No New Fossil Fuels
Today I met up with fellow climate activists with Extinction Rebellion Boston for a short tour of the Massachusetts State House, and upon arriving on the third floor , we held a sit in inside the Executive Office where Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey's office is. We occupied the office lobby for 3.5 hours, singing, chanting, and demanding immediate action on climate.
Despite the climate emergency, the Commonwealth continues to allow new fossil fuel infrastructure to be built and has taken little action to curb the state's carbon emissions. Globally, any hope of meeting the goal of keeping temperature rise under 1.5 C is quickly fading due to willful government inaction, media silence, and further fossil fuel investments. Despite decades of scientists' warnings about the impending climate breakdown and exhausting all the conventional methods of changemaking, nothing has worked to bring down greenhouse gas emissions to levels in accordance with keeping global heating under tipping-point thresholds. Extinction Rebellion is engaging in civil disobedience to demand that Governor Healey and Climate Chief Melissa Hoffer take action to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure, including halting projects currently in development.
Here are some photos I captured during the action. Full story below.
By Extinction Rebellion Boston | Feb. 9, 2023
Extinction Rebellion Boston Stages State House Sit-In, Demands Governor Healey Ban New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure
Climate activists disrupt business as usual in the State House to demand that Governor Healey ban new fossil fuel infrastructure as the first step to rapid and just decarbonization.
Massachusetts must place the well-being of every present and future human being above the fossil fuel industry's profits. We demand that Governor Healey stop allowing new fossil fuel infrastructure to be built and cancel all current fossil fuel projects.
Extinction Rebellion condemns new fossil fuel infrastructure that will be in operation for decades, preventing us from achieving decarbonization and threatening us with runaway global heating and an uninhabitable Earth.
BOSTON, MA — On Thursday, February 9, more than 50 climate activists from Extinction Rebellion Boston (XR) held a sit-in at the State House. The non-violent activists blocked the governor's office and refused to leave. Disrupting movement in and out of key State House areas, activists risking arrest held signs and cloth banners reading "No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure," "Gov. Healey: Climate Action Now," "No New Gas Hookups," "Stop Peabody Peaker Plant," and "Stop Springfield Gas Pipeline."
At 3 PM, XR activists entered the Governor's foyer and initiated their sit-in, declaring that they would end their disruption if Governor Healey made a public commitment to implement a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure. Activists delivered their demands to her administration, outlining types of fossil fuel infrastructure to be banned. They chanted "Governor Healey, you make the rules, time to ban new fossil fuels," and "Climate Chief Hoffer, don't delay, ban new fossil fuels today!"
Rachel Meketon, an Extinction Rebellion organizer, said, "I'm here to demand that the Healey administration address the climate crisis, beginning with what should be an obvious step: banning new fossil fuel infrastructure."
Well into the Sit-In, Massachusetts Climate Chief Melissa Hoffer emerged from her office to listen to XR Boston's demands, then left without making any meaningful response. After holding the space for 4 hours, 14 Rebels were arrested as the State House closed for the night, refusing to leave willingly until Governor Healey publicly commits to No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure. We were prepared for this outcome. The arrested Rebels trained for their arrests, and are already free.
Extinction Rebellion's NO NEW FOSSIL FUEL INFRASTRUCTURE demands include:
Massachusetts must announce a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure and cancel all fossil fuel infrastructure projects currently being constructed or proposed; immediately halt construction of the 55 MW fracked gas and oil-powered peaker plant in Peabody; and cancel plans for the proposed $33M Springfield pipeline and any new gas hook-ups.
The state has the ability to be a national leader during the rapid transition away from fossil fuels to green renewable energy. We should stop investing rate-payer money in fossil fuel infrastructure that will need to be abandoned before its full useful life. Instead, we must make a commitment to no fossil fuel infrastructure and start building local jobs around alternatives to natural gas, including geothermal and electric heating sourced from clean renewable energy.
Banning new fossil fuel infrastructure includes:
Fossil fuel power generation plants
Natural gas hookups for residential, commercial, and municipal properties
Natural gas distribution pipelines, transmission pipelines, and compressor stations
Liquified natural gas production facilities, storage facilities, and terminals
Gas stations and other gasoline and diesel infrastructure
End fossil fuel projects under development:
MMWEC’s Peaker Plant in Peabody
NEC’s Liquified Natural Gas Facility in Charlton
Eversource’s proposed Western MA Gas Project in Springfield and Longmeadow
“We are out here risking arrest en masse out of desperation. No other form of protest has had an effect on getting the state to take the climate emergency seriously. It is insanity that the Commonwealth is still permitting new fossil fuel infrastructure in the midst of a climate emergency. We have less than three years to make a rapid transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. We are appealing to Governor Healey's humanity. Do the right thing. Commit to a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure,” said Alex Chambers, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Boston.
Governor Healey has an imperfect record on climate. She and the attorneys-general in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Minnesota sued Exxon-Mobil for deceiving the public on the grave risks of fossil fuel combustion, but during her tenure as Attorney-General, Healey prevented multiple municipalities from banning natural gas hookups in new construction. The Town of Brookline passed such legislation twice and both times it was struck down by the AG. Maura Healey cited an arcane public utilities law, siding with the gas companies and real estate industry. Since being elected to Attorney-General, she did not deny taking $50,000 in political donations from the fossil fuel industry. Extinction Rebellion rebels rallied inside the State House during her inauguration on January 5th of this year, calling on her to prioritize the climate emergency by putting a moratorium on fossil fuel infrastructure.
The Massachusetts State Government must make decisions based on the well-established scientific consensus of the climate emergency and stop fueling the climate fire with new fossil fuel infrastructure. Extinction Rebellion Boston's disruptive sit-in is being carried out contemporaneously with a multitude of climate-driven disasters and political acts of folly. The German government is demolishing villages to expand coal extraction despite public outcry. Arizona municipalities are being cut off from water due to the Colorado river drought. The chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company has been nominated to lead this year's U.N. climate talks.4 Meanwhile, 2021 was Boston's hottest year on record, and studies have shown that New England is warming faster than the rest of the planet. What will our administration's response be?
According to a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, without an immediate transition to renewable energy, humanity “will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all.” Yet Massachusetts continues to build new greenhouse-gas-spewing fossil fuel infrastructure.
XR Rebels occupying @MassGovernor's office RIGHT NOW have released a statement for the press. @Shankman @MiriamWasser @Davabel @boston25 @WCVB @NBC10Boston @wbz @liveboston617 @7news @WBURNews #climateactionnow #extinctionrebellion #nonewfossilfuels pic.twitter.com/H0YUCqF5zk— Extinction Rebellion Boston 🐝⌛🦋 (@XRBoston) February 9, 2023
Extinction Rebellion Boston is an autonomous chapter of the international grassroots movement, Extinction Rebellion (XR), which started in London in 2018. The purpose of XR is to tell the truth about how dire the ecological and climate crises are and spark immediate action in order to prevent climate and ecological collapse. We aim to mobilize people around the world to utilize nonviolent direct action to demand that governments take radical action to avert societal collapse caused by widespread climate and ecological disaster and to protect frontline communities, biodiversity, and the natural world. This movement is non-political and unites all of humanity behind a singular goal of a just and livable future for all. Learn more about Extinction Rebellion at: XRBoston.org
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