Activists mark anniversary with protests, Gulf residents work toward recovery
SUMMIT COUNTY — Dozens of environmental, climate, and social justice groups targetec government and corporate operations with protests and civil disobedience in an international day of direct action against extraction organized by Rising Tide North America to commemorate the first anniversary of BP’s Gulf oil disaster. The protests were organized to demand an end to the environmental destruction and climate destabilization created by fossil fuel and other extraction industries.
“For all practical purposes, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast function as a third world resource colony within the US. For a hundred years, our people and ecosystems have been sacrificed to provide cheap energy and big profits,” said Devin Martin, a Cajun native of southern Louisiana. “We pay for the hidden costs of oil and gas with our health and our lives through air pollution, oil spills, and a completely corrupted state government. We already lose a football field of coastal marsh every 38 minutes, and now rising sea levels from climate change will put my home, including New Orleans, under water permanently.”
The day of action featured events organized by Gulf Coast residents fighting offshore drilling, local residents in the south side of Chicago resisting two of the largest coal plants in the nation, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York residents opposing natural gas hydro-fracking, Canadians fighting tar sands mining in Alberta and residents of Oregon and Washington resisting coal and tar sands exports along the Columbia River, as well as other community groups engaged in fights against extractive industries. Protests were also planned for the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
“The cultural heritage, land, ecosystems, and human health of more than sixty First Nations communities are being sacrificed for oil money,” said Heather Milton-Lightning from the Indigenous Environmental Network, who will bring the concerns of native people to an anti-tar sands rally along the Columbia River in Oregon. “This is slow industrial genocide.”
The day of action sought to highlight the companies responsible for community, worker and environmental harm from extraction operations.
“Whether it’s in Appalachia or on the Gulf Coast, these companies make millions by ruining our communities and natural environment,” said Kim Marks of Rising Tide North America. “The 11 workers who died on BP’s oil rig and the 29 who perished in Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch coal mine were killed by the same thing: corporate greed. These deaths are not accidents. They are the direct result of these companies cutting corners in pursuit of profit.”
For more information please visit www.extractionaction.net