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Media Contact:

Rebekah Staub, rstaub@earthworks.org

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HOUSTON, Texas –  Community members affected by industrial pollution and environmental injustices staged a powerful “die-in” outside of CERAWeek, one of the world’s largest energy conferences featuring high-level government officials and industry executives. This demonstration underscored the urgent need for accountability and justice to the ongoing harm caused by the fossil fuel industry. 

Outside of CERAWeek,  50 people gathered for a “grief ritual” around an altar that carried the pictures of family and friends who had died from health complications linked to pollution from fossil fuels. They demanded an end to the fossil fuel industry harming their communities and the climate, chanting “Stop Killing Us!”

The altar also carried pictures of environmental activists from Central and South America who have been murdered in recent years for their conservation efforts. UK-based watchdog organization Global Witness reports that deaths of this nature happen at a rate equivalent to one every other day. 

​The group sang and prayed together in a circle around the altar, and then lined up into a funeral procession with members from Houston, Freeport, Mossville, Lake Charles, Cameron, and other heavily impacted communities leading the march with a banner reading “Stop Killing Us!” They were followed by allies carrying the altar and a coffin, with music from local musicians the Free Radicals and Lisa E Harris. Protesters laid down on the sidewalk while others traced their outlines, symbolizing the deaths caused by polluting industries and forcing those at CERAweek to literally have to walk over imprints of bodies as they enter the conference.

Residents living in affected communities shared stories of loved ones lost to illnesses linked to pollution and environmental degradation, highlighting the emotional toll of living in these areas.

 “This is what happens in our communities. Every week someone is dying from cancer and other health complications caused by the dumping and pollution. Everyone is going to die sooner or later, but we don’t have to be dying prematurely from these terrible diseases” said Manning Rollerson, founder of Freeport Haven and member of Better Brazoria: Clean Air & Water, in Freeport, Texas.

“Fossil fuel companies have been killing people and not being held accountable for decades, and a continued build-out of fossil fuels and false solutions to the climate crisis only creates more suffering and premature death,” said James Hiatt, founder of For a Better Bayou in Lake Charles, Louisiana. ‘We cannot afford to continue our fossil fuel dependency. Love your neighbor! We refuse to die.”

CERAWeek annually convenes global energy stakeholders to discuss industry trends, policy developments, and technological innovations. However, frontline communities who are disproportionately impacted by industry actions and are being deliberately excluded from the conversation. Port Arthur Community Action Network founder John Beard and Fenceline Watch founder Yvette Arellano were both denied from registering for CERAweek this year, with no reason given by S&P Global. The ticket cost of $8,500 is also prohibitively expensive for most community and nonprofit organizations.

“CERAweek is perpetuating this divide between the people benefiting from fossil fuels and the people being harmed, by gatekeeping and literally rejecting registrations from impacted community members. These harms need to be seen and understood, and not left out of the conversation,” said Aly Tharp, event organizer and US Senior Organizer for GreenFaith.