BOSTON (AP) — Climate activists briefly disrupted the morning commute in Boston Thursday to put pressure on the state’s governor to ban fossil fuel infrastructure.
The 15-minute protest blocked a roadway outside the South Station Transportation Center in downtown Boston. Boston police said 20 people were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct.
The group, Extinction Rebellion Boston, said in a statement that about 35 activists came out to demand that Gov. Maura Healey announce a policy to ban any fossil fuel infrastructure and commit to only appointing opponents of new infrastructure to state agencies, including the Energy Facilities Siting Board and Department of Public Utilities. They also want Healey to work with the Legislature to develop legislation to ban fossil fuel infrastructure in the state.
The group wants bans on power plants fueled by coal, oil and natural gas as well as a ban on new residential or commercial gas connections. It also wants a ban on new airports, gas stations, liquified gas storage and production facilities and natural gas distribution pipelines, transmission pipelines or compressor stations.
“I don’t understand why the Governor and her Climate Chief are not taking the first step to dealing with the climate emergency,” Alex Chambers, organizer and spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Boston, said in a statement. "As a young person, my entire future is riding on our government taking action this decade, and not waiting until 2050. Do the right thing. Introduce a ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure.”
Carbon dioxide, which is released when fossil fuels are burned, traps heat in the atmosphere and is largely responsible for the warming of the climate. This spring, carbon dioxide levels in the air reached the highest levels they’ve been in over 4 million years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said earlier this month.
A Healey spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Healey has cited climate change as one of her top priorities. In January, she created the position of climate chief and established an Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience in the governor’s office. In June, she launched what she called the nation’s first “green bank dedicated to affordable housing," aimed at trying to link two critical issues in the state.
On Thursday, Healey signed an executive order that she says will make Massachusetts the first state to ban the purchase of single-use plastic bottles by state agencies.