Residents from Gulf Coast, Appalachia and interior West join students and
climate justice activists in calling for more action on extractive industry.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Parkin; on site mobile- 415-235-0596;
Henia Belalia; on site mobile- 510-529-8927
Photos available at http://www.risingtidenorthamerica.org
6:40pm (EST) UPDATE: Police are reporting 21 people have been arrested,
including youth and adults from across the country. Residents of Utah,
Wyoming, Texas, Vermont, Georgia, Washington DC and California were among
those arrested while occupying the Department of Interior offices.
Washington D.C.— Over a thousand climate activists marched from Lafayette
Park to the Department of the Interior’s headquarters in Washington D.C.
today. Reclaim Power coincided with the end of Powershift, a mass youth
climate conference, and came only 2 days before the anniversary of the BP
Gulf Oil Disaster. As many as 300 protesters ran inside the headquarters
in a Wisconsin-style occupation calling for the abolition of offshore oil
drilling, coal mining and tar sands extraction. In an act of civil
disobedience, young and old alike occupied the lobby for over an hour,
smiling and singing protest songs.
The Dept. of Interior has oversight over two agencies, the Bureau of Ocean
Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) and the Office of
Surface Mining (OSM), which are responsible for the BP Oil Spill,
mountaintop removal coal mining and tar sands oil drilling in southern
Utah. Furthermore, the Dept. of Interior just opened up over 7,000 acres
of land to industry for coal extraction in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.
“Our demonstration today is to show that Wyoming might be small in
population but mighty in heart,” said Kevin Uransky, a resident from
Wyoming’s coalfields and member of High Country Rising Tide participating
in the sit-in. “We don’t want to just stand by and allow big corporations
to destroy our homes, our way of life, and some of last open, beautiful,
and undeveloped terrain left in the United States. We want to show that
Wyoming has a voice not to be drowned out by those of more represented
states, we have a voice, we have an opinion, and we want to be heard.”
Reclaim Power is being led by residents of residents of the Gulf Coast,
Appalachia and the interior West – regions directly impacted by heinous
oil, gas and coal extractive industries. Participants are calling for the
Obama Administration and the federal agency to phase out harmful mining
and drilling practices and facilitate transitions to sustainable local
“The Dept. of Interior has been allowing the killing of my community and
Appalachia’s mountains by the coal industry for decades,” said Junior Walk
from Boone County, West Virginia. “King Coal has poisoned Appalachia with
toxic water, toxic air and toxic waste. It’s time for real action, not
merely political posturing. I commend these fiery activists taking risks
and making change for our communities and the climate.”
“For all practical purposes, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast function as a
third world resource colony within the US. For a hundred years, our
people and ecosystems have been sacrificed to provide cheap energy and big
profits,” said Devin Martin, a native Cajun from southern Louisiana. “We
pay for the hidden costs of oil and gas with our health and our lives
through air pollution, oil spills, and a completely corrupted state
government. We already lose a football field of coastal marsh every 38
minutes, and now rising sea levels from climate change will put my home,
including New Orleans, under water permanently.”
Reclaim Power also seeks to highlight the ruthless manner in which
extractive industries are allowed to treat workers and the communities
they operate in. Obama’s Dept. of Interior allows the fossil fuel industry
to run amok over ecosystems, communities, workers and local economies.
Last year’s Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 workers and spilled over
4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The results have
devastated local economies, fisheries and wetlands. Mountaintop removal is
a radical form of coal mining in which up to 800 feet, sometimes more, of
densely forested mountaintops are literally blown up to reach thin coal
seams. Already, over 500 mountains and 2,000 miles of streams have been
lost due to this devastating mining practice. It has been recently
discovered that oil companies in southern Utah greatly expanded the acres
of land to be developed for tar sands extraction from 60 to over 30,000.
The 758 million tons of coal to be extracted from the four competitive
leases in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin will be the equivalent of 300 new
coal-fired power plants.
Today’s march and sit-in are a preview to Rising Tide North America’s “Day
of Action Against Extraction” happening April 20th, on the anniversary of
the BP Oil Spill. The day of action will feature protests by Gulf Coast
residents fighting offshore drilling, Appalachians resisting mountaintop
removal coal mining, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York residents opposing
natural gas hydrofracking, Canadians fighting tar sands mining in Alberta,
as well as other community groups engaged in fights against extractive
industries. Protests are also planned for the UK, New Zealand, and
Demands from today’s Reclaim Power action and the April 20th Day of Action
Against Extraction include:
* An immediate phase out of fossil fuel extraction and a just
transition to truly sustainable forms of energy
* Community control over natural resources
* Recognizing the sovereignty of indigenous nations and their right to
control resources on their lands.
* Reparations from both state and corporate entities that have
profited from extraction in order to fund ecological restoration, full
health coverage, and sustainable livelihoods in impacted communities.
For more information please visit http://www.extractionaction.net
Rising Tide North America is an all volunteer climate justice network with
over 50 chapters and local contacts that works to confront the root causes
of climate change.