Transcription of an interview with Xiuhtezcatl Martinez from the November 30 recording of the 2017 Bioneers Uprising: Keynote Speech.
INTRO: Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is the Youth Director of Earth Guardians and, since 2016, has been an active board member of Bioneers. Earth Guardians is an action support network, empowering youth to be active and involved in their communities.
Xiuhtezcatl is the author of We Rise: A Roadmap for Solution-Oriented Action.
At 17, he’s an amazing human being. He was representing these children—maybe one or two are adults, maybe 21 [years old] or something.
He comments, “Myself and 20 other youth are suing the Trump administration for violating our constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, for failing to act on climate change, for failing to adequately protect our Constitutional rights from this issue, and from working directly with the fossil fuel corporations to conceal this issue.
“There is a level of accountability that our government has responsibility for to its constituents. And for us as youth, it is asserting our democracy in the absence of that leadership from our elected officials, and from our president and the administration.
"This lawsuit was filed originally against the Obama administration, so even Obama wasn’t doing enough [TARA: we know this is Hillary’s doing as the representative of the 13 Families].
"He sat complacently through several different things that happened, where all of a sudden our federal lands are under attack from fossil fuel extraction. The Arctic is under attack now, from fossil fuel extraction.
"It’s a lawsuit that brings together the stories of these 21 youth plaintiffs, the youngest being a 9 year old named Levi from Florida, and each of us has our own story of how we are personally being impacted by climate change and that is evidence in our lawsuit.
"The second piece is a legal piece, young people getting involved in the legal process and the legal system which again a different tactc that we really haven’t seen before as it comes to climate change.
"The third piece is the science where we are working with top climate scientists to build a prescription for a climate recovery plan to implement nation wide.
"So as we win the lawsuit, it will be a nationwide recovery plan which will have to massively reforest the United States. We will have to cut our greenhouse gas output by cutting fossil fuel extraction and development . . . and transition towards renewable energies really quickly.
"It’ll put fire under the feet of the people who are at these powerfully high places of leadership who are not making the right decisions on behalf of our generation."
HOST: What’s the status of that? What circuit is it in, and what are the legal battles you have had? Because I think there have been all these motions to dismiss—?
X MARTINEZ: Yeah. So initially as we filed there was a motion to dismiss, followed by the federal government, by several different fossil fuels corporations, that signed on and we did not have standing. We didn’t have ground in the lawsuit. The motion to dismiss was based on that and . . .
HOST: you mean, you haven’t been harmed so you cannot sue basically—is that what they are saying?
X MARTINEZ: Yeah, right. And part of what that looked like is that, once we went to court in front of two different federal judges to hear the decision about or to have the trial on the motion to dismiss, they decided in our favour.
Two different federal judges ruled in our favour and they then gave us our trial . . . our day in court. It is currently in the District Federal Court in Eugene, Oregon. We are going to see our trial date in early 2018.
X MARTINEZ: and just the fact that it has made that much progress is just—I mean—this could be one of the trials of the century. This indeed could be the trial of the century. And it’s going to be one of the most important court cases because it’s one of the most important issues, and we are excited about the potential of it moving forward.
HOST: Right! And has . . . I know they were involved in pushing back, yet between the federal government and the fossil fuel industries, is there one that has been pushing back harder . . . I’m wondering who is leading the charge against this lawsuit?
X MARTINEZ: The federal government and the fossil fuel corporations have actually signed off as having removed themselves from the lawsuit as defendents.
HOST: Oh, wow!
X MARTINEZ: After we won, and we got our day in court, they removed themselves as defendents in the case because of the amount of evidence we would be able to dig up on them, you know.
HOST: Yeah, because of discovery. It’s also . . . this reminds me of something Bill McKibbon told me a couple of months ago . . . which is that he says that secretly, he believes that the fossil fuel industry knows the gig is up for
them and they are just playing for time.
And your lawsuit—the way that they behaved in your lawsuit—might underscore that! That’s kind of an interesting thing that they just decided to pull out because they know, that eventually, at some point, the gig is actually going to be up.
X MARTINEZ: Definitely!
HOST: This is just playing for time so, in a weird way, time may be on your side and, in a lot of ways, it is especially in terms of climate change.
Thank you so much for joining us, and we honor you for your work and as an indigenous person with that program, and as a youth organizer. So I really want to appreciate the time that you took to talk with us, and to honour your for your work, and for who you are, you and all the people who are in connection with you who will possibly save all of us.
X MARTINEZ: Yeah! We’ve all got a piece to play and thank you for helping and giving me the platform—thank you so much.
Note: There is an album coming out in early 2018—go to www.Bioneers.org to find out more.
[Transcripted from Free Speech TV, “2017 Bioneeers Uprising: Keynote 2017,” originally airing November 17, 2017, and rebroadcast November 30, 2017]