But there is a chance to trip them up in procedure, slow down this disastrous plan, and give our allies in Congress (yes, there are some) time to mobilize and block this plan. Submitting comments to the public record is sort of like making a permanent record of our dissent. When we combine it with protests and public outcry in the press and online, it creates a deep and rich story of how the American public is deeply opposed to these policies. That story, in turn, can be used by our allies in the legal system to sue, challenge, delay and block the implementation of this and other parts of Trump and Zinke’s agenda.
This is the long version of our report back on the Walk the Talk action in Albany, and the #FirePruitt actions in DC – if you prefer shorter versions of these reports and updates, subscribe to our email list on the home page. We start in Albany, so click here if you want to skip ahead to the Pruitt news, click here. And to cut to the chase – we’re looking to raise another $500-$1,000 to cover the costs of this. The funds will be used to support travel and logistics and legal support for more than 55 people (all of whom need to return to Albany next week for a court date. Click here to chip in if you can.
Cuomo Walk the Talk
The week got off to an AMAZING start on Sunday with the Cuomo Walk The Talk Action Camp. about 100 of us gathered in Athens, a few miles south of Albany, for an all day planning meeting, art build and action walk through. It was an intersectional crowd with first time action takers in their late teens and twenties, and experienced grandparents who’d planned or participated in hundreds of direct actions before. Our friend Eric took amazing photos so you can see how it looked.
With our plans made, our art painted I shot everyone a quick email asking for donations and cued it to send the next day while I was at the action. It’s a good thing I did because Monday was BUSY!
We were just one of more than 100 organizations that endorsed the Cuomo Walk the Talk action, and every group brought something to the action. One of the biggest was busses: more than 1500 people came on 19 buses from Buffalo, Syracuse, Utica, Rochester, Elmira, Caroline, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Long Island, Oneonta, Binghamton, Westchester, the Hudson Valley, and Ithaca. Together we formed a massive crowd, too big for the sidewalks we were permitted to hold and pressed in close to hear Karenna Gore, Tim DeChristopher (Fresh from their necessity defense win in Massachusetts last month) speak alongside frontline community leaders from Sheridan Hollow. Sheridan Hollow is a frontline EJ community in Albany that is home to a power plant that used to burn trash. Now, Cuomo wants to convert it to a fracked gas powerplant, deepening the city and the region’s reliance on fossil fuels.
From the opening rally, we marched just under a mile to the Statehouse lead by beautiful art, two brass bands, and a whole lot of energy for our 3 demands — ending all fracking infrastructure, moving to 100% renewable energy, and making polluters pay, where we heard some more from young leaders like Lee of Sane Energy and Patrick of New York Communities for change. They fired up the crowd (tired from walking the last few blocks up a steep hill) and then lead people inside to rally in the only public space big enough to hold our crowd. More great photos from Eric here.
But it was at that moment that our “red team” split off from the main rally. Instead of going to the staircase, we headed directly for the Governor’s office. In the “war room”, decorated with murals of New York’s conquests in war, we sang and unfurled a giant sun-shaped banner that exactly covered the state seal on the floor. Then we marched for the Governor’s office, but the State police literally shut the door in our faces: locking the glass door from the main stairwell to the “hall of Governors” that leads to Cuomo’s ceremonial action. The message from Cuomo was clear: when it comes to demands that he Walk the Talk on climate, he doesn’t want to hear it.
But we weren’t taking no-answer for an answer. So 55 people including friends from BXE, Sane Energy, NYCC, and Food and Water Watch, sat down and refused to leave until Cuomo met our demands: ending all fracking infrastructure, moving to 100% renewable energy, and making polluters pay.
I was especially moved by the action that Kim and the team from Sane Energy had devised: Each of the 55 arrestees sat down on the floor, and one by one read a short statement on why they were there, which they’d also written on piece of red ribbon. Many people talked about the need to protect their children and grandchildren; some young people talked about the uncertain future their generation faces; and more than one person paid homage to David Buckel, a civil rights lawyer and environmentalist who set himself on fire to protest fossil fuel use, after leaving a suicide note nearby. After each person read their statement, they tied themselves to their neighbor with the ribbon – so that they were literally bound together by their stories.
It was a powerful action, and we were delighted to be able to support it by supporting several of the BXE arrestees and live-streaming the action on facebook where thousands of people watched along. Here’s a short video 350.org made of the action:
And here’s the Livesteam of the whole 3 hour long action.
The next day, I jumped in a car with a few of the BXE folks who’d been arrested and drove back to the DC-Baltimore area. But all 55 of the arrestees have to return to Albany next week for a court date. We’re raising money to send to Sane Energy, who coordinated the action and is making sure that everyone gets to their court date and stays free. If you can, please chip in to support this action and the ongoing support costs.
But Republicans went easy on Pruitt. Infamous climate denier Joe Barton of Texas told Pruitt he was “not the first victim of Washington politics.” And it was at that moment that the real action happened:
Although i was thrown out, Pruitt stayed on Capitol Hill for a second hearing, where he continued twisting the truth and defending the Trump Administration’s racist, climate denying policies. While I stood outside in the hallway with Erich Picah and staff from Friends of the Earth, several staffers for Democratic members of Congress thanked us for speaking out – and today, the papers are full of pictures from our action inside and outside the hearing room.
But it’s also become clear from Republicans’ weak questions and the tone of coverage on Fox News that Pruitt isn’t going to resign and Trump is less likely to fire him today than before the hearing. That doesn’t mean we’re giving up – it means it’s up to Congress to fire him, just as our petition asks.
Both actions this week had a similar theme: Confronted with a Trump administration that denies climate science and does the bidding of the Fossil Fuel industry, we need local leaders and Congressional Climate Hawks to take bold action on climate change.
But too often we get climate peacocks like Cuomo: politicians who talk a good game about how they care about climate change and support renewable energy, but also “frack us in the back” to quote Lee Z from Sane Energy at the Albany action. It’s the same story in Congress, where more than 140 lawmakers from BOTH parties have called on Pruitt to resign, but not one of them, yet, has introduced binding legislation to remove him or called for his impeachment.
That’s why we use digital tools to support direct action campaigns. By raising the stakes – with a sit in outside Cuomo’s office and standing up in an impeachment t-shirt at Pruitt’s hearing – we demand more than talk from our leaders, and we show that we’re not going to be placated with happy talk about solar power or “believing in climate change.” And by broadcasting these actions online, and providing ways for you to sign on in support with internet petitions, call in actions, and more – we expand the reach of those actions and share the stories that inspire us with a much larger audience.
Just like at the Albany action, where activists were literally and figuratively tied together by their stories, 198 methods uses digital tools to tie our direct actions for the climate together with a bigger, more powerful community.
If you value that connection, or want Drew to keep traveling to more actions (maybe in your town next time!) to deliver support, risk what others cannot, and bring you back recordings, live streams and online actions you can take in solidarity – please chip in to support our work.
It’s past time to fire Scott Pruitt, Trump’s head of the EPA. Whether he’s tearing apart climate change regulations or making it easier to spread toxic pesticides, Pruitt stands out as the most dangerous, and effective, members of Trump’s cabinet.
Put simply, the three brand new Republicans at FERC, every one of them appointed by Trump, could be about to radically reduce public participation as part of a plan to ram through new fracked gas pipelines. Fortunately, our friends at BXE, Delaware River Keeper Network, and others are headed to FERC this week with a pre-emptive list of demands. They’ll be meeting with one of those Democratic FERC commissioners, and we hope the can hatch a plan together that will delay or disrupt this pipeline review.
FERC’s pipeline review protocols were last updated in a 1999 Pipeline Policy Statement — well before the fracking boom. And while we don’t trust FERC to listen to the public or experts on climate, pollution, land rights, and other issues, the pipeline review gives us an opportunity to define what a functioning Federal Energy Regulator could look like.
As a federal agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has a duty to respect the law and respect the people of the United States of America. As citizens and residents who have experienced and witnessed the FERC decision making process and been impacted by its biased outcomes, we find FERC wanting in these obligations.
FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre announced on December 21, 2017 that FERC would be reviewing both its 1999 Pipeline Policy Statement and its policies on certification of natural gas pipelines. And yet, over three months later, we have no idea how, when or even if this review is actually proceeding and to what degree, if any, the public will be given the opportunity to be involved.
Given that we are unaware of when or how the public can and should give input into this review process, we are taking the liberty of ensuring our voices are heard by volunteering our demands with regards to this review process and the reforms that must come out of it.
It is time that FERC Implement a Pipeline Review Process that Prioritizes the Public Interest Over the Goals of the Pipeline Industry. This Means Giving Proper Priority (i.e. Highest Priority) to People, the Environment, Protection Against Climate Changing Emissions and Protection of Future Generations in Both the FERC Review and Decision-making.
Review and Reform of FERC’s Pipeline Review Process Must Begin with a Series of No Less than Six Public Hearings Held in Affected Communities, and 90 Days for Written Comment, So FERC Can Learn How the Current Process Is Failing and the Public Interest Reforms that Are Needed.
FERC Must Mandate a Legitimate Demonstration of “Need” for a Proposed Pipeline/Infrastructure Project that is Verified by Unbiased Experts, Is Not Comprised of Contracts to Supply Gas to the Pipeline Company Itself or Any of Its Business Counterparts, and Is Not/Cannot be Supplied by Renewable or Existing Energy Sources.
There Must Be a Prohibition on FERC Issuing (a) Certificates of Public Convenience or Necessity, (b) Notices to Proceed with Any Aspect of Construction, Including Tree Felling, and/or (c) Approval for Exercise of Eminent Domain, Until Such Time as an Infrastructure Project Has Secured All State, Federal and/or Regional Permits, Dockets and/or Approvals. This Includes a Prohibition on Conditional FERC Certificates.
FERC Must End Its Strategic Practice of Failing to Affirmatively Grant or Deny Rehearing Requests, But Instead Issue Responses that Provide FERC More Time for Consideration (i.e. a Tolling Order), and as a Result Prevent Pipeline Challengers from Bringing a Legal Challenge in the Courts while FERC Grants the Pipeline Company the Power of Eminent Domain and Approval for Construction.
FERC Must Prohibit the Practice of Hiring Third-Party Consultants to Assist in the FERC Review Process who Have Any Business Contracts (Past, Present or Future) with a Pipeline Company Seeking FERC Approval, and Must Prohibit FERC Commissioners or FERC Staff from Working on or Deciding upon Any Pipeline or Infrastructure Project in which They or a Family Member Have a Direct or Indirect Financial or Employment Interest.
FERC Must End the Practice of Using Segmentation, Allowing Pipeline Companies to Break Up Projects into Smaller Segments in Order to Undermine a Full and Accurate Review of Community and Environmental Impacts.
FERC Must Commit to a Full and Fair Implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act, Including Full and Fair Evaluation of Climate Change Impacts; Induced Fracking/Drilling Operations; Costs of Construction, Operation and Maintenance (not Just Benefits); Health and Safety Impacts; the Full Array of Community, Business and Environmental Impacts that Will Result; and that All Inaccurate, Missing, False or Misleading Data and/or Information Identified by FERC and/or Public Commenters Are Fully, Completely and Accurately Addressed.
FERC Must End the Practice of Allowing Pipeline Companies to Secure a 14% Rate of Return on Equity on All New Pipeline Projects In Order to Ensure the Public Does Not Bear the Burden of Flawed Projects and to Ensure that FERC Does not Incentivize Inappropriate and/or Unwarranted Pipeline/Infrastructure Construction.
In conclusion, if FERC is serious about wanting a full, fair, and properly informed decision-making process for fracked gas pipelines, compressors, LNG export, storage and related infrastructure projects, it will commit to the process and substantive asks laid out in this letter.
Together, we can take action to disrupt or delay FERC’s pipeline review process. And if we succeed, we can create some space for communities on the frontlines fighting frackged gas pipelines to demand changes and a stop to construction. But only if we act fast, and together with our allies.
Seven years ago today, the rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico and started the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Almost five million barrels of oil were spilled, and less than 25% have ever been recovered.2 But despite the loss of life, livelihoods, and long-lasting health impacts – no person was ever sent to jail.2
And things are not likely to get better under Trump: The EPA, is facing a budget cut of nearly one-third.3 Scheduled for elimination are programs to clean up the Gulf of Mexico, address environmental justice, and criminal enforcement divisions to punish polluters like BP.4 Last month, the Department of the Interior announced 73 million more acres of the Gulf will be auctioned off this summer.5 This not to mention Trump’s executive orders curtailing climate research, ending pollution-reduction plans, and approving pipelines like DAPL and KXL.6
Why am I telling you all this (really) bad news? Because 7 years after the BP spill and 91 days after Trump’s inauguration it’s clear that the planet isn’t going to protect itself. But we can, with protest and direct action.
Since the inauguration, we’ve seen what people power can achieve: Trump’s Inauguration: a PR disaster. Trumpcare? Withdrawn. Muslim ban? Blocked. In each case because there was a big, public outcry in the streets. We need Trump’s entire fossil fuel agenda to be next.
Every single day since the election has been filled with inspiring acts of resistance — and April 29th will be another peak in that work. 100,000 people have already signed up to march. 250 sister marches are being planned across the country. Students, workers, faith communities, Indigenous nations, and environmental groups are all joining together to make this day historic – there’s even a delegation of fisherman traveling to DC by boat.
At the end of the first 100 days of Trump’s administration, April 29 is our moment to make it resoundingly clear that the people who stand for climate action, justice, and jobs are a force too great to ignore.
Drew and the 198 methods to march for change crew.
PS – there are a TON of great events planned right before and right after PCM as well. If you’re planning to come to DC, your editor recommends the following groups, gatherings and meet-ups to your attention:
April 26-28 our old friends at Beyond Extreme Energy are planning actions targeting FERC, fracking and more. They’ve also got housing, food and other logistics covered for front-line activists who want to attending. Learn more here.
If you’re a young person, in particular, check out PowerShift Networks’ series of meet-ups, trainings and art builds. Learn more here.
If you get to D.C. a day early, meet us at the It Takes Roots Action: Mother Earth’s RED LINE action Friday Afternoon, April 28.
Last, if you’re considering running for office in the next three years, or know someone who should, join me (online or in person) on April 30th for a training organized by our friends at Climate Hawks Vote & more. Click here for more details.
Editorial boards everywhere are positively swooning over the dulcet crooning of a new boy band called The Climate Leadership Council (CLC). That’s right, the carbon tax band is back together! But as usual, for backers of a carbon tax, the editorial boards are missing a fundamental truth: Climate change will not be solved by a bipartisan consensus of old white men. And we know this is so because 1) We’ve heard all this before; 2) This isn’t a sincere attempt to solve climate change, it’s grandstanding by paid pundits; and 3) Sincere, workable plans to solve climate change exist, but they’re never written by bipartisan old white men from the pundit class.
First of all – great job on Monday with the #DayAgainstDenial events. Thousands of people rallied in all 50 states – marching, meeting with senators, demanding accountability for the least ethical, most racist, least qualified, and most climate-denying cabinet ever nominated. Those actions (which many of you attended) gatheredmedia attentionaroundthe world – and they helped demonstrate a fierce resistance to Trump’s plans to govern in defiance of facts, science, and common decency.
We need to make sure every senator knows that the climate is changing and anyone who denies it should not be in the White House cabinet. Here’s who Trump has nominated:
AttorneyGeneral: Senator Jeff Sessions is best known as a racist (he was once considered too racist to serve on a federal court). But he’s also a Climate Denier, and both facts matters in an Attorney General because the AG oversees a specific unit on Environmental Racism. And as our top cop, Sessions would also have the power to quash investigations of companies like Exxon that lied about climate change.
Secretary of State: ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex Tillerson, a top funder of climate denial and attacks on climate action who helped in Exxon’s cover-up of its climate science.
Environmental Protection Agency: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has spent most of his time in office filing (and losing) lawsuits against the EPA. He even let an oil company write some of his official correspondence.
Department of Energy: Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is on the board of the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, and said he wanted to eliminate the agency altogether.
Department of Interior: Representative Ryan Zinke, who has been fighting to dig up as much coal, oil, and gas from public lands as possible.
These men (and yes, almost all Trump’s nominees are white men) could do enormous damage in office. Big Oil would effectively be in control of our foreign policy, energy policy, and environmental policy. Senators should reject each of them.
The resistance to Trump is just beginning. In the coming weeks there will also be massive rallies in many cities on January 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration. And there will be many opportunities to fight Trump’s nominees in hearings, and up to 30 hours of floor debate for each nominee. But today’s the day to call and tell your senators to vote no on Session, Tillerson and other nominees who are being given hearings they don’t deserve to serve in posts they are unfit for.
Drew and the 198 methods to stop Trump crew
Tomorrow, Monday January 9, is our chance to push back. A huge coalition of groups are organizing actions at Senate offices in all 50 states to oppose the Climate Denier Cabinet.
The #DayAgainstDenial will put pressure on every single Senator to stand up against Trump’s reckless picks — and there’s an event near you in Columbia.
We need to make sure every Senator knows that the climate is changing and anyone who denies it should not be in the White House Cabinet. Here’s who Trump has nominated:
Secretary of State: ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex Tillerson, a top funder of climate denial and attacks on climate action who helped in Exxon’s cover up of its climate science.
Environmental Protection Agency: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who spent most of his time in office filing (and losing) lawsuits against the EPA. He even let an oil company write some of his official correspondence.
Department of Energy: Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is on the board of the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, and said he wanted to eliminate the agency altogether.
Department of Interior: Rep. Ryan Zinke, who has been fighting to dig up as much coal, oil and gas from public lands as possible.
These men (and yes, almost all Trump’s nominees are white men) could do enormous damage in office. Big Oil would effectively be in control of our foreign policy, energy policy and environmental policy. Senators should reject each of them.
The resistance to Trump is just beginning. In the coming weeks there will also be massive rallies in many cities on January 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration. And there will be many opportunities to fight Trump’s nominees in hearings, and up to 30 hours of floor debate for each nominee. But it’s essential that we start with a bang this Monday – so every Senator knows that the climate movement will show up to stop them.