A small victory! As much as Kinder Morgan wishes to turn Milford, PA into a nineteenth century company town, residents still can't be guilty of trespass on public land. In a victory for Pike County's rural heritage, I was found not guilty today of trespassing for my March 4th parking job blockade of the Tennessee Pipeline access road in the Delaware State Forest.
On the morning of May 8, I joined an action more than one hundred people strong calling on the US Environmental Protection Agency to enforce the Clean Water Act. Dozens of Appalachians had traveled hours to the heart of our nation’s democracy in Washington, DC. They came all the way from the hollers of West Virginia and the mountains of Kentucky. They came seeking justice for their families and communities. They came because their survival and their futures depended on it.
They weren’t there alone. The crowd was composed of allies from DC and up and down the East Coast. It was populated by students calling on their universities to divest from the very industries that harm Appalachia – students from Georgetown University in DC all the way to Middlebury College in VT. “I felt called to take action and come to DC.” said Greta Newbauer, a student divestment activist who traveled all the way from Wisconsin to stand in solidarity with Appalachia Rising "because their fight is my fight - our struggle for justice is the same."
I couldn't imagine a better way to end Earth Week than spending the day with Virginia Tech's Divestment crew. This group of inspiring students, a branch of Virginia Tech's greater Environmental Coalition, closed out their annual Earth Week celebrations with a day dedicated to climate change: Climate Day! And what better way to celebrate Climate Day than demanding their campus take meaningful action to fight the climate crisis by divesting their endowment from fossil fuel companies?
These Hokies understand that to protect the future of our planet, we can't just curb our emissions--we have to stop our reliance on fossil fuels and fight for systematic change. With their unique location in the heart of Appalachia's coal country, plus a $600 million endowment, they know the fight won't be easy. That's why they're building a movement this semester on campus, to propell themselves forward in the fall.
For Hampton University in Hampton Roads, Virginia, Earth Day marked a new day in history for the school: Hampton's inaugural Environmental Justice & Sustainability panel. Over 100 students came out to the panel discussion Monday evening to hear from professors, fellow students, and local non-profit organizers to learn about environmental and climate justice and how they can take action on their campus, in the local community, and beyond.
Yesterday, residents of Montana, Washington, DC, and the larger Chesapeake area took the demand that Forrest Mars Jr. divest from coal exports directly to Mars, Inc headquarters in McLean, Virginia. The action was a collaborative effort organized by Chesapeake Earth First!, Climate First!, and the Montana-based Blue Skies Campaign. Participants met in McLean Central Park, then walked to Mars headquarters, where they asked to speak to a Mars executive about Forrest Mars’ financial support for the Tongue River Railroad coal project.
As yet another semester at Bowling Green State University inches towards its conclusion, I realize how difficult it is to adequately summarize the accomplishments of Environmental Action Group in the form of the written word. Our campaign for 100% clean energy at BGSU by 2020 has reached heights that attest to the dedication of all students and community members who have been directly involved or have expressed valuable support and that highlight the urgent situation escalated by continued fossil fuel usage.
“This decision will ignite the Ogoni campaign for justice against Shell Oil. We will never give up fighting for our day in court!” -Charles Wiwa's reaction to the outcome of Kiobel v. Dutch Royal Petroleum
If your facebook and twitter feeds are anything like mine this quote doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. Charles Wiwa is a proud organizer standing up against the fossil fuel industry and demanding environmental protection and equal treatment. Charles would probably fit in with many of you running divestment campaigns on your college campuses and bringing your neighbors together to protect your communities. Like many of you putting your bodies on the line to stop mountain top removal, fracking, and the Keystone XL pipeline, Charles has been arrested for his peaceful protest.
On Monday April 15th, the Environmental Action Group at Bowling Green State University launched a week-long “Call-In” drive to our President’s office to demand a 100% clean energy future for BGSU with an end goal of 2020.
The day started off slow at 10am, when most college students are still half asleep and just rolling out of bed. By 11:30, our administration had really begun to hear the students’ demands in numbers. The administration sent the University’s police captain out to where we were standing in our Student Union’s Oval to tell us that having students call into President Mazey’s office was “illegal” because it was “disrupting the work that could be done in the office” and supposedly “harassment”, ultimately threatening us by saying that he “could write us a ticket.”
At the end of March, an ExxonMobil tar sands pipeline ruptured in Arkansas. Since then, around 300,000 gallons of oil have spilled. And this isn’t conventional crude we’re talking about—it’s diluted bitumen, which is heavier and harder to clean up because it sinks in water. An all-too-familiar deceptive media campaign from Exxon has made things even more complicated.
Here are the essentials. I’d encourage you to follow the links for more background.