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Environmental activists gather in Portland on Earth Day to call for an end to the fossil fuel era

On Earth Day, young environmental activists gathered in Portland to call on leaders to end the fossil fuel era and recognize the injustices that climate change is inflicting on marginalized communities.

Speakers from six environmental groups say state government has favored corporate interests and allowed companies to pollute Maine’s air and water, which often impacts communities of Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and low-income residents.

Liliana Sapiel of the University of Southern Maine Student Alliance of Indigenous Peoples says supporting Native Americans is climate activism.

"As protectors of Mother Earth we need our voices to be heard and respected," Sapiel said. "My people have been living on this land for thousands of years. Just like Mother Earth we are strong, persevering and we won't back down, not to fossil fuel industries, not to the government and not to capitalist greed."

Sapiel and others at the rally say tribal sovereignty should be restored to the Wabanaki Nations. They also support the idea of a consumer-owned utility to replace Central Maine Power as well as passage of the Pine Tree Amendment by the legislature to add language to the state constitution to protect Maine's natural resources.

Luke Sekera Flanders of Community Water Justice says his hometown of Fryeburg's water sources have been manipulated by Poland Spring. He says water justice is climate, economic and racial justice for all.

"Water is life. If the regulatory bodies entrusted with protecting water from pollution and depletion are unwilling and incapable of taking necessary actions for future generations it is up to us," Sekera Flanders said.

Close to 100 activists gathered in Monument Square and then marched to City Hall.