We and our allies have had an incredible week in our efforts to KEEP FOSSIL FUELS IN THE GROUND!
Thanks so much to everyone who attended the Colorado Keep It In The Ground actions last week! Both events rocked!
Last Thursday, representatives from 14 allied organizations delivered letters from indigenous people and allied organizations to the BLM (on the day they had planned to auction off over 5,000 acres of Colorado public lands for fracking, but cancelled) urging them to stop the federal leasing program for oil/gas development. We pointed out that our nation made a commitment at the Paris Climate Talks to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees C (and aim for 1.5), and to do that we must keep 80% of fossil fuels in the ground. The federal fossil fuel leasing program is a relic of the fossil fuel era and has no place in today’s world if we are to keep our commitments to avert catastrophic climate change.
Then Saturday night ~150 people showed up in force with incredible passion, song, art, and creativity outside a big political fundraiser to make sure our state and nations leaders (including Hickenlooper, Hillary and Bernie) heard loud and clear our keep it in the ground, stop fracking and renewables now messages.
I also wanted to let you know about an action undertaken this morning by our heroic friends in Utah that built on our Colorado momentum. Early this morning, more than 100 people marched outside and then into the BLM’s climate auction in Salt Lake City. Once the auction began, BLM kicked them all out for refusing to stop singing the ‘Keep it in the Ground’ song. Everyone, that is, except for Terry Tempest Williams. She refused to leave, and in a protest purchase bought rights to over 1700 acres of potential drilling in Grand County Utah.
After she did so, she was asked by a BLM official if this was “a legitimate bid for energy development.”
“Yes,” she replied. “You can’t define what energy is for us. Our energy development is fueling a movement. Keep it in the ground.” (I’ll paste below news stories and releases about the action.)
This is what turning the tide looks like, my friends! And, together, there will be plenty more where this came from!
Micah, on behalf of the 350CO team
OIL AND GAS:
‘Keep It in the Ground’ activist claims leases after BLM auction
Phil Taylor and Scott Streater, E&E reporters
Published: Tuesday, February 16, 2016
This story was updated at 4:34 p.m. EST.
A well-known author and conservationist said she purchased an oil and gas lease today from the Bureau of Land Management in Salt Lake City to protest drilling on public lands.
Terry Tempest Williams purchased three parcels, one of which was 800 acres and located 14 miles from Arches National Park, she said in a statement forwarded by an activist at the Center for Biological Diversity.
It’s the latest bid by environmentalists to force the Obama administration to halt the leasing of oil, gas and coal from public lands in the West. Dozens of activists in the “Keep It in the Ground” campaign today protested BLM’s oil and gas auction downtown, warning that burning fossil fuels will hasten climate change.
Tempest Williams said her firm Tempest Exploration bid on the parcels for $1.50 per acre. She appears to have no intent to drill.
“They can’t limit our definition of energy,” said Tempest Williams. “We’re talking about the energy of a movement to keep it in the ground.”
BLM could not confirm Tempest Williams’ bid.
“We haven’t had a confirmation that she has indeed submitted a bid on any of the parcels,” said Don Smurthwaite, BLM Utah spokesman. “It could just be a matter of time because it does appear to be her intent to do so.”
Tempest Williams’ apparent bids fall under the noncompetitive portion of the federal lease process. The deadline to file noncompetitive bids is by the end of the next business day, which in this case would be the close of business tomorrow.
“It’s her call,” Smurthwaite said.
Noncompetitive leases apply only to parcels that BLM had offered in a competitive bid but that failed to receive a bid during the bidding process.
Anyone who is 18 years of age or older can submit a noncompetitive bid as long as the bid includes payment of an administrative fee — $460 — and the first year’s rental payment of $1.50 per acre.
It’s unclear whether Tempest Williams did anything to disrupt the BLM sale, which would carry legal risks.
In late 2008, a 27-year-old environmental activist named Tim DeChristopher disrupted a BLM auction in Utah by snatching up 14 parcels totaling 22,500 acres for $1.8 million with no plans to pay. A federal judge later sentenced him to two years in prison and assessed a $10,000 fine.
DeChristopher, who served time in jail, said today’s protests are a “sign that the days of un-resisted fossil fuel development are over.”
“The public is clearly against the leasing of fossil fuels on public lands,” he said. “They are charting a path for political leaders to follow.”
Protesters said they chanted inside the auction room at the Salt Palace Convention Center and temporarily disrupted the sale. Law enforcement ushered them out.
Twitter: @philipataylor Email: email@example.com
For Immediate Release: February 16, 2016
Valerie Love, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-274-9713
Amanda Starbuck, email@example.com, (415) 659-0510
Jason Kowalski, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.670.5345
Marissa Knodel, email@example.com, (202) 222-0729
Hilary Lewis, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-887-1872 x. 101
Lesley Adams, email@example.com, 541-821-3882
Shelley Silbert, firstname.lastname@example.org, 970-385-9577
As Part of BLM Fossil Fuel Auction Protest, Author Terry Tempest Williams Buys Parcels
Large-Scale Protest and Activism by Prominent Author Ups the Ante on “Keep it in the Ground” Activism
This morning, over 100 local activists protested at a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oil and gas lease auction in Utah and author and activist Terry Tempest Williams attended and purchased several parcels totaling 1,751 acres in Grand County, Utah through a company she formed called Tempest Exploration. The group of activists, representing a broad-reaching alliance of community members, packed and overflowed the auction room. They rallied and marched outside, and then came into the auction, spontaneously singing songs as the parcels were auctioned off until they were forced to leave.
After Williams bought up parcels at $1.50/acre, she was asked by a BLM official if this was “a legitimate bid for energy development.”
“Yes,” she replied. “You can’t define what energy is for us. Our energy development is fueling a movement. Keep it in the ground.”
Today’s protest and Williams’ actions are yet another sign of the growing energy and momentum of the “Keep It in the Ground” movement calling on President Obama to define his climate legacy by stopping new fossil fuel leases on public lands and oceans.
In recent months, local citizens and activists in Utah and in states across the country have protested outside BLM fossil fuel auctions. Since November, in response to protests, the Obama Administration has canceled oil and gas leasing auctions in Utah, Montana, and Washington, DC, and this strategy has already gained the attention of leaders in Congress, in the Obama Administration, and on the 2016 campaign trail.
“The protests of today’s auction are another sign that the days of un-resisted fossil fuel development are over,” said Tim DeChristopher, who was arrested and imprisoned for 21 months for disrupting a BLM auction in 2008. “The public is clearly against the leasing of fossil fuels on public lands, and they are charting a path for political leaders to follow.”
“Terry Tempest Williams is one of the West’s most passionate and eloquent voices for wildness and the sublime importance of unspoiled open spaces,” said Amanda Starbuck, Climate and Energy Program Director at Rainforest Action Network. “Today, she has taken a powerful stand for all of us by helping to expose the broken and outdated system of leasing our public lands to dirty energy companies for pennies on the dollar. Rainforest Action Network offers our full support to Terry’s bold call to keep fossil fuels in the ground in Utah and beyond.”
“The West—and the planet—have no greater champion than Terry Tempest Williams, in her writing, and as today, in her many actions. She’s been decades ahead of the rest of us in her fight for a stable Earth,” said Bill McKibben, 350.org Co-Founder.
“Citizens are our last line of defense against the fossil fuel industry. We salute Terry Tempest Williams for protecting public lands in Utah today, and the citizens of Utah who are speaking out for our health and climate,” said Jennifer Krill, executive director of Earthworks. “President Obama, they are sending a message to you: keep fossil fuels in the ground.”
“All of us at Friends of the Earth commend Terry Tempest Williams for her brave action to protect our public lands from Fossil Fuel Empires and keep fossil fuels in the ground,” said Marissa Knodel, Climate Campaigner with Friends of the Earth. “The lands being auctioned today belong to all of us and should not be sacrificed for the profits of the oil and gas industry. Williams and the over 100 activists who protested today’s oil and gas auction demonstrated the growing energy of the Keep It in the Ground movement in Utah and across the country. The movement will not stop until our publicly owned fossil fuels are kept in the ground for good.”
“As one of the activists removed from Tuesday’s auction, I applaud Terry Tempest Williams’ action to buy up lease parcels,” said Valerie Love of the Center for Biological Diversity. “We have a right to bear witness as the federal government auctions off our climate future by leasing public lands and fossil fuels belonging to all of us. We will continue to rally, sing and protest until President Obama halts these auctions once and for all.”
“Today we saw people spontaneously seize power and take action together. The BLM can expect more of this as long as they continue to jeopardize our future by auctioning off our health and climate stability,” said Sarah Stock of Canyon Country Rising Tide.
“Today our local community flexed our power through spontaneous singing and connected to a global resistance against fossil fuels. Like the rivers we protect, this movement will continue to connect our struggles until we are able to fully recognize how very powerful people are compared to this industry bent on destroying us,” said Lauren Wood, with the Riverkeeper Affiliate, Living Rivers.
“Today we witnessed a groundswell of solidarity from a broad spectrum of local organizers coming together to fight for a livable future. Today we also witnessed thousands of acres of land being sold to the oil and gas industry without the consent of the public. Sometimes we have to stop and name the sorrows, trace them to their root. The Women’s Congress for Future Generations calls on those fighting for a livable future to join us in visiting the land, to bear witness, to grieve. Our grief will serve as a compass for the hard, important work ahead to Keep It In The Ground,” said Kaitlin Butler, Program Director with Science and Environmental Health Network and Women’s Congress for Future Generations.
“Today’s heroic action by Ms. Williams effectively transformed a public process designed to enrich private corporations by giving them cheap access to public resources into one that inspires grassroots action on climate,” said Donna Lisenby, Clean & Safe Energy Campaign Manager with Waterkeeper Alliance. “Waterkeeper Alliance salutes Ms. Williams and all of the activists at the fossil fuel auction in Utah today. Together we will continue to pressure the Obama administration to make good on the U.S. Paris commitments by keeping U.S. fossil fuels in the ground.”
“We cannot continue selling our children and grandchildren’s future to the fossil fuel companies. We stand with Terry Tempest Williams in protest of new energy lease sales on public lands,” said Shelley Silbert, Executive Director of Great Old Broads for Wilderness. “Our Utah Greater Wasatch chapter joined in unison with Terry today to say ‘Keep it in the Ground’ – public lands need to be the solution to climate change, not the problem.”
Images from today’s protest are available for media use.
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