Big Green Plans Civil Disobedience for First Time in Organization’s History
“If you could do it nonstop, it would take you six days to walk from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond to President Barack Obama’s White House. For the Sierra Club, that journey has taken much longer. For 120 years, we have remained committed to using every “lawful means”… Now, for the first time in our history, we are prepared to go further.” —Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director
Could this be a sign that an era of ecological mass movement is upon us? We’d hate to get too enthusiastic about the folks at Sierra Club finally making the right choice on dropping their policy against civil disobedience so shortly after the Carl Pope/Chesapeake Gas scandal, but the results of this decision could certainly change the game up a bit.Yes, it might be time for you radicals to suck it up, start going to your local Sierra meetings and reach outside your anarcho-clique… [Read an update to this post below. 1/24/13]
But don’t think this means we’ll get to sit and relax while watching the liberals exercise their spines on the blockade. As always, the role of Earth First! is to keep pushing the envelope—until said envelope has been reduced to ashes. So, let’s take this as one step towards that burning green fire of liberation.
Here’s what Sierra’s official press release had to say:
Recognizing the imminent danger posed by climate disruption, including record heat waves, drought, wildfires and the devastation of superstorm Sandy, the Sierra Club board of directors has suspended a long-standing Club policy to allow, for one time, the organization to lead a group of environmental activists, civil rights leaders, visionaries, scientists, and other high-profile individuals in a peaceful protest to dirty and dangerous tar sands. The action will be by invitation only and is being co-sponsored by 350.org.
“For civil disobedience to be justified, something must be so wrong that it compels the strongest defensible protest,” said Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director.
“We are watching a global crisis unfold before our eyes, and to stand aside and let it happen — even though we know how to stop it — would be unconscionable. As the president said in his inaugural address, ‘to do so would betray our children and future generations.’”
“The Sierra Club has refused to stand by. We’ve worked hard and we have had great success – helping establish historic fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, stopping more than 170 coal plants from being built, securing the retirement of another 129 existing plants, and helping grow a clean energy economy. But time is running out, and the stakes are enormous. We can’t afford to lose a single major battle. The burning of dirty tar sands crude is one of those major battles. That’s why the Sierra Club’s Board of Directors has for the first time endorsed an act of peaceful civil disobedience,” said Brune.
“The recent decision made by the Board of Directors is not one we take lightly,” said Allison Chin, Sierra Club President. “As a nation, we are beginning to achieve significant success in the fight against climate disruption. But allowing the production, transport, export and burning of the dirtiest oil on Earth now would be a giant leap backwards in that progress. The Board is answering the urgency of this threat with our decision to engage, for one time, in civil disobedience.”
The Sierra Club will continue to use all other legitimate tools and channels to protect the nation’s water, air, land and people from polluters, and will focus intensely on moving the nation to safe, clean energy alternatives and away from the fossil fuels that have caused the climate crisis.
UPDATE: While Sierra has declared intentions of mobilizing for protests on Feb. 17 in Washington, D.C., a day that some predict will be “the largest climate rally in history.” Club officials point out that the Feb. 17 rally is separate from the act of civil disobedience, which they are not releasing information about.
To read Brune’s full statement, click here.