Valerie Love is a clean energy staffer with the Center for Biological Diversity, which is headquartered in Arizona and has offices in 11 states and Washington, D.C. These days she’s working on the CBD’s “Keep It In the Ground” anti-fracking, anti-fossil fuel mining campaign. We encountered her at a protest outside the Siena Hotel, where an oil and gas lease auction was held by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
What’s happening here?
We’re out here telling the BLM and the Obama administration that our lands and our futures are not for sale. So we’re protesting what is essentially a climate auction of fossil fuel leasing on public lands.
This is the Silver State, a mining state. Are you going against the flow here?
Well, we’re standing up, regardless of what the culture is, to say that this is the way we need to go. We know that, with the science of global warming, we need to keep 80 percent of fossil fuels in the ground. We already have what we need leased on public lands and private lands. We don’t need any new fossil fuel leasing to make the transition to clean and renewable energy.
The mining industry has clout here. What are the chances you’re going to win against them?
Well, it’s a national campaign so these are folks all over the country rallying and campaigning and so we’re really, you know—we’re going grassroots, bottom up, and we hope that we will push up to the very top to the Obama administration to D.C. to have our voices heard.
The industry says that there has not been the research that shows there is a problem with fracking. Can you address that?
Well, the industry is profiting off of that statement, so they’re kind of suspect messengers. But there has been a lot of evidence of the dangers of fracking, the dangerous chemicals that are used, the links to serious public health problems, so I think we have enough evidence that it’s a dangerous practice. … So we need to keep that 450 billion tons of carbon pollution in the ground. And American needs to do its share here to curb that pollution and keep it in the ground. The prefect place to start is on our public lands, which is a place for wildlife habitat, for precious water resources. It’s where we go to play and connect with nature. These are our heritage … to pass on to our children. So the last thing we want is to sell it off to the highest bidder, to dig that stuff up and put our climate future in jeopardy. We’re not along here in Reno. All across the country, people have been rallying. In Wyoming, in Colorado, in Utah, in Alaska, there have been protests just like this. In D.C. there was going to be [an auction] this week, on Thursday, and under threat of protest and civil disobedience, they canceled that auction.