Wednesday, July 21, 2010

People or Polluters: Senator McCaskill, Whose Side Are You On

Written by Will Fischer, a Climate Action St. Louis Organizer

Washington, D.C.: When asked this week about climate change legislation, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill responded, “I think it’s still a work in progress. You know, it took 50 years on health care.”

St. Louis, MO: At 12:15 yesterday, July 20th, concerned citizens from across Missouri gathered at Senator Claire McCaskill’s office to mark the three-month anniversary of the BP oil disaster and to remind Senator McCaskill that we cannot afford to wait 50 years to transition to a clean energy future. Speaking directly to her, Will Fischer of Climate Action St. Louis demanded that she, “In the wake of continued inaction, cross the line and stand with people, not polluters. To move towards a clean energy future, we demand that you reject campaign contributions from dirty energy corporations, work to switch federal subsidies from polluting fossil fuels to renewable technologies, and support an end to offshore drilling.”

Activists dressed as oil and coal executives presented a large check signed by BP, Peabody, and other dirty energy companies to highlight the influence of dirty energy money in politics. In recognition of the ongoing devastation in the gulf, demonstrators performed an oil “spill-in,” blocking traffic for 10 minutes, and then asked the Senator to choose a side.

The action focused not only on the oil spill but also on the other dirty energy disasters of the past year – explosions involving natural gas, coal and oil. “For over two hundred years, our 19th century fossil fuel-based economy has killed our families, poisoned our environment, imperiled our future, and sabotaged our democracy,” said Adam Hasz of Green Action at Washington University. “We will not stand aside as these companies get richer while our oceans are destroyed, our public schools flounder, and our representatives do nothing.”

The crowd gathered heard testimonials from residents whose lives have been permanently changed by the fossil fuel industry. The Labadie Environmental Organization highlighted Ameren’s outrageous plans to place a coal ash landfill in the Missouri River floodplain next to the Labadie Power Station in Labadie, MO. Sarah Barasch, a former resident of the Gulf Coast, described the permanent destruction of her childhood home, saying “I’m sad while I watch, sad because it’s my family’s land, but I’m also sad because it is all of ours...and it feels as if we cannot do anything to save our ocean while they murder it.”

We will continue to pressure Senator McCaskill to cross the line and support clean energy. We must retake our future from the pockets of Big Oil and Dirty Coal. Senator McCaskill, Be a champion: We demand you CROSS THE LINE and side with the PEOPLE, not polluters!

The coalition that staged today’s event included Climate Action St. Louis, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, Missouri Student Environmental Coalition, St. Louis Instead of War Coalition, Student Sierra Coalition, Washington University Climate Justice Alliance, Green Action, 1Sky, Labadie Environmental Organization, and the Catholic Action Network.

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