Over 100 Climate Justice Activists Occupy MT Capitol and Tell Gov. Schweitzer- “Big Oil Out of Montana!”

UPDATE: Five members of the lock down group were cut out of their lock boxes and arrested. They were charged with obstruction of justice and criminal trespass and later released.

Everyone keeps talking about using direct action to stop the tar sands, this morning Earth First! and Northern Rockies Rising Tide stepped up and threw down to stop the megaloads and Keystone XL Pipeline.

This morning at the Montana state capital in Helena, six activists with Earth First! and Northern Rockies Rising Tide locked down during a non-violent occupation of Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s offices. The activists locked their arms in a mock oil pipeline made out of PVC plastic pipe inside the office.

While the lockdown was occupying the Governor’s office, over 100 activists marched into the capitol and joined them. Outside the building a team of climbers scaled the capitols flagpoles and hung a banner that said “Pipelines Spill, Tar Sands Kill, Big Oil Out of Montana.”

Eventually Gov. Schweitzer joined them to talk about tar sands oil.

Schweitzer is at the center of tar sands oil development controversies as he has publicly supported Exxon’s megaload shipments of tar sands mining and refining equipment and TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline while chastising Exxon for last week’s Silvertip pipeline spill into the Yellowstone River. The Silvertip disaster spilled over 1000 barrels of oil and spread over 240 miles downriver. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is over 20 times the size of the pipeline in the recent Silvertip spill with devastating consequences to be felt by all.

Activists inside the Capitol demanded that Schweitzer stand up to TransCanada and other international criminal organizations by publicly opposing Alberta Tar Sands exportation.  The tar sands are readily known as the most destructive energy process in the planet.

As the recent ExxonMobil pipeline disaster has made clear, Governor Schweitzer is attempting to turn Montana into an extraction state, while at the same time publicly proclaiming his supposed support for clean energy, protecting the environment and building healthy communities. It’s one or the other. You can’t be clean and dirty at the same time,” according to Bozeman’s Erica Dossa, who also took part in the action.

Today’s action comes as the conclusion of the thirtieth Earth First! Round River Rendezvous (RRR), an action camp focusing on radical environmentalism, direct action, music and community building. The RRR brought together hundreds of activists together from all over the world to help organize against Schweizter and Big Oil turning Montana into an extraction state.

Earth First is a thirty year old international movement which has settled for nothing less than “No Compromise” in fighting for wilderness and communities affected by politicians, corporations and capitalism. Northern Rockies Rising Tide is a chapter of the international, decentralized, grassroots movement Rising Tide.  They are based out of Missoula and work primarily on challenging the root causes of climate change in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Press release below.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 12, 2011

Contact: Max Granger  (208) 220-2133

Activists Occupy Montana Capitol Building Demanding Governor Schweitzer Publicly Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline and Tar Sands Megaload Shipment.

Activists from across the nation and around the world join Montana and Idaho     residents in demanding that Schweitzer finally stand up to “Big Oil.”

Helena, MT – On the morning of July 12th, six activists from Earth First! and Northern Rockies Rising Tide occupied Governor Schweitzer’s office in an act of non-violent civil disobedience.  The activists locked their arms in a mock oil pipeline made out of PVC plastic pipe.  In the wake of the Silvertip spill, Governor Schweitzer has publicly chastised ExxonMobil for their negligence and lack of transparency, while at the same time continuing to promote the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, Exxon’s megaload shipments bound for the Alberta Tar Sands, and other extreme fossil fuels projects throughout the state.  Governor Schweitzer eventually agreed to meet with the activists, responding to their questions with evasive and irrelevant pleasantries, but later declined to continue the conversation and refused to meet their demands.  The Capitol building was redecorated with colorful banners addressing climate change and the need to discontinue filthy fossil fuel projects.

“If the Governor has his way, Montana will be transformed into what is essentially an energy extraction colony for Big Oil.  The Silvertip spill is simply a short preview of what this would mean for the lives and livelihood of all Montanans,” says Great Falls native Peter Dolan, one of the eight occupying the office.

Activists inside the Capitol are also demanding that Schweitzer stand up to TransCanada and other international criminal organizations by publicly opposing Alberta Tar Sands exportation.  This project is widely known as the most destructive energy process on the planet by leading environmental organizations.  According to a recent report by University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineering professor John Stansbury, neither TransCanada nor the regulators evaluating the proposed Keystone XL pipeline have properly considered the risks.  Stansbury said TransCanada underestimated both the frequency of spills on the pipeline and the severity of the worst-case scenario spills.

“As the recent Exxon Mobil pipeline disaster has made clear, Governor Schweitzer is attempting to turn Montana into an extraction state, while at the same time publicly proclaiming his supposed support for clean energy, protecting the environment and building healthy communities.  It’s one or the other. You can’t be clean and dirty at the same time,” according to Bozeman’s Erica Dossa, who also took part in the action.

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9 Responses to “Over 100 Climate Justice Activists Occupy MT Capitol and Tell Gov. Schweitzer- “Big Oil Out of Montana!””


  1. 1 Rabble Rouser Jul 12th, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Congratulations to the young people who had the courage to stand up to the crony politicians who would rather represent big money than the people who elect them. Question is, when will “voters” wake up to the disaster unfolding around them?

  2. 2 joshua harper Jul 13th, 2011 at 12:26 am

    thank you for your bravery. keep up the good work!

  3. 3 Adrian Guerrero Jul 18th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Here’s the video of the action from Rising Tide North America. SPREAD IT AROUND!

  4. 4 Michael Gilfillan Aug 11th, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Good on ya!! The importance of preventing the devistation that is oil extraction from the tar sands can hardly be overstated. Neither Canada nor Alberta, with current oil money corruption of politicians, will act in an environmentally responsible manner; not unless they are forced to by actions like this. Or replacement of oil-money corrupted politicians. That should not be counted on.

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About


Scott Parkin is a Senior Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network and organizes with Rising Tide North America. He has worked on a variety of campaigns around climate change, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mountaintop removal, labor issues and anti-corporate globalization. Originally from Texas, he now lives in San Francisco.

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