Indigenous Grandmothers, Protectors & Defenders Rally and Take Action at the Gates of Shell Oil Refinery in Martinez, CA
Martinez, CA: Early this morning, dozens occupied the main entrance to the Shell Oil refinery on Pacheco Boulevard in Martinez, CA today to protect and defend the land, air, water and soil from pollutants and to protest the company’s environmental and human rights record. Gathering with several dozen other community members, the group intentionally walked onto Shell’s property with the intention of stopping entry into the refinery.
Today’s action at Shell is in response to the Indigenous Women of the Americas Defending Mother Earth Treaty’s call to non-violently rise up and challenge destructive practices corporate harms to the environment on each Solstice and Equinox. The group’s call is to act to ensure healthy air, water, soil, seeds and a safe climate so that life may continue.
“Humanity can live without fossil fuels. We cannot live without clean air and water. The oil industry is poisoning the air, water and climate that is necessary for life to exist. State regulators have let us all down by irresponsibly allowing the oil industry to pollute the natural systems that were to be set aside for human existence. We’re here today as grandmothers, mothers, aunts and allies to rise up for the future of life on Mother Earth,” said Pennie Opal Plant of Idle No More SF Bay, “Our actions are prayers for the future of life, for the safety of the refinery workers, and for the corporate directors to remember their place within the system of life.”
Citing concerns around a recent Shell pipeline spill in Northern California and the ever-deteriorating air quality of the Bay Area due to the “Refinery Corridor,” which the Martinez refinery is a part of, and ongoing concerns around the global climate, the group called for Indigenous women and their allies to join them in drawing the line to prevent more harms from destroying the environment that life needs to exist.
In late May, hazardous materials crews were sent to clean up as many as 21,000 gallons of oil after a Shell pipeline rupture in Tracy California. According to a 2012 study from Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) on particulate matter, called Understanding Particulate Matter: Protecting Public Health in the San Francisco Bay Area 1, the Shell and Tesoro refineries in Martinez, CA produce the most hazardous air pollutants (hap) per barrel of oil in the Bay Area refinery corridor. Shell’s Arctic drilling operations have been the subject of much environmental opposition in the Northwest over the past year. Finally, Shell has a long international record of human rights and environmental crimes from Nigeria to Ireland.
Protesters at today’s action said that Shell’s continued operations endanger communities, ecosystems and the climate locally in the Bay Area, regionally up and down the West Coast and abroad.
“I live in constant fear for the health and safety of my community,” said Adrian Wilson, who grew up in Contra Costa County and is taking action today at the gates of Shell. “It’s unfair for us to be exposed to this toxic air pollution. Like every good resident I just want to protect and provide for our safety.”
Groups organizing today’s event include Signers of the Indigenous Women of the Americas Defending Mother Earth Treaty, Idle No More SF Bay and Diablo Rising Tide.
- BAAQMD. 2012. Summary of PM Report. Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Accessed 6/15/16.
Idle No More SF Bay Area is a group of Native Americans and our allies rising up for the rights of Indigenous People, Mother Earth and the coming generations. You can learn more at https://www.facebook.com/INMSolidaritySF
The Indigenous Women of the Americas Defending Mother Earth Treaty is an historic treaty signed for the first time during UN Climate Week, September 2015. There are over 100 signers of this treaty from North, Central and South America.
Diablo Rising Tide is the Bay Area chapter of Rising Tide North America network. Rising Tide is an all-volunteer climate network in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico who confront the root causes of climate change with protests, direct action, and grassroots organizing.The larger Rising Tide network spans four continents and works with activists in North and South America, Europe, and Australia. You can learn more at www.diablorisingtide.org