August 8, 2013 – It’s getting a little hot in here, don’t ya think? I mean in the United States, because of all the protesting goin’ on. Unless I’m badly mistaken, it’s starting to look like Americans are really getting mad. From California to Maine, citizens of this blessed country are exercising their rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression. The government, whether it’s state, local, or national, is doing nothing about protecting the environment, and we want it to do something. Americans have finally found their voice.
In California, more than 200 protesters were arrested while they were peacefully demonstrating outside a Chevron refinery that caught on fire a year ago. At least 15,000 residents of Richmond, CA went to the hospital for respiratory complications as a result. (You may have heard that Chevron was fined $2 million after months of failed negotiations between the oil company and Richmond’s City Council.)
In Salmon, Idaho, 19 members of the Nez Perce Tribe were arrested because of their participation in forming a human chain of more than 250 people, mostly Native Americans. Participants blocked a highway in protest against a 322-ton load of equipment traversing tribal land and federally protected land on its way to tar sands mines in Alberta, Canada.
In Belgrade, Maine, mothers and others protested Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of the Healthy Kids Bill, which had been passed by both the state House and Senate. The bill would have required more stringent labeling of potentially harmful chemicals in food packaging. Of particular concern is bisphenol A, also called BPA, which is extremely toxic to humans. The danger isn’t over once it winds up in landfill.
Protests were lodged in opposition to federal plans to auction off mineral rights for gas drilling in Blue Rock State Forest in Muskingum County, Ohio. While the eventual auction may only have been forestalled, environmentalists are ready to take further action. In Michigan, one individual got involved in order to halt construction of a pipeline intended to cross the Kalamazoo River, already the site of a 2010 tar sands oil spill. Enbridge is the offending company; the 2010 spill has never been satisfactorily cleaned up. An environmental organization called MI-CATS worked in conjunction with the individual.
Finally, in Washington State, the Lummi Nation has protested a proposed export terminal for coal at Cherry Point, WA for months. Tribal officials maintain the terminal will infringe on treaty fishing rights. Washington State residents who live in nearby Bellingham are also opposed to the terminal, and have met and protested for months.
The level of awareness indicated by these various actions is inspiring. The willingness to become involved has at long last developed to the point of warranting newspaper coverage. Action in one place can and will lead to action in another. As protests increase in number and effectiveness, more and more Americans will step forward in order to be heard. As we assume a leadership role in protesting the destruction of our planet, others will follow. When that happens, we shall overcome.