It’s the last few days of 2017. And good riddance, I say, because we’ve got big plans for January 2018.
It’s been a busy and mostly brutal year as the Trump team attacks one of our communities after the other. We end the year much as we began it – worried about deportations, awash in climate chaos, resolute in our desire to show up when and where we can to speak out and shut down fossil fuel projects and the political patsies that approve them.
But in the face of all that, there is also hope: Major new divestments from big banks (and even the WORLD bank), opportunities to challenge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)’s new leadership, and convergences and gatherings that will consolidate the strength of our movement to shut things down and renew your spirit to open new ideas up.
Rebellions are built on hope, and two stories are giving me hope this week:
A recent article in Reuters details how Canadian Tar Sands, the dirtiest oil on earth, are having a tough time getting to export markets — driving up prices and costing Big Oil companies billions of dollars in the process. One of the big reasons the oil can’t get out is that a bunch of new pipelines are being delayed by our resistance. One of them – the Energy East, which was to be the “largest tar sands pipeline in the world” – was flat out canceled earlier this year. This makes it clear that our strategy of delaying big fossil fuel projects can work, but only if 2 things are true:
- We have to physically get in the way and obstruct these projects. No pipeline has ever been stopped by a court action or environmental impact statement alone (those things are are also important). In fact, more often than not, even when pipelines are found to have violated the law or their government-issued permits, they just pay a fine, revise the plan and keep right on going. If we want to stop the construction, we need to actually STOP the construction.
- Local governments like cities, states and counties can make a huge difference. That Energy East pipeline in Canada faltered not on federal rules, but mostly on the opposition of sovereign indigenous nations and the province of Quebec, which asked for a serious climate test on the project. Here in the US, the laws are different, and mostly stacked in favor of federal regulators like FERC and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACoE). But our best results have come in states like New York, where the Governor stood up to gas pipelines, or in cities like Vancouver, which voted to block an oil train terminal and set off a chain reaction that’s shutting the industry down across the state of Washington.
The second big piece of news is this new Finnish study out that confirms what many of us already know in our hearts: A planet earth powered by 100% renewable energy isn’t just possible: it’s cheaper, more just, more efficient, and better for jobs too. That research builds on the existing plans for 100% Renewable energy in 139 countries, and detailed, state-by-state plans for the U.S. that show the same thing.
So, the solutions are coming – if we can just hold off the poison of fossil fuels long enough. And in particular if we can oil the dastardly plans of Trump and team to build an entire new generation of fossil fuel pipelines, export terminals and more that will lock-in another 30 years of global warming pollution both here and abroad, which millions of people simply cannot survive.
The even-better news is that we have some great opportunities in the next 4 weeks to make real progress. BUT, we need you support to fund the travel, logistics and technology we need to make that happen. We’ve have a goal of raising $10,000 by the end of the year, in part because changes in the Republican Tax Bill may make it less likely people will donate to groups like us in 2018. So far we’re $3,800 short of the goal. Can you chip in to support our work and help us start 2018 off right?
Here’s our plan for the next few weeks, custom designed to take advantage of the crisi-tunities above:
- In terms of stoking local resistance, the best opportunities in the next few weeks are the inaugurations of new (Democratic) Governor’s in Virginia and New Jersey. VA Governor Northam’s inauguration is on January 14 and could present some interesting opportunities. Northam is for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines. But the Virginia Water Control Board has split recently: requiring additional review of the ACP, and voting to approve MVP with no such condition. With one pipeline approved, one on the way, and the governor not yet on-board: it’s time to start planning accountability and disruption actions. But we only have a few weeks to do it, and we need your support.
- In our survey, by far the most popular action people were willing to take (93%) was signing petitions and sending letters online. Two great opportunities to do that will come early in 2018 as FERC rules on the disastrous proposal from Rick Perry & Donald Trump to subsidize coal and nuclear power by raising electricity rates across the Northeast and midwest. A second opportunity may present itself as FERC considers new rules on when and how they approve pipelines. But given that they’re literally paid by the industry and have only opposed 1 or 2 pipelines out of more than 400 applications – color us skeptical. Either way, FERC dockets are notoriously hard to comment on or access for the public (at their monthly “public” meeting, for example, you get thrown out of the room if you try and speak. Unless you’re paid by the industry.) We use online tools to make it one-click simple for anyone to comment, and hand-deliver your messages at protests and media events that the Commission can’t ignore. But we need your support to keep these tools free and easy to access.
- The second most popular activity according to our survey is calling and lobbying your elected officials in person or by phone. And boy-howdy is there a show-down coming in January. You might remember that right after they brazenly voted to loot the middle class and strip mine the Arctic with their Tax Bill, the GOP voted to kick the can on a major spending bill until January 19. At stake are two huge issues: whether or not the government will shut down and whether or not thousands of undocumented young people (the Dreamers) will be deported. Two weeks ago, at the last critical moment, several Senate Democrats blinked and voted to allow thousands of Dreamers to face deportation over the holidays. It’s hard to overstate what a betrayal that is, or how eerily similar it was (both in who voted, and in who ducked the issue) to recent sell-outs on climate change like Democrats not objecting to (or even defending) Trump’s FERC nominees. We need to get ready to show up and show down with our allies in the Dreamer and immigration rights communities, and we need to make sure the climate movement doesn’t get completely forgotten (again) by the politicians who claim to speak for us.
- Last, there’s all the work we don’t know will happen (or exactly when) in January. This includes a plan for a series of webinars and conference calls with the team behind the People Vs Oil and Gas Summit. And keeping an eye on the #NoBBP and #NoKXl movements – which thousands of us have pledged to show up and support if called. If you’re interested in making a tax deductible gift that will keep us operating all month, then a monthly donation of $1.98 is the best, most efficient way to do so.