Laura, Katrina & a chemical fire: Katrina 15 anniversary

Tomorrow marks Katrina 15, a decade and a half of ongoing recovery from Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf South. And just as organizers were gathering to mourn, remember, rally and act together – Hurricane Laura slammed into the petrochemical hub West of New Orleans.

Today, thousands are without access to power, or clean water and at least one chemical plant was still burning Thursday evening. That means, as one New Orleans ally just explained to me, that people who lost their roof in the storm are being told to stay ‘indoors’ because the air outside is toxic.

The profound level of environmental and climate in-justice that permeates this moment is hard to take. But community leaders from across the Gulf South have been planning for months to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Katrina.

In the wake of Hurricane Laura, and the unfolding tragedies in its wake, we invite you to join them for a day and honor the sacrifice of the region in the global fight for climate justice.

Here’s an update in their words:

In solidarity with our family recovering from Hurricane Laura which made landfall on the Louisiana central coast this week, we are shifting our #Katrina15 programming to center the frontlines impacted by Hurricane Laura, offer lessons learned from 15 years of ongoing recovery from Hurricane Katrina, and share disaster recovery resources and ways to stand in solidarity with communities in Louisiana and Texas. Register here to join us for an abbreviated virtual program, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020 at 10amCDT.

If you’re able, we encourage you to also make a donation to support frontline groups in Louisiana and on the Gulf coast who are rendering direct, mutual aid to impacted people and communities. Our friends have begun compiling a list and there should be more information on the call tomorrow at 10amCDT.

Stop the North Brooklyn Fracked Gas Pipeline & LNG depot

Right now, corporate utility National Grid is expanding a massive fracked gas transmission pipeline in North Brooklyn. This project is not a replacement of leaking pipelines, it is an expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, in the middle of a pandemic, and at the cost of our climate, communities and

And worse, we have to pay for all this pollution and destruction! National Grid wants to charge New York rate-payers millions of dollars through rate hikes for this pipeline. That money will fill their shareholders pockets, and keep us locked into fossil fuels when we want to change to affordable and clean renewable energy like geothermal, solar, wind and energy efficient buildings.

Fortunately, elected leaders in New York City have the power to stop this project through denying key permits needed by the company. Can you join our friends at Sane Energy in New York and tell them to stop the Brooklyn fracked gas pipeline?

National Grid’s toxic and dangerous North Brooklyn Pipeline is being built predominantly through Black and Brown neighborhoods without community consent.

National Grid also wants to expand its Greenpoint fracked gas depot on Newtown Creek by adding two new liquefied fracked gas (LNG) vaporizers and LNG trucking capabilities. National Grid has done no assessment of the climate impacts of these projects, as is required by NYS Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, and and is ignoring or down-playing local impacts on public health and the environment.

These unnecessary projects run contrary to New York city and state’s climate goals and laws. These communities have suffered for decades from the health impacts of environmental racism and injustice, and they should not be forced to pay to build new fossil fuel infrastructure that will continue that polluted legacy for generations to come.

To add insult to injury, they are asking for an unjustified rate hike of hundreds of millions of dollars to build these unnecessary projects that will lock us into decades of fossil fuels and exorbitant stranded assets.

Click here to sign on with our allies in New York City to Demand the following:

  1. Revoke any permits already granted to National Grid from The City of New York for their Metropolitan Reliability Infrastructure project AKA North Brooklyn Pipeline and immediately halt construction.
  2. Deny any permits needed by National Grid to expand their Greenpoint LNG depot.
  3. Deny any permits and variances for National Grid’s plans for LNG trucking on NYC streets, which is currently illegal.

Sign here to stand with communities on the frontline and tell New York elected leaders to reject any permits, and exercise their powers to stop National Grid’s fracked gas projects.

Don’t let Dominion exec’s off the hook for the ACP

Like all of you, we cheered big hearty cheers when the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) was finally abandoned by Duke and Dominion. We’d been fighting that racist, climate-killing, ratepayer-busting pipeline for years.

And for all the time we were fighting the pipeline, the people who stood to profit were the corporate executives at Duke and Dominion. No one person was more culpable for the ACP, or more directly associated with it than Dominion Energy’s Tom Farrell. Now he must resign. Sign here if you agree.

You’ve already heard, over and over, how the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was an environmental and human rights disaster:

  • It would have generated more than 67 million metric tons of global warming pollution each year — the equivalent of 20 coal plants.
  • It would have required 38 miles of mountaintop removal and damage thousands of acres of farm and forest land.
  • And the ACP would disproportionately harm poor, African-American and Indigenous communities all along the route. The plan included building an enormous fracked gas compressor stations in Union Hill — an African-American community of great historical and cultural significance in Virginia. And thirty thousand Native peoples live in the project area across North Carolina.

Behind this project that terrorized communities in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina and threatened our climate was Dominion Energy, one of the most powerful monopolies in America. And Dominion’s leader, Tom Farrell, continued to push this project for years despite the potential consequences. As recently as May of this year, dozens of us attended Dominion’s online shareholder meeting to protest the ACP, and Farrell was still defending the ACP and repeating the lie that it was a ‘clean’ and ‘cost effective’ solution to our energy needs.

Rev. William J. Barber II of the Poor People’s Campaign and Vice President Al Gore have already called Farrell’s legacy a “reckless, racist, ripoff.” But Farrell has found another way to dodge responsibility for his actions.

A few weeks ago, Dominion announced that Farrell will become the company’s executive chair, effective Oct. 1, 2020 and continue to serve as chair of the Board of Directors. Day-to-day operations will be run by Robert Blue, Farrell’s former operating officer, who will still report to Farrell.

Farrell has proven himself to be a bad corporate executive. By relying on a business model built on extraction, environmental injustice, and political corruption, he cost ratepayers and shareholders billions of dollars. But instead of firing him after the entire ACP debacle came crashing down, Dominion promoted him!

It’s important to pipeline fighters everywhere that we don’t just let Farrell walk away from the wreckage of the ACP without consequence. If he can get away with it, there’s nothing to discourage Robert Blue, or Duke CEO Lynn Good for that matter, from reviving the ACP in the future. Just as important, there’s no message to corporate leaders and lenders everywhere that betting big on fossil fuels is as dangerous for your career as it is for our communities and climate.

Let’s make an example of Farrell, like we made a symbol out of the ACP. Sign the petition to demand that Tom Farrell resign in disgrace as Executive Chair of Dominion Energy.

HOLD THE LINE: Don’t let corporate polluters get away with murder

Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans already gave more than $3 billion of COVID response money to fossil fuel polluters. Now, they’re planning another big oil bailout as part of a Coronavirus response bill they’re negotiating.

This time they don’t just want to give away our money: they want to let fossil fuel companies get away with murder. 

Call your Senators at (800) 914-0328 and tell them to hold the line against McConnell’s liability shield and make sure COVID response funds benefit people, not polluters!

For weeks, we’ve been telling you about the #BigOilBailout where fossil fuel companies got access to literally billions of dollars of public money that was supposed to help main street employers and workers. The House passed a package weeks ago that’s a good start — called the HEROES Act — and we’ve been pressing McConnell to take that bill up, and give our allies in the Senate a chance to make it even better by banning direct payments to the fossil fuel industry.

Instead of doing that, McConnell is pushing something called a “liability shield” which would protect corporations against lawsuits from workers who get Covid-19 because of unsafe conditions.

We don’t need to encourage corporations to be even more reckless with their workers’ safety and health. And that’ why nobody wants this liability shield, except for Senate Republicans and corporate billionaires like the fossil fuel industry. Doctors don’t want it; Major League Baseball doesn’t want it; low-income workers of color who are doing many if not most of the “essential” jobs in the pandemic as nurses, delivery drivers, certainly don’t want it.

McConnell’s plan will put frontline communities at risk, as fossil fuel companies and others spread disease from their facilities. 

It gets worse: corporations would have these protections for the next five years and they are likely to try using them to block all sorts of lawsuits, including those who are trying to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for their fatal pollution and climate lies.  

We can stop this cynical attempt to let corporations put our lives at risk. 

The White House has already said they may be willing to drop the liability shield in negotiations over the stimulus. If we can generate a massive public outcry over the next 24 hours, we may be able to stop it for good. 

Please call your Senators at (800) 914-0328 and tell them to kill the liability shield and make sure this stimulus protects people, not polluters. 

When you’re on the phone with your Senators, remind them that the fossil fuel industry has already received billions of dollars in tax breaks and bailouts. Meanwhile, tens of millions of people are still out of work. Nearly 30 million Americans reported they went hungry last week. Black, Brown and Indigenous communities continue to be the hardest hit. 

Call at (800) 914-0328 and tell your Senators to drop McConnell’s deadly plan, and bail out people, not polluters.

Stop this Damn plan to put a Dam next to the Grand Canyon

The Navajo Nation, the Hopi and other Native peoples in the Southwest are fighting plans to build three dams next to the Grand Canyon. These dams would drastically impact water flow and ecology in this jewel of the American park system. And to even consider building the dams would require unwelcome desecration of an area which has deep spiritual and cultural importance to indigenous people.

Naturally, it’s our old friends at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that are in charge of the permitting process. And that’s why it’s critical that you speak out NOW, before FERC’s next filing deadline at 5pm Eastern on August 3.

Sign here to tell FERC to reject a preliminary permit to dam Big Canyon, a tributary canyon to the Little Colorado River Gorge near Grand Canyon National Park.

This “Big Canyon Pumped Storage Project” would pump billions of gallons of ancient groundwater to feed a massive hydroelectric power plant. The dam plan would affect water supply in a part of the country already in serious drought conditions. And it would destroy the natural beauty and ecological integrity of a remote and pristine canyon.

There’s a role for clean, safe, and reliable hydropower in our vision for a clean energy future. But it doesn’t involve storming onto indigenous people’s lands without permission, taking unique and rare river systems, and damming them to make (in essence) a big energy storage system for corporate profiteers. This is extractive, disaster capitalism at its worst, not a serious proposal for clean power generation.

The confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers holds deep meaning for Native peoples of the Grand Canyon region. The Hopi people believe they emerged from this place. For the Navajo people, the Little Colorado River drainage is their current home, and the confluence is a sacred place to share their prayers. At least 10 tribes have ancestral and current connections to the Little Colorado River.

FERC is allowing initial comments and new filers to join the case until August 3, 2020. After that, the FERC will have to asses whether there’s enough interest in the project to move forward, or stop the dam plan before surveying, geological assessment and other invasive exploration can begin.

Sign here to tell FERC to reject this permit now, before corporations and profiteers can invade the sacred sites of indigenous people and plan to steal water, nature and history from us all! 

Please take a minute to add a personal message to your comment on why this issue is important to you. And, if you like, you can follow the link on the page after you sign the petition to share with friends and send a copy of your comment or any supporting materials to FERC. We’ll deliver all the signatures we receive before the Aug 3 deadline. Sign now to make sure your comment is included in our delivery.

They tear gassed moms. And then the Mayor. Ban Tear Gas Now.

The use of tear gas is illegal in war. But in the last few weeks, it’s been used so often to disperse protests in the US that many of you can probably recognize the smell at a distance, and know exactly what it looks like in a photo or video.

In Portland, Trump’s storm troopers fire it nightly into the “wall of Moms” peacefully protecting everyone’s children out protesting (the crowds have included babies, toddlers, and lots of young adults). In one memorable incident last week, the mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, was tear gassed outside the federal courthouse right in the middle of an interview.

Nor is this just a problem with federal agents, or only in Portland. Tear gas has been used more, and in more places, in the last few months than ever before in American history. This isn’t just a danger to protesters, it’s a danger to the right to protest. And it’s past time that we banned its use on our streets. Sign our petition to state and local leaders demanding they ban tear gas NOW.

Tear gas is not safe. It has been found to cause long-term health consequences, and intense burning pain in the eyes, throat, lungs, skin and mucous membranes. In some cases, it can cause an asthma attack — potentially leading to asphyxiation or death. When a canister detonates, it can also cause serious burn injuries. When they’re fired into crowds (which is usually the case) tear gas canisters have caused severe head injuries.

This would be enough of a problem in normal times, but now, use of tear gas in the midst of a respiratory pandemic threatens to worsen the coronavirus, along with racial disparities in its spread.

Doctors, nurses and disease experts have warned that dousing crowds with these kind of chemical agents will accelerate the spread of coronavirus. And in a season of mass demonstrations against police brutality and structural racism, the frequent use of these tactics raises fears that police are trying to worsen a pandemic that has already taken a disproportionate toll on Black and brown Americans.

Sign and send the petition to your Governor: Demand a ban on the use of tear gas by the police immediately.

Your Mayor can Defund the police – and they should

For the last few weeks, we’ve been telling you about why we support the demands of the Movement for Black Lives, including and especially the demand to Defund the Police. But the truth is that most of us can’t defund the police ourselves:

Not by voting in local elections (some sheriffs are elected, but not most police chiefs or officers); not by calling and writing Congress (some police are paid or mandated by Congress, but most are locally controlled); And not by marching in the streets, protesting, singing, or taking artistic action (though you can and should do all that as you are able, as we’ve been saying)

The decision about whether to defund the police, and how to re-invest that money in actual community safety, rests with Mayors and city councils across America. And that’s why we’re asking you to sign this petition to all US Mayors telling them we must immediately defund the police at local government levels.

The murders of George Floyd, Dreasjon Reed, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, and countless other Black people at the hands of police have exposed what we’ve known for too long: Policing in the U.S. upholds a violent legacy of racialized trauma and control, diverting crucial resources from communities that most need them.

Defunding the police, like divestment from fossil fuels, is a non-violent, direct action to reduce harm, and create the solutions we need. By reducing the disproportionate budgets of the police, we can redirect those funds to critical resources like schools, affordable housing, healthcare and mental health.

This is also a movement to address the longstanding trauma and harm policing creates and to finally invest in our Black and brown communities that have carried that pain for too long.

The U.S. spends more than $100 billion on policing per year. The city of Chicago spends more than $4 million on police every day, compared to about $600,000 on public health services. And they’re not alone: Police department budgets make up a disproportionate amount of overall spending in most major U.S. cities. It is well past time to reckon with the decades of racism that divest from services that actually keep communities safe and well. We must reclaim public money from the systemic oppression and inequity upheld by policing.

Some cities have already taken action. After immense pressure from protesters, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti rejected a large increase in the LAPDs 2020 budget, reducing it from $1.89 billion to $1.86 billion. The NYPD 2021 budget was set at $6 billion. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that NYPD resources will now be shifted into social services. Dallas, Philadelphia, and Nashville are looking into similar steps to gradually reduce their police budgets.

We are calling on ALL local governments to divest from police budgets and redirect that money to essential services in Black and brown communities most harmed by these violent systems. We demand our city budgets reflect what we value as a community. This begins with supporting life-giving resources, not racist and violent police.

Sign the petition: Cities must divest from law enforcement and finally invest in Black and brown communities.

#SenateFail: Fossil Fuels got bailed out, we got sold out

We call it a #SenateFail: It’s been more than a month since the House passed a $3 trillion COVID relief package called the HEROES act. But the Senate has failed to so much as hold a hearing – and chose instead to go on a 2-week, 4th of July vacation.

Since they took off for summer break, new cases of the virus are spiking all over the country, with more than 3 million US cases diagnosed so far. And thanks to demands from House oversight panels, we learned this week that fossil fuel corporations got their dirty hands on at least $3 billion of taxpayer money intended to help keep workers afloat.

Please join us TODAY to make sure senators feel massive pressure to get it right when they come back in session on July 20 by taking up the HEROES act and making sure bailouts help people and essential workers, not polluters:

  1. Call your senator by dialing toll-free 1-833-868-8109;
  2. Send an email to your Representative and Senators asking them to take action!
  3. Tweet at your Senators using these free tools from Greenpeace.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell decided it was time for a break while Coronavirus cases are skyrocketing, and without taking action to address systemic racism and Police brutality, protect essential workers, help struggling families or fund public schools. At a moment when senators should be doing their jobs, it’s a colossal #SenateFail.

When senators go back to DC, they will have less than two weeks to extend unemployment insurance, provide financial relief to struggling families, support essential services, including public schools, COVID testing and contact tracing, and ensure that every vote is counted in the November election. 

Taking up the HEROES act, and improving it, is a great place to start. There’s already some excellent stuff in the bill –including many parts of the Essential Workers Bill of Rights (EWBOR), which we support. And by adding in protections like the REWIND act to stop further fossil fuel bailouts, they can make it stronger!

While they are on vacation, Congress need to hear loud and clear that we expect them to get back to DC and do their jobs. Can you join us and take action today?

Tell FERC to make the Atlantic Coast Pipeline History!

On June 15 The Supreme Court ruled that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) can cross under the Appalachian Trail in the George Washington National Forest. Doing so removed a major obstacle to the project, but did not provide a clear path to how or when the project can be completed. A thicket of lawsuits persists and dozens of state and local permits remain in question.

Billions of dollars over budget, years behind schedule, and with no end in sight, the ACP’s corporate owners — Duke and Dominion — are asking for an extension. On June 19 they filed a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to extend their certificate of public good and necessity by two years.

Sign here to tell FERC to reject the extension, and make the ACP History!

Then, RSVP to join BXE and friends on Wednesday July 1 to deliver all the comments in a fun, interactive, arts-based webinarRSVP here to join us live at 11am ET on July 1, or click here to RSVP for the Facebook invite – we’ll share a recording of the webinar, and more details on how to comment and be involved.

The existing FERC permit, which has been the source of several lawsuits and legal challenges, expires October 13, 2020. If FERC denies the request to extend the permit by 2 years, the ACP is history. But FERC is not known for listening to public comment, or evaluating fracked gas pipelines on the objective merits of whether they will hurt people, communities and the climate. Which is probably why they gave us a measly 14 days, immediately before 4th of July weekend, to offer comments.

Lawyers, environmental groups, and experts are filing formal comments to oppose the extension of the ACP’s permit. But we need more than a good argument – we need public outrage and attention to stop the ACP.

Sign here to tell FERC that they must reject the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s application for a permit extension. If you sign before July 2 we’ll include your comment in the docket as evidence of the public’s opposition and deliver them as part of a creative, artistic, impossible-to-ignore demonstration before FERC’s next commissioners’ meeting on July 17.

Make DC the 51st state – and win climate justice

This is one of my ideas that sounds crazy, but it’s actually really not: Make DC the 51st and deliver climate justice for all.

Like how a Green New Deal that ends fossil fuels would create jobs, rebalance the economy on behalf of millions of working Americans and stop climate catastrophe. Or how chocolate + peanut butter are two great tastes that taste better together. DC statehood is actually a simple, just, good idea – that actually might be a key to solving the climate crisis.

I’ll explain more, but if you’re already on board – Sign here to tell Congress: Make DC the 51st state, and deliver climate justice for all.

Here’s the simple facts: More than 700,000 people, most of them black and brown, live in the District of Columbia. They vote, pay taxes, serve in the armed forces, and are responsible for maintaining the roads, safe drinking water, breathable air, and police that serve and protect every member of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the White House — but they get no vote in Congress, have no say in federal policy, and cannot even stop armed federal troops from attacking their citizens. They are the very definition of “taxation without representation” which the founders of America fought a revolution over.

But this Friday, June 26, Congress will vote on whether to make DC the 51st state for the first time since 1993. And if they vote to approve DC statehood, we could gain more than a 51st neighbor and ally – we could get 2 more votes in the US Senate to affirm a Green New Deal, and end to fossil fuels, and a real, just, response to the climate crisis.

The fight for DC statehood became all the more urgent this month. On June 1, Donald Trump sent federal troops into DC neighborhoods to round up nearly 200 people protesting police violence in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and hundreds of other Black people across the country

While Trump has been clear he hates DC statehood, his actions may have galvanized the new the civil rights movement, and lent new urgency to our cause.

Sign and send the petition to your member of Congress: Demand they pass the Washington, DC Admission Act to enact DC statehood.

D.C. residents serve on juries, in the U.S. military, pay taxes, and work hard to build safe, strong communities where they live. But they have no vote on any decisions our Congress makes every day.

And that’s too bad for the climate, as well as civil rights. In the last few years DC has banned plastic bags, considered an aggressive carbon tax, and shut down coal plants and gas pipelines. These people are our allies in the fight for climate justice – and we’ll never have a better chance to add 3/4 of a million votes in favor of our values than right now.

There’s more energy now than ever in Congress to ensure DC residents have direct representation federally. A few weeks ago, the House Oversight Committee voted in favor of legislation supporting DC statehood, and H.R. 51, the Washington, DC Admission Act, has over 223 cosponsors. 

This Friday, the full house will vote on H.R. 51 to recognize DC as the 51st state, and we must ensure that lawmakers pass this overdue civil and climate rights bill for DC residents.

Sign and send the petition: Urge Congress to pass the Washington, DC Admission Act to enact DC statehood.