Rising Tide North America Statement of Solidarity with Anti-Fossil Fuel Activists in the Northwest

wild-idaho-rising-tide-on-cornerRising Tide North America Statement of Solidarity with Rising Tide and Anti-Fossil Fuel Activists in the  Northwest

In response to the recent news that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continues its harassment of climate activists in Idaho, Washington and other parts of the Northwest, Rising Tide North America issued the following statement:

We believe that the extraction of fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and tar sands oil, and the expansion of pipelines and other transportation infrastructure, is a dangerous threat to our communities, our wild places and the climate. We further believe that grassroots organizing and non-violent direct action are bold and effective tools used to stop these threats.

The FBI’s recent harassment of activists and organizers in Idaho and Washington is nothing less than a concerted effort to intimidate and stifle dissent. It’s ridiculous that the FBI spends its time and resources investigating peaceful environmental activists, while the corporations responsible for oil spills, water and air pollution, toxic environmental racism and climate change continue to run amok.

We stand in solidarity with our friends and allies with Wild Idaho Rising Tide, and others in the Northwest, who’ve taken courageous stands against the Keystone XL pipeline, tar sands heavy haul shipments, natural gas extraction and coal exports. Furthermore, we stand in solidarity with all communities that have chosen to take a stand against this horrible industry and protect a livable future.”

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Rising Tide North America is continental network of climate justice groups and individuals challenging the root causes of climate change and for social, environmental and climate justice.

Anti-Fracking Activists Stage Direct Action in San Francisco, 12 Arrested

16458393982_04d5cf9ece_zFebruary 6, 2015

**Interviews available

Contact: Laurel Sutherlin, 415.246.0161 laurel@kswild.org
Pennie Opal Plant, Idle No More SF Bay, 510-390-0386

 Twelve Arrested at Anti-Fracking Protest in San Francisco

SF action comes a day before large planned march and rally to take place in Oakland aimed at pressuring Governor Brown to end fracking in California

Photos from the action: http://bit.ly/1yQBkZy

San Francisco—Twelve anti-fracking activists were arrested in front of Governor Jerry Brown’s San Francisco offices Friday to call on Governor Brown to ban fracking, halt the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, and expedite the transition to 100 percent renewable energy in California. Activists from local labor and climate justice groups blocked the doors to all three entrances of the Earl Warren State Supreme Court building, which houses Brown’s San Francisco offices, while others blocked traffic and locked down to a 16-foot high wooden oil derrick (with one person perched on top of the derrick itself.) Indigenous activists with Idle No More held a round dance in front of the building, while members of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship sat in on the Warren building front stairs. Among those arrested were activists from three generations of the same family, from ages 18 to 85.

The direct action opens a weekend of protests calling on Brown to fulfill his stated commitment to leading on climate change by banning fracking in California. On Saturday, thousands will march in Oakland in support of a California fracking ban. The San Francisco direct action on Friday escalates pressure on Brown, who has been dodging the issue for years.

“Humanity can live without fossil fuels.  We cannot live without clean water.  The fracking industry is poisoning the water that is necessary for life to exist.  State regulators have let us all down by irresponsibly allowing the fracking industry to pollute natural water systems that were to be set aside for human consumption. It’s time for everyone to rise up and demand a stop to the corporate give-a-ways.  Idle No More SF Bay is here today to rise up for the future of life on Mother Earth,” said Pennie Opal Plant of Idle No More SF Bay.

“We are taking direct action as food service workers to say ‘Don’t Frack Our Food.’ Fracking poisons the food that we eat, that we feed to our families, and that we serve to our customers. The oil industry is affecting our communities. It’s happening in our backyards, not the bosses’ backyard,” said Veronica Garcia, organizer with UNITE HERE 2850 who participated in blocking the McAllister Street entrance to the Warren building. UNITE HERE 2850 represents food service and hospitality workers in the East Bay and North Bay.

“Jerry Brown says Buddhism has taught him a respect for life. If that’s true, how can he allow fracking to continue in California? Between the harsh chemicals, the excessive use of water during a drought, and notoriously dangerous conditions for workers, fracking kills precious beings,” said Dawn Haney, Co-Director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.

“In Buddhism we have a concept called ‘ahimsa,’ or non-harming,” said Buddhist Peace Fellowship Co-Director Katie Loncke. “In the face of disproportionate pollution in poor communities and communities of color, we find it necessary to engage in ‘militant ahimsa’: nonviolent action that tries to stop harm from happening. This is our way of compassionately confronting government bodies and corporations who are choosing to harm the earth and living beings through fracking.”

“Our political leaders are profiting from Big Oil’s business as usual, and the only way they will ever stand up for what’s right is if we make it absolutely impossible to continue on our current course.  We must force the political class into a choice between ending the war against the earth and communities on it, or filling the jails with people leading with their conscience.” said Scott Parkin, a local climate activist and participant in today’s actions.

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Resistance and Solidarity at COP20, Lima

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An answer to the climate crisis is emerging right now from Lima, Peru, but it’s not COP20.

At COP 20, political elites haggled over a draft UN climate deal that they hope to ratify next year in Paris. It’s a bad deal. It is narrowly focused on unenforceable commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Those reductions won’t even begin till after 2020 and won’t keep temperature rises below two degrees celsius. At the same time, rich countries, and the corporate lobbyists behind them, worked for a deal that won’t stop them from expanding the extractive industries cooking the planet. And it does nothing to help poor nations adapt to climate change and sustainably lift their people out of poverty.

But outside COP20, a real response to the crisis is emerging: solidarity and resistance.

Thousands of people, representing indigenous communities and their allies from all over Latin America and the world came together for the Cumbre De Los Pueblos, (People’s Summit).

The People’s Summit was an unprecedented moment, particularly for bringing together so many communities from the Amazon and Andean Highlands of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. Many of these communities are actively resisting extractive projects like gold mining, petroleum extraction, and logging. These communities are connecting their struggles to protect their water from extraction, forests from expropriation and communities from state violence around a framework of justicia climática (climate justice). They are addressing the need to confront neoliberal capital, the system that finances and drives the climate crisis.

Nilda Rojas

The People’s summit hasn’t just created a space for solidarity. Its also created a space for resistance. The communities present are demanding autonomy, so when the news broke that Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia, might speak at the event, many were furious. Nilda Rojas, an Indigenous woman of Consejo Nacional de Ayllus y Markas del Qullasuyu explained that a summit with government officials is not a peoples summit. Her community faces state violence that Evo Morales is responsible for. His presence would undercut the autonomy and potential of the summit and communities fighting for their land and water.

People rallied against government inclusion. On Monday, activists with the Ecuadoran group YASunidos used drums and banners to disrupted a speach by the mayor of Lima. After the disruption, Caravana Climática used its radio equipment to broadcast and amplify voices from dozens of indigenous communities saying they were unhappy with government inclusion. The dissent spread, and in the end Evo Morales did not speak.

Conga No Va

On Tuesday, hundreds from  the region of Cajamarca, Peru arrived in Lima. They immediately took the streets with a giant, river like banner. The people of Cajamarca are fighting the expansion of one of the largest open pit gold mines on the planet, Minas Conga, owned by the U.S. based Newmont Mining Corporation. The energy intensive mine threatens the water supply of Cajamarca, and state repression of protests has lead to the murder of at least five community members.

On Wednesday, up to 20,000 people took the streets in Lima to march in defense of Mother Earth. Nowhere in this march of 20,000 indigenous people, ecologists, feminists, anti-capitalists, could you get away from beautiful banners, and contagious protest songs for land and water and against neoliberal imperialism.

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Demonstrators also confronted the World Climate Summit, a meeting of representatives from Multinational corporations. Even though the Police had used tear gas to disperse the initial march, many reconvened in a park closer to the Hilton where the corporate summit was gathering. We marched straight to the Hilton but were stopped one block from the target by a dense police line. In sight of the summit, we held a rally, standing in solidarity with those killed by state violence and denouncing the multi-nationals poisoning our land, water and climate.

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If there is one lesson from the week, that is never doubt that you are alone in the fight for climate justice. We are a truly global, and growing, movement.

As we learn to work together, we are creating a real answer to the climate crisis, one based on communities protecting their land, water and forests from the industries destroying the planet. We are coming together to keep fossil fuels in the ground, ensure forests belong to the communities that live there and demanding water be protected as a common good.

The political elites at COP20 won’t end the climate crisis. We will.

Update, December 14: Edited to reflect that the COP20 released a draft climate accord in the early morning of Sunday, December 14.

Seattle Grandmothers Block Department of Ecology Entrance Before Oil Hearing

grannyFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
Contact – Abby 206 484 9857

More photos and media will be available throughout the day.

Grandmothers Block Department of Ecology Entrance Before Oil Hearing

Lacey, WA – Currently, seven members of the Seattle Raging Grannies are blocking the entrance to the Department of Ecology headquarters, stalling traffic and preventing employees from entering work. The groups are sitting in rocking chairs chained together across the Department’s vehicle entrance. They are telling workers that the Department is closed today for a “Workshop on How to Say No to Big Oil.” Today’s action coincides with hearings on a controversial study on the safety of oil trains conducted by the Department of Ecology. Hundreds are expected in Olympia to express concern at the study’s narrow scope and omission of risks to the environment or treaty rights.

“We’re here to help the Department of Ecology learn how to say no to the oil industry,” said Beth DeRooy. “After granting permits to four illegal oil train terminals and letting former BNSF executives write their oil study, I was worried the folks over at the Department never learned how to say no and needed a little help from their grannies.”

Since 2012 the Department of Ecology has granted permits for oil-by-rail terminals at four of Washington’s five refineries. Terminals in Tacoma, Anacortes and at Cherry Point outside of Bellingham, have begun taking trains while a fourth is under construction at the Phillips 66 refinery in Ferndale. Environmental groups have argued that the these terminals are illegal under the Magnuson Act, which prohibits expansions at Washington refineries that may increase the amount of oil they handle. Permits for a fifth oil-by-rail terminal at Shell’s Puget Sound refinery are currently under consideration.

“Hot on the heels of record wildfires, Governor Inslee’s so-called Department of Ecology is going to ignore the environment in this study? They’re acting more like the Department of Oil Trains,” stated Cynthia Linet.

Last year Governor Inslee directed the Department of Ecology to conduct a safety study on the extremely controversial shipment of oil by rail. The governor’s study has been criticized for ignoring impacts on the environment, treaty rights and global warming, as well as failing to question whether they should build oil-train terminals in the first place. The Department of Ecology has declared that impacts on the environment, tribal treaty rights or local economies are “ancillary” and not being considered. The Department has also come under fire after revelations that a number of the study’s authors are former BNSF executives.

“You’d think bringing exploding trains to help oil companies devastate Native American communities in North Dakota would be easy to say no to, but it looks like the Department of Ecology needs a stern lesson from their grannies,” said Carol McRoberts.

Many of North Dakota’s oil wells are on tribal lands of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara nations. In addition to spills and other local pollution, the oil boom has brought tremendous social costs to the communities. Deaths from auto accidents, drug abuse and violent crime have exploded; housing shortages force many to live in substandard conditions; and sexual violence such as rape and sex trafficking have become prevalent in a once small community.

“My daughter is 15 months old and my heart aches that I do not even want her to be at home for fear of what she’d be exposed to,” said Kandi Mossett, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara nations who submitted written testimony to today’s oil train hearings. “This oil boom using fracking has been devastating for us and no amount of money can ever give us back what’s being lost.”

Protestors handed out doughnuts and coffee as they turned away employees’ cars. They also handed out a flier explaining “How to Say No To Fossil Fuels.” The flier calls on the Department of Ecology to reject all new fossil fuel projects proposed for Washington and to explicitly link their rejection to concerns about global warming. Climate justice activists point out that if all proposed fossil fuel terminals are built, the Northwest will be transporting five times more carbon than the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“It’s grandma’s common sense – we need to keep carbon in the ground to stop catastrophic global warming, and if they can’t ship it, they have to leave it in the ground,” said Rosy Betz-Zall.

But while he has been widely hailed as one of the greenest governors in America, Inslee has yet to outright reject a major fossil fuel project, or even declare a moratorium on projects that would increase dangerous shipments of explosive oil.

“Governor Inslee talks about being a climate champion, but he keeps saying ‘maybe’ to new fossil fuel projects, when what we need is a solid ‘NO’,” said Deejah Sherman-Peterson. “Take it from your granny: if you want to say yes to something good – a just, clean energy future – you have start by saying NO to something bad – building more fossil fuel infrastructure.”

Today’s protest follows an intense wave of opposition to oil-by-rail across the Northwest this summer with protestors locking themselves to barrels of concrete and sitting atop tripods to blockade railroad tracks across Washington and Oregon.

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