Terry Tempest Williams Ups the Ante on the 'Crime of America's Lands Being Sold to the Highest Bidder'
More than 100 climate activists disrupted the Bureau of Land Management's oil and gas lease auction in Salt Lake City Tuesday, sending a powerful warning to the Obama administration that until the climate impacts of such sales are considered, the protests will not relent.
"It’s simple," Tim Ream, climate and energy campaign director for the activist group WildEarth Guardians, said. "The climate impacts of the federal oil and gas program have never been studied. We are going to keep on protesting every single oil and gas lease sale until Obama agrees to that study and puts a timeout on oil and gas just like he did for coal," Ream added, referencing last month's White House announcement.
At the so-called "climate auction," industries were bidding on more than 45,000 acres of publicly owned oil and gas in Utah, which is estimated to hold as much as 1.87 million tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution.
A number of protesters waving mock bidder paddles—which were plastered with images of children, representing those who will be most impacted by climate change—were reportedly kicked out for singing, which temporarily disrupted the auction.
Singing apparently not tolerated at BLM fossil fuel auctions. Activists booted. #KeepitintheGround https://t.co/1U4xMBLMLy— Tom Brown (@Tom Brown)1455642060.0
Others, including author and environmentalist Terry Tempest Williams, served as a witness while "our public lands, public commons being auctioned off now at $2.00 per acre," as she wrote on Twitter Tuesday.
Moab public lands adjacent to Arches sold $11.00 per acre. #Keepitinthefuckingground— TerryTempestWilliams (@TerryTempestWilliams)1455641762.0
"Is it worth two dollars? No bid" Next parcel of scenery." auctioneer. "You all in - You all done?" #keepitinthefuckingground— TerryTempestWilliams (@TerryTempestWilliams)1455642065.0
My phone dying, if you want 2 witness the crime of America's lands being sold to the highest bidder sit here and b sick. #keepitintheground— TerryTempestWilliams (@TerryTempestWilliams)1455642403.0
Later, it was reported that Williams or Bidder 19, had "purchased" several oil and gas parcels in Grand County.
The demonstration is part of a growing "Keep It In the Ground" movement that is calling on leaders to heed the warnings from scientists and evidenced by an increasingly warmer planet, that we must immediately stop the burning of fossil fuels if we hope to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.
"We have to keep 80 percent of the fossil-fuel reserves that we know about underground," he writes. "If we don’t—if we dig up the coal and oil and gas and burn them—we will overwhelm the planet’s physical systems, heating the Earth far past the red lines drawn by scientists and governments. It’s not 'we should do this' or 'we’d be wise to do this.' Instead it’s simpler: 'We have to do this.'"
In the U.S., activists have specifically said that ending federal fossil fuel leases on public lands and waters, which would have a significant impact on lowering carbon emissions, could be accomplished through a simple executive action by the president.
"When we become fully present to what is happening in the world, we see that the decisions we make today will impact those living far in the future," said Kaitlin Butler, with the Women's Congress for Future Generations, who took part in Tuesday's action.
Butler said that the failure of the leasing program to recognize that "climate change is the predominant issue of our time" is a "misuse of science that fails to ensure clean air, unpolluted waters, biodiversity, human health—a habitable Earth."
This spring, the climate movement is calling for an escalated mobilization.
"I don’t know if we’re going to win this fight in time," McKibben writes. "But I do know we’re now fighting on every front. And the most important one is the simplest: We can and we must and we will keep that coal and gas and oil underground."
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Trump Denies CDC Director's 2021 Timeline for Coronavirus Vaccine ›
- Trump Orders Hospitals to Stop Sending COVID-19 Data to CDC ... ›
- Two White House Staffers Test Positive for Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
- Trump Admin to Disband Coronavirus Task Force - EcoWatch ›
- Pence Offers 'Prayers' as Hurricane Laura Hits Gulf Coast While ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.
- Covering the 2020 Elections as a Climate Story - EcoWatch ›
- Coronavirus Delays 2020 Earth Overshoot Day by Three Weeks ... ›
By Elliot Douglas
The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.
- German Business Leaders Call for Climate Action With COVID-19 ... ›
- Climate Activists Protest Germany's New Datteln 4 Coal Power Plant ... ›
By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.