Oil train protesters disrupt Obama speech: ‘I gotcha, I heard ya,’ prez replies

SEATTLE (AP) —Protesters objecting to crude oil shipments on Northwest railways briefly interrupted President Barack Obama's remarks in Seattle Friday night.

Speaking at a fundraiser Friday evening for Gov. Jay Inslee, the president paused when hecklers shouted, urging him to use his authority to stop the oil trains. The president responded, saying he heard them: "I gotcha. I heard ya. You made your point, but can I go on now?"

He then added, "I've still got six months. Give me a little time. We're going to use those six months."

An oil train accident in the Columbia River Gorge, near Mosier, Ore., on June 3 released 42,000 gallons of crude oil and sparked a massive fire. Environmentalists and local leaders -- including Inslee -- have called for a moratorium on transporting oil by rail until safety issues are addressed.

The four protesters who disrupted Obama's speech later issued a news release explaining why they took the action.

"This was a rare opportunity to speak directly to the leader of our nation about a dire issue facing our communities,” says Elizabeth Claydon, 24, one of the four donors. “As we saw in Mosier, oil trains are a blatant, large-scale public safety hazard. These rolling bombs travel through heavily populated areas, including downtown Seattle. President Obama has the power to ban them with an executive order, and that's what I'm asking him to do."

Later Friday evening, Obama attended a private gathering to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Committee.