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Lessons from Tar Sands Blockade

Lessons from Tar Sands Blockade

The following story was written by Dandelion, a youth activist from Oregon who had the opportunity to go to the Tar Sands Blockade in Texas to help out.

First I would like to clarify that I am a white, middle class woman, with a high school diploma, pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies. I went to Texas expecting to live in the woods with a bunch of anarcho-environmentalists, working on back woods strategy and reaching out to a primarily white landowning community. I ended up spending most of my time living in Houston, working on urban strategy and organizing with a primarily Latino community. Most of the tasks I took on entailed endless hours of research, creative design, interfacing with an impacted community, and securing food/monetary donations.

I worked with the Manchester community; a neighborhood boxed in by industry, including a Valero oil refinery, which is continually poisoning the surrounding area. This was the biggest challenge for me. I had never worked with a community that is directly impacted by extractive industry; a primarily Latino community living with the threat of deportation; a community that does not share the same privilege as my own. I mean privilege in the sense that I can get myself arrested protesting and I know that I won’t be deported or that I was targeted because of the color of my skin. Institutional racism is perpetuated in too many ways to count–I don’t understand all of them nor do I claim to–but this form of racism perpetuates the legacy of racial inequality in the United States and the world. I can speak out and know that if I am not taken seriously it is not because of the color of my skin.

I was unsure of how I could be as useful as possible in the fight for justice. Another influence in this situation was that I was only down in Texas for two weeks. One thing I have learned from my own organizing experience and from observing other campaigns is that building connections with a community isn’t something to take lightly. If you are only with the community for a short time, you shouldn’t take on the face of the organization. To build trust with a community, there can’t be different people parachuting in for a week here and a week there. If you are one of those people, it’s important to work behind the scenes.

I spent the majority of my time researching the effects and impacts of the Valero refinery on the surrounding area. I looked into the amount of different pollutants the refinery is emitting, which of those are known human carcinogens, and the EPA limits of those pollutants. I thought this would be a walk in that park—it’s all public information right? NOT. The team and I worked day in and day out the whole 10 days we were there trying to translate the legal jargon into words and concepts we could understand and disseminate to  the larger community. In this process we had to learn way too many acronyms, codes, and contacted environmental lawyers to assist us. As a college-educated person I thought that I would be able to understand the information that is deemed public. I was wrong. The information that the public has access to is so heavily encrypted with legal jargon and codes that the only people who can really understand it are those with law degrees. It is an outrage that this information is so difficult to understand.  This  language disenfranchises common people from their role and power as the stakeholders in a democracy.   Within this jungle of legal jargon, Valero hides their inability to function within their own environmental limitations. It goes to show that if you have money, you obviously can buy your way out of any accountability process.

Another project I helped with was the free store. The idea behind this store is solidarity, not charity; the concept of mutual aid where we come together to help each other. The Manchester community is a food desert, where there are few grocery stores that carry unprocessed food, and where residents don’t qualify for welfare benefits because of their citizenship status. The free store is stocked with dumpstered and donated spoils from grocery stores. ‘Expired’ food is sourced from grocers, who have to throw out because they are beyond their expiration dates, but are actually fine to eat. The free store happens between once and twice a week, depending on how much food we can secure. Coordinating the food donations was a difficult task, and I often felt like we were reinventing the wheel. I learned that there are groups who have already established food donations and that reaching out to these groups would save us time and resources. One of the pitfalls of many grassroots organizing campaigns is folks get tied up reinventing the wheel. With the food donations, instead of contacted grocers directly—who often require a month or two to process requests and lots of paper work—time spent contacting groups who already have these connections has proved to be less resource intensive and create allies.

Going to the Manchester neighborhood was the most difficult and most rewarding part of the time I spent working down there. I was only down there one day, setting up the free store and distributing food and information about tar sands extraction. I was totally unprepared for the things I was going to hear. I was totally unprepared in how to interact with a community that is being directly impacted by the pollution and maltreatment of the environment that I am researching but have nowhere to go and whose voices are crippled by the threat of deportation. How do I talk with these folks about how I am researching the corporation in their neighborhood and how they are living in poisonous conditions, and that ‘yeah, I’m only here for a week to help.’ Fortunately, I speak Spanish which made meeting and chatting with these folks easier, but there was a definite disconnect due to my short-term visit and privileged background. I found that simply listening instead of talking and taking up space was important.

I met some beautiful people, whose families are being torn apart by illnesses like cancer and asthma that are caused by industrial pollution. The pollution that apparently is not subjected to any of the accountability processes that one might think are there to protect us.

While I was in Houston I noticed the dialogue among the Tar Sands Blockade crew was shifting from the folks in the woods, “holy shit they’re laying the pipeline right now, we gotta stop this, everyone to the frontline.” To folks in Houston, “holy shit people are being poisoned every day and are dying and families are being poisoned, everyone to the computers so we can figure out how to shut that shit down?”

This is the belly of the beast; when you can’t just step in front of an excavator to stop whatever is happening. We don’t know how to fight this. There are so many levels of corruption, which may or may not be working together, that as soon as you think you’re onto something useful you get denied access. That’s when you know that you’re looking in the right place. When you get threatened with arrest or the FBI starts watching you, listening to you. The real world we live in is a police state where any voice of dissent or person who doesn’t prioritize profits over people is considered a terrorist. Where corporations bully people in order to get what they want and then are protected by the state for “providing jobs.” But when we bully corporations about their treatment of the environment and people, we are considered terrorists. It’s time to get creative. It’s time to think of new and different tactics. There is no better time than now to take a stand.

What I learned in Houston is that there are really huge problems occurring around the world, and that those of us who have the privilege to speak up and feel only minor implications need to do so. More importantly we need to listen to the folks who are being directly impacted, and we need to stand in solidarity with them on the premise that the government and our elected officials are working out of the pocket books of the entities that are causing such harm and that it is our responsibility to educate ourselves on allyship, anti-oppression, and mutual aid if we want to stop perpetuating the patriarchal systems of oppression that control the decision making processes in most of the world.

Thousands Join in Defending North America from Toxic Tar Sands

Thousands Join in Defending North America from Toxic Tar Sands

Defend Our Coast, Victoria B.C.

On Sunday, I headed up to Victoria, B.C. with two other activists from the Cascade Climate Network. Little did I know that participating in a 5,000 person action to Defend the Coast from tar sands pipelines and oil tankers would continue to build momentum over the following days in many different capacities. I am truly inspired by my experiences of the past few days and wish to share them with you.

In the weeks leading up to the Defend Our Coast action on the BC legislature lawn, I kept checking the website. Originally the organizers set the participant goal at 2,000. Soon the numbers of people who pledged to participate exceeded 2,000 and new goals of 3,000 and 5,000 had to be made. The day before the action, more than 4,500 people had signed up to participate in the action in some way. Many people pledged to participate in civil disobedience by staking a 235 meter (770 feet) black banner, which symbolized the length of an oil tanker, into the lawn of the legislature. The Monday Defend Our Coast rally was by far the largest action against tar sands ever in Canada’s history.

No Pipeline No Tar Sands Legislature Steps
No Pipeline No Tankers Light up the Steps of the BC Legislature. Photo credit: Keri Coles

Upon arriving in Victoria, we took a bus up to the University of Victoria to meet up with others and receive training to prepare for the next day. I was fortunate to meet the director of the Backbone Campaign, Bill Moyer, and hear about the great work they do. The Backbone Campaign is a group that does creative tactics across North America. Here is a photo of their pre-action fun from Sunday night.

At the training, I was also able to listen to the heart breaking stories of many First Nations representatives who had traveled over 1,000 miles to take part in the action to defend the land that they live on, the water that they drink, and the fish that they eat. One spokesperson pulled a coin out of his pocket and said, “you can’t eat this. When our food is gone, money is useless.”

The First Nations peoples who were present at the training clearly articulated the importance of defending the land we have grown up on for many, many future generations to enjoy. There were elderly in their 90s who were there in support and were clearly participating for their offspring and the non-human animals who do not have a voice in political processes.

Amanda Maxwell, the Oregon Cascade Climate Network Co-director stated, “Having the opportunity to see people from all walks of life come together to protect our future is inspiring. The issue of fossil fuel dependency is bigger than just us; this is about safeguarding the future for generations to come.” This sentiment was definitely held by many people who showed up to be part of the action.

On the day of the action, people from all over emerged out of the woodwork to join in solidarity on the lawn of the legislature. The crowd included babies, elderly arriving by bicycle, First Nations peoples with drums, dogs and stuffed animals with signs, and this large salmon puppet provided by the Backbone Campaign (left).

Throughout the day, various speakers and performers sent their messages out into the crowds of applause on the main stage. Thousands of people were willing to risk arrest in order to stake the model tanker into the ground, but no one in the end was arrested. The messages were sent loud and clear with words, through song and dance, and by leaving painted messages on the tanker that was staked into the legislature lawn. The police even aided in the action by closing off the road for the end of the tanker to extend into the street.

Bill Moyer, Director of the Backbone Campaign, described the Defend Our Coast rally as, “a pivotal moment, a milestone in an unprecedented process of coming together to occupy our vision, our aspirations and our power to shape the future.” In just the past two days since the initial rally, it has become clear that it really was a pivotal moment that has continued to grow.

In conjunction with the October 22nd Defend Our Coast action, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) filed a lawsuit that would prevent tar sands extraction at the source in northern Alberta. To find out more and stand with ACFN against shell, visit the Stop Shell Now site.

After an incredibly exciting weekend filled with standing in solidarity with activists from many nations in the thousands at the BC legislature, the public push against tar sands continues to escalate. The domino effect has begun.

Momentum Continues to Build

Today, October 24th, people went to the offices of their representatives in over 68 communities across British Columbia to rally against tar sands. Over 5,000 people of all ages turned out in total at the various locations. To read more on the story, visit the main Defend Our Coast website or follow the media streaming in on facebook at facebook.com/DefendOurCoast.

As I searched for more news on the continued actions related to Defend Our Coast, I also came across updates on the Tar Sands Blockade, which is a group of activists based out of Texas that is fighting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The Tar Sands Blockade in Winnsboro, Texas celebrates its month long anniversary today. Activists have been living in the canopy of a forest that would have to be bulldozed in order for the Keystone XL Pipeline to be built for a solid month now. If you wish to make a donation in support of the direct action efforts, please click here to donate.

Cherri Blocks TransCanada Trucks
Cherri Blocks TransCanada Trucks in Louisiana

I was also incredibly inspired as I came across the story of Cherri Foytlin’s arrest in Louisiana. Cherri Foytlin, an indigenous mother, blocked the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline construction trucks for an hour. She took action to have a direct impact on the construction of the pipeline needed to transport tar sands from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico through many communities and important clean water aquifers.

Watch Cherri Foytlin’s tar sands blockade testimony video or follow the blog about the action at http://tarsandsblockade.org/10th-action/.

The past few days have been incredibly inspiring to me. Standing with thousands of people who care enough of about the land that we live on and the water that we drink to travel thousands of miles to convey the message that we want to give a healthy planet to future generations reaffirmed my commitment to doing everything I can to bring about a more thriving, just, and sustainable future for all.

 

See the album below if you wish to view moments that I captured in Victoria, B.C.

Defend the Coast Photo Album
Parents Power Past Coal at Whitman College

Parents Power Past Coal at Whitman College

CCN affiliate school Whitman College participated in Power Shift’s 100 Actions for 100% Clean Energy last month. Here’s a write-up of the event, originally featured on WeArePowerShift.org.

On October 23, Whitman College students called into question two kinds of power: the dirty electricity derived from oil and coal that is shamefully prevalant across America today, and the power wielded by big business to keep that coal and oil at the forefront of the nation’s energy landscape. The Parents Power Past Coal rally brought three speakers–two members of the Whitman Campus Climate Challenge (CCC) and one representative of the Sierra Student Coalition–to whip a crowd of students and their parents into action against Washington State coal exports and the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The centerpiece of the event was a “human map” or “walk of shame” in which 50 participants, each holding signs representing one of the fifty states, stepped across a model pipeline in response to questions about dirty energy: “Cross if there is a coal plant in your state. If there has been a hydraulic fracking accident in your state. If Keystone XL will pass through your state,” etc. Participants from three generations were shocked and appalled by facts they did not know before–statistics that drove home America’s continued use of coal as a crutch, and the sheer number of lives that would be devastated if the pipeline spilled into the Ogallala aquifer. However, the students, the parents, and their parents were ultimately uplifted, as the human map began to show the rise of wind, solar, and nuclear energy, and the wide breadth of the anti-dirty energy movement.

The event’s organizers designed it not only for information and motivation but for real, palpable impact. Parents Power Past Coal resulted in 43 signatures on a petition to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline, to be sent directly to President Barack Obama; and 40 signatures on a petition to end coal exports in Washington, to be sent directly to Washington State Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark. The CCC easily found 50 participants for the Walk of Shame, who then surged to write letters to both Obama and Goldmark, exhorting them to keep their promises and take the steps necessary to save America and the Earth from coal and oil.

Whitman’s event was the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, and the Climate Challenge is already taking steps to keep the momentum going. Along with the petitions and letters to Obama and Goldmark, members have mailed a press release to local newspapers and TV and radio stations, and are beginning an effort to have the college’s president and faculty make a statement against coal exports in Washington. With the Parents Power Past Coal rally, Whitman students and parents took the first step towards turning the tide against the money and influence of big coal and oil.

–Sam Chapman

Take Action to Protect the NW from Dirty Energy

Take Action to Protect the NW from Dirty Energy

 

The CCN proudly supports the following action described below by our Coalitions facilitator Natalie Eberts:

3 Targets . . . 2 Issues . . . 1 All-Out Action!

Join the Energy Action Coalition, Rainforest Action Network, ForestEthics, and Coal Action Network for an amazing march after Powershift to put all the amazing energy from the weekend into action for the crucial issues of TarSands and Coal Exports!

Here’s a snapshot:

  • “Returning” Grocery Bags of Tar Sands Destruction at Safeway, a giant corporate buyer of Tarsands Oil
  • A “Die-In” and Street Theater at the Bank of America, the single largest funder of Coal Exports, on the weekend of “Move Your Money Day”
  • A mock Clean Energy Campaign office at the Lane County Democrats HQ in solidarity with the Tar Sands Action at the White House
This march will be unique because there will be many ways for you all to participate beyond just holding signs and chanting– from carrying “oily” Safeway bags, to being outlined in chalk in the die-in, to being a “volunteer” at the mock campaign office.
That’s not all though, if you want to be more involved in this exciting action, there are lots of roles we need you to fill! These include: Media (photo/video, social media, bloggers, spokespeople), March leaders, Chant leaders, Police Liasons, Volunteers Coordinators, Set-up Crew, and musicians! Let us know if you’re interested–if you’d like to help but aren’t sure how,  we’ll figure it out. We’re also looking for a set of drums, other instruments, a truck, folding tables, 1-2 dress suits to borrow, Obama T-shirts and pins, and bullhorns, so let us know if you can lend any of these.Even if you’re not able to get directly involved beforehand, here’s two simple things you all can do to help make this action the huge success it’s shaping out to be:

  1. Spread the Word BEFORE the Conference by inviting friends in the area to this Facebook Event, Tweeting and reTweeting wth the hastag #pswaction, and reposting this email to any listserves you’re on.
  2. Spread the Word AT the Conference by recruiting people to come and passing around fliers available from our tables.
This is going to be an creative hundreds-strong action propelled from all the momentum of Powershift, so we’re excited to have you be a part!
Thank you for helping make this happen!
In solidarity,
Chelsea Thaw, Natalie Eberts, Nick Engelfield, and Adam Gaya
Action Organizers
Contact:
Natalie Eberts– [email protected]  |  #734-476-1310
Nick Engelfried [email protected]  |  #503-737-7666
CCN Members are Drawn to Washington, D.C. to Stop Keystone XL Pipeline

CCN Members are Drawn to Washington, D.C. to Stop Keystone XL Pipeline

CCN Members are Drawn to Washington, D.C. to Stop Keystone XL Pipeline

On August 20, 2011, Americans of all ages, including Bill McKibben and members of the Cascade Climate Network (Chelsea Thaw and David Kellner-Rode), kicked off the largest climate civil disobedience action in U.S. history by being arrested in front of the White House in protest of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. Over 2,000 people from all 50 states have signed up to risk arrest in the next two weeks as part of the Tar Sands Action.

 

James Hansen, a world-renowned climatologist, said that using the Alberta, Canada tar sands would be “essentially game over” for the climate. The tar sands are a huge threat to the climate since estimates say that they contain at least 400 GtC (equivalent to about 200 ppm CO2) according to the International Panel on Climate Change (see IPCC Fourth Assessment Report). They also require 4 barrels of water to produce 1 barrel of oil and produce 2-4 times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil.

While I was at the Sierra Student Coalition’s Shindig gathering in St. Louis this past week, I went to a presentation on the tar sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline. I learned that the pipeline threatens biodiversity, clean water sources for people in the western United States, and land owned by residents on the path from Alberta, Canada to the oil refineries on the Gulf of Mexico (see map of proposed pipeline route here). I was most shocked that a similar pipeline has spilled 12 times in the past year (averaging once a month) since the tar sands are incredibly thick and difficult to transport. The Keystone XL would open up the heartland of the United States to oil spills similar to the BP spill.

 

According to the U.S. Department of State, “the proposed Keystone XL Project would consist of approximately 1,711 miles of new, 36-inch-diameter pipeline, with approximately 327 miles of pipeline in Canada and approximately 1,384 miles in the United States” (Keystone XL Project). The miles of pipeline would destroy acres of agricultural and indigenous lands.

 

On Wednesday, I will be joining a cross-country caravan that is holding events in different states on their way to D.C. to take part in the action. To follow the tar sands actions and caravan, please visit http://www.tarsandsaction.org/ and http://notarsandscaravan.org/.

 

Sign the Tar Sands Petition here: http://www.tarsandsaction.org/obama-petition/

Please contact me, Emma Newman ([email protected]), to help with spreading the word or taking other actions in solidarity of those risking arrest in Washington, D.C.

Protecting Oregon from a New Palomar Pipeline

Protecting Oregon from a New Palomar Pipeline

Yesterday morning a group of climate activists in Portland, Oregon gathered at the base of one of the city’s busiest bridges, to urge morning commuters to help put the final nail in the coffin of the Palomar natural gas pipeline. The pipeline’s main backer, NW Natural Gas, was holding its annual shareholder meeting this afternoon. This presented a great opportunity to call the company out on its support for a piece of fossil fuel infrastructure that would carve through stands of old growth in Mt Hood National Forest, cut across salmon-bearing streams, and add to the region’s dependence on fossil fuels. As one of our banners proudly proclaimed, NW Natural must learn that Oregonians won’t let the Palomar project move forward – not now, and not ever.

You can help stop the Palomar Pipeline by sending a message to NW Natural’s board of directors right now.

Earlier this spring, climate activists in Oregon celebrated NW Natural Gas’ withdrawal of its original application to build the Palomar Pipeline. This was and remains a major victory for our movement, but NW Natural is already plotting to bring back a scaled-down version of the pipeline. Palomar was originally supposed to bring imported LNG (liquefied natural gas) to the western half of the US, by connecting a proposed LNG terminal on the Columbia River to existing gas pipelines. Now the terminal associated with Palomar is dead, and NW Natural seems to have given up the western half of their project. But the company is discussing submitting a new application for a shorter Palomar Pipeline as early as next year.

No doubt NW Natural wants to cash in on the natural gas boom caused by widespread practice of fracking – even if connecting to an LNG terminal is no longer a viable option. But the “shorter” version of Palomar would still span 120 miles between the Oregon communities of Mollala and Madras, and would cut through the heart of Mt Hood National Forest. Installing the pipeline would require a clear-cut through the forest, damaging some of Oregon’s last old growth that serves as an important carbon sink.

Fortunately Oregonians are not about to let Palomar come back from the dead without a fight. This morning’s vigil at the base of the Hawthorne Bridge drew lots of supporting smiles, honks, and bike bell rings from morning commuters, showing the breadth of opposition to Palomar even among NW Natural’s own customers. By putting the Palomar Pipeline to rest once and for all, Oregon can protect its natural heritage while preventing our region from becoming ever more reliant on natural gas. The hideous environmental footprint of fracking has made it more apparent than ever that natural gas is not and never will be clean.

NW Natural, a company that claims it cares about the environment, needs to cancel any plans to bring back the Palomar Pipeline. Please help make this happen by emailing the board of directors.

Tracing Coal Exports’ Deadly Impacts

Tracing Coal Exports’ Deadly Impacts

As fast as the world’s biggest coal companies move to make the Pacific Northwest an export zone for their deadly product, people across the region are organizing to prevent coal exports from Northwestern ports.  From impacted community members, to students who are watching their future go up in flames as China burns vast quantities of US coal, concerned residents of the Northwest are uniting for a clean energy future.

The Northwest has already made great strides.  On Thursday the Washington legislature passed the Coal-Free Future Act, which will phase out coal combustion in the state (albeit much more slowly than many of us wish).  This builds on an agreement reached in Oregon last year to close that state’s only coal plant (again, we’re working to bump up the timeline).  But even as the Northwest closes the book on its own coal plants, the likes of Arch Coal, Ambre Energy, and Peabody are looking to ship coal abroad.

On Earth Day the Rainforest Action Network and youth organizers at Evergreen State College delivered over 7,000 petitions to Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, asking her to oppose coal exports.  Students also dropped off a list of six Washington colleges and universities where student governments are endorsing goals for a coal-free future, including a commitment to build no new coal export terminals in the state.   Closer to proposed terminal sites, students and community members are building a movement  to prevent export projects going through.  On Saturday I joined representatives of the Sierra Club and a group of thirteen students from Portland’s Reed College, who travelled to Longview, Washington to learn about the impacts of coal exports first-hand. 

On a warm spring morning we met with members of Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community, a grassroots organization fighting a proposed coal export terminal.  Millenium Bulk Logistics, the US branch of Australia’s Ambre Energy, wants to export up to 60 million tons of coal yearly out of Longview to markets of China and elsewhere.  Arch Coal, the second biggest US coal company, has a 38% stake in the project.  If Millenium gets its way, Longview will see five coal trains charge into town every day, each consisting of 125 cars.  This drammatic increase in rail use would tie up traffic and restrict access to the community’s only hospital.  As Longview residents have begun to quip (and it isn’t a joke), how many babies will be born in the backs of cars that get stuck waiting for the latest coal train to pass through town?

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Eugene Students to US Senate: Defend the Clean Air Act

Eugene Students to US Senate: Defend the Clean Air Act

By defending the Clean Air Act, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley can protect Oregonians from mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal plants

For immediate release

Eugene, OR – On Wednesday the youth-run Cascade Climate Network and the University of Oregon-based Climate Justice League called on Oregon’s US senators to defend the Clean Air Act and public health. With Republicans and conservative Democrats in Congress now attempting to restrict the Clean Air Act’s authority, students urged Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to stand strong for the law this Earth Day.

“The first Earth Day in 1970 helped usher in the wave of awareness that spurred passage of the modern Clean Air Act,” said Casey Gifford, a junior at University of Oregon. “Forty-one years later, we need to ensure regulators retain their ability to enforce the Clean Air Act and protect Americans from pollution.”

Gifford just returned this week from PowerShift 2011, a youth energy summit that brought 10,000 young voters to Washington, DC to push for clean energy and a transition away from dirty fuel sources like coal plants. “I realized how fortunate I am not to have a coal plant in my immediate neighborhood,” Gifford said. “One speaker at PowerShift began to cry as she told how she has suffered from cancer three times because her home is surrounded by coal plants.”

Oregon only has one coal plant, the Boardman facility located in the northeastern part of the state. But that single plant is Oregon’s largest source of carbon, mercury, and other pollutants that threaten human health and the environment. “Burning coal leads to smog, acid rain, global climate change, and air toxics,” said Terra Smith, who graduated from University of Oregon last term. “The Boardman Plant alone produces 200 pounds of mercury every year, when just 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury in a 25-acre lake will make the fish unsafe to eat.”

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Wells Fargo, Bank of America Closed for Climate Crimes

Wells Fargo, Bank of America Closed for Climate Crimes

Today members of Portland Rising Tide and participants in a training for Power Shift 2011 set out to let major banks in Portland know it’s time to pull investments from dirty fossil fuel infrastructure.  About fifty people visited local branches of Wells Fargo and Bank of America, letting customers know the banks have been “Closed for climate crimes.”  While some participants staged a die-in on the sidewalks, others used mud to stick “dirty money” to the walls and windows.  The group drew interested looks from people on the sidewalks and bank customers using the ATMs, and activists were happy to fill in passers-by on how these banks came to deserve their dirty reputations.

A good time was had by all, and it was great to see so much energy channeled into shining a light on the companies financing some of the world’s most destructive fossil fuel infrastructure.  Yet while actions like this are designed to be both educational and fun, there’s nothing amusing about funding activities that destroy the very livability of the planet.  When Bank of America and Wells Fargo customers arrive tomorrow at the branches targeted by today’s action, they’ll learn about the dirty dealings with fossil fuel companies these Wall Street players ordinarily try to cover up.

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