"We Want to Stop Fracking Now": Up to 10,000 Rally on Eve of DNC to Demand Climate Justice

July 25, 2016

Democracy Now! hit the streets Sunday to speak to some of the thousands of protesters who marched through the streets of Philadelphia to demand a ban on fracking and a transition to clean energy. Despite a scorching heat wave, up to 10,000 people took to the streets for hours. This comes as climate change-fueled extreme weather continues across the world. In California, a wildfire north of Los Angeles doubled in size Sunday, just one day after a burned body was discovered outside a home in Santa Clarita north of Los Angeles.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, We’re "Breaking with Convention: War, Peace and the Presidency." We’re broadcasting from PhillyCAM. We are right across the street from where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. PhillyCAM is Philadelphia’s public access TV station. Juan?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, on Sunday, thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Philadelphia to demand a ban on fracking and a transition to clean energy. Despite a scorching heat wave, up to 10,000 people took to the streets for hours. This comes as climate change fueled extreme weather conditions across the world. In California, a wildfire north of Los Angeles doubled in size Sunday, just one day after a burned body was discovered outside a home in Santa Clarita, north of L.A. Well, Democracy Now!'s Mike Burke was at Sunday's march and filed this report.

TRACY CARLUCCIO: My name is Tracy Carluccio. I’m with Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Pennsylvanians Against Fracking and Green Justice Philly. We’re carrying this coffin today for Pennsylvanians Against Fracking, because the coffin represents the things that fracking has taken from us. It has taken clean air and clean water. It has taken people, our friends, such as Terry Greenwood, who we can never get back. It has taken the critters from the streams, our fish and wildlife. It’s taken justice away from us. It has taken our democracy. It’s taken environmental protection away. And we are here today to say we are taking it back. We are taking Pennsylvania back. That’s why we’re here today.

MIKE BURKE: What is your message to Hillary Clinton?

TRACY CARLUCCIO: Hillary Clinton, we want a ban on fracking. Bernie Sanders called for a ban. We want you to call for a ban on fracking. We want a national ban on fracking. And we want to stop fracking now, immediately, Governor Wolf, in Pennsylvania.

PROTESTERS: One, we are the people! Two, you can’t ignore us! Three, we will not let you wreck our planet!

DEBBIE DEFREESE: I am Debbie DeFreese. I am from the Ramapough Lunaape Tribe in upstate New York and New Jersey. And I’m here for the march for clean air and clean water. A lot of our lakes, where we usually fish, can’t fish anymore, because the water’s polluted. The animals, there’s pollutants in the ground. Our people are dying constantly. I’ve probably been to a funeral every week for a month, and that’s ongoing.

WENONAH HAUTER: I am Wenonah Hauter. I’m the executive director of Food & Water Watch. And we are here today to tell the Democratic Party that their base wants to put an end to fossil fuels and to ban fracking. And we are so excited that we have more than a thousand groups from all 50 states, that this movement has grown so large that they are not going to be able to hide from it. We’re demanding a ban on fracking and an end to fossil fuel infrastructure and to keep it in the ground. It’s time to really demand what we want and not half-measures. And that’s what makes this movement to ban fracking so amazing is, you know, a few years ago, many people said, "Ah, it’s naive, no way you can ban fracking." And since that time, we’ve banned fracking in New York, had a moratorium in Maryland. More than 500 communities around the country have taken local action against fracking. And there is a nationwide—in fact, there’s a worldwide movement.

MIKE BURKE: Can you talk about Hillary Clinton, and specifically her role as secretary of state, when it came to fracking internationally?

WENONAH HAUTER: Hillary Clinton was a big cheerleader for fracking in her role at the State Department. For instance, when Bulgaria passed a ban on fracking, she sent State Department personnel there to twist their arms and try to stop the ban and have them actually allow fracking in Bulgaria.

PATTY CRONHEIM: My name is Patty Cronheim, and I’m with ReThink Energy New Jersey. And we’re here today because of the onslaught of pipelines that are coming through New Jersey. New Jersey is going in the wrong direction. We need to take our foot off the gas, and we need to actually start making some real investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

MIKE BURKE: And can you describe the environmental impact these pipelines have had in New Jersey?

PATTY CRONHEIM: Well, these pipelines threaten our drinking water, our health and safety of our communities in New Jersey. They—the companies, like PSE&G, New Jersey Resources, Elizabethtown Gas, South Jersey Industries, Spectra, UGI and Williams Transco, are threatening New Jersey’s well-being with their projects. And New Jersey needs to wake up, and we need to actually move forward with energy efficiency and with renewables. The people in New Jersey, four out of five people in New Jersey think renewables are the future of the state, and we want to be part of that vibrant, you know, energy economy revolution, too. It’s good news, but we just need to make sure that we stop these destructive projects that want to come through New Jersey.

MIKE BURKE: And what is your message to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic leadership?

PATTY CRONHEIM: Renewables now.

PEARL ROBINSON: My name is Pearl Robinson. I actually work for the Rainforest Action Network. I’m a national organizer with them. And this past weekend, I was doing workshops for Power Shift. It’s a national conference that organizes youth around climate justice work.

MIKE BURKE: And if you had a chance to meet with Hillary Clinton, what would be your message to her?

PEARL ROBINSON: If I had a message for Hillary Clinton right now, it probably wouldn’t be about climate. It would be for the struggle in the Movement for Black Lives, and what is she going to do to undo the unjust burden that the black community has faced, and, more importantly, you know, by her husband’s legislation and her lobbying for that, too. So, I think that there seriously needs to be some reparations and restitutions for the black community across the country.

XIUHTEZCATL TONATIUH: My name is Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh. I’m 16 years old. I’m a representative of the Earth Guardian Crew, representing Latino indigenous and youth voices, and I’m part of the global climate movement. I’m here to fight for justice and stand for change and have our voices heard in the streets, because our government and our politicians are not hearing us. Bernie is an exception, but other than that, we are not being heard by our leaders, so we are here out today to have the world hear our voices, demand justice, demand a ban on fracking, demand a ban on all fossil fuel extraction that is damaging our planet and our environment, and fight for solutions for the next generation, so we can build a legacy we’re proud of passing to the next generation.

MIKE BURKE: And can you talk about some of the work that the Earth Guardians do, especially with your groundbreaking lawsuit?

XIUHTEZCATL TONATIUH: That’s what’s up. Yeah, so, the Earth Guardians—several members of the Earth Guardian Crew are part of a national lawsuit that is holding our federal government accountable for failing to act upon climate change. We are demanding that they acknowledge our constitutional right to life, property, liberty and justice by taking action on climate change. None of those things are going to matter if our planet is destroyed by a changing climate. We’re demanding that they honor our constitutional right, as well as our public trust and our right to a healthy atmosphere and a healthy planet.

MIKE BURKE: And what is your message to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic leadership?

XIUHTEZCATL TONATIUH: To the Democratic leadership, it is time to back away and get our money off of fossil fuels and get—stop letting fossil fuels fund our campaigns. It is so unfair for Hillary Clinton to go and actually see climate change as a problem and talk about how that needs to be solved, and then go and support fracking. Hillary Clinton, get your money and get your support off of the fossil fuel industry. We cannot support an industry that threatens lives like my own and all the other young people in our community, communities here in Pennsylvania, across New York, across the country, that are already being affected by the effects of fracking and other forms of fossil fuel extraction. We need 100 percent renewable energy by 2026. We need action now.

TIM JUDSON: My name is Tim Judson. I’m with a group called the Nuclear Information and Resource Service based in Washington, D.C., and I’m here with the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free contingent to the March for a Clean Energy Revolution. We’re here to send the message that a clean energy future has got to be both nuclear-free and carbon-free. Right now, there’s, you know, attempts to bail out the nuclear industry going on across the country, including in New York state, where Governor Cuomo is trying to build a reputation for himself as a clean energy governor, is trying to do a seven-point—include a $7.6 billion bailout to nuclear power plants in a supposed clean energy standard that he wants to pass in a week. And this is going to be a disaster for renewable energy and our clean energy future. There’s nothing about bailing our nuclear power plants that puts any solar panels on anybody’s roofs, builds any windmills or gets anybody energy efficiency. It’s really going to prop up the energy status quo.

MIKE BURKE: And what do you say to the environmentalists who say nuclear energy should be part of the mix, should be part of the carbon-free mix, when it comes to future energy needs?

TIM JUDSON: Sure, well, there aren’t any environmentalists who say that we need nuclear power. There’s a bunch of front groups being funded by the nuclear industry wanting to paint themselves, you know, as environmental groups. But if you look at the platform of every environmental organization across this country, every real environmental organization, from the NRDC all the way down to grassroots groups, nobody is endorsing nuclear power. In fact, NRDC’s—NRDC, Environment America and Friends of the Earth just signed a historic agreement to close and phase out the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in California, and replace it with clean, renewable energy. And what that thing—what that agreement shows, which includes a just transition, is that we actually have a path to get to a clean energy future faster without nuclear power than with it.

VICTORIA BARRETT: My name is Victoria Barrett. I’m with Earth Guardians. I’m from New York state.

MIKE BURKE: If you had a chance to speak to Hillary Clinton, what would your message be?

VICTORIA BARRETT: I’d tell her to make sure she stops with her fracking bull that she’s got going on right now and to make sure that she’s trying to find a way to fit into her campaign, to fit into her policy, effectively, tangibly, a clean transition. It’s not impossible. We just need to start. We should have started yesterday. We should have started years ago. But now, we need to start now.

AMY GOODMAN: Special thanks to Mike Burke and Democracy Now!’s Sam Alcoff for that report from the streets of Philadelphia, some of the thousands of protesters who were out on Sunday, the day before the convening of the Democratic National Convention. This is Democracy Now! Stay with us.

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