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Midwest Region Residents to Break Free from Fossil Fuels at BP Whiting Refinery

More than 1,000 join largest civil disobedience in the history of environmental movement


edited by Kai EL’ Zabar


On Sunday, May 15, more than 1,000 residents from around the Midwest will rally, march, and engage in nonviolent action at BP Whiting Refinery to demand an end to the hazardous fossil fuel infrastructure threatening lives and further destabilizing the climate. Community members will say “enough is enough” to polluted petcoke and other toxic trespass they endure daily as a result of BP Whiting’s tar sands refinery expansion.

May 15 will mark 12 continuous days of unprecedented global mobilization on six continents under the banner Break Free from Fossil Fuels, with front line community members calling for action to keep oil, coal, and gas in the ground, and to accelerate the just transition to renewable energy.

What: Break Free from Fossil Fuels-Midwest

Who: More than 1,000 Midwest Region residents, including members of more than 60 partner organizations. A full list of participating organizations is available on the action website – midwest.breakfree2016.org/endorsingpartners. Speakers and performers will include:

Press Conference

David Bender – American Indian Center

Kristin and Marta Frank – East Chicago Environmental Activists

Martita Torrez Allen – Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke

Mariah Urueta – Food & Water Watch


Tall Paul


Bill McKibben – 350.org Co-founder and Senior Advisor

Tara Houska – Honor the Earth, Native American Advisor to Bernie Sanders

Jean Ross – Co-president, National Nurses United

Mark Burrows – Railroad Workers United

Vernon Beck – President, USW local 12775 Utilities

Lorrell Kilpatrick – Black Lives Matter-Gary

Olga Bautista – Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke

Claire McClinton – Flint Democracy Defense League

When: Sunday, May 15, Noon Central Time – press conference will begin at 12:15 pm; rally and march begin at 1 pm CT

Where: Whiting Lakefront Park, 1798 119th Street, Whiting, Indiana

Why: BP Whiting Refinery is the hub of the growing web of dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure that companies like Enbridge are working to build across the Midwest. The largest tar sands refinery in the country, BP Whiting, receives dirty crude oil from pipelines like the controversial Line 3 and the Alberta Clipper tar sands pipeline, which the State Department has allowed Enbridge to massively expand without environmental review. The refinery has also created serious public health concerns for Chicago and Northwest Indiana communities. Located next to Chicago’s Southeast Side, the refinery creates massive amounts of petcoke – toxic waste associated with refining tar sands – which BP has dumped near local residents for years. Residents are demanding an end to the devastation the fossil fuel infrastructure has caused to the Great Lakes region, protection of their water, air, land, climate, and communities, and strong investment in a just transition away from the fossil fuel industry for workers across the region.


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