Energy

Anti-Oil Activists Stage College Campus Walkouts Over Trump’s Climate Policies

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Chris White Tech Reporter

Thousands of college students are staging class walkouts in protest of President Donald Trump’s climate policies and to urge their administrations to sell off fossil fuel investments.

Environmentalist groups Divest Student Network and 350.org are organizing several “walkouts” nationwide Monday to “resist and reject the climate denial of the newly inaugurated Trump administration.”

Anti-fossil fuel activists at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Appalachian State and University of California, Santa Cruz are among those who have pledged to join the walkout. The number is relatively small compared to the multitude of activist groups that have worked over the years on divestment issues.

Divest Student Network describes itself as a grassroots group committed to “building a powerful student movement” and to “train, mentor, and coordinate students running nonviolent direct action campaigns for fossil fuel divestment and community reinvestment.”

The group is actually a subsidiary of Alliance for Global Justice, an organization that funds various liberal campaigns, such as the Occupy Wall Street movement. DSN received troves of funding from 350.org in 2014 and benefited from $100,000 in grants from billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundations.

Student movements have worked for years to force administrators to purge oil assets with very little to show for their work. Universities have simply not taken the bait. Administrations have likely blanched on divestment because of the relative cost associated with the action.

Recent studies, for instance, show that divestment has the potential to wallow out school endowments, ultimately causing them to lose as much as 12 percent of their total value over a 20-year time frame.

Some researchers believe the frictional costs, or those associated with managing the complex endowments, could cost an endowment fund as much as $7.4 billion in value over a 20-year period. It’s one thing to make a promise to divest; it’s quite another to carry out a divestment proposal.

The divestment campaign — otherwise known as the”keep it in the ground” movement — has attempted in the past to tie its yoke to successful movements like the one that eventually torpedoed the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.

Members of Reinvest Montana, an anti-fossil fuel student activist group, rallied in September at an administrative building at the University of Montana in support of an oil purge at UM and the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters, who claim the multi-state project could poison a local Indian tribe’s water supply.

About 35 people and speakers gathered on campus, with most focusing on how the fossil fuel industry affects black people and Native American tribes. Those in attendance chanted “Black lives matter” and “Native lives matter.”

Reinvest Montana also used the rally as an opportunity to toss support behind the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and the activists currently protesting the construction of a nearly $4 billion oil pipeline in North Dakota.

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