Wheeler, Schumer and a week of action in DC

This has been a busy week for Congress, which means it’s been a busy week for activists. On Tuesday afternoon, Drew helped run a training session at the Friends of the Earth headquarters in Washington D.C. and prepared to take action at Andrew Wheeler’s confirmation hearing. At the training, six of us (including Drew) volunteered to risk arrest by speaking out during the hearing.

The plan was to enter in pairs, splitting the roles so that one would stand and read out a story from someone impacted by Wheeler’s dirty EPA policies or by the government shutdown. The other partner would silently hold a sign reading, “Shut down Wheeler, not the EPA.”

protest in the hallway
Photo by Liz Gorman

The stories to be read were compiled from Friends of the Earth members and public reports on the impacts of EPA policy. The goal was to highlight the injustice of Andrew Wheeler’s confirmation hearing while hundreds of people are impacted by the ongoing government shutdown. With so many people unable to pay their mortgages or afford critical medications, why is Congress prioritizing the confirmation of a puppet to the coal industry to lead the EPA?

The next morning, we arrived on Capitol Hill to line up. We had to hide our posters in bags and under coats. But Capitol Police and Republican Senate staffers suspected something – and in an attempt to prevent any kind of disruption, they filled the hearing room with EPA staff and Republican lawyers before the public was even let in. For this reason, Drew and I were the only pair to make it successfully into the hearing room before the doors were closed and those still in line were moved to the overflow space.

Silent protestors hold signs while emily and other FOE friends are arrested for refusing to be quiet

Photo by Liz Gorman

We waited until Wheeler made his opening remarks and allowed him to introduce his family before standing up. I held a sign and Drew shouted out the story a Texas woman who lives near a coal fired power plant that Wheeler wants to allow to pollute more. Capitol Police ushered us quickly out into the hallway where more than a dozen allier were also chanting and holding up posters. Four more friends were ultimately placed under arrest for refusing to stop chanting or disburse from outside the hearing.

The rest of the crowd stood in the hallway outside of the hearing room with their posters in silence until all of us were escorted out. All six of us were released after paying a fine of fifty dollars.

Drew is placed under arrest for disrupting the hearing of Andrew Wheeler for EPA Administrator

Photo by Liz Gorman

Later that same night, we were back at it, attending a meeting with 350 to plan and train folks for an action the following morning at the office of Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer. The plan was for a large group to enter the office of Senator Schumer and read out a letter demanding that he sign on to the Green New Deal. Members of the group would also tell their own stories about how the climate change movement has affected their lives. As we exited the office we would sing protest songs while two floors above, four people would drop a banner over the side of a balcony to be viewed from below.

Banner dropped over Sen Schumer's office
photo by 350

On the morning of the action, we met at Union Station and briefed a larger crowd that had not been able to attend the previous night’s training. Then we walked over to the Capitol to file through metal detectors and security checkpoints before making our way to Chuck Schumer’s office. The stories and testimony insider from impacted young people were powerful. And the songs and chants outside echoed through the hallways and marble lobby of the Hart office building. No arrests were made that day, since our banner team chose to comply with orders by Capitol Police to pull up the banner.

On the lower floor, the larger group continued to sing, and share stories of climate impacts, until we were warned to cease and desist. After a second warning, the whole group together then walked over to the park across the street from the capitol building, where reflections and feelings of hope were shared before one final song was sung.

Emily and our team with the banner after the action at Sen Schumer's office
Photo by 350.org

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.

 

 

What happened with Dominion Power in South Carolina

On Friday, December 14, the South Carolina Public Service Commission (SC-PSC) held a hearing to approve Dominion Power’s proposal to buy our largest utility, SCE&G and its parent company SCANA. As we wrote just before, it was a bad deal for the people of South Carolina, and for the environment and climate we all share.

The SC-PSC and Dominion thought South Carolina was whipped. After years of fighting the VC Summer plant, paying the highest electricity bills in the country, and living with corporate polluters — they  didn’t imagine anyone would show up to oppose them as they stole a little more, wrecked a few more communities, and continued to ignore the climate crisis.

We proved them wrongwe showed up with a team of half-a-dozen activists from South Carolina and North Carolina and took the hearing by storm. We stood up and shouted until they had to adjourn. When a PSC commissioner came out and asked us to be quiet — because he said he was undecided, and wanted to vote on a plan to add solar power to Dominion’s offer — we shouted louder until the threw us out of  the building into the rain and threatened to arrest us. That commissioner, by the way, went back inside, lost every vote to add solar or accountability to the deal, and then voted for the Dominion merger anyway.

And it’s a good thing we did too. Because while the SC-PSC was too cowardly to stop Dominion’s takeover, now people know there’s a resistance afoot. Our protest was on the front page of the newspaper the next day, and mentioned in story after story that covered the Dominion deal.

If you’re feeling this activism and story – if you want to support more direct action projects that target Dominion and energy regulators in Virginia and the Carolinas – click here to chip in and support us.

By trying to silence us, throwing us out of the hearing, ignoring our evidence and demands for justice, they’ve united not only South Carolinians, but North Carolinians and Virginians in opposition. Dominion is already facing blow back in court over their Atlantic Coast Pipeline (the judge actually quoted the Lorax in smacking down the pipeline). And Virginia regulators are beginning to question why Dominion needs to charge ratepayers so much, if they’re making so much profit.

A resistance is building all across the SouthEast – to Dominion and all the oppressors. The same day we spoke out in South Carolina, Cherri Foytlin of the L’eau est La Vie camp had a tense exchange with South Carolina Regulators in Louisiana — so tense one of them knocked over a table backing away from her righteous anger. As the song says, they tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.

People in the South are rising up. So far, the corporate polluters and pipeline builders have been able to buy, cheat and steal enough power to keep us bottled up. But the day is coming when that may not work anymore.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s the video where Elaine interviews some friends as we were arriving at the meeting. You can also get a good look at the dishonest Dominion lawyers, PSC commissioners and other various villains who did us wrong:

After that we headed into the hearing room and it was show time. Skip to about 11 minutes into this video (unless you want to listen to the SC-PSC congratulate itself on working hard to steal money from some of the poorest ratepayers in America with the help of one of the richest companies in the Southeast) to see the protest action, which made it onto the front page of the local paper the next day and was mentioned in numerous articles about the merger that evening and over the weekend.

And finally, check out this video of us talking in the hall with SC PSC commissioner Tom Ervin. This part might be the most crazy-making since Ervin tries to convince us he’s on our side, AND that we’re the problem (not him) at the same time. He also (dishonestly) claims he hasn’t made up his mind just a few minutes before he let us get thrown out in the rain, then went back in the hearing room and voted for the deal. Profiles in courage you are NOT Mr Ervin.

 

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.

Elections and consequences

You may have heard that the 2018 midterms were more of a blue puddle or a blue splash than a Blue wave, but I disagree. In fact, I’m with Alexandra Petri who wrote the day after that if Pundits covered star wars like they covered the Blue Wave their headline would have been:

Disappointing Night for Rebels Who Only Manage to Destroy Death Star, Dashing Hopes They Might Also Have Engaged and Defeated Entire Imperial Navy

And I know that it can be hard to pay attention or find the silver lining since the next day Trump replaced Jeff Sessions (good riddance) with the even more nakedly corrupt and cowardly Matt Whitaker — kicking off a constitutional crisis in an attempt to end the Mueller investigation and declare himself above the law. But it’s important – not just to those of us who worked on the election but to all of us who care about climate change –  to pause for a second and remember that we fought like hell and actually WON an amazing thing.

Let the Blue Wave wash over me

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.

Given how badly gerrymandered the House map was after the 2010 election, Democrats needed to win the national popular vote by 5 % or more just to take the chamber. Instead we won by closer to 10% – an absolute thumpin’ for Republican values and ideas – even if some seats were too gerrymandered to win and Trump is too narcissistic to notice.

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.

Now what

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.

But things have really turned around in the week since: Those brave progressives I talked about earlier got to DC for orientation and immediately made a mark. AOC jumped on a table to fire up youth climate activists, and then visited their sit in at Nancy Pelosi’s office the next day. That kind of outside-in pressure is just what we need to really change things in Congress, and this country.

And, if we may be so bold, it’s right up our alley. For just over 2 years now, we’ve been using digital tools to help stage creative direct actions – usually with an elected or appointed politician as the target. We live streamed the occupation of the North Carolina Governor’s office, brought thousands of people into a conversation about pipelines and fracked gas infrastructure while locked to a giant bamboo tripod outside FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), used twitter and facebook to expand the audience of the occupation of Governor Cuomo’s office (and sang “Hey yo Cuomo walk the talk” more times than I want to talk about) and lots and lots of other things too.

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.

 

 

Donate, Rise, Burn, or Drown

Earlier this week I wrote to you about how, even in a time of climate fueled fires, super-storms and destruction, our movement for global climate justice gives me hope. Specifically, I asked you to come out to Rise for Climate Jobs and Justice action near you this Saturday, September 8, and see and feel that movement for yourself. And I still hope you’ll do that.

But I also wanted to ask if you can chip in $1.98 or more to support our work at this weekend’s Rise events and beyond. I’m in California now, and I plan to do more than march. I’ll be rallying with frontline leaders and taking direct action in the streets. Can you make a quick donation to support what we’re doing?

I’ll let you in on a secret: I don’t think another march is going to stop climate change. Big international shows of solidarity are an essential part of the movement – a way that (nearly) everyone can get together and call for change. But if we’re seriously going to change Jerry Brown and other local leaders’ minds, if we’re going to get the solutions we need to stop the climate crisis, we’re going to have to take bold direct action.

And that’s what 198 methods is here for: When the climate movement gets into the streets and takes direct action to force real change, we show up and provide digital tools, material support, and good old fashioned participation to help. That’s why I’m in California – and starting tomorrow, you’ll be able to see a series of videos and reports from Direct Actions happening all this week to create the change we need.

But, I can only be here, and only stream, record an broadcast all this stuff, because of generous supporters. So, if you’re in a position, I’d love it if you can chip in $1.98 or more to keep me going, and my camera rolling.

Been a minute

Hey friends, been a minute since my last post. Just want to assure that 1) we’re not done fighting; 2) we’ve been busy, even if we haven’t posted; and 3) There’s more coming soon.

Lightening round recap:

  1. We blocked the doors to the EPA to demand climate justice with the poor people’s campaign on June  18
  2. I stalked the halls of Congress to demand Republican members #FirePruittand then they did!
    1. Two weeks later Pruitt Resigned What the what!?!
  3. I locked myself to a 20 foot tall bamboo tower for 7 hours to #CrackFERCopen and demand reforms at the Federal Energy regulatory Commission (thanks to the more than 10,000 of you who signed in support!)

    1. Later that same week, one of the Republican Commissioners Robert Powelson, announced he is resigning in August – setting up a deadlocked FERC over climate and gas pipelines, exactly what we were trying to accomplish with our action.

There’s been a ton of other news, most of it bad:

  1. Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court,Brett Kavanaugh, is a radical, anti- woman, anti-LGBTQ, racist and  anti-environment jurist. And he’s proposed him to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who’s often called a swing vote was pretty reliably pro-climate and life on earth (Kavanaugh is not).
  2. Pruitt is out at the EPA but his replacement, Andrew Wheeler, is equally corrupt, and potentially more dangerous if only because he’s seen as less comically corrupt than Pruitt was – replacing petty scandals over lotion and condo rentals with serious ones about poisoning our air, water and land.
  3. Pipeline construction continues in Lousianna, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and elsewhere as our big, ud, proud, fragile, community continues to fight the black snake on too many fronts to bear. We;ll have na update tomorrow about the current weeks of action happening to support the L’eau Est La Vie Camp. And soon we’ll have more ways to sign, donate, show up and otherwise support all our actions

I trust that even when we can’t find our way back to the keyboard, you know we’re out fighting, demanding action and making change. We started 198 methods to do digital support for direct action climate campaigns. That’s where we’ve been: locking down, sitting in, aking art, making friends and demanding change.

I’ll also point out that, even though times are certainly still dark, the old adage holds: when we fight, we win. IN the last few weeks we fired (another) member of Trump’s corrupt cabinet. We conviced 20% of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to step down and re-create the deadlock we spent a year exploiting to delay, derail and block gas infrastructure all over America. And we’re not out of fight yet.

We ready. We coming. Don’t touch that dial. I believe that we will win.

Earth Week should be about real climate leadership

walk the talk on climateYesterday was Earth Day, and I’m sure you’re getting a million emails asking for money to “Save the Planet” and “stop the pipeline.” There are a lot of awesome groups out there doing great work, and I hope you support a few of them.

This email is a little different. It’s longer, for one thing, but that’s not what matters. What makes 198 methods different (we hope) is our approach. We use digital tools to support direct action campaigns that can really shift the paradigm on climate – moments when by upping the ante just a little bit, we think we can turn the tables on the whole fossil fuel industry.

There are two important examples this week that we’re supporting. Can you chip in to support us while we do? Here’s what we’re doing, because actions speak louder than words:

First, in Albany: We’re supporting the Cuomo Walk the Talk action. Even if you’re not from new York, it’s worth paying attention to – because it’s the latest in a series of campaigns including the occupation of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s office a few weeks ago, and the Brown’s Last chance campaign we’re supporting. All three (and lots of other great work) are aimed at getting Democrats who claim to be climate leaders to really step up. They also all have a common demand: 100% renewable energy, a ban on all fossil fuel infrastructure (especially fracked gas pipelines), and making polluters pay for wrecking our climate.

By Democratic Governors in multiple states like this, there’s a real chance to raise the bar on what it means to be a “climate hawk”. And that’s absolutely essential in this moment. With climate chaos intensifying all around us – Climate disasters cost $307 billion in 2017, more than the entire Republican tax scam and more than $4000/US family of four – It’s no longer enough to “support” renewables or “believe in climate change.” Real leaders in 2018 need to be taking bold actions to stop taking carbon out of the ground, stop transporting it to locations it can be burned, and start a massive and wholistic overhaul of our energy economy.

Tomorrow’s Cuomo Walk the Talk action could be the biggest milestone yet. It promises to be the biggest climate march in Albany’s history. And it lands at a really powerful moment when Cuomo is facing a primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon, who has a much more progressive platform on climate and clean energy, and has already rejected all donations from the fossil fuel industry. I’ve spent all day at the action camp planning a direct action component to this peaceful, powerful march and rally, and it’s going to be amazing.

Even better – if it works, Cuomo could be convinced to take one of the strongest stands on climate action in America, while he’s governor of one of the biggest states in America, and while he’s considering running for President of the United States Of America in 2020 (or as soon as we impeach Trump, read on). There are Two ways you can support this action:

  1. Follow the Hashtag #CuomoWalkthetalk starting at ~12pm Eastern tomorrow, April 22
  2. Check out the Facebook page for updates as well, Drew will post and share several live updates from the March, rally and the Direct Action.
  3. Chip in to support our work – after we cover the cost of the action (like our travel and food costs) we’ll donate all of it to the legal defense fund and local frontline groups in New York.

Cuomo walk the talk

That’s the most urgent news, but maybe not the biggest news this week.

Pruitt to testify April 26. More than 200,000 of us have already signed on to a petition demanding Scott Pruitt be fired for his corrupt, disastrous leadership of the EPA. Now there’s a new report out from the Government Accountability Office that Pruitt’s $43,000 booth actually broke the law. It’s just the latest in a series of scandals that could finally sink his leadership of the EPA, and deny Trump a key surrogate that he was grooming to help him end Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

This Thursday, Pruitt is scheduled to testify to a House Committee about that, and all his other scandals. I’ll be there along with Friends from Beyond Extreme Energy, Friends of the Earth and dozens of other partners. But it wont just be a standard DC rally:

We’re using Pruitt’s presence on the Hill to turn up the heat on Congressional Democrats, in particular – especially ones who claim to care about climate change and the EPA. For too long, these climate peacocks have sent letters expressing their “concern” or “demanding answers” from Pruitt about his outrageous spending, and even more-outrageous attacks on our environment and public health. But even as they’ve called him out and trumpeted their ‘resistance’ to Trump’s agenda, many of those same elected members of Congress have voted to confirm Trump’s cabinet — from Pruitt in 2017 to new climate-denying NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine last week. Not to mention the FERC commissioners who were confirmed on the same day as our action asking Democrats to lead on this issue last year.

Instead of more letters expressing concern, climate leaders in Congress should demand Pruitt be fired right now – and move to impeach him if Trump won’t do it. It’s the same basic process as impeaching a President to Impeach a member of his cabinet – and now that the GAO confirms Pruitt has committed a crime, it’s great practice as well!

That’s why later this week i’ll be in DC to support partners and allies taking action to Demand Congress do more than talk – that they actually take action by impeaching Pruitt.

I’ll send another update later this week with a wrap up on the Albany action and more ways to support the #FirePruitt day of action. For now, if you want to support our work:

  1. follow the #FirePruitt hashtag on social media
  2. Sign and share the petition, if you haven’t already.
  3. And chip in to support all our work.

You see the pattern: We need elected officials to do more than Talk: We need bold action to block Trumps nominees, ban new fossil fuel infrastructure, make polluters pay and move immediately towards a just transition to 100% Renewable energy. And this week, that’s what we’re all about.

Last week before comments go BOEM!

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. I wanted to explain what we’ve been doing for two reasons: the first is that there’s still time to submit a comment to BOEM (before March 9, 2018), and we’ve got a new way for you to do it that ensures you comment gets heard when you submit it through this super cool new action portal we set up with friends. 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. Drew got up on a chair and shouted down the Columbia SC BOEM hearing, earning him a mention in the Washington Post. We did a similar action a few weeks later in Raleigh NC with friends from NC APPPL, who we’ve been working with to fight the pipeline. And once it got going, we weren’t alone: There were public disruptions and refusals to play along with BOEM’s process at hearings in Washington DC, New Jersey, and lots of other places. One of my favorite’s was the action in Rhode Island where our friend and frequent ally Tim DeChristopher, succeeded in turning the whole hearing on its head with citizen after citizen getting on a literal soap-box to speak out about offshore drilling and (eventually) dragging the BOEM staff into a debate on the issues.

Why we did it and why it works

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. Second – it’s not too late to submit your comment, and even if you already sent one in with us, or with another group, hang on and consider this new tool as well. Working with our friends at Daily Kos and Action Network, we’ve set up a new comment form that delivers your comments directly to the BOEM staff in charge of this docket. I’ll still deliver all the 14,000+ signatures you sent in through the in-person deliveries, and I’ll submit them as evidence before the March 9 deadline. But by also submitting a comment through this new form, you’ll essentially get two comments — and that can be really helpful for when our friends in the legal community go to court to challenge this rule. Being able to cite the fact that there were a LOT of comments, and also to pull out individual voices of opposition from the public record, will be really helpful. So, if you haven’t commented, please do so now. And if you already have, comment again!