Protesters Hold UBS Accountable for Funding Mountaintop Removal in Series of Protests


Contact: Mathew Louis-Rosenberg
Phone: 304-860-5041

Protesters Hold UBS Accountable for Funding Mountaintop Removal in Series
of Protests

Stamford, CT – Early this morning, three activists hung a huge banner reading “UBS. Stop Funding Mountaintop Removal” off of a crane constructing the 66 Summers St building in downtown Stamford.   Later in the day two activists entered the UBS headquarters in Stamford, locking themselves to a bannister and hanging a banner reading “UBS. Divest from Mountaintop Removal”, while others locked themselves to the outside doors of the building.   The protests are a part of the Hands Off Appalachia, a sustained campaign to get UBS to end all financing of companies conducting mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.

“Over the last two years, I have visited UBS’s offices over 30 times pleading with them to stop the destruction of Appalachian communities. Today, I’m not asking anymore.  I’m demanding an end to UBS’s financing of mountaintop removal.” said Ricki Draper of Knoxville, TN who is locked inside the UBS headquarters.

Mountaintop removal is an extreme form of strip-mining in which coal companies blast up to a thousand feet off the top of a mountain to extract thin seams of coal.  The resulting rubble is often placed in the valley below burying headwater streams.  Over 1 million acres of forest in Central Appalachia have been destroyed and over 2,000 miles of streams have been buried by this practice.  Recent research has linked mountaintop removal to increased rates of cancer, birth defects and cardiovascular disease in communities near these mining operations.  UBS is a top funder of companies that conduct mountaintop removal such as Alpha Natural Resources, Patriot Coal, and Arch Coal.  On Friday, organizers with Hands Off Appalachia met with UBS executives at their office in Stamford to discuss UBS’s existing policy on mountaintop removal.

“[At the meeting] I was ‘reassured’ [by UBS executives] that UBS’s policy on mountaintop removal was sufficient enough to protect my people.  I wholeheartedly disagree.  The reality is that their ‘policy’ is nothing more than an excuse to remove themselves from the truth that as UBS profits, my people suffer,” said Adam Hall of Glen Daniel, W.Va. who blocked the entrance to UBS’s headquarters today.

UBS’s existing policy claims to “recognize the potential environmental, social, and human rights impacts of this industry sector” and take into consideration “concerns of stakeholder groups”, but UBS officials have never traveled to Appalachia to witness the impacts or met with impacted community members until last Friday.  The policy also claims to take into account regulatory compliance, but UBS financed Massey Energy and oversaw their merger with Alpha Natural Resources even after Massey was fined $20 million by the EPA for over 4,600 violations of the Clean Water Act.

Started in Knoxville, TN, the Hands Off Appalachia Campaign has spent two years engaging with UBS about their funding of the destruction of Appalachian through this extreme form of strip mining. HOA has organized dozens of actions and protests at local UBS offices all over Appalachia and the Southeast.

This summer, HOA escalated their campaign against UBS when three organizers blocked the entrance to the Knoxville UBS branch, the point of inception for the campaign. This action was the thirty-third time in sixteen months that campaign organizers had visited that office. On the heels of that action followed a blockade at UBS’ North American Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. There, four organizers with Hands Off Appalachia and Capitalism vs. the Climate, a climate justice direct action group based in Connecticut, took a stand against UBS in solidarity with communities in Appalachia. This action launched the northeast leg of our campaign against UBS. Yesterday, activists with the campaign picketed UBS’s Parade Spectacular in Stamford, handing out leaflets and displaying a large banner
reading “UBS Stop Funding Mountaintop Removal.”


Portland Rising Tide: Climate Activists Hold Community Picket Against Proposed Oil Terminal

November 4, 2013

Portland Rising Tide Media Contact:
Trip Jennings 541.729.3294

Climate Activists Hold Community Picket Against Proposed Oil Terminal

Vancouver, WA – Monday: 50 activists with Vancouver and Portland Rising Tide blocked entrances to the Port of Vancouver, WA with a community picket line. Trucks backed up down the block as work was delayed for the morning.

Vancouver and Portland Rising Tide organized the community picket in response to the Port’s re-leasing of public land to Tesoro/Savage for the proposed construction of a 380,000 barrel per day oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver. The terminal would bring oil by rail from North Dakota and likely the tar sands, through the city of Vancouver, WA and load it on to tankers for shipping to refineries and export. The Port of Vancouver has been the site of an ongoing picket line due to unsafe working conditions in their Mitsui-United Grain terminal by another group, the ILWU Local 4.

According to Vancouver Rising Tide Member Kathy Lane, “These trains are a huge risk to our community and if the Port of Vancouver can’t even keep conditions safe for grain terminal workers, how can we expect an oil port run by a company with as terrible a record as Tesoro not to end in disaster? We can’t.”

Rising Tide is an international group with chapters in Portland and Vancouver that works to address the root causes of climate change. Today’s action follows the July 27th Rising Tide event at the Port of Vancouver in which over 1,000 people rallied against all of the proposed fossil fuel terminals in the Pacific Northwest. Participants took to the I-5 bridge and kayaks while three climbers rapelled from the bridge to unfurl a banner that read “Coal, Oil, Gas  / None Shall Pass”.

“Even in the best case, even if there isn’t a spill or explosion for years, this terminal will lock us into our reliance on fossil fuels and climate chaos. Building this kind of infrastructure is fundamentally the wrong way to go, especially with public port land” said Portland Rising Tide member Mia Rebak.

High resolution photos of today’s actions:


Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands: Open Letter to the Anti-Tar Sands Movement

micats-1Open Letter to the Anti-Tar Sands Movement

Dear Movement,

We think it’s time for us to have a conversation: a conversation that can help us address the work we need to do in order to build the true grassroots power than can dismantle the oppressive system that tar sands companies and people in power have worked so hard to profit from. For the past four years we’ve heard “leaders” like Bill McKibben call on us to take action to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, and we’ve responded, dutifully travelling to DC to march and protest as a group. We’ve also watched as decision makers have continuously stalled and appeased this movement by refusing to approve the full pipeline, while still consenting to the production, transportation, and refinement of this toxic substance in more and more places across the continent. It is time for us to do more than submit public comments to a system incentivized to ignore us, or chain ourselves to symbols that will look good for the media. The Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands is writing this open letter to call for a dialogue and action around developing an anti-tar sands movement that focuses on the root causes of this issue and unites communities and groups in a common goal to stop tar sands in its entirety.

It has been incredibly powerful and inspiring to hear so many different voices from those fighting the tar sands system this weekend at Power Shift, but we need to be able to hear each other more – more loudly and more often. We cannot ask our brave leaders whose homes and families are being threatened by poison and destruction to appear in our program, speak to us at this conference, and form a public face for our work if we are not going to embrace their fights wholeheartedly into our movement. We cannot truly believe that we are going to make a difference if we do not acknowledge the true scope of this problem, the need to engage in work that is driven and led by the community and our potential to be our most powerful by working together in a just and compassionate manner.

The constant focus of the tar sands narrative around the President as the ultimate decision maker is both disempowering to communities bearing the burden of existing infrastructure, and disrespectful to those who have been disenfranchised and marginalized by the industrial-capitalist paradigm perpetuated by all leaders within the current system.  This sort of rhetoric feeds a privileged narrative at the exclusion of frontline communities that are seen as merely an excess of “human capital” by the system of which the President is the figurehead.

We are from the occupied territory called “Michigan,” where tar sands oil is still poisoning ecosystems, water, and humans three years after the largest inland oil spill in our history. In addition to this ongoing destruction, our elected officials are allowing Enbridge to expand this same pipeline to more than double its capacity, all while opposition to the kxl has gotten stronger. While kxl is a large part of the problem, it is time for the mainstream movement’s figureheads to stop exclusively referring to this pipeline and discouraging us from working on other tar sands issues. With urgency and strength, we implore all tar sands activists and organizations to reframe this movement to something that is more than a convenient political symbol and into something that can stop the amoral and unlawful devastation of life and our responsibility to it.

In solidarity and frustration,

The Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands

Shadbush Collective: Protesters Sit-In At Allegheny County Executive’s Office, Call To Drop Plans To Frack Allegheny County Parks

Protesters Sit-in at Allegheny County Executive’s Office, Call on Him to Drop Plans to Frack Allegheny  County Parks

October 21, 2013
Contact: Ashley Bittner 412-370-2310 or Patrick Young 412-298-6361
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Protesters sit-in at Fitzgerald’s office, call on him to drop plans to
frack County Parks

Part of a day of action against dirty energy in Pittsburgh

Monday October 21 – Pittsburgh – At around 12:30pm, 10 protesters began a
sit-in at the Allegheny County Courthouse, blocking the main hallway in
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s office suite. The protesters are calling
on Fitzgerald to drop plans to open up Allegheny County Parks for fracking.
The County Executive’s office is currently reviewing proposals from natural
gas drilling companies to lease the oil and gas rights under Deer Lakes
Park for fracking.

“Fitzgerald is trying to cut a deal with the natural gas industry without
seeking formal input from the residents of Allegheny County on this issue.
There is no public participation process, so we have to create it and
that’s what we’re doing today with this sit-in. We are bringing our message
straight to Fitzgerald that the residents of Allegheny county do not want
fracking in our parks.” said Ben Fiorillo of O’hara Township.

The sit-in is part of a day of action against dirty energy to culminate
the Power Shift conference. The sit-iners are joined by hundreds of
supporters from Power Shift who participated in an un-permitted march to
the County Courthouse following a rally on the North Shore’s Allegheny
Landing earlier this morning. The rally involved over 2,000 conference
participants who are calling for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels
including fracked natural gas. The marchers arrived to the courthouse
shortly after the sit-in began and are rallying outside in support.

Keith Brunner of Rising Tide Vermont was part of the support rally, “We
stand in solidarity with the Protect Our Parks campaign, knowing that this
fight is part of a much larger movement against all forms of fossil fuel
extraction which are devastating local communities and the climate.”

Opponents to the plan to frack the parks highlight the health and safety
risks associated with shale gas development.

“This plan will bring many more wells to the Deer Lakes area, and with it
heavy truck traffic, noise, stadium lighting, and air pollution, all of
which will impact park-goers and nearby residents, whether the well pads
are in the parks or not,” according to Jessica McPherson of Pittsburgh who
also joined the sit-in.

The three lakes which give Deer Lakes it’s name, are all fed by springs,
which could also be impacted by fracking under the parks.

McPherson continued, “What I’m most worried about is that fracking under
the park will contaminate the groundwater which feed these three lakes
These lakes are a destination for hundreds of local residents. An accident
like that could ruin this treasured fishing hole and expose park-goers to
dangerous fracking chemicals.”

The sit-iners say they will not leave the office unless they are removed
by authorities.

The day of action also included civil disobedience led by the Earth Quaker
Action Team at PNC bank branches throughout the city who are calling on the
bank to stop financing mountaintop removal coal mining.