Environmental activists triggered the closure of part of the Houston Ship Canal after a dozen campaigners suspended themselves from a bridge to draw attention to climate change ahead of the latest Democratic debate.
Campaigners, along with former candidates such as Washington governor Jay Inslee, have been disappointed by the Democratic Party’s decision not to assign one of the twelve scheduled debates solely to the issue of climate change, which many have said ought to be the nation’s – and the world’s – number one priority.
Ahead of the third debate in Houston, where the ten top polling candidate will appear, activists from Greenpeace USA suspended themselves from the Fred Hartman Bridge, near Baytown. They were estimated to be hanging around 100ft above the water.
“We’re doing it because we are in a climate change crisis. We have little more than a decade to transition to renewable energies from fossil fuels,” Greenpeace USA campaigner Travis Nichols told The Independent.
“Our campaigners are saying to the oil and gas industry, it can longer be business as usual.”
The canal is part of the port of Houston and one of the busiest routes connecting regional terminals with the Gulf of Mexico. The Port of Houston, is home to the largest petrochemical complex in the US.
On Twitter, the group posted a link to a petition urging people to sign up in support of the Green New Deal, a policy initiative backed by many leading Democrats including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, that would seek to move the US economy to one based on renewable energy over the next decade.
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“The Green New Deal could create millions of well-paying, union jobs that sustain families, not poison them,” says the petition.
“It calls for the scale of action that we desperately need to stop climate catastrophe and confront systemic injustices head-on.“
KHOU 11 reported that Harris County sheriff Ed Gonzalez said it and other organisations were monitoring events.
The Galveston County sheriff’s office said the activists would not be forced to leave. However, when they did so, they would face multiple charges, including obstructing the roadway and obstructing the waterway.
A portion of the water traffic in the ship channel was stopped from Light 102A to 104 due to the demonstration. Vehicular traffic was reduced to two lanes.