Senator Bob Hasegawa of the 11th Legislative district has sponsored Senate Bill 5553 to create a state bank that could leverage state accounts to generate funds for critical infrastructure projects.

SB 5553 has been referred to the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance. We NEED YOUR HELP to give SB 5553 a public hearing and move it out of committee!

Please make a call to the committee members and ask them to give SB 5553 a public hearing (make sure to leave a message if you don’t get through)!

Benton, Don (R) : Chair ~ (360) 786-7632
Angel, Jan (R) : Vice Chair ~ (360) 786-7650
Mullet, Mark (D) : Ranking Minority Member ~ (360) 786-7608
Darneille, Jeannie (D) : (360) 786-7652
Fain, Joe (R) : (360) 786-7692
Hobbs, Steve (D) : (360) 786-7686
Litzow, Steve (R) : (360) 786-7641
Pedersen, Jamie (D) : (360) 786-7628
Roach, Pam (R) : (360) 786-7660

“The legislature finds that there are significant public infrastructure needs of the state that are unmet, and that the level of unmet need has been exacerbated by the economic downturn. The legislature further finds that there are opportunities to use the state’s depository assets to generate additional benefit for the people and the economy of the state. Therefore, the legislature intends to create the Washington investment trust as a legacy institution that amasses sufficient capital reserves to address opportunities now and in the future.”

Thank you for taking action.
– Forward Together!


Stand Up For Democracy, Stop the TPP

Backbone Ally, Washington Fair Trade Coalition invites you to Stand Up For Democracy

Join WFTC for Tuesday’s Light Brigade Actions in Seattle and more.
Stop the Sneak Attack on Democracy, Nov. 8-14!
Washington Fair
Trade Coalition
Final WFTC logo
Why Is this Week Important?

Free Trade My Ass

The elections are over, but the International Week of Action (Nov. 8-14) is just beginning.
We need your help to make sure Fast Track doesn’t get pushed through during the Lame Duck Legislative Session.
Join groups across the nation calling for a new, accountable, and democratic process for negotiating trade agreements. Let’s send a message that Washingtonians want trade policy that holds up people and the planet, not just the corporate bottom line.

Make your voice heard

Rep                      Kilmer, Stand Up Against the Corporate Rights                      Grab


1) Sign our PETITION,

2) then CALL or EMAIL your US Representative


Spread the Word

Fast Track vs Lady Liberty

1) Help start the Week of Action with a bang! Click here to join the Thunderclap.

2) Sign up for our social media team, and receive daily sample posts

3) Write your local paper. Contact us to receive a toolkit.


Join us at Rallies and Light Brigades!


Bellingham, November 8, 2 – 6 PM, Holly and Railroad, rally and light brigade! (public)

Olympia, November 10, 5:30 – 7 PM, East Plaza lawn by the Korean War Memorial (public)

Seattle, November 11
, 5 – 6:30 PM, Federal Building at 915 Second Ave (public)

Tacoma, November 12, 7 – 9 PM, Pierce County Central Labor Council (RSVP only)

More event information here.


Support WFTC’s ongoing work: Fair Trade Breakfast, Nov. 19


Join us to celebrate the year’s successes and support Washington Fair Trade Coalition’s ongoing work!
Fair Trade Breakfast Fundraiser
7:30 AM – 9 AM
Wednesday, November 19
IAM District Lodge 751
9125 15th Pl S, Seattle WA

Meet and talk with Celeste Drake, Trade and Globalization Policy Specialist for the AFL-CIO, and Jill Mangaliman, from Got Green. Connect with activists working on the environment, human rights, labor rights, public health, access to medicines, food security, climate change, immigration, internet freedom – any issues that intersect with trade policy.

Buy Tickets Here or RSVP at: gillian@washingtonfairtrade.org / 206.227.3079

No Fast Track by Any Name!