This story is one of many in our new push to capture stories from organizers and members of 350.org from around the globe. Have a story? Share it with us here. This story comes from an organizer in Colorado, USA:

While on our “No Coal Listserv,” (an email chain of activists fighting the coal industry) I saw that there was a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) coal lease auction planned in Cheyenne, for Powder River basin coal. The BLM coal lease auctions generally result in coal being sold at 17% of the cost of Appalachian coal, which has resulted in a $29 billion subsidy to the regional coal industry over the last 30 years. This seems particularly outrageous when critical public services are being slashed, safety nets are being cut, and much-needed infrastructure projects are being delayed. It also seems like another tragically wasted opportunity to promote clean energy instead of artificially lowering the price of coal. As the last nail in the coffin, most of the coal is sold to Asia. 

I had been arrested in D.C. protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, where I became even more inspired to expand my comfort zone in protesting against the outrageous political decisions that do so much harm. So I responded to the email that I would organize a protest of the auction. I invited others on the email chain to join me, resulting in 350.org and 6 other organizations joining the action. 

Fantastic support came from unexpected places, but expected support fell through. On the day of the event, the AP reporter we had counted on as our best chance for press coverage was out of town. A second journalist missed the carpool. Things looked a little grim. 

Regardless, we met first thing in the morning and drove through the snow and wind in carpools from Denver, Boulder, Longmont and Fort Collins to Cheyenne. We were greeted in the parking lot by Tim, a very friendly Federal Protective Services officer – and journalists from a local TV station and newspaper. We got our referee shirts on and other costumes. Several of us performed a skit and then we had a little parade for the cameras, blowing whistles, wearing referee shirts, and yelling ‘Foul!’. The journalists interviewed a couple of us, and everyone did a fantastic job.

We left feeling excited and celebratory – almost giddy. The local CBS station gave the event almost 2 minutes that evening. We looked good, professional and rational. Next day we got word that while the per ton bid wasn’t quite the most expensive that it’s ever been, the total bid for the tract was the highest cost ever. It was a small victory in a long struggle- but one that was well worth fighting for. 


350.org is made up of thousands of activists, around the world, fighting connected battles with similar struggles. 350.org has started the process of collecting these stories, to share them with the world. Do you have a story we can share?

For more climate movement news, follow 350 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

FacebookTwitter