United States: Green groups stand with Utah ‘land defenders’

Civil disobedience against a proposed tar sands mine in north-eastern Utah. Photo from TarSandsBlockade.org.

Twenty-one people were arrested last month while engaging in peaceful civil disobedience in protest against a proposed tar sands mine in north-eastern Utah. This would threaten local land and water, as well as contribute to the global climate crisis.

As they await charges, US environmental groups expressed solidarity with the protesters who stood for freedom from dirty fossil fuels and devastating climate impacts.

“This could be the first large-scale tar sands strip mining in the Unites States, and this filthy industry threatens our air, water and wildlife,” said Valerie Love a No Tar Sands campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity, who was one of the 21 arrested at the site.

“We staged our protest on behalf of the millions of people who will be affected by this dirty fossil fuel mining. Over 40 million people and many wildlife species depend on this watershed. We need to say no to tar sands mining.”

Lindsey Allen, executive director of Rainforest Action Network, said: “Our movement is already working hard to prevent the Keystone XL from delivering tar sands oil across our borders; we can’t allow the practice itself to be imported to our cherished wild places.

“We applaud the local Utah campaigners for fighting to stop the first-ever tar sands mine in the United States.”

May Boeve, executive director of climate action group 350.org, said: “Tar sands are the dirtiest fuel on the planet. By shining a spotlight on these dangerous projects, protesters in Utah are doing the world a service.

“If the government won’t act to keep tar sands in the ground, then the people will.”

Luisa Abbott Galvao from Friends of the Earth said: “We owe a debt of gratitude to the brave people in Utah who are risking themselves to protect us all.
“We’ve seen from Canada that tar sands production is incompatible with environmental sustainability, land rights, and the public health.”

Steve Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International, said: “The Utah 21 are not alone. The oil industry and the [US president Barack] Obama and [Canadian PM Steven] Harper governments should expect more protests, marches, and civil disobedience until energy policy is brought in line with what climate science demands.”

Gabriel Wisniewski, from Greenpeace, added: “In the face of devastating droughts, floods, and fires, non-violent direct action is a necessary tool to confront injustices where governments and corporations have failed to act.”

[Abridged from Tar Sands Blockade.]

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