Yesterday, residents of Montana, Washington, DC, and the larger Chesapeake area took the demand that Forrest Mars Jr. divest from coal exports directly to Mars, Inc headquarters in McLean, Virginia. The action was a collaborative effort organized by Chesapeake Earth First!, Climate First!, and the Montana-based Blue Skies Campaign. Participants met in McLean Central Park, then walked to Mars headquarters, where they asked to speak to a Mars executive about Forrest Mars’ financial support for the Tongue River Railroad coal project.
“Coal train traffic already impacts cities like Missoula, Montana,” said Lowell Chandler, a Missoula resident who lives across the street from the railroad tracks, and who participated in yesterday’s protest. “Locomotive diesel fumes are frequently so thick you can taste the gases, black dust and grime cakes our outdoor furniture and garden soil, and coupling of empty coal cars every day and night produce bangs so loud they resonate as bombs and shake your home. If the Tongue River Railroad was built it would open the floodgates for coal exports and the culture of Missoula and the Northwest would be altered forever.”
Unfortunately (though not surprisingly), Mars executives weren’t eager to engage in conversation with the people affected by Forrest Mars’ dirty investment. Here, you can see how they responded to peaceful protesters’ request for a meeting:
Mars employees declined to even accept a letter about the impacts of investing in coal exports. Rather than support clean, sustainable energy sources, Mars is turning a blind eye to the fact that its partial owner is using money made from selling M&M’s and other candy to invest in one of the world’s dirtiest industries.
The good news is, communities from Montana to Virginia are coming together in new ways to unite against coal industry attacks on our communities. “Coal production, transport, and use harms communities, no matter where it occurs,” said Richelle Brown of Chesapeake Earth First!. ”We’re here in McLean to point out the direct line of responsibility between the Mars brand and the widespread and irreversible damage that would occur if this project goes forward. What happens in Montana matters in Virginia.”
There are plenty of opportunities to put pressure on Mars in ways the company can’t ignore. You can help. Organize a Mars stickering action in your community, to let shoppers know about the link between Mars candy and coal finance. You can also sign our new petition to Rosauers Supermarkets, a Northwest-based company with many customers who will be directly impacted by coal exports, and ask Rosauers to pressure Mars to divest from coal.