A Fearless Summer of Climate Activism

20 Jun



Cross Posted from CoalExportAction

On Monday, I joined three other participants in last summer’s Coal Export Action, as we appeared at the municipal courthouse in Helena, Montana to describe why we and 19 others joined the largest act of climate-related civil disobedience in Montana history last year.  It felt great to stand up in court and explain why the urgency of climate change and other social and environmental issues connected with fossil fuel extraction necessitates people taking matters into their own hands.  As Linda Kenoyer, a grandmother from Livingston, Montana who participated in the third day of the Coal Export Action sit-in said:

“I committed this act of civil disobedience because nothing else could be done to bring sufficient attention to the danger and moral outrage of leasing our state lands for the expansion of coal exports from this state.  In taking part in this civil disobedience, I was hoping that seeing a respectable grandmother being arrested and spending a night in jail to try to stop this from happening, enough people would be startled out of their complacence to consider what is being done in their name, and to speak up to demand a stop to the coal exports.”

Participants in last summer’s sit-in at the Montana State Capitol included grandparents, students, working people, and residents of front line communities.  It was just one example of how people across the country are rising up to challenge some of the world’s most powerful industries, and the politicians who do their bidding at the expense of our health and planetary safety.  And as time goes on, I’m convinced we’ll see even more examples of this kind of action.

Indeed, even as those of us who participated in last year’s sit-in wrap up the last of our court appearances, people across the country are getting organized for a summer of truly exciting climate activism.  It’s called Fearless Summer, and it kicks off next week, with a coordinated week of action around the country.  If you’re in Missoula, please join our Missoula Fearless Summer rally on Tuesday, June 25th.  You can see a list of other actions across the country here.

Next week, we’ll call for bold action to stop climate change and the extraction of fossil fuels. Then, over the course of the summer, we’ll escalate our tactics by organizing more and more powerful actions.  We’ll also be coordinating with groups like 350.org and Rainforest Action Network, which are organizing powerful actions of their own.

Many of this summer’s larger mass actions will take place in big cities like Chicago and San Francisco, which makes sense.  But I can tell you right now Montana won’t get left out of the action.  Though the details are still falling into place, there will almost certainly be another large-scale civil disobedience in Montana later this year.  To be the first to hear about the details when they emerge, join the Coal Export Action email list.

As Lowell Chandler, a Missoula resident who lives next to the tracks used by Burlington-Northern Santa Fe’s coal trains says:

“The Fearless Summer actions represent a broad and growing network of citizens concerned about what is at stake when it comes to our land, air, water, climate and rights as people.  Current coal exports in the Northwest already gravely affect my quality of life and those around me by polluting the air we breathe everyday with thick toxic diesel fumes and coal dust.  I refuse to let these coal export proposals transform my life and the beautiful Northwest into a conveyor belt for the dirtiest energy in the world.”

We’ve got a long road ahead of us, as we fight to stop coal export mining in Montana, and other fossil fuel extraction projects across the country.  But this summer has the potential to be a turning point in our movement.  Stay tuned.


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