Democracy Now: Tom Goldtooth on climate change

"JUAN GONZALEZ: To continue the discussion about climate change, we’re now joined by Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network headquartered at Bemidji, Minnesota. He is in New York this week for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. For over thirty years, he has been an environmental and economic justice leader in the Native American community.

Tom, welcome to Democracy Now!

TOM GOLDTOOTH: Yeah, thank you for inviting me.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s great to have you with us. Well, you heard the debate on the climate bill. What are your thoughts?

TOM GOLDTOOTH: Well, I think the bill, unfortunately, has been co-opted by the oil and coal industry. You know, it’s a situation again where we have politics over science. And our network and our constituency, who are on the frontline of unsustainable energy policy, from Alaska all the way down to the tip of Argentina, we network with indigenous people in Nigeria, you know, all over. It’s business as usual. And, you know, we don’t see democracy in the process of how decisions are being made around climate policy, whether it’s domestically, like the Waxman-Markey bill, or whether it’s globally. You know, it’s business as usual.

We’ve got people in these indigenous communities, where, you know, fossil fuel development is expanding, you know, amongst this contradiction where people are coming together to try to address climate change. And, you know, from Alaska, they’re fighting offshore drilling, the Alaska natives, because they’re really concerned. The human rights issues. You know, there’s continued systematic violations by the oil, fossil fuel, coal, and it just continues.

So, this bill here—you know, we had high hopes, and we still do, and it’s going to take political will of the people, though. You know, and it was really interesting, one of the comments is that—you know, from one of the presenters about how these decisions are being made behind closed doors. And that’s something that’s really a big concern of us here as American Indian and Alaska natives, is that tribes have been locked out of the process of debate, as well as our communities and many of the people in America. It’s done behind closed doors between the big environmental organizations, industry. You know, just the US Climate Action Partnership is all, you know, big NGOs and companies. "

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Native American Environmental Leader Tom Goldtooth: Climate Change Bill Fails to Address Indigenous Rights (Democracy Now 5/22)