The Incredible Shivering Protest

by Aaron Johnson, Manager of Communications on December 8, 2016 - 11:57am

Keep-It-in-the-Ground activists were sparse in Denver at today’s planned protest. Not even a dozen showed up. The fact it was 11 degrees outside with snow on the ground may have been the cause. After all, it’s hard to convince people to protest oil and natural gas when your teeth are rattling. It’s far more comfortable to stay at home where your natural gas-powered furnace keeps you warm.

WildEarth Guardians promoted the protest to rally against an oil and natural gas lease sale conducted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Not surprising, it was their smallest Keep-It-in-the-Ground protest yet.

Activists were protesting the first online auction held by BLM Colorado today. The reason BLM has begun holding the lease sales online is to take advantage of today’s technology, as well as to reduce the security threat protesters pose to federal employees. In previous protests, activists staged a car accident. In others, the protesters were so disruptive police escorted them out of the room.

In fact, earlier this year, BLM Director Neil Kornze cited the threat from Keep It in the Ground protesters in congressional testimony, equating the threat to that posed by militiamen at the Malheur Wildlfe Refuge in Oregon. (Watch at the 54:30 mark of this video.) The nation is watching these tactics escalate in North Dakota, where environmental activist groups are rioting in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). BLM has since held several lease sales offsite to protect its staff while they put in place the mechanisms to hold the sales online. 

Western Energy Alliance strongly supports BLM’s transition to online auctions because it will help save the government taxpayer money to conduct the lease sales, protect the safety of agency employees, and protesters still have several chances to engage through public comment periods. Plus, it’s refreshing to see the federal government introduce innovation and technology.