Reno Rallies to Keep It in the Ground!

by Britten Cleveland

June 13, 2016

A wave of keep it in the ground activism has decision-makers taking notice and the fossil fuel industry rattled. Tomorrow we are keeping the pressure on in Nevada.

© Joe Mahoney / Greenpeace

Any serious plan to deal with climate change requires the Obama administration to limit the extraction of fossil fuels — immediately — and get serious about a just transition to renewable energy. Yet the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continues to auction off public lands to fossil fuel companies for drilling, fracking, and mining.

Some public land — land that belongs to you and me — is leased for as little as $2 an acre for fossil fuel exploitation and private profit.

If you’re mad about it, you’re not the only one.

Fossil Fuel Lobby: “Let’s end this circus. Let’s take the auctions online”

Calling the protests and the growing public pressure over what happens to public lands “a circus,” the fossil fuel industry is going on the defensive and calling on the government to take the auctions online. They’re even launching their own industry-led anti-Keep it in the Ground campaign.

Shutting out the public from the auctions doesn’t protect America’s magnificent public lands from the ravages of oil and gas extraction, it only protects the bottom line of an industry that is destroying the planet.

As more fossil fuel infrastructure encroaches on communities, destroys wildlife, and wreaks havoc on our already destabilized climate, people around the country are standing up and resisting.

In response, the  fossil fuel industry has tried effectively shut out the public from decisions about public lands, but that only emboldens us further.

“As long as extractive industries try to buy off our land, we’re going to be there to stop them.”

On Tuesday June 14 in Reno, Nevada, the Bureau of Land Management intends to auction off more than 74,000 acres in the Big Smokey Valley. The parcels were nominated for the BLM lease sale by a Texas real estate developer, with an eye towards fracking.  

In Nevada, water is precious — it is the lifeblood of farmers and ranchers across the state. Residents here are especially concerned with the lack of financial assurances and that cleanup of contaminated fracking sites could fall on the public.

AJ Buhay, Organizer with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN),a Nevada-based social justice advocacy organization, is leading the local effort to stop the transfer of public land for private profit.

“As long as extractive industries try to buy off our land, we’re going to be there to stop them. I want to see the environment survive for future generations whereas these fossil fuel companies just see the land as profit. Protecting public lands is not just a siloed environmental issue.

“It’s connected to racial justice and social justices, as well. We work with indigenous communities across Nevada who see the land as sacred– not something that is just there for profit. What they’ve done to the environment is radical and we need to match them in our fervor. People’s lives, homes, and communities are at stake.”

From the Gulf of Mexico to the Rocky Mountain West, the #KeepitintheGround Movement Is Growing Stronger

Frontline communities across the country, from New Orleans — to Colorado, to Utah — are rising up against the corrupt fossil fuel industry and saying enough is enough — business as usual cannot continue. Standing alongside and in support of communities, we are rallying together to stop these auctions. Our movement is using art, music, voices, and collective power to protect our communities, our lives, and our future.

On March 23 in the Gulf South, a #NoNewLeases Protest Takes Over New Orleans Superdome where the government was to quietly auction off 43 million acres of public lands and waters to oil and gas companies.

Last month in Colorado, activists blockaded the doors of hotel, disrupting a lease sale where thousands of acres of public lands were for auctioned off for fossil fuel profit. 

On May 17 in Salt Lake City, community activists refused to leave a BLM auction and had to be physically removed.

This is what you can expect when the public is effectively locked out of decision making on public lands. We are not going to sit idly by and watch oil and gas companies destroy the land and water we love and need to survive. We’re going to rise up. And we’re going to keep on coming.

Along with our movement allies, we can amplify and demonstrate the voices around the country demanding these changes, increase the cultural momentum to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and win lasting victories through the executive branch to keep fossil fuels in the ground for good. That is why tomorrow, I’m joining AJ and many other powerful community leaders from across Nevada to demand an end to this program.

Wherever you are, you can be sure there’s a dangerous fossil fuel project threatening your community. It’s going to take each one of us stepping up and taking action to protect our health and our future. Take action today!


Britten Cleveland

By Britten Cleveland

Britten is a Regional Organizer at Greenpeace USA. She works with activists across the country to end fossil fuel development on public lands and support a just transition to renewable energy.

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