Dirty, Dishonest, Dominion Energy #DIVEST!

We had a busy 2 days of action targeting dirty, dishonest, Dominion Energy at their shareholder meeting in Columbia SC this week.

Check out the reportback video on all our actions, or scroll down to read an account of the more than 5 hours of meetings, speeches and actions. Once you see all the stuff we did, I hope you’ll be inspired to chip in $1.98 or more to support us. We’re still about $500 short of our goal for covering costs of all these events.

Here’s a quick budget for your information :

ItemCost
Food for Community supper$100
Bus Transit for Justice First$1000
Flyers, signs and materials$250
previously raised-$143
Donations from other partner groups-$500
TOTAL left to raise:$707

Monday Night – Community forum and supper

Monday night about 50 of us gathered at the historic Zion baptist Church in Columbia (where Dr King once spoke) for a community supper and teach in. We had reports and stories from all over Virginia, South Carolin, North Carolina and beyond about Dominion’s dirty, dishonest past, as well as a briefing on our plans for the shareholder meeting.

Here’s some video clips of the speakers from that night

Mary Cerulli from Mothers Out Front talked about our global power as a movement working with more than $2 trillion in assets to #Divest from fossil fuels and pipelines.

Greg Yost from NC APPPL talked about the fight against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and how the Carolinas (North and South) are connecting to stop this fracked gas pipeline.

Freeda Cathcart, Indivisible VA talked about the importance of coalitions and working together to make change:

And Finally, Rev Leo Woodberry, from the Justice First tour and New Alpha community development corporation brought it all together in a keynote address that had everyone on their feet marching in one big wave of solidarity by the end.

At the end of Rev Woodberry’s keynote, we had a community supper downstairs, where we heard some more about Justice First’s recent trip to Africa helping communities in Liberia and Sierra Leone set up solar power, and from Chief Pete of the Pee Dee Tribe who talked about struggles with environmental justice during and after the flooding from Hurricane Florence, as well as their concerns about the Atlantic Coast pipeline and harvesting of souther forests for biofuel.

Tuesday – the main event!

On Tuesday we gathered outside the Shareholder meeting and 8 shareholders were admitted in with proxies to address the meeting. The rest of us handed out about fliers And held banners outside so everyone knew our demands. At the end of the Shareholder meeting we held a press conference touching on Dominion activity inside and outside the shareholder meeting.

Small things can change everything in 2019

UPDATE – The Trump shutdown will last at least until January, with Republicans having given up any pretense of governing in 2018. And that makes our plans for 2019 even more timely and important. We’ve done great stuff together this year – firing Zinke and Pruitt, speaking out against the offshore drilling plan, occupying Gov Cooper’s office, FERC’s front door, and various Senate and House offices too. We need   more donations to underwrite our plans. Click here to help.

Today is the first official, business day of Trump’s Government shutdown. And part of me says, “So what”?

We’ve spent a lot of the last 2 years shutting down parts of Trump’s illegal, climate-denying government anyway – getting Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke fired, for example. Or sitting in at FERC, at the EPA, even at Trump’s inauguration to make sure things are shut down in order to open up a conversation about climate action.

But with 12 years to solve the climate crisis, the truth is we need a functional, non-fossil-fascist, US federal government to be part of the solution. So, like a lot of things, this is one of those times where the crisis at hand is also bad for the climate.

It’s also one of those crisi-tunity moments. For in the shutdown the Democrats, about to be newly ascendant in Congress, have finally rallied together as a block. And not just in opposition to Trump’s useless, racist, border wall. Just a few weeks ago every Democrat in the Senate finally voted together to oppose a Trump’s climate denying FERC nominee. That’s raising expectations and hopes that they will stand together and block Trump’s nominees to run the Department of Justice (with far-reaching consequences for the rule of law, environmental and otherwise) and replace Zinke at Interior – among other things. It’s not all awesome, of course. The same month Democrats hung together to oppose Trump on Climate Denial, House leaders opted for a decidedly Milk-toast and polluter-friendly version of the Select committee on Climate Change. Sunrise and the young people who fought so hard on that aren’t done yet (not by a longshot) and we’ll be back in 2019. But still, climate cowardice remains the default position of too many politicians.

A little more than two years ago I started 198 methods to answer a question: Can you use (and update) Gene Sharp’s famous methodology for fighting fascism to fight climate change? I didn’t want to research it or write a book, I wanted to do it and figure out how to do it more.

Two years later, we’ve done a lot of good together. In addition to the federal work linked above, we’ve also supported a bunch of lobby days, sit ins and actions in New York, North Carolina (remember that time in Gov Cooper’s office?), South Carolina and lots more. And we’re not nearly done yet – I’ve got some big ideas and hot plans for 2019. But I need your help. All our ideas revolve around a simple idea: A small group of people, using small interventions – creative direct action tactics backed by cutting edge tech tools and best practices – can actually stop the climate crisis. How small? I’m looking for about 60 people to invest $1.98 a week.

Here’s how

I’ve already got a schedule of actions lined up for January and February. I can’t tell you all the details (yet) because we’re planning some actions where people will risk arrest again. But I can tell you the basic themes are

  1. Pressure Dems even more to stand together and act on climate change. It’s clear that it works and it’s clear they only respond to pressure (polite meetings, getting them re-elected, scientific analysis all may be essential, but have not produced meaningful action.
    1. What’s that mean in the next few weeks? Back to Congress right after they’re sworn in to pressure them to act on the Green New Deal, stop taking fossil fuel money, and continue to investigate and shut down Trump’s fossil-fascist regime in the Administration. We’ll also be working with Sunrise, 350 and other partners on a series of distributed actions (eg, where you live, no matter where you live) in February and into the spring. And, it’s almost time to bring back our debate watch parties and start talking about the 2020 election. Don’t worry, it’s not quite time, yet.
  2. Keep getting in the way. Several major projects have been delayed, blocked in the courts or canceled because people stood up and got in the way. A recent Court order that stopped the Atlantic Coast Pipeline even quoted the Lorax (long-time handbook of all direct action forest campaigners).
    1. What’s that mean in the next few weeks? Well it depends a little on how soon some of these projects are re-started. But I think it’s safe to say you can look for us in the trees and on the rivers of Virginia and North Carolina soon. The Cracks at FERC we helped open up are also deepening, so look for more action on that agency, and potentially a new Trump-nominee to fight in early 2019. We’ll also be back in South Carolina where a Dominion is still trying to buy, bully and cajole its way in.
  3. Keep after the money, but don’t wait for investors to save us. All those delays have also added up to big divestments – At the COP talks in Poland this year they announced a new grand-total just under $8 trillion. That’s good news, but it’s also worth pointing out that big banks and Wall Street Investors are still betting heavily on the climate crisis — investing billions in pipelines, new drilling, new mines and more around the world. Dominion stock had a great day on Wall Street (a rare thing this December) the same day we were thrown out of a hearing shouting about how they were stealing money from South Carolina rate payers – Wall Street didn’t fail to notice, it liked the idea of a fossil fueled monopoly conquering one of the poorest states in America.
    1. What’s that mean in the next few weeks? Keep the pressure on the pipelines, their enablers, and keep naming and shaming the financiers. One of the reasons I’m keen to connect more communications tools to our network next year (see below) is to help people take simple steps that connect the dots – this bank, funds that pipeline, so close your account, which takes money away from the bank, and then take action to slow or stop the pipeline, which creates a feedback loop. Pipelines get harder and more expensive to build, little by little. We can make it as easy as an ap on your phone (almost): tap, swipe, divest, take action, win.
  4. Keep taking action, keep writing and posting and helping others act. The most fundamental thing I can offer you is to keep writing, taking action, and inviting you to take action with us in 2019 and expand into some new formats. This year, we added a lot of video and live video to our actions and reports. Close to 1 million people watched our actions online that way (wow!) and some 60,000 of you took action with us this year.
    1. What’s that mean in the next few weeks? More Blog posts. Most of them much shorter than this (I promise!) and focussed on a specific action you can take to help stop the climate crisis. It also means I’d like to spend some time updating our tech tools, and expanding them so it’s easier to connect you to the stuff we do in real time. Next time we’re live streaming from a lockdown, or updating you on our protest outside a bank, I want to be able to connect you right to the action so you can call the Bank Manager, tell local media to cover climate cowards right, or protect the people on the frontlines risking it all.

I’ve also got a good idea what it will cost us to stay in operation. We need a few simple tools to stay in contact with you, and to dramatically expand our power in 2019 — adding that ability to connect you directly (and only if you opt-in, of course) to direct actions through your telephone, to congress via text message, and more. Here’s what it costs for us to have access to all the tools we need for those tools for email, events, fundraising, calls and texts:

item cost
IRS registration C3 $275.00
Corporate filing fees $159.00
Google tools $23.88
Action network for emails, events, petitions and more. $3,870.00
Toll-free calls @ $.03/minute $3,000.00
SMS messages @ $.016/text $1,600.00
TOTAL $8,927.88

That’s it. The whole operating budget of this project for a year is less than $10,000. And actually, we already have about $3,000 committed from current donors and recurring contributions. Which is why what I’m really looking for is about 60 people to donate $5,000. And the simplest, most efficient way to do it is to chip in $1.98/week. 60 people, donating at that level gets us what we need, though you’re of course free to donate in any amount and in any format you want.

You’ll notice that this doesn’t include direct costs for specific actions – travel to an event, housing and feeding folks who take action, paying bail or legal costs if necessary, etc. We prefer to raise those as we need them, so that your support pays only for what the action requires, and you know that every dollar you donate goes right to the material costs. If we need a pizza, we ask you to help pay for it. Rather than asking you to support a massive endowment or general fund that you can’t see or control the results of.

You might also notice that there’s no money for an office, salaries, or for what other groups call “overhead”. I think that’s a good thing, and part of what makes us different than other climate action groups. Lots of people talk about being nimble, small, and focussed on funding action. We do it. And we keep our whole budget and operation transparent so you can see what’s happening and opt in (or out) anytime you want.

So, if you like the sound of all that. If you’ve taken action with us this year, and you’re ready for more. Or if you’re just like me – and you’ve got $1.98 and you want to fight the Fossil-fascists with it. Please click here to chip in $1.98 a week or whatever you can afford. Thanks.

 

 

What happened with Dominion Power in South Carolina

On Friday, December 14, the South Carolina Public Service Commission (SC-PSC) held a hearing to approve Dominion Power’s proposal to buy our largest utility, SCE&G and its parent company SCANA. As we wrote just before, it was a bad deal for the people of South Carolina, and for the environment and climate we all share.

The SC-PSC and Dominion thought South Carolina was whipped. After years of fighting the VC Summer plant, paying the highest electricity bills in the country, and living with corporate polluters — they  didn’t imagine anyone would show up to oppose them as they stole a little more, wrecked a few more communities, and continued to ignore the climate crisis.

We proved them wrongwe showed up with a team of half-a-dozen activists from South Carolina and North Carolina and took the hearing by storm. We stood up and shouted until they had to adjourn. When a PSC commissioner came out and asked us to be quiet — because he said he was undecided, and wanted to vote on a plan to add solar power to Dominion’s offer — we shouted louder until the threw us out of  the building into the rain and threatened to arrest us. That commissioner, by the way, went back inside, lost every vote to add solar or accountability to the deal, and then voted for the Dominion merger anyway.

And it’s a good thing we did too. Because while the SC-PSC was too cowardly to stop Dominion’s takeover, now people know there’s a resistance afoot. Our protest was on the front page of the newspaper the next day, and mentioned in story after story that covered the Dominion deal.

If you’re feeling this activism and story – if you want to support more direct action projects that target Dominion and energy regulators in Virginia and the Carolinas – click here to chip in and support us.

By trying to silence us, throwing us out of the hearing, ignoring our evidence and demands for justice, they’ve united not only South Carolinians, but North Carolinians and Virginians in opposition. Dominion is already facing blow back in court over their Atlantic Coast Pipeline (the judge actually quoted the Lorax in smacking down the pipeline). And Virginia regulators are beginning to question why Dominion needs to charge ratepayers so much, if they’re making so much profit.

A resistance is building all across the SouthEast – to Dominion and all the oppressors. The same day we spoke out in South Carolina, Cherri Foytlin of the L’eau est La Vie camp had a tense exchange with South Carolina Regulators in Louisiana — so tense one of them knocked over a table backing away from her righteous anger. As the song says, they tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.

People in the South are rising up. So far, the corporate polluters and pipeline builders have been able to buy, cheat and steal enough power to keep us bottled up. But the day is coming when that may not work anymore.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s the video where Elaine interviews some friends as we were arriving at the meeting. You can also get a good look at the dishonest Dominion lawyers, PSC commissioners and other various villains who did us wrong:

After that we headed into the hearing room and it was show time. Skip to about 11 minutes into this video (unless you want to listen to the SC-PSC congratulate itself on working hard to steal money from some of the poorest ratepayers in America with the help of one of the richest companies in the Southeast) to see the protest action, which made it onto the front page of the local paper the next day and was mentioned in numerous articles about the merger that evening and over the weekend.

And finally, check out this video of us talking in the hall with SC PSC commissioner Tom Ervin. This part might be the most crazy-making since Ervin tries to convince us he’s on our side, AND that we’re the problem (not him) at the same time. He also (dishonestly) claims he hasn’t made up his mind just a few minutes before he let us get thrown out in the rain, then went back in the hearing room and voted for the deal. Profiles in courage you are NOT Mr Ervin.

 

Dominion go home

This Friday the South Carolina Public Service Commission (SC-PSC) will meet to review, and are expected to approve, Dominion Power’s proposal to buy our local utility SCE&G.

Let’s be really clear, this is a bad deal for our people, and the planet. If the deal is approved, ratepayers will get a small discount (less than $22/month). In exchange, we have to keep paying for the VC Summer nuclear debacle for decades. And the Dominion has already let slip that they plan to expand the Atlantic Coast Pipeline into South Carolina and build a new generation of fracked-gas power plants that will poison our air and climate.

The SC-PSC and Dominion think South Carolina is whipped. After years of fighting the VC Summer plant, paying the highest electricity bills in the country, and living with corporate polluters — they don’t think we’ve got any fight left. They’ve got another thing coming. And this Friday, I’m going to tell them so, with your help.

I’m assembling a crack team of activists and experts from Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. We’re going to the hearing Friday to set Dominion and the SC-PSC straight, and speak a little truth to their corporate-power-plan. If you’re in or near Columbia, please join us at 1pm on Friday the 14th.

If you’re impacted by Dominion – as a ratepayer or constituent in Virginia, A North Carolinian battling the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, or a however you know them – Add your name and a comment about why Dominion is bad. We’ll try and read as many of the comments as we can at Friday’s hearing so the Press and public hear your story

Dominion initially offered SC ratepayers a $1,000 refund check, if they were allowed to buy SCE&G, but we would still have had to pay another $2.3 billion over 20 years. That scam was a little obvious ($1,000 back in exchange for $2.3 billion?!). So Dominion changed the deal. Their latest offer is to cut rates by about $22 a month, but it will still require us to pay more than $1,600 each for the reactors before the debt is paid.*

That’s a raw deal for ratepayers. But the deal is even worse for the planet and our climate. If allowed to buy the utility, Dominion is almost certain to expand their Atlantic Coast pipeline – a community and climate-wrecking disaster that is already $1.5 billion over budget and month’s behind schedule – into South Carolina. We’re a state blessed with tremendous potential for solar, wind and offshore renewable energy. Locking in a Dominion-owned fossil fuel projects for decades is like asking many South Carolinians to sign our own death certificate, and then pay for it in monthly installments.

The SC-PSC process has never been very accessible to the public. The last time the public was allowed to comment was in October, before the current deal was even known. Without our consent, the SC-PSC now proposes to force ratepayers to pay billions of dollars to a hostile, out-of-state corporation to wreck our climate, communities and common home.

If you’re as outraged as I am about it lend us your name and your story and we’ll read as many of them as we can at Friday’s hearing.

Last chance to Stop Trump’s climate-denying Energy Nominee

Donald Trump has nominated Bernard McNamee – a deeply unqualified, republican-hack, and climate-denier – to fill the vacant Republican seat at the Federal Energy Regulatory commission (FERC). The Senate is moving at “warp speed” to ram this latest dastardly, destructive nomination through.

McNamee’s confirmation hearing has been scheduled for November 15 at 10am. We’re headed to DC now with friends from Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) to deliver more than 13,000 signatures opposing McNamee. If you haven’t signed yet, now’s the time!

If you agree that we can’t afford one more climate-denying Trump nominee in charge of our energy policy, sign here to tell the Senate: vote NO on McNamee and stop Trump’s FERC!
Bernard McNamee is Trump's FERC nominee
I wrote a longer piece with more footnotes and references that make the case for why and how Trump is stacking FERC with partisan fossil fuel warriors. Check it out and keep telling everyone that this is not normal, it is not ok, and it is essential that we take action in this time of climate crisis.

You may also want to check out the excellent explainer on McNamee from our friend Karen Feridun at Berks Gas truth.

Cracks between the FERC commissioners

I’ve been fighting with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for years now. Most of the time, they seem pretty monolithic: in all the years they’ve existed, they’ve only said no to two (2) pipeline applications. And they’ve always steadfastly refused to acknowledge the damage that fracked gas does to our climate.

That’s why, for the last four years or so, I’ve been working with Beyond Extreme Energy to resist FERC, tell the Senate not to confirm their commissioners, and generally shut down this rubber stamping agency. But now, for the first time I can remember, we are beginning to see cracks develop between the FERC commissioners:

Just a few days ago, the two (minority) Democratic commissioners, Richard Glick and Cheryl LaFleur, voted to void the  FERC permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. There have also been news reports that the two Democrats are demanding a more thorough review of climate impacts – including one time LaFleur took it upon herself to just “do the math” without her Republican colleagues’ permission.

Without question the unrelenting pressure of our movement has had much to do with this, and we need to keep it up. FERC is still accepting public comments on their pipeline review process. And on Monday June 25, we’re going to deliver a big, noisy message to FERC’s front door. Can you support us? You can join me and our BXE friends in DC to take action on Monday, OR you can just sign this petition and we’ll deliver your name along with thousands of others on Monday.


While there have been several dissents from the Democrats over the last nine months since a quorum was restored to FERC, they have not been enough to actually stop any pipeline or permit. And Republican Chairman Kevin McIntyre has made it plain he’s more interested in ‘streamlining’ the approval process than raising new questions or rejecting pipeline applications.

But while we’re not yet on pace to truly reform or “fix” FERC, I do think there’s reason to be optimistic in this moment. The recent comments from Glick and LaFleur show that our pressure has changed some minds already. And we know from past experience that when we show up in force to shut FERC down, commissioners often scurry for the exits, or even retire altogether. If we can force one more commissioner to change their position, or step down and replace them with someone who takes climate change seriously, we’ll have a majority. And THAT is worth fighting for.

PS – Monday’s action will be big, bold, beutifle and memorable. BXE has already laid out thousands of dollar to build art and props, provide food and housing for all of the participants (including me!) and many other logistics. If you can’t make it on Monday, but want to support the action or watch along online, I know they’d also appreciate a donation – anything helps, but a gift of $1.98, $19.80, or $198 is especially nice and let’s them know you’re with us. Thanks.

Show Governor Cooper why his father loved the land between the two creeks

When Governor Roy Cooper gave the green light to the Atlantic Coast pipeline he put his father’s home-town in the path of destruction. Gov. Cooper’s father, Roy A. Cooper, Jr., wrote of Nash County’s Elm Grove Community, “I thank God that I have been privileged to live between the creeks with family, close friends, and with nature at its finest.”

So this weekend, I’ll be joining our friends from NC APPPL again in North Carolina for a “Walk Between the Creeks”. Together, we’ll walk the distance between these two creeks that the Governor’s father loved, and we’ll hold a short ceremony at the mid point with prayer, a water ceremony, and testimony from Nash County residents directly impacted by the pipeline.

We’ve invited Governor Cooper,  his Secretary of Environmental Quality, and other officials  to join us. We hope that the visit and these simple, moral actions will remind the Governor what makes his family home and its waters worth protecting. But even if he doesn’t attend, we know you’ll help us share the story and bring the sacred water we gather to Raleigh on June 21st for an interfaith day of action on clean energy and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Together we will Stop The Pipeline.

IF YOU CAN JOIN US: The total distance is less than 2.5 miles and we will finish by 1pm whereupon we’ll return to the Dean School for lunch. Shuttles are available back to your car. Please bring a bag lunch and appropriate clothes and shoes for road walking. Also, please bring a small jar of water from a spring, creek, or river near your home for the water ceremony.

IF YOU CAN’T JOIN US: Tune in to watch online, I’ll be live-streaming the whole event starting at about 11am tomorrow. Also, if you can, please chip in a few dollars to support the event – we’ll donate all the proceeds to APPPL and the crew fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in North Carolina

Earth Week should be about real climate leadership

walk the talk on climateYesterday was Earth Day, and I’m sure you’re getting a million emails asking for money to “Save the Planet” and “stop the pipeline.” There are a lot of awesome groups out there doing great work, and I hope you support a few of them.

This email is a little different. It’s longer, for one thing, but that’s not what matters. What makes 198 methods different (we hope) is our approach. We use digital tools to support direct action campaigns that can really shift the paradigm on climate – moments when by upping the ante just a little bit, we think we can turn the tables on the whole fossil fuel industry.

There are two important examples this week that we’re supporting. Can you chip in to support us while we do? Here’s what we’re doing, because actions speak louder than words:

First, in Albany: We’re supporting the Cuomo Walk the Talk action. Even if you’re not from new York, it’s worth paying attention to – because it’s the latest in a series of campaigns including the occupation of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s office a few weeks ago, and the Brown’s Last chance campaign we’re supporting. All three (and lots of other great work) are aimed at getting Democrats who claim to be climate leaders to really step up. They also all have a common demand: 100% renewable energy, a ban on all fossil fuel infrastructure (especially fracked gas pipelines), and making polluters pay for wrecking our climate.

By Democratic Governors in multiple states like this, there’s a real chance to raise the bar on what it means to be a “climate hawk”. And that’s absolutely essential in this moment. With climate chaos intensifying all around us – Climate disasters cost $307 billion in 2017, more than the entire Republican tax scam and more than $4000/US family of four – It’s no longer enough to “support” renewables or “believe in climate change.” Real leaders in 2018 need to be taking bold actions to stop taking carbon out of the ground, stop transporting it to locations it can be burned, and start a massive and wholistic overhaul of our energy economy.

Tomorrow’s Cuomo Walk the Talk action could be the biggest milestone yet. It promises to be the biggest climate march in Albany’s history. And it lands at a really powerful moment when Cuomo is facing a primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon, who has a much more progressive platform on climate and clean energy, and has already rejected all donations from the fossil fuel industry. I’ve spent all day at the action camp planning a direct action component to this peaceful, powerful march and rally, and it’s going to be amazing.

Even better – if it works, Cuomo could be convinced to take one of the strongest stands on climate action in America, while he’s governor of one of the biggest states in America, and while he’s considering running for President of the United States Of America in 2020 (or as soon as we impeach Trump, read on). There are Two ways you can support this action:

  1. Follow the Hashtag #CuomoWalkthetalk starting at ~12pm Eastern tomorrow, April 22
  2. Check out the Facebook page for updates as well, Drew will post and share several live updates from the March, rally and the Direct Action.
  3. Chip in to support our work – after we cover the cost of the action (like our travel and food costs) we’ll donate all of it to the legal defense fund and local frontline groups in New York.

Cuomo walk the talk

That’s the most urgent news, but maybe not the biggest news this week.

Pruitt to testify April 26. More than 200,000 of us have already signed on to a petition demanding Scott Pruitt be fired for his corrupt, disastrous leadership of the EPA. Now there’s a new report out from the Government Accountability Office that Pruitt’s $43,000 booth actually broke the law. It’s just the latest in a series of scandals that could finally sink his leadership of the EPA, and deny Trump a key surrogate that he was grooming to help him end Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

This Thursday, Pruitt is scheduled to testify to a House Committee about that, and all his other scandals. I’ll be there along with Friends from Beyond Extreme Energy, Friends of the Earth and dozens of other partners. But it wont just be a standard DC rally:

We’re using Pruitt’s presence on the Hill to turn up the heat on Congressional Democrats, in particular – especially ones who claim to care about climate change and the EPA. For too long, these climate peacocks have sent letters expressing their “concern” or “demanding answers” from Pruitt about his outrageous spending, and even more-outrageous attacks on our environment and public health. But even as they’ve called him out and trumpeted their ‘resistance’ to Trump’s agenda, many of those same elected members of Congress have voted to confirm Trump’s cabinet — from Pruitt in 2017 to new climate-denying NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine last week. Not to mention the FERC commissioners who were confirmed on the same day as our action asking Democrats to lead on this issue last year.

Instead of more letters expressing concern, climate leaders in Congress should demand Pruitt be fired right now – and move to impeach him if Trump won’t do it. It’s the same basic process as impeaching a President to Impeach a member of his cabinet – and now that the GAO confirms Pruitt has committed a crime, it’s great practice as well!

That’s why later this week i’ll be in DC to support partners and allies taking action to Demand Congress do more than talk – that they actually take action by impeaching Pruitt.

I’ll send another update later this week with a wrap up on the Albany action and more ways to support the #FirePruitt day of action. For now, if you want to support our work:

  1. follow the #FirePruitt hashtag on social media
  2. Sign and share the petition, if you haven’t already.
  3. And chip in to support all our work.

You see the pattern: We need elected officials to do more than Talk: We need bold action to block Trumps nominees, ban new fossil fuel infrastructure, make polluters pay and move immediately towards a just transition to 100% Renewable energy. And this week, that’s what we’re all about.

Last week before comments go BOEM!

I recorded a short video to explain what we’ve been doing for the last 50+ days as part of the comment on the Bureau of Ocean Energy management (BOEM) comment period on the Trump administration’s proposal to open more than 90% of US Coastal waters to offshore oil and gas drilling. I wanted to explain what we’ve been doing for two reasons: the first is that there’s still time to submit a comment to BOEM (before March 9, 2018), and we’ve got a new way for you to do it that ensures you comment gets heard when you submit it through this super cool new action portal we set up with friends. The second reason is that this is a really great example of the kind of work 198 methods does, how we’re different from other environmental groups, and why it matters.

A quick recap

Early this year, Ryan Zinke, Trump’s Interior Secretary, announced a new plan that would open more than 90% of US coastal waters to oil and gas drilling. It’s a really really bad plan, since offshore oil drilling always leads to more spills and accidents.And if anything, Trump’s other actions to roll back protections for the environment and worker safety will make accidents even MORE likely. Plus, there’s simply no way to manage the decline of fossil fuels and create the 100% renewable powered economy we need to stop climate change if we open up millions of new acres to offshore drilling. Which is why the Obama administration just banned all drilling off the Atlantic and pacific coasts 2 years ago after a HUGE public comment period in which more than 3 million people, dozens of governors, hundreds of mayors and just about everyone who lives along the coast clearly said #NoDrilling. Loads more footnotes and references in this pst from early in the comment period. As usual for this White House, the rollout was chaotic and ham-handed, and the whole thing may not even be legal because Zinke tried to exempt just the state of Florida as an explicit political favor to Governor Rick Scott who wants to run for US Senate. More on that later.

Our plan in action

BOEM is required by law to hold a 60 day public comment period on any new offshore drilling plan like this. But it was clear from the rollout, and from Zinke & Trump’s past actions, that they weren’t going to be talked out of drilling just because a majority of Americans oppose it. Which brings us to the first part of our plan: We didn’t just want you to comment online – though more than 14,000 of you did, and that’s awesome – we wanted to deliver the comments through direct action speak outs at the hearings, and that’s just what we did. Drew got up on a chair and shouted down the Columbia SC BOEM hearing, earning him a mention in the Washington Post. We did a similar action a few weeks later in Raleigh NC with friends from NC APPPL, who we’ve been working with to fight the pipeline. And once it got going, we weren’t alone: There were public disruptions and refusals to play along with BOEM’s process at hearings in Washington DC, New Jersey, and lots of other places. One of my favorite’s was the action in Rhode Island where our friend and frequent ally Tim DeChristopher, succeeded in turning the whole hearing on its head with citizen after citizen getting on a literal soap-box to speak out about offshore drilling and (eventually) dragging the BOEM staff into a debate on the issues.

Why we did it and why it works

All of which brings me back to why I wanted 198 to work on offshore drilling plan in the first place, and how your actions with us really make a difference: First – It’s about an important concept in Gene Sharp’s writings and teachings called ‘withholding consent’. When we fight climate change, we’re fighting a really BIG system. It involves money and power at a lot of different levels. Fundamentally, it’s also an autocratic system – meaning it’s accountable to a ruling elite, not to the people or the planet. At 198 methods, we’re convinced that fighting climate change requires a specifically anti-authoritarian approach. Like what we did at the BOEM hearings: by standing up speaking out in ways that BOEM didn’t condone (and threatened to throw us out or shut down the hearings over) we put the staff of this administrative agency in a bind. We’re asking them to consciously choose NOT to do their jobs, if that’s what it takes, in order to stop the greater harms of offshore drilling. We’re demonstrating, in a really physical, in-your-face way, that there will be a reckoning — we know most of the people are commenting in opposition to offshore drilling. We know that the consequences of this offshore drilling plan will threaten us all through climate chaos, oil spills and more. And we’re asking them to pick a side: with us or with the polluters. Second – It’s about inspiring people who are already part of the process to realize they have more power than just typing a comment into a laptop — including our allies in groups like the Sierra Club and Oceana that did not support our efforts to stand up and disrupt the hearings in advance. I noted after the SC hearing that I saw a lot of groups advocating a sort of NIMBY (Not In My backyard) strategy. Basically, they were trying to convince BOEM to give them the same exemption Zinke gave Florida (which, again, may not hold up in court). They did this either through explicit argument, like by siting the value of their coastal tourism economies, for example; Or through an implicitly political argument, like by having lots of Republicans or state-wide officials testify that they are opposed to drilling, which helps make the argument that Trump & Co. will lose support in the mid-term elections if they push forward with the plan. But I think that’s the wrong approach for two reasons: one, as outlined below, it fails to move the media narrative and focusses attention on our weakest and least reliable partners. More importantly, it uses a NIMBY argument when what we need is a NIABY argument – Not in ANYBODY’s Back Yard. We don’t just want to ban offshore drilling in South Carolina, or California, or in places that have Republican Governor’s, or in places with coastal tourism: We want to ban offshore drilling – ALL of it – because it’s way to dangerous for our communities and our planet. Third – It’s about inspiring everyone who’s not part of the process yet. Two years ago, more than 3 million people and hundreds of academics, researchers, churches, and all kinds of organizations commented in opposition to offshore drilling (all of it). Obama responded by banning drilling off the Atlantic and mainland US Pacific coasts, but allowed it to continue in the “sacrifice zones” of the Gulf of Mexico and much of Alaska. That was basically what the conventional wisdom in the media expected, and so it was ‘enough’ to turn out lots and lots of comments so that Obama would feel empowered to do that. But there is no conventional wisdom for what Trump is doing. He’s already given away more land to fossil fuels, and more brazenly, than anyone imagined a few years ago. And, dazzled by the sheer, crazy, deluge of horribleness, the main stream media (like that Washington post story) default to covering this as a ‘normal’ political story where there are people for drilling, and people against it, and BOEM is a sort of neutral mediator. To stop Trump and team’s plan we need to be bigger, more powerful, and reach more people. That means working outside of the conventional wisdom of what works in the media and political wisdom. We can’t wait for Trump to come to his senses, or be satisfied with incremental NIIMBY victories any longer. Honestly, it will probably mean more of us lining up on roads and paddling our kayaks in front of drilling rigs to stop them. That’s movement building work – not lobbying and media work. And to inspire people, a LOT of people to rise up against big authoritarian power of the petro-state as represented by this offshore drilling plan, we need to inspire people. And that, fundamentally, is why we do digitally supported direct actions JUST LIKE THIS! Look, there are enough of us, in America, to stop offshore drilling, reverse climate change and build the 100% renewable fossil free world we need. What’s more, we’ll all have more jobs, more money, more political power and more control over our daily lives when we do.  What’s holding us back is the raw political power (fueled by money, fear, and a lot of other things) of the fossil fuel industry and their allies in power – like the Trump administration. but to mobilize those people, we need to show them that resistance is possible, that it works, that it feels good (if I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution) and most importantly that they have the power.

So, what next?

Glad you asked. First of all, if you liked our actions and the ideas in this post, please chip in to support us. If everybody who sent in a public comment with us gave $1.98, we’d have more than enough money to fund our entire operation for 6 months. Of Course, not everyone can donate, so if you’re in a position to give a little, please consider a weekly donation of $1.98, or a gift of $19.80 to support our ongoing work. Second – it’s not too late to submit your comment, and even if you already sent one in with us, or with another group, hang on and consider this new tool as well. Working with our friends at Daily Kos and Action Network, we’ve set up a new comment form that delivers your comments directly to the BOEM staff in charge of this docket. I’ll still deliver all the 14,000+ signatures you sent in through the in-person deliveries, and I’ll submit them as evidence before the March 9 deadline. But by also submitting a comment through this new form, you’ll essentially get two comments — and that can be really helpful for when our friends in the legal community go to court to challenge this rule. Being able to cite the fact that there were a LOT of comments, and also to pull out individual voices of opposition from the public record, will be really helpful. So, if you haven’t commented, please do so now. And if you already have, comment again!

Send a Message to Duke Energy online

Earlier this week I endorsed a letter calling on Duke energy to take action on climate change with a bunch of other social and environmental justice nonprofits, singers, actors, and other VIPs.

NC Warn, the group that spearheaded the letter, is especially alarmed by a powerful new NASA study linking climate chaos to rapidly rising global methane emissions from the fossil fuel industry. NASA’s findings strengthen arguments that the U.S. fracking boom is linked to record-breaking global heat since 2014, and thus contributing to the acceleration of weather extremes that are devastating communities and wildlife worldwide.

North Carolina residents are in a unique position to back us up: Duke CEO Lynn Good is likely to listen to what you say — IF you say it in public and online. Can you back us up by posting about the letter on Facebook, Twitter or by email?

Click here to share on Facebook

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Click here to email

It’s not just us climate activists who are alarmed about that new NASA study: Grammy Award winner Bonnie Raitt also called on Duke CEO Lynn Good to take action — so did Hollywood United, a campaign led by actors like Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo Dicaprio, Norman Lear and many more.

But you don’t have to be famous to know that Duke should take action. Communities across North Carolina are already suffering repeated floods, fires, droughts and other climate impacts. And we’ve been taking action with allies who are fighting the massive Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP),3 which would bring even more of this climate-wrecking fracked gas *(methane) from West Virginia through North Carolina, and eventually to South Carolina as well.

Our letter urges Duke’s CEO Good to do two things:

  1. ​Stop venting unburned methane – which is up to 86 times more potent of a climate pollutant than Carbon Dioxide – into the air from all operations involving methane gas; And
  2. Replace all fossil fuel electricity with renewables bolstered by energy storage, efficiency and energy-balancing programs.

This is especially important for Duke energy, since they’re one of the only utilities in the US where greenhouse emissions are rising due to methane venting and leaking from its massive expansion fracked gas.

Take action this weekend, and NCWarn will amplify your call in ads and paid outreach this month to and urge Duke CEO Lynn Good to help avert climate chaos instead of making it worse – with a first step being cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.