155 More Arrested At White House On Tuesday As “People Vs. Fossil Fuels” Mobilization Continues

October 12, 2021 

The second day of protests highlights fossil fuel projects across the United States that President Biden could reject with a “stroke of the pen.”

A large interfaith delegation made up the bulk of those risking arrest, including Rabbi Arthur Waskow, who celebrated his 89th birthday by committing civil disobedience 

Photos from today’s protests | Video from the week

Washington, D.C. — Anti-fossil fuel protests intensified at the White House on Tuesday as over  150 more people were arrested as part of the People vs. Fossil Fuels mobilization, a week of protests and civil disobedience that is pressing President Biden to declare a climate emergency and stop all new fossil fuel projects.

The second day of “People vs. Fossil Fuels” united fossil fuel fights from across the United States, from the struggle to stop petrochemical and LNG export facilities in the Gulf to efforts to stop oil and gas drilling on Native lands in Alaska. 

“With the power of a pen, President Biden could stop these pipeline projects. He promised he would listen to us. He’s not listening. We’re coming every day of this week to tell Biden: stop this madness,” said Joye Braun of the Indigenous Environmental Network, one of the organizations leading the week of protests. 

Many of the speakers at today’s rally talked about the work they’re doing in their communities to resist major fossil fuel projects, like the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a 303-mile fracked gas pipeline whose proposed route stretches across Appalachia. 

“We have been organizing against the Mountain Valley Pipeline since 2014 and we will continue to resist that project until it is defeated,” said Russell Chisholm, Coordinator, Mountain Valley Watch, and Co-Chair, Protect Our Water Heritage Rights, who spoke at today’s rally. “Not just to protect our water, not just to protect that tiny spring that feeds my home, but to protect our brothers and sisters who live along the Gulf Coast, who live with the climate induced catastrophes all the way back to Katrina.”

“We are not seasoned activists, but we are community members forced to take action by the impact of living with oil and gas,” said Kayley Shoup, a community organizer with Citizens Caring for the Future, a grassroots group in Southwest, New Mexico that’s working to stop oil and gas drilling on public lands. “So today, we are calling on President Biden to put a ban on federal oil and gas leasing. There is not one air monitor on the New Mexico side of the Permian that tracks methane or health-harming VOC emissions. How can President Biden fulfill his promise  to slash methane emissions by at least 50% by 2030 if we aren’t even monitoring these emissions? How can we meet the goals of the Paris Climate Accord if the federal government continues in the business of fossil fuels?” 

“People are dying right now from the pollutants, the toxins, the climate catastrophes that are happening, and we have to stop the harm,” said Siqiñiq Maupin, the director of Sovereign Inupiat for a Living Arctic, which is working to protect Indigenous lands and stop oil drilling in Alaska. “Biden’s election was riding on climate change, his entire election on people of color, Indigenous people. But when it really comes to when it matters, our lives are still being sacrificed for oil and gas.”

Stopping these fossil fuel projects will be essential if the Biden Administration aims to meet its climate goals

A new report from Oil Change International released today shows that if the Biden Administration moves ahead with 21 major fossil fuel infrastructure projects that are currently under federal review, it would be the emissions equivalent of adding 316 new coal fired power plants, more than are currently operating in the United States. The total emissions from just these projects would represent 17% of total US greenhouse gas emissions in 2019.  

“We urge the Biden administration to course-correct,” said Kyle Gracey, Research Analyst at Oil Change International. “Other nations are looking closely at the U.S. and President Biden, who will set the tone for how we address this crisis as a global community. Building new fossil fuel infrastructure and increasing U.S. emissions at a time when we must persuade other countries to reduce their use of fossil fuels sends the wrong signal to every nation. As alarming as these projected emissions are, the silver lining is that President Biden has the authority and opportunity to stop these projects.” 

The day’s protests also saw a large interfaith contingent, with Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu and other people of faith standing in solidarity with Indigenous allies to demand action on fossil fuels. 

Included among those arrested was long-time social and environmental justice advocate, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, who celebrated his 89th birthday today by engaging in civil disobedience at the White House. “It feels wonderful to be here. This is what Torah looks like,” he said. 

“I’m here because the earth is a sacred gift and fossil fuels are absolutely destroying it,” said Rev. Fletcher Harper, an Episocapl priest and the executive director of GreenFaith, a national interfaith environmental coalition. “We need President Biden to do what has been clearly right for 30 years and that’s to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure and invest in climate solutions for frontline communities. People of faith are increasingly impatient with the lack of moral leadership and the equivocation that the administration is showing.” 

“I’m here at the White House to respond to the call of Indigenous leaders with faith leaders from all over the country to put our bodies on the line to tell President Biden that we must stop drilling for fossil fuels,” Rabbi Jennie Rosenn is the Founder & CEO of Dayenu, a new organization mobilizing the American Jewish community to confront the climate crisis. “This is the moral call of our time if we have any chance of building a just and sustainable future for all people for all generations to come, now is the time. The future of humanity is at stake and if there was ever a time to stretch beyond our comfort zone, now is the time.”

“I’m here today for my grandchildren and future generations. I’m here today because it is a moral imperative in Islam’s teachings to care for Mother Earth and Mother Earth is being ravaged and destroyed by the pipelines that are extracting the energies from hell,” said Imam Saffet Catovic, a long-time US Muslim Community Organizer/Activist and Environmental Leader. “We’re in a climate emergency and it is high time that this administration honor its campaign and post-campaign promises to put an end to the fossil fuel industry as we know it and allow for us to truly build back better.” 

Later this afternoon, leaders of the fight against the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota will deliver over 1 million petition signatures to the Army Corps of Engineers calling on the agency to shut down the project until they have done a proper Environmental Impact Statement for the pipeline, something they so far have failed to complete. 

Tomorrow, Wednesday, People Vs. Fossil Fuels will return to the White House for another day of protests and civil disobedience. The day will focus on lifting up voices from communities who have been hard hit by the climate disasters that are fueled by fossil fuels. Thursday will see more protests at the White House and then on Friday, demonstrators will march to Congress under a banner that reads “We didn’t vote for fossil fuels.” 

“This is President Biden’s moment to keep his word, and he needs to remind those that work for him, his staffers: keep your word. This is a moment to fully, truly, wholly invest environmental justice into the operations of our federal government. This is a moment to take the advice of the 27 environmental justice leaders that you put on an advisory panel. This is your moment, President Biden, to be the man of faith that you declare you are,” said Dana Johnson, Senior Director of Strategy and Federal Policy Office at WE ACT for Environmental Justice.