Saturday, May 24, 2014

Florida Sierrans Join Hands, Lead National Day of Action Against Dirty Fuels

Angeles Chapter at Wilmington, CA (Los Angeles)

Saturday May 17: 5000 Americans gathered in numbers large & small across America in 100 communities and 43 states, to say No to KXLNo to ALL dirty fuels. 20 events were in FL, part of the 5th annual Hands Across the Sand

Rocky Mountain Chapter on steps of CO State Capitol

As 5000 had rallied in Washington D.C. 3 weeks earlier to urge the president to reject the Keystone XL, last Saturday people turned out in their own communities. Stands were taken against their local threat from Big Oil’s unprecedented assault on America: offshore drilling, seismic testing, dangerous tar sands pipelines, fracking, exporting liquid natural gas, or shipping crude by rail through our hometowns.

This National Day of Action against dirty fuels was organized with help from Surfriders, Gulf Restoration Network, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Oceana, Center for Biological Diversity, Bold Nebraska and local activists. But it was Sierra Club staff and volunteers that led the way, doing the lion’s share of organizing on the national and local level, with Our Wild America staff engaged wherever they could.
Missouri Chapter Draws the Line On Tar Sands In Kansas City
Nationally our small but determined team of National Online Organizer Brian Dockstader, FL Senior Organizing Manager Frank Jackalone, FL Regional Organizing Representative Phil Compton, Sierra Club Foundation Board member Marc WeissOur Wild America Communications staff Virginia Cramer and D.C. Beyond Oil interns Alison Bressler, Furman University and Zabrina Arnovitz, Kent State University.  

We reached out to every chapter leader and staff, sent convios to all recent activists, and merged with Hands Across the SandHands is an annual grassroots stand against offshore drilling that started in 2010 when the nation joined gulf coast residents as the impact was being felt of the world’s biggest environmental disaster, the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout. Since then, as utilities have begun to move beyond coal, Big Oil has used new extraction technology to expand from drilling in the gulf to an unprecedented assault on every region of America
Our goal:  keep up the drumbeat of opposition to KXL that has succeeded in delaying approval, as well as stand against the myriad of Big Oil's local and regional threats now confronting Americans everywhere.
Chapters/Groups who led in organizing events with local allies:
*Wilmington (Los Angeles), CA: Angeles Chapter; Ventura (San Diego), CA: Los Padres Chapter; *Denver, CO: Rocky Mountain Chapter & Staff Matt Reed; Glenwood Springs, CO: Roaring Fork Group, Rocky Mountain Chapter; Milford, CT: Connecticut Chapter; Wilmington DE: Delaware Chapter & Chapter staff Stephanie Herron; *St. Pete Beach, FL: Florida Chapter, Suncoast Group; Wichita KS: Kansas & Oklahoma Chapters; Des Moines IA and Council Bluffs, IA / Omaha, NE: Iowa Chapter; *East Chicago, IN: Illinois Chapter, Chicago Group & Hoosier Chapter, NW IN Group; *Portland, ME: Maine Chapter; *Minneapolis – St. Paul, MN: North Star Chapter; Kansas City, MO: Missouri Chapter; Fargo, ND: Dacotah Chapter; Albuquerque & Santa Fe, NM: Rio Grande Chapter; Greenville, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Charleston, SC: South Carolina Chapter; Memphis, TN: Tennessee Chapter, Chickasaw Group; Houston, TX: Lone Star Chapter, Houston Group
Illinois & Hoosier Chapter stand at site of tar sands refinery that spilled oil into Lake Michigan recently
Events led by Our Wild America staff:  
Anchorage, Alaska: Lindsey Hejduk; Santa Barbara, CA: Michael Thornton; Naples, FL: Alexis MeyerKailua, Hawaii: Caitlin Pomerantz; Trenton, NJ: Nicole Dallara; Virginia Beach, VA: Eileen Levandoski; *Seattle, WA: Graham Taylor
*=Flagship events with especially high turnout and regional significance. 
Several events, such as East Chicago and Wilmington (LA), CA, had a strong Environmental Justice angle, as they were held on low income minority communities that are now the site of drilling and tar sands refineries that ravage local air and water quality. Houston’s event was held at Texas Southern University as part of a regional EJ conference attended by many local Sierrans, and the ranchers and tribes of the Cowboy Indian Alliance joined Bold Nebraska at events centered on the threat of the Keystone XL pipeline to the nation’s heartland. 
A few highlights:
Hands were joined across the sands of 20 Florida beaches, and 7 in California, with turnouts of 200 or more at St. Pete Beach and Indian Rocks Beach in Tampa Bay, Miami Beach, and Kailua, Hawaii. Other coastal states focused on the imminent threat of seismic testing to hundreds of thousands of whales and dolphins, a sacrifice to discover new sites for drilling off the Atlantic coast, were Georgia, South & North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, joined by gulf states Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Suncoast Group, FL Chapter Join Hands on St. Pete Beach against oil and for green transit choices. 
Inland events focused more upon the central theme of rejecting the KXL pipeline. America’s largest event was in Omaha, where 231 faced the Missouri River to join hands across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge between Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa. North Star Chapter members joined hands across the Mississippi River on a bridge linking Minneapolis and St. Paul with allies 350 MN & OFA Climate Change to stand against the Alberta Clipper tar sands pipeline.  Illinois Chapter activists and 350 allies joined  our NW IN Group to rally at the site of the BP tar sands refinery that a few weeks earlier had dumped oil into Chicago’s water supply, Lake Michigan. And Rocky Mountain Chapter leaders stood on the steps of the Colorado State House to stand for local control of fracking and drilling in their state.
Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa Chapters stand against KXL 

Days after an oil pipeline rupture put a Los Angeles neighborhood waist deep in oil, the Angeles Chapter worked with other members of the SoCal Climate Action Coalition to organize a bi-lingual community workshop in a largely Hispanic community already beset by poor air quality from drilling and fracking, now facing a new threat of tar sand oil being shipped out of the port at Wilmington via a new pipeline through this community under siege by Big Oil. A similar threat up the coast in the San Francisco Bay area, where the Valero Benicia Refinery has proposed to begin transporting crude oil by rail tanker cars, was met by a Refinery Corridor Healing Walk at the port town of Martinez, the 2nd in a series of such events.  Across the nation in Portland, Maine, the threat of tar sands oil being shipped out through this harbor turned out 100 on a rainy day to speak up for protecting Maine’s pristine lakes, rivers and bays.

Down in Florida where anti-drilling activists held their 5th annual Hands Across the Sand events, the focus expanded from offshore drilling to a call for moving America’s most oil dependent state beyond oil through investing in the cleaner transit options it so sorely lacks. 200 gathered on America’s most popular beach destination, St. Pete Beach, to link dirty fuels to a call for support of America’s biggest transit referendum this year, Greenlight Pinellas, the most powerful thing that can be done to reduce the region’s demand for the oil that continues to threaten the state’s beach tourism based economy.
All over America, in practically every state, Sierrans rallied with their neighbors to call for freedom from the tyranny of fossil fuels that now threaten our lakes, rivers and beaches, our water and air, and to protect the world from rising sea levels and the impact of rising temperatures.  The momentum against Big Oil has turned in our favor, at the same time Oil’s reach widens to attack us all. Saturday, Sierra Club members stood up to Big Oil. Let’s keep up the fight!

Sample of the local media nationwide:
Omaha, NE:
Lake Worth Beach, FL:
East Chicago, IL:
MARTINEZ (San Francisco Bay), CA: Martinez News-Gazette: Healing Walk to ‘Connect the Dots’ through Martinez
Hermosa Beach, CAEasyReaderNews: Hermosa Beach residents promotes green agenda

Portland, ME:
Ocean Springs, MS:
Miami Beach, FL: It's High Noon in Miami, Baby!
Miami Herald: Hands Across the Sand
Pensacola Beach, FL:
Tampa Bay, FL:
Tampa Bay Times: Video: Hands Across the Sand
Naples, FL:
Denver, CO:
Derby, CT: