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.

 

 

3 graphs, a photo from space, and a mission

Last year I wrote a great post about what’s really at stake with climate change, and why I was starting 198 methods to push the fight in the US. It’s still great, and you should go read it if you haven’t already. I sent it out as a fundraiser on GivingTuesday, and got some positive feedback.

This year, I didn’t want to send a Giving Tuesday email for two basic reasons:

  1. #GivingTuesday is kind of a scam. No shade to my brothers and sisters in the non-profit world;  They need your help, so if you found time and a little extra cash to donate to them, I hope you did so. But the whole thing was invented by professional fundraisers as a corollary to BlackFriday – an orgy of overconsumption and a key example of what we’re trying to change about American politics and society. It’s also deeply connected to and dependent on Facebook’s donation platform, which is a scam to get non-profits with strapped budgets to give them billions in advertising revenue while green-washing the reputations of some of the dirtiest corporations on the planet.
  2. There’s actually a lot happening this week – a major Trump Nominee moving through Congress, a fight over the future of the Democratic Party leadership in Congress, And the start of the 24 Conference of Parties talks about how to implement the Paris Climate Agreement and act on the UN’s recent climate report. To name just a few.

But there’s also some exciting new info to share from the last few weeks – so without further ado, here’s an updated take on why you should donate, the state of the climate movement, and why I think that world needs one more non-profit environmental group (this one) — all as told through 3 charts and a big picture. Check it out and if you like it, click one of the links below to donate – and if you’ve saved your payment information, your donation will go through immediately:

One-click Donate: $1.98

One-click Donate: $19.80

One-click Donate: $198

Or donate another amount

Chart #1 it’s still bad

As you’ve probably guessed – the situation hasn’t improved much under the last 12 months of the Trump Administration. When Obama left office, we’d pledged to cut emissions 50% below 1990 levels. That was a good promise, but we weren’t on pace to do it. And that pace is nowhere near what was needed to keep us below the 2° Celsius goal of the Paris climate agreement.

Trump pulled us out of Paris in 2017, but the news actually got worse in the last few weeks when the UN released an updated projection confirming what we’d been saying all along – that we need to actually cut emissions MORE to keep us under 1.5° Celsius. And we need to do it FASTER hitting those decarbonization targets in the next 12 years to get us on pace.

Here’s an updated chart showing where we were last year, and where we are now:

climate goals graph updated

Chart #2 Still hotter too

Then, last Friday (right about the time everyone was getting their #GivingTuesday emails ready) the US chimed in with their second National Climate Assessment. Again, the news here is bad, but not new. Despite the Trump administration’s attempts to suppress climate science, and Trump and his cabinet’s ongoing climate denial, this report from 10 different US agencies confirms the basics above – The temperature is already rising; We’re causing it; And we need to act fast, and very boldly, if we want to stop it.

If we do nothing, the red line is what we can Temperature increase of 6-8° Farenheit (3-5° Celsius) That would make the planet more or less un-livable, at least for most of us. Seas would drive millions of us off the coasts, wildfires would burn dozens at a time across the west, and pollution (ozone in particular) and heat waves would kill tens of thousands of people every year across the midwest.

The blue line is about what the Paris agreement called for: namely aggressive action to cut US emissions and keep us below the 2° C target. The green line shows the very steep cuts it would take to get to 1.5° C or lower.

US emissions projections from 4th national climate assessment

Chart #3 It’s not all bad

Here’s the good news though: Despite all Trump’s posturing, things are already turning around. In the developing world (yucky term but most of the world’s people live in the global south, so hang with me a sec) Installations of wind and solar power are actually happening faster than new fossil fuels. There’s a revolution going on around the world, even if we’re not a part of it here in the US (yet). And it totally dovetails with the message we’ve been delivering to so-called climate leaders since this fall’s Global Climate Action Summit: We already have the solutions we need – and the youngest. poorest, and brownest communities with the most to lose from climate change are already showing what’s possible.

We’re all in this together

Last there’s this photo from NASA of the recent Camp Fire in California that I can’t get out of my head. The fires this year are already the biggest and deadliest in history – and they’re just what was predicted by the UN and US climate forecasts above. But it’s not just towns like Paradise that burned – all of California was blanketed in smoke from the fires. And no matter who you are or where you live, you’re seeing more impacts from climate change right now today that you were a year ago.

That can be terrifying – that the scope of the problem we’re facing is so vast. But it’s also unifying. There’s no more ‘safe harbor’ from climate change in America. You can’t retire to Florida, or emigrate to Canada to avoid it. We will drown, burn, or rise, TOGETHER.

A view of the camp fire from space

So, now what?

And that’s my main hope – that the presence of climate disaster all around us every day will move people to take real actions to fight the crisis. And we have done some things in the past year:

  1. We started the year fighting to DeFund pipelines, and that fight goes on. But just this month a major court decisions set back the Keystone XL pipeline again.
  2. We partnered with the Climate Disobedience Center on the court case for Roxbury activists arrested protesting a gas pipeline and they were all found not-guilty by reason of necessity!
  3. We successfully Fired Scott Pruitt, Trump’s lead man on climate and Environment at the EPA, and now we’re going after his number 2, Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke.
  4. We fought Trump’s plans to open our coasts to offshore drilling, gut the Endangered Species Act, and more! And we stood up, sat-in, and marched alongside pipeline fighters in North Carolina and other states.
  5. And we traveled to California for the #RiseforClimate rally and also put local leaders like Governor Brown on notice that we’re raising the bar on climate leadership.

Sure, Trump will still be crazy: he told the Washington Post this week that  “You look at our air and our water and it’s right now at a record clean.” I don’t know what that means, but I know not to get too hung up on every crazy, false and unreasonable thing he says. I’m focused instead on the things we can do. And, as I noted in an earlier post on the election, I think we’ve got even more opportunities in 2019 than we had in 2018.

In particular, I think now more than ever we need digital support for direct action that centers the climate crisis. We saw that over and over again – from protests in North Carolina where we live-streamed the action so more people could participate, to the Global Climate Action Summit, where we used new media tools to super-charge the call for real climate leadership.

Now, with a new congress coming in, and more pipelines, fossil fuel export terminals, and Trump-nominated Fossil Fools than ever to fight, if you’ve got a little to spare, we’d love to have your support.

Update from a busy week in DC

It’s been a crazy week of action in Washington, DC, and since a lot of what we’re doing has to do with petitions YOU signed, actions YOU too, and advocacy YOU care about – I thought I’d make a short video all about it:

If you like what you see, click here to chip in and support us!


You can also still take action on these campaigns!

The Case to Fire Zinke

Ryan Zinke is Donald Trump’s racist, corrupt, climate-denying, public-lands-defiling Secretary of the Interior — And it’s time for him to go. It’s time to #FireZinke.

Fire Ryan ZinkeAnd it’s not just me saying so: When Scott Pruitt resigned, there were 16 active investigations into his corrupt actions and abuse of taxpayer funds. Zinke faces 14 federal investigations right now, so he could well be next.

But just like with our #FirePruitt campaign, Zinke isn’t going to just resign without a push. And Trump is only interested in loyalty to himself and the fossil fuel industry. He’s never fired anyone for corruption or bribery (how could he, given his own self dealing?). So, once again, we’re teaming up with a big coalition of progressive groups to pressure Congress to investigate, and if necessary Fire the Secretary of the Interior. Sign on now to support us.

Zinke’s corruption and crimes against the planet are vast, and complicated at times. I said Zinke is racist, corrupt, climate-denying, and public-lands-defiling. Here’s why:

Zinke is a Racist

It’s important to remember that one reason Trump likes Ryan Zinke so much is that they are both “birthers” who alleged that president Obama was not born in the U.S. – a racist lie that’s common to officials in this administration.

In a hearing about oversight of historic sites that used to be Japanese internment camps as historic sites Zinke told Japanese American Congresswoman Rep. Colleen Hanabusa “Oh, konnichiwa.” Hanabusa had been asking Zinke about the sites in relation to her own grandfather’s detention. He defended himself by first asking reporters “How could ever saying ‘good morning’ be bad?” and later by saying he has “friends that were Japanese families.”

But Zinke’s most racist attacks might be reserved for Indigenous peoples and Native Americans. It’s bad enough that Zinke cut tribal governments out of the decision to gut the Bears Ears National Monument  — a substantial reversal from the Obama-era process that created the monument. But when an indigenous woman dared to question him  about his Bears Ears process, Zinke stepped towards her aggressively and told her to “be nice” in a distinctly not-nice manner.

Nor is his prejudice restricted to official land decisions. Only 10 percent of DOI staff identify as indigenous or Native American (too few given that the Bureau of Indian Affairs is a part of DOI). But when Zinke cleaned house and reorganized the Department, one third of the senior staff targeted for reassignment were Native Americans. When that clearly racist decision prompted an investigation, Zinke told staff that “diversity isn’t important.”

But for all his own prejudice, Zinke loves to question other people’s citizenship and loyalty to America. His team has defended use of the term “anchor babies”, he told a fossil fuel event that “I got 30 percent of [my] crew that’s not loyal to the [US] flag.” And when a protester tried to ask Zinke a question about climate, he responded: “You know what? You haven’t served and you don’t understand what energy is. I’d like to see your child have to fight for energy.”

Sign now if you agree it’s time to #FireZinke.

Zinke is Corrupt

Here’s the thing, there are a LOT of smoking guns around Ryan Zinke when it comes to corruption. Just like Scott Pruitt the question is less “how can we prove Zinke is corrupt?” Than “is there any decisions Zinke has made that doesn’t benefit his own family, friends or benefactors in the fossil fuel industry?”

The most blatant example is probably the land deal Zinke’s personal foundation, headed by his wife, struck with the head of Halliburtonwhich donated more than $23,000 to Zinke’s campaigns – that included space for a microbrewery he has always wanted. Not at all by coincidence, the land deal went through just as Zinke and the DOI were approving a whole slew of decisions that benefited Haliburton from opening up more of our coast to drilling to rolling back safety standards for offshore drilling.

Oh and that offshore drilling plan? Only one state was exempted from Zinke’s proposal to open more than 90% of our coastlines to drilling. That was Florida, where key Trump ally Rick Scott is running for Senate and an investigation indicates that Zinke’s teams orchestrated a hasty meeting and press conference in the Tallahassee airport – a possible violation of federal campaign rules, as well.

But there are lot of examples of blatant corruption at DOI: From all the fossil fuel companies that have donated to Zinke, and now have lobbyists running the DOI; To Zinke’s secret meetings with fossil fuel executives and lobbyists; To his “Royalty Policy Committee”,  which is supposed to suggest how much mining and drilling companies have to pay for access to public lands and waters, but Under Zinke is stacked Fossil fuel executives and has recommend payments that are only fraction of their value; To his shady relationship with Whitefish Energy, a two year old company from his hometown with only two full time employees, that somehow won a $300 million dollar contract to restore power in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria (they failed, and people died as a result).

We could go on and on, but we won’t do so here. We’ll just recommend you to the excellent coverage in The New Republic and at the website Department of Influence, created by the Western Values Project.

Sign now if you agree it’s time to #FireZinke.

Zinke is a Climate Denyer

Like racist Birther-ism, denial of Climate change is almost a calling card for the Trump Administration. But Zinke has been especially effective and destructive at wielding the anti-science, pro-fossil fuel line:

There have been numerous documented incidents of the DOI and the  National Park Service removing  climate change research or references to sea level rise from official reports and websites. And Zinke eliminated climate change from DOI’s strategic plan and other plans because that was “inconsistent” with Trump’s energy goals.

He’s also made it personal: One of the 14 investigations into Zinke involves his reassignment of climate scientists. The most famous is whistleblower Joel Clement, the former director of the Office of Policy Analysis who had overseen research into climate impacts for years, and was reassigned to a job collecting royalty payments from fossil fuel companies in apparent retaliation.

Most recently, while wildfires were burning out of control across California, Zinke blamed environmental terrorists and said we need to increase loggingdirectly contradicting common sense, good science, and the policy of CalFire first responders.

Sign now if you agree it’s time to #FireZinke.

Zinke destroys Public Lands

Zinke swore up and down that he would never sell public lands for private profit in his confirmation hearing. But the DOI preferred proposal for gutting Grand Staircase Escalante included a plan to sell off 1,600 acresincluding some parcels that would be sold to corrupt, anti-environment Utah state representative Mike Noel. Zinke backed off that plan, but it wasn’t the first time. He’s also pushing to cut the Bears Ears national monument by 1.15 million acres and open both monuments to fossil fuel extraction and uranium mining.

And in case there was any doubt about who Zinke is working for, it’s not you, me, science or indigenous communities who hold these lands sacred. Zinke proposed nearly tripling fees for some national parks; His plan to gut Grand Staircase Monument would destroy many dinosaur fossil discoveries; His plan for Bears Ears ignores Native American input that they hold these lands to be sacred; and his plan to fast track seismic testing and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), puts the Gwich’in people and other subsistence hunting and fishing communities in rural Alaska at risk.

Sign now if you agree it’s time to #FireZinke.

Why right now

That was a lot of reasons why it’s time to #FireZinke – but I just want to give one last short reason why we should take action right now:

Zinke is vulnerable, and he Trump know it. In addition to the 14 investigations, some Democrats in Congress are demanding answers. So far, they’ve been blocked by Republicans loyal to the Trump administration.

But if the election changes who’s in charge of key committees in the House, Zinke could face months of excruciating hearings and inquiries into each of the items tagged above, and many more. That’s how we got Pruitt to resign earlier this year. And we can do it again if we act together – right now, before the election.

Will you help? Sign here to call on Congress to #FireZinke now, and we’ll make sure your name and signature are delivered before the election. We’ll also keep you up to date on protests, actions, and lobbying activity near you that can hold Zinke and the rest of Trump’s team accountable.

We did #FirePruitt now it's time to fire Zinke

Save the Endangered Species Act.

Donald Trump and his Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have declared war on the Endangered Species Act. It’s a terrible policy motivated by greed, blood-lust and a disdain for the natural world.

One part of the policy seems designed to support trophy hunters like Trump’s sons, and follows a pattern of Trump supporting the most extreme and cruel forms of sport hunting. But the real reason they’re pushing this rollback to one of the most successful environmental laws in history is to help the fossil fuel industry to a once-in-a-lifetime chance to profit off our planet at the expense of literally every living thing on earth.

We have until September 24 to file comments opposing this dangerous, unethical, backwards plan. Will you help? File a comment with us and we’ll make sure it’s delivered to DOI and the Trump team before the deadline.

For 45 years the ESA has kept plant and animal species in decline from going extinct. It’s credited with saving the hump back whale, the bald eagle, and dozens of other species.

But in the last few years, protecting threatened species like the Sage Grouse have run afoul of the avaricious plans of the oil and gas industry. Fossil fuel companies want unfettered access to mine, drill, frack and despoil every inch of our land and coastline. And the Trump team’s plan gives them everything they could ever want, and more.

The plan put forward by Zinke and his team at Trump’s DOI would end the protection for species that are called threatened, meaning they’re on the cusp of being endangered, but haven’t actually gone extinct and need to be re-populated in zoos or using other extreme measures. It would also give Trump and Zinke the chance to review which plants and animals are protected on a case-by-case basis — sure to result in many fewer protections for a tiny fraction of the species that need it.

In another part of the plan, Trump and Zinke propose to require a cost benefit analysis when deciding what species and habitat to protect. The direction of the policy is clear — if the oil industry can make a buck by driving a species extinct, they’re free to do it. But the idea of saving wildlife for wildlife’s sake is abolished from our laws.

I won’t lie, there’s very little chance Zinke and Trump can be made to listen to reason. We saw in their plan to open up ALL our coasts to oil and gas drilling that the public comment periods they held were less about public input, and more about protecting their deeply corrupt and unethical administration from legal challenges.

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.

Tl;Dr if enough of us speak out right now, we CAN stop this plan. But we’ve got to file the comments right, and right now. Please, we need your help. Send a comment to the Department of Interior telling them you oppose the Trump/Zinke plan to gut the Endangered Species Act.

BOEM goes the dynamite – your comments in action

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.

There’s an important role for direct action in moments like these. First it’s an important way to withhold consent – a critical strategy in the Gene Sharp model of anti-authoritarian organizing we ascribe to.

Second, it helps inspire people to realize they don’t have to obey unjust and destructive dictates from the Trump administration. Across the country, people have been showing up at these BOEM events to speak out and demand a full retraction of this plan. The louder, less orderly, and more disruptive we get, the more Zinke and his team withdrawal. Some in the media are already saying that it looks more like a political stunt than a serious energy plan.

And finally, it helps to correct the media narrative, which tends towards “both side-ism” and false balance by giving drilling opponents, who vastly outnumber drilling supporters, the same amount of coverage as the fossil fuel industry, and paints BOEM as an impartial referee for science. In fact, Trump’s  Interior secretary Ryan Zinke is already ignoring mountains of scientific evidence that offshore drilling is too dangerous for our coasts and economies, and a disaster for our climate. In many cases, they’re ignoring evidence that was just submitted 1-2 years ago as part of the Obama administration process that resulted in a ban on all offshore drilling in the Atlantic and continental Pacific (eg not Alaska) oceans.*

So, when more than 10,000 members and supporters of 198 methods submitted comments opposing the Trump/Zinke offshore drilling plan, we didn’t just want to hand over your names and comments, we wanted to make a ruckus.

And that’s what we did in South Carolina – arguably the Reddest, most Trump-friendly state where BOEM is holding an offshore drilling hearing (and also Drew’s Home turf).  Below is a LONG recap of the day’s events. But if you’re already into our idea to deliver comments in the most loud, non-compliant, media-shattering way possible, then please chip in. There are important hearings happening in the next week in Washington, D.C. and North Carolina that we want to support and play a role in – and we need your help to make it happen.

The Story in South Carolina.

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!

In fact there three more weeks to comment on this offshore drilling plan. So before March 9, tell your friends to comment, share the action online, and if you can please chip in to support us getting to as many of these hearings as possible to shout, disrupt, and make our voices heard any way we can.

Thanks!

* 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.