Read

Search form

Big protest at Chevron Richmond refinery is latest example of climate activists stepping up rallies and marches

Big protest at Chevron Richmond refinery is latest example of climate activists stepping up rallies and marches
Mon, 8/5/2013 - by Paul Rogers
This article originally appeared on San Jose Mercury News

 

More than 2,000 people marched Saturday through the streets of Richmond to the gates of the Chevron refinery, where 210 people were arrested as part of a protest against the oil giant and other fossil fuel companies.

Chanting "arrest Chevron," protesters sat in front of the refinery gates before being handcuffed by police in riot gear. The event was scheduled to mark the anniversary of the August 6 explosion and fire at the refinery that generated a huge plume of black smoke and sent 15,000 people to hospitals complaining of breathing problems.

The showdown was about more than one local community's battle with its largest employer and biggest polluter, however. It represents the latest example of a fast-growing movement by environmentalists across the United States to organize rallies, marches and civil disobedience for more action to reduce greenhouse emissions

"The pace is picking up very dramatically," said Bill McKibben, one of the event organizers.

McKibben is a Vermont writer who cofounded the nonprofit group 350.org, which has organized thousands of similar events in the past five years. He was among the first people arrested Saturday. McKibben said protests are increasing because people are frustrated that Congress has not passed national laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the coal, oil and other fossil fuel industries despite overwhelming scientific evidence that the planet is warming.

"Everybody thought at first that if you have a problem this big that scientists said is a problem, then our system would act," McKibben said. "That was my assumption. But at a certain point it became clear that wasn't happening. The science was no match for the money. They've purchased the U.S. Congress."

McKibben, a professor at Middlebury College who was awarded a 1993 Guggenheim Fellowship for nonfiction writing, said the movement's major goals include convincing President Obama to cancel the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would allow Canada to export tar sands oil to U.S. refineries in Houston and other cities. Boosting federal funding and tax credits for solar, wind and other renewable projects, is also among the goals, along with passing a federal carbon tax or cap-and-trade program, similar to California's, that would offer incentives for using fewer fossil fuels.

Police arrested 209 people on suspicion of trespassing and one person on suspicion of assault for punching a protester, according to Capt. Mark Gagan.

"But this is nowhere near a situation that is unmanageable," Gagan said. "We anticipated today's civil disobedience, and the organizers and public safety have worked together to plan."

Those arrested were processed at a nearby fire station and released, Gagan said. There were no injuries.

Scientists are increasingly sounding the alarm about climate change.

Earlier this week, researchers from Stanford University published a report in the journal Science that concluded that from 1980 to 2005, the earth warmed at a rate of nearly 4 degrees per century — a rate 10 times faster than at any time back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth 65 million years ago.

At the current rate of carbon dioxide emissions, the earth is on pace to become 9 degrees warmer by 2100, said Chris Field, a Stanford biology professor who co-authored the study. But if emissions are cut significantly in the coming decades, that could be kept to about 4 degrees, he said.

"We have an opportunity," Field said. "We can be in a world that is in many ways quite comparable to the one we have now. If we increase 9 degrees, the world will be very different, with more extreme heat waves, heavy precipitation, sea level rise, warming and challenges occurring so frequently we'll have to make fundamental changes — like where cities are located, what parts of the world can be populated."

Globally, the 10 hottest years on record back to the 1800s have all occurred since 1998. Sea level rose 7 inches in the 20th century as oceans warmed. Ice sheets in Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic Ocean are shrinking in size, as are most of the world's glaciers.

Field said he understands why people are marching. But shifting the world away from coal and oil to renewable energy and power plants that capture and store carbon will require working closely with industry as well, he said.

"The solution is not to just shut down the fossil industry," Field said. "It is to transition the energy system to a sustainable one. It has to have as much building as closing down."

Larry Gerston, a professor of political science at San Jose State University, said that although polls show many Americans concerned about climate change, the economy in recent years has taken precedence.

"The fear that new regulations will take away jobs overcomes for many people whatever concerns there might have been about climate," he said. "So the ones you have left are the true believers, the activists."

Gerston noted that it is Republicans in the House of Representatives who are doing the most to block climate reform, and because of the way House districts are drawn, they are unlikely to lose power any time soon.

"Every time we see a Hurricane Sandy or a Katrina or a tremendous drought, these protesters have to connect the dots for people," he said. "The only way the message gets out is when people are hit on the head again and again."

 

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

London tube strikes, anti-labor laws, anti-strike laws, London Underground, National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, RMT

Strikers are protesting job losses that have led to a shortage of station staff, which they say is endangering passenger safety and reducing the level of customer service.

Trump resistance, Indivisible Guide

The incoming administration has fueled a new level of political activism.

1 percent, Ralph Nader,

In his latest book, the critic and activist proposes the creation and activation of a new 1 percent — one that will expose “conditions of deprivation and abuse” and champion “basic fair play.”

wealth inequality, income inequality, Fat Cat Wednesday, corporate pay, executive pay, National Living Wage, U.K. anti-austerity protests

Findings from the High Pay Centre show jaw-dropping levels of inequality in Britain, where executives earning £1,000 per hour exceeded the average U.K. annual salary of £28,000 by lunchtime on Jan. 3 – dubbed Fat Cat Wednesday.

Tony Atkinson, wealth inequality, income inequality, Obamacare, affordable healthcare, gutting healthcare, Republican agenda, Donald Trump, tax cuts for the rich

With a new Congress and White House committed to wealth’s concentration, we’ll sorely miss the scholar who dedicated his life to documenting wealth’s maldistribution.

creative activism, Act Out, 1984, George Orwell, Ministry of Truth, NDAA, Global Engagement Center, Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, red scare, blame russia, James Clapper, NSA, national intelligence, CIA, Russia hacks, mainstream media, corp

This week on Act Out!, war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength—and it's still Russia's fault.

Posted 6 days 22 hours ago
anti-Trump protests, Inauguration Day protests, anti-Trump movement, Socialist Alternative, Students for a Democratic Society, student walkouts, Black Lives Matter, police brutality, authoritarian rule

The protests against Donald Trump on his Inauguration Day could stand out as one of the largest counter-inaugural protests in U.S. history – and organizers insist this is only the beginning of a broader resistance movement.

Posted 6 days 22 hours ago
Bayou Bridge Pipeline, Dakota Access Pipeline, #NoDAPL, Energy Transfer Partners, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southeast Louisiana Protection Authority-East, pipeline spills, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Atchafalaya Basin, Lousiana oil industry, Florida Gas

Opponents of a proposed pipeline through Louisiana’s fragile Atchafalaya Basin have vowed to halt its construction, starting with a vocal protest at a Jan. 12 public meeting being attended by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Baton Rouge.

Posted 6 days 22 hours ago
Greek healthcare crisis, Greek austerity crisis, Greek austerity policies, Syriza party

Due to imposed austerity cuts, 850 medical clinics have closed, 10,000 beds have been shut down and 30,000 healthcare professionals were removed from frontline positions – while those who remained saw wages cut by 50 percent.

Posted 5 days 16 hours ago
wealth inequality, income inequality, Fat Cat Wednesday, corporate pay, executive pay, National Living Wage, U.K. anti-austerity protests

Findings from the High Pay Centre show jaw-dropping levels of inequality in Britain, where executives earning £1,000 per hour exceeded the average U.K. annual salary of £28,000 by lunchtime on Jan. 3 – dubbed Fat Cat Wednesday.

Posted 3 days 21 hours ago
Trump resistance, Indivisible Guide

The incoming administration has fueled a new level of political activism.

Greek healthcare crisis, Greek austerity crisis, Greek austerity policies, Syriza party

Due to imposed austerity cuts, 850 medical clinics have closed, 10,000 beds have been shut down and 30,000 healthcare professionals were removed from frontline positions – while those who remained saw wages cut by 50 percent.

Bayou Bridge Pipeline, Dakota Access Pipeline, #NoDAPL, Energy Transfer Partners, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southeast Louisiana Protection Authority-East, pipeline spills, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Atchafalaya Basin, Lousiana oil industry, Florida Gas

Opponents of a proposed pipeline through Louisiana’s fragile Atchafalaya Basin have vowed to halt its construction, starting with a vocal protest at a Jan. 12 public meeting being attended by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Baton Rouge.

1 percent, Ralph Nader,

In his latest book, the critic and activist proposes the creation and activation of a new 1 percent — one that will expose “conditions of deprivation and abuse” and champion “basic fair play.”

Zapatistas, EZLN, Mexico indigenous populations, Chiapas struggle, direct democracy, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

“This council proposes to govern this country,” the Zapatista Army of National Liberation said.