15 Actions to Topple the Fossil Fuel Empire!

Thanks to our friends at Rising Tide North America for putting together this list


1. Stop the pumps! As the main public face of the oil industry not to mention the fact that they are everywhere, gas stations are a great place to highlight the connection between car culture, climate change, and environmental justice. Aside from being one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases, there is not an oil company on this planet that has not been party to human rights atrocities. Whether it is Shell killing environmental activists in Nigeria or ChevronToxico dumping toxic waste on indigenous lands in the Amazon there are plenty of examples to make the connection between the destruction of the Earth and these companies’ assaults on human rights.

Consider such tactics as blockading the entrance to a gas station, locking down to gas pumps, or having a die-in in front of the gas station. It is quite easy to gain access to the roof for a banner drop with the use of a extension ladder.

It should also be noted that all gas stations have safety shut off buttons that will shut off gas pumps in case of an emergency, which are generally located on the outside of the station. If a global climate meltdown isn’t an emergency, we don’t know what is!

2. Stick it to the Biofools. While we’re on the topic, agrofuel expansion is being touted as a solution to climate change, but agrofuels are actually a distraction from rejecting car culture at best. At their worst they use massive amounts of fossil fuels and pesticides to produce, waste enormous quantities of fresh water, and are one of the leading causes of deforestation in the global south. In addition to going after research institutions taking corporate money to expand the production of industrial agrofuels, target your local large-scale industrial bio-refinery, be i fo  ethanol, biodiesel, or other proposed biomass facility.

Try finding them at ww.ethanolrfa.org/industry/locations/ or www.distill.com/usa.html. If there’s no bio-refinery or financiers of bio-foolery in your area, you can research what agribusinesses are located in your town and target their offices or facilities with creative civil disobedience such as banner hangs, office demos, blockades, or creative street theater. Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge,Dreyfus, and Monsanto.Or perhaps there is an ethanol or biodiesel fuel pump in your neck of the woods?

3. Spank a bank. It would be nearly impossible for the fossil fuels industry to continue extraction and build new energy facilities without the financing of the world’s largest banks. Billions upon billions of dollars are handed out to the world’s largest polluters by these financial institutions. Fortunately there is a growing international effort to get these banks to withdraw all funding of the fossil fuels industry. There are currently active campaigns against JP Morgan Chase and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC Centura in the US). JP Morgan Chase is the largest financier of mountaintop removal coal mining and the #1 financier of new coal plants in the US. RBC Centura is a major funder of tar sand oil mining in Canada and has been repeatedly targeted by indigenous and climate activists for there role in the tar sands industry. Even if you can’t pull a crowd together for a protest, a few people with “out of order” signs can shut down dozens of ATM machines owned by these banks in a matter of hours. Make sure there is a message in fine print on these signs about the banks role in climate change. For additional resources check out www.dirtymoney.org.

4. Kick corporate research off your (or anybody’s) campus! Universities, in collaboration with corporations, are developing new technologies using fossil fuel extraction and burning. Many schools in coal states have research facilities dedicated to the perpetuation of this dirty fuel, while schools in oil states like Texas focus on petroleum. Chances are that any major university will be involved in some aspect of perpetuating our addiction to fossil fuels. Capitalizing on the need for alternative energy sources many universities are raking in big bucks setting up agrofuels research centers. Not only will agrofuels not create meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases, they create a host of new environmental and social problems.

BP’s $500 million facility proposed for UC Berkeley is already meeting strong resistance. Do some research, get creative, and kick the fossil fools in the butt and then off your campus!

5. Bikes not Buicks! Critical Mass is a time honored protest against car culture and an excellent way to get large crowds out for mass civil disobedience with relatively low risk. For a Critical Mass, all you have to do is get together a group of bikers and take to the streets. The idea is to take over all lanes of traffic to create an empowering atmosphere for bicycles while temporarily impeding automobile traffic. It helps to have a few people at the head of the ride leading the mob if you have a route you want to stick to. But a ride without a planned route can be just as fun. Critical Masses can also be and excellent way to get a bunch of people to a protest target in a short amount of time. Consider having your Critical Mass end at a local climate criminal. Or make is a take a tour of all the fossil fools in your town.

6. Fry the friendly skies. Air travel is one of the fastest growing sectors for greenhouse gas emissions, as well as one of the most extravagant uses of fossil fuels. We need to combat air travel. Protests can be organized at airline offices as well as airports. Many of the US’s largest airports are considering major expansions, which means even more airplanes polluting the air.

While tight security at airports creates a number of logistical problems, they also contain some advantages such as a tendency to overreact to any situation out of the norm with a resulting disruption of airport business. Private airports, catering to the extremely wealthy, are also outstanding targets for action and send a clear message that short haul flights for the rich have got to go. Travel agencies are a great, easy place to do an action; activists in the UK regularly U-lock their doors or otherwise blockade them. Due to the danger to both airplane passengers and yourself we discourage doing anything to interfere with airport runways. While this is largely uncharted territory in the US, activists in Europe have been at it for years. Let’s bring that trend on over here!

7. Offset this! As the reality of climate change becomes ever more real, people and businesses are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. This is undoubtedly a good thing. Unfortunately there are those out there who would rather make a fortune off the climate crisis rather than actually do anything to help. Enter carbon offset companies. These companies take people’s money, and promise to “offset” all or a portion of the greenhouse gas emissions they create by paying to plant some trees or install efficient light bulbs in some developing country. The problem is this does very little to actually reduce carbon emissions while making people think they can continue to live their exorbitant lifestyles.

The bottom line is that carbon offset companies perpetuate the notion that we can continue to burn fossil fuels and fight climate change at the same time. A number of actions have been taken against the carbon offset industry such as office occupations and creative street theater. Many major US cities have carbon offset companies in them. A quick internet search will reveal if you’ve got one in your town.

8. Resist road expansion! More roads mean more cars, plain and simple. Instead of reducing our dependency on automobiles the government focuses on building a never ending web of roads. New roads devastate natural ecosystems, disrupt animal migration, and open up previously untouched areas to new development, and encourage more and more cars to hit the road.

Many communities are already resisting new road projects from Arizona to DC. In Indiana activists have mounted fierce opposition to Interstate 69, otherwise known as the NAFTA superhighway. They have disrupted public meetings, held street demos, and even evicted the planning offices for the highway by throwing all of their contents on the curb!

9. Banner Drops, Billboard Liberations, and other guerilla messaging.
Unfurling a banner (for example, over a highway overpass, parking garage, or roof) is an easy action anyone can take with little effort. Banner drops when well timed will get the message out to tons of people, even though they rarely stay up for more than 30 minutes before being removed by security of some sort. And if you’re feeling a little more adventuresome you can get the message out for hours by choosing a hard to reach location…or by a bit of extra scheming:

Billboard Liberation
 – the act of taking over a billboard and replacing the annoying advertisements with more important messages – can be an extremely effect way of getting attention to climate issues. Rising Tide North America took over a well known billboard on a major road in the photo at left, getting thousands of looks from drivers and a story in the newspaper – and the oil plant was cancelled!

Balloon Banners – for indoor banner hangs in offices or businesses with high ceilings a helium balloon banner can be up for quite some time and is easy to construct.

X marks the spot 
– Take your banner hang to the source: hang it on a coal silo, smokestack, a coal importation port/train station, or an oil refinery and it’s likely to get a ton of attention. The harder it is to get up, the harder it will be for them to get it down!

10. Direct Action at the point of destruction. We strongly recommend
taking actions directly to the point of destruction. There are few more actions more empowering and attention grabbing then blocking access to a coal or oil-fired plant, coal mine, pipeline construction site, or liquefied natural gas terminal.
Having a lot of people is useful for an action like this, but most important is a site with one entry way that can be blockaded using civil disobedience and/or a more sophisticated blockade. In the summer of 2006 Rising Tide and Earth First! blocked the single access bridge to a Virginia coal-fired power plant when someone U-locking themselves to a coal truck while another person took up a perch in a platform suspended by a rope crossing the bridge. The action shut down access to the coal plant for the better part of a day, got a ton of media attention, and no one was arrested when the protesters agreed to leave after media arrived. Of course a big, fun rowdy protest at a site like this is great too!

11. Take it to the HQ! If you live in an urban area, there’s a good chance you’ve got the head quarters of energy companies of some sort in your area. After doing some research and figuring out who the fossil fools in your community are, if you’re like us, you’ll probably find it hard to resist wanting to pay a little fossil fool day visit to their place of business. Energy companies hate the negative publicity a big rally brings, but even more annoying and disruptive to their climate destroying efforts is a nice blockade of the entry way of their business.

In Portland, Oregon following the 2007 Convergence for Climate action, activists wheeled out 3 giant concrete filled barrels with arm holes, which activists locked into disrupting entry to the headquarters of Pacific Power for the day while dozens of friends had a festive dance party and handed out hundreds of leaflets about Pacific Power’s salmon-killing dams and coal-fired power plants.

If you want to get a bit closer to the dirty business of the fossil fools, an office occupation may be in order. With some proper scouting, you’ll probably be shocked to learn just how easy it is to get into CEO’s offices. You might want to bring some lock down devices, and perhaps a bucket of coal as office warming gifts.

12. Home is where the heart of the fossil fool is! If you’re more of an evening person, or just want to make your meetup with your chosen fossil fool a little more personal, a home visit may be in order. It can be tricky finding out where they live. If you’re lucky, a “Reverse name search” might work (trySwitchboard.com). A surprisingly useful place for researching people – for many reasons! – is the Federal Election Commission campaign contribution database (try http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/index.php). Often times when people make major donations to candidates (which by law must be reported) they include their home address on their filings.

You can use county tax records to find out where a person lives too. Many counties have an online search database, and all of them have the information on file at the courthouse. Often organizing a big rally at a fossil fool big wig’s house is action enough to get a lot of media attention (not to mention their neighbors attention) especially if you bring a great party songs and games. A banner hang on someone’s roof makes things a bit more interesting. (We caution against doing anything that could be construed as destroyed personal property.) Wanted posters hung in the neighborhood warning neighbors of a dangerous climate criminal living nearby can help get the word out as well.

13. The nuclear option. The natural response to the climate crisis created by fossil fuels is of course to switch to a fuel source that is unbelievably expensive, incredibly energy intensive to create, and will remain deadly to all life for hundreds of thousands of years. The Obama administration may try to slide this one by us, but we’re no fools. If a utility company in your neck of the woods is going nuclear, let them know that nukes aren’t the answer to the climate crisis.]

14. Share the love… Please don’t leave any fossil fools forgotten this April 1! There are many, many companies tied up in the fossil fuel empire. If you live somewhere where companies like Halliburton, Dynergy, Bechtel, or General Electric, which specialize in providing critical construction and other “energy services” for fossil fools around the world, be sure to share some foolery with them as well.
15. Don’t listen to us! The best idea is the one you and your community comes up with. Plan something great whatever it is. Don’t forget to drop us a line and let us know what it is!
Need information on how to pull off any of these actions? Want us to help you get media attention for your action? Let us know.

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