Bay Area: Indigenous and Climate Activists Blockade #OilyWells Fargo HQ

Swarming the front of Oily Wells.

via Oily Wells

Today in San Francisco, a coalition of over 50 organizations, organized by 350 Silicon Valley, blockaded the global headquarters of Well Fargo.

The action culminated a 3-day 34-mile march at the front door of the banking giant’s global headquarters with an Indigenous grandmother’s led sit-in across the front doors and a simultaneously organized barrel blockade across San Francisco’s iconic California Street.

Below is 350 Silicon Valley’s press release and lots of reasons Wells Fargo needs to be put out of business:

SF Rally Targets “OilyWells” Fargo’s Funding of Big Oil

Alarmed by Climate Crisis, Hundreds Expected as Multi-Day March Ends

PALO ALTO, CA – At a mass rally in front of Wells Fargo Bank’s global headquarters at noon (PDT) today, demonstrators will call on Big Oil’s largest lender to halt its financing of fossil fuels and invest instead in clean energy solutions to the climate crisis

The rally aims to expose another aspect of the scandal-plagued bank’s unethical practices—its central role in the ever-expanding oil and gas industry—at a time when the U.N. has called for “rapid and far reaching” action within 12 years to avert environmental, social and economic catastrophe caused by ever-rising carbon emissions.

Idle No More SF Bay blocking the front doors to Wells Fargo world HQ.

The rally caps the historic 3-day March for Fossil Fuel Freedom (34 miles from Palo Alto to SF) with hundreds of marchers from more than 50 Bay Area grassroots organizations. Marchers paused at a series of “stagecoach stops” to hear talks by former Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, Redwood City Mayor Ian Bain, and other prominent environmental and labor activists; and to sing along with The Raging Grannies and Thrive Street Choir. The march and associated events are all part of a campaign, led by 350 Silicon Valley, to rename the nation’s fourth largest bank “Oily Wells.”

“Oily Wells has a dirty-energy secret, backing the biggest new projects and profiting handsomely from climate chaos” says Stew Plock, vice president of 350 Silicon Valley, lead organizer of the rally. “If they don’t quit, then consumers and investors should quit them.”

The bank is a leading lender to the fracking industry and on pipelines carrying Canadian tar sands, one of the most environmentally damaging sources of fuel (including the proposed Line 3 in Minnesota and Keystone XL in the Midwest). [EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on Wells Fargo’s dirty-energy funding, see the 10th annual Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card, led by Rainforest Action Network, embargoed until March 20.]

Barrel blockade.

“We urge Oily Wells to become the first major U.S. bank to avoid all fossil fuel infrastructure projects, as a few big European banks have already begun to do,” says Isabella Zizi, an organizer with Idle No More SF Bay. “If you cut off the flow of money, you can cut off the flow of oil. That’s why the divestment movement is so important.”

350 Silicon Valley’s partners include SEIU 1021 and 521, Sierra Club, Diablo Rising Tide, Idle No More SF Bay, Rainforest Action Network, Sunrise Movement, California Interfaith Power & Light, Sunflower Alliance, and Extinction Rebellion. They join hundreds of other groups in calling for divestment from fossil fuels, and a prohibition on oil and gas infrastructure.

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For complete details, visit https://oilywells.com/.

 

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.”

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

April 28: Oakland Fundraiser for Climate Justice! Featuring Casey Neill & the Norway Rats

Casey Neill and the Norway Rats.

Diablo Rising Tide is excited to be hosting an Oakland fundraiser for climate direct action organizing featuring long time folk singer and Earth First! troubadour Casey Neill.

Join us for a benefit for direct action for climate justice! In Oakland, CA on April 28th!

Featuring:

  • Casey Neill & the Norway Rats
  • Loretta Lynch
  • Wayfairy

WHERE: Elbo Room Jack London. 311 Broadway, Oakland CA

WHEN: Sunday, April 28th 6pm-11pm

RSVP Here: https://www.facebook.com/events/396395090924531/

Sliding Scale – $10-50 suggested donation, no one turned away for lack of funds. 21+ Doors at 6:00, show at 7:00

Download: DiRT_Casey_Neil_benefit_poster

About the bands:

Casey Neill & The Norway Rats straddle the lines between somber Americana ballads, the intensity and ethos of punk, politically charged Irish folk tunes, and anthemic rock singalongs – but Neill’s storytelling talent and concern for real people’s struggles stand out. Based out of Portland, Oregon, their acclaimed latest album Subterrene is described as “dystopian romance” – where electronic elements weave in and out underneath razor sharp guitars. While not a traditional concept album, Subterrene follows a distinct story arc, and the ominous-yet-defiantly-optimistic portraits it paints were inspired in equal parts by vintage sci-fi novels, our current political climate, and the globetrotting manner in which Neill’s lived for the past few years. HIs records (and touring band) have a super-group reputation, including regular collaborators from R.E.M. , The Decemberists, Death Cab for Cutie, The Eels and more.

Loretta Lynch believes in having the right regrets. With lush three-part harmonies, raucous surf-tinged guitar and tongue in cheek, the East Bay Area’s own alt-country outfit Loretta Lynch’s stirring songs reach the shady grove in all of us. A little tear in your beer, a little knife in the back – think the Wailin’ Jennies’ crankier cousins at a warehouse hoedown. It’s Americana Noir. “Home Fires”, the band’s latest, critically acclaimed album, explores the decay of domestic life: loss and regret, bitterness and ambiguity, earthy humor, sweetness and occasional spasms of optimism.

Wayfairy started with a banjo on the turnpike and has grown into a Bay Area six piece music project that fills the sonic space between mournful folk and riotous punk. Originally the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Quiver Watts, Wayfairy has grown into a collective project that blends accordion, banjo, violin, washboard and upright bass with soft vocal harmonies, punctuated by raw wails.

This is a benefit for Diablo Rising Tide and direct action organizing for climate justice in the San Francisco Bay Area.

BREAKING: Climate activists launch daring occupation of the California PUC, calling for agency to shut down all gas storage facilities

SAN FRANCISCO – Two Bay Area residents have occupied the ledge above the entrance to the headquarters of the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) today to protest the PUC’s failure to protect the Golden State from the climate and health impacts of methane from underground natural gas storage facilities.
A well blew out at SoCalGas’ Aliso Canyon facility near Porter Ranch on October 23, 2015. Since then, 96,000 metric tons of methane have escaped into the atmosphere, the equivalent of an additional 505,000 cars on the road for a year. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 86 times more climate-intensive than carbon dioxide. While SoCalGas reported last week that the leak had been plugged, the Aliso Canyon leak has been responsible for 25% of the state’s daily greenhouse gas emissions.
Aliso Canyon is one of 12 underground natural gas storage facilities in California, and one of 326 nationwide that use depleted oil and gas wells for storage for urban customers.
“While plugging the leak at Aliso Canyon has been a good step, today we are demanding that the PUC shut down all gas storage facilities; until they do, we are occupying the PUC,” said Christy Tennery-Spalding from Diablo Rising Tide, the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Rising Tide North America.
The PUC is one of two agencies responsible for oversight of underground natural gas storage facilities. The leaking well had not been inspected since 1976. The CEO of SoCalGas reported to the LA Weekly that a safety valve on the well had been removed in 1979.
“It is unconscionable that these regulators are putting people at risk while giving companies a pass. The last time Aliso Canyon was inspected by the PUC was the last time Jerry Brown was governor,” said Kelsey Baker, from Occupy San Francisco Environmental Justice, currently occupying the ledge over the PUC’s headquarters entrance.
SoCalGas is a division of Sempra Energy and uses the Aliso Canyon facility to store natural gas for delivery to 12 natural gas power plants and 21 million consumers in Southern California. Since the blowout, 10,000 of Porter Ranch’s 30,000 residents have fled the community. Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, requiring the several state agencies to take urgent action.
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Diablo Rising Tide is the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Rising Tide North America. Rising Tide North America is an all-volunteer grassroots organizing network in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico who confronts the root causes of climate change with protests and events. You can find out more at www.diablorisingtide.org.