Tuesday, February 09, 2016

A Persistent Ground Game (as in "keep it in the ground")


Going forward, we know what the new year of environmental activism looks like. Activists have told us. They’ve made it perfectly clear. They call it: “Keep it in the ground.”

The campaign is about all fossil fuels: oil, gas, and coal. Instead of an “all of the above” energy policy, when it comes to fossil fuels, they want “none of the above.” A big part of the effort is focused on preventing the extraction of fossil fuels on public lands — which is supported by presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton. The recent moratorium of leasing federal lands for coal mining, announced by Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, is considered a great victory for “keep it in the ground.”

I wrote about the movement in December. Last month, the Los Angeles Times published an opinion editorial for one of its leaders, Bill McKibben: “How to drive a stake through the heart of zombie fossil fuel.” In it, McKibben states: “In May, a coalition across six continents is being organized to engage in mass civil disobedience to ‘keep it in the ground.’”

While big news items fuel the fight, smaller, symbolic wins are part of the strategy. Introducing the plan late last year, the Hill states: “It stretches into local fights, over small drilling wells, coal mines and infrastructure.”

Here’s what keep it in the ground looks like in the real world — in “local fights” and “over small drilling wells.”

In a suburb of Albuquerque known more for computer chip-making than crude oil extraction, the anti-fossil fuel crowd is doing everything it can to prevent a “small drilling well” from being developed.

In Rio Rancho, New Mexico, the major employer is Intel. It is also home to several call centers — though the Sprint call center just announced it is closing and cutting 394 jobs. New Mexico has the nation’s highest jobless rate: 6.8%.


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