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June 27, 2014

The Great Climate March Arrives in Denver

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Many readers of The Planet blog know about the Great March for Climate Action -- an eight-month, 3,000-mile march from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., to demonstrate to the American people and our elected leaders the need to act now to combat climate disruption.

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The Great March for Climate Action commenced on March 1 with a big rally at the Port of Los Angeles with an oil refinery as the backdrop, and is scheduled to end on the National Mall in Washington on November 1, with rallies scheduled at 35 stops along the way. Marchers in the "mobile community" are welcome to join any segment of the march they wish. The next rally is scheduled for July 4 in Omaha.

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At the previous stop, in Denver on June 16, more than 150 people rallied at the state capitol, marched through downtown, and gathered across the street from EPA Region 8 headquarters to hear from the regional EPA administrator about the agency's new carbon pollution standards, and concluded at a local restaurant for a symposium that addressed a wide range of issues including fracking, renewable energy, tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline, transportation, and moving beyond fossil fuels.

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Partner groups in the day's event included 350 Colorado, AFGE (the federal union that helps represent EPA employees), and the Citizens' Climate Lobby, among others. We'll let Denver-based Sierra Club organizer Bryce Carter pick up the story from here.

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"At the capitol, our master of ceremonies and march chanter for the evening was Jonny 5, the lead singer for the Denver band Flobots. We also had DJ CAven give a great introductory performance, Our speakers included Karen Dike, the Rocky Mountain Chapter chair for the Oil and Gas Team, who spoke about the impacts of fracking in our state; Isaac Rivera with 350 Colorado, who talked about divestment from fossil fuels; and several marchers who gave passionate speeches.

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"We then marched along the 16th Street Mall -- a pedestrian mall that runs the length of downtown Denver -- to the lobby of the Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado Building across the street from EPA Region 8 headquarters. There, I spoke to the crowd about some of the local impacts of climate change that Colorado has felt, and the important foundation the new carbon pollution standards put forth for us in moving toward a clean energy future.

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"I introduced EPA Region 8 Administrator Shaun McGrath (above), who was eager to speak to the marchers and thank them for their effort and give more details on the EPA's new clean power plan. We both emphasized that the Denver hearing on the new carbon standards is a big date, and everyone should be there!"

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The marchers and ralliers then moved to the Mercury Café on the other side of downtown for dinner and a symposium which had various breakout brainstorming groups, including:

Hydraulic Fracturing — Karen Dike, Sierra Club
Keystone XL & Tarsands — Isaac Rivera, 350 Colorado
Moving Beyond Fossil Fuels — Russell Mendell & Bob Castellino, ClimateColorado.org
Fossil Fuel Divestment & Reinvestment –Simón Mostafa, Fossil Free Campaign
Politics of Climate Change — Harry Hempy, activist
Environmental Law — Andrea Gelfuso, environmental lawyer

Afterward, 350.org showed the movie A Fierce Green Fire.

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Carter, gives "a huge shout-out" to fellow Sierra Club organizers Shane Levy and Dan Schreiber, and EPA employee and AFGE local leader Dave Christenson, who helped line up EPA Administrator McGrath for the event. (That's Carter, above at center, flanked by McGrath and Christenson.) "And certainly the event wouldn't have been such a great success if it weren't for our amazing core volunteers Jodi Jones, James Luidi, James Hennessy, and Nick Anderson."

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