Pages tagged "directaction"


Breaking: Global Day of Action Underway!

GDoA_chicagoWe’re winning. Because of you, PepsiCo is reeling. Over 300,000 of you have demanded PepsiCo cut Conflict Palm Oil from its products.

Today, our Global Day of Action to Cut Conflict Palm Oil is sweeping the world, ratcheting up the pressure for PepsiCo to break its ties to deforestation, human rights abuses and climate pollution. A moment ago, RAN unfurled a massive 60 foot banner exposing the impacts of Conflict Palm Oil at the Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago.

From the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia to cities across Australia and the UK, to the beaches of San Francisco and Brazil, students, families and ordinary people have organized themselves in droves today to send a clear and united message to PepsiCo and its peers: the time to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from your products is now.

PepsiCo is scrambling—the fact that the snack food giant released a new palm oil commitment just a few days ago is evidence of this. But, it’s not strong enough and lacks safeguards on human rights and a binding, time bound action plan to cut Conflict Palm Oil. NOW is the time to give PepsiCo the final push for real change for forests and the communities that depend on them.  We have PepsiCo's attention.

Now here's how we win:

1. Let’s take over Pepsi’s Facebook page. Cut and paste this message as a comment: #PepsiCo, cut Conflict Palm Oil! The power is #InYourPalm. http://a.ran.org/ad

2. Let’s make our voice heard on Twitter: Hey @PepsiCo, I can’t stand by brands that use Conflict #PalmOil. The power is #InYourPalm

3. Let’s talk to the people who represent PepsiCo: (+1)(914) 253-2000 Here is a guide to what you can say: “Hi, my name is [your name]. I’m taking part in the Global Day of Action. It concerns me that your company cannot guarantee that it is not using Conflict Palm Oil in its products. PepsiCo must demand responsible palm oil from its suppliers and eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its products. PepsiCo’s taken a step in the right direction by releasing a new palm oil commitment, but a statement of intent is not the same as a binding, time bound responsible palm oil policy. For PepsiCo to meet consumer expectations, it must adopt an action plan to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its products that includes full traceability of palm oil back to its source and independently verified safeguards for human rights, forests and peatlands.Thank you” 

Because of YOU we have built a movement to cut Conflict Palm Oil from our food supply. We're just getting warmed up—thanks for being a part of this. 


Divestment Movement Escalates

This week, the national fossil fuel divestment movement escalated, as student blockades popped up at Harvard and Washington University in St. Louis. By the end of the week, 8 students had been arrested across the two campuses, the first arrests since the fossil fuel divestment campaign launched nearly two years ago.

Harvard 1The skirmish at Harvard touched off Wednesday, where students organized as Divest Harvard have been pushing the university to get rid of  the oil, gas, and coal holdings in its $33 billion endowment. Harvard’s president, Drew Faust, has dug in against Divest Harvard’s demands, even denying that the fossil fuel industry is blocking meaningful action to address climate change.  Facing an administration that refuses to distance itself from the fossil fuel corporations driving climate crisis, Divest Harvard launched a blockade of President Faust’s office that lasted more than 24 hours. On Thursday morning, Harvard University police arrested undergraduate Brett Roche -- the first arrest in the national divestment movement. Roche’s arrest marks an increasingly hardline response from Harvard’s administrators, as the university demonstrates a willingness to use police force to defend investment in fossil fuel corporations.

Brett Roche may have been the first divestment activist arrested on campus this week, but he certainly wasn’t the last. This morning, Washington University in St. Louis joined Harvard in infamy: seven students were arrested as they attempted to deliver a letter to the university’s board of trustees. Just days before, WashU Students Against Peabody ended a historic 17-day sit-in which demanded that Greg Boyce, notorious CEO of Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private coal company, be removed from the university’s board. During negotiations, Washington University chancellor Mark Wrighton flatly refused to respond to students demands. When asked to exercise leadership, he replied “I can, but I won’t.” Faced with an administration content to cozy up to fossil fuel interests, more than 100 students staged a peaceful sat-in outside Washington University’s board meeting under the watchful eyes of police, some of whom carried shields and riot gear. When a delegation of students attempted to enter the building to deliver a letter to Washington University’s board, they were arrested. All seven were charged with trespassing on their own campus.

wustlThe implications of this week of action are both scary and heartening. Novelist Margaret Atwood spoke to the scary, criticizing the administration's response as she received an award at Harvard yesterday: “Any society where arrest is preferable to open dialogue is a scary place.” Indeed, university administrators at both Harvard and Washington University appear to be so committed to the fossil fuel industry that they'll arrest their own students for speaking out.

On the hopeful side, the student divestment movement is finding its power. After two years of power-building and by-the-book advocacy, campus climate activists are proving that they have the courage to stand up to their administrators and the fossil fuel industry. Earlier in the school year, students at Harvard, Washington University, and dozens of other campuses worked with Rainforest Action Network to disrupt campus recruitment sessions organized by Bank of America and Citi, two of the largest financiers of the U.S. coal industry. Those actions, and the arrests this week, point to a rising tide of resistance that won’t be cowed by police response. A longer, deeper struggle is opening on campuses across the country, and administrators at the more than 300 universities with active divestment campaigns need to know that their chickens are coming home to roost. It's time to divest or expect resistance.

To support the Washington University in St. Louis students arrested this morning, call Chancellor Mark Wrighton at (314) 935-5100.

Tell him universities are for students, not for coal CEOs. Washington University needs to drop Peabody Energy so the school can get back to educating students, not arresting them.


Why We Are Blocking the Office of Harvard's President

Co-authored by Sima Atri, Benjamin Franta, Sidni Frederick, Ted Hamilton, Jacob Lipton, Chloe Maxmin, Brett Roche, Kelsey Skaggs, Henney Sullivan, Tyler VanValkenburg, Jacob Lipton, Zoë Onion, Olivia Kivel, and Canyon Woodward on behalf of Divest Harvard. This op-ed originally appeared on Stacy Clark's blog on Huffington Post.

This morning we began blocking the main entrance to Massachusetts Hall, which houses the office of Harvard University President Drew Faust and other top administrators. We are here to demand an open and transparent dialogue with the Harvard Corporation—Harvard's main governing body—on fossil fuel divestment. To date, President Faust and Harvard University have rejected the case for divestment and refused to engage in public dialogue about divestment and climate change. Alongside the 72% of Harvard undergraduates and 67% of Harvard Law students, as well as the students, faculty, and alumni of Divest Harvard, we refuse to accept our university's unwillingness to hold a public meeting on this critical issue. Photo by @DivestHarvard on Twitter.

We are here today because we believe in a better Harvard. We are here because it is our duty to act. We are here today because it is our moral responsibility as students to ensure that Harvard does not contribute to and profit from the problem but instead aligns its institutional actions and policies with the shared interests of society.

We take this action with the conviction that Harvard can, must, and will be a leader in responding to the climate crisis. We owe it to the world's less fortunate and future generations to lead the way to a livable planet.

Human-made climate change is already severely disrupting weather patterns and causing misery to those most vulnerable to the effects of droughtflooding, and famine. Despite the universal acknowledgment by scientists and world governments that drastic action is needed to address this problem, we continue to extract and burn carbon energy sources at an accelerating rate.

Unless we act swiftly to restructure our economy and to end our consumption of fossil fuels, the planet faces catastrophic disturbances in the very near future. The latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which warns that we have less than 15 years to overhaul our energy economy, is the latest recognition that the time for bold and courageous action is upon us.

Harvard enjoys a privileged position. It is a global leader in research, thought, and policy, and its alumni, faculty, and administrators enjoy tremendous influence over our economy and political culture. Harvard has the moral authority to break the stranglehold of passivity when our governments are unable or unwilling to address climate change's impending menace. And even if Harvard were not a prominent institution, the moral imperative still exists to stop profiting from damage done to others. The fact that Harvard chooses to calculate profit from corporate activities that push damages onto others—including ourselves and our children—is intolerable, ultimately unsustainable, and must stop.

Harvard's divestment from the fossil fuel industry will accomplish two important goals. First, it will allow Harvard to retain the moral integrity of an institution purporting to care about a livable future. Today the Harvard community profits from fossil fuel investments because the true costs of oil, coal, and gas are borne by other communities. Communities close to extraction sites are being robbed of their health and communities on the frontlines of climate disasters are being robbed of their lives and cultures. Younger generations, including Harvard's own students, are being robbed of a chance at a livable future. It is unconscionable and illogical for us to continue supporting an industry that violates basic human values and the fundamental purpose of our own institution.

Second, divestment will send a strong message that our society can no longer tolerate business as usual with the fossil fuel industry. The corrupt political practices and shameful climate denial peddled by gas, oil, and coal companies have stood in the way of proactive energy policies for far too long. Harvard's wealth and influence bring with them a special responsibility to act, and this is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss.

As the university demonstrated when it divested from tobacco and partially divested from Apartheid, Harvard's endowment can be put into alignment with shared values. We are not asking our university to inject politics into its finances: we are asking it to stop sponsoring and profiting from climate change. By investing in fossil fuel companies, Harvard itself is responsible for their behavior. President Faust's recent announcement that Harvard will sign onto the non-binding Principles for Responsible Investment and the Carbon Disclosure Project implicitly recognizes that the university cannot ignore its social responsibility when it comes to its investments and climate change.

As over one hundred Harvard faculty argued in their letter to President Faust earlier this month, it is far too late for business as usual and statements to continue that do not commit the university to action. The governing Corporation's refusal to hold an open meeting on the issue of divestment—as well as the President's recent denial that fossil fuel companies prevent political action on global warming and a Corporation member's suggestion that Harvard students thank BP for its energy practices—betray a disconcerting lack of understanding and urgency with respect to the impending risk of climate disaster.

We stand in solidarity with students and activists around the world who are raising their voices to demand that our institutions and leaders reject the carbon economy and begin aggressive action toward a greener future. We welcome members of the Harvard community and the public to our peaceful gathering in front of Massachusetts Hall. And we invite President Faust and the Harvard Corporation to join us in an open and transparent meeting to discuss the divestment of Harvard's endowment from the fossil fuel industry.

The world, and Harvard as part of it, cannot wait any longer.


Guest Blog: Rudi Putra, Winner of the 2014 Goldman Prize for Forest Protection in Indonesia

The Sumatran Rhino is one of the most endangered species on our planet.The message below comes to you from Rudi Putra, a longtime ally and hero of RAN’s and winner of the 2014 Goldman Environmental Prize—the world’s most prestigious award for grassroots environmental activism.

My name is Rudi and I feel like the luckiest person alive. I grew up in a place teeming with wild orangutans, elephants, tigers, sunbears and Sumatran rhinos. My family and I lived in balance with the mountains, forests and rivers surrounding us. From an early age, I knew I had to take care of the beauty that surrounded me. But as huge multi-national companies expand their reach and palm plantations spread, I know that I can't protect these pristine places alone.

That’s why I’m asking you to join me in telling PepsiCo to eliminate the Conflict Palm Oil from its products.

I have worked much of my life to protect the 6.4 million acres of prime tropical rainforests in the Leuser Ecosystem. I fell in love with the Sumatran rhino, the smallest and the most critically endangered rhino of all—and have spent years tracking, researching and protecting these special creatures from poachers. I have left my home in Indonesia to come to yours to deliver a very important message.

I need your help to protect the last rhinos and rainforests of Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem from Conflict Palm Oil.

I have witnessed vast areas of forests destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations, forests I knew were the homes of endangered species. I’ve removed traps from the forest corridors used by the last Sumatran elephants and tigers. I have even found animals poisoned, speared, and burned alive by poachers and plantation workers. And still, the plantations keep growing across Aceh, always feeding the demand for Conflict Palm Oil.

It must stop. We must protect the world's rainforests. We must stop powerful and wealthy international corporations from exploiting and destroying irreplaceable Indonesian ecosystems for profit. My community and I work tirelessly to shut down and destroy illegal palm oil plantations inside the federally protected Leuser Ecosystem, using chainsaws and uprooting illegal oil palms. We do this to protect our families from the floods that result from the destruction of the forests on the hillsides that surround our homes. But we can not do this alone. We need your help.

It is with great honor that I am here in the US and receiving the Goldman Prize. But it is an even greater honor to know that YOU will stand with me and hold PepsiCo to account for the impact of its products.

For the rhino’s and our life,

Rudi Putra

RAN supported Rudi’s work with a small grant through our Protect-an-Acre program, which funds projects led by Indigenous and frontline communities around the world fighting to protect millions of acres of forest and keep millions of tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere, while defending their right to self-determination.


Decentralized Actions Ready to Stop Keystone XL

The campaign to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has become a watershed moment in confronting climate change and fossil fuel extraction. So far, more than 94,000 people have signed the Pledge of Resistance, committing to risk arrest, if necessary, to stop the approval of Keystone XL. Since last summer, I’ve been part of RAN’s Pledge training team. We have trained courageous folks from coast to coast to take leadership on more than 100 civil disobedience actions to show President Obama that if he signals he will approve Keystone XL, we’ll reject the pipeline with the largest wave of climate-related civil disobedience in our nation’s history. [caption id="attachment_23646" align="alignnone" width="525"]Keystone XL Protest in Boston. Photo by Kayana Szymczak. Photo by Kayana Szymczak.[/caption] Tens of thousands of activists have pledged to join these actions and risk arrest across the country with peaceful sit-ins at State Dept. offices, federal buildings, corporate offices and other Keystone-related targets in a last-ditch effort to convince President Obama not to approve Keystone XL. We expect Obama’s decision in just a few, short months. The Keystone XL pipeline has energized the environmental movement like never before. The Pledge of Resistance has already trained thousands of activists and built an extensive network to support powerful decentralized actions. We’re engaged and ready for a fierce fight. Now is the time for you to take a stand with us and let your voice be heard. Now is the time to sign the Keystone Pledge of Resistance.

Why Washington University in St. Louis Should Ditch Peabody Coal

This article first appeared in Washington University in St. Louis' Student Life on April 10, 2014.  On April 30, the UN’s International Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the best available scientific report on global warming and the likely consequences of continued carbon pollution. Based on 12,000 peer-reviewed studies, the IPCC’s report describes a terrifying future where dramatic climatic warming brings about “breakdown of food systems,” severe shortages in drinking and irrigation water, massive flooding, and social violence. Most importantly, the IPCC’s report stressed that decisions being made now will have a massive impact on the severity of climate change’s impacts. Without immediate and dramatic action to curb emissions, the report warns, the harms of global warming could spiral “out of control,” past the point where human action could avert catastrophe.  In order to prevent such a scenario, the top UN climate official warned, “three quarters of the fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground.” washUoccupation Greg Boyce, a member the board at Washington University in St. Louis, disagrees with the global scientific community; he thinks what the world needs to burn much, much more coal. As CEO of Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private coal company, Boyce may have the largest carbon footprint of any living private citizen (coal-fired power is the single largest source of global climate changing emissions). According to Boyce, climate change isn’t a problem. “For too long,” says Boyce, “we’ve been focused on the wrong priorities…the greatest crisis we confront is not an environmental crisis.”  Instead, Peabody Energy has determined that inadequate access to energy is "the world's number one human and environmental crisis," and Boyce has hired the world’s largest PR company to cast Peabody Energy as a kind of international aid organization that trots around the globe benevolently building coal plants for the world’s poor (according to the Guardian, Peabody’s PR consultant is infamous for serving “governments with poor human rights records and corporations in trouble;” its former clients include the tobacco industry.) We are asked to presume that Peabody’s huge advertising budget reflects primarily Boyce’s zeal for serving the global poor and ignore the fact that a “more coal ASAP” policy is enormously for Peabody. Never mind that, according to the IPCC, building more coal infrastructure will cook the planet, create new “hotspots” of poverty and hunger, and increase the gaps between rich and poor. Boyce and his mouthpieces, like Washington University’s Chancellor Mark Wrighton, are hoping that we will choke down their inevitability argument about global coal expansion if they slather it with phony smarm about caring for vulnerable populations (you should be able to watch Wrighton recite his lines this week). Do you really believe that Greg Boyce’s coal expansion dreams are motivated by empathy instead of a desire to lock in profitable coal infrastructure before carbon regulations set in? Speaking of carbon regulations, Greg Boyce and Peabody Energy are explicitly against them. On Peabody’s website, you can find a toolkit replete with anti-EPA talking points alleging that carbon regulations will have “no impact” on climate change and brilliantly observing that that U.S. coal contributes “only a fraction” of global emissions (in 2010, coal-fired power contributed 28.3% of U.S. carbon emissions in a country with the highest per-capita carbon totals). Under Greg Boyce, Peabody is not only pushing for suicidal investments in new coal infrastructure, the company is actively campaigning against any government action that would begin to constrain carbon pollution. Shamefully, Boyce has been able to purchase Washington University’s academic integrity in order to advance his deadly farce. For $5 million from Peabody Energy (with matching grants from Arch Coal and Ameren), Washington University has been willing to lend its academic credibility to the misleading advertising slogan “clean coal,” a misnomer for carbon capture and sequestration technologies that don’t exist. In a September 2013 press release, Peabody Energy obliquely referred to Washington University’s research into carbon capture technology as a justification for opposing common-sense carbon regulations. Peabody Energy argued coal’s carbon emissions should not be regulated until pie-in-the-sky carbon capture technologies are available, even while admitting that these options are “simply not commercially available and not able to satisfy America's need.” With this cynical ploy, Greg Boyce’s exploitation of our university reached a new, shameful low. Simply put, Peabody Energy is a rogue corporation bent on undermining science, damaging the climate past the point of no return, and blocking meaningful action that could avert climate catastrophe. Maintaining Gregory Boyce as a member of the University’s board is beyond the pale, and continuing to associate with Peabody Energy is unconscionable for Washington University. Clearly, Peabody Energy is beyond reform, but Washington University in St. Louis may not be. Boyce has only been member of our board since 2009 (back when Peabody successfully conspired to defeat an early climate bill). Students at the Brookings sit-in understand that their action won’t solve climate change, but they are telling the truth: Greg Boyce is undeserving of reward or recognition for his criminal behavior. Through their action, students are taking a stand against what amounts to a university-sanctioned war on ecology and society by Greg Boyce and Peabody Energy. The students have drawn a bright moral line, which means neutrality is no longer an option at Washington University. Do you stand with the students, or with the CEO of Peabody Energy, Greg Boyce?

Resisting Exxon and Peabody's Dark Age

Forget the reign of Tywin Lannister and his bloodthirsty brood of children, grandchildren and henchmen raping and pillaging their way through the fantastical land of Westeros while hapless Starks are beheaded and scattered to the winds. Our own world’s fate is similarly imperiled by the fossil fuel empire's own game of thrones, power and profit at the expense of the "smallfolk," eco-systems and the climate itself. The Lannisters have nothing on Rex Tillerson and Greg Boyce. These dark lords of the carbon economy are raping and pillaging their way through our planet’s vital life systems and climate. Companies like Exxon and Peabody Coal have created a dark age that has been marked by the extraction, transportation and combustion of oil, coal and natural gas. The Lannisters may have dropped “the big one” on Catelyn Stark, Robb Stark and Robb’s beloved dire wolf Grey Wind at the Red Wedding, but Big Oil and Big Coal perpetrate the slaughter of a thousand Red Weddings every day. three kings Examples include:
  •  Coal Mining. For over forty years, coal companies have strip-mined Appalachia for the last remaining seams of coal while ending the power of organized labor by reducing workforces through mechanization. The regulation of strip-mining opened up loopholes that allowed coal companies to literally explode the tops off of mountains. To date over 500 mountains have been destroyed by mountaintop removal. Countless creeks, rivers and other water sources have been poisoned. And thousands of people have been exposed to the worst effects of dirty air and dirty water from mountaintop removal. In the interior west, Big Coal is further mining huge coal reserves in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming.
  •  Natural gas and fracking. For the past decade we've seen the proliferation of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking), which stimulates wells drilled into gas and coal-bed methane. This process has had a huge human impact and created a toxic legacy on the environmental landscape as well as local community health. Large-scale fracking operations are spreading across North America.
  •  Oil infrastructure. The biggest environmental fight since the forest wars of the 1990s has manifested around the Keystone XL pipeline. But Keystone XL is only the beginning as Big Oil is building a network of pipelines throughout Canada and the United States. Spills and leaks are growing concerns as Big Oil weaves this spider web of death and destruction across the continent.
  •  Fossil fuel exports. The coasts are also becoming hot spots of attention as dozens of oil, gas and coal proposals are on the table in the Pacific Northwest and a fight is growing over a fracked-gas export terminal on Chesapeake Bay. Industry doesn’t just want to use mined and fracked fossil fuels for domestic energy production, they also want to export dirty fuels for big profits to Europe and Asia.
Finally, top scientists with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC) released the mother of all climate reports. It included dire warnings around drought, famine, social unrest and melting icebergs. While the House of Lannister’s wars may have left Westeros in a shambles, the Houses of Exxon and Peabody, with the compliance of craven politicians, are leaving our world in a world of shit. [caption id="attachment_23623" align="alignright" width="300"]robb Robb Stark and Grey Wind[/caption] But don’t despair! As Jon Snow and Arya Stark are discovering in “Game of Thrones,” direct action is the antidote to the gloom and doom crushing down on us. People realizing the true weight of fossil fuel extraction’s impact on the climate, the land and communities have become a thousand flowers blooming new resistance from Alaska to Appalachia. In our world, bold and effective organizing replaces sword play and barrels of wildfire to fight back against the dark lords of the fossil fuel economy. In 2012, an alliance of climate activists and Texas landowners launched the Tar Sands Blockade, which organized a number of daring actions up and down the route of the southern leg of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. This included an 80-day tree blockade that stood directly in the path of pipeline construction. Tar Sand Blockade activists faced brutal police violence, felony charges for non-violent actions and civil suits from TransCanada. In 2013, the Michigan Coalition against Tar Sands, or MICATS, organized similar actions against Enbridge pipeline and tar sands processing operations in Detroit. Three of the MICATS spent over a month in jail while awaiting sentencing. And things aren’t slowing down in 2014. The heartland and both coasts are fighting back against the robber barons of coal, oil and gas. In southern Illinois and St. Louis, Peabody Coal is feeling the heat. Not only has a ballot initiative trying to get a $60 million tax break in the city of St. Louis revoked been putting pressure on Peabody, but students at Washington University at St. Louis have begun a sustained occupation of their campus calling for Peabody CEO Greg Boyce to be removed from the Board of Trustees.  At coal mines in the Shawnee Hills in southern Illinois, a community has begun fighting back against Peabody’s pillaging of the land. In South Dakota, native bands are establishing camps along the route of the northern leg of Keystone XL. To date, at least three camps have been established. Lakota leaders have vowed that TransCanada will only build that pipeline if they are “dead or in prison.” In the Marcellus Shale, Earth Firsters have joined with local farmers and landowners in campaigns against natural gas extraction. In the west, Rising Tide activists in Oregon, Idaho and Montana are supporting Indigenous allies and local communities against the tar sands megaloads. The megaloads are house-sized shipments of tar sands refining equipment bound for Alberta. Finally, the growing fight against a proposed fracked-gas export terminal on the Chesapeake Bay, aka Cove Point, has started waves of grassroots organizing and civil disobedience to prevent its construction. Potentially a huge fight led by local communities, small environmental organizations and grassroots direct action groups, Cove Point is a choke point for overseas natural gas exports. Closing it down could have huge impacts on the viability of gas markets domestically and abroad. More fights are brewing this year against fossil fuel terminals in the Pacific Northwest, against the Energy East tar sands pipeline in eastern Canada and New England, against continued mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia and against the final decision of the Keystone XL pipeline. Like the heroes and heroines of Game of Thrones, we’ve got our work cut out for us.

Why We're Sitting in at WashU (And We're Not Leaving)

By Caroline Burney, Senior at Washington University. Crossposted from We Are Powershift. I’ve learned many things in my four years at Washington University in St. Louis--not all of them in the classroom. For example, before I became a student at Wash U, I had never heard of Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector coal corporation. In St. Louis, Peabody ingratiates itself to the local community by posing as a benefactor of the arts, charitable corporate ‘citizen,’ and hero tackling “energy poverty.” It all sounds pretty good until you realize that Peabody Energy is the world’s largest private sector coal corporation whose business model propagates climate change and destroys communities. Peabody’s list of crimes is a veritable laundry list of social and environmental injustices: the destruction of mountains in West Virginia, the forced relocation of Navajo and Hopi Indian tribes in Black Mesa, Arizona, being a major supporter of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which have been strong advocates of controversial legislation like “Stand Your Ground” laws, the destruction of Rocky Branch, Illinois through aggressive mining and logging, and the distortion of democracy here in St. Louis by striking down a city-wide ballot initiative. [caption id="attachment_23613" align="alignnone" width="500"]First night of sit-in demanding Washington University cut ties with Peabody Energy First night of sit-in demanding Washington University cut ties with Peabody Energy.[/caption] Peabody CEO Greg Boyce also holds one more distinction: member of the Washington University Board of Trustees. Since Boyce was placed on the board in 2009, students have been actively organizing against Peabody Energy’s presence on campus. We have demanded that Boyce be removed from the Board of Trustees and that the University change the name of the “Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization,” a research entity to which Peabody and Arch Coal donated $5,000,000. We have met with the Chancellor -- multiple times. We have dropped banners at coal events, peacefully disrupted speeches by Greg Boyce on campus, marched through campus and taken our demands to Peabody’s headquarters. We have protested with residents from Black Mesa, collected signatures for the Take Back St. Louis ballot initiative and rallied with the United Mine Workers in their fight against Peabody. But, five years later, Boyce is still on the board, the name of the Clean Coal Consortium remains unchanged, and Chancellor Wrighton continues to stand behind Peabody Energy. Indeed, just this week he emailed us saying, “your opinion that peabody energy behaves in an ‘irresponsible and unjust manner’ is not one that I share.” The Administration has successfully used a “deny by delay” process by holding town hall meetings and developing task forces around renewable energy and energy efficiency while ignoring the role that coal plays on the campus. Thus, like many campus divestment campaigns across the country, we are at a crossroads. We’ve decided that it’s time to escalate to let Chancellor Wrighton and Greg Boyce know that we’re running out of time and we’re not going to back down. We are engaging in a sit-in of our admissions office to tell Chancellor Wrighton that our university can no longer legitimize destructive fossil fuel corporations. By having Greg Boyce on the Board of Trustees and hosting the “Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization,” the University is propagating the lie that coal is clean. But people who live in the communities where Peabody mines, including Black Mesa and Rocky Branch, know that coal is never clean. Escalating on campus is scary. We know it is going to be divisive. We know our Chancellor fundamentally disagrees with us. But not escalating is even scarier. Not escalating means Peabody continues to destroy communities and our climate. And that’s a risk we cannot take. Let Wash U know that you stand with us by signing our petition here.

The Keystone XL Resistance Training Tour Returns

We’re not sitting idly, waiting for President Obama to decide whether to approve or reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. This weekend, more than 300 people are expected to turn out to build the network of tens of thousands of pipeline resisters—people ready to stage non-violent civil disobedience actions in their home towns to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and the disastrous effects of more tar sands development. RAN’s crew of all star trainers are lined up to host the two day workshops in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Austin this weekend, and will carry on next weekend in Ann Arbor, DC, Los Angeles and New York City. If your interested, its not too late to sign up and get trained! [caption id="attachment_23582" align="alignnone" width="500"]A previous Pledge of Resistance training in Portland, OR. A previous Pledge of Resistance training in Portland, OR.[/caption] People who attend will walk away with all the tools they need -- including a robust support structure of coaches and media support -- to coordinate protests with our Pledge of Resistance network. They’ll then go out and train thousands of others prepared to risk arrest to stop Keystone XL. Already 100 direct actions are planned across the country, forming a wave of civil disobedience actions to make clear to President Obama that the American people do not want this tar sands pipeline and will do whatever it takes to stop it. We are standing on a climate precipice with the looming decision on the Keystone XL that’s edging toward the President’s desk. What we know for sure is that whether or not we are victorious in stopping the approval of the northern leg of this pipeline—the missing link for big oil to expand Alberta oil sands extraction—this is the right fight. And with nearly 100,000 people committed to risk arrest if necessary in cities and towns across the country, the climate movement is spreading it’s wings.

Blockade: Fighting strip mine expansion Rocky Branch, Illinois

This post is by activist Jeff Lucas.  Residents of Illinois' Rocky Branch community halt Peabody strip mine expansion for three hours with a road blockade.  321 miles south of Chicago sits Rocky Branch, a community tucked into the Shawnee Hills. Roughly 1 mile north of Rocky Branch is the Cottage Grove strip mine. Peabody has been applying for permits to expand this mine for over a year. Right from the start residents who were fed up with the blasting, coal dust, trucks, and polluted well water organized and started challenging the mine expansion with petitions, packing EPA and Department of Natural Resources hearings, appealing to state government, and collecting over 5,300 signatures from Illinois residents calling on Attorney General Lisa Madigan to investigate the permits for the mine expansion. If Peabody is granted the permit, the mine will turn Rocky Branch Road into a haul road for coal trucks, devastate 1,019 acres of forest and farm land on the edge of Shawnee National Forest, and come as close as 300 feet to the homes of residents who are refusing to sell their property to Peabody. DSC_1946-SDSC_1965-SEarly in March Peabody started clear cutting the forest surrounding the community in preparation to expand the coal mine without proper permits. At 11 a.m. on Thursday March 13th, logging equipment exceeding the roads 10 ton weight limit being hauled on flat bed trucks was halted by a hand full of Rocky Branch residents and Southern Illinoisians. Locals using only their bodies and a line of caution tape stopped the logging operation for 3 hours while peabody haulers unloaded their equipment on the side of the road and state police attempted to verify the hauling and logging permits. No arrests were made. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources approved Peabody's mining permit last week. Two water permits that are pending with the Illinois EPA are now the only thing keeping the strip mine from breaking ground. Residents of Rocky Branch and Southern Illinois are calling on Attorney General Lisa Madigan to investigate the water permits. If the investigation proves that the mine will pollute local water ways, the expansion will not go through. Going up against the largest coal company in the country, we have a long hard fight ahead of us. To follow and support or work please join The Shawnee Hills and Hollers Facebook group. Big things are in the works and we need your support. Join here: http://tinyurl.com/Rockybranch

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