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 wrong – we 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.
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.
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:
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.
Here’s an updated chart showing where we were last year, and where we are now:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Like a lot of you, I was bummed to lose high-profile races like Beto and Ben Jealous (MD). And I think Andrew Gillum might have conceded too soon in FL – Stacy Abrams (GA) has the right idea fighting for every single ballot to be counted. But there’s no spinning some of the great house candidates who we fought hard for, and deserved to win. Candidates like Leslie Cockburn (VA-05), Dana Balter (NY-24) and Ammar Campa-Najjar’s (CA-50).
But for every race we lost, there were more that we won 30+ House pickups, and seven (7!) Governorships! And it’s not just that Scot Walker lost (though good riddance), it’s that we elected strong WOMEN governors in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Kansas. That, combined with the passage of Measure 4 in Florida, which returns the right to vote to 1.4 million returning citizens and non-partisan redistricting in Michigan is going to re-shape the election map.All over teh country we swept out corrupt, anti-voter politicians and installed progressive, pro-voting leaders.
But more important than where we won and lost, is how we fought this election and who we fought for. Because we didn’t just win, we made history by sending a diverse set of progressive champions to Congress. Champions like Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, the first two indigenous women elected to Congress. Like Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first two muslim women ever elected to Congress; And like even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the youngest people (and a woman of color to boot) ever elected to Congress.
There was some initial worry among climate hawks that the Democratic gains in the House and at the state level wouldn’t mean much. After all, Republicans expanded their control of the Senate, and Trump will still be Trump. Faced with the epic challenge of trying to set a bold new path under divided government, Nancy Pelosi’s initial response was not inspiring.
What we DO here at 198 methods is use digital tools to expand the reach and power of direct action campaigns for the climate. Thanks to the incoming, diverse, progressive class in Congress, we might just have more chances to do that starting soon.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Yesterday 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.
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:
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:
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.
I recorded a short video to explain what we’ve been doing for the last 50+ days as part of the comment on the Bureau of Ocean Energy management (BOEM) comment period on the Trump administration’s proposal to open more than 90% of US Coastal waters to offshore oil and gas drilling.
The second reason is that this is a really great example of the kind of work 198 methods does, how we’re different from other environmental groups, and why it matters.
A quick recap
Early this year, Ryan Zinke, Trump’s Interior Secretary, announced a new plan that would open more than 90% of US coastal waters to oil and gas drilling. It’s a really really bad plan, since offshore oil drilling always leads to more spills and accidents.And if anything, Trump’s other actions to roll back protections for the environment and worker safety will make accidents even MORE likely. Plus, there’s simply no way to manage the decline of fossil fuels and create the 100% renewable powered economy we need to stop climate change if we open up millions of new acres to offshore drilling. Which is why the Obama administration just banned all drilling off the Atlantic and pacific coasts 2 years ago after a HUGE public comment period in which more than 3 million people, dozens of governors, hundreds of mayors and just about everyone who lives along the coast clearly said #NoDrilling. Loads more footnotes and references in this pst from early in the comment period.
As usual for this White House, the rollout was chaotic and ham-handed, and the whole thing may not even be legal because Zinke tried to exempt just the state of Florida as an explicit political favor to Governor Rick Scott who wants to run for US Senate. More on that later.
Our plan in action
BOEM is required by law to hold a 60 day public comment period on any new offshore drilling plan like this. But it was clear from the rollout, and from Zinke & Trump’s past actions, that they weren’t going to be talked out of drilling just because a majority of Americans oppose it. Which brings us to the first part of our plan:
We didn’t just want you to comment online – though more than 14,000 of you did, and that’s awesome – we wanted to deliver the comments through direct action speak outs at the hearings, and that’s just what we did.
All of which brings me back to why I wanted 198 to work on offshore drilling plan in the first place, and how your actions with us really make a difference:
First – It’s about an important concept in Gene Sharp’s writings and teachings called ‘withholding consent’. When we fight climate change, we’re fighting a really BIG system. It involves money and power at a lot of different levels. Fundamentally, it’s also an autocratic system – meaning it’s accountable to a ruling elite, not to the people or the planet. At 198 methods, we’re convinced that fighting climate change requires a specifically anti-authoritarian approach. Like what we did at the BOEM hearings: by standing up speaking out in ways that BOEM didn’t condone (and threatened to throw us out or shut down the hearings over) we put the staff of this administrative agency in a bind. We’re asking them to consciously choose NOT to do their jobs, if that’s what it takes, in order to stop the greater harms of offshore drilling. We’re demonstrating, in a really physical, in-your-face way, that there will be a reckoning — we know most of the people are commenting in opposition to offshore drilling. We know that the consequences of this offshore drilling plan will threaten us all through climate chaos, oil spills and more. And we’re asking them to pick a side: with us or with the polluters.
Second – It’s about inspiring people who are already part of the process to realize they have more power than just typing a comment into a laptop — including our allies in groups like the Sierra Club and Oceana that did not support our efforts to stand up and disrupt the hearings in advance. I noted after the SC hearing that I saw a lot of groups advocating a sort of NIMBY (Not In My backyard) strategy. Basically, they were trying to convince BOEM to give them the same exemption Zinke gave Florida (which, again, may not hold up in court). They did this either through explicit argument, like by siting the value of their coastal tourism economies, for example; Or through an implicitly political argument, like by having lots of Republicans or state-wide officials testify that they are opposed to drilling, which helps make the argument that Trump & Co. will lose support in the mid-term elections if they push forward with the plan.
But I think that’s the wrong approach for two reasons: one, as outlined below, it fails to move the media narrative and focusses attention on our weakest and least reliable partners. More importantly, it uses a NIMBY argument when what we need is a NIABY argument – Not in ANYBODY’s Back Yard. We don’t just want to ban offshore drilling in South Carolina, or California, or in places that have Republican Governor’s, or in places with coastal tourism: We want to ban offshore drilling – ALL of it – because it’s way to dangerous for our communities and our planet.
Third – It’s about inspiring everyone who’s not part of the process yet. Two years ago, more than 3 million people and hundreds of academics, researchers, churches, and all kinds of organizations commented in opposition to offshore drilling (all of it). Obama responded by banning drilling off the Atlantic and mainland US Pacific coasts, but allowed it to continue in the “sacrifice zones” of the Gulf of Mexico and much of Alaska. That was basically what the conventional wisdom in the media expected, and so it was ‘enough’ to turn out lots and lots of comments so that Obama would feel empowered to do that.
But there is no conventional wisdom for what Trump is doing. He’s already given away more land to fossil fuels, and more brazenly, than anyone imagined a few years ago. And, dazzled by the sheer, crazy, deluge of horribleness, the main stream media (like that Washington post story) default to covering this as a ‘normal’ political story where there are people for drilling, and people against it, and BOEM is a sort of neutral mediator.
To stop Trump and team’s plan we need to be bigger, more powerful, and reach more people. That means working outside of the conventional wisdom of what works in the media and political wisdom. We can’t wait for Trump to come to his senses, or be satisfied with incremental NIIMBY victories any longer. Honestly, it will probably mean more of us lining up on roads and paddling our kayaks in front of drilling rigs to stop them. That’s movement building work – not lobbying and media work.
And to inspire people, a LOT of people to rise up against big authoritarian power of the petro-state as represented by this offshore drilling plan, we need to inspire people. And that, fundamentally, is why we do digitally supported direct actions JUST LIKE THIS!
Look, there are enough of us, in America, to stop offshore drilling, reverse climate change and build the 100% renewable fossil free world we need. What’s more, we’ll all have more jobs, more money, more political power and more control over our daily lives when we do. What’s holding us back is the raw political power (fueled by money, fear, and a lot of other things) of the fossil fuel industry and their allies in power – like the Trump administration. but to mobilize those people, we need to show them that resistance is possible, that it works, that it feels good (if I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution) and most importantly that they have the power.
So, what next?
Glad you asked. First of all, if you liked our actions and the ideas in this post, please chip in to support us. If everybody who sent in a public comment with us gave $1.98, we’d have more than enough money to fund our entire operation for 6 months. Of Course, not everyone can donate, so if you’re in a position to give a little, please consider a weekly donation of $1.98, or a gift of $19.80 to support our ongoing work.
When the Bureau of Ocean Energy management (BOEM) came to my town, there was already a great plan in place with rallies, lobby days,and speak outs planned by partners. But I wanted to make sure we did more than show up and record your comments (and mine) as opposed to the Trump administration’s plan.
First of all, all respect to the Sierra Club of South Carolina and their Ready for 100% rally and lobby day, which was already planned at the statehouse. This was lead by Minister Leo Woodbury, he’s from the northeast corner of South Carolina. That’s right across the state-line from Robeson county, which we talked a lot about in the live-stream about the ACP and the Rev., in addition to talking a lot about clean power, talked about the dangers of expanding fossil fuel infrastructure including offshore drilling and new pipelines. Here’s a bit of Rev. Woodbury to give you the flavor:
Later in the morning, the big ocean groups- OCEANA, Coastal Conservation League, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, etc – organized a big rally on the statehouse steps that featured equal numbers of democratic and Republican law makers speaking out against drilling. It was a good event, and did a good job highlighting what SC ‘insiders’ view as our most plausible route to stopping drilling in this state: that the issue is so politically toxic, that it might even suppress turnout among Trump’s base voters in 2018. These groups hope that the threat of an electoral back-lash will lead Zinke and team to offer an exemption for SC like they did for FL – but I’m not so sure.
Here’s some video of that rally:
Our local big greens did a great job planning and executing a rally based on conventional political wisdom. It featured the voices of big politicians like Rep. Mark “Appalachian trail” Sanford and lots of State legislators. But those same reasons, the rally was not very radical — for example it did NOT connect offshore drilling to pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure, Climate Change was barely mentioned once, nor was an explicit connection to environmental and racial justice made by most speakers (except the Gullah Geechee nation, of course). Still, that was the part of the day that got the most media attention.
After that it was off to the Doubletree — a hotel as far as you can get from downtown and still technically be in Columbia. Seriously, the location has no public transit it sits at the intersection of two interstate highways. Once there it was clear that BOEM was expecting some pushback given the amount of security on site. To counteract the un-democratic format of the hearing (more on that below) a lot of those same big green groups staged a counter-rally outside the BOEM hearing room, essentially in the ballroom next door. Where the focus of the earlier rally at the statehouse was clearly political – featuring elected officials and politically connected spokespeople – the pre-BOEM rally at the hotel was focussed on the grassroots. Local mayors, business owners, and impacted trade associations like fishermen were the featured speakers. And the clear focus was to get everyone fired up and ready to submit a comment in opposition to the Trump-Zinke plan. Here’s some video of that rally to give you a taste:
About that BOEM process.
The format of the hearings is always the same, they call it a ‘townhall’ but it’s not the format most of us associate with that description – EG one microphone and people get up one at a time to testify in favor or against on the record. What they have are a bunch of table displays, staffed by career BOEM people about the proposed offshore drilling plan. The displays and staff are not explicitly pro-drilling, but they are there to explain the Trump/Zinke proposal, which is very pro drilling. So the information includes things like “why oil drilling is safer than ever” and “Why is offshore oil important to America’s Economy”. There is no display specifically on climate change or pipelines (which will be needed to get oil from offshore rigs to shore, and then onshore to refineries).
If you want to submit a “public comment” at the hearing, you have to sit down, by yourself at a laptop (provided by BOEM) and type your name, address and other personal information into the approved terminal before being allowed to (in complete silence) type your comment into the system.
I wasn’t having it. So, after a few minutes of letting people sign in and mill around, I pulled out a chair, stood on it, and called BS on the whole process.
I’m using the “BS” frame here as an intentional homage to Emma Gonzalez and her speech in Florida on gun violence. There’s something really powerful about having someone call out a lie, and it’s a similar energy I’m hoping to channel into these remaining BOEM hearings – because they’re NOT OVER YET!
* We think the Obama rules should have gone farther, and protected the Gulf of Mexico as well. If it’s too dirty and dangerous for the South Atlantic, why is it safe for the Gulf? Answer it’s not, but the Gulf is treated as a sacrifice zone. But that’s another story.
Donald Trump gives his first official State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 30, at 9pm Eastern | 6pm Pacific. Even if you hate the guy (and you should), somebody needs to listed to make sure he doesn’t announce any stupid new ideas (like drilling for oil on the moon, or requiring every citizen to genuflect and donate $5 every time the pass an Exxon station).
Our team will be listening in (and providing live color-commentary via twitter). And you can tune in with us! RSVP here and/or come back just before the speech starts Tuesday night and we’ll host a live stream of the speech, with running commentary from our team and a range of climate journalists, activists Climate Justice Warriors and more.
Because we work with a whole team of folks, we’ll also be sharing tweets and commentary on Health Care, International affairs, Defense, and more. Feel free to share your ideas and messages in the live chat above on Tuesday night, on our facebook page or by tweeting at @wealsoherdcats #Sotu