Up in the air to stop the pipelines

This morning, I got up early, climbed a ladder 35 feet up, and perched on top of the front door of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with a banner that reads “FERC NO, Federal Renewable Energy Commission YES!”

It’s not a 100% safe, or legal way to make a point. But I thought it was important enough, and that this is a critical moment in which to make this point. 

Let me explain:

The Federal Renewable Energy Commission (FERC) is the agency in DC responsible for regulation of our interconnected electricity grids, as well as review, permitting and (almost always) approval of natural gas infrastructure in the United States. It’s already a powerful agency that oversees billions of dollars in infrastructure and is empowered to act on matters that can affect your monthly utility bill, and even seize your house or land and evict you through a process called eminent domain. Allies of the fossil fuel industry in DC have fought for years to expand those powers – so that FERC would oversee oil pipelines too, and would have stronger and more expedited powers to force through fossil fuel infrastructure.

For years we’ve battled against FERC and those who want to expand its powersWe’ve fought FERC orders to expedite fracking and new pipelines and LNG terminals. And we’ve been arrested and protested at multiple Senate hearings on FERC and opposed legislation to expand its powers.

But all along we’ve maintained it doesn’t have to be this way. FERC has a clear set of responsibilities that could be really helpful in fighting climate change – they could direct utilities to price renewable electricity more favorably than fossil fuels. They could also stop approving every new fossil fuel project that is proposed to them – especially big new fracked gas pipelines and export terminals, which will lock us into dangerous methane – a climate pollutant 86x more powerful than CO2 – for 30 years or more. 

Hence – FREC, the Federal Renewable Energy Commission. Our vision is that as part of a Green New Deal, Congress would re-make FERC into an agency that prioritizes the climate crisis and acts to implement the renewable energy future we wall want.

It was even starting to work – In the last 12-24 months we’ve seen cracks between the FERC commissioners, with the two Democrats dissenting on many votes and deadlocking – effectively blocking – approval of new pipelines and gas export terminals. When asked why they are saying no, Democrats at FERC say they hear from the courts, the public, and from scientists that they need to do a better job measuring and addressing the impacts these projects have on climate change.

And then, last week, Donald Trump poured gasoline and methane all over that raging fire of a debate:

In a series of Executive Orders, Trump made plain he intends to use the Department of Energy (which oversees FERC), EPA and other federal agencies as a cudgel to ram through new oil and gas pipelines. Taken together with a series of state-level laws that ban protest at pipeline construction sites, Trump’s fossil-nationalism says this: 

  1. Fossil fuel companies should be paid more than any other energy sector. If ratepayers disagree, or the market simply moves in a different direction since the fuel for renewable energy is free, the Government will subsidize fossil fuel companies and force you to pay more money for dirtier energy.
  2. If fossil fuel companies want to build a pipeline through your town, put a compressor station on your front yard, or an export terminal where you fish, they can do so. Their wish is your command and they can take your land, your tribe’s land, or your town/state’s land to do it. If you think that’s unfair, you don’t want a pipeline in your front yard or sacred places, even if you take the time to convince your city council, tribal council, governor, mayor or other elected officials to join you in opposing the project, they will all be overruled. What’s yours, what’s sacred, what belongs to all of us in common – none of it matters. The fossil fuel industry gets what it wants, and you -as a ratepayer and a taxpayer – will pay them for it whether you like it or not.
  3. If you’re a shareholder, an investor, or a capitalist of any kind that believe climate change is a real, urgent threat – companies are ordered by the FEC to ignore you, and your right to talk about climate chaos, fossil fuels and investment strategy that does not burn the planet down is blocked. If you try and speak out anyway, your status as a licensed investor can be challenged and you can be removed from public exchanges. Fossil fuels are the only way to make money, and any dissent will be punished.
  4. Oh and if you resist, if you lay down in front of the machinery of destruction and put your body on the line to stop this madness – you will be arrested, probably by heavily armed federal agents, and put in jail. In an increasing number of states, simply praying for peace in the path of a pipeline could get you locked up for a decade or longer.

Which is why I’m up here. We have a clear plan for how FERC can stop being part of the problem, and transform into FREC – a part of the solution. Trump and Co. are clearly not going to help implement that vision, but Congress might – and you can help! Here’s how:

  1. Check out the livestream and photos from our partners in action at BXE above
  2. If you’re interested in supporting our work, click here to chip in – we have more actions planned this spring at Shareholder meetings and corporate gatherings!
  3. Call Chuck Schumer at 202-224-6542 and Nancy Pelosi at 202-225-4965 to urge them to support legislation to replace FERC with FREC.

Quick, slightly belated, update on Bernhardt

As you probably heard by now – Bernhardt was confirmed by a vote of 56-41 last week, over the objections of nearly 200,000 of us who signed, called, texted, and petitioned to oppose his nomination. The vote was largely along party lines, with three of the same Democrats who voted against the Green New Deal — Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) — voting for Bernhardt, as well as Maine’s so-called Independent Senator, Angus King.

It’s frightening, of course, to have such a dangerous and dirty nominee confirmed to an important post  that oversees so much of our public lands and waters, as well as many of the US Government’s interactions with tribal nations and indigenous people through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. 

But Bernhardt didn’t get away scot-free: He takes is official position under more investigations than most previous Interior Secretaries ever see. And House Democrats will be sure to scrutinize every corrupt rule and racist policy Bernhardt tries to promulgate.

That’s the power of our actions together online – some bad things we can stop outright, and others, like Bernhardt’s nomination, we can slow and make more problematic for the drillers, frackers, and  fossil-fueled cronies Trump appoints.

So thank you for taking action.

I also want to remind you that this isn’t over – nor is it the only thing we’re fighting right now. For those of you who are new to this list – Welcome! The thesis idea here at 198 methods is to use the anti-authoritarian tactics first popularized by Gene Sharp as a non-violent alternative to armed populist revolution, and popularized again in recent books like This is an Uprising and Twitter and Teargas, as a specific model for fighting fossil fuels and climate chaos in the United States.

And if you’ve ever questioned if we’re really living in a fossil-fueled oligarchy or dictatorship – just consider the last week of Trump News: His recent Executive Orders basically direct federal agents (that’s the nationalism part) to overrule local objections to fossil fuel projects and disregard shareholder resolutions opposing climate change. 

Combined with Bernhardt’s dirty, corrupt, partisan confirmation vote, it’s one of the most blatant moment’s of Trump putting the profits of fossil fuel barons ahead of the rule of law, the safety of our communities, and the survival of our climate and common home.

If you want to see more about how we’re fighting back this spring – with actions that strike back at the heart of the fossil fuel and pipeline empires in Washington DC, and take the fight to the shareholder meetings and financiers of climate chaos – check out our blog, and stay tuned!

Trump’s Most Corrupt Nominee yet.

Trump has nominated David Bernhardt to run the Department of Interior, making him the latest in a line of corrupt former lobbyists nominated to regulate the industries they used to work for.

This is almost be a cliche at this point: Bernhardt follows Ryan Zinke, who resigned under a cloud of investigations and allegations of corruption. Lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, who thousands of us called, emailed, texted and got arrested protesting was confirmed last month to replace Scott Pruitt – who was forced out over similar corruption charges.

But Bernhardt is especially bad – and there’s still time to stop him. At his committee hearing last week, he was questioned strongly by Republicans and Democrats. And his during his previous vote to be Zinke’s deputy, only 53 Senators supported him.

If we can convince just a few more Senators to oppose Bernhardt, we could stop him and take down some of Trump’s most corrupt, dirty, and totalitarian plans for US “Energy Dominance.”

But a vote is expected before April 12, so we’re teaming up with a big coalition of groups to deliver more than 150,000 signatures next week. Can you join us and sign on now?

Too corrupt even for Trump

Like I said, in an administration notorious for corruption and conflicts of interest, Bernhardt is especially bad:

Sign now, and we’ll deliver your name along with more than 150,000 others next week before Bernhardt gets a vote!

We’ve taken down Trump’s corrupt agents before – firing Pruitt, Zinke, and driving others out of office. We’ve also built a powerful bulwark against his nominees by getting every single Democrat to vote in opposition to Trump’s nominees to FERC and other agencies.

But we’ve never succeeded in taking down a nominee at this point in the process. If we stop Bernhardt, we wont just stop a corrupt, misogynist, oil-baron from taking over the Interior Department (though that would be a good thing) we’ll deal a major blow to Trump and Co.’s plans to drill, frack, and mine every inch of our public lands and waters – no matter what the damage to our climate, communities, or people.

That’s why it’s critical that you tell your Senators you won’t stand for another fossil fuel industry hack who puts the profits of his former clients above the health and safety of the American people.

Bernhardt is a walking conflict of interest. Tell your Senators to oppose his nomination.

Talk about the Green New Deal, not this Senate vote

Let’s get one thing clear about this week’s Senate vote on a Green New Deal: Mitch McConnell is a twerp.

The resolution that was voted on this week was not the non-binding Green New Deal resolution introduced by Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), which we’ve talked. a lot. about.

That resolution would need to be referred to committee, where it would have committee hearings and consideration and debate – the kind of stuff that might address the concerns we and others have raised about banning fossil fuels, stopping pipelines, and the like. It also would give time and space to fill in details that are missing.

McConnell doesn’t want that debate, so he introduced this binding resolution making “it is the sense of the Senate” that the Green New Deal should become “the policy of the United States.” Like I said, he’s a twerp.

But Whatever McConnell’s shady motivations, this week’s vote was a slap-in-the-face loss to the climate community. The vote was 57-to-0, with 4 Dems, 1 Independent and every Republican voting “no” and all other dems voting “present.”

That’s especially galling because the oil, gas, & coal industries contributed more than $55 MILLION to senators who voted “no” on the #GreenNewDeal resolution – 11x more than to those who voted “present”.

It’s also hard to swallow because after 3 months of a new Congress, thousands of media stories, hundreds of lobby visits, sit ins, protests, and press conference galore we’ve actually managed to convince a majority of Americans that this is a crisis worth tackling – and tackling this way.

Which is why I’m sticking to my guns on this 198-methods strategy: We need outside action, especially direct action, that slows or stops the buildout of fossil fuel infrastructure. AND we need an inside-strategy that presses politicians and regulators to take actions (like a real, fossil-free, Green New Deal), because only big policy solutions will change the dynamic fast enough.

What’s the big deal?

Don’t get me wrong, the Green New Deal has re-shaped the debate on climate change and gotten politicians to talk about the scope and severity of the crisis in a serious way for the first time in a long time.

But the conversation is still stuck in false assumptions that will not keep fossil fuels in the ground or address the systemic racism and injustice of sacrifice zones. In the House of Representatives (outside Mitch the twerp-turtle’s jurisdiction), at least 3 committees are considering climate legislation. But all those bills, and even the actual resolution from Markey and AOC still talk about “net zero emissions” or set the timeline to end fossil fuels and nuclear power way too far in the future (like 2050 or later).

And I’m not just being a stick-in-the-mud: The decision to leave fossil fuels and nuclear on the table in the Green new Deal is shaping the 2020 conversation already: Beto O’Rourke said he supports a Green New Deal, and fracked gas, when Friends of the Earth questioned him in New Hampshire. A few days later, Sen Cory Booker said “I already support the Green New Deal. This resolution of bold vision is what we need. … And I agree with you. Nuclear has to be part of this solution.”

As a side-note, Booker was at a South Carolina town hall meeting organized by CNN that night. If he’d read the local paper, he might have seen that a few miles away another nuclear waste site was caught leaking tritium into the ground water in Barnwell, SC.

If we leave fossil fuels and nuclear on the table, what we’re really saying is that we’re ok with sacrifice zones. Because if we don’t start phasing out dirty energy NOW then they will keep building them, and people will keep getting sick, having their land stolen, and worse.

The 5 biggest oil companies (BP, Exxon, Shell etc) are planning to spend $110 BILLION on new oil & gas projects THIS YEAR (2019) & just 3% as much on clean alternatives.

Wall Street, the fossil fuel companies, the utilities, every single Republican in the Senate and a shockingly large number Democrats are committed to that same vision: another 20-50 years of drilling, spilling, pipelines, genocide, and ecological devastation.

So, now what?

The Senate vote was a sham and a stunt — not least of all because it distracted everyone (effectively) from the real action in the House where this week Nancy Pelosi introduced HR 9 . to keep the US in the Paris climate agreement.

Paris is not a panacea — It’s non-binding, like the AOC/Markey resolution. But it creates a framework to debate bills that have a lot more force and effect.

It’s like agreeing on the playing field, the rules, and saying that we’re in the game. We still need to do all the things to win (in this case stop climate change before it kills us all). And none of that will be possible if we slash our own achilles’ tendons — which is what building 12 new gas export facilities, millions of acres of fracking and drilling rigs, and millions of miles of new pipelines would do to our chances.

But, it’s a start. So this April we’re encouraging you to work on those two tracks: You can join a local Promise to Protect training stop and learn how you can turn up to stop the Keystone Pipeline, and stay tuned for updates on other actions targeting Dominion and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. At the same time, keep the pressure on Congress to keep debating climate solutions, and make sure they #KeepItInTheGround and say #nonukes as part of those solutions. A great action this week is to call your Senators and tell them to oppose Trump’s choice to lead the Interior Department, David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist who is exactly as corrupt as you think he is.

Call now to shutdown Wheeler

UPDATE – Quick update – Andrew Wheeler, Trump’s climate-destroying nominee to lead the EPA is on the Senate calendar today for a so-called “unanimous consent” vote. Within the last few weeks, Wheeler also said that the Green New Deal would threaten the entire electric grid – belying both a failure to understand how Renewable Energy works, and willingness to lie to the press in service of the Trump administration and the coal industry

You remember Andrew Wheeler, Trump’s climate-destroying nominee to be the permanent head of the EPA? Well he’s about to get a vote in the full Senate.

I’m not going to lie, it’s incredibly unlikely we can stop Wheeler from being confirmed by the full Senate this week. He was passed out of committee last week on a party line votewhich you helped make possible with calls, emails and action demanding that the Committee Shutdown Wheeler, not the EPA in January. And our outspoken advocacy with Friends of the Earth, already got me and my sister arrested while trying to tell Senators about Wheeler’s crimes.

But there’s another really good reason to call your Senator now: Last year, we convinced every Senate Democrat to vote against a Trump nominee for FERC. If we can repeat that this week with a vote on Wheeler, we’ll send a powerful message that confirming Trump’s nominees to key posts on energy and environment is a climate crime. And when it comes time to prosecute the Trump team for their corruption, collusion with polluters, and criminal neglect of our climate: this will be important.

So call now – click or call (202) 224-3121 and tell them what state you live in. Then, tell your Senators you want them to vote NO on making climate-wrecking coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler the permanent head of EPA. And don’t forget to call back, everybody has two Senators!

Need a little more on Wheeler? No problem, we’ve got you covered:

Wheeler, you might remember, has spent most of his life as a lobbyist for the coal industry, most recently for infamous coal-baron Bob Murray. And in the few months he’s been “acting” EPA administrator, he’s stopped at nothing to put fossil fuel profits ahead of public health and the health of the planet.

While he hasn’t committed the kind of outrageous, headline-grabbing scandals Pruitt was known for, Wheeler is an even bigger danger. In just a few months he’s undermined a critical rule that protects us from Mercury pollution – called the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). Mercury, usually emitted from coal burning power plants, is a dangerous neurotoxin that’s especially dangerous for children and pregnant women. Wheeler also rolled back regulations on the super-potent climate-changing chemical hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)And, perhaps most damning, he’s pushed to ease restrictions on the pesticide chlorpyrifos, and the paint stripper methylene chloride — overruling doctors and scientists who spent years proving that they kill farmworkers, contractors and other workers.

Click or call (202) 224-3121 and tell your Senators you want them to vote NO on making climate-wrecking coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler the permanent head of EPA.

What’s a Green New Deal that doesn’t ban Fossil Fuels?

This is getting exciting: In the last week, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren became the latest 2020 Presidential candidates to support a Green New Deal. And rumors are swirling in Washington that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey are about to release a joint resolution for a Green New Deal too.

But will these new candidates and resolutions live up to the hype? Will they halt all new fossil fuel extraction, transition to 100% renewable energy, rapidly decarbonize our agriculture and transportation sectors, ensure a fair and just transition led by impacted workers and communities, uphold Indigenous rights, and pass a national jobs guarantee? In short, will the Green New Deal live up to our demands for justice and climate action?

They will, if we demand it. Which is why I need your help to deliver our demands for Real Climate Leadership this week.

FIRST – click here to see if there’s a Real Climate Leadership event planned near you. If so, sign up to join us.

No More climate Cowardice

No event near you? No problem:

  1. Click here to look your member’s nearest office by entering your zip code;
  2. Print out these two letters and bring them with you:
    1. A campaign letter signed by more than 600 organizations with our policy demands; and
    2. Our cover letter outlining the 5 principles we’re asking all Members of Congress to publicly support.
  3. BONUS! Got an extra minute to plan ahead? Click here to add the date and time of your event to our map. Planning ahead for your event will enable our organizing team to follow up with additional support and help you recruit more people to attend.

Here’s why I’m also worried about what these candidates, bills and resolutions will really deliver:

If your inbox is anything like mine, you’ve already gotten emails from Sunrise and 350.org asking you to “support AOC” and “move this legislation forward by turning up the heat on our members of Congress” before draft legislation is available for public comment and scrutiny

And on a call last week, Sunrise and 350 both defended the idea of focussing on the jobs guarantee, not keeping fossil fuels in the ground or stopping new pipelines. There’s no reason to think any of these politicians and groups – Sunrise, 350, Sen Markey or Rep. Ocasio-Cortez – are trying to sell us out.

But until we see the text of that resolution – the way we previously were shown a copy of the draft legislation to create a Select Committee on a Green New Deal – there’s no way to know what it says. *update* And Articles like this more or less confirm we wont like it when we do see it.

Because we’ve been burned before: Under President Obama the Democratic party trumpeted an “all of the above” energy policy that sounded a lot like a Green new Deal in its pursuit of 100% renewable energy and a booming economy with no mention of keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

That policy directly created the biggest buildout of fossil fuel infrastructure in 100 years – most of it for export. That’s why the US exporters of oil and gas have increased more than 468% since Obama took office. and we’re now one of the largest oil and gas exporters in the world along with (wait for it) Russia.

And in specific states like California that have combined bold 100% renewable plans with carbon trading schemes that let bog corporations “buy” offsets in the global south the picture is even darker: The price of 100% renewable in California has been a dramatic expansion of fracking and pollution in poor, often latino communities, and the theft of land from and outright murder of indigenous people across central and South America.

Those are the costs of getting climate policy wrong – by endorsing actions that focus on and reward economics and job creation rather than what is truly just or fights the climate crisis.

I’m excited about the prospect of a Green New Deal. And I’m encouraged by new leaders like AOC that are talking about the scope and scale of the problem in ways that match the science.

But we need to be very careful, right now at the start of the new Congress, that those big ideas and bold demands don’t get coopted into something like an All of the Above part 2.

And that’s why out actions this week are so important. By showing up right now and making a clear demand for Real Climate leadership based on these 5 demands, we can make sure that any new resolution or plan is judged against them and can steer the conversation towards solutions we need.

Together with more than 50 partner organizations we’re making calls and recruiting volunteers. And Congress and the 2020 Presidential campaigns are already responding.

But to make this work, we need volunteers to deliver our demands from coast to coast at EVERY congressional office. I don’t care whether your Representative is a Democrat or a Republican; Whether they’ve signed on to support a Green New Deal already, or are a climate-denying Trump supporter. EVERY member of Congress needs to hear that there are people in their neighborhood these demands, and with your help, we’ll make sure they do.

Shutdown Wheeler, not the EPA

This Wednesday, the Senate is set to consider Andrew Wheeler, Trump’s climate denying, fossil fuel loving nominee to replace Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA.

Wheeler, you might remember, has spent most of his life as a lobbyist for the coal industry, most recently for infamous coal-baron Bob Murray. And in the few months he’s been “acting” EPA administrator, he’s stopped at nothing to put fossil fuel profits ahead of public health and the health of the planet.

While he hasn’t committed the kind of outrageous, headline-grabbing scandals Pruitt was known for, Wheeler is an even bigger danger. In just a few months he’s undermined a critical rule that protects us from Mercury pollution – called the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). Mercury, usually emitted from coal burning power plants, is a dangerous neurotoxin that’s especially dangerous for children and pregnant women. Wheeler also rolled back regulations on the super-potent climate-changing chemical hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). And, perhaps most damning, he’s pushed to ease restrictions on the pesticide chlorpyrifos, and the paint stripper methylene chloride — overruling doctors and scientists who spent years proving that they kill farmworkers, contractors and other workers.

The pattern is clear – every time he’s given a chance, Wheeler puts corporate polluter profits ahead of the health of our people, communities and planet. Sign here to tell the Senate that they MUST reject Andrew Wheeler’s nomination to be permanent EPA Administrator.

To add insult to injury, Wheeler’s nomination is being considered in the middle of the longest government shutdown in history – which has left some 800,000 government employees, including most of the EPA, furloughed, or forced to work without pay. EPA staff who are supposed to be out cleaning up toxic pollution, or monitoring for air pollution right now are stuck home, unpaid and forbidden to look for work. And efforts to recover from recent climate-fueled fires and storms in California, Puerto Rico, or Florida is on hold thanks to Trump’s racist, stupid shutdown.

For the Senate to even consider Wheeler’s nomination during the shutdown is outrageous. Sign here to tell them.

The good news is, we might actually be able to block Wheeler’s confirmation during the shutdown. The Trump team is under fire for prioritizing corporate profits over the public good right now – like how the Interior Department is forcing staff to work overtime to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, even as they fail to pay park rangers to protect rare, endangered Joshua Trees in our national parks.

The corruption is so naked now, that three out of four Americans say the government shutdown is “embarrassing for the country,” and a majority of them blame Donald Trump and his team. In response, Democrats are showing more of the backbone we last saw during the hearings on Bernard McNamee, trump’s climate denying FERC nominee. In response to that loathsome nomination, every Senate Democrat voted as a block to stop McNamee’s nomination.

If we can deliver that same kind of rebuke to Wheeler, combined with the bad press of the Government Shutdown, it might be enough for Republicans to pull or delay his nomination from the schedule. Sign now, and we’ll deliver your message to Senators on the relevant committee this week. Give us your cell phone number when you do, and we’ll text you updates from his committee hearing, and use our new tools to patch you directly through to the right Senators before they vote.

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.

 

 

Make McNamee’s First Day The Worst Day

Today is the first commissioners meeting at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for Bernard McNamee — Trump’s climate denying, coal loving nominee who squeaked by in the closest confirmation vote EVER for a Trump nominee. Our friends from BXE are headed into the hearing room to “welcome” Mr McNamee — and you can back them up by making a quick call!

Make a direct call to Bernard McNamee’s new office at FERC. The number is  202-502-8510

Not sure what to say? Here’ a few suggestions:

  • I’m calling to welcome Mr. McNamee to FERC, and ask that he immediately resign in disgrace. Don’t worry, lots of Trump appointees have already done this (Flynn, Pruitt, Ryan Zinke just resigned last weekend!)
  • I was one of the tens of thousands of people who called and wrote to the Senate opposing Mr McNamee’s nomination because of his close ties to the fossil fuel industry, and his outrageous statements on climate change and environmental groups.
  • Now that McNamee is at FERC, he must recuse himself from any case involving the oil, coal, or gas industries, or any conversation involving climate change and its impacts on US Citizens. His past comments and work at the Department of Energy, as well as in the private sector, show him to be unfairly biased.
  • I’d like to thank Mr McNamee for making it so much easier to sue FERC. Thanks to his reckless disregard for climate science, clean energy, alternatives to fossil fuels, grid resilience and basic common sense, we have a much better chance of prevailing against FERC in court. Still,I wish he’d just resign so we didn’t have to go through the trouble and expense of suing you every single time.

You get the idea.
You’ll remember that McNamee was Trump’s climate-denying nominee to FERC who was specifically chosen because he denies cliamte change and has written policies to bail out the coal industry.  But he only came under fire in the  Senate Energy Committee when we found video of a speech he he gave calling for a “unified campaign” to support fossil fuelsIn that speech, he also falsely claimed that renewable energy “screws up” the grid and and described any legal opposition to pipelines and cliamte change as a “constant battle between liberty and tyranny.”​

That lead to the unprecedented scenario where every single Senate Democrat voted against McNamee’s confirmation — a feat that has never happened before, not even on the nominations of Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke, both of whom have resigned in disgrace since. McNamee’s bias is so blatant that 17 Democratic Senators and Harvard Law School have told  him to recuse himself from anything where his impartiality should be questioned.

So, while McNamee taking a seat on FERC is bad, it’s also full of conflict, protest and clear conflict of interest – And we can use that. Our friends from BXE will be in the room where it happens today to tell McNamee to his face (they’ll have a report later today on how it went) in the meantime – you can make sure McNamee knows you’re watching by calling his office and making his first day on the job his worst day ever.

Make a direct call to McNamee’s new office at 202-502-8510