Residents from Gulf Coast, Appalachia and interior West join students and
climate justice activists in calling for more action on extractive industry.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Parkin; on site mobile- 415-235-0596;
Henia Belalia; on site mobile- 510-529-8927
Photos available at www.risingtidenorthamerica.org
6:40pm (EST) UPDATE: Police are reporting 21 people have been arrested, including youth and adults from across the country. Residents of Utah, Wyoming, Texas, Vermont, Georgia, Washington DC and California were among those arrested while occupying the Department of Interior offices.
Washington D.C.— Over a thousand climate activists marched from Lafayette Park to the Department of the Interior’s headquarters in Washington D.C. today. Reclaim Power coincided with the end of Powershift, a mass youth climate conference, and came only 2 days before the anniversary of the BP Gulf Oil Disaster. As many as 300 protesters ran inside the headquarters in a Wisconsin-style occupation calling for the abolition of offshore oil drilling, coal mining and tar sands extraction. In an act of civil disobedience, young and old alike occupied the lobby for over an hour, smiling and singing protest songs.
donate for legal support for arrestees at the 4/18 sit-in at the D.O.I.
The Dept. of Interior has oversight over two agencies, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) and the Office of Surface Mining (OSM), which are responsible for the BP Oil Spill, mountaintop removal coal mining and tar sands oil drilling in southern Utah. Furthermore, the Dept. of Interior just opened up over 7,000 acres of land to industry for coal extraction in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.
“Our demonstration today is to show that Wyoming might be small in population but mighty in heart,” said Kevin Uransky, a resident from Wyoming’s coalfields and member of High Country Rising Tide participating in the sit-in. “We don’t want to just stand by and allow big corporations to destroy our homes, our way of life, and some of last open, beautiful, and undeveloped terrain left in the United States. We want to show that Wyoming has a voice not to be drowned out by those of more represented states, we have a voice, we have an opinion, and we want to be heard.”
Reclaim Power is being led by residents of residents of the Gulf Coast, Appalachia and the interior West – regions directly impacted by heinous oil, gas and coal extractive industries. Participants are calling for the Obama Administration and the federal agency to phase out harmful mining and drilling practices and facilitate transitions to sustainable local energy systems.
“The Dept. of Interior has been allowing the killing of my community and Appalachia’s mountains by the coal industry for decades,” said Junior Walk from Boone County, West Virginia. “King Coal has poisoned Appalachia with toxic water, toxic air and toxic waste. It’s time for real action, not merely political posturing. I commend these fiery activists taking risks and making change for our communities and the climate.” “For all practical purposes, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast function as a third world resource colony within the US. For a hundred years, our people and ecosystems have been sacrificed to provide cheap energy and big profits,” said Devin Martin, a native Cajun from southern Louisiana. “We
pay for the hidden costs of oil and gas with our health and our lives through air pollution, oil spills, and a completely corrupted state government. We already lose a football field of coastal marsh every 38 minutes, and now rising sea levels from climate change will put my home, including New Orleans, under water permanently.”
Reclaim Power also seeks to highlight the ruthless manner in which extractive industries are allowed to treat workers and the communities they operate in. Obama’s Dept. of Interior allows the fossil fuel industry to run amok over ecosystems, communities, workers and local economies. Last year’s Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 workers and spilled over 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The results have devastated local economies, fisheries and wetlands. Mountaintop removal is
a radical form of coal mining in which up to 800 feet, sometimes more, of densely forested mountaintops are literally blown up to reach thin coal seams. Already, over 500 mountains and 2,000 miles of streams have been lost due to this devastating mining practice. It has been recently discovered that oil companies in southern Utah greatly expanded the acres of land to be developed for tar sands extraction from 60 to over 30,000.
The 758 million tons of coal to be extracted from the four competitive leases in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin will be the equivalent of 300 new coal-fired power plants.
Today’s march and sit-in are a preview to Rising Tide North America’s “Day of Action Against Extraction” happening April 20th, on the anniversary of the BP Oil Spill. The day of action will feature protests by Gulf Coast residents fighting offshore drilling, Appalachians resisting mountaintop removal coal mining, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York residents opposing natural gas hydrofracking, Canadians fighting tar sands mining in Alberta, as well as other community groups engaged in fights against extractive industries. Protests are also planned for the UK, New Zealand, and Australia.
Demands from today’s Reclaim Power action and the April 20th Day of Action
Against Extraction include:
- An immediate phase out of fossil fuel extraction and a just transition to truly sustainable forms of energy
- Community control over natural resources
- Recognizing the sovereignty of indigenous nations and their right to control resources on their lands.
- Reparations from both state and corporate entities that have profited from extraction in order to fund ecological restoration, full health coverage, and sustainable livelihoods in impacted communities.
For more information please visit extractionaction.net
Rising Tide North America is an all volunteer climate justice network with
over 50 chapters and local contacts that works to confront the root causes
of climate change.
donate for legal support for arrestees at the 4/18 sit-in at the D.O.I.
Sunday afternoon a group of around 40 individuals marched through downtown Portland equipped with chalk, caution tape, and mud. The group paid a visit to the Bank of America on SW 5th and Stark and a Wells Fargo on SW 6th and Morrison, and created a climate crime scene on and around these banks. Signs were taped all over the widows reading “Closed for Climate Crimes”, “Deposit here, fund coal” and images of coal extraction. The group covered the sidewalks with body outlines and chalked images of chopped trees and blown up mountains. A group of activists began plastering fake dollar bills on the walls with muddy hand prints to call out these corporations for the dirty money they house within.
Coal fired power plants are the top source of air pollution and toxic mercury in the nation and emit nearly 3 billion tons- or one third- of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions per year. Particulates in the air emitted from coal are especially damaging to those living near coal-burning power plants or working in mines. According to the Center for Disease Control, 12,000 coal miners died between 1992 and 2002 from black lung.
The group consisted of student organizers with the Power Shift 2011 conference, local Rising Tide activists, and other concerned community members. Activists are targeting Wells Fargo and Bank of America because these institutions are some of the top financiers of coal extraction as well as coal-powered infrastructure.
This is the third in a series of actions taken against these banks in the Portland area in the past 6 weeks by Rising Tide and others. Other recent actions have included renegade ATM closures as well as serving 25 banks official notices requesting that they divest from coal or expect direct action campaigns. The demands are clear: NO financing for companies pursuing coal-fired power plants, mountaintop removal mining, or coal export infrastructure.
On March 10, 2011, at about 2:30 am, two residents of Missoula, MT (Carol Marsh, 69, and Ann Maechtlen, 50) sat down in the middle of Reserve St. in an attempt to halt the shipment of large, oversize loads of equipment heading to a ConocoPhillips tar sands oil refinery in Billings, MT.
Marsh, a retired journalist and grandmother, and Maechtlen, a two-time cancer survivor, attempted three or four times to block the shipments but the police refused to arrest the two women, instead opting to forcefully remove them to the sidewalk as they were cheered on by a crowd of about 100 supporters. The police cited and released one other man who sat down with the two women.
The action was the culmination of a “welcome to Missoula” street party organized by local grassroots group Northern Rockies Rising Tide (NRRT) in an effort to take back the streets from Big Oil. Continue reading