Here Are the 3 Battlegrounds Where We Will Be Taking Action in 2018 — And How You Can Help

by Lauren Reid

January 9, 2018

There's no time like the present to strengthen your voice and actions to help protect our environment.

Resist light graffiti photography created on site at the White House.

© Vicki DaSilva / Greenpeace

With a new year of environmental battles on the horizon, the fight for a healthy ecosystem is more important than ever. Here are the three battlegrounds where we will be taking action, and how you can help support us.

1. Energy Transfer Partners

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, recently filed a near billion-dollar lawsuit against Greenpeace and others, attempting to shake environmental advocacy, peaceful protest, and the constitutional right to free speech to its core. This new suit is an unfounded attempt from ETP to redefine the coming together of people in peaceful protest as criminal conduct, through the use of antiquated racketeering laws.

Water Protectors engineered a makeshift wooden pedestrian bridge over the Cantapeta Creek. They were trying to access ancestral burial grounds they believed were being damaged by the Dakota Access Pipeline construction. Heavily armed law enforcement officials were deployed.

Lawsuits like this one may become the new normal. The SLAPP tactic — otherwise known as Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation — is a method of retaliating against peaceful assembly and protest through all legal means available. Other corporations have utilized it in an effort to intimidate and financially drain organizations like Greenpeace until they’re forced to abandon their opposition around a project. And we know — the Canadian company Resolute Forest Products also filed a $300 million dollar SLAPP suit against us in 2016, which was duly dismissed by a federal court judge this past October.

By using this method in court, ETP is attempting to saddle Greenpeace with such a massive burden that it hopes it will financially and legally stop us long-term from organizing for what we believe so strongly in. This case could also have potential ramifications for other environmental and activist groups if their egregious attempts are successful. Yet in the face of this abusive legal assault, we will not back down from these critical battles. We will continue to stand up against projects and corporations which threaten the environment and indigenous rights. Stand with us, raise your voice, and help us protect free speech in an increasingly uncertain time.

2. Pipelines, and the institutions that fund them

The indigenous-led movement against ETP’s Dakota Access Pipeline created international pressure on the banks and institutions funding this highly controversial pipeline project. In the last year, several banks and major financial institutions have agreed to stop funding tar sands pipelines — a result of the of the growing and sustained pressure against them. Pipelines cannot get into the ground without external funding. Making sure major banks and lending institutions stop bankrolling controversial projects — ones like Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain tar sands pipeline, which threaten Indigenous rights, water resources, and our climate — will be a crucial battle we face in 2018.

Pipelines, pipelines, everywhere…

Last year we saw intensified pressure on these national and international funding sources, demanding they stop backing these disastrous projects. 8 financial institutions across the globe acquiesce to the strength of people power, and committed to stop pouring resources and funds into tar sands pipelines. This has been a tremendous step forward, but there is still much to be accomplished. JPMorgan Chase, the world’s 6th largest bank, has just extended a 1.5 billion-dollar loan to TransCanada — the same corporation responsible for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Want to know how you can help in this fight? We must continue to put pressure on JPMorgan Chase to end all funding and financial services for these projects and the companies backing them. With enough of your voices, we know that these banking giants can and will move their money away from dirty tar sands. This movement is only getting stronger!

And don’t forget — with even more oil and gas exploration underway in almost all corners of the U.S. in 2018, expect to see coordinated resistance efforts around these key pipeline projects:

Pacific Northwest:

  • If completed, Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain pipeline in Canada would ship nearly 1 million barrels of tar sands oil daily across Alberta and British Columbia — effectively making the region a superhighway for oil.

Midwest:

  • Enbridge’s construction of the proposed Line 3 Replacement pipeline on both the Ontario, Canada and Wisconsin sides of Lake Superior is already underway, although a highly contested permit process is still ongoing in Minnesota, with involvement from Anishinaabe tribes, youth, and many others. The proposed 300 mile path for the pipeline would cut through pristine lake country and treaty territory.

 Mid-Atlantic:

  • The Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines would transport billions of cubic feet of fracked natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia and deep into North Carolina.
  • The Mariner East Pipeline is actually two separate pipelines used to transport fossil fuel products from the Marcellus Shale, which encompasses most of Pennsylvania and Ohio.

South:

  • Plains All American’s Diamond Pipeline would transport Texas crude oil 440 miles across Oklahoma and Arkansas into Tennessee, crossing 500 wetlands and 5 major drinking water sources.
  • If approved, Energy Transfer Partners’ Bayou Bridge Pipeline would run through territory belonging to the Houma Nation in Louisiana, threatening the water source of hundreds of thousands of people.

3. Saving our oceans from plastic

These days, single-use plastic is everywhere: plastic soda bottles, bags, food packaging, coffee cups, lids, straws—you name it. And despite the fact that we’ve been told for decades that recycling is the solution for these disposable products, a whopping 90% of global plastic isn’t recycled. So where does it end up? It clogs our landfills, floods our communities, and chokes our rivers and oceans. The equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic enters our oceans every minute, every day, all year long. With plastic production on track to double over the next 20 years, it’s becoming more urgent that we change something—and fast.

The problem of plastic consumption is hitting critical mass.

Most efforts to solve the plastic pollution problem have focused on individual responsibility — if we would all recycle, bring our own reusable bags, water bottles, and coffee cups — the oceans would be clean and free of plastic. And while these efforts are important, plastic is being produced in such massive quantities that our individual recycling efforts can hardly make a dent in all this waste. So it’s time we address this problem at its source. That’s why we’re demanding that corporations take responsibility for their part in the problem, and take immediate steps to phase out wasteful single-use, throwaway plastic.

Coke is a major contributor to the plastic pollution crisis, but they are by no means alone

This is no small task, but we are at a critical turning point in the fight against plastic pollution. We’ve been ramping up the pressure on Coke; the largest beverage company in the world produces 110 billion single-use bottles every year and is expected to announce a new global policy on plastics within weeks. We’re letting them know their policy must provide clear commitments, targets, and timelines to significantly REDUCE their production of single-use plastic bottles. This includes embracing reusable packaging and developing new methods of delivery for their products.

While Coke is a major contributor to the problem, they are by no means alone. We found that along with Coke, Pepsi and Nestle were the worst contributors to the single-use plastic pollution found in cleanups in 31 cities across the U.S. And of course there are more: Proctor & Gamble, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Unilever — the list goes on. It is time for these corporations to invest in alternatives and phase out single-use plastic for good. Help us demand solutions, and expect to see the fight against wasteful single-use plastic continue throughout 2018! In the meantime, see what other actions you can take to help solve our pollution crisis.

Lauren Reid

By Lauren Reid

Lauren Reid is the online editor for Greenpeace USA. She first volunteered with Greenpeace on the Rainbow Warrior in 2015, for a campaign against overfishing and human rights abuses observed at sea. Lauren is currently based in New Orleans, LA and you can peep her on Twitter @Lo_Pickles.

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