Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Global Wave of Resistance to Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground Escalates

Climate
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.

"Along with all of the surrounding Rocky Mountain West, Coloradans are actively fighting the fossil fuel industry on all fronts." Photo: Matt Oakland / Twitter

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.

Already, the movement has touched down in Philadelphia, upstate New York and other locations around the globe.

"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."

Similar demonstrations have successfully shut down or disrupted recent BLM auctions in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and other states.

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."

Other Break Free actions took place Thursday in Nigeria, South Africa and New Zealand.

Follow the movement in Colorado and beyond under #BreakFree2016:

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

New Fracking Study Finds Children at Greater Risk of Respiratory Health Problems

Big Oil Abandons the Arctic, Obama Under Pressure to Do More to Protect the Region

The Heartland of America is ‘100% Clean Energy Ready’

4 Reasons Why It’s Time to Break Free

The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York, a polluted nearly 2 mile-long waterway that is an EPA Superfund site. Jonathan Macagba / Moment / Getty Images

Thousands of Superfund sites exist around the U.S., with toxic substances left open, mismanaged and dumped. Despite the high levels of toxicity at these sites, nearly 21 million people live within a mile of one of them, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The National Weather Service station in Chatham, Massachusetts, near the edge of a cliff at the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. Bryce Williams / National Weather Service in Boston / Norton

A weather research station on a bluff overlooking the sea is closing down because of the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Amsterdam is one of the Netherlands' cities which already has "milieuzones," where some types of vehicles are banned. Unsplash / jennieramida

By Douglas Broom

  • If online deliveries continue with fossil-fuel trucks, emissions will increase by a third.
  • So cities in the Netherlands will allow only emission-free delivery vehicles after 2025.
  • The government is giving delivery firms cash help to buy or lease electric vehicles.
  • The bans will save 1 megaton of CO2 every year by 2030.

Cities in the Netherlands want to make their air cleaner by banning fossil fuel delivery vehicles from urban areas from 2025.

Read More Show Less
Protestors stage a demonstration against fracking in California on May 30, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

A bill that would have banned fracking in California died in committee Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER / E+ / Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

As world leaders prepare for this November's United Nations Climate Conference in Scotland, a new report from the Cambridge Sustainability Commission reveals that the world's wealthiest 5% were responsible for well over a third of all global emissions growth between 1990 and 2015.

Read More Show Less