Colorado Rising Tide: Mountain Strong in the Face of Climate Crisis & Injustice

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Hundreds rally on a frack well site in Weld County, CO.

Colorado Rising Tide: Mountain Strong in the Face of Climate Crisis & Injustice

When the “once-a-millennium” flood that hit Colorado in 2013 subsided, it took lives and wreaked devastation for weeks on our communities. The secondary destruction was heaviest around Castle Rock and Pueblo, the two cities in the state with the largest numbers of non-white communities.  We as a community cared for the wealthy, white communities like Estes Park and Lyons where the devastation was the most costly, but didn’t at all consider what it means to be downstream in a non-white community.  There was, and still, no urgency towards the needs of communities of color when climate disruption events occur, and that’s only one part of the oppressive nature of climate change.

Beyond floods, Coloradans experience unparalleled wildfires, drought and more. The communities that face hardship most often aren’t the stories we read about in the news. Pine beetle impacts on pine forests are an important story about climate change–but so is the tragedy of people who are forced to drink water contaminated by fracking byproducts, like those who were left out in the cold when the downstream flood waste from 1,300 fracking wells impacted their water supplies in 2013. We need to take a hard look at what we are fighting for and who we are leaving behind. Here and abroad, we as a global society have failed large swaths of Black, Brown and Indigenous community members and continue to by not considering and addressing the direct and acute impacts of climate disruption experienced “first and worst” by these communities.

In Paris at the COP21 this past December, governments slowly and methodically stripped away language addressing imperative issues such as the rights of indigenous peoples to their land. And, worse yet, an agreement emerged bereft of it enforceable, legally binding language or accountability measures.  A similar scenario is occurring in Colorado right now with, for instance, the Supreme Court overruling people’s rights to regulate fracking within their communities. The oil and gas extraction industry are running amok in our governments and the gardens of our homes with impunity.

One of the Colorado climate movement’s central failures is that we have not addressed what strength looks like when fighting an onslaught of fossil fuel extraction activities that threaten lives. We haven’t made the connection here that when we declare ourselves as Strong (Colorado Strong, and so on) after a catastrophic climate disruption, we are in fact declaring ourselves as resilient to climate change. But, are we doing the work that makes us resilient? Are we building that resilience among the most vulnerable around us? Are we sharing resources and fostering a culture of diversity? And are we comprehending the notion that diversity is not simply a function of numbers, but also that of equally and mutually distributed power?

Mountain Strong individuals are on the front lines fighting fossil fuel extraction proactively and unequivocally. This fight is necessary because the lack of accountability for the harm the industry’s mess leaves behind is worth fighting for; we, especially communities of color, including Indigenous communities, are struggling for our lives and the right to maintain legacies that existed long before “nations” like the United States even existed. This fight steers us towards getting ourselves into a place like Germany where recently wind power created so much that they had to pay residents to power their homes and not the other way around. Being Mountain Strong means being focused on genuine, effective action and solutions to climate crises that arise and that starts with Colorado leading and keeping fossil fuels in the ground. And being Mountain Strong also means leading by listening, especially to the people, communities, and struggles that have existed and persevered long before the first environmental non-profit was pondered.

We have what it takes to stop the worst impacts of the climate crisis in our state, to protect Colorado homes and communities–particularly communities of color, and to be a national leader in solutions and innovation. We can meet this challenge. We can be Mountain Strong in a way that is inclusive, affable and fierce simultaneously. But for this to occur in a way that is efficacious we must allow for more seats at the table, and we must accept and burn into our collective consciousness that as long as the most vulnerable communities, people of color, especially women, rightfully believe that they are not only fighting the fossil fuel system but also the system that is supposed to be fighting that system, our movement will remain bifurcated, ineffective and a dream deferred.

Colorado Rising Tide is the Denver, CO chapter of Rising Tide North America. Rising Tide North America is an all-volunteer grassroots organizing in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico who confronts the root causes of climate change with protests and events. You can find out more about Colorado Rising Tide here.

Vermont Pipeline Opponents Scale Tree, Halt Land Clearing for Pipeline?

treevia Rising Tide Vermont

[UPDATE: Day 2 Press Release]

Monkton, Vt. – For the second time in less than a month, opponents of Vermont Gas Systems’ fracked gas pipeline have taken to the trees to prevent pipeline construction in Addison County. An individual is sitting in a platform thirty feet high, effectively stopping crews from clearing the pipeline route.

“As we’ve said before, this pipeline ends with us. We don’t see the state’s decision to support this polluting, expensive pipeline as a legitimate decision, and will continue to get in the way of construction as much as possible,” Addie Herbert of Rising Tide Vermont.

Vermonters from across the state have attempted to stop the pipeline for years, through testifying at public hearings, writing letters, appealing to elected officials and intervening in the controversial Public Service Board process. Many feel they are left with no recourse but to directly intervene in construction.

“The Public Service Board showed their true colors recently, when they proposed barring the public from pipeline hearings,” said Jane Palmer, who’s farm is less than half a mile from the tree sit. “It’s no surprise that people are putting their bodies on the line when the state is putting corporations above democracy.”

Vermont Gas Systems sources its gas from the Western Canada Shale Basin, one of the largest deposits of oil and gas in the world. If built, this pipeline will become a major emitter of greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades. Opponents see the project as a direct link to the carbon and methane time bomb that scientists have warned

“We’re calling on all who are fighting to increase local control over energy projects in the state to join us in our effort to stop this undesirable pipeline,” Herbert said, in reference to recent legislation aimed at increasing town oversight in regards to renewable energy siting. “If we are to meet our energy needs in this state without wrecking the climate or landscapes of other communities, we need to end this system of unaccountable, corporate-owned energy and build a truly democratic energy system.”

Rising Tide North America Statement of Solidarity With The Delta Five

San Francisco, CA– Rising Tide North America released this statement in response to the conclusion of the trial for the five climate activists charged for blockading an oil train in 2014 in Everett, WA:RisingTideSeaSept

“Rising Tide North America stands in solidarity with our friends and allies Abby Brockway, Patrick Mazza, Michael Lapointe, Jackie Minchew, and Liz Spoerri, ( the Delta Five), who had a decision rendered today by a Washington court on two counts. The Delta Five successfully blockaded a mile long oil train in the BNSF Delta railyard in Everett,WA for over eight hours in September, 2014.

“The first count of trespass, they were found “guilty.” On the second count of obstructing an oil train, they were found “not guilty.” The “necessity defense” which had been the cornerstone of their defense was thrown out by Judge Anthony Howard at the end of the trial when the judge instructed the jury to not consider whether the Delta Five acted out of necessity to stop climate change.

“We applaud their courageous action and for building a strong community response to the catastrophic climate change being perpetuated by Big Oil’s doomsday economy.

“The Delta Five’s action threatened Big Oil millions of dollars in lost profit.  One BNSF Railroad official said “One train can be millions in revenue. “When you have a backup on a system, this impacts yard activity, the ports are impacted from ships, then you have passenger and commuter (traffic) in the corridor. It’s a time-sensitive, very busy terminal area. We can’t tolerate it. They can voice their opinion, but we don’t want them on our property. We’re trying to conduct our business.” Corporations and the government don’t want a climate movement willing to take such risks to stop such abhorrent destruction costing them untold profits.

“Our democracy is broken. Our voices are not heard. Corporations own politicians in Washington D.C. and state capitols across the country making it impossible for ordinary people to have a voice on crucial issues such as global warming. Large environmental groups are also compromised as they pander to politicians and seek funding from corporate donors.  The Delta Five’s action is an example of a powerful and courageous direct action that is needed in our society.

“As we watch social justice and environmental uprisings across North America from ongoing fights against oil and gas infrastructure in places like Utah and Rhode Island to Black Lives Matter actions across the United States to the Indigenous resistance happening in response to fossil fuel infrastructure in Ontario and British Colombia, the actions and words of ordinary people are beginning to be heard more and more. The trial of the Delta Five only further pierces the veil our elected and corporate leaders have over the general public. The power in the Delta Five’s direct action and their willingness to go to trial, and possibly jail, to advance the climate movement gives us hope.

“Our fight is only beginning.”

Thanks for all your support.
Donate to the Delta 5 at www.Delta5.org

Press Release: Historic Climate Trial Starts Monday In Lynwood, WA

Delta_5_Trial-1-of-1600x400-1cross-posted from the Climate Disobedience Center

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ahmed Gaya, adgaya@gmail.com, 773-960-2587

Historic Climate Trial Starts Monday In Lynwood, WA

Lynnwood, WA – Five community members who blocked the path of an explosive oil train in Everett last year will finally go to trial in Snohomish County on Monday. In a surprise ruling Judge Anthony E. Howard has allowed the defendants to argue that their actions were justified by the threat of climate change. This is the first time a U.S. court has heard a ‘necessity defense’ in a case relating to climate action.

The defendants, known to supporters as the Delta 5, will call expert witnesses including a co-author of the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change report and a rail safety expert, to convince the jury that the threat posed by climate change justifies their acts of civil disobedience. “There came a point where I could no longer sit back and wait for the politicians to act. I had to put my body on the line to demand not talk, but action on a massive scale to rapidly replace fossil fuels,” said Patrick Mazza, a member of the Delta 5 who has worked for years as an advocate for climate action.

Next week’s trial was moved to the Lynwood courtroom to accommodate a documentary crew and dozens of supporters who are expected to pack the courthouse. Some supporters have traveled across the country to attend, including Tim DeChristopher who gained national attention as ‘bidder 70’ after disrupting a 2008 Bureau of Land Management auction in Utah. DeChristopher spent two years in federal prison for his action.

The Delta 5 are receiving national support from the Climate Disobedience Center, a group co-founded by DeChristopher, whose founders call on their own experiences advancing the necessity defense in high profile cases to support others in bold acts of conscience. Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien has also expressed his support of the Delta 5.

Many supporters come from communities of faith who have rallied around the case. On Sunday Dec. 10th the Delta 5 will receive a pre-trial blessing at Woodland Park Presbyterian Church. “Before taking action I read the daily prayer from The Book of Common Prayer,” said Abby Brockway, a member of the Delta 5 who will be preaching at Sunday’s blessing. “I took the prayer with me as I climbed atop the tripod. I understood that climbing the tripod was my way of participating in the Book of Acts.”

While the Delta 5 defend themselves in court next week, Washington regulators are considering six new oil-by-rail facilities. In Vancouver regulators are holding hearings on the largest such terminal proposed in North America. With Congress’ recent decision to lift the oil-export ban more proposals are expected. Activists have pledged an increased campaign of direct action and civil disobedience until these terminals are rejected. The outcome of next week’s trial could set important precedent for future actions of this kind.

Note: Defendants will not be available to speak to media during the trial. If you wish to speak to a defendant before the trial please contact Ahmed Gaya at adgaya@gmail.com or 773-960-2587

For more information visit:

Delta5Trial.org

ClimateDisobedience.org

Expert Witnesses:

Dr. Richard Gammon Professor (Emeritus) of Chemistry and Oceanography, and Adjunct Professor (Emeritus) of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. Dr. Gammon was a co-author of the first Scientific Assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 1990).  As Chief of the Carbon Dioxide Program, he directed the US program to globally monitor atmospheric CO2 (NOAA Environmental Research Laboratories, Boulder, 1982-84).

Fred Millar an oil train safety expert

Dr. Frank Eugene James, M.D. speaking about the human health impacts of oil tankers.

Statements from defendants:

http://delta5trial.org/2015/12/18/patrick-mazza-why-i-moved-to-direct-action/

http://delta5trial.org/2015/12/18/obedience-to-what-abby-brockway-and-others-head-to-trial-in-washington/

http://www.climatedisobedience.org/liz_spoerri_political_reality_not_keeping_up_with_physical_reality

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0R3Il_FDPo

Key Dates:

1. Blessing and Climate Justice Sunday: Sunday January 10th @ 10:30 AM, Woodland Park Presbyterian Church, 225 N 70th St

More information at: http://delta5trial.org/2015/12/31/blessing-delta-5-trial-january-10th/

2. Trial: Monday January 11th – Wednesday January 15th, 8 AM – 3 PM each day. Snohomish County South District Court, 20520 68th Ave W, Lynnwood, WA 98036. Meet outside of the courthouse on Monday, January 11th @ 8:00 AM