The Boston Mass Graves Pipeline Protest

Boston, MA — In an effort to bring attention to the growing number of deaths caused by climate driven extreme heat and the dangers of continued fossil fuel extraction, Boston area activists staged the “Mass Graves Pipeline Protests” on June 29th.  To connect the dots between mass graves in Pakistan and the trenches being dug by Spectra Energy in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood, activists including my colleague Tim DeChristopher (I do media work with Tim) and Al Gore’s daughter, Karenna Gore, stormed and occupied the pipeline trenches.

A total of 23 people were arrested with six seeking to go to trial, including Tim DeChristopher and Karenna Gore.  They are calling themselves the Mass Grave 6.

The morning of the action I asked Tim how he was thinking of it.  Is this direct action?  A funeral?  A die-in?  Tim suggested this might be something new as we enter a new age of anticipatory mass graves.

After a series of eulogies for those who have died as a direct result of climate change,  Tim DeChristopher spoke on our entering the “Age of Anticipatory Mass Graves.”

You can see more of my footage and footage by Kori Feener (she filmed activists taking the trench) in the following Democracy Now! segments.

My photos from the action are available for media use at with photo credit: Peter Bowden

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Mobilizing 500 Unitarian Universalists to Join Resistance to Stop West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline

West Roxbury, Boston, MA – On Saturday, February 13, 2016 Unitarian Universalists from across Massachusetts gathered at Theodore Parker Church to organize against the construction of the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline.

Texas based Spectra Corporation is building a pipeline that will carry fracked gas into the West Roxbury, Boston, MA community.  The pipeline has been met with strong local resistance.

While Unitarian Universalists have participated in previous protests,  organizers are now reaching out to Unitarian Universalists congregations across the state to supersize their numbers.

UU gathering to oraganize against West Roxbury Lateral Pipleline

Mobilizing 500+ Unitarian Universalists

The stated goal of this organizing effort is to mobilize 500+ Unitarian Universalists to join the local resistance fighting the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline and to block construction when Spectra returns in April.

If successful, this would be the one of the largest coordinated Unitarian Universalist social justice action in Massachusetts history.

Congregations interested in participating in this effort may contact Evan Seitz, UU Mass Action Climate Justice Organizer at

Why Resist

According to the Resist the Pipeline website, there are many local concerns and larger issues related to climate change driving opposition to Spectra building a pipeline carrying fracked gas into West Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts.

Local Concerns:

  • This is a high pressure pipeline (750 psi) at risk for explosion. It will run within a hundred feet of an active blasting quarry, and through residential neighborhoods, and past several schools.
  • Massachusetts does not face an energy crisis, and does not need new gas infrastructure. Residents will not get a monetary benefit from the additional natural gas supply. If anything, our utility rates will likely increase.
  • The local permitting process was overridden by the abuse of the concept of “Eminent Domain”. This pipeline was not approved by the local permitting process, but by a travesty of democracy that used the power of a federal agency to override local concerns.The FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), which oversees and approves all gas pipeline projects, gave Spectra Energy permission to build this pipeline. FERC is  a remote and unaccountable federal agency, with the authority to override all local legal processes. In the words of Robert Kennedy Jr., FERC is a “rogue agency, a captive agency, controlled by the big energy corporations.”

Climate Change:

  • Natural gas is mostly methane. Methane is 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in contributing to global warming. Methane is also a local health risk, because of the reality of leaks and groundwater contamination at the source where it is fracked. It is also, like any fossil fuel, turned into C02 when it is burned, adding to the overall unsustainable amount of carbon in the atmosphere already.
  • The crisis of climate change requires us to stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure–such as this gas pipeline. Instead we should invest in conservation, fixing leaks, and invest in renewable energy infrastructure. All new fossil fuel infrastructure will help bring the planet to a tipping point for climate change, after which it cannot be stopped. Climatologists and other scientists are now in  total agreement that in order to prevent a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius, we must stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere immediately. (Methane, the main component of fracked gas, is turned into CO2 when it is burned, like all other fossil fuels.)

Dangers of Boston Region Gas Leaks

The Feb 13th gathering  included a presentation on the hazards of Boston area methane leaks from existing natural gas infrastructure by Boston University Earth & Environment Professor Nathan Phillips.

Nathan Phillips Boston Gas Leaks

Community leaders representing a range of local organizations shared briefings on their efforts to date.  Organizations represented included  Stop the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline, Resist the Pipeline, UU Mass Action  and other local faith communities.

UU meeting to organize against the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline

Unitarian Universalists are working to step up their game when it comes to climate justice.

At the Peoples Climate March Unitarian Universalists launched the Commit2Respond campaign, a growing coalition of Unitarian Universalists and other people of faith and conscience working for climate justice.

Individual congregations are taking bold action as well.

On Nov 8, 2015 the First Parish in Bedford, MA (Unitarian Universalist)  passed a Resolution Declaring Our Right to a Livable Climate by majority vote.

The resolution clarifies the congregations position on the fossil fuel industry and the disruption that industry is causing to the climate.  It states that “we have an inalienable right to a liveable climate, and that both the fossil fuel industry and the laws that support that industry are in violation of those rights.

The resolution states the congregation intends to fight for and defend the right to a liveable climate through organizing and supporting those who engage in civil disobedience to block new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Below is the full text of the resolution, followed by a video calling for other Unitarian Universalists to join this fight.


A Resolution Declaring our Right to a Livable Climate

First Parish Bedford Unitarian Universalist Congregational Resolution (passed Nov. 8, 2015)

Whereas, we are a community of faith that values the inherent worth and dignity of all people and communities, and seek to create and defend a world in which all people may lead full and productive lives;

Whereas, at least 80% of declared fossil fuel reserves in the ground must remain in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, defined by the international community as warming over 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit);

Whereas, fossil fuel companies have stated publicly they intend to burn all their known reserves, thereby directly threatening the livability of Bedford and Massachusetts;

Whereas, fossil fuel companies continue to grow their businesses by building new infrastructure to extract and transport fossil fuels;

Whereas, fossil fuel companies are a keystone institution within an economic system that has resulted in rising inequality and which systematically ignores the needs of people of color, workers, and communities with the fewest resources;

Whereas, we know that a world without the burning of fossil fuels is technologically possible, and that a transition to this world is being blocked by the fossil fuel companies and the politicians influenced by them;

Whereas, we know that climate disruption caused by the burning of fossil fuels is causing forced migrations, food shortages, mass extinctions, and the disruption of indigenous peoples around the world:

Therefore, be it resolved, by the First Parish in Bedford, that the congregation:

Recognizes that we have an inherent right to a livable climate, and that right trumps laws legitimizing the continued extraction and consumption of fossil fuels.

  1. Recognizes the continuation of extraction and burning of fossil fuels as immoral; therefore the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure is unconscionable.
  2. Supports those in our community who through organizing or non-violent civil disobedience seek to reject or dismantle the laws legitimizing this industry.
  3. Opposes any tariffs that may be imposed on Massachusetts ratepayers to fund new fossil fuel infrastructure, including the proposed Kinder Morgan and Spectra pipelines.
  4. Stands in solidarity with frontline communities in their efforts to oppose fossil fuel infrastructure.
  5. Empowers our ministers and elected officials to act in accordance to this resolution in conducting public affairs and speaking on behalf of this congregation.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, if approved, the clerk of the Parish shall, within 30 days of the vote of the congregation, forward a copy of this resolution and the vote thereon to Gov. Charlie Baker, President of the Senate Stanley Rosenberg, State Representative Kenneth Gordon, State Senator Michael Barrett, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen Edward Markey, Congressman Seth Moulton, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, and the chair and commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.






Tim DeChristopher on the Delta 5 Climate Trial Verdict

In this video Tim DeChristopher shares an overview of the Delta 5 trial, the outcome, implications and his thoughts on how to use civil disobedience as a strategy moving forward.

DeChristopher and the Climate Disobedience Center team supported the Delta 5 during the trial.

For more see  Tim DeChristopher’s  January 16, 2016 talk “The Power of Civil Disobedience: Awakening Our Spirits to the Challenge of the Climate Crisis”  delivered the day after the historic #Delta5 climate trial verdict.  The event was sponsored by the Climate Action Team of University Unitarian Church, Seattle. Filmed by Todd Boyle.

This talk has been broken up into short topic focused video clips here.

The following is the full program video including introductions and Q &A after the talk.



Jury in Delta 5 Climate Case Splits Decision, Shares Sympathy With Protesters

The Climate Disobedience Center reports the following on the verdict of the Delta5 trial. See full press release on the Climate Disobedience Center website.

Lynnwood, WA – The historic case of the ‘Delta 5’ train blockaders has ended with a conviction on one of the two charges. After four days of testimony from the defendants and their expert witness a Jury found the defendants not guilty of impeding the movement of a train, but guilty of trespass in the second degree.

Immediately following the verdict three of the jurors gathered in the halls of the courthouse to talk with the defendants, their legal team, and supporters. In a heartfelt conversation the jurors expressed their support for the defendants, told their lawyers they would have acquitted on all charges were necessity instructions given, agreed to work with the Climate Disobedience Center to improve further cases and signed up to attend a lobbying day on oil-trains with defendant Abby Brockway.

“The fact that the full testimony on climate and oil trains was allowed, and the jury acquitted us of blocking an oil train makes this a historic trial. Two of the jurors said they are ready to join us lobbying at the state house, I’d call that a success,” said defendant Abby Brockway.

Despite the compelling testimony, the judge instructed the jury to limit their deliberations only to the question of finding whether there were violations of trespass and train laws.

“This judge refused to introduce our defense because of lack of precedent. It set me to thinking of all the bold judges who broke with precedent and advanced the cause of justice in the process, The necessity defense is something that needs a new precedent.” said Jackie Minchew of the Delta 5.

Jurors told the defendants and their lawyers that they were moved by the testimony on the climate crisis and oil train threats and that they would find ways to take action on both issues. “Welcome to the movement,” defendant Mike Lapointe told jurors as he and Brockway embraced them.

Four of the five defendants were sentenced to $550 in fines and fees and a two year probation. Mike Lapointe had his fines suspended due to his financial circumstances. The terms of their probation are that they have no further criminal violations and have no contact with BNSF property.

In 2014, Motivated by the alarming science of climate change, and by concern for the safety of those living in Washington’s fossil fuel corridors, the five local activists had blockaded a train used to transport explosive Bakkan crude oil in Everett on September 2, 2014.

“The Delta 5 knew that they had to step outside of business as usual to take climate action commensurate with the crisis. The fact that Judge Howard stayed within his strict legalism and declined to take a risk of conscience reinforces how important it is for citizens to take bold moral actions. It is clear from the comments of the jurors that this was a transformational moment,” said climate activist Tim DeChristopher. DeChristopher, a founder of the Climate Disobedience Center, had his own trial and conviction after disrupting a federal oil and gas auction in Utah in 2008.

See full press release on the Climate Disobedience Center website.

This week CLIMATE CHANGE goes on trial in case of the #Delta5

Lynnwood, WA:  This week history is being made as a group of climate activists are helping to put lack of action on climate change on trial.

According to the  Climate Disobedience Center, the five defendants known to supporters as the Delta 5, will call expert witnesses including a co-author of the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change report and a rail safety expert, to convince the jury that the threat posed by climate change justifies their acts of civil disobedience.

“There came a point where I could no longer sit back and wait for the politicians to act. I had to put my body on the line to demand not talk, but action on a massive scale to rapidly replace fossil fuels,” said Patrick Mazza, a member of the Delta 5 who has worked for years as an advocate for climate action.

This is the first time a U.S. court has heard a ‘necessity defense’ in a case relating to climate action. The trial is schedule to last the duration of this week.

See the full trial press release.

Before the trial began Monday, Tim DeChristopher of Bidder 70 fame and co-founder of the Climate Disobedience Center supporting the defendants, and defendant Abby Brockway spoke with Democracy Now! about the significance of the case.

Dechristopher said in another Democracy Now interview that the climate movement is increasingly turning towards civil disobedience because  “the government is not doing what’s necessary to meet the climate crisis” and that those committing climate related civil disobedience are doing so to “prevent the harm of climate change that really threatens to collapse our entire civilization and cause massive refugees, cause massive starvation and a huge list of extremely serious impacts that we’re trying to stop. So it’s truly a necessity to take that kind of action to stand up to the fossil fuel industry when our government fails to do so.”

DeChristopher is live tweeting from the trial at @DeChristopher.

Delta 5 Activists Go to Climate Trial Armed with Necessity Defense

BREAKING : According to my colleague, climate activist Tim DeChristopher, the judge in the Delta 5 case is allowing the use of the Necessity Defense. This is the legal defense which DeChristopher was denied in his prominent trial for disrupting an illegitimate Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction in December of 2008. DeChristopher served 20 months for his act of civil disobedience.  Updated 1/8/16

Next week, on January 11th, the  activists known as the Delta 5 are going to trail for their civil disobedience.  A year ago, in September 2014, they blocked a train used to transport oil at the Delta rail yard in Everett, WA.

This is yet another instance of average citizens people like you and me putting their bodies in the way of business as usual for the fossil fuel industry.  Perhaps something we all need to be doing as the fossil fuel industry seems “hell bent on killing the planet” to quote Bill McKibben.

In this video the Delta 5 — that’s Abby Brockway, Mike Lapointe, Patrick Mazza, Jackie Minchew, and Liz Spoerri — explain why they took this action.

My colleagues at the new Climate Disobedience Center are supporting the Delta 5 through this trial.   See related Detla 5 posts on the center’s website:

Wherever you are, you can help these activists by following the trial, sharing related news, and if you can,  support their legal fund.

On Twitter
Look for tweets with hashtag #DELTA5 and retweet.  Here are a few to start with:

Share some of the Facebook posts from the Climate Disobedience Center.

Read More
Learn more about the Delta 5 case on their website at