Why the Green New Deal needs mass direct action

Mass action in Germany.

Last weekend in San Francisco, my friends and I with Diablo Rising Tide hosted two friends from Germany on the “Scale Resistance” tour that Rising Tide has organized with radical climate group Ende Galaende. The talk left me thinking a lot about resistance (the real kind, not the stuff being sold by Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and the corporate Democrats).  The Green New Deal is currently capturing the imagination of the progressive climate movement and becoming a centerpiece of climate “resistance.” But it needs a massive social movement moving forward at a large scale, taking serious action, at its foundation to succeed.

For the past 5 or 6 years, Ende Galaende (“Here and No Further” in English) has organized a massive nationwide coalition, that includes everyone from small radical groups to big green non-profits, to stop lignite coal mining in Germany. Their demands were an immediate phase out of lignite coal mining. Rooted in the anti-nuclear movements of a previous era, their tactic was mass disruption of coal infrastructure. Their action campaigns included mass direct actions numbering in the thousands at open pit coal mines in the Rhineland region and a multi-year tree sit in the Hambach Forest.

This critical direct action campaign has put the German political establishment on the defensive around coal and climate issues. The establishment responded with an agreement for a 20 year phase out of coal in Germany, not an immediate one as demanded  by Ende Galaende.  Their campaign continues.

Nationally in the U.S., the fossil fuel infrastructure fights have also challenged the legitimacy of the oil and coal industries.  The hard fought campaign in the bayous of Louisiana has stopped Energy Transfer Partner’s Bayou Bridge pipeline for at least a year. Indigenous led resistance to Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline has also put the future of that pipeline into question. In Appalachia, the locally led campaign against the Mountain Valley Pipeline that has included long term tree-sits and disruptive protest along the construction route has also delayed the completion of that project. The purveyors of the Keystone XL pipeline are also bracing for a massive social movement response.  Last week, the state of South Dakota passed a set of anti-pipeline protest bills targeting both people in South Dakota, as well as any outside groups that provide support. There are dozens of these state laws being passed or proposed.

Globally, the climate and environmental uprising is spreading with ferocity as well:

  • Barefoot lockdown in Gibberagee State Forest.

    Australia: About 40 protestors took action in the Gibberagee State Forest in protest of illegal logging of koala habitat. A number of activists locked onto Forestry Corporation machinery. The action follows claims by North East Forest Alliance that an audit found the Forestry Corporation was only protecting half of the koala trees is it required to. Among the protestors was  veteran forest activist Nan Nicholson, who was instrumental in saving the forest at Terania Creek in the late 1970s.
  • Australia: In late February, Adani’s Abbot Point Port was targeted by anti-coal activists. Trains were stopped in a near continuous shutdown for over 75 hours during a week of non-violent direct action in central Queensland. Seven activists from across Australia, all committed to fighting the threat of thermal coal induced climate change, took action against Adani. The seven scaled fences, evaded drones, locked themselves to rail infrastructure and suspended themselves from trees and tripods to block coal trains from entering the port.
  • Finland: Climate protesters climbed Finnish Parliament House pillars. Members of several Finnish environmental groups demonstrated at the Finnish Parliament on 6 March. Eight protesters were detained after scaling the giant stone columns.
  • Scotland: About 20 conscientious climate protectors stayed in the National Museum of Scotland on behalf of Extinction Rebellion Scotland after closing time. They sat in to protest the ‘oil club’ dinner being hosted there tonight. A group of over 900 oil executives from the UK and beyond were gathered in a national museum and monument to celebrate their own relevance and profit-making from the destruction of the climate. 12 of our friends were arrested rather than leave after police warnings.
  • Greta Thunberg.

    Climate Strikes:  Across the globe, students and youth are taking action with walkouts and mass protests to protect a future that older generations (particularly those in political and corporate offices) don’t give a shit about. Another mass climate strike is expected on March 15th.

The Sunrise Movement is already using direct action in pushing members of Congress for the Green New Deal. It kicked off with hundreds sitting in at Nancy Pelosi’s Capitol Hill offices in November with 51 arrests. A couple of weeks later on Dec. 10th, Sunrise followed up with a massive Green New Deal lobby day that included sit-ins and 143 arrests.  In response to GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell trying to stop the Green New Deal before it starts, 43 climate activists were arrested in his Capitol Hill offices in late February.  In a stunning response, McConnell postponed the vote where he’d hoped to stop the Green New Deal’s march through Congress.

As Naomi Klein recently penned in the Intercept,

“I have written before about why the old New Deal, despite its failings, remains a useful touchstone for the kind of sweeping climate mobilization that is our only hope of lowering emissions in time. In large part, this is because there are so few historical precedents we can look to (other than top-down military mobilizations) that show how every sector of life, from forestry to education to the arts to housing to electrification, can be transformed under the umbrella of a single, society-wide mission.

Which is why it is so critical to remember that none of it would have happened without massive pressure from social movements. FDR rolled out the New Deal in the midst of a historic wave of labor unrest: There was the Teamsters’ rebellion and Minneapolis general strike in 1934, the 83-day shutdown of the West Coast by longshore workers that same year, and the Flint sit-down autoworkers strikes in 1936 and 1937. During this same period, mass movements, responding to the suffering of the Great Depression, demanded sweeping social programs, such as Social Security and unemployment insurance, while socialists argued that abandoned factories should be handed over to their workers and turned into cooperatives. Upton Sinclair, the muckraking author of “The Jungle,” ran for governor of California in 1934 on a platform arguing that the key to ending poverty was full state funding of workers’ cooperatives. He received nearly 900,000 votes, but having been viciously attacked by the right and undercut by the Democratic establishment, he fell just short of winning the governor’s office.

All of this is a reminder that the New Deal was adopted by Roosevelt at a time of such progressive and left militancy that its programs — which seem radical by today’s standards — appeared at the time to be the only way to hold back a full-scale revolution.”

We’re in a moment that needs massive social movement pressure to break through political and corporate barriers to respond to the climate crisis. Following the lead of organizers from our past, in other parts of the world today, the anti-infrastructure movements and the revitalized youth climate movement, it’s time to scale up and say “here and no further.”

###

Scott Parkin is a climate organizer working with Rising Tide North America. You can follow him on Twitter at @sparki1969

Wild Idaho Rising Tide: #No2ndBridge Regional Talks, March 5-10

Cross-posted from Wild Idaho Rising Tide

#No2ndBridge Regional Talks

During the upcoming week, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allied activists invite concerned, community members to participate in #No2ndBridge, regional talks and slide show presentations with refreshments in Missoula, Moscow, Sandpoint, and Spokane.  Event hosts of these free, open meetings ask everyone attending to bring and share snacks, stories, images, and donations, and learn about the natural and human environment of Lake Pend Oreille and the ongoing and potentially increasing traffic, noise, pollution, and derailment dangers of Northwest and north Idaho, railroad ‘funnel,’ fossil fuels and hazardous materials trains.

Discussions will cover the significant, adverse impacts of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s proposed Sandpoint Junction Connector construction and operation of two temporary and three permanent, parallel, railroad bridges and doubled tracks across Sandpoint, Sand Creek, and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest lake.  As described in the WIRT petition to deny and revoke permits for this BNSF project, which we encourage you to sign with comments, this flawed, railroad expansion risking bi-directional train passage would degrade lake and aquifer water (is life!) sources, air and scenic qualities, native fish, wildlife, threatened bull trout, and their habitats, indigenous cultures, treaties, and rights, public and environmental health and safety, historic sites and private properties, boat navigation and emergency and vehicle travel, and recreation, tourism, residence, business, and economic interests and values [1].

Missoula: Tuesday, March 5, at 7 pm in the Union Hall, upstairs ballroom, 208 East Main Street in Missoula, Montana, co-hosted with 350 Montana

Moscow: Wednesday, March 6, at 7 pm in the 1912 Center, Fiske room, 412 East Third Street in Moscow, Idaho, co-hosted with the Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC)

Sandpoint: Saturday, March 9, at 10 am in the Gardenia Center, main floor chapel, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, Idaho, with guest speakers

Spokane: Sunday, March 10, at 1 pm in the Liberty Park United Methodist Church, community room, 1526 East Eleventh Avenue in Spokane, Washington, co-hosted with The Oak Tree

Seeking to amplify regional resistance and rejection of this culpable, railroad scheme to build fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails infrastructure, by installing and removing over one thousand piles in train-spewed, stream and lake bed, coal deposits and bull trout critical habitat, WIRT activists will provide suggestions for oral testimony on March 13 at two Ponderay, Idaho, hearings and for comments due by March 25, on a draft environmental assessment (EA) released on February 6 by the project’s lead regulator, the U.S. Coast Guard [2].  Unless public processes or the courts secure a more scientifically-rigorous, community-preferred environmental impact statement (EIS), March 2019 offers the last opportunity for review and input on this BNSF proposal.  Presenters will also give updates and request support for the nine-month, WIRT petition for judicial review challenging the BNSF, lake encroachment permit granted on June 21, 2018, by the Idaho Department of Lands and State Board of Land Commissioners [3, 4].  Litigants currently await a district court decision on a February 8, 2019, hearing and state and intervenor BNSF motions to dismiss the case, after petitioner WIRT filed strong, meritorious arguments in a December 13, 2018, opening brief.

For further event and issue information, visit the WIRT facebook and website pages and outreach tables at regional, public events and farmers markets, contact us with your concerns, and print and post the accompanying flyer [5].  Ask the federal agencies reviewing BNSF applications and deliberating permit decisions to extend the comment period to 90 days, hold hearings in Sandpoint, include your comments in the project’s public record, and fully analyze this railroad expansion with an environmental impact study and statement.  Thanks!  #No2ndBridge!

[1] Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, September 30, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[2] Railroad Bridges Hearings, Comments, and Updates, February 23, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[3] WIRT v. IDL/Land Board/BNSF, March 1, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[4] Crowdfund WIRT Litigation of Lake Railroad Bridges Permit, October 23, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[5] #No2ndBridge Regional Talks, March 1, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

Final Straw Radio: Radicals on mass climate movements in Germany and the U.S.

This week, while traveling through Oregon the “Scaling Resistance Tour” spoke with the long running anarchist podcast– Final Straw Radio. (starts at 40min 5sec)

Listen and download here.

“This week we’re sharing two interviews.

First up, Bursts spoke with glo merriweather and jamie marsicano, two supporters of Rayquan Borum, a young black man accused by Charlotte PD of killing Justin Carr, another protester out during the Charlotte Uprising after the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott in mid September of 2016. Rayquan spent 2 years and 5 months in pre-trial detention and his trial just began. Some witnesses to Carr’s death claim the Charlotte PD killed him, not Borum. Check out our April 2018 interview with glo, jamie and ash for background on the case. You can follow CharlotteUprising at their fedbook page. (starts at 11min 30sec)

Second we air an interview with Mia from Rising Tide North America, Selma from Ende Gelände and Johanna from the Climate Justice Action Camp in Germany about the tour the three are engaging around the so-called U.S. We talk about mass movements to stop the extractive industries in Germany and the U.S., the Yellow Vest movement, the Green New Deal and more. The tour dates and synopsis is up at risingtidenorthamerica.org under the title “Scaling Our Climate Resistance.” If you can’t make the tour dates, there’s also a free webinar on March 11 at 8pm EST. (starts at 40min 5sec)”

 

Rising Tide Chicago tells Chase Bank: “The Great Lakes are not an ATM”

Cross-posted from Rising Tide Chicago

Chicagoans tell Chase Bank: “The Great Lakes are not an ATM”

Chase plan risks contaminating the Great Lakes with dirty Tar Sands oil; Residents tell Chase Midwest Chair Melissa Bean to halt project.

Chicago, Ill. (Feb. 23, 2019)This Saturday, members of Rising Tide Chicago stood outside of a Chase Bank in Bridgeport to educate concerned citizens about the bank’s funding of dirty Tar Sands oil and humans rights and Indigenous rights abuses. Chase Bank is the #1 Wall Street funder of the dirtiest fossil fuels on the planet. Chicagoans were invited to sign postcards addressed to Chase Midwest Chair Melissa Bean, demanding that the bank pull their funds from the fossil fuel industry in favor of just and sustainable infrastructure.

“Last year the IPCC’s report confirmed we have twelve years to avoid the most drastic effects of climate change, and we must keep fossil fuels in the ground. We want to make sure Melissa Bean is prioritizing a transition away from fossil fuels, starting with sources like tar sands, one of the most carbon-intensive form of oil that also pollutes Lake Michigan, our drinking water,“ said Angie Viands, organizer with Rising Tide Chicago.

Rising Tide Chicago stands with Indigenous communities and tribal governments who have not consented to fossil fuel pipelines that directly threaten their resources. Chase Bank finances Enbridge’s highly contested Line 3 pipeline, its controversial extension, and other nearby pipelines around the Great Lakes, posing an urgent threat to the region’s water sources.

Chase customers were asked to share social media photos with their own “#ChaseStatement” urging Chase to stop financing dirty energy.

Rising Tide Chicago plans to continue these actions in the city, in partnership with local environmental and climate justice organizations. This action is one of many growing efforts across North America to demand banks divest from fossil fuel projects and finance a swift transition to renewable energy.

###