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Teenage Climate Leaders Welcome President Biden to Portland Thursday With Demands for Climate Action, Equity on Transportation
By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 20 April 2022

With President Biden poised to arrive in Portland on Thursday to discuss the bipartisan infrastructure bill, youth climate justice advocates with Sunrise PDX will be holding an event demanding that any transportation project built within the Portland Metro area must lower carbon emissions.

Thursday protest

On Thursday, April 21 at 4:00 p.m. teenage climate activists will be protesting, holding signs, singing songs, and listening to speeches outside Harriet Tubman Middle School, 2231 N Flint Ave., where ODOT is proposing to widen the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion into the backyard of the school.

Led by sophomores who attend Northeast Portland's Grant High School, the Sunrise Youth have been holding biweekly climate strikes to protest proposed freeway expansions for nearly a year. They've protested outside of ODOT's and other government agencies' headquarters with crowds in the dozens, and their events have been attended by numerous local officials including Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, State Representative Khanh Pham and State Senator Akasha Lawrence Spence. The rallies have received national coverage, with articles in Bloomberg's City Lab and Vice. The YouthVsODOT campaign issued a list of demands to their elected officials including a morotorium on expansion of freeway lanes, and they are hopeful that President Biden will side with the youth in mandating that any replacement of the Interstate Bridge be designed to lower carbon emissions through use of congestion pricing, limiting auxiliary lanes and expansion of public transit across the Columbia River.

Organizations align

Sunrise PDX has also recently joined the Just Crossing Alliance to push for a right-sized, climate-friendly, congestion-relieving iteration of the proposed Interstate Bridge Replacement, joining advocacy groups such as Audubon Society of Portland, The Street Trust, 1000 Friends of Oregon and Disability Mobility Initiative.

40% of Oregon's carbon emissions come from transportation, and the Oregon Department of Transportation's traffic projections demonstrate a lack of any meaningful commitment to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT), the only effective way to reduce transportation-related emissions. As reported by City Observatory, ODOT’s fuel tax projections imply that cars and trucks will continue to produce about 19 million tons of greenhouse gasses through the end of this decade, an amount 70 percent larger than consistent with achieving the Governor’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.

For more information on the ongoing youth climate strikes, visit www.instagram.com/youthvsodot. For more information on the ongoing community opposition to ODOT's proposed freeway expansions, visit www.nomorefreewayspdx.com.

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