Sep 22, 2022
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Several leaders of climate justice organizations on Thursday were arrested after peacefully protesting at a Senate building on Capitol Hill, demanding that Congress reject Sen. Joe Manchin's so-called permitted reform bill, which would make it easier for fossil fuel companies to secure approval for fracking, pipeline, and other extraction projects.
Eleven executive directors of climate justice groups entered the building before Capitol Police began making arrests.
Demonstrators assembled outside chanted, "Stop the dirty deal!" as the leaders were led away by the police.
"You can arrest us, but you cannot shut us up!" said one of the campaigners as he was arrested.
Greenpeace co-executive director Ebony Twilley Martin, who was among those detained, told supporters after the demonstration that deals like Manchin's "are contributing to the rise in tornadoes in the Midwest, stronger and deadlier hurricanes and typhoons impacting small island nations, wildfires out West, and so many more climate catastrophes that are happening now. Not in our future, but right now."
"That's why I, along with other executive directors of some of the biggest environmental, labor, and progressive groups in the country, are engaging in civil disobedience today by staging a sit-in at a Senate building and risking arrest," she added. "We know that the window for defeating the Dirty Deal is quickly closing, so we decided to do something about it. We will be HEARD."
Climate group leaders representing more than a dozen organizations joined a civil disobedience action on Capitol Hill Thursday to protest the deal struck by Sen. Joe Manchin to overhaul the federal permitting process for energy projects, including those involving fossil fuels.
"Opposition to this so-called 'dirty deal' is widespread and growing across the environmental community," said Greenpeace, which helped organize the action.
Watch the action below:
The protest comes with just over a week to go until Congress must pass a continuing budget resolution to keep the government funded--a package with which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has agreed to pair the permitting bill, which progressives have denounced as a giveaway to fossil fuel companies.
The bill would make it easier for fossil fuel projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline to move forward despite scientists' and energy experts' warnings that the continued building and use of fossil fuel infrastructure will make it impossible to limit global heating to 2degC above pre-industrial temperatures and will make it more likely that the Earth faces the worst effects of the climate emergency.
The so-called Energy Independence and Security Act would accelerate the review process for proposed energy infrastructure, including fracking and oil drilling projects.
Ahead of the Capitol Hill protest, where demonstrators risked arrest, Greenpeace USA co-executive director Ebony Twilley Martin said Wednesday that Manchin and Schumer's "dirty deal" will perpetuate the status of low-income, Black, and Brown communities across the U.S. as "sacrifice zones."
"Joe Manchin is not thinking of the very people that help get him elected," said Twilley Martin. "This is not permitting reform. This is permitting a giveaway that benefits those who continue to line their pockets at the expense of those affected by climate disasters."
"Our country cannot afford any new oil, gas, or coal projects if we're going to avoid climate catastrophe," she added. "Sens. Manchin and Schumer's Dirty Deal is sending a clear message that Big Oil is willing to sacrifice entire communities, especially Black and Brown communities, in the pursuit of profits."
\u201cIn his press conference yesterday and on the Senate floor, Manchin never once mentioned the pollution that would be created by these projects or addressed the damage that could be caused to our water, air, and land. 4/7\u201d— Ebony Twilley Martin, Greenpeace US (@Ebony Twilley Martin, Greenpeace US) 1663799722
As leaders prepared to risk arrest at the Capitol, more than 400 scientists and health professionals sent a letter to Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warning that the increased fossil fuel infrastructure that would result from Manchin's bill carries risks including "asthma, heart problems, early death, and impairments to infant health" for the more than 17.6 million U.S. residents who live within a mile of an active oil or gas well.
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