From Common Dreams.org:
Arrests After #KeepItInTheGround Activists Occupy Interior Department
Marking year of action, climate campaign delivers petitions, occupies Interior Department to call for end to fossil fuel leases
More than 40 Indigenous activists, Gulf Coast residents, and other climate leaders have reportedly occupied the U.S. Department of the Interior, demanding no new fossil fuel leases on public lands and waters. Several arrests have also been reported. The protesters entered the lobby of the department chanting, “Keep it in the ground!”
The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that is taking part in the events, said the action represented an escalation of the Keep It In The Ground campaign and continues the message of a demonstration last month in which four people were arrested while protesting fossil fuel lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico.
It is also a gesture of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux in their resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Climate activists from around the country who collectively make up the massive Keep It In The Ground movement delivered more than 1 million signatures to the White House on Thursday calling for an end to fossil fuel use.
The event marked the one-year anniversary for the Keep It In The Ground movement, which began with a call from more than 450 nonprofit groups and organizers for President Barack Obama to take action on fossil fuels and stand up to Big Oil.
“We have come from across the country to deliver a powerful message to President Obama’s doorstep—enough is enough. It is time to change our relationship with fossil fuels as a country, which means no new leases and no new pipelines, period,” said Diana Best, Greenpeace senior climate and energy campaigner.
The action also comes as people contend with climate crises around the country, such as the recent historic flooding in Louisiana—where recovery efforts are still ongoing—and the continuing Native American resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL). Many of the activists at Thursday’s event were Indigenous and frontline community members.
“We are getting repeated wake up calls and yet we stay asleep. The time is now—this moment—to end federal leasing of our natural resources and keep this oil where it belongs: beneath the ground,” said Anne Rolfes, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.
Osprey Oreille Lake, executive director of Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International, said, “Around the world and across the U.S., the impacts of the climate crisis reveal themselves with more alarming force every day….The people have spoken—we are rising for climate justice, and we are calling for President Obama to end all new fossil fuel leases on public lands and waters, and immediately terminate plans to build the Dakota Access Pipeline.”
In light of the landmark Paris climate agreement, which the U.S. formally signed during the Group of 20 (G20) summit in China this month, the activists say there is no more time to waste in implementing the changes needed to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C. They also challenged Obama administration to step up its climate leadership after it moved fossil fuel lease auctions online to avoid being confronted by environmental activists.
“Climate change is here,” said Lindsey Allen, executive director of the Rainforest Action Network. “We’re seeing record floods in the Gulf, wildfires in the west, with frontline communities bearing the brunt of this. We need real climate leadership now—not tomorrow, not in the next administration, but today.”
Continuing to auction fossil fuel leases on public lands and waters and pushing for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline “defies logic,” Allen said. “[T]hey fly in the face of the newly signed Paris agreement and all the other positive things the president likes to say. It’s time for him to act.”
The actions are being updated on Twitter with the hashtag #KeepItInTheGround.
From Standing Rock to Palestine to Ireland: We Are Water
With construction temporarily blocked on the Dakota Access Pipeline, Lakota Sioux members and a growing number of other, newly united tribes continue a stalwart protest against the proposed pipeline, which would run from oil fields in North Dakota and across South Dakota and Iowa, passing near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and threatening both its ancient burial sites and its resources. Residents of a community that has long “run on empty,” with high rates of poverty, segregation and incarceration, the Lakota insist they are fighting not just against oil, but for their right to water, sacred land and basic humanity – that they are protectors, not protesters. And as their protests swell – despite little coverage from mainstream media – it’s instructive to see vital connections increasingly being made among people who share a common history.
The Standing Rock protest has resonated because it represents not just one fight, but many. It has drawn parallels as a symbol of America’s longstanding betrayal of Native American lands and sovereign rights; of the inevitable collision of racism and climate change poised to hit poor communities hardest; of other historic struggles of indigenous peoples against invasion, oppression and colonization. Thus have the Sioux of Standing Rock been met with solidarity from a broad array of sources – from other historically rival tribes, Native Americans in Utah and Washington arguing that, “An offense against any one of our rivers or our forests is an offense against all of us,” Bernie Sanders and other progressives arguingthat nature itself is at stake, advocates of Palestinian rights connecting their respective struggles against “a nation of masters,” and, this weekend, Irish protesters against the latest austerity outrage – water charges. Because in a world that keeps getting smaller, we have been here before.