ANACORTES -- As Bud Ullman looked out over the calm, cool waters of Deception Pass State Park on Tuesday, he couldn't help but worry about what looms just over the horizon: two major west coast oil refineries.
"Change has to be made, but it has to be done in a thoughtful manner," he said.
The Tesoro and Shell oil refineries in Anacortes are now the targets of large scale demonstrations planned for this weekend. One to two thousand demonstrators with the group Break Free PNW are expected to descend on the area around Deception Pass and March Point in Anacortes.
Ullman said the action isn't intended to antagonize, rather, to sympathize with those who depend on the refineries for their livelihoods. Ullman said fossil fuels are dying, and workers must change to survive.
"Those people are well aware of what happened to their brothers and sisters in the nuclear industry when it just got shut down and the workers were basically turned out," he said. "Part of the expression of Break Free is that cannot be allowed to happen to workers again."
More than 150 campsites have been booked at Deception Pass State Park where activists are expected to set up base camp.
The demonstrations are expected to be similar to the Shell oil rig protests in Seattle last summer.
At least 500 people have volunteered to get arrested this weekend by shutting down roads, train tracks and waterways. The group's website declares they will "put [their] bodies on the line to stop the flow of oil into and out of the March Point refineries."
"There is always that element that could come in to create chaos," said Reichardt. "That's what we have to plan for."
To that end, the FBI is providing intelligence to Skagit County, the U.S. Border Patrol is bringing in additional equipment in the event of mass arrests and the Coast Guard will patrol the waters.
As to criticism that many of the activists will be driving gasoline-powered cars to the protests, Ullman responded, "We have no choice but to use them right now. Our goal is to find alternatives. No one is talking about the complete cessation of oil. We just need to be careful about what we do with it."