Environmental activists in Houston protest the use of fossil fuels

A Journal of People report


Several environmental activists suspended themselves from the Fred Hartman Bridge in Houston Thursday morning to protest the use of fossil fuels and challenge Democratic presidential candidates preparing for the debate to hold the industry accountable.

Greenpeace USA, a non-governmental environmental organization, said in a tweet that 22 activists were demonstrating at the bridge to “confront” President Donald Trump and “the oil industry.”

A video shared by the group shows several protesters using colorful banners to dangle themselves from the bridge over the water.

The Greenpeace climbers spent blocking the Houston Shipping Channel and stopping the wheels of the oil industry from turning for a day.

However, most of the activists were removed from the bridge and taken into custody by local authorities. There are a few activists still maintaining their protest, for now.

For 14 hours, they shut down the largest petrochemical complex in the U.S., and second in the world, in the home to some of biggest climate polluters like ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, and Shell.

An activist wrote:

“I grew up in Houston and for the first 18 years of my life, I didn’t realize the extent of the toxic emissions I was breathing in every day. So to see this action shine in the faces of the very companies who polluted my home for decades feels incredibly powerful. It reminds me that when we all come together to bear witness to climate injustice, we can take power back — no matter who is in the White House.

“One thing I know for sure is that Trump and the oil industry will not concede their power if we simply ask nicely. We must be willing to call out the architects of the climate crisis in every way we can and demand that our leaders put people before polluters.

Another activist wrote:

“I’m currently blocking the Fred Hartman bridge in Houston, Texas as one of 22 Greenpeace climbers actively shutting down the largest petrochemical complex in the country. I gotta say — I’m nervous and anxious and scared, but today, we’re taking the power back from Trump and the oil industry. I’m not afraid to tell these bullies their time is up.

“I know what we’re doing is brazen, but we’re blocking the largest oil export shipping channel for some of the richest, most polluting oil companies in world like ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, and Shell. And, with the next Democratic presidential debate happening tonight only miles from where we are in Houston, all eyes will be on us and our demand for urgent climate action.


“I can’t say much because of where I am, but I don’t want to see every single corner of this country be exploited for fossil fuels while communities are being torn apart by oil spills, chemical fires, and more extreme floods, fires, droughts, and storms. If we don’t rise up and resist Trump and the oil industry right now, we’ll soon be at the point of no return.

“What’s most infuriating about being here is that the refineries in the area have a major chemical incident EVERY 6 weeks — poisoning local black and brown people and low income communities who quite literally live all around this giant petrochemical complex.

“This is why I’m up here — high enough to see the smokestacks, methane flares, cooling towers, and oil tankers of the ‘energy capital of America’ — to send this loud and urgent demand: we deserve a world with millions of high-paying, union jobs that sustain families instead of poisoning them, where our shared climate, water, and air comes before the profits of oil executives.

“We’re in a climate emergency and we must resist.”

Travis Nichols, a spokesperson for Greenpeace, told 11 activists were suspended from the bridge and another 11 were there for support. They planed to stay on the bridge for 24 hours, he said.

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