Last month, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy team had an inspiring weekend out in the field at the Uplift Climate Conference.
Senior Campaigner Rebecca Sobel and Climate Guardians Shannon Hughes and Becca Fischer attended the youth-focused climate conference from September 15 through the 17th. This year the conference was held outside of Moab, Utah at Lone Mesa Campground. Check out our Flickr album here.
Uplift focuses on protecting the landscape of the Colorado Plateau, a geologic and geographic region spanning parts of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.
The Colorado Plateau has been continuously inhabited for 12,000 years. Today, the Indigenous peoples of the Colorado Plateau include the Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, Hualapai, Havasupai, Ute, Apache, and Southern Paiute. The Plateau also has the greatest concentration of National Parks outside of Washington, D.C.
Unfortunately, and sadly the Colorado Plateau has also been targeted by industry for extensive coal, oil and gas, and uranium exploitation.
This year approximately 120 youth activists from across the West gathered to hear speakers discuss how to cultivate community, celebrate diversity, and weave narratives of resilience into our work.
On Friday night, Keynote Speaker Janene Yazzie, a community organizer on the Navajo Nation, moved us to tears with her emotional presentation, which underpinned the conference theme of advancing solutions upon a foundation of the history and struggle of the land and people within.
The conversation on Saturday included a discussion on threats to the Greater Chaco Region grounded by Navajo community leader and Frack Off Chaco coalition member Kendra Pinto. More than 91% of the Chaco area has been leased for fracking and hundreds of existing oil and gas wells are already operating. On top of this, the Trump administration is ignoring calls from the Navajo Nation and All Pueblo Council of Governors for a moratorium on more fracking. Instead, they’re planning to give away an additional 4,500 acres for fracking in March 2018.
Kendra summed up the situation stating, “They value what is under the earth more than who is above it.”
Guardians was privileged to present a workshop to aid challenging fossil fuel extraction on federal lands, which is responsible for 20% of our nation’s climate change pollution. As the Trump Administration aims at handing over every ounce of public resource to private corporations, we know the public must start to influence public lands decisions.
Our workshop outlined which federal agencies are involved in leasing and approving development plans for coal and oil and gas, and where the opportunities lay for public engagement. We also provided a handy comprehensive guide of upcoming administrative actions to protect public minerals on public lands – take a look and engage!
We were inspired by the speakers, presenters, and Uplifters throughout the weekend and grew more hopeful that together we have the energy, creativity, and vision to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition to just energy economies that protect the sacred landscapes of the West.
In the end, the goal guiding the conference rang true: “Our future rests upon re-imagining our relationships with our energy sources, cultures, waterways, and regional ecosystems on the Colorado Plateau.”
We need to reimagine our future away from the destruction and devastation of fossil fuels, and we’re grateful to the organizers and supporters of the Uplift Climate Conference for nurturing the space to stretch our imaginations!