The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Global Wave of Resistance to Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground Escalates
Days after the Colorado Supreme Court denied two cities local authority to regulate fracking, hundreds of climate activists descended Thursday on a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oil and gas lease auction in Lakewood, just outside Denver, kicking off four days of major direct actions against fossil fuels across the U.S.
In addition to the Lakewood demonstration and a larger mobilization elsewhere in Colorado on Saturday, protests and civil disobedience actions are scheduled to take place between Thursday and Sunday in and around Anacortes, Washington; Albany, New York; Los Angeles; Washington, DC and Chicago, all under the Break Free banner.
"The right that corporations have to [extract fossil fuels] does not usurp our most basic rights to an atmosphere that can sustain life as we know it," said Micah Parkin, executive director of 350 Colorado, the state affiliate for grassroots group 350.org, which is backing the global movement.
"The idea behind Break Free," she said, "is that it's time for the people to step up and escalate and really create more of a global wave of resistance to keep fossil fuels in the ground."
"Colorado and the public lands of the West are being treated as a sacrifice zone, with corporations profiting from the destruction of our communities, the landscape and the people’s health," said Remy, a Boulder-based artist and activist with First Seven Design Labs who took part in the BLM protest. "As an Indigenous person, the language behind 'keep it in the ground' has been passed down to me from my elders. It's about respecting the land and the earth and it's about justice for people who are being denied it."
Thursday's action will be followed on Saturday by Break Free Colorado's "Frontline Fracking Defense" rally in Thornton, featuring 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben among other speakers. Parkin, who told Boulder Weekly there are four sites in the area set to start drilling operations in June, predicted the event will be the state's "largest ever climate and clean energy mobilization."
"Along with all of the surrounding Rocky Mountain West, Coloradans are actively fighting the fossil fuel industry on all fronts: in courts, at the ballot box and in neighborhoods, demanding a stop to the onslaught of fracking wells, oil fields, mines and the harm they bring to communities and the landscape," organizers wrote in a press statement.
"The urgency to act," the statement continues, "has been amplified by recent moves to undermine Coloradans' ability to express their will democratically, including the Colorado Supreme Court's decision to deny local authorities the right to regulate fracking."
In turn, organizers say, "Coloradans are working to protect themselves with two remaining tools: peaceful direct action and two Yes for Health and Safety Over Fracking ballot initiatives that would 1) give local communities constitutional authority to pass local bans and moratoria on fracking and 2) create 2,500-foot setbacks for fracking from any home, school, park or waterway."
The last point is important, since a newly published peer-reviewed study shows that airborne pollutants associated with fracking and drilling are "linked to adverse respiratory health effects, particularly in infants and children."
Reporting on the study on Thursday, Sharon Kelly writes for DeSmog Blog:
Based on the risks associated with breathing air laced with the five most-studied pollutants, the researchers expressed concern about fracking near homes, day cares and schools. “We recommend that at a minimum, one-mile setbacks should be established between drilling facilities and occupied dwellings such as schools, hospitals and other dwellings where infants and children might spend a substantial amount of time,” they wrote.
But state rules generally fall far short of that buffer zone. There is no national data available on how many schools or childcare facilities are now within a mile of a fracked well, in part because there are no federal regulations requiring the industry to track that data. Each individual state sets different rules controlling how far well pads must be from schools—and those rules vary widely across the U.S.
"In four northern Colorado counties," Kelly reports, "researchers from the Western Resource Advocates found 32 schools within just 1,000 feet of a fracked well in 2012."
To that end, Parkin said of Saturday's protest: "We really want to bring the public's attention to this frack site and how completely inappropriate it would be in this neighborhood."
Follow the movement in Colorado and beyond under #BreakFree2016:
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A middle-aged married couple in China was diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a highly infectious disease similar to bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe in the middle ages, as CNN reported.
Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.
Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.
At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.
By Sabrina Kessler
Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.
By Alex Robinson
Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.
The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.
Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.