Massachusetts—On Saturday August 4, 350MA organized its first statewide day of action. Over 150 people participated in 15 actions across the state.
Many hit the streets and asked passersby to spare a few cents for fossil fuel companies—that’s a few cents in addition to the billions of dollars in subsidies the taxpayers already give. Volunteers, including activists, veterans, religious leaders, church members, and concerned citizens, held bake sales, manned lemonade stands, and rattled cans to raise money for oil, coal, and gas companies. Spare Change for Big Oil actions took place in Arlington, Amherst, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Newton, Somerville, in Waltham, and on the T!
The event aimed to raise awareness of the fact that, in this time of recession and continued economic hardship, ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Shell—the “Big Five” oil companies—made a record $137 billion in profits in 2011. Despite these high earnings, fossil fuel companies received between $11 and $50 billion in taxpayer subsidies and tax cuts.
Spare Change for Big Oil! is part of the End Fossil Fuel Subsidies international campaign led by 350.org. Ending these subsidies is the first step towards solving the climate crisis. It will not be enough to fix the problem alone, but it will be a start and will set us up for stronger action ahead that will make everything we are fighting for/against easier to achieve, be it stopping tar sands or natural gas pipelines, transitioning to wind, solar, geothermal, exponentially growing small sustainable and diversified farms, or building alternative transportation infrastructure.
In addition to Spare Change for Big Oil fundraisers, other actions similarly targeting fossil fuel companies were held throughout the state. In Concord, 350MA joined Oceana to hold hands across the sand at Walden Pond, an international event that promotes renewable energy and protests offshore drilling. The Starseed Healing Sanctuary of Savoy expressed its commitment to moving forward together as we reduce our dependency on fossil fuels by shaping cord wood, which heats the facilities, in a cosmic spiral. After the Spare Change for Big Oil event in Harvard Square, there was a die-in to protest a proposed natural gas pipeline in Massachusetts. In the West, the Massachusetts Climate Summer team and Nuestras Raices held actions throughout the day which supported closing the Mount Tom Coal Plant. The Waltham Land Trust spent the day completing the newest leg of the Western Greenway Trail, a 20-mile loop trail suitable for walking, cross-country running, and hard-core mountain biking.