13 Keep It in the Ground Activists Were Arrested Last Week in DC — Here’s Why

by Diana Best

September 21, 2016

No new leases, no new pipelines.

Keep it the Ground Rally at White House in Washington D.C.

Activists deliver more than 1 million petition signatures to the White House demanding that the Obama administration keep fossil fuels in the ground.

One year ago, a coalition of national environmental groups, grassroots movement-makers, frontline fighters, and Indigenous leaders from all over the country stood outside the White House asking President Obama to put an end to fossil fuel leasing on public lands and water.

At that time, we made a promise: we would be back and we would bring more people.

Last week, we fulfilled that promise, delivering more than 1 million petition signatures to President Obama outside the White House. Speakers from Alaska, Black Mesa, Paiute Nation, the Gulf South, Montana, and beyond shared stories from their communities and homes with a universal message — we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and we need action now.

Over the past year, this diverse community of keep it in the ground activists have protested every federal fossil fuel lease sale across the country. While we were successful in postponing or cancelling nine lease sales due to public pressure, more than a dozen fossil fuel auctions moved forward. The last of those — the first of the sales to move online in an attempt to stifle public participation — was yesterday.

Together, these sales have resulted in tens of thousands of acres of public land and waters being auctioned off to oil and gas companies. This is why we stood outside of the White House last week in solidarity with more than 1 million people to say “enough is enough.”

But we didn’t stop there. We made our way over to the Department of Interior and flooded the lobby, singing, chanting, praying, and sharing stories.

Even as police moved in to clear the area, 13 people took a seat on the floor, holding hands and singing “people going to rise like the water, we’re going calm this crisis down. I hear the voices of my great grand-daughters saying ‘keep it in the ground.’”

If you can imagine the scene, you can only imagine how powerful it felt standing in that lobby, hearing voices echoing through the marble halls.

From Standing Rock to the Gulf, Keep It in the Ground

The keep it in the ground movement is only growing — and we’re winning fights against fossil fuel exploitation all over this country, from the powerful leadership at Standing Rock to the Gulf and the North Slope of Alaska to the Southwest.

Thirteen people we arrested last week after occupying the Department of the Interior and demanding no new fossil fuel leases and no new infrastructure projects. These brave activists were willing to use their bodies and their voices to bring attention the problems with our federal fossil fuel program.

But we shouldn’t have to risk arrest to get our government to follow its own advice on climate change. Unfortunately, this is what it takes right now have our voices heard above the fossil fuel industry and its lobbyists. Luckily, we know we can be loud!

President Obama can stop these disastrous fossil fuel projects and honor his commit to act on climate in one simple move. Just as his administration did earlier this year when it imposed a moratorium on new coal mining, the president can use his executive power to put a stop to new drilling and fracking projects on our public land.

There is still time for him to make critical moves for the climate before he leaves office. Let’s make sure he does.

Sign now to tell President Obama to keep fossil fuels where the belong — in the ground.

Diana Best

By Diana Best

Diana Best is a senior climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace USA, based in Denver, Colorado. She began working with Greenpeace in 2008 on federal climate legislation and has since worked on reforming federal fossil fuel leasing programs and fighting new infrastructure projects around the United States. She is currently leading Greenpeace’s “Hold the Line” work aimed at halting the political and social influence of the oil industry during Trump’s administration.

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