Extinction Rebellion Boston shuts down morning traffic and demands that Massachusetts ban new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Courtesy of Extinction Rebellion Boston's, Civil Disobedience Press Release; September 21, 2022.
Climate activists disrupt business as usual in the city to demand that Massachusetts ban new fossil fuel infrastructure as the first step to rapid decarbonization.
Massachusetts must place the well-being of every present and future human being above the fossil fuel industry's profits and lobbying. We demand that the Commonwealth stop allowing new fossil fuel infrastructure to be built and cancel all current fossil fuel projects.
Extinction Rebellion decries new fossil fuel infrastructure that will be in operation for decades, preventing us from achieving decarbonization that will prevent runaway global heating and an uninhabitable Earth.
This morning more than 50 climate activists from Extinction Rebellion Boston (XR) and Scientist Rebellion (SR) shut down traffic throughout the city of Boston to demand that the State of Massachusetts ban new fossil fuel infrastructure. From around 7 AM through 9 AM during Wednesday morning rush hour traffic, the activists coordinated a multiple location impasse, blocking the passage of vehicles. The impasses blocked commuters traveling into the city from the Seaport, I-90E, and the offramp of I-93S into downtown Boston. More than fifty blocked the Seaport Boulevard bridge that connects downtown Boston to the Seaport, where other activists joined them on the bridge after marching through downtown Boston chanting their demands.
We demand NO NEW FOSSIL FUEL INFRASTRUCTURE.
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. Cancel plans for the proposed $33M Springfield pipeline and any new gas hook-ups. Massachusetts has the ability to be a national leader during the rapid transition away from fossil fuels to green, renewable energy. Massachusetts shouldn't be allocating rate-payer money to fossil fuel infrastructure that will need to be abandoned before its full useful life. We should make a commitment to no fossil fuel infrastructure to start building local jobs around alternatives to natural gas including geothermal and electric heating sourced from clean, renewable sources.
When asked the intent of the disruption, James Comiskey, an Extinction Rebellion activist said, "We're disrupting traffic because we need society to wake up and treat the climate crisis for what it is: an emergency. We can't continue to go about our daily lives as if nothing is happening. We know that this traffic block causes an inconvenience but this minor inconvenience will pale in comparison to what is to come if we don't rapidly transition off fossil fuels. We're not blaming the commuters, but we need their attention to this issue and we need their help." He went on to say, "Extinction Rebellion will continue to use non-violent direct action until the government takes all possible action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That starts with banning new fossil fuel infrastructure and calling fossil fuel infrastructure under construction."
The Massachusetts State Government must make decisions based on the well-established scientific consensus on the climate emergency, stop fueling the climate fire with new fossil fuel infrastructure, and set a much sooner net-zero decarbonization date than 2050.
Sudi Smoller of local climate justice organization Breathe Clean North Shore has been opposing the Peabody Peaker through hearings and other forums for input but Governor Baker has let it move forward. "The Peabody Peaker is an egregious health hazard to the residents of our Environmental Justice communities. We demand that the incoming Governor re-open the MEPA process and conduct an environmental impact assessment and community health assessment as required by the current law of Massachusetts because the project was approved 7 years ago before such protections were mandatory for environmental justice communities. The residents of Peabody deserve the due diligence of 2022, not 2015."
This act of non-violent civil disobedience is being carried out contemporaneously to a multitude of climate-driven disasters and political acts of insanity. One-third of Pakistan is underwater from months of flooding and 33+ million residents have been displaced. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is planning to introduce legislation into the Senate that would fast-track the Mountain Valley Pipeline and other new fossil fuel projects. China experienced its most severe heatwave on record. Heatwaves in California have driven increasing wildfires and grid blackouts. The United Kingdom's new Prime Minister has announced plans to increase fossil fuel exploration and consumption.
Scientist Rebellion member and environmental scientist Pam DiBona added, "The science is clear, and has been for decades: we cannot continue business as usual without continuing to change earth's climate. We are already seeing the result of continued fossil fuel use in the collapse of ecological systems around the world."
“We are out here blocking roads and disrupting traffic 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 state is still permitting new fossil fuel infrastructure in the midst of a climate emergency. We have three years to peak global carbon emissions. After that, we need a rapid transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. We are appealing to the governor and the Massachusetts State Legislature. Do the right thing. Commit to a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure,” said Alex Chambers, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Boston.
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 is allowing for new fossil fuel infrastructure...
Extinction Rebellion Takes Over the Evelyn Moakley Bridge on Seaport Boulevard, Disrupting Boston Traffic.
Lita Kelley. Boston, Massachusetts. 9/21/2022
I left the house at 4:30am in order to arrive at Kneeland St at Atlantic Ave in Boston by 7am to photograph a scheduled disruption of traffic. Although I've known about Extinction Rebellion's Stop Fossil Fuels Morning Rebellion event scheduled for today at Post Office Square, it was not until last night that I was asked to come to this location instead. This morning I learned that activists would be blocking traffic to and from Massachusetts state highway I-93 and that other activists were spread around at other locations in the city with the same intentions of disrupting the morning commute. At Kneeland Street, where I was, behind South Station, absolutely nothing happened, other than dozens of Massachusetts State Police & Boston Police showing up and preventing activists from blocking traffic, so, the small group of around 13 people left the intersection and walked over to Post Office Square to meet with the rest of the climate activists who were rallying there. There, one of the speakers and co-organizers,Teddy O'Hea was giving a speech and said "We wish that we didn't have to inconvenience people like this, but unfortunately, sometimes, civil disobedience, loud civil disobedience is the only way to get folks to listen. A lot of people aren't aware how dire the situation is,"
I also learned that 15 activists were already arrested at some of the other locations minutes after beginning the planned disruptions throughout Boston, thanks to someone from the media who violated the press release embargo last night and revealed all the locations to police in advance.
From Post Office Square, around 50 climate activists marched down Pearl St to Seaport Boulevard, and proceeded to take over the Evelyn Moakley Bridge that goes over Fort Channel into Boston's Seaport District, for about an hour, with dozens of reporters and network news camera operators bumbling around like clumsy idiots, struggling to keep up. There were also throughout my entire time in this action, what seemed to me to be hundreds of cops, both City of Boston Police Department, and Massachusetts State Police, however, unlike at the other locations where arrests were made or the planned disruptions were preemptively prevented, we were allowed to successfully take the street and the bridge without incident or further arrests. While on the bridge, musicians played music ,activists chanted, and speakers gave speeches, and a large 40 foot banner was placed on the road.
In addition to photographing Extinction Rebellion activists, I also photographed police officers. During the protest, one of the speakers addressed the police present, reminding them that they too are going to be affected by the climate crisis, and even thanked them for their presence and doing their job. Climate protesters also passed out flyers to pedestrians and motorists that say
"We're Sorry. But this is a matter of life and death."
"Humanity is facing climate and ecological breakdown, which scientists say will kill millions and displace more than a billion people in our lifetime.
Superstorms, wildfires, heat waves, droughts, floods, water shortages, disease, and famines will worsen. We have seen some of these effects this summer alone: flooding in Pakistan,
drought in China, and record-breaking heat here in Boston.
For now, those of us lucky enough to live in wealthy countries can turn up the air conditioning, but what happens when those very machines heat the world so much that no one can keep up?
Our demand today is simple:
Massachusetts must stop installing new fossil fuel infrastructure. New natural gas power plants (e.g. Peabody Peaker), pipelines, and hookups hurt frontline communities. They also cost the taxpayer, as the infrastructure is designed to last many decades, well beyond the mandatory carbon zero timeline of 2050.
Our government has fueled this destruction by refusing to immediately curb greenhouse gas emissions and protect critical ecosystems.
It has failed to fulfill its duty to protect us.
Activists are often told to use the proper channels, but we have already tried petitions, letters to Congress, and other conventional campaigns. They haven't worked.
Nonviolent disruptive action is the only tool we have left to force our governments into action to avert the collapse of our biosphere. If we don’t act soon, humans will lose
the ability to stop our planet from becoming what climate scientists call an “uninhabitable hothouse.”
WE UNDERSTAND THAT WE HAVE INTERRUPTED YOUR LIFE TODAY, AND WE KNOW THAT YOUR LIFE IS IMPORTANT.
THAT IS WHY WE ARE FIGHTING TO PROTECT IT, AND ALL LIVES,"
BEFORE WE RUN OUT OF TIME. WE HOPE YOU WILL JOIN US.
After speakers and organizers finished their speeches, we marched back to Post Office Sq and concluded Extinction Rebellion Stop Fossil Fuels Morning Rebellion.
Here are my photographs of today's climate protest in Boston.
All photographs are copyright © protected. & owned by Lita Xú Líng Kelley. Contact for use licensing or purchasing photograph(s)
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
Video from Dr. Jill Stein, On the Seaport Bridge.
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