XR Boston Hosts "Critical Mass Day" to Celebrate 75th Day of State House Stand-Out

Local members of the international grassroots environmental movement, Extinction Rebellion, held their largest gathering yet at the Massachusetts State House, demanding that Governor Healey commit to no new fossil fuel infrastructure in the state.

Despite months of demonstrations at the State House, hundreds of postcards delivered to the administration, and ongoing conversation between Extinction Rebellion volunteers and the administration, Governor Healey has yet to publicly commit to opposing new fossil fuel infrastructure in Massachusetts. Opposing new fossil fuel infrastructure is necessary to keep global warming under 1.5°C and prevent even more catastrophic impacts of climate change.

I stand out to relieve the deep anxiety I feel about the future of my children and every young person. Also, I’ve met the best people—smart, thoughtful people who really care about the planet and all species on it,” says Carina Campobasso, an Extinction Rebellion volunteer who has been standing out at the State House consistently for months.

Wednesday’s action, in which activists showed Healey’s administration that a critical mass of MA residents want action on climate change, marked the 75th consecutive day of demonstrations at the State House, where Extinction Rebellion volunteers have gathered each weekday since June 5.

But Extinction Rebellion volunteers have been pleading for action from Governor Healy for many months: During a sit-in at the Governor’s office in February, where Climate Chief Melissa Hoffer briefly met with activists and heard their arguments for why Massachusetts should be a leader in the transition to a fossil-fuel-free future. In May and June, rebels disrupted sessions in the House and Senate chambers. In the June demonstration, climate activists mooned the Senate chamber, with the words “Stop Passing Gas” written across their buttocks.

In December 2022, ten climate activists were arrested after blocking access to a private jet company at Hanscom Airfield, and 15 Extinction Rebellion volunteers were arrested while disrupting traffic across the city in an effort to raise attention for the need for No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure.

After these months of continual pressure, Climate Chief Hoffer admitted in an August meeting with activists that Massachusetts will be unable to make its legally binding target to reduce emissions to 50% of 1990 levels by 2030, and that the administration still has no plans to phase out new gas hookups across the Commonwealth. Despite assuring activists that the administration would release a statement publicly opposing new fossil fuel infrastructure, neither Hoffer nor Healey have done so.

“By participating in this protest, I aim to amplify the collective voice demanding action from our government. The Massachusetts State House serves as a symbol of political power and influence, and directing our demands there sends a clear message to policymakers about the critical importance of halting the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure. I firmly believe that the time for decisive action to mitigate climate change is now, and being part of this sustained protest is my way of contributing to this vital cause and holding our leaders accountable for their role in addressing the climate crisis,” says Peter Watson, another long-time Stand Out member and Extinction Rebellion volunteer.

In the State House today, a crowd of Massachusetts residents delivered hand-written postcards to the Governor’s office in a long single-file line, demanding that the administration take action to oppose new fossil fuel infrastructure. A choir sang in the halls throughout the procession. Meanwhile, attendees in front of the General Hooker entrance enjoyed live music, a full potluck lunch, and speeches from organizers.

Research shows that the earth is rapidly entering climate and ecological breakdown, and that burning fossil fuels has led to a breach of the limits of many of Earth’s global systems — so much so that scientists have warned Earth is “well outside the safe operating space for humanity.” We don’t have much time left to take action in order to keep global temperatures from spiking above 1.5 degrees of warming — a level where earth’s feedback loops will fundamentally alter life on this planet, with humans losing the ability to stop what climate scientists call an “uninhabitable hothouse earth.”

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