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'Resistance Is Courage': Author and Climate Warrior Offers Thoughts on Struggle Ahead

Terry Tempest Williams resists Obama administration's "antiquated approach to fossil fuels," while surveying the fight to come

"This river, this mourning, this moment —May we be brave enough to feel it deeply, and act," wrote Terry Tempest Williams following the election of Donald Trump. (Image: Robert Shetterly/ "American's Who Tell the Truth" series)

"This river, this mourning, this moment —May we be brave enough to feel it deeply, and act," wrote Terry Tempest Williams following the election of Donald Trump. (Image: Robert Shetterly/ "American's Who Tell the Truth" series)

Like many environmentalists grappling with the implications of a Donald Trump presidency, Terry Tempest Williams said she is in "mourning."

But on Thursday, as she and her husband, Brooke Williams, re-asserted their right to preserve federal land won at auction, the acclaimed author and conservationist offered this message of encouragement for the future: "Resistance is our courage."

The Williamses are appealing (pdf) a decision by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which last month revoked oil and gas drilling leases that the couple had purchased at a public land auction in February. The government rejected their claim because the Tempest Exploration Company had "no intention of developing the two leases."

According to the Western Environmental Law Center, which is representing Tempest Exploration, Terry and Brooke "were forthright about their intent to consider developing the leases when science supports sustainable use of the oil and gas, accounting for the costs of climate change to future generations." 

"This case shines a light on BLM's fidelity to the oil and gas industry," Williams said Thursday, "while willfully ignoring the urgency—in an era of climate change—of more enlightened management of the public lands that belong to the American people."

But while Williams is waging a public battle against the Obama administration's "misdirected and antiquated approach to fossil fuels," she said she is also confronting the results of last week's presidential election, and what that means for the future of public lands, or even the climate movement as we know it.

In a press statement, Williams, who authored the 2008 book Finding Beauty in a Broken World, shared some "words of reflection on our nation's new challenge following the presidential election and our duty to act to protect that which is most important to us." They follow:

It is morning. I am mourning.

And the river is before me.  

I am a writer without words who is struggling to find them.  

I am holding the balm of beauty, this river, this desert, so vulnerable, all of us.  

I am trying to shape my despair into some form of action, but for now, I am standing on the cold edge of grief.  

We are staring at a belligerent rejection of change by our fellow Americans who believe they have voted for change.  


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The seismic shock of a new political landscape is settling.  

For now, I do not feel like unity is what is called for.  

Resistance is our courage.  

Love will become us.  

The land holds us still.  

Let us pause and listen and gather our strength with grace and move forward like water in all its manifestation: flat water, white water, rapids and eddies, and flood this country with an integrity of purpose and patience and persistence capable of cracking stone.  

I am a writer without words who continues to believe in the vitality of the struggle.  

Let us hold each other close

and be kind.  

Let us gather together and break bread.  

Let us trust that what is required of us next will become clear in time.  

What has been hidden is now exposed.  

This river, this mourning, this moment  —May we be brave enough to feel it deeply, and act.

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