Like a lot of you, I was bummed to lose high-profile races like Beto and Ben Jealous (MD). And I think Andrew Gillum might have conceded too soon in FL – Stacy Abrams (GA) has the right idea fighting for every single ballot to be counted. But there’s no spinning some of the great house candidates who we fought hard for, and deserved to win. Candidates like Leslie Cockburn (VA-05), Dana Balter (NY-24) and Ammar Campa-Najjar’s (CA-50).
But for every race we lost, there were more that we won 30+ House pickups, and seven (7!) Governorships! And it’s not just that Scot Walker lost (though good riddance), it’s that we elected strong WOMEN governors in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Kansas. That, combined with the passage of Measure 4 in Florida, which returns the right to vote to 1.4 million returning citizens and non-partisan redistricting in Michigan is going to re-shape the election map.All over teh country we swept out corrupt, anti-voter politicians and installed progressive, pro-voting leaders.
But more important than where we won and lost, is how we fought this election and who we fought for. Because we didn’t just win, we made history by sending a diverse set of progressive champions to Congress. Champions like Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, the first two indigenous women elected to Congress. Like Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first two muslim women ever elected to Congress; And like even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the youngest people (and a woman of color to boot) ever elected to Congress.
There was some initial worry among climate hawks that the Democratic gains in the House and at the state level wouldn’t mean much. After all, Republicans expanded their control of the Senate, and Trump will still be Trump. Faced with the epic challenge of trying to set a bold new path under divided government, Nancy Pelosi’s initial response was not inspiring.
What we DO here at 198 methods is use digital tools to expand the reach and power of direct action campaigns for the climate. Thanks to the incoming, diverse, progressive class in Congress, we might just have more chances to do that starting soon.
At this last event, I was embedded with a group of frontline fighters during a tense stand off with police where we blocked the doors to the summit, and I had a front-row seat to the indigenous, frontline, and communities of color who were locked out of a summit where billionaires and mayors rubbed shoulders to congratulate each other on their elevated climate consciousness.
Before you celebrate the commitments made by Mayors of New York and London, or by corporations with billions in profits, check out our wrap up video – filmed live on the streets outside the Global Climate Action Summit, and edited in South Carolina as hurricane Florence makes landfall. And if you’re moved by our argument about what works, and doesn’t work about Jerry Brown’s market-based approach to climate change. Then chip in to support this kind of work if you can.
Chip in to support our ongoing work on this campaign. Last week more than 100 of us participated in petition deliveries from coast to coast. But Congress hasn’t responded to our demands. We need your support to keep planning escalating actions and protests that compel them to #FirePruitt.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When the Bureau of Ocean Energy management (BOEM) came to my town, there was already a great plan in place with rallies, lobby days,and speak outs planned by partners. But I wanted to make sure we did more than show up and record your comments (and mine) as opposed to the Trump administration’s plan.
First of all, all respect to the Sierra Club of South Carolina and their Ready for 100% rally and lobby day, which was already planned at the statehouse. This was lead by Minister Leo Woodbury, he’s from the northeast corner of South Carolina. That’s right across the state-line from Robeson county, which we talked a lot about in the live-stream about the ACP and the Rev., in addition to talking a lot about clean power, talked about the dangers of expanding fossil fuel infrastructure including offshore drilling and new pipelines. Here’s a bit of Rev. Woodbury to give you the flavor:
Later in the morning, the big ocean groups- OCEANA, Coastal Conservation League, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, etc – organized a big rally on the statehouse steps that featured equal numbers of democratic and Republican law makers speaking out against drilling. It was a good event, and did a good job highlighting what SC ‘insiders’ view as our most plausible route to stopping drilling in this state: that the issue is so politically toxic, that it might even suppress turnout among Trump’s base voters in 2018. These groups hope that the threat of an electoral back-lash will lead Zinke and team to offer an exemption for SC like they did for FL – but I’m not so sure.
Here’s some video of that rally:
Our local big greens did a great job planning and executing a rally based on conventional political wisdom. It featured the voices of big politicians like Rep. Mark “Appalachian trail” Sanford and lots of State legislators. But those same reasons, the rally was not very radical — for example it did NOT connect offshore drilling to pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure, Climate Change was barely mentioned once, nor was an explicit connection to environmental and racial justice made by most speakers (except the Gullah Geechee nation, of course). Still, that was the part of the day that got the most media attention.
After that it was off to the Doubletree — a hotel as far as you can get from downtown and still technically be in Columbia. Seriously, the location has no public transit it sits at the intersection of two interstate highways. Once there it was clear that BOEM was expecting some pushback given the amount of security on site. To counteract the un-democratic format of the hearing (more on that below) a lot of those same big green groups staged a counter-rally outside the BOEM hearing room, essentially in the ballroom next door. Where the focus of the earlier rally at the statehouse was clearly political – featuring elected officials and politically connected spokespeople – the pre-BOEM rally at the hotel was focussed on the grassroots. Local mayors, business owners, and impacted trade associations like fishermen were the featured speakers. And the clear focus was to get everyone fired up and ready to submit a comment in opposition to the Trump-Zinke plan. Here’s some video of that rally to give you a taste:
About that BOEM process.
The format of the hearings is always the same, they call it a ‘townhall’ but it’s not the format most of us associate with that description – EG one microphone and people get up one at a time to testify in favor or against on the record. What they have are a bunch of table displays, staffed by career BOEM people about the proposed offshore drilling plan. The displays and staff are not explicitly pro-drilling, but they are there to explain the Trump/Zinke proposal, which is very pro drilling. So the information includes things like “why oil drilling is safer than ever” and “Why is offshore oil important to America’s Economy”. There is no display specifically on climate change or pipelines (which will be needed to get oil from offshore rigs to shore, and then onshore to refineries).
If you want to submit a “public comment” at the hearing, you have to sit down, by yourself at a laptop (provided by BOEM) and type your name, address and other personal information into the approved terminal before being allowed to (in complete silence) type your comment into the system.
I wasn’t having it. So, after a few minutes of letting people sign in and mill around, I pulled out a chair, stood on it, and called BS on the whole process.
I’m using the “BS” frame here as an intentional homage to Emma Gonzalez and her speech in Florida on gun violence. There’s something really powerful about having someone call out a lie, and it’s a similar energy I’m hoping to channel into these remaining BOEM hearings – because they’re NOT OVER YET!
* We think the Obama rules should have gone farther, and protected the Gulf of Mexico as well. If it’s too dirty and dangerous for the South Atlantic, why is it safe for the Gulf? Answer it’s not, but the Gulf is treated as a sacrifice zone. But that’s another story.
Donald Trump gives his first official State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 30, at 9pm Eastern | 6pm Pacific. Even if you hate the guy (and you should), somebody needs to listed to make sure he doesn’t announce any stupid new ideas (like drilling for oil on the moon, or requiring every citizen to genuflect and donate $5 every time the pass an Exxon station).
Our team will be listening in (and providing live color-commentary via twitter). And you can tune in with us! RSVP here and/or come back just before the speech starts Tuesday night and we’ll host a live stream of the speech, with running commentary from our team and a range of climate journalists, activists Climate Justice Warriors and more.
Because we work with a whole team of folks, we’ll also be sharing tweets and commentary on Health Care, International affairs, Defense, and more. Feel free to share your ideas and messages in the live chat above on Tuesday night, on our facebook page or by tweeting at @wealsoherdcats #Sotu
One of the best places to make progress for our climate and our communities is at the local level. Already Mayors and city councils from Seattle, WA, to Columbia, SC, where I live are stepping up and taking action by calling for a switch to 100% clean energy, divesting from Exxon and other Big Oil baddies, or refusing to do business with the big banks that fund pipelines.
The list of speakers includes Senator Bernie Sanders, Bill McKibben, Rev. Lennox Yearwood from Hip Hop Caucus, Jacqueline Patterson from the NAACP, Cherri Foytlin from BOLD Louisiana, Varshini Prakash from the Sunrise Movement, Jessica Lorena Rangel from Eyes of a Dreamer, and lots more
But you don’t need to be in D.C. to be part of the action. Hundreds of watch parties are already planned in cities and towns across the country. And thanks to the amazing lineup of speakers, it’s a great place for experienced climate activists and new people alike to learn more about the climate crisis and get real tools to take action this year. The event is also interactive – meaning there will be time to talk with your group about ideas and plans for the next few weeks, not just to listen to the fancy people on stage.
Here are just a few of the topics we’ll cover:
How to resist the Trump Administration’s ongoing attacks on our climate and communities;
Building power towards the 2018 and 2020 elections;
The need to unite to secure the lasting change needed on climate through effective local campaigns, including passing local resolutions in your city or town;
How together, we can take on the fossil fuel barons driving climate change and build the world we need, with a fast and just transition to 100% renewable energy for all.
But as fortune would have it, I wasn’t stuck home alone, worrying about the vote; Or out at work trying to stay busy while clicking the refresh button on my news feed every few minutes. I was in Pittsburgh at the People Vs Oil & Gas conference, surrounded by pipeline fighters from British Columbia, Canada, South Texas, New York, California and everywhere in between.
So when a couple friends from the local Rising Tide chapter asked me to pitch in (and do what 198 methods does — digital communications support for direct action campaigns), I said yes in a heartbeat; Even if it meant getting up really, really early this morning.
In freezing weather lit by headlamps and watery pre-dawn light they erected two twenty foot tall tripods, dangled themselves from the apex and locked their bodies to the base. All of it to block an entrance to a local office park that is home to some of the biggest, richest and most destructive fossil fuel extraction companies in America. Frackers, Pipeline builders, Injection well profiteers and petro export barons all rub elbows and share office space on the plush Southpointe campus. Heck, even Halliburton rents a suite there.
And that’s how it needs to be with Keystone XL too. Today’s decision isn’t a defeat — for us or Transcanada, the pipeline builder either. It’s a sort of detente, a “game on” moment that we need to rise to with creativity, love and a powerful spirit of action. You don’t need a giant tripod or a beutifle banner, or even to run out in the street and stop traffic where you live (yet). But you DO need to be willing to speak up and take action when the moment is right. And that’s why we’re encouraging everyone to sign the “promise to protect” today.
Lead by Nebraska landowners and local tribal nations and indigenous leaders, the promise asks you to be ready, to get trained, make a plan, recruit some friends. And when the moment is ripe as a late-July ear of corn, to be ready to take action to protect our country, our communities, and our climate from the Keystone XL pipeline (or whatever else they think of). Will you sign on?
Let’s get to that decision, because it’s a little confusing but here’s the gist:
The Decision is BAD because it’s basically saying the Keystone Xl pipeline can get built, despite all the protests, problems, and last week’s massive oil spill. On the other hand it’s GOOD because the “alternate route” they approved is hundreds of miles longer and needs new and different land to be taken by eminent domain — none of which has been vetted by the EPA and other federal agencies before.That gives us an opportunity to sue, demand more information, and otherwise gum up the works until they do. Because of all that, and the fact that the price of oil has been crashing (undercut by the price of renewable energy, but mostly by cheap fracked gas), a lot of economists and investors think that KXL will simply never be built.