Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 15, 2015

Native Americans in DC: Obama Stop Leasing Lands for Fossil Fuels!


helped deliver the message to President Obama: It's time to keep our fossil fuels in the ground!
In the Keep it in the Ground campaign, Wild Earth Guardians said, "The time is now to boldly cut carbon pollution and move our nation away from fossil fuels. We can't even begin to make this happen if the President is going to keep stop selling more of our publicly owned coal, oil, and gas. It's time to Keep it in the Ground!"

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

WASHINGTON -- Louise Benally of Big Mountain joined Native American delegations and coalitions here today to tell President Obama to stop leasing lands and oceans for fossils fuels. Benally's message was "Keep it in the Ground."

Before President Obama's Secret Service chased Native Americans and their allies away from the White House park, Benally brought the dirty truth of dirty coal in her homeland.

“Coal companies like Peabody Energy have been mining federal and tribal coal in and near native communities like mine for decades. The tribal governments allow energy companies to impound peoples’ livestock, which is the only source of income and food for communities impacted by forced removal—a legacy policy initiated by Senator John McCain for Peabody to gain access to coal mining locations.

"Peabody mine sites don't have bonds and liners in the waste ponds. Contaminated waters are released in the headwaters after every rain, polluting the little water they leave behind. The Gold King mining disaster is just the most recent example of the kind of devastation that has been happening to the Dine for generations. Before coal, we were devastated by uranium. Now, our families are the targets of a fracking boom on federal lands in places like Chaco Canyon. Dirty energy companies ruin our lands, while the profit goes elsewhere," Benally said.

"Environmental concerns are not being addressed properly by agencies that should be accountable. Groundwater tables have dropped by big drops, the greenhouse gases being released into the air are not monitored correctly, and health impacts are not monitored at all. This devastation of our communities is a kind of terrorism made possible by Senators like John McCain, all while President Obama turns a blind eye. These industries are not accountable to the land, the natural world, or the people living here. Their destruction has to stop now.”  —Louise Benally, Big Mountain Diné Nation, Indigenous Cultural Concepts, Media Island International.

Princess Daazhraii Johnson of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL) delivered a powerful message from Alaska.

"We are in climate crisis in Alaska, and advancing energy extraction within our ancestral territories would seriously exacerbate climate change and threaten our ability to survive in the Arctic.  Climate Change is upsetting the delicate balance in many ecosystems. There is an urgency to take action now.

"The President was in Alaska, and saw for himself the consequences of climate change.  Indigenous peoples of the North implore him to take effective action now to address the issue while we still can. If the U.S. is serious about Climate Change, rescind the Shell permits to drill in the Chukchi Sea, and permanently protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We must keep the remaining fossil fuels in the ground and continue towards a just transition to alternative energies.  We do not have the luxury of time.  We can implement clean energy systems in the U.S. now." 

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