Of Pipelines and Banks, Climate Uprisings in New York!

Nationally, the climate movement is organizing and growing quickly after years of treading water. The combination of the Green New Deal, the youth-led climate strikes, and radical demands for climate action from Extinction Rebellion to frontline communities across the world, has energized the movement to begin to meet the problem at the scale of what is needed.

And in the midst of it New York City’s climate movement is rising!

This week has been big. The long term campaign led by a robust local coalition, against the billion dollar Williams Pipeline scored a major victory as the State of New York rejected the company’s permit application (albeit temporarily). The projectfails to meet New York State’s rigorous water quality standards,” the department said.

The pipeline was planned to run 37 miles, connecting natural gas fields in Pennsylvania to New Jersey and New York. Its operator, the Oklahoma-based Williams Companies, pitched it as a crucial addition to the region’s energy infrastructure, one that would deliver enough fuel to satisfy New York’s booming energy needs and stave off a looming shortage.

And the battle is not over as the pipeline is still awaiting permits from the state of New Jersey.

Image via Erik McGregor.

Another NYC centered campaign slowly building steam has been targeting the largest funder of fossil fuels…. JPMorgan Chase (JPMC). For almost two years, campaigners with Rainforest Action Network, 350 Seattle, a host of Indigenous groups and others have been making life hell for Chase CEO Jaime Dimon, other top execs, board members and various Chase branches around the country.

In New York, organizers have focused on the company’s headquarters in midtown Manhattan with action after action. This week, climate activists erected and scaled a 24-ft tall steel tripod directly in front JPMorgan Chase bank’s headquarters, protesting their egregious funding of fossil fuels.

As one organizer said:

“we’re here to tell them we won’t put up with business as usual. While more species are going extinct, wildfires ravage the west, cities are lost to sea level rise and more water is polluted from spilled pipelines, we call on CEO Jamie Dimon of Chase Bank, the world’s biggest funder of fossil fuels, to stand on the right side of history.”

Currently, the global political establishment is being woken up to the climate crisis. New York is often seen as a center for media, finance, corporate power, national and global politics, etc, and as campaigns, local and globally heat up than New York becomes an increasingly natural place for climate uprisings.

Hooray for Scrappy Climate Action!

What a month!

Scrappy resistance to fossil fuels, its financiers and the politicians that love them has hit new levels with the goal of meeting the scale of the climate crisis with equal amounts of people powered momentum. As a result, climate and anti-fossil fuels action, both large and small, has spread globally.

The climate uprising centered around Extinction Rebellion has shaken the political establishment in London and iis spreading to other parts of the world. But we mustn’t forget that for decades, we’ve seen communities in countries like China and India rising up by the tens of thousands against mining and polluting power plants. And for more than a decade in North America, an Indigenous and frontline-led effort against coal, oil and gas have fought hard against mountaintop removal, coal mining, fracking and pipelines.

Now, today, a new report says that over 50% of new pipelines globally are being built in the U.S. and Canada. Report co-author Ted Nace said “This is a whole energy system not compatible with global climate survival. These pipelines are locking in huge emissions for 40 to 50 years at a time, with the scientists saying we have to move in 10 years. These pipelines are a bet that the world won’t get serious about climate change, allowing the incumbency of oil and gas to strengthen.” At the same time, a new phase of infrastructure fights with state governments passing anti-protest laws throughout the country. In North America, we’re in for a long struggle to counter climate change and extraction.

The past couple of weeks have seen scrappy action hit western governments, banks and carbon intensive industries most responsible for climate change again.

In the U.S.:

  • Anchorage, Alaska: Trouble-makers with Alaska Rising Tide dropped off a banner in protest of the government’s move to mine the state’s Pebble Mine.
  • Appalachia: In Virginia, the Yellow Finch tree-sit has stopped the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in its tracks for over 200 days.  An epic battle has lasted for over a year where scrappy action that has included multiple landowner-led tree-sits, monopods, equipment lockdowns, bird-dogs of corporate CEOs and politicians and an impressive grassroots organizing effort. The MVP has been delayed for at least a year and the campaign is far from over.
  • Austin, TXXR Austin occupied a JPMorgan Chase branch with three members super gluing themselves inside the branch.
  • “Bank on Climate” Day of Action—In 22 cities, Rainforest Action Network and 350 Seattle organized rowdy actions in 22 cities against top climate financiers JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. From corporate office occupations in Boulder, San Francisco and Minneapolis to the shutdown of all 44 Chase branches in Seattle to a banner hang at Grand Central Station in New York to the bird-dogging of Chase CEO Jamie Dimon during a congressional hearing in Washington D.C. (and much much more), the funders of the climate crisis are receiving well deserved heat.
  • Eugene, OR—XR Eugene teamed up with Cascadia Forest Defenders to launch a tree-sit in in town to draw a connection between forest destruction and climate destruction.
  • Los Angeles—Two members of Extinction Rebellion Los Angeles super-glued themselves to the top of the NBC/Universal Studios globe demanding that NBC (a major media outlet) prioritize climate change as a daily news topic and reject fossil fuel commercials. Four members of the team were arrested and charged with felonies.

    Two climate activists super glued to the top of the Universal Studios globe in Los Angeles.

  • NYC— Climate activists with Extinction Rebellion NYC shut down traffic outside New York City Hall Wednesday, partially blocking access to the Brooklyn Bridge and staging a die-in to demand radical action on climate change.
  • Portland, OR— Eleven people were arrested after building a garden in the train tracks as a creative blockade against the Zenith export terminal.
  • Washington D.C.: And in the U.S. capital, two of our comrades with Beyond Extreme Energy occupied to top of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) building for six hours demanding a “Federal Renewable Energy Commission.”

Elsewhere:

  • London: In meeting the crisis at the scale that is needed, Extinction Rebellion UK occupied London for ten days. They’ve shut down traffic routes, disrupted the “Tube,” protested Heathrow Airport and targeted politicians and bankers. With over 1000 arrests, the Met Police found themselves with full jails and crowds of more willing participants.
  • Paris: More than 2,000 climate activists held a nonviolent blockade of France’s environment ministry just outside of Paris on Friday, calling out government complicity with fossil fuel companies and the banks that fund them. Climate activists are calling it one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in French history. The blockade also successfully targeted French oil giant Total; Société Générale, an investment bank that funds dirty energy projects; and a state-run electric utility that relies heavily on nuclear power.

    Climate activists sit in at French environmental ministry in Paris. Pic via Democracy Now!

  • Rotterdam: Today, over 40 climate activists occupied the Engie coalfired power station
  • The rest of world : In other cities around the world, Extinction Rebellion has disrupted business as usual in India, Germany, Spain, Denmark and more.

As Paul Street recently paraphrased radical historian Howard Zinn:

“Howard Zinn was right. It’s not just about who’s sitting in the White House or the Governor’s mansion or the Mayor’s office or the city council seat.  It’s also and above all about who’s sitting in the streets, who’s disrupting, who’s monkey-wrenching, whose idling capital, who’s occupying the pipeline construction sites, the highways, the workplaces, the town-halls, the financial districts, the corporate headquarters, and universities beneath and beyond the biennial and quadrennial candidate-centered big money big media major party electoral extravaganzas that are sold to us as “politics” – the only politics that matters. This is true about fighting racist police violence. It’s true about labor rights and decent wages.  It’s true about all that and more and it’s true about saving livable ecology.”

We’re up against some very bad players. The worst in the world. Maybe the worst in the history of the world. It’s time for serious organizing and hardscrabble actions.

See you in the streets.

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.

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