A few thoughts on the necessity defense

As with any tactic for responding to the climate crisis, the use of the necessity defense in civil disobedience trials is subject to misinformation from a variety of sources. Regardless of the intentions of those sources of misinformation, part of our job is to routinely reiterate the facts and clarify where we stand. There is of course a lot of grey area on this, since “The Law” is not a hard and fast code, but rather a constantly evolving context of countless power struggles. So with that in mind, let’s look at some of the misinformation floating around the web recently.

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Transformation is Long Work

I have spent the past week reveling in the beauty of the climate strikes mingled with many ongoing grassroots fights for justice. I feel deeply connected to and grateful for the energy that is rising. I am also conscious that this one moment didn't achieve the transformation we need – not yet.

This is for all of you who have been building the world you are certain we need, doing it sometimes quietly and sometimes very loudly. I see you. Your long work has created the conditions that made this week possible.

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Climate Activists Take Principled Action To Remove Coal From Merrimack Generating Station

Screen_Shot_2019-08-20_at_12.02.27_PM.pngFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2019

Press contact: Jay O'Hara, 774-313-0881
jay@climatedisobedience.org

Concord, NH - On Saturday, August 17th 2019, eight determined New Englanders, supported by a team of more than a dozen others, removed over 500lbs of coal from the fuel pile at Merrimack Generating Station in Bow, New Hampshire. This facility is the largest coal-fired power plant in New England without a shutdown date. Says Tim DeChristopher, co-founder of the Climate Disobedience Center: “With the global climate crisis having advanced this far without a dramatic change in US carbon emissions, we have a responsibility to remove this fuel from the fire. Indeed, it is now a necessity to take matters into our own hands and safely shut down this facility.”

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Coal's Final Implosion In Massachusetts

This weekend on the South Coast of Massachusetts we're going to get to witness the end of an era in the state, when a controlled demolition implodes the huge cooling towers on Saturday April 27th. Providence's Extraordinary Rendition Band will provide the soundtrack for a jubilant dance party in Fall River's Kennedy Park at 8AM that morning. (I hope you'll join us!) This moment is both an important moment for our movement to reflect, as well as a personal point for me.

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I got into climate disobedience in earnest in 2013 when Ken Ward and I anchored our little white lobster boat, the "Henry David T" in the shipping channel in front of the coal plant, and demanded that the plant be shut down immediately. We remained there for a day, blocking the unloading of 40,000 tons of Appalachian coal from a hulking black ship which has traveled up from Norfolk, Virginia, to supply what was then the largest single source of CO2 emissions in New England.

That act of disobedience lit a fire in the climate movement to focus on direct action and hone in on that massive coal plant. That summer, there were hundreds of people at the gates of the plant demanding it's immediate closure, dozens were arrested at the gates, and a long march kicked off later that summer from Fall River to the proposed site of Cape Wind.

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And it's precisely here that we see the catalytic work of climate disobedience: to set a narrative, grounded in the moral imagination of what is necessary, rather than what is thought to be politically possible. Prior to the lobster boat action, advocates were proposing that the plant be shut down by 2020. But on Saturday the plant will have been shut down for nearly two years and the huge monuments that tower above the skyline of Fall River (let alone Somerset) will come down forever.

IT WAS NOT CHEAP GAS

But why, you might ask, have a dance party celebration for the climate justice movement when it was cheap fracked gas that really shut down the plant? It's conventional wisdom to say that this plant was shut down because the cost of coal couldn't compete against cheap fracked gas flowing into New England. And we're going to dance because we believe that premise is utterly false - or at least incomplete.

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Finding the Field across the fields of Vermont

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Emma Schoenberg and I leading the Next Steps walk into Montpelier on April 9th. photo credit: Zac Rudge/350VT

It’s a badly-kept secret that I love taking long walks. That started for me in 2005 when I hiked the Appalachian Trail and got mixed with climate activism starting with the Energy Exodus walk in 2013, and with two Quaker-led climate pilgrimages along pipeline routes and between coal plants in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. So it’s no wonder that when my friend Maeve McBride asked about doing a climate walk led by 350 Vermont, I got excited and jumped in.

It might not be exactly obvious why pitching in on a five-day 65 mile walk through Vermont called Next Steps is the work of the Climate Disobedience Center. Aside from taking the streets through Middlebury and Montpelier without a permit, we followed the traffic laws and weren’t overtly disruptive on our journey. We gathered 300 people in the state house at the conclusion of the walk and sang the place down at the invitation of our elected representative allies, and the doors were open for us and we left on our own accord.

But on another level this is precisely the work of the CDC - building the bonds of trust and love that make possible a vibrant movement of risk taking and disobedience. And was for me an experiment in building what we call “the field”.

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Statement on Pipeline Executive Orders

As the climate crisis grows ever more urgent, Trump signed two executive orders today that expedite oil and gas pipelines and undermine states’ rights to protect themselves from the assault of the fossil fuel industry. This was yet another reminder that our government is run by a nihilistic sociopath who serves the whims of an industry that has killed people for profit throughout its history. This latest rush toward apocalypse will undoubtedly be met with complicity from the Republican politicians who have spent years pretending to care about states’ rights, and with ineffectual faux-outrage from Democratic politicians who have rarely ever used the powers available to them to stop fossil fuel expansion.

Thankfully there is a growing movement of people willing to engage in civil disobedience to stop fossil fuel infrastructure everywhere in this country. The Climate Disobedience Center is proud to be part of that movement which has effectively made all new pipelines losing investments, and we will continue fighting every one of these stupid projects until we have the organized power to overthrow our system of corporate rule and establish a democracy that respects life.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Climate Activists Shut Down Enbridge Pipelines in Northern Minnesota


Contact/Media Inquiries: Diane Leutgeb Munson, (218) 565-3660, 4necessitymn@gmail.com

Follow on Social Media: Twitter: @4necessity; Instagram: @4necessity; #4necessity #ValveTurners #ActOnClimate

   
Monday morning, February 4, four climate activists in Blackberry Township, Minnesota closed safety valves on a crude oil pipeline belonging to the Canadian energy corporation Enbridge. This is an escalation of ongoing activism aimed at Enbridge, which is facing stiff resistance to their plan to build a new high capacity crude oil pipeline, Line 3, through Minnesota and across multiple Native American reservations. It is also the second time in just over two years that activists have shut down Enbridge pipelines, citing the urgency of climate change as justifying their actions.

 

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Activists Who Crawled Into Fracked Gas Pipeline Found Guilty

PRESS ADVISORY

January 8, 2019 

Contact: Resist Spectra Media Liaison, Lee Ziesche

954-415-6228, lee@saneenergyproject.org 

Photos: Resist Spectra Climate Trial Verdict

 

Activists Who Crawled Into Fracked Gas Pipeline Found Guilty

In Narrow Ruling, Granted Unconditional Release

Cortlandt, New York Today, Cortlandt Town Justice Kimberly Ragazzo found three New Yorkers -- Rebecca Berlin, David Publow, and Janet González -- guilty of trespass, rejecting the climate necessity defense; the three shut down construction of the Spectra Energy (now Enbridge) high-pressure, high-volume, fracked-gas, “Algonquin” Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline. Justice Ragazzo highlighted the strict, objective standard of New York’s necessity defense and focused her verdict on the narrow grounds that the defendants had not exhausted all legal remedies, specifically citing the defendants failure to file as ‘intervenors’ with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Courtney Williams, an impacted Peekskill resident and member of Stop the “Algonquin” Pipeline Expansion (SAPE) said she was frustrated by the verdict. “That the judge ruled against these water protectors because they had not filed as intervenors is ridiculous. SAPE, Riverkeeper, City of Peekskill, and Town of Cortlandt all filed as intervenors. At the time of the action in October 2016 we were under a “Tolling Order” from FERC. That meant we had no legal recourse, we couldn’t go to the Court of Appeals, but Spectra could build the pipeline. Being an intervenor wouldn't have given Dave, Rebecca, or Janet any more ability to stop the pipeline. They had to act.”

David Publow, a New York State organic farmer and member of Resist Spectra said, The legal process is always seeking to go for a narrow route. That process is not going to cut a new path for us, but I think we’re cutting a new path for ourselves.

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Finding Peace in Troubled Times

On Monday night I went out with my in-laws to a Christmas Eve service in upstate New York. The big crowd gathered in the chapel on the campus of Cornell University, and the minister hit all the right notes for this presumably liberal crowd: alluding to the occupant of the White House, pleading the cause of the immigrant, and giving voice to the yearning for peace and calm.

But something felt deeply off for me. In the midst of the carols and candlelight, the minister expressed a longing for silence, calm, stability and peace in this time of upheaval. She claimed that the time is coming where the strong and gentle people will win.

Honestly I don’t think it’s going to work that way.

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Direct Action on a Deeper Level

Today, we are excited to get to tell you about a project we've been working on over the past year - one that we hope could be a major new force in the climate justice movement. This week three of us are headed to California for the first 'on-boarding' into a new national network of locally rooted cells, working at the intersection of direct action on climate change and racial reparations and atonement.

What is this network?

At the core this network of groups, which is still emerging (and thus hasn't been named yet), is the belief that while there are many paths to make the strides needed in climate action and in reparations, and we are called to orient in a particular way. We know that we want to lead with a fierce vulnerability; being firm in the truth and leading with our hearts on our sleeve. We know that lifting up the gifts and the vocation of each person in the network will make us more powerful than trying to fill slots with foot soldiers. And we trust in the wisdom of emergent strategy, because the top-down, centralized organizations of the past can't muster the power and creativity needed in these times. We hold a vision of a holistic, integrated approach to nonviolence that goes beyond a tactic or a strategy to the core of our world view where the means we use are the ends in the making.

Why?

We have felt for a long time that something is missing in the climate movement ecosystem - a network of people for whom nonviolence and justice are more than just buzz-words, but are rooted deeply in an integrated approach at a spiritual level.  And it is clear that an integrated approach where the means make the ends cannot simply advocate for a just transition, we need to be living and experimenting with new honest approaches of reparations right now. None of this can wait.

 

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