11/16/17 For Immediate Release
26 Charged with Trespassing, Unlawful Assembly at Governor’s Office to Protest New Pipelines, Power Plants
BOSTON, MA— After two months of politely asking Governor Baker to lead on climate and ban new fossil fuel infrastructure, 26 Massachusetts residents joined by approximately 300 supporters launched a sit-in around noon today in the Governor’s office. The individuals, affiliated with 350 Mass Action and various faith groups, refused to leave until Baker signed an executive order that effectively stops the building of new fossil fuel infrastructure projects in Massachusetts. Gov. Baker did not respond to their requests, so 26 people were charged with trespassing and unlawful assembly by the State Police when the building closed at 6pm today.
“We could not have a more logical ask: we’re just saying as we make new investments in new energy projects, let’s only invest in the best, like solar and wind,” explained Craig Altemose, a spokesperson for 350 Mass Action. “It just does not make sense to continue allowing new gas pipelines and power plants to be built in 2017, when we know we want to be 100% powered by renewable energy within the next 20-30 years.”
Under President Trump, the United States is now the only nation in the world that does not pledge to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement, after Syria announced its intention to join last week. After a sit-in last week, Governor Baker told State House News that he doesn’t want to “take options off the table,” and proclaimed that “this administration has been a national leader in continuing to reduce our carbon footprint.”
“Massachusetts’ own climate laws require the state to get off of fossil fuels by no later than 2050,” said Claire Miller of the Toxics Action Center, “Governor Baker pledged to have Massachusetts not just meet, but exceed the goals of the Paris Agreement. How can he imagine that we can keep more gas as an option? We cannot afford to build more gas pipelines, power plants, and compressor stations.”
Among those sitting in are a retired medical doctor, a leukemia researcher, three ordained clergy, and parents, grandparents, and more. They are among over 350 concerned residents who have been personally visiting the Governor’s office over the past two months, in increasing numbers, asking him to commit to stopping new fossil fuel projects in their tracks.
“We’re asking the Governor to take this important step before the end of the international climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany, on November 17th,” said Altemose, “We hope he will send a signal to the world that despite absent political leadership in the White House, other American political leaders are stepping forward.”
Quotes from those sitting in today:
The Rev.Dr. Jim Antal, President and Conference Minister of the MA Conference of the United Church of Christ, explained: “For weeks we’ve been offering Gov. Baker the biggest opportunity of his political career. 100 years from now, every child in Mass. will know his name if he commits to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure in the Commonwealth. Keeping all options open is a death sentence for future generations. God is calling our generation to take action NOW.”
“As a Christian, I believe that God entrusted the world to our care. Desecrating the earth by disrupting its climate and unraveling the web of life is an affront against our Creator. In order to avert climate catastrophe and to preserve a habitable planet, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground. We call upon the Governor to help us move as swiftly as possible to a clean energy future in which all communities can thrive.” The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Missioner for Creation Care, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ.
Rev. Dr. Wendy von Courter, Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead “As a human rights activist and a person of faith, I’m clear there is no issue more important that saving our planet. I am here to appeal to Governor Baker’s heart. Just as my work on racial justice, homelessness and immigration reform becomes meaningless if I don’t work to save our climate, all Governor Baker does becomes moot as well. He has pledged a commitment to climate justice and now’s the time to deliver on that promise. I’m counting on him, as a person of faith, to do the right thing, to remain faithful to his promises, and to show us he’s the strong leader we need to move us to the clean energy future our children deserve.”
“As a doctor, I tend to go by “First, do no harm.” I think that’s a good rule not just for doctors, but for anyone who has power. And our scientists tell us that by investing any further in fossil fuels, Governor Baker is doing harm; so I think he needs to stop, right now. We know that President Trump is doing tremendous damage to our country and our planet with his blind support of fossil fuels. This is the Governor’s chance to break with the Trump madness, put his foot down, and mandate that Massachusetts build only what’s best for our state and for the world. I’m not ready to give up on Patient Earth and I’m hoping Governor Baker will join the treatment team.” Dr. Sue Donaldson, M.D., and member of 350 Massachusetts.
“As a scientist, I am driven by the data. 97% of climate scientists agree that human activity is the main contributor to climate change. It is incumbent on the politicians to listen to the experts and craft policy to avert the crisis we face. Instead, Governor Baker is taking a page from President Trump’s playbook and catering to the whims of the fossil fuel corporations while sticking taxpayers with the bill. We expect better in Massachusetts. Governor Baker, sign the executive order and galvanize the green energy revolution in Massachusetts.” – Dr. Jim Mulloy, PhD, and member of 350 Massachusetts.