With campus, congregation, and city divestment campaigns taking off across the country, there’s never been so much momentum to de-fund the fossil fuel companies destroying the planet. As Bill McKibben has so convincingly argued, we need to cut off fossil fuel giants’ money if we’re going to keep from passing disastrous climate tipping points.
It’s with this inspiring backdrop that activists in Montana are calling for a day of action targeting the finances of one of Big Coal’s most destructive projects. If you’re running a campus divestment campaign, and can spare a little of that energy to stop one of the planet’s worst carbon bombs – or if you’re not yet part of the divestment movement, and want a way to get involved – you can help.
Here’s the background: In 2011, billionaire Forrest Mars Jr. of Mars Inc. (think M&M’s) bought a stake in the Tongue River Railroad (TRR) project in Montana. Like the Keystone XL pipeline, the TRR threatens to open up huge reserves of buried carbon to development. Instead of oil though, it would transport coal from Montana’s Tongue River Valley, a largely undeveloped region in the Powder River Basin.
There’s currently no mining in Montana’s Tongue River Valley. The TRR would change that, by making huge areas accessible to the coal industry. Most coal from the area would be exported, fueling a new generation of coal-fired power plants overseas. Trains passing through towns in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington would expose communities to toxic coal dust and diesel fumes.
How did Forrest Mars get involved? He owns a ranch in the Tongue River Valley that originally would have been bisected by the TRR. For years Mars opposed the railroad, until he bought a share in it and used his influence to re-route it around his land. Now Forrest Mars is one of three investors in the TRR, along with Arch Coal and Berkshire Hathaway. He’s using a fortune largely built by selling kids candy to finance a project that will destroy those kids’ future.
That’s where we come in. On March 28th, in communities across the country, volunteer activists will visit stores that sell Mars products, to re-label candy packages with removable stickers that let shoppers know what their purchase may be paying for. Here’s what it looks like:
You can help by holding a stickering action in your community. By targeting the Mars brand, and convincing Mars Inc that it’s bad business to be associated with coal, we can pressure Forrest Mars to drop his investment in the Tongue River Railroad. It’s the first step toward getting the money out of coal in the Powder River Basin.