By Jack Money
Business writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Organizations concerned about oil and gas activities in Oklahoma and nationwide plan a summit Friday and Saturday in Ponca City to help indigenous peoples and impacted communities strategize on how best at least to slow those activities down.
The Frontline Oil and Gas Conference was organized in part by Casey Camp Horinek, a Ponca Nation of Oklahoma elder, tribal councilwoman and international movement leader.
Horinek said the summit also will discuss “just transitions,” or ways to move the economy and its workers from fossil fuel jobs into ones that involve renewable energy, adding they hope the event will build on momentum created by a similar conference held in Pittsburgh in 2017.
This year’s event includes sessions on organizing opposition to harm caused by extraction of oil, gas and coal, how to use traditional and digital media to spread that message, and how to frame the debate amidst the context of the New Green Deal and environmental justice.
It also includes sessions that discuss the issue of murdered and missing indigenous women, before wrapping up with a demonstration Saturday at the Ponca City Refinery, before participants march to a billboard that highlights the plight of murdered and missing indigenous women.
Horinek said events like this week's are far and few between in what she calls “sacrifice zone communities” in places in states like Oklahoma, where oil and gas extraction is a dominant part of the economy and where the industry influences governmental leaders.
She and other organizers remain upset that Oklahoma’s government has limited communities from aggressively regulating or banning oil and gas activities such as hydraulic fracturing or the drilling and operations of injection wells within their jurisdictional areas, and also are concerned that Oklahoma and more than 30 other states have criminalized protests against pipeline construction jobs and other oil and gas related projects.
The Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma has banned fracking and injection wells and in 2018 became the first tribe in the country to recognize the rights of nature, giving those a legal standing.
Horinek said Native Americans and First Nation peoples see themselves as the first victims of environmental racism and genocide on this continent, but also as teachers and holders of ancient wisdom for how to live in balance with the Earth who function as protectors of the environment, not protesters.
“There is nothing more powerful than being in a room of fellow activists fighting issues similar to your own,” organizers state on the conference’s website.
Read more on NewsOK.com