Hundreds surround the Superdome to demand no Gulf drilling

by Marissa Knodel, climate change campaigner

Gulf Coast residents and activists from around the country came together yesterday to stand strong against the fossil fuel empires who submitted bids to drill on 43 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico. The lease sale was part of the 2012–2017 offshore drilling program approved by the Obama administration. Participants in the rally included Gulf Coast residents from Texas to Florida who sang, recited poetry and spoke out against the atrocities the Gulf has and continues to experience from fossil fuel exploitation.

Nearly 200 people entered the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana to occupy the space where the sale was held, and later continued to march around the building holding banners that told a story of resistance and strength, starting with “Keep It in the Ground” to “This is what a Just Transition Looks Like” to “Water is a Human Right,” and many more. Participants chanted while industry and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management officials tried to conduct business. The sale ended up leasing 693,932 acres for $156 million.

Top left: Protesters surround the Superdome in New Orleans with banners held high. Image credit: Jan Mandani. Remaining imagery captured by Marissa Knodel. Banners created by Radical Arts and Healing Collective and Seven Design Labs.

This rally is the first time this coalition of Gulf Coast residents and local and national groups rallied together to oppose new offshore drilling in the Gulf as part of the growing Keep It in the Ground movement and call for a just transition to a clean energy economy. With two more lease sales scheduled for the current five-year plan and 10 more proposed for the 2017–2022 plan, this rally will not be the last.

Prominent activist Clarice Friloux shares her testimony regarding Keep It in the Ground and the fight ahead. Video from the Indigenous Environmental Network.