Reno Gazette-Journal, March 9, 2016
Reno protesters rally to stop gas, oil leases in Nevada
By Marcella Corona
Reno protesters called out President Barack Obama and other elected officials to halt all new oil and gas leases on Nevada federal land at a protest on Tuesday.
A group of about 30 protesters rallied beneath the Reno arch with signs that read “Keep It In The Ground,” “Do Not Frack Nevada” and “Oil, Coal Gas = Climate Chaos.”
“Our role today is to help get some people out here… and help make sure that people in Reno know that our lands out there in Nevada and our water and our people are under tremendous pressure from the fossil fuel industry, whose top priority is to squeeze as much money out of our state as possible,” Bob Fulkerson, executive director of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, said on Tuesday. “Our water and our people and our land could be damned, and that’s not right.
“We want to put our people and our planet and our water before corporate profits.”
Leaders of WildEarth Guardians said they gathered more than 44,000 signatures on a petition urging President Obama to secure his "climate legacy" by keeping fossil fuels safely in the ground.
Tuesday's event was staged in conjunction with a Bureau of Land Management auction of leases scheduled inside a Reno hotel-casino.
BLM officials said 39 parcels totaling more than 50,000 acres in Elko and Eureka were on the block, but none received the minimum bid of $2 per acre, apparently because of current low oil prices.
Fulkerson said the protest was one tactic and that it was too early to tell if it was effective. Still, it serves to let lobbyists and elected officials supporting the fossil fuel industry know “that they don’t get a pass,” he said.
“Nevada is the driest state in the union,” Fulkerson said.
“Our ground water is even more precious because there’s less of it,” he said. “We think that the regulations don’t adequately protect our water.”
On Monday, candidate filing officially opened, which means the state Legislature races are in full swing. Protesters hope to sway candidates to support renewable energy.
“Every one of us needs to ask all the people who are running where they stand, not just on fracking but on the idea that we need put people and our planet first before corporations,” Fulkerson said. “We really need to ask the people who just filed for office and who are running: Are they on the side of corporations, or are they on the side of the people?
“You can’t be on both sides. Not anymore now that our planet is hanging on by its fingernails.”
Tuesday’s rally was part of a national movement to “Keep It In The Ground,” said Valerie Love, one of the protest organizers with the Center for Biological Diversity. The agency is based in Tucson, Ariz., and strives to protect wildlife.
“We hope to put the spotlight on BLM and show them that all eyes are on them,” Love said. “We’re watching.”
“We have the technology to move to clean and renewable energy – solar, wind, geothermal,” she said. “There’s so much unused potential there.”
Love said the transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy can’t be done overnight, but needs to be done fast.
“For the sake of the people we love, my nieces, my nephews, the kids that I want to have, I want to make sure that they grow up in a safe, livable and healthy planet,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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