Wisconsin-based organizers are calling on leaders and policymakers to focus on defending the planet through prohibiting the expansions of fossil fuel infrastructure, removing Line 5 pipelines in Wisconsin and making investments to transition to clean and renewable energy sources, according to a press release.
Beginning March 4, organizers will be staging demonstrations across Wisconsin every Friday to draw attention to their cause. The demonstrations will take place every Friday until Earth Day, April 22.
Twenty-two communities, including Madison, have indicated that they will be participating in the eight weeks of demonstrations. In Madison, demonstrations will be held at 5 p.m. on Fridays at Library Mall. In other communities, some demonstrations may be held at noon on Fridays.
On the University of Wisconsin campus, the Associated Students of Madison, Campus Leaders for Energy Action Change Now, the 350 Art Collective and Wisconsin Student Climate Action Coalition are coordinating the March Forth to Earth Day demonstrations.
One of the movement’s main objectives is to stand in solidarity with the Indigenous-led movement to stop Line 5, according to the press release. Owned by natural gas distribution company Enbridge, Line 5 is an oil pipeline built in 1953 that transports 540,000 barrels of oil per day Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario, according to the Stop Line 5 website.
Grace Quinn, a statewide organizer of the March Forth to Earth Day with Sunrise Fox Valley — a diverse youth group advocating for climate justice as a racial and economic issue — said the recent proposal to relocate the pipeline fail to adequately address concerns.
“The construction and operation of Enbridge’s Line 5 pose a significant threat to Native food systems, as fisheries and wild rice crops are put at risk for irreversible ecological damage,” Quinn said in an email statement to The Badger Herald.
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By endangering Native food systems with this pipeline, Quinn said Enbridge is endangering Native food systems, actively partaking and perpetuating the cultural genocide of local Indigenous tribes. While these demonstrations can hold value on a local level, she said change needs to be made on both a state and federal level.
In additional to protesting Enbridge, the demonstrations are demanding no new expansions of fossil fuel infrastructure as well as calling for policymakers to make “rapid and massive investments” in clean and renewable energy sources.
Some federal government officials, including the Biden administration, are currently trying to respond to the climate crisis through legislation. In his State of the Union Address, President Joe Biden emphasized his goals of promoting environmental justice and implementing more renewable energy sources — which could cut energy costs for families by an average of $500 per year.
Signed Nov. 15, 2021, Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill seeks to invest in communities that have been ignored through expanding access to clean drinking water and high-speed internet, addressing the climate crisis and rebuilding roads, railroads and bridges, according to the legislation.
Quinn said the hope is that the eight-week-long demonstration will catch the attention of policymakers, holding government officials accountable to these goals.
“To do anything less, would be a flagrant violation of treaties with sovereign nations and a total disregard for safety and wellbeing of future generations,” the press release said.
For more information on events in various communities, visit the March Forth to Earth Day movement’s schedule.