Greenpeace activists force closure of ship channel by suspending themselves from a Houston bridge

A group of nearly two dozen Greenpeace activists have suspended themselves from the Fred Hartman Bridge in Houston in order to “confront Trump & the oil industry.”

The protest shut down lanes of traffic on the bridge for a while and eventually led to part of the shipping channel below the bridge being closed:

A portion of the Houston Ship Channel — about half a mile in distance — is closed due to the protesters, said United States Coast Guard Petty Officer Johanna Strickland.

A 29-foot Coast Guard response boat was launched to the scene Thursday morning to monitor the situation, a news release said.

As of 11 a.m., seven ships were blocked from transiting that portion of the ship channel, where on average, 300 vessels pass, she said, adding that most of the traffic is smaller towing vessels.

The planned 24-hour protest was timed to the Democratic debate which is happening tonight at Texas Southern University. Activist Valentina Stackl told the Houston Chronicle, “The Democratic leadership will be here and the next president has the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a world without fossil fuels. We need to act today.”

One of the activists published a long statement on the group’s website. Here’s a sample:

Right now, I sit suspended from the Fred Hartman Bridge in Houston, Texas. This is my attempt to stop the wheels from turning in this extractive economy, even if only for a day. The Fred Hartman Bridge spans the Houston Ship Channel, the largest fossil fuel thoroughfare in the United States, and second-largest in the world. Each day, over 700,000 barrels of oil pass through the Ship Channel, and should the fossil fuel industry have its way, this number will increase to at least 2 million.

Fortunately, the renewable energy infrastructure and the massive batteries required to make it work will require no extraction of resources from the ground or heavy industry to ship and process those materials. Oh, wait, none of that is true.

But I guess the real goal here is to create a spectacle that will lead one or more of the Democratic candidates to talk about this protest and approve of these tactics. Given who will be on the state, I’d say they have at least a 50-50 chance. If pressed, I’d put my money on Beto O’Rourke to bring it up first.