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Representing Communities on the Frontline of Fossil Fuel Extraction in Washington, DC


CCJ Director Veronica Coptis speaking at Fire Drill Friday in Washington, DC   Credit: Cathy Cowan Becker

CCJ Director Veronica Coptis speaking at Fire Drill Friday in Washington, DC

Credit: Cathy Cowan Becker

Last Friday, CCJ team-members headed to Washington, DC to represent frontline communities at the Fire Drill Friday action in front of the US Capitol.

Actor and activist Jane Fonda has been organizing these actions every Friday this past fall and winter, with the last one being this coming Friday. She aims to use her privilege as a wealthy and famous white woman to draw attention to the pressing issue of climate change. Fire Drill Friday actions consist of weekly teach-ins, a march, speeches, and end with non-violent civil disobedience.


Fonda claims her red coat is the last piece of clothing she will buy   Credit: Kristen Locy

Fonda claims her red coat is the last piece of clothing she will buy

Credit: Kristen Locy

Fonda explains why the issue of climate change is so important to her:

The climate crisis is not an isolated issue — it involves every part of our economy and society. Because of that, each Friday demonstration will have a different focus as it relates to climate. Scientists, movement leaders, experts, activists, Indigenous leaders, community members and youth will come together to share their stories and demand that action be taken before it’s too late. To ensure the topic and its connection to the climate crisis is thoroughly explained, I will host a live-streamed “Teach-In” with a panel of experts each Thursday evening before the demonstration, for the public to attend virtually.

Our climate is in crisis. Scientists are shouting an urgent warning: we have little more than a decade to take bold, ambitious action to transition our economy off of fossil fuels and onto clean, renewable energy. We need a Green New Deal to mobilize our government and every sector of the economy to tackle the overlapping crises of climate change, inequality, and structural racism at the scale and speed our communities require. We need and deserve a world beyond fossil fuels while creating millions of family-sustaining, union jobs, and prioritizing justice and equity for working people and communities of color on the frontlines of climate disaster and fossil fuel exploitation, so the clean energy transformation leaves nobody behind.

I will be on the Capitol every Friday, rain or shine, inspired and emboldened by the incredible movement our youth have created. I can no longer stand by and let our elected officials ignore – and even worse – empower – the industries that are destroying our planet for profit. We can not continue to stand for this.

Credit: Kristen Locy

These are the demands of Fire Drill Friday:

1) A GREEN NEW DEAL

Transform our economy to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 and phase out all fossil fuel extraction through a just and equitable transition, creating millions of good jobs;

A halt to all leasing and permitting for fossil fuel extraction, processing and infrastructure projects immediately.

2) RESPECT OF INDIGENOUS LAND AND SOVEREIGNTY

Honor the treaties of protecting Indigenous lands, waters, and sovereignty by the immediate halt of all construction, leasing and permitting for resource extraction, processing and infrastructure projects affecting or on Indigenous lands;

Recognize the Rights of Nature into law to protect our sacred ecosystems and align human law with natural law to ban resource extraction in defense of our environment and people.

3) ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

A transition that invests in prosperity for communities on the frontlines of poverty and pollution; Welcoming those displaced by the cumulative effects of the climate crisis, economic inequality, violence, and lack of opportunity.

4) PROTECTION AND RESTORATION OF BIODIVERSITY

Protection and restoration of at least 30% of the world’s lands and oceans including a halt to all deforestation by 2030.

5) IMPLEMENTATION OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

Investment in farmers and regenerative agriculture and an end to subsidies for industrial agriculture.

Here you can watch the teach-in from last Thursday from four inspiring women including: Janene Yazzie – CEO of Sixth World Solutions; Tamara Toles O’Laughlin – North America Director of 350.org; Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director of the Wallace Global Fund; and Katie Redford – Director of EarthRights International.

Here you can watch the Fire Drill Friday protest with the speech of Veronica Coptis, the Director of CCJ, at the one hour mark:

Representing our community at national actions such as these is vital to showing the important work happening here in SW Pennsylvania, and that it is part of a national movement.

As explained by Veronica Coptis:

Frequently when I travel to big metro and more progressive-leaning places people often ask, “If all this is happening, why are more people not fighting back?” People are resisting and have been for centuries, but these coal and gas companies that have been monopolizing our economies and corrupting our political systems at the local, state, and federal levels oppress all the hope out of people that they can make a change.

The fight to hold polluters and the fossil fuel industry accountable isn’t just about carbon: it’s about our lives. And while the climate may have ten years for us to stop extracting, burning, and cracking, our communities do not. For our physical and mental health, our communities need action now.

Author

  • In 2018, Kristen graduated from Allegheny College with a degree in Environmental Studies and a passion to go back to the community where she grew up to make a positive impact. She joined the team in the summer of 2019 as an intern and was promoted to Outreach Coordinator in the summer of 2020. Kristen's family has lived in Washington and Greene Counties for generations. Her great-grandparents were coal miners and steel workers in Washington County. She has a passion for writing, storytelling, and helping to build community in the region she calls home. In her free time, you'll find Kristen canoeing local rivers, gardening, and spending time with her miniature schnauzer puppy named Karl. Kristen can be reached at 724-229-3550 x4.

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