America’s Green Summer: From Vermont to Appalachia to Texas, citizens say no to dirty power
July 31, 2012
Ever seen a human oil spill? It’s not a lot like the real thing, except in the ways that it is: black, silent and ominously stationary - because these bodies, like crude, aren’t going anywhere.
That was the impression made by hundreds of black-clad activists, young and old, who fell prostrate to the pavement Sunday outside the Hilton Hotel in Burlington, Vermont, to oppose a range of mega-energy plans being discussed behind closed doors at the 36th Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers.
Reacting to proposals including pumping Canadian tar sands through a pipeline across New England to the Atlantic coast, energy giant Hydro Quebec’s Northern Pass, which would demolish 180 miles of New Hampshire forest and install 1,100 electrical towers transporting dirty energy to busy centers like Boston and New York, and Quebec’s 25-year, $80 billion mammoth mining and energy project known as Plan Nord, citizens gathering from across the Northeast sent a clear, unmistakable message to governors on both sides of the border: No.
No to emissions above. No to contamination below. As one chant echoed through the downtown streets of Burlington: “The water! The water! The water’s on fire! We don’t need no fracking - let the corporations burn!”
The 500-person turnout and smartly choreographed “human oil spill” made Vermont the latest staging ground in what is quickly developing as a green summer of activism and resistance across America. Also over the weekend, thousands marched in Washington, DC to oppose the toxic impacts of fracking. On Saturday, activists shut down a mountaintop coal removal site in Lincoln County, West Virginia, drawing increased attention to the human and environmental costs of corporate strip mining in Appalachia.
And that is just the tip of things. Protesters in Texas have initiated a tar sands blockade, vowing to halt construction of the Keystone XL pipeline through their state. Other blockades are getting underway at ports along the West Coast to prevent further construction of coal-shipping facilities. And in August, activists nationwide will descend on Helena, Montana, to engage in an unprecedented coal export action aimed at protesting and blocking coal shipments west to the Pacific and Asian markets from the Powder River Basin, which holds 40 percent of America’s coal supply.
At Sunday’s protest, violence broke out in the afternoon between protesters and the police when buses carrying several hundred dignitaries from the conference were momentarily blocked by activists, causing police to fire sting balls and pepper spray at close range, injuring at least a half dozen people.