We are the People of the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi Region and we reflect the many colors of the People of the Earth. Our ancestors came from many lands and together with the indigenous First Nations we all live on this land, drink this water and breathe this air.
We are marching because we the people have a Right to clean water, air and land that is greater than any corporate need to make money! Our diverse group from throughout the Midwest drafted this formal resolution outlining the devastation the fossil fuel infrastructure has caused to the Great Lakes region and our solutions to allow us as a society to Break Free from fossil fuels. You can view a summary version of our resolution, the full version, or sign the resolution.
We are asking local, state and federal governments to do or help with the following:
- Create a moratorium on all new pipeline projects pending independent environmental impact studies.
- Review all existing pipelines moving more oil than originally permitted for air quality and leak assessments.
- Shut down 62-year-old Enbridge Line 5
- Create a regional citizen review board to oversee all fossil fuel related industry in our region, eg. pipeline construction, refineries, fracking, oil-by-transit, petcoke piles.
- Create an independent 3rd party review of air quality and overall worker safety for existing workers in fossil fuel-related industries, e.g. petcoke, refinery, oil-by-rail, and fracking.
- Partner with Calumet Region community to plan a Just Transition in anticipation of the expected closing of BP Whiting Refinery, to create a Just Transition model that includes new jobs and a more sustainable community.
Why We March : Declaration Of Freedom To Live Without Fear of Toxins
WHEREAS, WE THE PEOPLE were given unalienable rights at the formation of this Democracy to pursue, life, liberty and happiness as a free people; and
WHEREAS, WE THE PEOPLE of the Great Lakes Region of the United States have an unalienable right, by RULE OF LAW, to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live on this land in peace with our neighbors and the support of our local, state, and federal government who is obligated under rule of law and moral obligation to protect these rights; and
WHEREAS, Enbridge, a Canadian pipeline company, owns pipelines running through Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois carrying crude oil and tar sands oil to BP’s Whiting, Indiana Refinery; posing the risk of leaks and spills to the towns and cities, the farms and waterways, and the wetlands of our beloved interconnected communities; and
WHEREAS, KCBX, a Koch Brothers Company, was given a permit to pile toxic petroleum by-product waste from BP Refinery on the banks of the Calumet River in Illinois, which left uncovered, allowed petcoke dust to blow onto and pollute the lives of thousands of families and workers for many years symbolizing our Fossil Fuel Era civilization’s values of profit over people; and
WHEREAS, BP Whiting Refinery, the Largest Tar Sands Refinery in the country, divested from alternative energy in 2007 to invest $5 billion to rebuild its Whiting facility during the end stage of the Fossil Fuel Era, and are committed to tearing down Marktown, a 100-year-old historic district designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw, and sacrificing the regional economy on the southern shores of Lake Michigan; and
WHEREAS, Peabody Coal’s recent bankruptcy filing for United States assets only, that removes benefits from workers, is indicative of the larger crisis on our horizon as the remaining fossil fuel industries plan to close their doors, leaving the United States taxpayer to clean up their coal mines, their refineries, fracking fields, and their aging infrastructure that will conservatively cost billions of dollars as we transition to cleaner energy sources, and
WHEREAS, in March 2014, BP spilled more than 1,600 gallons oil/tar sands into Lake Michigan, our region’s source of drinking water, and a historic 16.8 million gallons of contamination onto the water table adjacent to Lake Michigan, and continuing to contribute to the enormous environmental harms occurring in one of the most bio-rich and sensitive ecotones on the North American Continent; and
WHEREAS, indigenous communities across the Great Lakes region are disproportionately impacted by Enbridge pipeline expansion, including impacts to reservation land as well as off-reservation impacts in treaty territory, including the threat of pipelines to wild rice and usufructuary hunting, fishing, and gathering rights, yet tribes are rarely consulted or fully included in State and Federal decision-making processes, and
WHEREAS, in July 2010 Enbridge spilled more than 1 million gallons of oil/tar sands into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, the largest inland oil spill in the United States at 40 miles long, and while Enbridge claims it has fully cleaned up the spill, local residents say that the river is toxic and unsafe for fishing and for all the recreational uses that they enjoyed before the 2010 spill; and
WHEREAS, Enbridge’s Line 5 is a set of twin, 62-year-old pipelines, built before the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act was adopted, that carry light crude oil and natural gas under the Straits of Mackinac, in the heart of the Great Lakes Region and would not be built today given the danger of spills in this vital regional water way and given that the Coast Guard Commandant testified before Congress in 2015 that the Coast Guard would be unable to respond effectively to an open water oil spill; and
WHEREAS, Enbridge has a history of 800 other spills, including the 2010 spill in the Village of Romeoville, Illinois, litigation about which is still ongoing; and
WHEREAS, The Illinois Commerce Commission and other state and federal agencies have given Enbridge a “certificate in good standing” to expand and build additional sections of pipeline, using the rationale that the residents of Illinois and surrounding states urgently need the oil that Enbridge is transporting; and
WHEREAS, The rationale that the residents of our Great Lakes Region of the United States urgently need the oil that Enbridge is transporting is contradicted by the export of oil to other countries; and
WHEREAS, The decision that a constant supply of oil is a “public good” is further contradicted by the growing threat of climate change and the expanding climate crisis; and
WHEREAS, The public good of the residents of THE GREAT LAKES REGION and the GREATER MIDWEST would be better served by massive investments in renewable energy and conservation; therefore, let it now be
RESOLVED, BY WE THE PEOPLE OF THE GREAT LAKES REGION and the GREATER MIDWEST of the United States that the following corporations are hereby identified as detrimental to our pursuit of our unalienable rights of life, liberty and happiness because their actions currently threaten the life and safety of the communities in which these companies exist and the workers they employ; British Petroleum (BP) , Enbridge Inc., Energy Transfer Partners (Dakota Access), KCBX (the Koch Brothers), all their affiliates, and the fracking and oil industry at large; and be it further
RESOLVED, BY WE THE PEOPLE OF THE GREAT LAKES REGION and the GREATER MIDWEST of the United States, that we demand that Enbridge and any other pipeline company transporting fossil fuels complete a comprehensive environmental impact study conducted by a third-party scientific organization with no ties to the industry before they lay any new section of pipe and before any section of existing pipe begins to transport tar sands oil or ‘natural’ gas extracted by fracking; and be it further
RESOLVED, That any environmental impact study must include the long-term impact of burning fossil fuels upon the expanding climate crisis and must be prepared in full consultation with impacted tribes and other community members; and be it further
RESOLVED, BY WE THE PEOPLE OF THE GREAT LAKES REGION and the GREATER MIDWEST of the United States, that as the Great Lakes contain 20 percent of the world’s fresh, available, surface water and are a drinking water source for over 35 million people, and given the excessive age of Enbridge’s Line 5, that this pipeline be shut down immediately; and be it further
RESOLVED, That Enbridge and any other pipeline company must be held fully financially responsible for any environmental damages caused by leaks or spills andfor agricultural damage to the farms through which their pipelines pass; and be it further
RESOLVED, that We the People of the Great Lakes Region, state unequivocally that we are not a sacrifice people and demand that there be no moral excuse from this day forward for any sacrifice communities anywhere; and be it further
RESOLVED, that our beloved interconnected communities be free from toxic wastes, oil spills, coal mining, fracking contaminants, and climate change impacts from these practices, and begin a Just Transition from the era of fossil fuels to an era where human life is valued higher and the quality of the natural environment over the Corporate Need to make a Profit at any cost; and be it further
RESOLVED, that it be understood by all that this demand includes the end of toxic tar sand pipelines, hydro fracturing, coal mining, ‘bomb’ trains, as there are no communities deserving of poisoning and death so that the Fossil Fuel Era can continue unchallenged by any moral member of our beloved interconnected communities and be it further
RESOLVED, that this Just Transition include local, state and federal governments recognition of front line communities who have suffered the effects of the Fossil Fuel Era which is ending, and that our governmental bodies actively support community members of the Calumet Region in developing a new Green Economic Industrial Corridor (GEIC) in creation of a forward-thinking, sustainable model community, that others can draw upon for inspiration that values people and the environment, that promotes new and alternative energy solutions, that utilizes the deep understanding and valuable labor skills already inherent thru multiple generations in these communities; and be it further
RESOLVED that this Just Transition includes subsidized support of the workers who have labored in the fossil fuel industry, providing them with meaningful counseling and financial support for the workers and their families as they acquire the training and development of new skill sets to work in the new Green Economic Industrial Corridor (GEIC), a Just Transition for workers that will include new jobs in the renewable energy industry, the creation of new conservation efforts to sustainably retrofit residences and commercial properties, repairing our decaying infrastructure, and create new, efficient systems of public transportation ; and be it further
RESOLVED, in anticipation of the end of the Fossil Fuel Era, all fossil fuel industry related corporations are required, in addition to contributing monetarily to the Just Transition of their employees, to have a public shut-down procedure in place with adequate clean-up funds, to hold them fiscally responsible for any and all clean-up of all sites related to their present or past work, and
RESOLVED, that all those here today, that all those reading these words, understand that from this day forward, the Fossil Fuel Era is now declared over, that we are BREAKING FREE FROM FOSSIL FUELS and moving forward together to a Just Transition of valuing all humans as worthy of environmentally just use of our common resources of Water, Air and Land.
MAY 15, 2016
President Barack Obama
Secy. of State John Kerry
United States Congress (House and Senate)
Governors: Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin