Oil train protesters briefly disrupt Obama speech in Seattle
SEATTLE -- Protesters objecting to crude oil shipments on Northwest railways briefly interrupted President Barack Obama's remarks in Seattle on Friday night.
Speaking at a fundraiser for Gov. Jay Inslee, the president paused when hecklers shouted, urging him to use his authority to stop the trains. The president responded, cupping his ear to hear better and then saying he heard them: "You made your point, but can I go on now?"
Stina Janssen was one of the protesters who interrupted the president. She said she was pleased with Obama's response.
"He repeated what we said and clarified that we were talking about oil trains, which was fantastic, and then he said, 'Give me six more months. We're going to work on it. We'll use all that time,'" Janssen said.
An oil train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge on June 3 released 42,000 gallons of crude oil and sparked a massive fire. Federal officials have blamed Union Pacific Railroad for not properly maintaining the tracks.
Environmentalists and local leaders - including Inslee - have called for a moratorium on transporting oil by rail until safety issues are addressed.
Obama revisited the outburst in closing as he encouraged people to stay engaged in keeping the country on a progressive path.
"We don't have the luxury of just popping off and saying whatever comes to the top of our heads. Don't have time for that. Every one of you will always have another list of things for me to do," he said, gesturing to the audience in a clear reference to the oil train appeal.
"With steady, persistent, collective effort, things get better," he said.
Obama's visit is causing intermittent freeway and roadway closures as his motorcade moves through the region.