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Van Jones Declares 'Water Is Life, Oil Is Death' at Dakota Access Pipeline Protest

Energy

By Sydney Robinson

Journalist-turned-activist Van Jones is the most recent prominent voice to join the Dakota Access Pipeline protest which is fighting to stop the development of a pipeline that would damage the Earth and encroach upon native lands.

Jones spoke before a group of Native Americans and allies over the weekend when he made a strong declaration:

"This is as simple as I can say it: water is life, oil is death. Water is life, oil is death. That's not hyperbole. What is oil? Oil is some stuff that's been dead for millions and millions of years. Oil has been dead for 60 million years. Coal has been dead for 150 million years."

Seem a bit obvious? Jones wasn't done there. He then launched into a poetic, spoken-word-esque speech about how the death of oil and coal have spread death across the world:

"Somebody's gotta brainstorm to go and dig up a bunch of dead stuff and then burn it. Burn it in their engines, burn it in their power plants. And then they're shocked. They're shocked that having pulled death out of the ground, we now have death in the lungs of our children in the form of asthma. And we now have death on our oceans in the form of oil spills. And we now have death in the skies in form of climate chaos. What did you think was gonna happen when you started digging up all this death? What did you think was gonna happen?"

Finally, Jones made a call to action for the world to turn toward vibrant, living sources of energy and leave the death in the Earth from where it sprung:

"So we stand for life. Let's power a new civilization based on a living sun, based on the living wind, based on the living imagination of our children and based on the cleanliness, and the purity, and the sacredness of our water."

Watch Jones's speech below.

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As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.


Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.

AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.

"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."


The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.

"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.

As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."

"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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