On Saturday, April 29, Democracy Now! will provide special live coverage of the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C., organized to protest the Trump administration’s climate change-denying agenda.
Click here for information about Democracy Now!’s coverage of the March for Science on April 22.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org’s coverage of the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re standing in front of the Capitol, actually between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, maybe 100,000—who knows?—maybe more, people are going to be converging here in Washington on what’s expected to be one of the hottest days on record.
It’s also the hundredth day of the Trump presidency, and people are concerned. People are here talking about climate justice. Last night at a forum at Howard University was a discussion about climate justice and climate racism. Climate disruption is the topic everywhere. We’re standing in front of indigenous tents along the Reflecting Pool, where a news conference is happening of the leaders who are going to be marching today. And there are thousands of them.
I wanted to start by going to May Boeve. May is the head of 350.org, one of the main organizations that is running this event.
MAY BOEVE: Hi, Amy. Good morning.
AMY GOODMAN: So you are standing here between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. Your thoughts on this day and why so many people are gathered?
MAY BOEVE: It’s a really important day today. It’s the hundredth day of the Trump administration. And we have seen nothing but bad news for people and for the planet, and that’s why so many people are going to come.
AMY GOODMAN: So, what’s the—who came up with this?
MAY BOEVE: Well, it’s a—that’s what’s wonderful about today, is that this is truly a coming together of labor, health groups, faith groups, environmentalists, community groups. Over 900 organizations are making this happen. And we are here to show that to change everything, we need everyone. And so, that is why we will see numerous people on the streets today.
AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about the schedule of the day.
MAY BOEVE: So, people are starting to gather right now. We’re going to assemble in different contingents, ranging from a fossil fuel contingent—the front lines will lead off the march. Youth will be in the front of the march. And then we’re going to march through the Capitol, and we are going to surround the White House. And we’ll all sit down there. We’ll have a moment of silence, a moment of noise and exultation of why we’re out here to resist. And then we’re going to go back to our communities and fight hard there, because we know that what’s happening in Washington is not good for any of us, but we can actually build what we need at the local level. And that is what people are going to do.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, people are not only converging on Washington. How many protests and rallies do you expect throughout the country and the world?
MAY BOEVE: Last I heard, there’s over 300 just around the U.S. in terms of sister marches. This morning I saw photos from the marches in Sweden, in the Netherlands, in the Philippines. People are marching for clean energy, to stop coal plants, to divest. It’s really, truly global, as all of these incredible demonstrations have been. This resistance is not just about the White House. It’s about the fossil fuel industry taking over governments around the world. But people are not taking this quietly.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you talked about the fossil fuel contingent. What do you mean?
MAY BOEVE: That’s a group of where people from all over the country who are fighting fracking and pipelines, tar sands, are going to be marching together, just like there’s a faith contingent.
AMY GOODMAN: Just one second.
MAY BOEVE: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: There’s someone who’s taking your picture secretly, and I’d like him to take responsibility for his act. OK, Bill McKibben, you’ve just photobombed this interview. And we’re interested in what you have to say for yourself. Why are you here today, standing right in front of the Capitol?
BILL McKIBBEN: Look, this is—this is a big day and going to be an interesting one. Washington, D.C., is going to set a heat record today for the date. It’s supposed to be 92 degrees. Like planets, people aren’t well adapted to heat, especially this early in the season. People have got to be really careful today. So, people who are watching this, who are coming out to march, water, hats. We worry about warming up, because too much heat’s a bad thing. And today’s a—you know, that’s true today, too.
AMY GOODMAN: Lest anyone think this is a group of friends, everyone knows each other, it’s clear it’s not the case. People are coming from every community. You just talked about water, Bill. Sharon Day is here, who led the water ceremony this morning. Can you talk, Sharon, about how you started this historic day in Washington, D.C.?
SHARON DAY: Well, we started the way indigenous people begin everything: with prayer, with song, with petitions for the water. And so, in this copper water vessel, we have water from the Potomac, and people brought water from the East Coast, the West Coast, the middle of the country, as well as water from South America. And so, we prayed for this water this morning. We’ll carry it with us during the march. And—
AMY GOODMAN: Where is this water from?
SHARON DAY: This water is from all across the United States, as well as South America, and everybody brought a little bit of water, and we have it in here. And so, you know, what we do is we speak to the spirit of the water. And we’re going to carry this water with us. And when we take it and we put it back into the Potomac River, you know, these waters, they will confer with each other. And they will say, “There are still people who love you, who respect you and who thank you.” And so, that’s what we did this morning. We sang. We offered our sayma. And so, we’re here to bring that spiritual aspect to this work, because indigenous communities are on the front line. And all over the world—
AMY GOODMAN: Where are you from originally?
SHARON DAY: Myself, Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota.
AMY GOODMAN: And where do you live now?
SHARON DAY: I live in St. Paul.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Bill, you were talking about the heat. 350.org, tell us about where you got its name and the significance of that number changing.
BILL McKIBBEN: And this actually goes very well with what Sharon was just saying. I mean, one of the things that’s happening is a kind of confluence of the oldest wisdom traditions on our planet and the newest wisdom traditions on our planet. They’re saying the same things now. So, 350 parts per million is the most carbon we could safely have in the atmosphere. As you know, we went past 410 parts per million earlier this week for the first time in at least 5 million years on this planet. OK?
What that’s telling us is exactly the same thing that what Sharon and her elders have been saying for a very long time. Things are out of control. We need to back off and figure out how to live in some kind of attunement with the planet around us. That we’re not is evidenced by the fact that the ice caps are melting. It’s evidenced by—we think it’s going to be hot here today. In Pakistan this week, they’re breaking all their temperature records—122 degrees in the big cities of Pakistan. As we’re marching out here in the 92-degree heat and feeling hot, we need to try and remember what it would feel like to be 30 degrees hotter still, you know. That’s what’s happening on this Earth now.
That’s why things are—that’s why it’s crucial that people march. It’s why it’s crucial that this week we were all up on Capitol Hill to watch Bernie and Senator Merkley introduce this bill for 100 percent renewable energy. That’s why it’s so important that the pressure from students is finally forcing places like Harvard to start selling their fossil fuel investments. We’ve got to be pushing on every front all the time.
AMY GOODMAN: What happened at Harvard?
BILL McKIBBEN: Harvard—the guy who runs Harvard’s energy investments let slip that they had stopped making new investments in fossil fuel. Harvard will never call it “divestment.” In fact, they sent out a press release saying, “We haven’t changed our policy at all.” But clearly, they’ve done what students and faculty and alumni have been telling them to for a long time, and wised up a little bit. So, it was a good week, in that sense, good week on many fronts. And today is a huge celebration of the fact that most of the world is woke up to this question. Now we just have to make sure that the people who run this world get woken up to it.
AMY GOODMAN: You said that Senator Sanders and Merkley have introduced 100 percent renewable. What do you mean?
BILL McKIBBEN: The legislation that they introduced on Thursday would for the first time commit the U.S. to going to 100 percent renewable energy. It obviously is not going to pass the current Congress anytime soon, nor would Donald Trump be the slightest bit interested in it. But it’s now the standard by which any Democratic or progressive politician will be judged. No more half-measures. No more all-of-the-above energy policy. No more “Let’s build a few solar panels and a few frack wells.” Now it’s time for us to say, “100 percent, let’s do it. Let’s do it as fast as ever we can.”
AMY GOODMAN: So, what does it mean for them to introduce it? They’re not in the majority. Do you think that there is a possibility?
BILL McKIBBEN: It means that they’re—there’s no possibility of it passing this Congress. It means that it’s the line in the sand now around which we are going to rally. And that’s how it works, I mean, in the same way that, you know, lots of people finally got around to saying, “Look, gay marriage is the line in the sand. We want it. We demand it,” and the political world began to fall in line behind it. That’s what’s going to happen with progressives and Democrats going forward.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you talked about student activism, and 350.org started at Middlebury College. And we are talking about May Boeve. You—this was your professor?
MAY BOEVE: More or less. A whole group of student organizers around the country were part of this growing climate movement. That’s what I love about today, is if you look all along here, all of the people who are here volunteering, they are the generation of young people who are taking this issue on. They’re divesting their campuses. They’re calling for clean energy. Some of them are going to run for office one day.
AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about that. I don’t know if people see environmentalism as a trajectory that young people can have in their life, actually have a job. Talk about your life and what you—you were a student at Middlebury?
MAY BOEVE: I was a student at Middlebury. And we had this incredibly dynamic group that met every Sunday night and talked about all the ways that our campus could be a climate leader. And eventually it started to do some of the things that we wanted. And we realized that if this could happen at a small campus through organizing and mobilization, maybe we could do this with other people everywhere, and eventually around the world. And so, I didn’t think that this was what was going to happen when we started having those meetings. But the truth is, this issue has galvanized a movement in a way I never would have imagined. And it’s why so many of us have dedicated our lives to this.
AMY GOODMAN: And you are now the head of 350.org?
MAY BOEVE: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: What does that mean? What are the projects you’re focused on?
MAY BOEVE: So, we work on the idea that we don’t have enough time to waste on climate change, and we need to build the biggest movement possible. So we are focused on accelerating the transition off of fossil fuels and onto 100 percent renewable energy everywhere in the world. And we know that certain countries, like this country, like Brazil, like South Africa, throughout much of Europe, there are movements rising and surging to try to make this happen. But there are 79 new coal plants being proposed in Brazil. There are hundreds of towns that are trying to frack throughout France. So, the industry is on the march. But they’re global. We are global. And that is what we work on.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, final words, Bill?
BILL McKIBBEN: Yeah, my final words are many thanks to Democracy Now! There’s nobody who’s covered the climate issue with more consistency and more depth over more years than you guys. Many thanks for being—in a world that desperately needs to know about this, many thanks for being the people who are telling them, over and over.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Bill, thanks so much. May, thanks so much. And Sharon. We’re just going to keep on walking here, because everyone is an expert in their own community, wants to talk about why they’ve come to the nation’s capital. Again, we’re standing right in front of the Capitol. And there are several people here that have something here, who have come to Washington to make their views clear. Can you talk about—tell me your name.
RACHEL MARCO-HAVENS: My name is Rachel Marco-Havens. I’m from Woodstock, New York. I work with Earth Guardians, Center for Earth Ethics, Wittenberg Center, sort of blending youth leadership, women’s leadership, bringing prayer and climate action and Native medicine together. I’ve been working to address the fossil fuel infrastructure buildout in New York, which is tremendous. We have thousands of bomb trains every day going through our communities.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean by “bomb trains”?
RACHEL MARCO-HAVENS: Bomb trains as in crude oil coming from the Bakken fields, which is going for export. It’s coming through all of our communities. We are directly connected. Enbridge just—Enbridge, which is a major company that deals in crude oil transport and storage, has just consumed Spectra. Spectra Energy is right now planting a major fracked gas pipeline going across the Northeast, from Pennsylvania through New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, headed for export. In our communities, we have several Native communities that are in jeopardy, as well as the millions of people surrounding the nuclear power plant that’s 30 miles north of New York City, which is called “Indian Point.” Our—
AMY GOODMAN: For our radio listeners, you just have air quotes when you said “Indian Point.” Explain.
RACHEL MARCO-HAVENS: Well, because when you begin to name these massive fossil fuel projects after the people of the lands where you’re cutting through their territories and through our grounds, these are very offensive titles. Right now in New York, we are working to address the Pilgrim pipeline, the Algonquin pipeline, the Dominion pipeline and the Constitution pipeline. And for some people, that goes right over their head. But for us, it doesn’t. We understand that message.
We are being called by the youth to step up. And this is happening in Native country, as we saw in Standing Rock. Standing Rock was started by the young people. They are still holding firm. And they have gone home, many of them, to support what’s happening in their communities. They are asking for their tradition, their culture, their songs, their music. And they don’t want to just take our—the elders, our word for what we think we know is right. What they want is their traditions, so that they can sharpen the blades of these tools and use them in a way that actually will work for them now. This is their future. This is there now.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you introduce us to the person standing next to you?
RACHEL MARCO-HAVENS: I absolutely will. This is Sachem Hawk Storm, who is the chief of the Schaghticoke First Nations, which is a tribe that many people don’t even know exists in the New York-Connecticut area. And he also is—this is about our children. And it’s not just the Native communities, because the young people who are taking action right now and moving into the climate solution movement, they want us not to pass the baton, but to hold it with them. We can’t drop the ball. We can’t drop the baton. And so, with young, vibrant, unifying chiefs in communities like this, who are ready to talk to everyone, we’re going to go somewhere.
AMY GOODMAN: So tell us your name again.
SACHEM HAWK STORM: My name is Wushowunan Kesikbesek. It means Hawk Storm. I am the sachem, or chief, of my people. I’m a lineal chief, hereditary. Massasoit was my great-grandfather; King Philip, my uncle; Sassacus, my great-grandfather. And this has given me the privilege and honor to be able to speak for my people.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the feathers you’re wearing in your hair?
SACHEM HAWK STORM: So, yes. I have my two eagle feathers, which I’ve earned. One’s a golden eagle feather, which is very high for our people. And the other is the bald eagle feather. I also carry two hawk feathers, which represent me. And then I also have my turkey feathers, which represent our area and our people. So, I also integrated Taíno feathers. And the Taíno feathers represent my treaty with the international—Confederation of Taíno People, because we are all one. And we all have to work united in order to save what we have for our children.
AMY GOODMAN: So talk about why you’re here.
SACHEM HAWK STORM: I’m here for our children, for our next seven generations, for all of our future and for the future of Earth Mother. I mean, Earth Mother is going to win. We might not, you know, and with all this that’s going on and all of our colonized ways of thinking and with the brutal extraction from the Earth Mother, without even asking her permission, that she can’t give, for taking away the future of our children. So, it’s very vital that we move away from the extractive, destructive nature and the ways that we’re going right now, and move towards clean energy and a more sustainable future.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the struggles in your own community? Where do you live?
SACHEM HAWK STORM: Oh, so, we have the oldest reservation in the country. It was established in 1736. And—
AMY GOODMAN: Where is it?
SACHEM HAWK STORM: It’s between the Housatonic and the Hudson. We call it the Mahicantuck, the river that flows in both directions, which I guess, in English terms, it would be between Connecticut and New York, on the border. We don’t recognize these borders.
AMY GOODMAN: And the struggles you’re waging around the Earth there?
SACHEM HAWK STORM: So, we have, as she was—Rachel was just talking about, we have the Algonquin, the Spectra, going through our lands. We also have a dam that flooded out our graveyard and has destroyed our waters, to the point where we—we’ve been living on eel. And we can’t even have a sustainable food source anymore. We can’t eat from the—from our rivers anymore. We can’t grow food on our land, because of a prep school and a septic sanitation station that they’re just dumping sanitation into the—into the land and grating it into the fields.
AMY GOODMAN: Speaking of land struggles, I wanted to ask about the land right here that we are on. Can you introduce yourself? And thank you so much for sharing your story.
SACHEM HAWK STORM: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you introduce us to where we are right now?
GABRIELLE TAYAC: Yes, yes. I’d like to say good morning and thank you for giving us this opportunity to amplify the voice. My name is Gabrielle Tayac, and I’m a member of the Piscataway Indian Nation. Piscataway are the indigenous people of the land that’s right here in Washington, D.C. The Potomac River is an indigenous space. Anacostia River is actually named for the Nacotchtank people, who was here. And our name, Piscataway, means where the waters blend. So this has always been a place of convergence.
This land and this—our people go from what they call Point of Rocks to the Fall Line of Great Falls all the way down to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. We have been contacted by Europeans from the 1580s up to the present. And our people actually came down to about four or five families, that were pushed further down south, right around southern Maryland. So that’s the land that you’re on. This has a very ancient, 10,000-year-old-and-plus history.
And we’ve also been able to always welcome people. We’ve been very affected by the movements going from the 1920s, where Native peoples started to rise up and converge into Washington, D.C., through the '60s and ’70s to the present, and also have hemispheric presence. So we've been receiving people, standing with them, bringing them to—bringing them to their meetings with all of the agencies, globally and nationally. And so, we’re the hosts. We’re the host people. S this is the land, where you are. It has memory. It has presence. It has power. And it goes beyond the other power structures.
AMY GOODMAN: So what does it mean to you that so many have gathered to defend the Earth right here in Washington, D.C., so many Native peoples and non-Native?
GABRIELLE TAYAC: Right. It’s really a return of consciousness. It’s a return of action. It’s one that was barely surviving. There was just the faintest thread of it for many, many years. But what it means is that there’s hopes. I have absolute confidence, because this is a youth-led movement. And there’s always somebody who hangs on until the energy rises back up. So, the water is rising, and so are we.
AMY GOODMAN: So thanks so much for joining us again.
GABRIELLE TAYAC: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!'s live coverage of the People's Climate March. We’re in Washington, D.C., right now near the Reflecting Pool between the Congress, between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. We’re joined right now by…
JESSICA ROFF: Hi. I’m Jessica Roff. I’m with Catskill Mountainkeeper, and I organize with Resist Spectra. And I’m here mostly to talk about—to piggyback off of what Rachel and what Chief Hawk Storm were discussing. Algonquin, the, you know, appropriatively named Algonquin expansion project that Spectra is running through New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, right now it sits in front of the Department of Environmental Conservation in New York state. And the DEC has to make a determination—
AMY GOODMAN: The Department of Environmental Conservation.
JESSICA ROFF: Yes, yes. They have to make their determination by Monday on whether to grant a 401 water quality certificate in compliance with NEPA. And as folks, probably, who have watched your show and who are paying attention know, New York state has recently denied the permit for the Constitution pipeline, as well as for the Northern Access pipeline. And we’re really hoping that the governor will do the same for this pipeline, because it is the missing piece in the giant expansion that Spectra is running. And as Rachel mentioned, Spectra has just been bought by Enbridge, which owns a $1.7 minority interest in the Dakota Access pipeline. So they’re all interconnected.
And it would be really amazing if people would be able to call the governor to tell him that we really need him to instruct the DEC, the Department of Environmental Conservation, to deny the water quality certificate. Governor Cuomo’s phone number—
AMY GOODMAN: Just one sec—
JESSICA ROFF: Can I do that? Yeah?
AMY GOODMAN: —because I see another friend—
JESSICA ROFF: Dallas, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —that I want to make sure that we get to, before he leaves.
JESSICA ROFF: He won’t leave.
AMY GOODMAN: All right, you can—you can say what you were going to say.
JESSICA ROFF: OK, yeah, I was going to say, Governor Cuomo’s phone number is (518) 474-8390. And it’s really important that he knows that people are paying attention and that we really need to protect the water and the people of New York state in order to fight this pipeline. We can get Dallas back.
AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s see if we can get Dallas back—
JESSICA ROFF: Yeah. Come over, Dallas.
AMY GOODMAN: —because you mentioned the Dakota Access pipeline.
JESSICA ROFF: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: And Dallas Goldtooth, with the Indigenous Environmental Network, certainly was one of the Native American young leaders at Standing Rock, though not of the Standing Rock Reservation.
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: It looks like we’re being moved. Hold on. Ah! Yeah, Amy, I’m so happy you’re here. It’s so beautiful to see the thousands upon thousands here, and I’m excited to be a part of the indigenous bloc. We’re leading this march. You know, indigenous peoples are on the forefront of climate change, both at the points of extraction and at the after-effects. Whether it’s sea level rise, deforestation or whatever it may be, it’s our communities that are often facing the threat of survival, just day-to-day survival. And so, it’s vital to have indigenous voices present at any conversation about climate change. And I think it’s essential for us, when we talk about solutions and the step forward, or the way forward, it’s indigenous peoples, communities of color, forest-dependent communities, ocean-dependent communities, who are going to set that path for us and give us some of those solutions.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, I’m just looking at some of your credentials here.
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: Oh, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: And I see the “People’s Climate Movement, April 29, 2017, All Access.” But I also see “Press: Indigenous Rising Media, Dallas Goldtooth, IEN Media Team.” What’s Indigenous Rising Media?
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: So, Indigenous Rising Media is a project of the Indigenous Environmental Network. And it’s an effort for us to get the content and stories of what’s happening in our communities for everyone to see, but also to tell our stories from our perspective—you know what I mean?—so that we don’t let others tell the story for us. And that became absolutely essential in the fight against Dakota Access pipeline. As a lot of people followed, like there wasn’t mainstream media, you know? Amy, you were there. And before that, it was just, you know, the independent journalists. It was us with our phones documenting what was happening through that entire process. And I really credit the exposure of that fight to all those people that were—just took it upon themselves to document what was happening to tell the world, you know, what we were facing off with. And so, Indigenous Rising Media was one of those groups that was there. We try to do our very best to just share what’s happening as best as possible.
AMY GOODMAN: So, we’re hoping to speak later with LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, who started the first resistance camp at Standing Rock, opened her land to—along the Cannonball River as a resistance camp, Sacred Stone. But right now, can you talk about what the latest is? One of Donald Trump’s first acts in office, the executive order granting a permit for both Dakota Access pipeline and to revive the Keystone XL. But on the Dakota Access pipeline, the pipeline has been built under the Missouri River?
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: So the pipeline has been completed underneath the river. But to this point, oil has not flown in that pipeline. And we strongly credit that to all the organizing and activism that’s happening across the country and across the world, the ongoing divestment campaign, that has thus far divested over a billion dollars out of money out of the investors for the Dakota Access pipeline. So, you know, people are still standing strong. There’s an ongoing lawsuit still in Iowa, where landowners are still fighting against eminent domain—for their landowner rights against eminent domain. So—
AMY GOODMAN: Meaning that the pipeline…
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: Meaning that the pipeline, they’re still trying to negotiate whether they’re allowed to pass oil underneath landowners’ land in Iowa. So, the critique is that they can’t do anything until that lawsuit is settled. So we still are waiting to see. You know, it’s still a delayed process. Meanwhile, Dakota Access is losing millions and millions of dollars every day, because of just community activism and people standing up and just asserting their—you know, their economic power as people.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, explain also the issue of economic power, when you talk about divestment. Just in New York in the last few weeks, people were camped out in front of a Wells Fargo. Explain the national campaign.
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: Dakota Access, the fight just ignited this passion that’s been brewing for years now. And, you know, we’re seeing a divestment campaign. Seattle divested over a billion dollars. There’s an ongoing divestment campaign in L.A., in San Francisco, in New York. And I think that people are just realizing the connection of where they’re putting their money and how does that contribute to not only the threat of life against indigenous peoples, but the threat of life—threatens all of our lives because of climate change. These banks are investing in fossil fuel industries that are creating a future that is unsustainable for all of our generations. And so we have to assert our rights. We have to step to them and say, “We cannot invest in those things.”
AMY GOODMAN: What are the banks you’re targeting?
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: We’re targeting Wells Fargo, Citibank, Bank of America. There’s—I’m drawing a blank now.
JESSICA ROFF: Wells Fargo.
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: Wells Fargo.
JESSICA ROFF: TD.
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: TD Bank. There you go. Yeah, thank you. See this?
JESSICA ROFF: Citibank. We just had a big action with Citibank.
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: Yes. And then there’s—and then the next step for this is to really go to the heart of it and really call out Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access pipeline, who’s not just trying to build one pipeline. They also have the Bayou Bridge pipeline, which is going to be the next big fight down in Louisiana. You know, there’s peoples rising up there. We have the Diamond pipeline happening in Oklahoma. We have the Sabal Trail pipeline fight down in Florida. And so, Standing Rock has inspired millions across this land. And that’s what we need to do. We need to nationalize Standing Rock. We need to nationalize that fight and take it to the next level.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re standing in front of the Capitol. What does that mean to you?
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: I think it’s—this is the place of power, supposedly. That’s what they tell us. But in my experience, especially being on the ground fighting against the state of North Dakota and fighting against DAPL security, I know where the power is. It’s within us as the people. And it’s absolutely essential for us to take the streets to remind those, in whatever seats they inhabit, that the power is here, and you have to listen and be accountable to us as the people.
AMY GOODMAN: Dallas Goldtooth of Indigenous Environmental Network, thanks so much for being here. This is Democracy Now!, our live coverage of the People’s Climate March. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, maybe over 100,000, people gather here on this day, April 29th, that’s expected to be one of the hottest days in Washington, D.C., history for this date, April 29th. We’ll be with you for five hours. We’re broadcasting from 10:00 Eastern time to 3:00 in the afternoon. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, your global grassroots TV and radio and internet broadcast. I’m Amy Goodman.
This is Democracy Now! We’re broadcasting from the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. We’re going to turn now to Winona LaDuke, who was in New York this week to give the seventh annual Judith Davidson Moyers Women of Spirit Award. Winona LaDuke is a longtime indigenous rights activist from the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota. And she’s written, among other books, The Militarization of Indian Country and The Winona LaDuke Chronicles. This is Winona LaDuke.
WINONA LADUKE: In our prophecies as Anishinaabe people, in our prophecies as Anishinaabe people, we are told that there is a choice between two paths. This is known as the time of the Seventh Fire. And in the time of the Seventh Fire, we are told that we, as Anishinaabe people, would have a choice between two paths. One path, they say, would be well worn but scorched. The other path, they say, would be not well worn, and it would be green. And it would be our choice upon which path to embark.
So this is the scorched path. This is what fracking looks like from the air. It is what is known as extreme extraction. Extreme extraction is what occurs when you have consumed as much of the fossil fuels resources of this world as we have. In my life and your life, we’ve consumed about half the world’s known fossil fuel resources, right? Which is—I had a good time. Did you all have a good time? Let’s be honest. It’s been a blast. We’ve had a really good time consuming this level. I’ve had my—did you guys all get your flowers from Colombia this week? You know what I’m saying. Sometimes I just like to order that Fiji water—you know what I’m talking about?—because I feel like I should have water from the furthest part of the planet. You understand what I’m saying. This is like—it is absurdity, the level of the fossil fuels economy and our level of consumption and entitlement associated with that. We are complicit. That is the fact.
Yet, at the same time, what I want is like I’m looking out there, and the last remaining resources that are there. The last remaining fossil fuels that are there are not easy to get. The time of those gushing oil fields in Oklahoma is gone. Now what you have is, you can drill 20,000 feet under the ocean and hope that’s going to work out for you. Right? Until you get something like the Deepwater Horizon, right? My personal feeling, I’m just going to say, is that only mermaids should be 20,000 feet under the ocean. Like we just should not be there. Some places we should just not go. That’s what I feel like.
Extreme behavior is when you blow off the top of like 500 mountains in Appalachia to ship the coal to where? China? India? Not here, because they don’t even burn them in coal plants in this country anymore. That’s extreme behavior. Extreme behavior is when you put 602 chemicals down in the ground, blow up the bedrock of Mother Earth and act like that’s going to work for you, because—oh, that’s right—Dick Cheney got the Halliburton amendment passed. That’s when you have a set of laws that reflects the rights of men, not the rights of the creator. And extreme behavior is the tar sands. They’re replumbing North America’s infrastructure right now for the benefit of oil companies. That is what is happening, and that is the battle that we are seeing. And it is this era that we are all in. It’s this moment that we are all in, the end of the fossil fuel economy.
And in those extreme last minutes, where there is so little left, so little left that is easy to get, we become a little bit like—you know, I don’t know if any of you got an addict in your family, but I feel like we’re acting like a big junkie. That is to say, like, if you’ve got an addict, you know, sometimes they get to this place where like they do bad stuff to get their fix. And that’s us. We do bad stuff to get our fix, and we pretend that we didn’t do that. You know? That’s what addicts do. They say, “I didn’t do that. You know, someone else made me do that.” You ever hear that one? You know, all of that stuff, right? And so we got to this place where that’s the kind of people where we are, you know, where we’re engaging in extreme behavior, whether it is, you know, destroying and declaring war on countries, or whether it is declaring such a war on our environment—extreme behavior to get the last parts of our fix.
And what I want is, I think, probably what you all want, which is kind of an elegant transition out of this, an elegant transition out of the fossil fuel economy. On the last throes of that, this is where we’re at. This is my territory. These are some of our spiritual beings. We’ll say half-man, half-spirit, Nanabozho and his mother. They are in our rice fields. This is the artist named Rabbett Strickland. This is my battle. This is what Judith discussed.
Four years ago, the Enbridge company announced that it wanted to put a pipeline through the heart of our wild rice territory. Canadian corporation, single largest pipeline company in North America. It was a fracked oil pipeline proposed to come out of North Dakota. The essential route was the route that they proposed. They had to have that route. They said there was no other route. They said it was an essential route. And we fought them. We prayed. We had our ceremonies. We had our feasts. But I dreamed that we should ride our horses against the current of the oil. And so we took to horse, and we rode our horses, and we prayed that that oil would not come through that pipe and it would not come our way. And so we kept that prayer up for four years. We intervened in the regulatory process. And the Friends of the Headwaters, colleagues of my organization, Honor the Earth, filed a lawsuit, forcing an environmental impact statement on that pipeline. Environmental impact statements are expensive for corporations, and time is very expensive for corporations that are hanging on by a bare thread to all of their holdings and all of their greed. And so, four years in, after citizens, people turned out, tribal governments turned out, by the hundreds, to oppose this, one day after our fourth ride along the proposed pipeline route, one day after the fourth ride, on August 2nd of this last year, the Enbridge corporation announced that it would not continue with its plans to forward the Sandpiper across our lands.
But what I will say is that it is a bit of a bittersweet victory, because that same day the Enbridge corporation announced that it was going to become—they were going to invest and become 28 percent owner of the Dakota Access pipeline. And so, that company moved west to someplace where they did not see the strength of the same resistance. And they had what is called, I believe, regulatory capture, which is when oil companies write all of your policies for the state of North Dakota. And it is a state which has been disempowered and is run today by oil companies and agribusiness. And so they went there. And it is also a state that we refer to as the Deep North. That is what North Dakota looks like. And if anybody saw either the footage of Standing Rock, you saw what Bull Connor looks like in North Dakota. That’s Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier. That’s what you look like, Bull Connor, or else in North Dakota. It is called the Deep North. Our people have been treated as third-class citizens. Every statistic you do not want to have, we continue to have in North Dakota, in the Standing Rock and every other reservation. Infrastructure that is Third World could be First World, because, after all, we are a First World country. But then, of course, most of our infrastructure on our reservations is so far behind, whether it is the road or the 50-year-old hospital that serves that community. And so, they had not cared. But what they did is they moved out there. And this is what we saw.
Now, a lot of you saw this, but I know that for a long time the media out of New York did not cover this. I think the first media that came from New York was Amy Goodman. Thank you for coming, Amy. And as you may also know, Amy was arrested and charged for her work as a journalist—I think she was charged with rioting out there. But this is what it looks like. And this is what civil society looks like when the rules of engagement have been violated. That is to say that all of us here would believe that we would have a First Amendment right in the United States. But what is clear is that in North Dakota you do not have a First Amendment right, and the rights of corporations supersede the rights of individuals. That is what we know.
And so, what happened to those of us who stood—and we are not protesters, we are protectors. We are water protectors. And I’m very, very proud to know so many and to call myself a water protector, because we are the people who believe that our water is worth more than their oil. Our water, that gives us life, is our life.
And so we stood, and we faced things that you should not face. We faced this equipment. This equipment, the piece on the right is called an MRAP, mine-resistant armored personnel carrier, mine-resistant armored personnel carrier. And to the best of my knowledge, North Dakota has no land mines. You understand what I’m saying? They’ve got a lot of—unfortunately, they have a lot of nuclear missile sites. Right? I’m not sure how that’s going to work out with all that fracking, just like a little note, note to self. But, you know, no land mines. And so—and no buildings. Stutsman County, where that piece of equipment comes from, may have 2,000 people in it. May have 2,000 people in it. So there’s nothing that would warrant a piece of equipment like that in North Dakota. But pieces of equipment like that are all over this country because they have been surplused by the U.S. military to civilian police forces. And there is no need for civilians to be facing equipment like that. The piece that is to the left of it is called an LRAD. An LRAD is a long-range acoustic device. It is intended to blow up your eardrums. And so, that was what North Dakota decided to use on people trying to protect their water on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. And to me, that is what is wrong when civil society has gone awry.
And so, to those of you here, I have to make a plea on this. I have to make a plea, because North Dakota was abandoned. It was abandoned by everybody. That is to say that over the past 50 years the population has continued to decline. You know, a few years ago, about 1985, the Poppers came out from Rutgers University, a couple of demographers, and they did this report, and they said, “There’s so many people who have left North Dakota, you might as well just pull up them fences and return it to the Buffalo Commons.” That’s what they said. They were chased out of North Dakota as heretics. And then, in 2000, I saw them invited back by the North Dakota Farm Bureau Association to talk about the possibility of maybe doing that. So, everybody left North Dakota.
In the meantime, in 2005, with the passage of the Halliburton amendment, it reopened the bottom of the mining—of the mining and the oil development, the bottom. You could use fracking, with absolutely—you know, you just do whatever you want to in North Dakota. And that changed everything in North Dakota. The boom came in, with all of the ugliness—the man camps, the sexual assaults, the contamination of everything that is out there and the loss of just common sense and decency, frankly.
And in the meantime, no one was out there. No one has been out there for a long time. Civil society abandoned North Dakota. What I mean by that is the American Civil Liberties Union, of which I’m a big fan, had one person that covered North and South Dakota. You let me know how that’s going to work out. Right? The Sierra Club had one person. Right? That’s not good. That’s not good. That’s when you’ve been abandoned by civil society. And so, you know, a lot of people didn’t want to live in North Dakota, because it’s kind of cold. You know, you can’t get like your Starbucks or all your cool stuff every—you know what I’m saying? There’s like not all the cool organic places. And so they said, “I don’t want to live here. I want to go live someplace cool, like New York City, or I want to go live someplace cool like Madison, Wisconsin, or Berkeley.” They left. And so you had a lot of older white people that were there, laid prey by a lot of oil companies. And things went bad. And so our people were treated pretty badly in North Dakota. And that’s why we call it the Deep North.
But there is part of all of us that is there, because, you know, if you think what happens in North Dakota doesn’t affect you, what happened at Standing Rock affects us all, whether it is the criminalization of dissent, the criminalization of First Amendment rights. There are 840 people that were charged out there. A lot of them look like you, 840 people that were charged. Every one of those individuals was stripped and cavity-searched. Those people were overcharged with all kinds of things, you know, whether it is rioting or felony offenses. Many of those people were put in dog kennels, because they did not have room for them in the county jails, it was so overburdened. And they had their names, their numbers put—they were put—hey had numbers on their hands, so that they could keep track of them. That’s what civil society looks like when it goes awry and the rules of engagement go wrong.
But it is more than that, because many of our people were hurt. This is when they tear-gas you and put chemicals on you, and you’re in the water. And you’re a water protector, and they hit you with that at close range. They hit you right in the face with that. That’s what they do. And then they shoot rubber bullets at you, and they take out your eye. Or Sophia Wilansky here from New York, she lost most of her arm to a compression grenade. But what happened when she went to the hospital is the FBI antiterrorism squad came and took her belongings, and she is the subject of a grand jury investigation, because in North Dakota they want to act as if she blew up her own arm. They want to pretend that the rubber bullets did not fly at our people. They want to pretend that the tear gas did not come at our people. They want to pretend that the bean bags did not come at our people.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Winona LaDuke, speaking at Union Theological Seminary in New York. She’s the author of The Winona LaDuke Chronicles. This is Democracy Now! We’re broadcasting from the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C.
This is Democracy Now! We’re broadcasting live from the People’s Climate March. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re in the nation’s capital. It’s expected to be one of the hottest April 29ths in history here in Washington, D.C. Right now I’m joined by Maura Healey. She is the attorney general of Massachusetts. Welcome to Democracy Now!
ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY: Hey. It’s great to be here, Amy. Great to be here today. I’m looking around at all these people. It’s so important, and I’m just so happy to be down here on the Mall part of it.
AMY GOODMAN: Why are you here?
ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY: Well, you know, climate change is, I think, the most important issue of our time. And I think about the work that we’re doing as a state on the front lines to really hold the Trump administration accountable. And my message today to the president, to Scott Pruitt and anybody else in the administration is, we have come too far. We cannot go backwards. This is about a president who seems set on dismantling important protections that have been put in place, important achievements. We’re on the right road. We have a lot more work to do. But as a state attorney general, I’m going to be there to protect our planet, to protect our residents. This is also a matter of economic interest. You know, in the Northeast, in Massachusetts in particular, Amy, we’ve seen the benefits of lowering carbon emissions. We’ve seen the benefits of growing a clean tech, clean economy—clean environmental economy. And this is about not just about protecting our planet, protecting our economy, as well. And that’s why I’m here today.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, along with Eric Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York state, you’re one of the pioneers in taking on the largest private oil corporation in the world, ExxonMobil, whose CEO now happens to be—former CEO—head of the State Department, our secretary of state. Can you talk about what you’re doing with ExxonMobil?
ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY: Well, it was just a year ago where we—when we sent subpoenas to Exxon to ask them a simple question: Tell us what you knew, when, about climate change and the impact that burning fossil fuels was going to have on the environment, because based on widely reported, publicly available information, we had concern that Exxon may not have told the truth to the public, to consumers, to its shareholders, about what it knew. We sent those subpoenas. They turned around, they sued us to try to stop us from investigating this.
So far, we’ve been fighting it out in court. So far, we’ve been winning. And I hope that soon we will get the documents from Exxon, so that we can have our questions finally answered. That’s where we’re at right now. We won in Massachusetts courts. We won in New York courts. And recently, the court in Texas dismissed the case from Texas and moved it back to New York. And we had a good hearing the other day, and we’re awaiting a decision from the court, Amy. But hopefully we’ll be in a position soon where we can continue to go forward with our investigation, so that Exxon will finally have to answer the questions that we’ve asked.
AMY GOODMAN: And explain what was the smoking gun for you. Why did you get involved with the Exxon probe?
ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY: Well, there was information publicly reported that detailed some of what Exxon’s executives and scientists knew decades ago about what the effect of burning fossil fuels was going to have and going to be on the environment. And based on that information—and there was other information about oil executives flying in regularly to meet with one another to talk about how they were going to handle this as a public relations matter, and concern that there was a cover-up about this information. We were then led to do what we always do, which is, when you’re faced with that kind of information, you ask questions as a state attorney general, because this is a question about: Was there fraud perpetrated on the public, on consumers, on even Exxon’s shareholders? Did they fail to disclose things that they should have disclosed because they knew certain things? And so, that’s what this investigation has been about. Unfortunately, Exxon has taken the tack of trying to stop us, state AGs, from investigating.
AMY GOODMAN: How?
ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY: Well, interestingly enough, they say that our asking questions, our sending subpoenas to them, which is something that we do regularly as state AGs—that’s our job, is to ask questions, to investigate, go where the facts take us. Instead, they sued us, claiming that our investigation interfered with Exxon’s corporate free speech rights. I don’t understand that theory. I don’t credit that theory. But that’s the theory that they’ve advanced. They’ve also, of course, tried to use Congress to shut us down, as state AGs. The House committee has been led by Lamar Smith, has been very aggressive in attempting to subpoena me and really attempting to bully us into stopping us from doing our work. And these are questions that need to be asked, and they need to be answered. So we’re going to continue and press forward.
But we’re also going to continue doing the work that we do as state AGs. Ten years ago, 10 years ago, we saw the major decision out of the Supreme Court—we just celebrated the anniversary—Massachusetts v. EPA. That was when the state of Massachusetts sued George Bush’s EPA for their failure to do their job in regulating greenhouse gases. Case went up to the Supreme Court. Supreme Court ruled against Bush’s EPA. And that began the process of regulating greenhouse gases. So, states have acted before. We’re going to be prepared to act again in standing up for the Clean Power Plan, fuel efficiency standards, other efficiency standards that are out there—important measures that we have taken as a country. We cannot afford to go backwards.
AMY GOODMAN: So, on that issue of the EPA, now a proud climate change denier is in charge: the former Oklahoma AG, had your job in Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt. What does that mean for you? What do his policies and the eviscerating—the stated plan to slash the EPA, mean for you in Massachusetts?
ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY: Well, it’s a catastrophe. It’s a catastrophe not just for this country, but for the world. I served with Scott Pruitt. And Scott Pruitt, while he was state AG, sued the EPA, I think, no less than 14 times. And, in fact, his whole prerogative was one about trying to dismantle the authority of the EPA, the agency that he now heads. So, obviously, that’s very troubling from where we sit. But that’s why we’re going to be aggressive about taking on the EPA, holding them accountable, holding them accountable to enforce laws that are in place for good reason, to protect the air, to protect water, and to do their job and to force them to do their job. They can’t simply abdicate responsibility. They have a job to do. So, we’re going to be aggressive about this, Amy, and we’re going to continue, as state AGs and as states, to be on the front lines pushing forward with this fight.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to the Exxon issue. Rex Tillerson’s role in this, the former CEO of Exxon, now the secretary of state?
ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY: He hasn’t had much to say about this. As you recall from his Senate confirmation hearing, he essentially refused to answer questions on this topic. But I think that everybody in government, certainly in the State Department, we know that climate change is an issue of global importance and that it should be an issue for the State Department, as well. We’re going to have to wait and see where Secretary Tillerson is on this issue. We haven’t heard much from him of late. And we certainly did not hear much from him during his Senate confirmation hearings.
AMY GOODMAN: But on the issue of the Exxon cover-up, what role did he play as longtime CEO of Exxon?
ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY: Well, we don’t know yet. And again, from my perspective, this is about allowing us to go forward with the investigation. I’m not going to prejudge anything. We need to see the documents. We need to be able to have our questions answered. And that’s what I’m looking to do. And I hope that Exxon stops with the continued effort to resist our investigation and would start answering our questions.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you a final question. It’s the issue of the Paris climate accord. The Trump administration has threatened to pull out of it. What would that mean to you, as attorney general? What would it mean for Massachusetts?
ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY: Well, it’s very serious. And, you know, again, that would be an abdication of our responsibility in the world. America should be a world leader, the global leader, when it comes to taking steps to address climate change. And pulling out of Paris is directly counter to that. So it would send a terrible signal to the world if we were to pull out.
But more importantly, as importantly, I should say, not only do we need to stay in Paris, be at the table and be leading, we also need to make sure that we implement measures here. That’s the whole point of joining Paris and having other countries join Paris, is to get them to take steps within their countries to lower emissions and carbon pollution. And so, as important is the need to make sure that we don’t go backwards here. That’s why staying with Clean Power Plan is important. That’s why the fuel efficiency standards are important. That’s why all the various measures and regulations that have been put in place are so important. It’s also, Amy, why you see some in corporate America speaking out, because the market has moved in this direction anyways. Again, the Trump administration doesn’t seem to pay too much mind to research, to science. And it’s unfortunate, because if they did, they would have a sense of where this has been and where it absolutely needs to go. And as a state attorney general, I’m going to keep pushing forward in that direction.
AMY GOODMAN: Maura Healy, thanks so much for joining us. Maura Healy is the Massachusetts attorney general. She’s here at the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. We’re standing at the Reflecting Pool, between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. This is Democracy Now! Tell your friends to tune in, democracynow.org. We’re with you for five hours today, from 10:00 in the morning to 3:00 Eastern Standard Time. This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: I’m Nermeen Shaikh, here in Washington, D.C. We’re going now to the press conference that’s live, going on now in Washington, ahead of the People’s Climate March.
ARTURO GONZALES: Asthma and other—and exposure to other carcinogens that can cause cancer. Today, I march to voice my concern for my community, communities across the country exposed to the effects of climate change, and for other children and other mothers to not suffer the way that me and my mother did. I will continue to work on this issue for as long as it takes and long after the cameras have gone. And I hope you all do, as well. Thank you.
REV. LEO WOODBERRY: Good morning. My name is Reverend Leo Woodberry. I’m from Florence, South Carolina. And it’s—and it’s so good to have all of you here. I came to share a message with people of faith. And when I say “people of faith,” I am not only talking about people who attend historical black churches. I’m not talking only about people who attend mosques. I’m not only talking about people who attend temples. But in my faith tradition, faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. And if you’re hoping for a better planet, if you can see a better world, then you are a person of faith.
I want to thank you for rising up early this morning and coming from all over this country. I want to thank you for rising up early this morning and to heed a clarion call to justice and equity that they are trying to deny us. I want you to realize right now that this is not a game, that the Earth is the lord and the fullness thereof. And it’s about people as well as the planet.
And we want you to rise up with the spirit of power. We want you to rise up with a fire so deep in your bones that you just can’t stand still, and you’ve got to tell somebody that the victory will be ours. We’re going to rise up! And we’re going to return to our home. We’re going to rise up and let them know that we’re sick and tired of seeing our children die of asthma. We’re sick and tired of seeing people with cancer because of coal ash ponds. We’re sick and tired of seeing sea level rise. We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, and we’re not going to stand for it anymore! So we’re going to rise up. We’re going to go back home. We’re going to say to the politicians, “No budget cuts. If you vote for a budget cut, we will vote you out.” We will rise up! We will rise up! And we will do away with the death-dealing culture that gives us energy that comes from dinosaurs that are dead in the ground, and coal that’s, in turn, as if in a grave. We need a life-giving energy, the energy that comes from the sun, the energy that comes from the wind.
[End of Hour 1]
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. The People’s Climate March is where we are right now, broadcasting from Washington, D.C. At this moment, it is not clear how many people have descended on Washington. Is it a thousand? Is it 10,000? We know it’s more. Is it tens of thousands? Perhaps 100,000? We are broadcasting throughout these five hours, from 10:00 in the morning Eastern time to 3:00 in the afternoon. We’re broadcasting on satellite television throughout the country, on TV and radio stations and right here online at democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, joined right now by two indigenous leaders. We’re joined by Tom Goodtooth, who is one of the founders of the Indigenous Environmental Network, and Kandi Mossett. Kandi Mossett is—well, the last time I saw her, we were on a sacred burial ground in North Dakota. The Dakota Access pipeline guards had been trying to excavate it, when hundreds of Native Americans came up on that property and demanded the bulldozers pull back.
Kandi, that was quite a scene, quite a horrific scene.
KANDI MOSSETT: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: But, on that day, the Native Americans who were out there did stop the bulldozers from excavating.
KANDI MOSSETT: That’s right. And it was really women that broke down the fence, tore it down, went out there and jumped in front of the bulldozers, because we physically feel that pain when we see that machine digging. And they did destroy three sacred sites and some gravesites, but we stopped them from destroying more. And it’s important to note that there’s no oil flowing through that pipeline. They actually had damage occur when they dropped their own equipment into the trench and damaged 10 sections of the pipe, stuff that nobody is reporting on. After the camps were cleared, they damaged their own pipeline. So the spirits are still with us. I have a feeling they pushed the equipment into the pipe—into the trench. So…
AMY GOODMAN: So, there you were in North Dakota. Here you are in D.C. Why?
KANDI MOSSETT: I’m here because it’s important to do everything we can do. A march is one thing in the many tools in the toolbox. This is a really good way to come together and say we’re not alone in this movement for jobs, for climate justice. And so we need to do these things to show that, number 45, we don’t agree with your policies. We’re going to be in your face until you listen to the people, the people that want a different way, which is towards renewable energies, small-scale-distributed renewable energies, and to listen to the voice of the people.
AMY GOODMAN: Where are you from?
KANDI MOSSETT: I’m from North Dakota, right in the heart of the Bakken shale oil formation, where they’re fracking us literally to death, because our babies are sick, our grandmas are sick. We’re not going to take it anymore. So we’ve been here drawing that red line of resistance.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re a member of what tribe?
KANDI MOSSETT: Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nations.
AMY GOODMAN: I last saw you before Dakota in—well, actually, I saw you in Paris after North Dakota.
KANDI MOSSETT: And I told you about the abuses that have been occurring to our women. And it’s an inextricable link between the rape and the abuse of the Earth, that happens to the women, as well, when these extractive industries come into our communities. It’s very important that people know that. We don’t just speak for the north. We speak for our brothers and sisters to the south. Look at what happened to our sister, Berta. It’s important that we get the message out that it’s not OK for our women to die simply because we want to protect water. And we’re going to continue to stand up and hold our relatives in our hearts and our minds.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re holding up a sign for Berta Cáceres, the Honduran environmental leader, who knew she was on a death list but continued her work, until she was gunned down in her own home.
KANDI MOSSETT: That’s right. And if Berta can do these things and her spirit can live on, there’s no reason that we can’t continue to fight here in this colonized United States. We need to stand strong with our brothers and sisters.
AMY GOODMAN: Had you ever met Berta Cáceres?
KANDI MOSSETT: I never had the pleasure of meeting her in person. It was after that we went to Honduras and that we were able to see her family and friends and learn about her legacy. So, I cry tears that aren’t about sadness, but the joy that her spirit continues to live on and really created strength in a lot of us women.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re wearing a T-shirt that says “Defend the Sacred.”
KANDI MOSSETT: “Defend the Sacred,” because everything that we believe in, that we need as humanity, is sacred—the air, the water and the soil, with which we can’t live without. Common sense dictates: Defend the sacred.
AMY GOODMAN: Who will you be marching with today?
KANDI MOSSETT: I will be marching with my ancestors today and with my 3-year-old daughter Aiyana, who is here, not fully understanding what it’s all about, but it’s really all about her.
AMY GOODMAN: Tom Goldtooth, you’re standing beside Kandi right now. Talk about your activism that has led to this day, April 29th, that it looks like it promises to be one of the hottest April 29ths in Washington, D.C., history.
TOM GOLDTOOTH: Yeah, it’s part of a prophecy that many people that I work with have been fortunate to meet many spiritual leaders, people who are gifted to be able to communicate with that spirits of Mother Earth and Father Sky. And both my Navajo Diné people are Dakota people. And, you know, we’ve been part of this building of a movement of resistance. And it’s a spiritual resistance.
I’ve been at the United Nations climate negotiations, and I’ve been at the World Social Forums, and I’ve been in our local communities, really building a movement of consciousness. And this is where it’s coming to, this moment where we’re breaking down those silos that basically capitalism, industrial mindset, has created a divide of people from Mother Earth. And so we have to break that and be able to talk to humanity, that we need to come back to understanding where we’re at right now.
And this president right now represents tyranny. This president represents a system that is old and has to change. And as indigenous peoples, you know, we’ve been talking about this moment. You know, maybe we, as original people of the United States, and our people in Canada, Alaska—maybe it’s time to really exercise our sovereignty and our self-determination, and serve papers on this president to deport him, to deport him from this country, because the laws that he’s representing are not the natural laws that we are taught as Native people, to have respect for the sacredness of water.
That’s why we are here. We are bringing front-line communities who are fighting to keep fossil fuels in the ground. That’s part of our campaign, but not just ours, as indigenous. It’s for all people to come to that consciousness that we have to change a system. We have to move to a new reality. And that reality is part of Mother Earth.
AMY GOODMAN: What is the lesson you’ve learned from the Dakota Access pipeline? The struggle clearly isn’t over. There’s this national and global divestment campaign to divest from the financial institutions that support it. The pipeline has—is not flowing with oil.
TOM GOLDTOOTH: Right. And part of that—part of that, what we—we’ve been able to bring that message from Standing Rock, from Oceti Sakowin. And I apologize, I’m going to have to leave here in a couple seconds. But part of that is showing America, and people of the world have gravitated to the messaging coming out of Oceti Sakowin, the consul of the seven—Sioux Nation. And that message is a spiritual message. That message is to come back to understanding that water is life. The woman carrying that life, the passing of that water, that’s what that symbolizes in the translation, that really misses its point in English. But the water of life, the passing of the water when the birthing process is about. And that is really a profound spiritual relationship that people are starting to gravitate to throughout the world. So, it’s, again, the message coming there that we can do this through peace and prayer.
AMY GOODMAN: Tom, what—where were you born, and what nation are you with?
TOM GOLDTOOTH: I am Navajo. My mother is Navajo. And my father, they say, was Dakota. So I have embraced both cultures. And I was born way in the remote areas of the Navajo Reservation, northern part, where they have a big dam.
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, the significance of this march today?
TOM GOLDTOOTH: That’s right. That’s right, has manifested this point. And my son right now, Dallas, is—
AMY GOODMAN: Dallas, are you trying to interrupt this interview?
TOM GOLDTOOTH: Yeah. I need to—
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: I’ve got to get him going to another meeting.
TOM GOLDTOOTH: Another meeting.
AMY GOODMAN: You guys look alike. Is there a reason?
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: Yeah. I’m the older. I’m just—
AMY GOODMAN: You’re his elder.
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: No, this is what I’m going to look like in about 20 years, is this handsome, stunning—15 years, that’s what I’ll look like.
TOM GOLDTOOTH: But we—but we brought people from the grassroots of Indian country. One of my brothers here from Alaska right here, all the way from Alaska, where the ice is literally melting. Climate change—he cannot deny the reality. His environment is melting right now.
AMY GOODMAN: Your name is?
JULIEN JACOBS: Julien Jacobs.
AMY GOODMAN: And where are you from? Thank you so much, Goldteeth! Can I call you Goldteeth, in the plural?
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH: Amy Goodman, keep up the good work.
AMY GOODMAN: Your name is?
JULIEN JACOBS: My name is Julien Jacobs. I’m from Mamterilleq, Bethel, Alaska. And so, what we’re seeing out there, from Niugtaq to different areas, that Shishmaref, the waves washing over, all the way to the ice that’s not—it’s not there, that’s not present. We’re seeing things that we don’t have descriptions in our language for, which is thousands of years old. So, I’m not sure what we can say, particularly to suit the nature of it, but that it’s a climate catastrophe. You know, it’s the—the Arctic is compromised, and we have no real recourse that we can follow or see in our culture that shows that we are in the right trajectory, in the right course back again, because we can’t hunt, we can’t fish, we can’t see the things that we’re needing to be able to live and survive off the land.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Donald Trump’s hundredth day. Your thoughts?
JULIEN JACOBS: I don’t have any thoughts about him. I have thoughts about what’s happening back at home in my culture, in my land, in my food, in our seals, in the pups, in the—the foods that we eat are being decimated at a rate that we cannot—we cannot—we can’t match up with. I’m sorry. Yeah, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you so much. We’re at the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C.
This is the People’s Climate March, and there’s a news conference going on right now of elected leaders, which we are going to join. This is Senator Carper of Delaware.
SEN. TOM CARPER: But there are 75,000 coal mining jobs in America—75,000. Last year, 70,000 clean energy and conservation were created in America—70,000 in one year alone. In the last 20 years, almost 3 million clean energy and sustainable energy jobs were created. Whenever somebody says to you we can’t have both, I want you to say, with me, join with me, the word “hogwash.”
SEN. TOM CARPER: Hogwash!
SEN. TOM CARPER: Hogwash!
SEN. TOM CARPER: All right, I ask to revise and extend my remarks. And it’s great to be with all of you. Jeff Merkley. Thank you all so much for being [inaudible], everybody else for being part. [inaudible]
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: You know, Henry David Thoreau said, “What use is a home if you don’t have a tolerable planet to put it on?” Are we are going to fight for a tolerable planet?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: I want to introduce to you a champion for a tolerable planet. This is Maria Cantwell, senator from the Washington state on the beautiful Pacific Ocean, a neighbor to Oregon, partners in this battle. Thank you, Maria.
SEN. MARIA CANTWELL: Thank you, Jeff. It’s great to be here with all my colleagues to fight to make a point to this administration. We’re here in Washington, D.C., and the climate for climate change could not be more challenging. After decades of making progress on more fuel-efficient airplanes, higher mileage-per-gallon standards for automobiles, millions of new renewable energy jobs in biofuels, in solar, in wind, now this administration is trying to roll back policies that are going to save our planet in the future. And as you heard last night, they removed the one piece of climate education data from the EPA website that is helping to educate millions of Americans about how we can make progress in dealing with this.
So, I have a question for Mr. Trump: President Trump, are you afraid of science? The science has helped us in the shellfish industry in the Pacific Northwest fight ocean acidification. It has helped us when our farmers are facing drought and need new science on crop resistant to drought. And it’s helped our coastal communities figure out where they need to move to a higher plan. I know you, Mr. President, and your Cabinet want to hold onto the past, but I would say to you, hire a futurist, because we’re going to innovate our way out of this problem, and we are going to have a cleaner, greener planet and millions of more jobs in the United States of America. Thank you all very much.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Senator Merkley.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: You know, the president also just said we need to gut the safety regulations on oil rigs like Deepwater Horizon. Are we going to allow that to happen?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Let me tell you, a person who has been an incredible champion on climate change, and specifically the most knowledgeable person in Congress on oceans, is the next person I’m going to introduce. But he has also gone to the Senate floor to speak every single week, week after week. I don’t know—we’re about a hundred speeches into it. Sheldon Whitehouse of the beautiful state of Rhode Island.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: Thank you, Jeff. It is so great to be here with Senator Jeff Merkley, with Senator Tom Carper, with Senator Maria Cantwell, with Senator Ed Markey, the hero of Waxman-Markey. And let me give a big shout out to Maura Healey here, because I will tell you that the courts are a good place to talk about climate change, because when witnesses lie in court, they get punished. When lawyers lie to judges, they get punished. You can get in front of a courtroom, and you can get discovery, and you can get the other side’s documents. Courts are great places, and I am so glad that our attorneys general are standing up on this issue, that children out in Oregon are standing up on this issue. And pretty soon we’re going to discover that shareholders of these companies across the country are going to have to stand up on this issue, because they have not been telling the truth about what their reserves are all about. Those reserves need, as Jeff said, to stay in the ground.
So, we’ve got three forms of pollution we need to worry about. We have got the pollution of our atmosphere and oceans from carbon dioxide. And we are going to stand up and make sure that we keep a survivable planet. We have got the pollution of our public debate by spin and lies and calculated misinformation from a whole enterprise of science denial, and we need to stand up to that science denial enterprise. And then we’ve got the third pollution, which is the pollution of that building behind us with dark money, with unlimited Citizens United money, with the spending that the fossil fuel industry is doing to protect a $700 billion-a-year subsidy. We owe the people of the world an America that is not for sale to the fossil fuel industry.
So, are we going to stand up to protect our democracy?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: Are we going to stand up to protect truth and science and public debate?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: And are we going to stand up to keep the effects on our planet so that our children and grandchildren have an Earth like ours that is habitable and hospitable to humankind?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: All right!
AMY GOODMAN: That was Senator Whitehouse. Back to Senator Merkley of Oregon.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: All right, so we’re driving this transition from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy, to 100 percent clean and renewable energy. How much clean and renewable energy do we need?
AUDIENCE: A hundred percent!
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: One hundred! How much clean and renewable energy do we need?
AUDIENCE: A hundred percent!
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: How much do we need?
AUDIENCE: A hundred percent!
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: The next speaker is a co-sponsor of 100 by 50. He’s been fighting to take action on climate change for 40 years. He knows all the details, educates us continuously. He was a force in the House. He’s a force in the Senate. Ed Markey of Massachusetts.
SEN. ED MARKEY: Thank you, Jeff Merkley, Sheldon Whitehouse, to Maria Cantwell and to Tom Carper, the ranking member on the Environment Committee. Maria is the ranking member on the Energy Committee. Nydia Velázquez, a great congresswoman from New York, and our great attorney general from Massachusetts, Maura Healey, who is here today, as well, and you will be hearing in just a minute. So thank you all so much for being here.
When people were unhappy with slavery, the abolitionist movement came here and stood here to say no, that they wanted a revolution. When women wanted to have the right to vote, the suffragettes came here, where we are standing, to say that that must change. When the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, wanted a change in the laws so that African Americans and all minorities had the same rights as white people in our country, they came here and stood here. And they all were saying the same thing: “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, free at last.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what the green revolution is now saying about fossil fuels: Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, free at last. They will not stop this wind and solar revolution. They will not stop this all-electric vehicle revolution. They will not stop this energy efficiency revolution. They will not tell the green generation any longer that they are not going to have a planet that is safe and clean and nonpolluting. The planet is running a fever. There are no emergency rooms for planets. The only way to do this correctly is to put the preventative programs in place, with the renewable energy revolution that will save the planet from the worst, most catastrophic effects.
And you know what? The green movement does not agonize. The green movement organizes. And that’s what is happening here today, not just here in Washington, but all across the country, because there is one thing that is separating the oil and coal industry, on every one of these issues, from the green movement: On every single issue, we are right, and they are wrong. And the Koch brothers must be sent a message, that their science, which Donald Trump has adopted, is just as bogus as a degree from Trump University. We have to make sure that they know that science is what this country is all about, and that we are going to fight for science every single day, until Donald Trump is no longer the president of the United States. Thank you all for being here. Let’s go out there and do the job!
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Five years ago, the Atlantic Ocean was 10 degrees warmer than it should normally have been. And the following week, Hurricane Sandy hit the coast, and it devastated a New York district. And their representative, the congresswoman from that district, has been a champion on taking on climate change. Nydia Velázquez, welcome!
REP. NYDIA VELÁZQUEZ: I’m here. Thank you, Senator. Thank you so much. Thank you. To tell—you know, coming from New York, I’m Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. I represent the waterfront in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I was a victim. My community, the low-income communities were devastated. It is shameful that the president, who comes from New York, could deny that climate change is an environmental issue. It’s not fake news, Mr. President. We know. We saw it. And this is why I am here today. This is an inspiration to see so many young people, seniors, women, black, Latinos, Native Indian, fighting to make sure that we resist, that we reject the ill policies coming out of this administration. It is shameful that what we see the prerequisite for the president to make any appointment to lead any of the federal agencies is how much that person hates or is committed to destroy the very agency that they are going to lead. And we are here to say, “Not under our watch! It will not stand! It will not stand!” So, to all of you, thank you. We must organize. We must resist. And today, we march. God bless you. Thank you so much.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Have you heard of a former attorney general from Oklahoma named Scott Pruitt, who wants to tear down the EPA?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Some attorney generals are using their position in partnership with the fossil fuel cartel to destroy the planet. And some are using their position as attorney general to save the planet. And Maura Healey is one of the most powerful voices using the law to take on groups like Exxon. I introduce to you a real legal champion and force, Maura Healey. Welcome to the stage.
ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY: Thank you, Senator Merkley. I am so honored to be here today at the People’s March, be with all of you, be with all these tremendous leaders, who have spoken out, who have stood up and who are here today in solidarity with all of you.
As a state attorney general, my message is simple: This administration has engaged in all-out assault on the environment, climate and science. And I am here today—my message to the president and my message to Scott Pruitt is: This is not going to happen on our watch. We will resist. We will stand up. And we will not stand by and allow you to dismantle the important progress that has been made and the work that we need to do as we go forward.
As states, we know how important this is. We’ve done this before. We’ll do it again. Two weeks ago, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Massachusetts v. EPA. Massachusetts sued George Bush’s EPA for its failure to deal with greenhouse gases. We went up to the Supreme Court, and we won. We’ve done it before, and we will do it again, because, to be clear, federal law requires those in powers to protect our residents, to protect our environment, to assure clean air and clean water. That’s what this is about. We’ve sued in the administration already. We’ll be suing them again. We’ll be challenging them to make sure that they don’t abandon Paris, that they don’t abandon the Clean Power Plan, that they don’t abdicate their responsibilities when it comes to fuel efficiency standards and all the important work that has been done.
This is the most important issue of our time right now, folks. And I am here to say, as the people’s lawyer to the people’s marchers, let’s get out there, let’s raise our voices, and let’s send a message to Washington that no one is above our law and that this is about our planet, our future and humankind. I am with you and so proud to be with all of you. Thank you for all you do.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Maura, thank you. Thank you. Who’s above the law? No one! Who’s above the law?
AUDIENCE: No one!
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Who is above the law?
AUDIENCE: No one!
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Thank you all so much. We’re going to have time for a couple of questions, if anyone from the press has one. Yes, sir?
REPORTER: After today, what’s the most important step for people to take to mitigate climate change?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: After today, what is the most important step for people on climate change? We need to take the energy here, we need to take this people’s energy. We need to go back to our communities. We need to go to every organization we’re part of, every city council. We have to say, “We need 100 percent by 2050 resolution and an action plan on what we’re doing this year, the next year and the year after.” And then we need to continue to fill the streets, to overflow the phones here, to fill the mail slots and keep the pressure up. And run for office, please. Run for office. Let’s take this people’s power and build it right up until we retake control of the building behind us.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I’ve got a question, or a statement, as a member who went to Standing Rock as a photographer, as well. That was just a battle. We have “Remember the Alamo.” Well, remember Standing Rock! Water is life to us all, worldwide! And that this self-serving, corrupt, corporate government needs to be put to a stop, because water is life to the people, the wildlife and the environment everywhere!
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: A message from the—a message from the grassroots: Remember Standing Rock! Remember Standing Rock! Thank you. Anyone else?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, right here. Right here. How do you challenge the Trump administration with so many climate deniers in positions of power, from Scott Pruitt to the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, former head of ExxonMobil? Senator Carper?
SEN. TOM CARPER: I couldn’t hear what she—how do we take on all these climate deniers? I’m going to tell you, most of the people in here, in the Senate, are not climate deniers. And my guess is that most of the folks on the other side of the aisle are not climate deniers. We have an obligation to a lot of people. A lot of people in EPA are hurting right now. They’ve given their life’s work to trying to protect our air, our water, our health. And they are hurting. And what happened last night is just despicable and awful. Let’s make sure that the folks at EPA that we have—we have their back. Let me say, “We’ve got your back.”
AUDIENCE: We’ve got your back!
SEN. TOM CARPER: Let’s say to the folks, the scientists at NASA, “We’ve got your back.”
AUDIENCE: We’ve got your back!
SEN. TOM CARPER: Let’s say to the scientists at NOAA, “We’ve got your back.”
AUDIENCE: We’ve got your back!
SEN. TOM CARPER: We’re not going to back down. We’re going to stand our ground. But we won’t back down. That’s it. We’re not going to give up. We’re going to win this fight. We’re going to win. We’re right.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: One more question? Anyone? OK, thank you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I’ve got one: hemp! Hemp is the miracle drug of the land!
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Thank you so much, everyone, for gathering for the people’s action march. Let’s go and change the world and save the planet! Thank you!
AMY GOODMAN: So, those were the senators: Senator Merkley, Senator Carper, Senator Whitehouse, Senator Markey, Congressmember Nydia Velázquez and Senator Maria Cantwell, also Maura Healey, who’s the attorney general of Massachusetts. We’re going to turn right now to—let’s see if we can a person right here. Can I ask you a quick question from Democracy Now!?
AARON MAIR: Sure.
AMY GOODMAN: Your name?
AARON MAIR: My name is Aaron Mair.
AMY GOODMAN: And you are?
AARON MAIR: I am the national president of the Sierra Club.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about what the Sierra Club feels needs to be done. These are elected leaders. They have their constraints. What do you think their job is, and what do you think your job is? Our camera is right over here.
AARON MAIR: One of the things that we can do right now is back those senators, as I say, and pushing back—a hundred days ago, the president came on these very steps and talked about American carnage. But the carnage he meant was American corporate carnage and savagery of our regulations, our laws and our protective environmental agencies and public health agencies. Right now he’s pushing for a $10 billion financing of a border wall. He is pushing for right now, as I say, a tax break on the credit card of the American public. All these breaks, all these investments absolutely can be going into clean energy and clean jobs right now. The issue is not playing in a predatory way upon the desperate needs of unemployed coal miners and coal workers, but how we put them back to work and, as I say, push forward clean energy, clean technology. Right now, we should not be opening up the continental shelf of the Atlantic coast to more offshore drilling. In fact, we should be swapping out every single offshore drilling rig for wind power. Block Island, Rhode Island, has the first installation of offshore wind. Right now, our Congress can push for the swap-out of clean energy for dirty energy. And guess what. There will be enough gigawattage produced that we’ll probably be able to shut down nuclear on the Eastern Seaboard.
Right now, our Congress is the bulwark. But in order to do that, we must have a functioning democracy. And a functioning democracy means that we must have, as I say, those who are not pushing for border suppression throughout the South and reapportionment maps that, as I say, keep in power those who are beholden to the carbon industry. These congressmen right now can put a true America first. But the America first is not about foreign entities. It’s about domestic enemies and domestic oil industry enemies that are basically circumventing our democracy and unleashing what we call the corporate carnage.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you are, Aaron Mair, an epidemiological spatial analyst, environmentalist, current president of the Sierra Club, founded by John Muir, famous environmentalist in California.
AARON MAIR: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think John Muir would he demanding today?
AARON MAIR: John Muir would be demanding that and saying, as his prophetic words, that it is all connected. You cannot pull at one segment of the environment, one segment of society, and think that it will have no impact on the whole. We are all one. John Muir, right now, would be right here. He would be standing by Martin Luther King. He’d be standing right with all the leaders of justice and saying we have one humanity and that all humanity must come together to save the planet. This is no longer an outing to save Yosemite. This is an outing here—the masses are coming out—to save the planet. John Muir would be on this great outing, on this great trek, leading this resistance.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for being with us.
AARON MAIR: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Senator Markey, I’m—Senator Markey, I just want to ask you a quick question.
SEN. ED MARKEY: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: If you—I’m Amy Goodman from Democracy Now!, public television and radio program. Massachusetts, how is it affected by climate change? And what do you say to President Trump about this?
SEN. ED MARKEY: Well, the most important environmental decision in the history of the United States was made by the Supreme Court in a 5-to-4 decision in April of—
AMY GOODMAN: That’s OK. Lots of people talking. It’s a big march. Keep going.
SEN. ED MARKEY: OK, yeah. Massachusetts sued the EPA, and in April of 2007 the Supreme Court ruled that Massachusetts was right, that the EPA had to make a determination as to whether or not greenhouse gases were endangering the coastline of Massachusetts, eroding the coastline. And they ruled that the EPA had a responsibility to make an endangerment finding of whether or not that was happening, and if it did, that they had to begin to put rules in place in order to protect against that damage.
AMY GOODMAN: So, what do you say to President Trump today?
SEN. ED MARKEY: Donald, I guess—Donald Trump should worry about what his obituary says. And if in 20 or 25 years we have catastrophic storms, ice caps melting, millions of people endangered all across this planet, and he stood on the sidelines and made that kind of a catastrophe possible, that that is all that he is going to be remembered for. If he wants to go down as a great man, he has to take on the greatest challenge of our generation. And right now he is just walking away from that fight.
AMY GOODMAN: So this hundred days, in the last few days, he’s issued a number of executive orders, including opening up public lands to drilling, from offshore drilling to the Arctic. Do these executive orders have power? Is he dismantling the regulatory state? Is he succeeding?
SEN. ED MARKEY: Each one of those executive orders will be taken to court by the attorneys general, by the Sierra Club, by NRDC. They are in for a huge, historic legal battle, right up to the Supreme Court. And ultimately, I think we are going to prevail on those cases, especially when it comes to drilling off of the coastline of New England. We wanted it to be George’s bank, not Shell’s bank. We don’t want this to be turned into another drilling opportunity that could result in a BP oil spill off of our New England coast. Trump doesn’t seem to care, but I think the people in New England and all across our country are not going to run that environmental risk. They’re going to fight every single day.
AMY GOODMAN: Before you head off to the People’s Climate March right now, certainly nuclear war is a threat to the environment, and so I want to ask you about the increasing tensions with, well, everywhere from Iran, but specifically this week to North Korea. Did you go to the White House to get briefed by President Trump?
SEN. ED MARKEY: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: What did he say? Why did you go? And what do you feel needs to happen?
SEN. ED MARKEY: Well, President Trump didn’t really give us his plan in the White House when we went down to meet with him. And in truth, his plan is incoherent. One day, his secretary of state says that, well, we want to move more towards negotiation. But on the very next day, the president says that we can actually be moving more towards a great, great crisis with North Korea that could involve—he doesn’t say it, but an exchange of nuclear weapons. So, we want to walk away from that kind of a conflict. We want to be talking to the North Koreans. We talked to the Soviet Union. We avoided a nuclear catastrophe. We have to be talking to the North Koreans. The president is refusing to do that. We need to put tough sanctions on the Chinese, and the Chinese, in turn, put those sanctions on the North Koreans, bring the North Koreans to the table with President Trump. And that’s the only way to reduce the tensions to avoid an accidental nuclear war breaking out, because right now both sides has military maneuvers that are taking place that could wind up in a catastrophe because a tripwire got crossed that neither side knew that they were passing.
AMY GOODMAN: And before you go, though it’s not the subject of this day, the tax plan. Your assessment of what President Trump put forward this week?
SEN. ED MARKEY: The president’s tax plan is more like a request on April 15th for a tax extension. So, what he did was he gave us a single sheet of paper with no details in it, except that he wants huge tax breaks for billionaires, for millionaires, drain the revenues, $4 [trillion] to $7 trillion out of the federal Treasury, and that would then put tremendous pressure on Social Security, on Medicare, on education programs, on Head Start, which is really their plan, to get the revenues out, give the tax breaks to the wealthy and then take away the programs for the poor in our society.
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, I’m looking at your attorney general right behind you. We just interviewed her. And she is suing ExxonMobil.
SEN. ED MARKEY: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: She is trying to hold them to account. The secretary of state is the former CEO of ExxonMobil.
SEN. ED MARKEY: Yeah. So, I voted against Rex Tillerson becoming the secretary of state. ExxonMobil controls an area inside of Russia which is the size of Wyoming, for drilling for natural gas and oil. It’s a fundamental conflict of interest. Rex Tillerson shouldn’t have the job. I asked Rex Tillerson in the confirmation hearing if he would recuse himself from any action on any matter dealing with ExxonMobil during the entire time that he was secretary of state, and Rex Tillerson refused to recuse himself.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Senator Markey, I want to thank you so much for being with us.
SEN. ED MARKEY: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Senator Ed Markey is the Massachusetts senator, yes, from the great state of Massachusetts, as we turn now to the Oregon senator, Senator Jeff Merkley, who we interviewed just before this news conference.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! We’re broadcasting from the People’s Climate March, an historic 5-hour broadcast that’s going out around the world. I’m Amy Goodman. This is Democracy Now! And we’re standing with Senator Jeff Merkley, the senator of Oregon, a Democrat, who’s standing in front of his—I guess you could call it your second home, the Capitol?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Well, certainly, it’s where I have to get to every week to fight the battle on federal legislation. But I’ve only got one home. That’s Oregon.
AMY GOODMAN: What are you doing right now in Congress around this issue of climate change?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: So, yesterday, in partnership with a whole bunch of environmental groups and social justice groups, I introduced 100 by 50. It’s a phrase I want everyone in the country to hear multitudinous times, 100 by 50—100 percent clean and renewable energy by the year 2050. It’s a goal that we’ve got to get completely off fossil fuels, no more burning in any sector of the energy economy. And it’s a timeline. And to get there, we have to move urgently, passionately, quickly. Time is not on our side.
AMY GOODMAN: So you introduced this with Senator Sanders?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Yes, with Senator Sanders, Senator Markey and Senator Cory Booker.
AMY GOODMAN: So, how do you expect to get it through a Republican-led Senate?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Well, often you introduce legislation to prepare for the moment when you can get it through. And right now we have a Koch brother cartel. The oil and coal and gas industry is blocking environmental action. But it’s very helpful at the federal level to lay out the vision. It’s a statement of values. It’s also a call to action. But the real point is, let’s paint that picture nationally, but then let’s take action at the grassroots level. And that’s what this march is all about today. It’s grassroots action. It’s folks going to their local place of worship and saying, “We need a 100-by-50 plan. And what are we going to do the next three years to stop our use of fossil fuels?” doing the same with their city council, with their—with their club, with their neighbors, with so forth.
AMY GOODMAN: What exactly, though, does that mean? I mean, you’ve sketched it out. What would 100 percent renewable by 2050 mean?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: It would mean a complete end of burning any form of fossil fuels. That’s coal, that’s natural gas, and that’s oil.
AMY GOODMAN: And how would you achieve this?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Well, so, in the bill, we lay out every sector of the energy economy, because each one is a little different. But one of the big strategies is to make sure that every electron on the grid is a green electron. Second of all, move as much of the energy economy onto the grid as possible. And then there will be other difficult areas, like commercial airplanes, where we’re probably going to have to go to some form of biofuels. But we’ve got to work on every sector.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you mentioned a Koch brothers cartel. What do you mean by that?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Well, what I mean is that there is a very rich people who own a whole lot of fossil fuels. They own coal. They own oil. They own natural gas. And they want to keep extracting it and burning it. They have no concern for what it’s doing to the planet. Climate disruption is affecting us everywhere. It’s affecting our forests, our oceans and our oysters and our coral reefs. It’s affecting our farmers and irrigation for farming across the country. Huge impact on rural America, which I think is important to emphasize. This is not an urban issue. This is an everywhere issue.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you, to say the least, were very critical of Rex Tillerson in his confirmation process as secretary of state—Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, the largest private oil corporation in the world. Talk about your concerns then and, now that he is the secretary of state, what you’re seeing.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Well, he’s spent his life traveling the world, negotiating deals to pull fossil fuels out of the ground in order to burn them. And that is not the leadership we need to address the biggest threat facing our planet. And when, in his confirmation hearings, we were pressing him on his understanding of the threat of climate disruption, he basically gave platitudes, like, “Well, it’s something we need to think about, and perhaps we need to be at the table,” but no sense of the understanding of the damage, no understanding of the urgency, no understanding of the impact on human health. And so, it’s not the leadership that we need in order to address this grave threat to the planet.
AMY GOODMAN: You also questioned Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general who’s become head of the EPA. You said you didn’t want the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, to become the Polluter Protection Agency.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Yes. And unfortunately, Scott Pruit has spent his career working with the fossil fuel cartel to take down environmental regulations, which increases the particulates in the air and contributes to lung cancer and to asthma, taking down the standards on mercury, and mercury is a biopersistent neurotoxin that affects the developing brains of our children. And so, he’s doing everything he can—this individual, Scott Pruitt, he’s doing everything he can to make Americans sicker, less healthy, and more damaging to the environment.
AMY GOODMAN: We are here on the hundredth day of the Trump presidency. Your evaluation?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: One hundred disastrous days, terrible days. One of the things that occurred during this hundred days was that—the confirmation of President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. This is a stolen Supreme Court seat. It’s the first time in U.S. history that a seat has been stolen from one administration and delivered to another. And it was done to pack the court on behalf of the fossil fuel cartel. And so, that is the—that is going to be a huge damage for decades to come.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what you mean, how that’s related to—how the Supreme Court is related to climate change.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Yes. There’s a court decision called Citizens United. It was a 5-4 decision. It allows dark money to be spent, on unlimited numbers and without identity, in campaigns throughout the nation. This money was used in 2014 to give the Republicans control of the U.S. Senate. And ever since then, the Republican majority have been the puppets, and the Koch brothers have been the puppeteers. And so, it’s very important to this industry, this coal, oil, natural gas industry, that they keep this dark money flowing, which means keeping a Supreme Court that does not understand we, the people. We, the people—and here we are at the People’s Climate March—this is the foundation of our government. It is the vision the founders laid out in the first three words of the Constitution: “We the people.” They put it in supersized font, so that when you look at the Constitution, you see that standing out. And that’s a whole principle. But they are all about—this 5-4 decision of Citizens United was all about government by and for the powerful, for the privileged and for the polluters.
AMY GOODMAN: And what do you make of marches like this, starting with the women’s resistance the day after the inauguration, massive, and then the protests against Muslim ban one and then Muslim ban two, this spontaneous outpouring of people to the airports, the Tax Day protests, immigrant rights protests on May Day, the March for Science. What difference does it make? I mean, you walk the hallowed halls of the Senate. Do you hear people?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Oh, I tell you that it has made an enormous difference. People’s action has saved healthcare for 24 million Americans, which is a huge, huge victory.
AMY GOODMAN: How?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Because they filled the inboxes of the email, they flooded the phones, they thronged into the streets, and that message was not lost on the Republicans on Congress. And so, those Republicans who had said, “Hey, we’re going to be with Trump, because he says we’re going to do a change to the healthcare system that will cover everyone at lower cost, with better benefits,” and then suddenly the bill they put forward, it doesn’t cover everyone—it throws 24 million people off of healthcare. It’s not at less cost; it’s at more cost. They’re driving up—the Republicans are driving up the cost of healthcare on the exchanges. And it certainly isn’t better coverage. They’re trying to gut the essential benefits provision of the Affordable Care Act. And so, it’s three strikes, and you are out. And it’s the people responding and saying, “What you’re planning to do is just wrong on every one of those issues. You are going to hurt the quality of life of my family. When my loved one gets sick, they’re not going to be able to get care. If we do get care, we’re going to be bankrupt. How dare you, Congress, do this to America?” And their voices were definitely heard. And that’s why they haven’t been able to pass a bill through the House.
AMY GOODMAN: Are Republican senators speaking to you quietly about their concerns about President Trump?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Oh, they are speaking way too quietly, absolutely. Absolutely. Anyone with a moral conscience should be speaking extremely loudly and boldly right now.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you see him finishing out his term? He just said—what was it?—a day ago, after saying nobody thought healthcare would be so difficult, he just said that the presidency was harder than he expected.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Well, I think what he said in regard to healthcare, he said, “Who knew healthcare is so complicated?” I mean, we have a president who has very little understanding of the core issues facing America. He’s spent his life being the front cheerleader for big development projects, while his professional team took over for the details. He’s been all about spending his life saying, “Well, this will be wonderful, and this will be bold, and this will be beautiful. It’ll be a wonderful success,” and handing it over to others. He has no understanding of the complexities of the challenges we face, and, quite frankly, no curiosity, intellectual curiosity, and no compassion for making the world a better place. And so, we have a president who’s really the wrong man for the job. It’s unfortunate he’s there. We’ve got to take him out in four years. And meanwhile, we’ve got to have people’s action, like we are here in this march today.
AMY GOODMAN: An issue that connects to the environment is nuclear war, to put it mildly. Right now, as we stand here, the revving up of tensions with North Korea and Iran, the dropping of the largest nonnuclear bomb in—ever dropped—it was developed by President Bush. He didn’t drop it. President Obama didn’t drop it. President Trump did in the first few weeks of his presidency. Are you concerned about what’s happening here? And what do you think should happen with North Korea right now?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Very, very concerned about North Korea. The situation you have there is a country that already has nuclear weapons. The president and the secretary of state have said their mission is to remove those nuclear weapons from North Korea. And there’s only two ways to do that. One is for China to apply enough pressure that they voluntarily give up their nuclear program. There is virtually nobody in the national security world who thinks China can pressure them that much. I mean, if they cut off North Korea completely, the regime in North Korea still wants to hold on to those weapons. And the other is military action.
So we have a tremendous space for miscommunication that leads to a disastrous war. And you could have—for example, tonight, you could have a ballistic missile test. Tonight, you could have the United States respond by attacking the missile launch site. Then you could have Korea—North Korea respond by attacking Seoul, tens of thousands or people dead in a few hours. And then U.S. descending on North Korea. But we won’t be able to take out their nuclear bombs, which are hidden to make sure that a foreign power can’t get them. And then you have the risk of a nuclear bomb going off somewhere in the world. It could be in a cargo container. It could be on a boat anywhere. So, this is a very dangerous situation. We need very serious individuals understanding that the application of pressure then has to have an olive branch for a goal that can be accomplished and make the world more stable. And so, I’m hoping, I’m praying, that wise and thoughtful minds in the military world will be in control of this policy, and not Donald Trump.
AMY GOODMAN: Were you one of the senators who got on the bus and went to the White House to be debriefed?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: I know Senator Sanders did not go.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Yes, I did go. And I think this is a very important issue. I wanted to hear what the administration had to say. President Trump came from out behind a curtain, spoke for a few minutes and disappeared. And we learned nothing you couldn’t learn in the newspapers.
AMY GOODMAN: So why did they do it?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: I think it was all theater. All theater. Thank you so much.
AMY GOODMAN: Senator Merkley, thanks so much. This is Democracy Now! That was Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, who took on Rex Tillerson in the confirmation hearing for secretary of state, who took on Scott Pruitt in his confirmation hearing to be head of the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency. He’s here at the People’s Climate March. This is Democracy Now! Tell your friends it’s happening. Democracy Now! is here, 10:00 to 3:00, nonstop broadcast from this People’s Climate March. I’m Amy Goodman.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: I’m Nermeen Shaikh, here in Washington, D.C., at the People’s Climate March. And I’m joined now by the former president of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo. Kumi, now you’re with the organization Africans Rising. Explain why you think it’s important to be here at the People’s Climate March.
KUMI NAIDOO: Well, Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity is a new African-wide social movement that is extremely concerned about the fact that right now we are already experiencing the first and the most brutal impacts of climate change. We think it’s a terrible injustice that even though the people of Africa collectively contributed the least to emissions, we are the ones that are paying the first and most brutal price, where we’ve got climate refugees, land that’s drying up, water sources that are disappearing and so on, which is already creating a quite a catastrophic situation. We feel extremely hurt that in fact the countries that carry the biggest responsibility continue to deny their responsibility, but also continue to deny the very fact that the science is absolutely clear that we have to get off dirty energy. So, we’re here to just bring a voice, to say to the people of the United States to continue to put pressure on the government, to recognize that if we continue on the path that we are, that when history is recorded, the United States will go down as the country that had the greatest power to avert catastrophic climate change but abused that power and carried the biggest responsibility for the crisis that we are currently heading towards. And people must be very clear: We are five minutes to midnight, in terms of the amount of time we have to reverse things. It still can be done, but we need political will, and we need Trump and Trump’s policies to be resisted extremely strongly.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, can you talk about some of the concerns you have about the Trump administration and the number of climate deniers in his White House?
KUMI NAIDOO: Well, firstly, you know, climate change offers us an opportunity, because far too long we’ve lived in a world between north and south, developed, developing, rich and poor. Climate change should bring us to our sense that we get this right as rich and poor countries acting together, and we can actually secure the future of all our children. Right now, you know, when Trump talks about the wall, for example, we would like to remind him, from an African perspective, that if you put a wall around Africa, the whole world will go out of business. People won’t be able to use cellphones and so on. So we need to break away from the idea that addressing climate change should be about advantage in competition. We have to have a greater sense of common shared purpose.
And if you look at the appointments that he’s made, in terms of the kinds of people that—and their track records, their huge investments in the fossil fuel industry, it’s clear that, like President George W. Bush appointed several people that did the bidding for the fossil fuel industry, Trump has even done more than what he has done. The fact that he’s wanting to gut the Environmental Protection Agency in the way that he’s doing and so on is all extremely worrying signs. And it has implications not only for the people of the United States, but for the people of the world as a whole. And that is why it’s important that Trump must recognize, and the Republicans that support him must recognize, that it’s not only a groundswell and increasing numbers of American people that are resisting, they are actually the ones now that are the best and most eloquent supporters of terrorism. They are the best and most eloquent supporters of promoting anti-Americanism. And that is something that they need to revisit and change the policies; otherwise, the United States will become more and more isolated from global public opinion, as is the case at the moment.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, what do you think the impact of this march is likely to be? I mean, you were there in the 2014 march in New York City. How do you think that climate march is likely to compare to this one?
KUMI NAIDOO: Well, the fact that it’s happening in the capital, the fact that it’s happening on the 100 days of this disastrous presidency of Donald Trump, is, I think, important, to say that, actually, we’re not going to stand by and let him get away with it. I think the numbers that I’m seeing look pretty good. I don’t think we necessarily will have exactly the same numbers that we had in New York. But this is a very good show of strength. And what is most important about this gathering, for me, is the fact that front-line communities from the United States are in the front line here. That there are indigenous peoples from various parts of the U.S. and Canada that are here is very important, the fact that trade unions are here. You know, I’ll tell you, 10 years ago, when one was marching, you wouldn’t have that same presence of, for example, the trade union movement. So, I’m very pleased to see that nobody can say that this is just people who care about forests and care about animals. These are people who care about a broad spectrum of issues, including caring about nature.
I think it’s very important that people realize that, you know, environmentalists like me say things like “Save the planet,” “Save the environment.” People must realize the planet actually does not need saving, that if we continue on the path that we are, and continue to warm the planet, the end result will be we will be gone as a species, the planet will still be here. The truth be said, if we become extinct as a species, the oceans will recover, the forests will replenish and so on. So, understand that the struggle that we are engaged in is whether humanity can fashion a way to coexist with nature in a mutually interdependent relationship for centuries to come. And put differently, this struggle is fundamentally about securing our children and their children’s futures. And therefore, opportunities like this for parents and grandparents and people who are planning to be parents to come out and say, “Not in my name,” is important, but let’s be very honest: We’re going to need about a thousand of these kinds of marches on an ongoing basis, if we are going to be able to wrestle power from and to have the kind of policy—you know, Trump must recognize that denialism is not a policy. Right? You cannot have people saying different things.
You cannot—and the one thing that you will hear talked about a lot in the march, in interviews and so on, is about we must protect the Paris declaration. So let me just say this very clearly: From an African perspective, the Paris declaration simply gave us a chance to live to fight another day. It is far from a perfect solution to the problem. It’s still not as ambitious as it needs to be. And to have now the White House and President Trump saying that they’re going to actually mess with even this best agreement that the politics allowed us to get is so irresponsible. And people like Donald Trump must understand that they have blood on their hands now. The longer that they drag taking action, they are responsible for the murder of people around the world.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Thank you so much, Kumi Naidoo. I’m Nermeen Shaikh, here at the climate march, just speaking to Kumi Naidoo, former president of Greenpeace.
[End of Hour 2]
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. We are at the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh, and we’re with you for this 5-hour broadcast, from 10:00 in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon Eastern Standard Time. People are now lining up for the march. A lot have been at the Reflecting Pool, where I am right now, where news conferences have been held, like the grassroots leaders who are part of this march and elected leaders. Later in the day, people will surround the White House for one of the largest sit-ins ever. But at this moment, we’re going to turn right now to Naomi Klein. She spoke last night at Howard University at an environmental justice in action conference. Naomi Klein is the best-selling author, environmental activist. She wrote This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Naomi Klein.
NAOMI KLEIN: I am so honored to be included in this historic event and to be here, in particular, with really the people who invented the field of environmental justice. So I just want to deeply thank Dr. Bullard and Dr. Wright. It is such an honor to be here with you at Howard University. I want to thank the HBCU Climate Change Initiative for making all this possible, and all of you who have traveled for so long in sweaty buses without air conditioning and didn’t peel off but came here anyway. And it’s just incredible to be here.
Tomorrow in the march, we’re going to see leadership at the front of the march from the people who are most impacted by climate change, who have borne the toxic burden of our addiction to fossil fuels. And the reason that is happening is because of the work that has come out of here. It has been a long struggle. It shouldn’t have been, but it was. And so, you know, when we see this tomorrow, we have to acknowledge that fight that led to that historic breakthrough.
I also want to thank Dr. Patterson. I’m so excited to be here today with my friend Reverend Yearwood, Mustafa Ali, who has shown such courage and leadership. And we have to acknowledge that what is happening right now, yes—you know, what is happening right now with the attacks on the EPA, with the cuts of 30 percent of the staff, and the—and taking aim completely at the environmental justice program at the EPA is part of this broader war on communities of color that this administration is waging. It is racism in action, and we have to name it as such.
So, I’m here from Canada. I live in Toronto. And I’m going to be sharing with you an experience that we’ve had in Canada around something called the Leap Manifesto, which is very much inspired by the work that has come out of Howard, inspired by the environmental justice work in this country. And we’ve been able to build a really broad coalition to come up with what we call a people’s platform. So I’ll go into that in some detail.
But before I do, I just want to tell you a little bit about what brought me to this issue, because I’m not actually a climate change person. I have spent my life very much more around economic justice, human rights, fighting war. I kind of thought climate change was like the one issue I didn’t have to care about. You know, it’s not like I denied it, but I was just like, “Oh, there’s all those like well-funded green NGOs. They’re like taking care of the climate thing. You know, I’m focused on more important issues.” That’s what I was—that’s the story I told myself. That was my particular form of climate denial.
And in 2003, 2004, I started working on a book that ended up being called The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. And it started with reporting from Baghdad right after the U.S. invasion. And what it was about was how the Bush administration was trying to take advantage of the shock of the war, which they called “shock and awe,” just in case there was any confusion, to push through what they called “economic shock therapy.” In other words, loot Iraq, privatize its companies, turn it into this corporate utopia, a 15 percent flat tax. Remind you of anyone? Right? I mean, in fact, they tried to do things in Iraq that they couldn’t do in the United States. But now the Trump administration is taking care of that, right? So, they’re actually trying to bring a shock doctrine to the U.S. right now, with the shock after this election.
But, you know, my wake-up call around climate change was, I was working on The Shock Doctrine, and the photographer who I’d been in Baghdad with called me up, and he said, “I’m in New Orleans. You’ve got to get here, because it’s happening again.” And I went to New Orleans when it was still flooded, 10 days after the levees broke, around. And what I was writing about and what I was reporting on was the way in which all of these corporate forces were trying to take advantage of the fact that people were forced out of their city, evacuated at gunpoint, to create their little dream utopia—get rid of public housing, get rid of public education. I mean, you know this story better than me. But that’s when I realized, like, we can’t outsource climate change to the environmentalists, because it has everything to do with economics and racial justice and human rights. Right?
One of the things that really scared me when I was writing The Shock Doctrine was that there was this meeting that was held in this city two weeks after the levees broke, at the Heritage Foundation, which is this super-right-wing think tank. And it was convened by all the think tanks and the Republican Study Committee, which was all the most right-wing lawmakers. And they had this meeting to come up with what they called free market solutions to Hurricane Katrina. And the minutes for that meeting were leaked. And if you read the minutes, there are 32 ideas, solutions. Privatize the school system, have vouchers—who’s in favor of that? Betsy DeVos, right? You know, get rid of public housing. Create a tax-free free enterprise zone in New Orleans, right? Oh, and something else: build more oil refineries and drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. What the hell does that have to do with Katrina?
So here you have this catastrophe that is born of the collision between heavy weather linked to climate change, the kind of extreme weather we’re going to see more of, because as oceans warm, you have more powerful storms, colliding with weak and neglected public infrastructure. Right? FEMA couldn’t find New Orleans for five days. The levees were—should never have collapsed in the face of what was then a tropical storm, but they didn’t hold, because they hadn’t been repaired, like so much public infrastructure. Right? And layered on top of all of it was this ugliest systemic racism, blaming the people who had been abandoned, calling them looters for getting food and water. You know this story, right? But what was their solution? Dig up more fossil fuels, which fuels climate change, and get rid of the public sphere altogether. So that meeting that was held at the Heritage Foundation, the person who chaired it was Mike Pence. OK? So this is who we’re dealing with. This is who we’re dealing with.
And this is why I just—I’m in the final stages of writing a book, and the title is No is Not Enough, because one of the things New Orleans taught me is that it isn’t just enough to say, “No, no, don’t do it,” in those moments. There has to be another vision for real solutions. Right? Because these crises are messages. They’re trying to get our attention, and they’re telling us there is something wrong with the system. Right? Climate change is a message we are getting from the Earth, telling us that our entire model is sick, right? This model that is based on endless consumption, more and more and more, is broken. Right? It’s trying to get our attention. The financial system collapsing in 2008 was a message. Right? But if, in those moments, we don’t have our “yes” of what the world should look like instead, our solutions, then what we’re going to get is more shock doctrine. Right? What we’re going to get is more disaster opportunism and privatization and more attempts to drive us apart. Right? Because climate change is not just about the storms. It’s not just about things getting hotter and wetter and stormier. It’s also about things getting meaner and nastier—right?—in our current system, because that’s all our system knows how to do.
So, with the Leap, what we decided to do, we had this gathering in Canada, catalyzed by the fact that oil prices had just collapsed. Right? And those of you from the Gulf Coast know how dramatic this has been, right? Oil—the price of oil goes from $100 a barrel to $50 a barrel in six months, and suddenly workers are losing their jobs in droves. Families are being decimated. Right? And so, we had been told for so long that, actually, the fossil fuel industry is the only one who can create jobs. And there had been all these attempts to say, “No, we need green jobs.” But the problem is, if you’re having a debate between a real job that’s on the table in the fossil fuel sector that pays real wages—and, in fact, these are the only blue-collar jobs that are paying good wages today—and you’re saying, “No, no, no, but we could create all these other jobs, these other good jobs,” well, in the real world, real jobs beat notional jobs, you know? But what started to happen is that these oil companies that had positioned themselves as the great job creators, as the great defenders of the workers, were throwing their workers under the bus without a moment’s thought, right?
So we came together—labor leaders, racial justice leaders, indigenous leaders, climate leaders, organizers—and we created space for what we realized we almost never do, which is dream together. Right? How do we get out of our silos? How do we completely set aside this idea that it’s about saying, “My crisis is bigger than your crisis. First we’ll save the planet, then we’ll worry about poverty,” right? “There are no jobs on a dead planet.” None of that. Right? We want better jobs on a live planet. We want to stop pitting our issues against each other. We want intersectional, integrated solutions that radically bring down emissions in line with science, that fight economic inequality and begin to heal the wounds that date back to our country’s founding.
And we called it the Leap, because we want to be ambitious. We want to raise the middle finger at this idea of cautious centrism, because what it positions itself as serious and cautious is exquisitely dangerous in the face of the climate crisis. What we need are—what we need is transformational change, and we need it fast. Right? And we live in this time of overlapping crises. So, we are not going to solve them one at a time. We need this integrated approach.
So, just a few examples, and none of it is really, you know, anything that people here haven’t thought about. But the core principle is a shift from a logic of endless taking and extraction from the Earth and from communities and from workers’ bodies, treating workers’ bodies as if they are machines, as if there is no limit to how much we can extract in terms of cutbacks from schools, from social services, and then, when we’re done with people, just throw them away, or when we’re done with the Earth, just throw it away, treating—you know, in the mining sector, they have this really ugly word: “overburden.” Right? That’s what they call whatever gets in the way of their bulldozers, so like forests, trees, soil. That’s all overburden. And they leave it in these great slag heaps to get at whatever it is they’re after, whatever the mineral is. But people are also treated as overburden in this system, to be warehoused in prisons, because they, too, get in the way of money. So, moving from that logic of endless extraction, of disposing of people, to a system that is based on deep care and consent and where everyone is valued, beginning with the original caretakers of the land, water and air—indigenous communities. And that starts with fully implementing the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which says that no—no development can happen without free, prior and informed consent, which, if it were actually implemented, would be revolutionary.
We were inspired by what’s being called energy democracy, particularly in Europe, which basically says, as we shift to 100 percent renewable energy as quickly as possible, which we must do, well, why do we want to be getting our solar panels and our wind turbines from Exxon and Shell? Why do we want to give them more opportunities to concentrate profits? The beautiful thing about renewable energy is that it’s everywhere. Right? I mean, it isn’t like fossil fuels, where it’s concentrated in very specific places and where you need all of this really expensive infrastructure to dig it up and transport it. It lends itself to a more decentralized economy. But it won’t happen on its own, right? And in Germany, there’s been this—there’s been a very deliberate process of making sure that as they shift to renewable energy—and they’re now getting 30 percent of their energy in Germany from renewables. It created 400,000 jobs. As they are doing this shift, they’re taking back control over their energy grids from private companies. So, in 200 cities and towns, they’ve reversed the privatization of their energy grids, so now when they generate renewable energy, the income stays in the communities. They’re using it to pay for the services. There are 900 new energy cooperatives. So we said, “That’s great. We want energy democracy. But we want more than that. We want energy justice, and we want energy reparations.” So the communities that have borne that toxic burden must be first in line to own and control their own renewable energy.
The other piece of this shift from extraction to care—and this is related, I think, to the incredible work that NNU, the National Nurses United, have been doing—is that we really wanted to redefine what a green job is. You know, when you hear the phrase “green job,” you think of a guy with a hard hat putting up a solar panel. And that’s great. That’s a green job. And so is energy efficiency, and so is public transit, and we need lots of it, and we know we can create millions of jobs this way. But, you know, teaching is low-carbon. And caring for the elderly is low-carbon. And making art is low-carbon. And all of these—all of these fields, which overwhelmingly, actually, are done by women, many immigrant women, the most devalued work in our economy, much of it not paid at all, all of it under relentless attack by the logic of austerity, we say these are climate jobs. So that was part of it.
And the other thing that happens when you start thinking this way and you start dreaming together is that you realize, “Well, we’ve got to get the money for this.” And so we worked with a team of economists, a team of progressive economists, on a companion document to the Leap Manifesto, called “We Can Afford to Leap.” And it lays out all the tax measures that we would need to raise the money for this transition. It’s feasible—things like a financial transaction tax, cuts to military spending and so on. The money is out there. We live in a time of unprecedented private wealth, where people who already have way too much are determined to grab still more. That’s what the Trump administration is all about.
And it reminds us that there is no way to deal with the crisis of climate change without fundamentally challenging the logics of neoliberal capitalism, maybe capitalism itself. Right? Because—and this is why climate change denial is so prevalent on the far right. It is such a huge part of the Trump administration. Why do they work so hard to deny something that 97 percent of scientists are saying is true? Well, is it just that they’re trying to protect the oil money and the carbon that needs to stay in the ground? That’s part of it. But it doesn’t explain how many people have bought into it. And the deeper thing—right?—is that if it’s true, then it requires these huge investments in the public sphere. It requires that we act collectively. It requires that we tax the rich. It requires that we regulate multinational corporations. It requires that we frontally take on the logic at the heart of their project. And that is why they had that meeting at the Heritage Foundation, because they are afraid of moments of crisis, because they are afraid that we will act together. And that’s what we have to do.
Just in closing, you know, this work that we did with the Leap, in coming together and doing this work of developing the platform, it’s not perfect. And I’m so excited to hear from students who have rewritten it and made it better. And this has been one of the exciting things about the Leap process, is people have taken it—young people in prisons have taken it and fixed it, rewritten parts of it, linked it—did a better job of linking it with mass incarceration. The postal workers have taken it and written their own Leap Manifesto called “Delivering Community Power,” which sees a reinvention of the post office, where you go to the post office, you recharge your electric vehicles, you get a loan from your postal banking to start your own energy cooperative. The whole fleet of postal delivery trucks are electric. And they’re not just delivering the mail, because people don’t send that much mail anymore; they’re also delivering fresh fruits and vegetables and checking in on the elderly and are a part of the care economy. So it’s this kind of like dreaming big out of the box, you know, and I think there’s space for this.
You know, when Trump was first elected, I had this feeling like, “What does it mean? Does it mean that the door slams now on all of our attempts to leap forward, and that from here on in we’re just going to be fighting defensive battles?” Well, we know we have to fight those defensive battles. There’s no choice, right? I mean, the risks are so huge. There are real bodies and real communities on the line, and so there have to be those defensive battles. That’s not an option to just say, “Well, I don’t want to fight defensive.” Right? But if that is all we do, if all we do is repel those blows, then all—then where we are is exactly where we were before Trump arrived. And that was very, very unsafe indeed, right?
So, it is really hard work, we found, to come together. We had to embrace the fact that if you’re not arguing, it means your coalition isn’t wide enough. There were some painful moments. There were also some moments of joy. But if we look at what the Trump administration is doing, what we can see is that they’re moving ahead on all fronts. Right? They see—they see the connections, right? They don’t choose. They’re like, “No, we’re going to attack women’s reproductive freedoms. We’re going to give police a free hand, without federal oversight,” which is what Jeff Sessions is working on right now. “We’re going to drop some really big bombs in Afghanistan just for the hell of it, for no apparent reason. You know, we’re going to set off a fossil fuel frenzy. We’re going to lower taxes.” They’re doing it all at once, because they—it is part of a coherent plan for them. It is part of a coherent vision. So I think we need to look at ourselves and at our movement and make sure we have one, too. Right? Because only a competing vision that is pushing forward on multiple fronts has a chance against a force like that.
So, I mentioned we called it the Leap. We did it—we called it the Leap because where we—where we are and where we need to go, the chasm between those two things is huge. Right? And so, we’re always told, you know, “Well, it’s a step in the right direction,” right? But if you’re on the edge of a canyon, and you take a step in the right direction, you’re still going to fall in. Right? So, there is so far—there is so—we have to go so far, on so many different fronts, that little steps in the right direction, followed by a few steps backwards, are not going to get us there anymore. Time is so short, and all of our crises are so urgent, that we need to leap. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Naomi Klein. She’s the author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. She also wrote The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo. She is currently writing a book about Donald Trump. She was speaking last night at the environmental justice and action conference taking place at the HBCU, the historically black college and university, Howard University. Also there was Bob Bullard. He’s considered the father of the environmental justice movement, teaches at Texas [Southern] University.
ROBERT BULLARD: I know it’s been a long day. And I think you’ve heard a lot of good words. And now, I think, it’s time to put it into action. For those of you who may not know, that I am a graduate of two HBCUs: Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama, and Atlanta University in Atlanta, now Clark Atlanta.
Climate justice is about survival and beyond. And I think when we start doing this work, if you’re not familiar with climate change, and if you want to know more about environmental justice, we say read and learn, and read and learn. And I think there are a lot of young people out here who are emerging leaders in this field. And those of us who have been doing this a long time, we want to pass the baton. We want you to run that 26-mile marathon and pass it off to the next to run that next 26 miles. This is not a sprint. The sprint—the race for justice is no sprint. It’s a marathon. And the things that you’re doing today, young people, in terms of your university, in terms of your communities, these things were done a hundred years ago, and we’re still fighting. And I think when you march tomorrow, you’re marching in a long historical legacy. You’re marching for Selma, because folks in Selma still are not free. And even though you are marching in D.C. and there’s no bridge, there are still barriers that will keep us from moving to the next level.
Front-line communities will be at the front of this march. It’s more than symbolism. The communities that are hit the hardest, first, worst and longest have contributed least to this problem. And so, we’re not talking about 50 years from now. We’re talking about communities that are hurting right now, that are sinking, and children that are dying from asthma, dying from—old people dying from heat waves and living in heat islands. So, if you’re are a scientist, you understand the science. And if you deal with political science, you understand it’s all about power. And we must take power. Nobody is going to give it to us. Frederick Douglass knew that 150 years ago.
So when we talk about marching tomorrow, we are marching for our communities, who can’t march with us in D.C. And so, you represent a lot of folks. Being a black student in college, you represent a whole lot of folks, because you are privileged. You understand that, right? So, you take this very seriously, and you do this march. And when you go back home to your university, in the communities in which your universities are located, they are front-line on a lot of issues, in terms of lead poisoning, in terms of water that’s not safe to drink, in terms of air quality problems, dirty air, in terms of not having access to grocery stores, living in food deserts, not having access to transportation to get to a healthcare facility or hospital, or you live in a low-lying area where your area is flooding even when it’s—the sun is shining. So, understand that we are in this together. Middle-income, low-income and no-income, we’re in this together. And we must fight for those who are less fortunate in terms of using our science and using our education for liberation.
That’s the last thing I have to say. And I will be marching. I’ve done a lot of marching in my day. But again, the march is just the beginning. The work starts after the march is over. Thank you very much.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve been listening to Bob Bullard, a professor of environmental justice at Texas Southern University, speaking last night at the climate justice in action—the environmental justice in action conference that took place at Howard University. This is Democracy Now! We’re broadcasting live from the People’s climate summit. They’re about to take off. Just before, we were at the—oh, the pool in front of the Capitol. And we bumped into Sheldon Whitehouse, who has just been part of the news conference of political elected leaders. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, the senator. This is what he had to say.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! We’re broadcasting from the People’s Climate March. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is with us, the senator from Rhode Island who is known to, to say the least, take on those in power. Welcome to Democracy Now!
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: Thank you. It is terrific to be here on a great day with a lot of people out for the climate march.
AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about what are the stakes in the Senate and what you can do as a minority party.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: The stakes in the Senate are incredibly high. We can keep raising this issue, talking about this issue, forcing the Republicans to either address or deny this issue. But I’ve got to say, it would really make a big difference if, let’s just say, the House of Representatives went Democrat in the 2018 elections, and Democratic chairmen had the gavels and were able to issue subpoenas and able to push legislation that the Senate then had to deal with. So, don’t forget the politics of this.
AMY GOODMAN: What about who has been appointed, a veritable oiligarchy in Washington? You’ve got Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, who sued the EPA 14 times. You’ve got Rex Tillerson, the former head of ExxonMobil. You’ve got Governor Perry, who was on the board of Energy Transfer Partners and was funded by Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, for his two presidential runs. Your thoughts on this?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: All of that hurts. And all of that sends a message that the climate denial operation that they’ve been involved in is actually legitimate. I mean, who would have imagined that fossil fuel industry calculated disinformation would now have outlets in the official agencies of the United States? So, that’s discouraging. But it’s also provocative. And people across America, I think, are seeing that and getting mad and standing up. The importance of climate and environmental issues is soaring in the polls. Huge crowds are coming out here. You can’t get through a town hall any longer without people coming out to make themselves heard.
AMY GOODMAN: What difference does this all make?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: It makes a big difference, because it lets people in Washington know that the public is paying attention. They can’t just listen to the big special interests and the big dark money folks. If everybody out there is asleep and just watching other things on TV on the couch, then they will follow the dark money and the special interests. But when the American public is engaged and activated, they’ve got to pay attention. And that makes a big difference.
AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts on President Trump saying this week that being president is harder than he thought it would be?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: Yeah, who knew? And healthcare is complicated. And Russia is actually our rival and our enemy. I mean, watching this guy get educated is sad.
AMY GOODMAN: But on the issue of Russia, wouldn’t it be helpful to be able to communicate with them?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: To be able to speak with them? Absolutely. It would also be helpful to know if they have something on President Trump that they know is a failsafe, if it comes to any kind of real conflict, that they can pull, because of some business deal or some other transaction that Putin is aware of and we’re not. So that’s why we’re working so hard in the Senate, in the Intelligence Committee and in the Judiciary Committee, and in the House in the Intelligence Committee, to try to figure out what took place.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you quietly have Republican senators working with you, as well?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: Not even quietly. My chairman is Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. And we have had one hearing already. We have another one scheduled. And we’re going to keep probing.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the Supreme Court and what’s at stake with the Supreme Court and how it relates to the environment and also how it relates to big money in politics, like the Koch brothers?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: The stakes at the Supreme Court are huge, because it’s the five Republican justices on the Supreme Court who brought us Citizens United. And it’s Citizens United that brought death to climate action in the Senate. When I got to the Senate in 2007, there were bipartisan climate bills everywhere. Since Citizens United, there hasn’t been a single bipartisan bill to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. So, the tough guys from the fossil fuel industry used that new political weaponry that those five justices gave them to shut down this debate. So, a Supreme Court that’s going to continue to propagate unlimited corporate money and dark money in politics is going to continue to degrade American democracy and continue to make it more and more important for people to come to places like this and stand up and make sure they’re heard.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, North Korea. Certainly, nuclear war threatens the planet and its entire environment. What do you think of the ramping up of both the rhetoric, also the increasing bombing from Afghanistan, dropping the largest nonnuclear bomb ever on Afghanistan, within a few weeks of the Trump administration, to what’s happening with Iran and Syria?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: I wish that I felt that the multiple conflicting messages coming out of the Trump administration or the Twitter account of the president were part of a well-thought-through, sound strategy for dealing with a dangerous and unpredictable enemy. If that is not part of a thought-through strategy, they need to go back and reboot, because you cannot take on an issue like this with random multiple strategies happening all at once. And if it is, boy, I’d like to better understand what they think they’re doing.
AMY GOODMAN: And the role of dark money in politics?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: The role of dark money is brutal in politics, first, when it appears on the TV screen behind phony-baloney organizations with names like Rhode Islanders for Puppies and Prosperity, that everybody watching the ad knows don’t really exist, and, even worse, in the threats that that unlimited spending of money allows people to make. It’s not so much the fact that ExxonMobil might spend unlimited money in politics. It’s that Citizens United now allows them to go to a congressman or a senator and say, “Hey, guess what. Now we can spend unlimited money in politics, and if you don’t line up, we’re coming after you.” And that threat is dangerous and corrupting.
AMY GOODMAN: Your evaluation of the first hundred days of the Trump presidency?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: Horrible, disgraceful.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think he’ll make it to the end of his term?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: I don’t think even Vegas gives him odds on that.
AMY GOODMAN: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the senator from Rhode Island, here at the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. I’m Amy Goodman. Keep watching.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, that was Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island speaking at the Reflecting Pool right in front of Congress, right in front of the Capitol, where many of the elected leaders and indigenous leaders and grassroots leaders gathered for news conferences, for talking. And now they are here. We are at Sixth and Pennsylvania. This is the beginning of the march. I’m Amy Goodman, here with Nermeen Shaikh, and we’re here together covering the People’s Climate March. Tens of thousands of people have come out. They are now standing behind their banners, about to begin the march right behind us. And we thought we would start out with a young person who has come to Washington, D.C. Tell us your name.
ASLI MWAAFRIKA: Hi. My name is Asli Mwaafrika. I’m 15, with the Kheprw Institute, representing It Takes Roots.
AMY GOODMAN: And where is that?
ASLI MWAAFRIKA: Kheprw Institute is from Indianapolis, Indiana.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And why do you think it’s important to be here?
ASLI MWAAFRIKA: I just feel like it’s important because change isn’t going to happen if we’re all sitting around a desk and tables all day. We need to get up, get out and get to action. This is that action.
AMY GOODMAN: So, how—why are you involved with environmental issues?
ASLI MWAAFRIKA: It’s something very close to my heart. I live in a food desert, where we don’t have access to food, and there’s—it’s polluted. It’s not clean energy.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what you mean by that term, “food desert.”
ASLI MWAAFRIKA: So, there’s no grocery stores within the vicinity of even a mile. The closest store we have are convenience stores like Family Dollars and Dollar General. And there’s just not access to healthy food.
AMY GOODMAN: And what does that have to do with the environment?
ASLI MWAAFRIKA: Well, because of climate change, and there’s terrain that we can’t grow our own plants on, we have to go to other places. But when there are no other places to go, we’re left with nothing.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And how many people are there, young people like you, who are here?
ASLI MWAAFRIKA: There are definitely a lot of young people here. At the front of the march right now, there is over a hundred different young people representing their organizations and standing up for what they believe in.
AMY GOODMAN: And we hear them behind us. Oh, my gosh. Let’s see if we can see. We have signs like “Message from my mama,” and it’s pictures of Mother Earth, “Protect our planet,” “This land is our land,” all the different messages, as people begin the march. How do you feel? Do you need to get in line?
ASLI MWAAFRIKA: I have to get in line, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: OK.
ASLI MWAAFRIKA: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Thanks so much for joining us. So, let’s see if—we’re going to send that camera to look right here. You see the camera, and people are lining up. Now they’re taking over this street. We’re actually right across from the Newseum. And I have to make a comment here about the Newseum, Nermeen, because that is the museum for all the news organizations. And one of the things that is very important to point out in this election year is that in the main general primary debates, in the general election debate, not one of the journalists who were moderating debate asked a question about climate change. When you had Dakota Access pipeline, thousands were gathered there, people deeply concerned about the fate of the planet. Hopefully the Newseum will point that out one day in an exhibit about climate change, what the corporate media did and did not do.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, that’s exactly right, not only during the primary debates, but, as we’ve talked about on the show, climate change whenever there is what we call an extreme climate event, the mainstream networks will cover it, but they will never talk about the connection between extremely hot, extremely cold weather, storms that happen in the United States, and make a link between climate change.
AMY GOODMAN: And that’s absolutely critical, because you have the networks always turning to weather, their severe weather centers, their extreme weather centers. And they’ll talk about the drought. They’ll talk about the hurricane. They’ll talk about the unseasonable cold. And today, a super hot day in Washington. But making these connections between these weather events and climate change is what’s critical. People are excited. And we have a guest right here, if you will just come up. Why don’t you introduce yourself?
CHRIS WOOLERY: Hey, I’m Chris Woolery, and I’m with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.
AMY GOODMAN: Where are you from in Kentucky?
CHRIS WOOLERY: I’m from Lexington, Kentucky.
AMY GOODMAN: What are you doing here?
CHRIS WOOLERY: I’m here to represent KFTC as a part of a bigger we. KFTC is a member of the Climate Justice Alliance and, in turn, the It Takes Roots alliance. And we’re here to get beyond this moment and to build a bigger movement and become a part of a new majority.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you have tremendous power base in Kentucky. You have Senator Mitch McConnell. Where do you stand when it comes to his policies? And does he listen to you?
CHRIS WOOLERY: Well, I don’t agree with most of Mitch McConnell’s policies. But Kentuckians are speaking with Mitch McConnell every day. We’re working on him to pass the RECLAIM Act. And he’s—
AMY GOODMAN: Which is?
CHRIS WOOLERY: He’s working with Congressman Rogers. They’re going to introduce the same version of the RECLAIM Act into the House and the Senate, which will bring abandoned mine lands funds back to Kentucky to do reclamation projects. And we are trying to get them to go back to the original language of last year’s bill, that will bring in the community engagement part as a requirement and also require that it has economic development in the project, as well.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And tell us, what is the Climate Justice Alliance? Is it a U.S. network? Is it international? And what are the principal concerns that the movement represents?
CHRIS WOOLERY: Right. Well, the Climate Justice Alliance is a huge group of environmental networks that’s led by people of color, people on the front lines and women. And KFTC is part of that alliance because Kentucky is on the front lines of the transition away from fossil fuels. So we’re seeing communities in Kentucky that are being harmed by the loss of coal jobs. And we know the transition is happening. We don’t all agree on climate change, but we all agree that we need to take a hold of this transition, to shape it, to mold it, in a way that doesn’t leave workers and communities behind, in ways that lift up the affected communities and brings job training back. And so, we want to show that clean energy, the transition to clean energy, is an opportunity for Kentuckians. It’s not a burden. And KFTC is trying to help that process happen.
AMY GOODMAN: As we are speaking here, we’re going to look behind us. And we see little windmills. And we see people carrying their signs. Let me ask you about Senator McConnell and his position on coal and your position on coal.
CHRIS WOOLERY: Senator McConnell thinks we can bring coal back, coal jobs back to Kentucky, and so does Donald Trump. You know, I don’t think that’s likely to happen. I know that just yesterday I read that the CEO of Duke Energy was asked about the future of coal in America, and he said there is no future. And so, we need to figure out a different, brighter future for Appalachia and for Kentucky. And we can do that through energy efficiency and investments that literally pay for themselves. That’s what I do for a living. I retrofit homes with energy efficiency investments, and we finance them on the bill with the electric companies.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you so much for joining us. What is your website?
CHRIS WOOLERY: KFTC.org, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth dot org.
AMY GOODMAN: So, we are here—thanks so much.
CHRIS WOOLERY: Thanks, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: We are here at the People’s Climate March. It has just begun. People are holding up signs: “Protect our planet” and “I’m with her,” with an arrow to Mother Earth. Behind us, the thousands of people have begun to march. And let’s lay out what they’re going to be doing. They’re coming down Pennsylvania Avenue. And then they’re going to split and form a ring around the White House. It will be the largest encirclement of the White House through a sit-in, I believe, they are claiming, that has ever been seen. A very interesting kind of—not exactly civil disobedience, that I know of, but people engaging and putting their bodies on the line.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Yeah, that’s right. And it’s amazing that it comes on a day in Washington, D.C., where temperatures are, in fact, expected to rise to 93 degrees, which exceeds the record ever since temperatures were kept here. And April is already the warmest month on record in Washington, D.C.
AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, that follows the warmest year, 2016, that only surpassed 2015. And we’re joined by not—right now by a guest. I think I smelled the smoke before you came. Can you tell us your name?
LAURA YOHUALTLAHUIZ RIOS-RAMIREZ: Yes. My name is Laura Yohualtlahuiz. I am from San Antonio, Texas.
AMY GOODMAN: And tell us what you’re holding.
LAURA YOHUALTLAHUIZ RIOS-RAMIREZ: I am holding a popoxcomitl, which is a sacred fire.
AMY GOODMAN: And why the sacred fire?
LAURA YOHUALTLAHUIZ RIOS-RAMIREZ: So, the sacred fire, for us, represents the fire that we hold within, and it also is a form of protection. And also, it helps us uplift our prayers and our intentions on this day, when we are standing up for Mother Earth and our future generations.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, explain what you think the connections are between indigenous rights and climate change.
LAURA YOHUALTLAHUIZ RIOS-RAMIREZ: Absolutely. I think, you know, for a very long time, indigenous sovereignty and indigenous voices have been marginalized as—you know, as just communities that have never had a voice in climate justice, but we have always had a connection with Mother Nature. We have always had a connection with our waters, with the intention of preserving this planet for our future generations. That are—those are the traditions that, as indigenous people of Anahuac, from all the way from Alaska, all the way to Chile, as indigenous people from this continent, we have always preserved that, no matter what nation we are here representing.
AMY GOODMAN: And talk about the environmental struggles you have been involved with and where those struggles have taken place.
LAURA YOHUALTLAHUIZ RIOS-RAMIREZ: So, as a water protector of Texas, we have been fighting as part of movements against fracking, against—movements against pipelines, in the Trans-Pecos region, in the Central Texas region, where, obviously, you know, oil rigging is very prominent, fracking is very prominent, and it disturbs our communities. There’s a lot of cancer. There’s a lot of asthma. There’s a lot of illness that is caused by environmental damage to our communities.
AMY GOODMAN: And what’s your message to President Trump?
LAURA YOHUALTLAHUIZ RIOS-RAMIREZ: So our message to President Trump is to recognize that, you know, climate—climate change is very much needed, that indigenous voices need to be heard, that we have always been here protecting those rights, and we will continue fighting for those rights as long as we have our feet grounded. We’re part of the It Takes Roots coalition, which is a network of environmental organizations. Particularly in Texas, it’s Southwest Workers’ Union that we work with, in addition to Society of Native Nations and just a lot of different movements that are committed to making a voice and making a stand against this administration that is trampling on our Earth, and as it’s doing that, it’s trampling on our kids, on our future generations and our people.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you for joining us.
LAURA YOHUALTLAHUIZ RIOS-RAMIREZ: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Have a good time at the People’s Climate March.
LAURA YOHUALTLAHUIZ RIOS-RAMIREZ: Thank you, Amy. Thank you. Thank you.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: So, this is the People’s Climate March. We’re just bringing you voices from the march. People are chanting. People are holding up signs. People began at the Reflecting Pool down by the Capitol. And now they’re marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. Our next guest, joining us now, is wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt. Can you tell us your name?
JAZZLYN LINDSEY: Hi. My name is Jazzlyn Lindsey.
AMY GOODMAN: And talk about where you are from and why you’re here.
JAZZLYN LINDSEY: Yeah, I’m from right here from in D.C., born and raised. And I’m here—
AMY GOODMAN: So then you can ask us, “Why are you here?”
JAZZLYN LINDSEY: Definitely. Well, I hope that I know why you’re here. And I believe that it’s for a good cause. We’re all on the same page. We realize that people of color, and especially black people, are disproportionately affected by climate change and that it’s time for us to end the war on black America in all of the ways that it happens, end the war on black people in all of the ways that it happens. And that includes chemical warfare in the forms of land, air and water pollution. So we’re here marching and standing up for that and demanding that everyone take an action on that today.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, why do you think—explain why you think—or why African Americans are more affected by climate change than other communities, or minority communities are more affected?
JAZZLYN LINDSEY: Yes, I believe that it happens because it’s easier to target the most disenfranchised, the most impoverished. And also, so many black and brown people are busy fighting the massive amounts of fights that we have, whether it’s police brutality or housing and eviction and homelessness, hunger, that we’re not always able to fight back and stand up on those long-term issues in climate change, so it’s easier to take advantage of us.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And how have you seen that play out in Washington, D.C.?
JAZZLYN LINDSEY: Yes. In D.C., just like in Flint, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey, the schools, the lead levels are ridiculously high inside of our water. Also, the smog. The national average for asthma is 9 percent, and here in D.C. our kids are at a rate is 12 percent, just because of the amount of pollution, and especially our people in Ward 7 and Ward 8. Ward 7 and Ward 8 are also the lowest-income and most disenfranchised, and, go figure, the most POC in D.C. And we’re also at the lowest level and most vulnerable to sea level rises, if the swamp does start to rise.
AMY GOODMAN: And talk about the organizations you’re involved with.
JAZZLYN LINDSEY: Yeah, so Black Lives Matter DC, we are a collective who centers joy in healing and resistance. And we’re in this movement, in this fight.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, thanks so much. You have a website you want people to know about?
JAZZLYN LINDSEY: Definitely. Check out BlackLivesMatterDMV.org and get plugged in with us. And follow us on Facebook, as well, Black Lives Matter DC.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you so much.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: So, the people are marching behind us. And we’re going to speak with yet another person, one of the tens of thousands of people. I look forward to hearing an estimate of how many people have come out. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. We are here exclusively on broadcast, television, radio and the internet, the only global newscast here doing this 5-hour broadcast, on satellite TV, public television and radio stations. And I hope you’ll tell your friends. Behind us, the people marching with incredibly creative signs. One of us is going to wade in there with a camera on the—on the move and read some of the signs and talk to people. But right now we have a guest joining us. What is your name?
CLAUDE COPELAND: Claude Copeland. I’m a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
AMY GOODMAN: From where?
CLAUDE COPELAND: Oh, New York City.
AMY GOODMAN: And what are you doing here?
CLAUDE COPELAND: Well, we’re participating with the It Takes Roots coalition. It’s a—we’re a member of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, who’s one of the coalitions with them, as well as the Right to the City Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network and the Climate Justice Alliance.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, talk about—what is the link between war and climate change?
CLAUDE COPELAND: Well, from my own experience, just understanding the communities that were impacted during my deployment while in Iraq, seeing the similarities of—in just, you know, communities in New York City, like in the Bronx. You know, the continued investment in the military is divesting from folks locally in our communities to have, you know, better education, better healthcare. And it impacts both sides.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And the It Takes Roots coalition, what is that coalition, and how many groups are involved?
CLAUDE COPELAND: Well, I know the four main coalitions I mentioned earlier, who comprise it, but it’s really looking at the three giants that, you know, MLK mentioned during his “Beyond Vietnam” speech, you know, looking at the intersection of capitalism, racism and militarism, and just also understanding that the U.S. military is like the largest polluter in the world. You know, in the way that it operates, it’s just an extractive industry. You know, it’s an arm to be able to bring capitalist interests into countries to take away their resources, but also takes away resources from our own country, you know, not just natural resources but like human resources, you know, not being able to have people have the full opportunities that could be provided for them if there was deeper investment, and, you know, looking to pull away from looking at the military as an option when it says it wants to be in support of other, you know, countries’ like ability to have their own freedoms.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And how long were you in Iraq?
CLAUDE COPELAND: I was there 15 months.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you’re quite critical. Why did you choose to go? And why—did you change your stand over time?
CLAUDE COPELAND: You mean why did I choose to go to Iraq? Well, those were my orders. But I changed my stance just, you know, like understanding—not having, at first, the words and like understanding the history of like—
AMY GOODMAN: I’m just going to interrupt for one second to let people know a group is passing us now that says, “We are the creators of sanctuary,” “Climate destruction ahead,” “Choose 100 percent clean energy,” “There is no planet B.”
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And “Trump, you are a natural disaster.”
AMY GOODMAN: Then there’s “It’s not nice to frack with the Earth,” “We love”—”We love the Earth. We vote,” “Wildlife cannot march.”
NERMEEN SHAIKH: “A nation of sheep ruled by wolves, run by pigs”? Something like that, it says.
AMY GOODMAN: “Coming soon: Glacier-free National Park,” “Trump’s Egregious Polluters Alliance,” with the initials EPA, “Real fact: Glaciers are 80 percent smaller,” and that’s from 1940 to 2017, hashtag “#FixThePipes,” “Fake liar, unfit”—ah, “Impeach Putin’s Pinocchio,” “Science is not in alternative fact,” “Change the politicians, not the climate,” “The threat is real.” As you read these signs, talk about your thoughts.
CLAUDE COPELAND: Well, they’re great signs. And I think, just to let folks, you know—well, with the military, you know, the U.S. militaries understand that climate change is real and that that helps to influence like how it operates in the world, you know, like wanting to take access of resources from other countries.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you concerned about speaking out? Are you still in the military?
CLAUDE COPELAND: I’m not currently in the military. And I don’t feel that it’s anything wrong, speaking out, especially since—you know, just understanding that we should be supporting each other in our collective freedom, you know? And as veterans, you want to support like front-line impacted communities to be able to, you know, grow and be invested in and—yeah, and find the best possible future for themselves.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you so much for being with us.
CLAUDE COPELAND: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Iraq Veterans Against the War. This is Democracy Now! We’re broadcasting live from the people’s climate summit. And I see another guest has come up. What is your name?
MONIQUE HARDEN: Monique Harden.
AMY GOODMAN: Monique, hi.
MONIQUE HARDEN: Hi.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about where you’re from and why you’re out here today.
MONIQUE HARDEN: Sure. I’m from New Orleans, Louisiana, and I’m here with a large delegation of African-American environmental justice activists from the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum and over 300 students from historically black colleges and universities. I’m here because 78 percent of power plants are in African-American and other people of color communities across the United States. And what we do to make energy from oil, gas and coal is devastating communities of color and poor white communities across the United States. So, fighting for—against climate change and taking climate action means, for me, ensuring that people have justice in where they live and a safe place to call home.
AMY GOODMAN: And what’s your assessment of the Trump administration?
MONIQUE HARDEN: It’s the absolute opposite of everything that we fight so hard for, from civil rights and human rights to environmental quality. All of these things are wrapped in and are put on the chopping block for this administration. It’s an administration that’s all about human rights abuses and violations.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk specifically about your work in the South.
MONIQUE HARDEN: My work in the South focuses on assisting communities and fighting dirty polluting industries. From the bedroom windows of many of the people I work with, you see a smokestack. And the pollution that began with skin rashes, nosebleeds, asthma, cancer, is now warming our planet. And so, we’re not only just seeing that, the front end, in terms of the causes of climate change, but we also have the back end in terms of the effects of climate change, with sea level rise that’s putting much of our state underwater. We’re an endangered area in the United States because of sea level rise and coastal destruction brought on by the oil and gas industries. And this is a time where we can unite with people, not just here in this country, but around the world, to try to find a better way.
AMY GOODMAN: And what does it mean to you to have a Republican administration, a Republican-controlled Congress? Is it much different from when Democrats controlled one body of the Congress or when President Obama was in office?
MONIQUE HARDEN: Yeah, it’s a big difference, because what has happened to the Republican Party is that they’ve become the—bought, controlled, owned by oil and gas industry. And so, with Democratic leadership, what we’ve seen is more openness and accessibility to fighting and enforcing existing laws and improving them with environmental justice policies and dealing with the health burdens that are on our communities. But with the Republican leadership that we have right now, especially this one with a person like Scott Pruitt, who has made it his mission to destroy the agency that he’s been appointed to run, it’s a huge problem. And so, it’s making us really focus inward—what can we do at our city level, what can we do at our state level, what can we do regionally, in the Gulf region, with folks from Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, coming together to make the change that we need to see, and not so much relying on this administration to do the right thing, but also trying to defend what we have right now and trying to cut against any rollbacks.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Monique Harden, we thank you so much for being here and for all your great work.
MONIQUE HARDEN: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Her hat says ”HBCU Consortium.”
MONIQUE HARDEN: That’s right.
AMY GOODMAN: Historically black colleges and universities.
MONIQUE HARDEN: And there are over 300 students from Southeast United States, where much of our HBCUs are located. And they’re working on their campuses and in the communities around their campuses around climate justice. And it’s incredible talent and leadership, hope for the future.
AMY GOODMAN: Thanks so much, Monique. Oh, by the way, we’ll be at the Plymouth Congregational Church tonight, talking about all of these issues and what it means to cover the movements over the last 21 years that Democracy Now! has been broadcasting. Yes, this is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, and I am with Nermeen Shaikh. And I’m getting some kind of signal that I have a limited amount of time in this last piece. Let’s see the time right now. OK, it looks like we have to break for a minute, and then we’re coming back at the top of the hour. This is the people’s climate summit from Washington, D.C.
[End of Hour 3]
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. We are at the People’s Climate March. It’s historic. It’s right here in Washington, D.C. The weather? It’s above 90 degrees. It is expected to be one of the hottest days in Washington, D.C., in history. And, you know, that’s part of why people are out here marching, have come not only from every corner of the country, but of the globe. What’s happening behind us—we’re on Pennsylvania Avenue—thousands of people have begun to march. And they’re going to encircle the White House and sit down. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh, and we’re here bringing you the voices of the march.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And we’re joined now by two guests. Can you introduce yourselves?
NEERY CARRILLO: Yes, my name is Neery Carrillo. I am Berta Cáceres’ sister. I am very, very happy to be with you and tell you about my sister that we have—
AMY GOODMAN: Let me just say, Berta Cáceres, the Honduran environmental leader, who was gunned down in her home in La Esperanza, in Honduras, she was a Goldman Environmental Prize winner, fought for her community. Where do you live?
NEERY CARRILLO: I live in Arlington, Virginia, for—I came here in 1972. It was very hard to hear that my sister was killed. And only thing I can ask you is to tell the government of Honduras to—to do the justice, to do the right thing and find the killers of my sister, but the intellectual killers. They have eight people in jail, but they’re the ones that killed her, that pulled the gun on her. But I ask the government of Honduras to do something about it and put the people is responsible for her death, which Hernández, our president, Hernández, should know about this.
AMY GOODMAN: And he is?
NEERY CARRILLO: We need justice.
AMY GOODMAN: He is?
NEERY CARRILLO: He is the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And why don’t you introduce yourself? You’ve also been working on Berta Cáceres and what’s happening in Honduras.
MELISSA COX: Hi. My name is Melissa Cox. I am a Latin American solidarity worker. And right now we are calling for justice in the case of Berta. Justice for Berta means the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, which is legislation in the House of Representatives right now. It is calling for a suspension of U.S. security aid to Honduras, $18 billion in security aid. Right now, we have—it was introduced by Representative Hank Johnson.
We have 51 co-sponsors currently. We’re asking that people call their representatives and urge them to sponsor the bill. The bill will call for a suspension until which time Honduran government can—the Honduran security forces cease human rights violations, bring the perpetrators to justice of human rights violations, including the intellectual authors behind the assassination of Berta Cáceres. And Berta Cáceres, her family, human rights organizations across Honduras, including COPINH, the organization that she co-founded, including OFRANEH, including all of the Honduran human rights organizations, they are all urging support of the bill. We have over a hundred organizations in the U.S., including the Sierra Club, including Environmental Indigenous Network, including AFL-CIO, all endorsing and calling for this legislation to pass.
We’re baffled by Norma Torres in Southern California, is not calling for the passage of this bill, given that she is from Guatemala, and she had to flee her own country due to the violence that’s there. And the security aid that we continue to send to Latin America continues to legitimize governments that do not respect the rule of law, that are violating human rights. And this bill is one step in a shift in power dynamics, a shift in relationships that historically have ravaged the country. Berta Cáceres’ sister in 1972 had to flee Honduras because of the violence there. And we have not had policy shifts for decades. And so that’s why we’re seeing so many people come here. And so, we’re asking for people to support this bill, as well as call for an independent investigation. Hundreds of organizations in the U.S., as well as in Latin America, are calling for an independent investigation to the murder of Berta Cáceres.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us about why Berta got so interested in the environment, why your sister?
NEERY CARRILLO: Well, she was—since she was 17 years old, she used to see—my mother is a midwife in the country. And Bertita was only 17 years old when she saw the misery which the Lenca people was going through, that they don’t have no—it was the poorest area in the Lenca—the Lenca people. So she got involved in that she was—since she was 17 years old. And she is the founder of the COPINH, which she helped all the Lenca advance and all the people who has no words and very poor, and they cannot have a voice into the government of Honduras.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, Berta Cáceres was very critical of Hillary Clinton—
NEERY CARRILLO: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —who was secretary of state at the time. Berta understood she was number one on a death list, an enemies list, in Honduras.
NEERY CARRILLO: Yes, exactly. She was—I think that she was very responsible, because she was the one that probably decided Berta, Bertita, was going to be killed by—you know, the people who killed her were—they were training here in the Escuela of Americas.
MELISSA COX: School of the Americas Watch.
NEERY CARRILLO: So—yeah. So—
MELISSA COX: School of the Americas.
NEERY CARRILLO: Yes.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what is—what is the situation now of environmental activists in Honduras?
NEERY CARRILLO: There have been a lot of killings, you know, of the people who try to defend the land, the water. And the hydroelectric things that they are trying to destroy the rivers and everything. And everyone who is involved in that, they get killed.
MELISSA COX: Honduras is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to work. It is still, according to Global Witness, the most dangerous place in the world to be an environmental defender. Over 120 people have been murdered and assassinated since 2010. And Standing Rock is an example of what our police and the militarization of the police have done here. The same money that we are sending to the police in Standing Rock to militarize them, to criminalize protest, peaceful protest, and organizing, that is the same money that we are sending to Honduras for the police and the military to do the same thing. So the president right now in Honduras is criminalizing peaceful protest and activist work, and it’s a very—it’s very problematic. So we’re working for a shift in relationships.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both very much for joining us. Do you have a website that you’d like to share with everyone?
MELISSA COX: Yes. People can go to OtherWorldsArePossible.org/JusticeForBerta-BertaCaceresAct. That’s a landing page where people can endorse the bill as an organization, get information about how to call their representatives on behalf of the bill. We’re also doing a social media campaign right now and trying to get people to take pictures with this sign and tweet it out to their networks and garner more support.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, thanks so much.
NEERY CARRILLO: No, thank you very much.
AMY GOODMAN: My condolences to your family.
NEERY CARRILLO: Thank you so much. Very, very happy to be with you, because I admire all your work you do for everyone.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you so much. And people—well, let’s just say, I think one sign encapsulated it: “The oceans are rising, and so are we.” Thousands of people are walking on the street, through our set. It was wonderful to have spoken to you. And we’re going to turn right now to our colleague, Democracy Now!’s Carla Wills, who is somewhere in the crowd.
CARLA WILLS: We’re here in the middle of the climate march here on Pennsylvania Avenue as we walk toward the White House. I’m here with Malinda Clatterbuck of Lancaster Against Pipelines. Malinda, tell me what you’re here for today and why you’re here.
MALINDA CLATTERBUCK: Yes. I’m here because we have been fighting the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project in Lancaster County and all of Pennsylvania. It’s a proposed pipeline that’s been approved by FERC, that takes fracked gas from Marcellus Shale region to export. And we’ve been fighting it because we think it’s a violation of our rights and it’s a destruction of the land. In our process, we’ve learned how much damage fracking does to the climate, and our community is just dead set against it.
So, the quilt that you see behind us is 50 feet long. Each block has been created by someone in our community who has said, “I don’t agree with this pipeline, and I’m making a statement to say no to it.” And we decided we wanted to make something beautiful, because that’s what Lancaster does. So we have this beautiful quilt that’s the length of the permanent right of way of the pipeline. And we’re saying, “No, Williams, you can’t bring this through our community.” And we have almost 900 people who have signed pledges to come out and do nonviolent mass action to stop it. So that’s what we’re looking forward to this summer.
CARLA WILLS: And talk about how damaging fracking has been to your community.
MALINDA CLATTERBUCK: Oh, thank you. Well, the thing with fracking, mostly, is the damage to water. So much freshwater is used in the process of fracking, and then there’s so much wastewater. And it’s the wastewater that goes into injection wells, that causes earthquakes and also threatens people’s drinking water. So that’s one of our big things against it. And we just say, keep it in the ground. There are other ways. We have more ways, renewable ways, to get energy. That’s what we’re trying to do.
CARLA WILLS: And the elected officials there, where do they stand on this issue?
MALINDA CLATTERBUCK: They have been influenced by the industry to pass laws that benefit the industry over the rights of communities and individuals. So they have not been helping us at all. Both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans, have not been helping us. So, this is a fight that we’ve said our community has to do ourselves. And hundreds of us, probably thousands, are standing up to do just that.
CARLA WILLS: Again, we’re here in the middle of the People’s Climate March. We’re marching toward the White House now. People will surround the White House, where they will sit in to fight, you know, the policies of this administration. Again, Carla Wills here at the People’s Climate March here in Washington, D.C.
MALINDA CLATTERBUCK: Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it.
CARLA WILLS: Thank you.
MALINDA CLATTERBUCK: Thank you.
JOHN HAMILTON: That went out live. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Thousands of people in the street. Yes, this is the People’s Climate March. Thank you so much to Carla Wills, who’s out there also. Our whole team is here. And there is a team right with us right now. I’m Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! Nermeen Shaikh is out talking to people, and she’ll be bringing them in as we talk to them. Medea Benjamin is up next. But I see someone who I saw last week at the March for Science. Clearly, she is relentless. Julia Olson, what are you doing back?
JULIA OLSON: Hi, Amy. We’ve been here all week. We did a big speak-out in front of the Supreme Court with four U.S. senators who are supporting these young people suing the Trump administration for violating their fundamental rights to life, liberty and property under the U.S. Constitution.
AMY GOODMAN: I see you have a sticker. It says hashtag “#YouthVGov.” What do you mean?
JULIA OLSON: That is the kind of the hashtag for the case and for the effort of these young people trying to secure their rights to a climate system that will sustain them and future generations.
AMY GOODMAN: You started by suing the Obama administration with people under 21.
JULIA OLSON: That’s right, because for over five decades the U.S. government has been taking actions to embed a fossil fuel energy system that is causing climate change.
AMY GOODMAN: So let’s go to some of the people who are involved with the suit. What’s your name?
AJI PIPER: I’m Aji Piper. I’m 16 years old. I’m actually from Seattle, Washington.
AMY GOODMAN: And talk about why you’re involved with this.
AJI PIPER: I’m involved with the suit because it’s really important to take this to the next level. You know, the climate movement can only go so far when, you know, you get the power of the people, but at some level you need to make large changes in government, and through the courts is one way that you can do that.
AMY GOODMAN: Why do you care about the environment so much?
AJI PIPER: I mean, why do I care about drinking fresh water and breathing clean air and living a future is—you know, this is my life that’s out there. And when we talk about climate change, we’re talking about really saving people’s lives, and not really saving the planet, right? It’s the future generations that are going to be impacted by this. And so it’s the future generations’ lives that are at stake here.
AMY GOODMAN: And can you tell me your name?
LEVI DRAHEIM: My name is Levi Draheim.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Levi, how old are you?
LEVI DRAHEIM: I’m 9 years old.
AMY GOODMAN: And what are you doing here?
LEVI DRAHEIM: I’m here for the People’s Climate March, and I’m with some of the other plaintiffs that are part of this lawsuit.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you part of—are you part of the lawsuit?
LEVI DRAHEIM: Yes, I am the youngest youth—I am the youngest plaintiff in this lawsuit.
AMY GOODMAN: So, why? Why are you part of a lawsuit at 9 years old?
LEVI DRAHEIM: Well, I’m part of this lawsuit because I want to keep—I want to have a stable environment for my future and future generations’ futures.
AMY GOODMAN: Where do you live?
LEVI DRAHEIM: I live in Florida.
AMY GOODMAN: Where?
LEVI DRAHEIM: In the Atlantic. It’s a barrier island.
AMY GOODMAN: And how is it affected by climate change?
LEVI DRAHEIM: Well, we are having really big dune erosions, and we’re also having a giant drought in Florida, and there’s been way more wildfire than there already is. And also, I’m on a barrier island, so if climate change continues, then sea level rise will be even worse than it already is, and then Florida could be underwater, and then I wouldn’t have a home.
AMY GOODMAN: And I’d like to ask you your name, where you’re from, how old you are.
JAIME BUTLER: I’m Jaime Butler. I’m 16, and I’m from the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re Diné.
JAIME BUTLER: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about how climate change affects the reservation and affects you.
JAIME BUTLER: Climate change is affecting my reservation, because the water—all the good water is drying up. And we already have like a limited amount of good drinking water to live on. So, I’m fighting because I’m trying to preserve everything that my culture has. And if we don’t have any water, it’s hard to preserve everything.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you have a message for President Trump?
JAIME BUTLER: Don’t mess up too much.
AMY GOODMAN: Don’t mess up too much. How about you guys?
AJI PIPER: Well, I think my message is: We’ll see you in court.
AMY GOODMAN: See him in court. And you, Levi?
LEVI DRAHEIM: Don’t frack our water, or don’t frack our Earth.
AMY GOODMAN: Don’t frack our Earth. Well, I want to thank you all for being with us, as you speak over the din of protest here in Washington, D.C. Thanks so much. Let me read to you some of the signs, as Nermeen Shaikh rejoins us. Oh, “Hope will never be silent,” “Be kind to your mother,” with a picture of planet Earth, “Fossil fool,” that’s F-O-O-L, “Impeach the grand inquisitor. Your choice: Trump, Zinke or Pruitt,” “There is no planet B. Sustainable energy now,” “Renewable energy is where the money is, stupid.” Can you tell us why you’re carrying that sign and what your name is?
GRACE: Hi, there. I’m Grace. I’m from New Hampshire. And I’m a priest of the Episcopal church, and we believe that God created the world, and it’s our job to take care of it. My sign is kind of cheeky today.
AMY GOODMAN: What does it say?
GRACE: Well, on one side, it says I’m wearing clericals in the 90-degree heat, and it sucks, so stop global warming, because my collar is made of plastic. And on the other side, it’s to Trump, the businessman: “Renewable energy is where the money is, stupid!” So, that’s where I’m at today.
AMY GOODMAN: And how often do you go out and protest? And how often do other priests go out and protest?
GRACE: Well, I think that a lot of us do see it as part of our job of fighting for social justice and standing up for what we believe in, getting across the message that there is a religious progressive movement in this country. And I think that Jesus would be, you know, out in the streets with the people, asking for justice.
AMY GOODMAN: And tell us your name again.
GRACE: I’m Grace.
AMY GOODMAN: Thanks so much for joining us. Your sticker says, “No! Drive out [Trump/Pence fascist regime].”
GRACE: Well, I do think—you know, I’d like for him to be impeached so I could have my weekends back, as a lady on the Metro said to me the other day.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to turn right now to Democracy Now!’s Carla Wills.
CARLA WILLS: I’m standing here in the People’s Climate March with Mustafa Ali, formerly of the EPA, now with the Hip Hop Caucus. And we’re actually standing here on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to your old digs, your old office, the EPA, which is right here and right across the street, actually, from Trump International Hotel. So, talk about why you’re here. You were here, of course, with us last week at the science march. Talk about the significance of being here for the climate march.
MUSTAFA ALI: Yeah, well, the climate march is so important, because it represents the people, it represents front-line communities who have been disproportionately impacted from pollution and toxins, and now the overlay of climate will create additional impacts inside of those communities. So we’re making our voices heard. And we’re going to take this time, this energy back to our communities. We’re going to make sure that we get engaged in the political process, make sure that we elect individuals who care about our communities, and we’re going to hold folks accountable on Capitol Hill, both on the House and Senate side, if they choose to make legislation that is not helpful to our communities. So, folks are ready, folks are mobilized, and real change is happening.
CARLA WILLS: And talk about some of these front-line communities, where they are and what they’re being faced with [inaudible].
MUSTAFA ALI: We have the Manchester community in Houston, Texas, a primarily Latino community, that is surrounded by petrochemical corporations. And when you take a breath of air there, it’s like breathing in gasoline fumes. You have Mossville, Louisiana, which is surrounded also by chemical corporations, and they have been exposed to dioxins, which are cancer-causing chemicals, which have created havoc inside of that community. You have Port Arthur, Texas, where the pipelines are stopping, and Africatown, where the pipelines are stopping also and the impacts that are happening in communities. You have Flint, Michigan, you have East Chicago, dealing with lead issues still to this day. Of course, we have the brothers and sisters at Standing Rock, our indigenous brothers and sisters, who are standing up for our water rights and making sure that we have those. And you have Barrio Logan on the West Coast, who’s dealing with diesel emissions and port issues. We have communities in Appalachia who are dealing with mountaintop mining, but also dealing with chemicals that have been placed in the rivers. Many folks remember the Elk River exposure situation not long ago. And, of course, the storms that have come and the impacts from Sandy. Princeville, a African-American community that was founded after slavery, had a thousand-year flood not long ago. And, of course, we know what happened on the Gulf Coast with Katrina. That’s why we’re here, that’s why we stand, and that’s why we are continuing to march and move forward to make positive change in all of our communities across America.
CARLA WILLS: And, of course, the communities you just talked about are primarily black and brown communities. Are you seeing a difference in the make-up of the folks here? How do you reach out to these communities to get them more involved?
MUSTAFA ALI: Sure. So, this march is very diverse. It is driven by the people, of the people and for the people. And it’s just amazing that once you start to reach out and make sure that our indigenous communities, our communities of color and our low-income communities, both working-class white communities and lower-income communities, give them the voice, but also open up the space for them to be the leaders, it changes the dynamics. It gets these issues anchored in those communities. And real change comes from that.
CARLA WILLS: Mustafa Ali, now with the Hip Hop Caucus, formerly of the EPA. We’re standing here near the EPA. You just heard some booing, because they’re right next to or right across the street from Trump International Hotel, which is standing right here behind me, and, of course, people booing because of that. We are now marching to Trump’s current residence, the White House, where people will surround the White House with banners and signs, and sitting in to protest the administration. Again, this is Carla Wills in the middle of the People’s Climate March here on Democracy Now!
AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Carla Wills, speaking to us from somewhere in the middle of the march, and that march is very big. There are tens of thousands of people here in Washington at the People’s Climate March. I’m Amy Goodman, with Democracy Now!'s Nermeen Shaikh. And we are here covering this march for five hours. Right now, we've just bumped into Medea Benjamin, who was just walking by. We’re at the head of the march, at least where it started. Medea Benjamin, who’s co-founder of CodePink, who actually is headed down to Guantánamo, the prison, tomorrow.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, I’m not actually headed to the prison. I’m headed to the city of Guantánamo to participate in a conference against foreign military bases. And it’s very apropos of the climate march because the U.S. occupation of the base in Guantánamo has destroyed the livelihood for the fishermen there, destroyed the coral reefs, and it’s just one example of the over 800 U.S. military bases around the world that have destroyed the Okinawa beautiful coral reefs, have destroyed farmland and fisheries and forests. So, I think it’s important to really bring in the issue of the Pentagon and war as the number one polluter, and people in the climate movement to really recognize how the money that’s being sucked up by the Pentagon and by these military bases overseas and by the wars that we’re waging is money that should be going to address the climate crisis.
AMY GOODMAN: Tell us the sign that you’re holding.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: It says, “War is the number one polluter.” It could have said Pentagon is the number one polluter. Pentagon is the number one guzzler of fossil fuels, the number one emitter of carbon, and, I think, also to recognize how wars are now being fought for resources, and wars destroy the planet. So there’s this vicious circle. And one of our messages is to say to people who are in the divestment movement, that are calling for divestment from fossil fuels, we also have to call for divestment from the weapons industry and show how these two are so intertwined.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, tell us about the proposed increases in the military budget under the Trump administration.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, you know, the Pentagon budget was already so bloated. And now comes Donald Trump saying we’re going to take another $54 billion and put that into the Pentagon. And now people can see, because he’s directly connecting it. We’re going to take it out of the EPA. We’re going to take it out of preschool programs. We’re going to take it out of Meals on Wheels. We’re going to take it out of climate protection. So I think it’s a good opportunity for people who haven’t paid attention to the issue of the Pentagon and the wars to now recognize that all of the things that we care for in the world, all the things that need resources, we have to take it out of the Pentagon and put it into life-affirming activities, put it into programs that are going to save this planet.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Medea, you’ve been an antiwar activist for many, many years. Can you talk about what your concerns are, as there’s been all of this rhetoric now about North Korea, with the Trump administration making various claims about what the North Korean regime is doing and how they’re going to respond.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Let me tell you—
AMY GOODMAN: And there’s nothing like devastation of the planet when it comes to nuclear war.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Yes. I mean, the two existential threats to the planet are nuclear war and climate crisis. And now we have a guy in the White House who is so cavalier with the threats that he’s making to North Korea, and it scares me to death, because we have somebody very unpredictable in North Korea, as well. And so we’ve been working with a group called Women Cross the DMZ, and we were part of a group led by Christine Ahn that crossed from North Korea to South Korea. We’re working with 40 women from 40 different countries to really get out there and say to all our governments, “We must stop this madness before it starts.” There are political solutions to the crisis in Korea. The South Korean women are the ones who are most distressed by this, because they know the response from North Korea could wipe out hundreds of thousands of people immediately in South Korea. So it’s an important time to make the connection between climate catastrophe and nuclear war, but to really say right now to our senators, “Please, don’t let President Trump take us into a nuclear war with North Korea.”
NERMEEN SHAIKH: But why do you think—what do you think explains Trump’s escalation of words and threats to North Korea right now?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, I think he’s an macho man. And when he sees that North Korea will go ahead and do a test of a missile to show that they can do what they want to do, that then says to Trump, “Well, we’re going to up you one and show you what we can do.” And that’s why I say these two very unpredictable people in charge are so absolutely dangerous. And if there not an uprising from the ground up to say, “No, this would be an absolute devastation of our planet,” I’m afraid that these two people could take us to a nuclear war.
AMY GOODMAN: Medea, talk about the bombing of Syria, the bombing of Afghanistan with the largest non-nuclear bomb that any country has ever dropped, developed by Bush—he didn’t drop it. President Obama had it; he didn’t drop it. Within weeks of President Trump’s presidency, he dropped that bomb with a mile bomb radius, blast radius. Can you talk about this progression, and then, of course, saying that we could come to conflict in North Korea, at the same time saying, “Oh, being president is harder than I expected”?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Yeah, I think some people had the illusion that because he said things during the campaign, like these trillion-dollar wars haven’t gotten us anything but more extremism, that he might be rational when it came to foreign affairs. But he’s been totally irrational. And it turns out that Donald Trump loves war. He has escalated every single conflict. He’s escalated the conflict in Syria. He’s escalated the conflict in Iraq. He doesn’t care about killing civilians. In fact, he’s indicated to the military that they shouldn’t release figures on how many civilian casualties there are.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you know that?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Because the Pentagon is not releasing those figures, and because he has also said to the Pentagon that they will have more leeway when it comes to the use of their weapons than they had under President Obama. So we are seeing an escalation in every single category. And then I think we should make these climate connections, as well. Just going back to how the war in Syria started, there are many people who say that it was the drought in Syria that led millions of people to flood into the cities and caused people to be so unhappy with the Assad government. We know there are wars for resources going on in Iraq. I mean, we would never have invaded Iraq were it not for oil. And so, we really have to make these connections. We need the climate movement. The peace movement has been weak since the time of Obama. And it’s been very hard to get people to add the issue of peace to things like the women’s march or even the climate march. So we have to say to people, “Come on. War is the number one devastator of the planet. Donald Trump loves war. We better get out there as a community, in all of the areas that we care about, and stop Donald Trump from dragging us into more wars.”
AMY GOODMAN: I don’t usually talk about what women wear when they come on as our guests, but I do have to ask you. Can you explain your getup?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, my getup is my imagination of Mother Earth. I’m holding a Mother Earth balloon here. And I have a toga, like Greek—
AMY GOODMAN: You’re wearing your signature pink.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: —toga on. And we have tablets here that are—each of them have a different message on them. But it’s really to connect the issues of war and the climate. And also, the pink and the flowers is to say, you know, even though our message is very serious, we want to show the kind of world we want to live in, which is one with flowers and beauty and love and compassion.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, even as you speak, a major blackboard is going by, a major blackboard that says, “Climate change affects us all. Stand up for science. Our health and safety depends on it.” Just some of the creative signs that are right now passing by us in this march. Keepers of the Faith are standing up next. They’re ready to go. And Honor the Earth, honor groups. “We resist, we build, we rise” is a message that a lot of people are wearing on their T-shirts and signs they’re carrying. So, you’re headed to Cuba tomorrow.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: I am headed to Cuba tomorrow.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, most people might not realize Guantánamo is anything but a prison—but the prison.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Yeah, that’s why we’re meeting with the community of Guantánamo. In fact, we’re proposing to them that they do a referendum in the province of Guantánamo, whether they want the U.S. base to be there or not, and we send international observers there to show the world that the people of Guantánamo should have a say in how their land is used, just like the people in the—that live where we have 800 military bases around the world should have a say in the way their land is used. And I think it’s time for us to save a lot of money by closing those military bases, giving people back their lands, using our military to defend us here at home and stop occupying other people’s land.
AMY GOODMAN: So I want to ask you about your report card for President Trump after a hundred days and then ask you about your report card for grassroots resistance after this 100 days.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, is there an F-minus, Amy? I think as low as you can get is what I would put. And in terms of the resistance, I live in Washington, D.C. Not a day goes by when I don’t go to a protest. There’s something happening every single day. Last night we were out on the streets in a resist dance, which was a wonderful dance that ended up at Trump Tower. It is—
AMY GOODMAN: And just to say, the geography of this place, you have the Capitol, you have the White House, and you have Trump International Hotel, the Old Post Office. Now, people, I think, have heard about this, that President Trump, his family, rents the Old Post Office from the government, although it has a lease that says you cannot be a public official and run this place.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: That’s right. And it’s a wonderful location for us, because it’s so convenient. And we have protests there every single week. And we have protests—last night we went to the EPA, we went to the Justice Department, we went to the White House. So, this is a, quote, “target-rich” city in terms of protest. And we really feel like the resistance is getting an A, and we should move to an A-plus, because we should always step it up a little more.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s hot here. You live here. Is this unusual?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: This is amazing for this time of year. We’ve never had it in the 90s at this time of year. I just dread to think what it’s going to be like when it’s July and August.
AMY GOODMAN: Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink. Interestingly, even as you were being dragged out of National Defense University while President Obama was giving a speech explaining his drone wars, he said, “You should listen to that woman.” That woman was you. You were being dragged out by his security.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Yes, I’m not sure Trump—I have interrupted Trump once. He did not say that woman should be listened to. He said, “Get her outta here!”
AMY GOODMAN: Thanks, Medea.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you very much. Yes, this is Democracy Now! I’m here with Nermeen Shaikh, and we’re together bringing you—Carla Wills is in the crowd. And our whole team is here bringing you the voices of this mass protest. It is believed that this April 29th in Washington, D.C., is the hottest, if not one of the hottest, this city has ever seen. I can at least be a testament to this. But we’re going to be joined right by another guest. And she is…
SARAH PICKERING: Hi, Amy. Thanks for speaking with me. My name is Sarah. I’m with Animal Equality. And we’re here as the Plant-Powered Planet Protectors, a coalition of more than 20 organizations, animal protection organizations, food sovereignty organizations, with the message that everybody can make a difference today: Take a bite out of climate change by adding more plant-based food to their diet. As you know, the U.N. are encouraging us away from animal products. Animal agriculture is the single biggest cause of climate change, more than all planes, trains, cars put together. So, we’re here in the U.S. We’re international. And through education and outreach, we’re saying to people, “Why not reduce your meat consumption? Try veg? Maybe you’ll go vegan,” meeting people wherever they are on their journey and encouraging them for their health, for animals and for the planet to move towards a plant-based diet.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And do you think, has the movement for animal equality, as you define it, has it been growing in the U.S.?
SARAH PICKERING: Absolutely. It’s amazing how many innovators there are out there creating amazing plant-based products. You know, you don’t have to go without anything now. You can get phenomenal vegan cheeses and ice creams. There’s amazing websites helping you to go vegan, supporting you, encouraging you, telling you how it’s going to improve your health.
AMY GOODMAN: What are some of those websites?
SARAH PICKERING: Lighter is an amazing website for people who are looking for amazing, inspiring recipes that they can add into their diet. You can pop in there, you have five minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes to cook your dinner, you have a family, you have a smaller budget, you have a bigger budget. You know.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, where are you from?
SARAH PICKERING: I’m from England originally, but my organization is headquartered in L.A. I’ve come from Boston today. I’m based on the East Coast, so that I can work on our communications across the eight countries in which we’re present.
AMY GOODMAN: And how did you become a vegan?
SARAH PICKERING: It was a long journey for me. I started working—I was a journalist for the first six years of my career in the U.K. And then I wanted to use that for more positive, powerful effect, and I didn’t want to be writing just to the political bias of my newspaper. So I transitioned into the nonprofit sector and used my communications in that way, first for World Animal Protection, and then I worked in human rights. I was the communications director for the U.N. climate conference, for Copenhagen Climate Council. Some of the people who are here—Al Gore is here today, and he was there then. So, for me, it’s about people, animals and the environment being in harmony, and us respecting ourselves, respecting the planet and respecting other sentient beings. And I’m really, really thrilled that we were invited as part of this coalition of 20 organizations. D.C.-based Compassion Over Killing have been leading this effort. We have a gigantic 20-foot inflatable cow over our section of the parade, which is, you know, giving everyone a thrill. And, you know, yeah, we’re just happy to be part of this and building positive bridges.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, thank you so much for stopping by our humble corner—
SARAH PICKERING: Thank you, Amy. Thank you.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: —here at the head of the climate march. And we’re going to be coming back to Carla Wills, who’s somewhere in the middle of the masses here at the People’s Climate March. Carla?
CARLA WILLS: This is Carla Wills. We’re near the White House. We’re about a block away from the White House here in the middle of the People’s Climate March on Pennsylvania Avenue. We’re just coming up on 15th Street. And I’m here right now with Laura Jurewicz from Rockaway Youth Task Force. And tell my why you’re here. What made you come all the way down from New York?
LAURA JUREWICZ: Well, we’re out here from Far Rockaway. We’re right on the beach, so experiencing climate change firsthand with the rising water. Rockaway is also a federally labeled food desert, which means there’s not a lot of access to fresh, healthy, organic produce. And so we recognize that, you know, when climate change happen, a lot of the communities that are affected first are communities of color and communities already struggling with things like being a food desert. So that’s why we’re here, to support our community and to represent not just New York but the Rockaways.
CARLA WILLS: And, of course, the Rockaways were hit hard with Hurricane Sandy.
LAURA JUREWICZ: They were hit extremely hard by Hurricane Sandy, so the communities there understand firsthand, you know, that when climate change happens, storms are worse. And it was so devastated. You know, part of the problem that—of it being a food desert is still—they’re still recovering from Sandy. The infrastructure is still damaged. So that’s why we’re here.
CARLA WILLS: And talk about, you know, the group you have here and how they are affected.
LAURA JUREWICZ: Sure. The Rockaway Youth Task Force is a youth-led advocacy group. We fight on issues like food justice. We have a half-acre community garden in the Rockaways where over 70 families are able to grow their own fresh and organic produce. We also work on issues like, you know, racial inequality, police accountability, changing the public education system and just getting young people to be more civically engaged, because that really is our only hope at this point, especially under Trump.
CARLA WILLS: And, of course, the climate justice movement has been very inclusive of all these other issues, like food justice, racial justice. Why is that so important?
LAURA JUREWICZ: Well, it’s fundamentally intersected. Like I was saying before, a lot of times it’s communities of color who are affected first by climate change. We saw that in Sandy. You know, there are still NYCHA complexes that haven’t finished repairing damages that happened during that storm.
CARLA WILLS: NYCHA being the public housing.
LAURA JUREWICZ: NYCHA being the public housing for New York City, exactly. So, all these issues are intersected. And if we don’t have the means and the climate to grow our food properly, then we’re in huge trouble, especially in communities where there’s already a lack.
CARLA WILLS: And, of course, again, we’re here in the middle of the People’s Climate March, walking to the White House. What’s going to happen there is that people are going to surround the White House, sit down and then beat on their chests for—to try to create a one-human heartbeat to kind of send this message about climate justice and the need for it, and then stand up together with one roar to send that message again to this administration about climate justice and the need for policies that are going to support our communities. Again, Carla Wills here at the People’s Climate March.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Carla Wills, speaking from somewhere within this massive People’s Climate March here in Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital. It started here, at Pennsylvania and 6th, and has made its way—it’s winding its way to the White House. People are dividing up so they can encircle the White House, and then everyone will sit down. We haven’t gotten estimates now on how many people are here. We believe it must be something along the lines of—well, definitely tens of thousands of people. Who knows if it’s 100,000 or more? I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And we’re joined now by Puja. Puja, why don’t you introduce yourself? Tell us about your organization and why you’re here.
PUJA DAHAL: Yeah, hi. My name is Puja Dahal. I’m with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, located in the Bay Area, California. And I’m here with It Takes Roots, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and the Indigenous Rights Group. And I’m here because I want to represent the front-line communities—immigrants, refugees, folks of color and women of color, especially from the Bay Area, because those are the folks that we work with. And I’m specifically from Richmond, California.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And so, talk about some of the issues, the climate issues, that you confront in the Bay Area.
PUJA DAHAL: Yeah, so, of the 13 refineries located in California, five of them are located in the Bay Area, so you can imagine how impacted it is by climate change. And in 2012, when the Chevron explosion happened, a lot of my own families were affected, and a lot of my community members who I grew up with, who I’ve worked with, were all affected. And what did Chevron do to compensate for that? They decided to give a $1,000 scholarship to high school students. And like to think that they could really put a price in our lives was something that really bothered me. So I’m really passionate about this issue.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And do you see in the Bay Area that minorities are affected more by the impacts of climate change than others?
PUJA DAHAL: Definitely.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And why do you think that is?
PUJA DAHAL: Because we’re in the front line of all the issues, so the housing crisis, which is related to environmental justice, other social injustices that are happening, not just in the Bay Area, but all over, which I can connect with. But yeah, definitely front-line communities, minorities are being affected the most.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about Chevron, one of the largest oil corporations in the world, as you said—
PUJA DAHAL: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: —has a major refinery in Richmond and quite a history when it comes to fires, pollution. And explain how you have organized.
PUJA DAHAL: Yeah. So we’ve been fighting for about seven or eight years. We’ve been going to City Hall. We’ve been organizing our community members, because we recognize that not everyone is aware of the issue, because it’s something that we can’t see. So, many people are not aware that climate change exists. So, how we’re doing that is we have something called the just transition principle, which is one of our solutions. So we hold an Our Power Festival, where we organize local people to showcase whatever clean energy experiments that they have to show to the community. So that’s one of the solutions.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you so much for being here and talking to us. [sneezing] Not that I think anything you’ve said is anything to sneeze at. But do you have a website?
PUJA DAHAL: Yes, you can just google “Asian Pacific Environmental Network,” aka A-P-E-N, APEN.
AMY GOODMAN: Thanks so much.
PUJA DAHAL: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: It looks like the crowd may be coming to the last contingents right now. I see a man behind you. Sir? Sir? Can you come up? I see you’re carrying a sign—
JOHN DENNIS: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —that says, “I march for staying in the climate convention.” I see the “I march for staying in the climate convention.” What’s your name? Where are you from?
JOHN DENNIS: I’m John Dennis from Ithaca, New York. That’s in upstate New York. And I—
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s see what people are saying behind you. “When the winds of change blow, some build walls, some build windmills.”
NERMEEN SHAIKH: “Down, down with the pipeline. Up, up with the people.” That’s what they’re chanting behind us.
AMY GOODMAN: Oh, that’s what they’re saying. And behind us—let’s see. So talk more about why you’re here.
JOHN DENNIS: Well, I’m very disturbed that Scott Pruitt has been assigned to run the EPA. I think that’s a disaster for our nation and for the planet. It’s very critical that we stay in the climate change agreement. You know, we worked hard to get there finally. And locally, I think it’s critically important that people begin to organize at the local levels and enforce laws at the local levels. So, in our case, we have one of New York’s largest—largest freshwater lakes, Cayuga Lake, and right now we have the largest private corporation in the country, Cargill, is mining salt progressively under less and less bedrock separation. So we’re very worried about the future of the lake. But again, it comes back to enforcing local laws at the state level, now that the EPA, you know, may be more or less out of action.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, tell us about Cargill. What do they do? And how have they been involved in, well, the harms of climate change?
JOHN DENNIS: Well, they are in 70 countries. You know, their revenue in fiscal 2016 was $107 billion. And yet they went to our county and said, “Unless you give us $640,000 in tax credits, we’re going to pull our 180 jobs out and leave and go somewhere else.” And they don’t recognize the authority of New York state to actually enforce underground mining regulations, which is just extraordinary in this day and age.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you so much for joining us. I just want to get an OK that you can hear our mics loud and clear. You know, we’re out on the road and working with all sorts of technology. So, we are here at the People’s Climate March. There are a lot of people who have lined up to speak, and we’re going to talk to the next person right now. Can you come on up? Leslie, can you talk about why you’re here?
LESLIE WHARTON: I’m Leslie Wharton. I am with Elders Climate Action. We’re a national group of elders who have come together to basically protect our children and grandchildren, those who are going to be after us. You know, most of us, we’re not working. We’re not trying to get jobs. We’re not trying to get promotioned. We have that moral authority that what we’re looking out for is not our personal interest, our advancement, but the legacy we leave behind—our families, our children, the people who are going to carry our DNA into the future. And so, we have been pushing Congress to put a tax on carbon, make the externalities, you know, pay, and to support federal action. And we’re also doing a lot on state and local action. We’ve got chapters in Michigan, in Massachusetts, forming in the East Bay Area of San Francisco, here in the D.C. area, all over the country. So, we are elders working together as volunteers, and we are basically an all-volunteer organization.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And how did you, yourself, become involved in climate change?
LESLIE WHARTON: Well, it’s interesting. I was concerned about climate change. I’ve read IPCC reports, Gore, the Stern Review. And I got some notice in the, you know, email or internet about a grandparents’ climate action day, and they were going to lobby Congress. And I was scared out of my mind. It was like, “Oh, my god! You know, can I—oh, I don’t know. I don’t think I can do that.” But I decided to step out of my comfort zone. And Jim Hansen spoke to us. And Sheldon Whitehouse spoke to us. And it was very inciting. And we got trained by the CCL, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, folks. And I went into the halls of Congress, and I found out, “Oh, my god! You know, it’s really sort of like a strip mall. You know?” And you can walk in and knock on doors. And it’s not frightening, and the people are there. And I got—you know, whether it was silly or not, I signed up afterwards to volunteer, and I got a phone call, and I started talking. And I have now been very active for the last year and a half. In fact, I was part of the committee on the ground that just put Elders Climate Action conference together that we held Thursday and Friday of this week, leading into the climate change.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask a person—I was wondering if this person can come out. Could you get—could you ask—no, no, it’s OK. We’d like to get—excuse me. Excuse me. Could you come over? I just saw a sign that said, “I am”—”I am a Marshall Islander.” And I’m seeing if it’s possible if she can come and speak with us. We’ll see. We’d like to talk to you. We’d like to talk to you about—it says, “I am a Marshall Islander.” And I want to—and I want to say thank you so much to the person who just spoke.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Leslie.
AMY GOODMAN: Leslie. Leslie? Leslie, if you could come back and continue to join us?
LESLIE WHARTON: Oh, I’m sorry. I thought I was done.
AMY GOODMAN: No, that’s OK. I thought it was interesting to bring two different communities together, and also for you to share your website.
LESLIE WHARTON: Yes, EldersClimateAction.org. One word, EldersClimateAction.org website, Facebook page. Come take a look.
AMY GOODMAN: So that is Leslie Wharton from Bethesda, Maryland, Elders Climate Action. And now we have a group of people here. If you could come over to—thank you so much, Leslie.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Thanks, Leslie.
AMY GOODMAN: If you could come over. We have “I am a Marshall Islander.” Can you—can you tell us where you come from?
MARY: I’m from Majuro, Marshall Islands.
AMY GOODMAN: And can you tell us why you’re here today?
MARY: To protect my island, the ocean.
AMY GOODMAN: Why is it threatened?
MARY: Everything is dead. The fish are starting to dead. The water is rising. The water washes our beach.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, you thought it was important enough to come here today?
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I thank you so much. What is your name?
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you so much. And now we’re going to turn to—we have a long line of people.
RENÉE FELTZ: Tristan is from Alaska.
AMY GOODMAN: Tristan from Alaska.
TRISTAN GLOWA: Yeah, absolutely. So, I’m—
AMY GOODMAN: Tell us your name and where you’re from.
TRISTAN GLOWA: Yeah, I’m Tristan Glowa. I’m from Fairbanks, Alaska. And I do a lot of work there—that’s in interior Alaska—organizing for climate justice, organizing both to acknowledge the impacts of climate change, that are very real in our communities, and also recognize that we are, you know, the cause of it, right? You know, we are a fossil fuel extraction economy. We are all about oil. And so, yeah, we’re doing work in Alaska to address both aspects of the crisis.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And are there a lot of youth there in Alaska who are involved in climate justice?
TRISTAN GLOWA: Yeah, you know, a lot of our youth all around the state are very concerned about the impacts of climate change that we’re seeing. You know, in my hometown, the wildfires each summer are getting worse and worse an worse. You know, it’s hard to go outside sometimes during the summer, because the smoke is just so thick. And, you know, you feel sick just going outside, and it’s hard to breathe. Other communities, you know, on the coasts are facing such coastal erosion that entire communities, especially, you know, Alaskan Native communities, Inupiaq communities, have to be relocated. You know, they’re eroding into the ocean. So, you know, we are very much in crisis. And, you know, the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, but these are impacts that everyone else is going to see. So I think part of the message from the Arctic is that, you know, we really need to wake up and take action. Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, thank you so much for joining us. And I see behind us some beautiful artwork on their posters. And it is a glacier. Well, first of all, the people who are marching right now have magnificent signs: “Keep it clean,” “Keep it in the ground,” “Ban toxic emissions.” And then you have “Have you seen me?”—if you can come over here—”Have you seen me?” And it is a picture of a glacier. Can you tell us your name and where you’re from?
LAURA: My name’s Laura. I’m from Baltimore and Washington. This is a photograph of an iceberg from Greenland. And these screamers are a sound sculpture, and they are the recording of icebergs melting.
AMY GOODMAN: Oh, my gosh! Wait. So, wait. This might be hard to convey a little bit on television, but if you can come over a little bit. Can you tell us your name?
ERIN DEVINE: I’m Erin Divine.
AMY GOODMAN: And tell us what you are wearing.
ERIN DEVINE: This is a sound sculpture, which basically means it’s a sound amplification system, that it’s—in essence, it’s two speakers in here that are amplifying.
AMY GOODMAN: And the sound we’re hearing is?
ERIN DEVINE: Basically, Sue Wrbican was the sound artist who put this piece together. And it’s seismic recordings of icebergs melting into the ocean.
AMY GOODMAN: This is seismic—they’re—so these are the seismic recordings of glaciers melting.
ERIN DEVINE: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: So let’s put my microphone inside the funnel. And where did you get these recordings?
RENÉE FELTZ: Sue can answer that.
LAURA: Sue, do you want to answer this?
SUE WRBICAN: What’s the question?
AMY GOODMAN: Where did you get the recordings of the glaciers?
SUE WRBICAN: Oh, I pulled some things off the internet, but I also recorded the wind coming through my house at home through the window. And then a colleague of mine helped me mix it together, so we have like a 6-minute loop that we can play over and over again. And basically, I think you have the—probably, you understand the concept, that this is an amplification device. And we’ve been using these for several different occasions, you know, for social justice and the climate.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, thank you so much for coming out. And we have other guests, as well. The marchers are continuing. And again, they’re going to go to the White House to engage in a sit-in that encircles the White House. This on one of the—if not the warmest April 29th in Washington, D.C., history. There have been seminars and conferences, meetings, throughout the week. Last week, we were here, April 22nd, Earth Day, for the March for Science. And people have—some have stayed throughout the week. So, we have some people to welcome here.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Please just introduce yourself and tell us why you’re here. You can stand in the center.
KITTY UFFORD-CHASE: Sure. My name is Kitty Ufford-Chase, and I am a member of the Community of Living Traditions at Stony Point Center in Lower Hudson Valley of New York. We are an intentional multifaith community at a retreat and conference center, and we do hospitality from our faith traditions. We’re Muslims, Christians and Jews living together. And we also do Earthcare work and social justice activism.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And please introduce yourself, as well.
AMIRAH ABULUGHOD: My name’s Amirah, and I’m also part of the Community of Living Traditions. And I am a farmer at Stony Point Center.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So talk about that. Talk about what you see is the link between, what you say, living traditions and the climate.
AMIRAH ABULUGHOD: I see my tradition as a very close and integral link to the work in caring for the planet. As a Muslim, I believe that the Earth will speak on my behalf at the end of time and my sort of day of accounting, and she will say whether I did right or wrong to her. And I think that is integral to my tradition and integral to the work that I do as a farmer and as a Muslim specifically.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And do you see more Muslims becoming involved in the cause for social—for climate justice?
AMIRAH ABULUGHOD: I do. I do. I see more Muslims standing up and being more aware. And we, as individuals, have to continue to educate our communities. And so, that’s my hope.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And you see that both in North America, or in the U.S., as well as abroad?
AMIRAH ABULUGHOD: Yeah, I think so. I think everyone is finally waking up and realizing that we all have a part to play.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And talk about your T-shirt. Come in the center. Just stand here. What does your T-shirt say?
KITTY UFFORD-CHASE: My T-shirt says, “Standing with Standing Rock.” And some of the members of our community have been at Standing Rock. And actually, we are partnering with local—the Ramapough Lenape Native Americans in northern New Jersey, who also have a prayer camp, called Split Rock Sweetwater Camp. And they are fighting the pipelines that are going through New Jersey. And so, we’ve been standing in solidarity with them, as well as Standing Rock.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And are there many people with Standing Rock, who have been fighting for Standing Rock, here at the march?
KITTY UFFORD-CHASE: Yes, I believe they are here. And they are also keeping watch there and keeping the camp going. They have a prayer camp. And so, we support them. They have some challenges in their local communities in allowing them to be there, and so we are supporting them and supporting the work against pipelines, because we don’t believe pipelines is the part of the future, and it’s just going to do more damage to the planet.
AMY GOODMAN: And today we spoke with LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, who started the first resistance camp. And there were the Goldteeth, I call them, the Goldtooths, father and son, Tom and Dallas Goldtooth, who were very active around that. LaDonna Brave Bull Allard is the, oh, unofficial historian of the Dakota Access pipeline struggle, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux. We want to thank you so much for being with us.
KITTY UFFORD-CHASE: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: We are reaching the top of the hour, and so we’re going to go to a music break. This is Democracy Now! We’re broadcasting live right here in Washington, D.C., from the People’s Climate March. We haven’t got an official figure yet, but clearly tens of thousands of people have been marching, and they are marching to the White House, which they will encircle. They’re saying now estimates may be about 150,000 people who have come out on this extremely hot Washington, D.C., day, as President Trump, I understand, inside the White House, was meeting with the CIA director, Pompeo. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back at the top of the hour. Keep tuning in, and tell your friends.
[End of Hour 4]
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. We’re bringing you a 5-hour broadcast from the People’s Climate March. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And here we are at the climate march in Washington, D.C., standing on the corner of Pennsylvania and 6th. And we’ve watched, as we’ve broadcast from here for the last several hours, thousands, tens of thousands, of people. And they’re going to the White House, right, Amy?
AMY GOODMAN: That’s right. In fact, the organizers say there are 150,000 people here right now. At the beginning, early this morning, there was a water ceremony. And then, people were at the Reflecting Pool in front of the Capitol. There were tents of indigenous people. People were organizing. Then there was a grassroots leaders press conference and then the elected leaders news conference, with people like Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, Nydia Velázquez, the congresswoman from New York, who dealt with the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. There was Senator Markey of Massachusetts and Senator Whitehouse of Rhode Island, also Senator Merkley of Oregon. And you heard of many of these people because you’re watching Democracy Now! And if you didn’t hear, you can go back to our website any time. This five hours will be saved online, and it’s there for you to watch for eternity. But right now we are here with Scott Parkin. Scott, tell us what group you’re with. And what is the sign, the little postcard, you’re holding?
SCOTT PARKIN: Yeah, I work with Rising Tide North America, which is a all-volunteer direct action climate group that works in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. This week, I’ve been organizing with a group called Flood Trump, where we’re planning a direct action at the Trump Hotel at the end of the march today. We’re going to rally at 15th and Constitution at 5:00 p.m. and then march to the Trump Hotel, where we’ll be taking creative direct action at the hotel. We’re out here because—
AMY GOODMAN: I’m going to interrupt, Scott, because the action at the White House is happening. Stay here. We’ll talk to you on the other side of this. Carla Wills is at the White House.
CARLA WILLS: I’m in front of the White House, where the action is starting right now. It’s underway. There’s a mic check going on. People are seated on the ground. And they’re about to do their action here in front of the White House. They’re going to, you know, beat on their chests, have this harmonious heartbeat, to send this message to this administration about climate change. You can hear it now.
We’re here in front of the White House, again, with the action, one heartbeat, to send this message to the White House. I’m here with Jenae, who’s sitting here in front of the White House. Tell me your name and where you’re from.
JENAE: I’m Jenae. I’m from Portland, Oregon.
CARLA WILLS: And why did you come down here?
JENAE: I came down here because there is no social justice or economic justice without climate justice. They all are one and the same. And if you care about people, then you should care about the planet.
CARLA WILLS: And talk about this administration’s response to climate justice issues.
JENAE: To be honest, it’s an embarrassment. If 97 percent of scientists are saying that climate change is real and that it’s threatening our country, and we are just continuing, that’s like 97 percent of engineers saying the bridge is going to collapse, and continuing to drive over it.
CARLA WILLS: And you’re from Portland. Talk about the climate justice and climate issues, how you’re affected by climate change there.
JENAE: I live here now. But in the Pacific Northwest—
CARLA WILLS: We’re all standing now. We’re all standing at the one heartbeat, sending a roar across the—across the area and around the White House, to send this message about the importance of climate justice. This gathering, we’re talking about about 10,000 people here in front of the White House, again, in the People’s Climate March here in Washington, D.C. This is Carla Wills, and here, wrapping up here in front of the White House. But, actually, we’ll have a couple other people here talking. Can you talk? Hi. And I’m standing here. Tell me your name and why you’re here, where you’re from.
JENNIFER RIDGWAY: I’m Jennifer Ridgway. I’m from Hyattsville, Maryland. And I’m here for the Earth. We’ve got to—we need to resist this.
CARLA WILLS: And talk about the message to this administration, in particular, why it’s so important.
JENNIFER RIDGWAY: Well, the climate—climate change is real, and science is real. And we need to resist and to rise up together as one.
CARLA WILLS: Thank you.
JENNIFER RIDGWAY: Thank you.
CARLA WILLS: Again, you can see so much art here in front of the White House. They’re talking about “Welcome to your hundredth day.” Of course, today is the 100th day that Donald Trump has been in the White House. One of the hallmarks, of course, of any presidency is the first 100 days, and his, of course, marked by this People’s Climate March. Again, surrounding the White House—people are surrounding the White House. They were sitting on the ground, then sent one harmonious heartbeat and then stood with a roar to send this message to this White House. And then people will walk to the Washington Monument. That’s the next stop on this People’s Climate March here today. Again, I don’t have a count. I would guess about 10,000 people at least here around the White House. And we’re outside, of course, the White House, which is across from Lafayette Park, the scene of so many protests here in Washington, D.C. We’re also walking around just looking at some of the signs, again, all to Donald Trump, his policies, being, of course, against any climate justice issues.
AMY GOODMAN: … talking to people, as people begin to engage in a massive sit-in, making a circle around the White House. I’m here, Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh, and we’re at where the beginning of the march was. And we’re here with Scott Parkin, who can tell about some of the direct action. The march is wrapping up here, but you can see some of the people behind us, people with their baby carriages, people with their big colorful signs. Scott, talk more about what’s happening today.
SCOTT PARKIN: Well, as we just saw, there was a mass sit-in around the White House, where people stood up as they were rising up against the Trump administration. And then there’s events all through the rest of the—all for the rest of the afternoon. And then, at 5:00 p.m., I’m working with a group called Flood Trump, and we will be taking action at the Trump Hotel, like creative direct action. We’ll meet at 15th and Constitution at 5:00 p.m., and then we’ll be taking action to send a message to the Trump administration around their environmental and climate policies.
There’s fossil fuel resistance going on all over the country, taking on pipelines, taking on coal mines, taking on policies. And so, this is just like a—this is just like an embodiment of the fossil fuel resistance we’ve been seeing happening in the Gulf of Mexico, in Utah, in Texas, in North Dakota at Standing Rock. And it’s just a powerful moment to be part of an environmental and climate and climate justice movement.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So are you heartened by the number of people who have turned out here?
SCOTT PARKIN: Yes, if the—the estimates are 150,000 people. That’s amazing. That’s more than what the organizers had thought they were going to get. It just basically speaks to the outrage and the resistance building to this administration and its corrupt policy, its crony policies with the oil and coal industries.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what do you hope—in your action, describe exactly what you plan to do and how many people you expect to turn out.
SCOTT PARKIN: We’re hoping to have action in the thousands, and we are basically hoping to do a serious disruption at the Trump Hotel with like people power, a good bit of people power—blockades, creative action, etc., art.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And is Trump—the Trump Tower here, that must be heavily fortified. I mean, there must be a lot of security around there, like there is in New York at Trump buildings in New York.
SCOTT PARKIN: I was there the other night. There was a round dance there two nights ago, and there was a good bit of security. I do expect there will be much more security today with all the people in town and with the call for Flood Trump.
AMY GOODMAN: And what do you think the role is of direct action and civil disobedience under the Trump administration?
SCOTT PARKIN: I mean, I think the role of the direct action most of the time is to create a crisis, and therefore like build and push toward some sort of meaningful change. We’ve been doing direct action on climate change for the last 10 or 15 years, and we’ve seen it move. We’ve seen the big greens actually engage in direct action at this point. We’ve seen corporations, like banks, come up with policies on coal. We see them beginning to open up on pipelines and oil. And we’re just beginning to see some kind of serious shifts from corporate America. And now we have to begin to push them on this administration.
AMY GOODMAN: What kind of hope does a march like this give you, a mass action march?
SCOTT PARKIN: I mean, I just see a lot of people out. I see a lot of people who probably never have been to anything like this, who are like now wanting to engage. I feel like we’ve gone from zero to 60 since the inauguration. And everywhere I see, people are taking action, on migrant rights, on economic justice, on labor, on climate, on environmental issues.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what about Obama’s climate legacy? Can you say something about that?
SCOTT PARKIN: Right. I mean, the legacy is that he actually believed in climate change versus the current administration. But there was still a lot of like problems with that, and we were working and doing direct action on the Obama administration around his federal leasing program, around his kind of like green light on the Keystone—the southern leg of the Keystone pipeline, and a green light on lots of other fossil fuel infrastructure. And so, it’s—in some way, it’s more of the same. In some way, it’s escalating.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, I just saw an interesting poster that said, “Just say know.” That’s K-N-O-W. And it said, “The next flood won’t be biblical. Climate change is serious.”
SCOTT PARKIN: Yeah, I mean, and that’s another thing we’re seeing, is that we’re seeing like a pretty drastic shift in climate at this point, that the environmental and climate movements need to begin addressing more and putting onto the doorsteps of corporate leaders, of politicians, of climate deniers. We’re in a pretty powerful moment. And it’s a shame that we have such a head-in-the-sand sort of administration when we want to be talking about climate and human rights, etc.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And are you going to be going now to the White House, where all these people are congregating?
SCOTT PARKIN: I am going to be heading that way, yes. But I will also be getting ready for Flood Trump at 5:00 p.m. at 15th and Constitution.
AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you very much for being with us. There are all sorts of interesting people here. Is the—”If the planet is dumped on, so are you.” “Resist bigly” is another of them. Can you tell us about your sign? Can you tell us about your signs? What does yours say?
UNIDENTIFIED: She made it for me.
AUDREY: I’m just—I feel like we’ve got to use the language he understands. And if we’re going to make up words, going to just help him out, simplify it for him.
AMY GOODMAN: What’s your name?
AMY GOODMAN: And where are you from, Audrey?
AUDREY: I’m from D.C.
AMY GOODMAN: And what about you? What does your sign say? Audrey, maybe you want to read it.
AUDREY: It says, “I wouldn’t frack with Mother Nature if I were you. She’ll come back for you.”
UNIDENTIFIED: And we’ve got the people.
AUDREY: And we’ve got a little—you know, little phonebook here.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Oh, very good.
AMY GOODMAN: Of? Explain. What’s that about?
AUDREY: Those are the climate change-denying senators. So, call them up. Let them know what you think.
AMY GOODMAN: And also, passing us right now is a bus that says “Bus for Progress.” It’s the Sierra Club.
MARCHERS: Don’t frack it up! Don’t frack it up! Don’t frack it up! Don’t frack it up!
AMY GOODMAN: And they’re chanting, “Don’t frack it up! Don’t frack it up!” There’s another person who’s holding a sign. It says, “Unlike”—it has a picture of Donald Trump, and it says, “Unlike your ties, climate change was not made in China.”
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And we’re joined now by another guest. Can you introduce yourself and tell us why you’re here?
ELLIOT SWAIN: Hi, yeah. My name is Elliot Swain. I work with a group called Maryland Working Families. We’re a local chapter in Maryland of a national organization, Working Families. And we are here marching because we understand that social justice is inextricably linked to climate justice, racial and economic justice, as well. And so that’s why we’re marching, and that’s why we’re out here. We’re working—we were working on the Fight for 15 campaign in Baltimore City. And Baltimore City is a city that has some of the lowest air quality in the nation. And that’s why we’re out here fighting, because we understand that poverty and economic justice cannot be separated from the fight for climate and environmental justice.
AMY GOODMAN: Hold that thought. We want you to stay with us, but we want to go to the protest right now in Chicago. I understand it’s a little rainy there. Let’s take a listen.
MARCHER: Let’s make some noise!
MARCHERS: Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go! Hey hey! Ho ho! Fossil fuels have got to go!
AMY GOODMAN: So, you’ve been watching Chicago, a very rainy day, but the people are still protesting. We’re still here with Elliot Swain of Working Families in Maryland. Your final comments about the connections between climate change and other—and structural inequality in this country?
ELLIOT SWAIN: Well, I think it’s very obvious when you look at who is actually impacted by climate change the most. And it’s going to be, for the most part, poor people of color, generally speaking, living in low-lying coastal areas. But there is also, like in Baltimore, for instance, where we live and where we work and where we do all of our campaigns, there’s horrendous air quality. There’s—we have an oil train system routed through our city that is riddled with failures. Oil trains are constantly vulnerable to explosions. And these are routed through the poorest neighborhoods that are predominantly people of color. So you can see how climate change and environmental issues cannot be divorced from social justice, racial justice and economic justice.
AMY GOODMAN: Elliot Swain, we want to thank you very much for being here.
ELLIOT SWAIN: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: The march has just wrapped up here. We are standing. Now the police are just coming by with their flashing lights. We’re going to end up at the White House, where the sit-in is just taking place. But first we wanted to bring you—yes, you’re watching the People’s Climate March, brought to you by Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. I’ll be at the Pilgrim Community Church tonight—the Plymouth Community Church tonight, speaking at 7:00. I hope to see folks there to talk more about these kinds of issues. But right now we’re turning to Noam Chomsky—Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned linguist, philosopher, political analyst, world dissident—who was speaking just a few days ago at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In this part of the speech, he talks about climate change.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Three events took place last November 8th. One of them was very important. One was extremely important. And the third was utterly astonishing.
The least of the three, the least important, was the election in the United States—plenty of publicity, important, but the least important of the three.
The more important, by far, of the three took place in Morocco, in Marrakech, Morocco. About 200 nations were participating in a U.N.-sponsored international conference—COP 22, it was called—which was an attempt to put some teeth in the Paris negotiations on climate change of the preceding year. It had been hoped at Paris that they could reach a verifiable treaty on actions to address climate change. But that couldn’t be done because of a single barrier. It’s called the Republican Party. Now, the Republican Congress in the United States would not accept any verifiable agreements, so Paris negotiations ended with just verbal commitments. The Morocco conference was an attempt to go beyond that. And as it began, it was moving in that direction. On November 8th, there was a report by the World Meteorological Organization—quoting it. It confirms that 2016 was the warmest year on record, a remarkable 1.1 degrees centigrade above the pre-industrial period, sharply above the previous record set in 2015, approaching the desired upper limit set in Paris. And it goes on with other dire reports. Now, that was November 8th. At that point, the deliberations ended. The electoral results came in from the United States. And the meeting shifted to another question: Can the world survive when the richest, most powerful country in world history, with incomparable advantages, not only is withdrawing from the effort to try to save the world from destruction, but is undertaking a dedicated commitment to race to the precipice as quickly as possible? That’s—and the countries of the world were looking for a savior—Chine—looking to China to save the world from the disaster that is being led by the United States. That was the most important event that took place on November 8th.
There was also an astonishing event: It wasn’t discussed. Astonishing. Silence. The leader of the free world is leading the world to disaster—that’s us. The world is looking to China of all places to save it. And the reaction here—take a look back: total silence. Utterly astonishing. I don’t—can’t find words to describe it. Well, that’s November 8th.
Let’s go on to March 1st. On March 1st, a scientific study was released showing that tens of thousands of miles of permafrost in northwest Canada are rapidly melting, along with massive decline—accelerating decline in permafrost in Alaska, Siberia and Scandinavia. That could lead to a massive release of greenhouse gases, CO2 and methane, which is all being accelerated by an unprecedented Arctic heat wave. That was the world. Now, what happened in the United States on March 1st? The Trump administration decided to help the process along by rescinding the methane rule, which limits release of methane from oil and gas drilling sites on federal lands. And it also announced sharp cuts in Environmental Protection Agency staff and programs, even announcing a ban on research. Actually, just this morning, we received some more good news. Turns out that the rate of melting of permafrost has been underestimated by 20 percent. The already near-lethal consequences are worse than we thought.
Well, let’s go on to March 16th, the world and the United States. Now, the world, a new study appeared, scientific study, on damage to the Great Barrier Reef off Australia. It’s one of the world’s largest living structures. It’s being severely damaged, intensifying. Reported by far the most widespread and damaging of recent mass bleaching of coral reefs since 1998, with very wide-ranging disastrous ecological results. That’s the world. In the United States on the same day, the president’s budget was released. The Environmental Protection Agency was virtually dismantled. It’s now pretty much run by Senator James Inhofe and his associates. He’s the leading climate change denier in the Senate. He’s also an extreme fundamentalist. His position is that if God is warming the Earth, so be it. It would be sacrilegious to interfere with God’s will. And that’s the least of it. Now, most of the attention has been focused on the EPA, but for action and research on climate, EPA is a small actor. Far more important is the Department of Energy. And its Office of Science, under the budget, is scheduled to lose $900 million, 20 percent of its budget. Its $300 million ARPA-Energy program is eliminated completely. And there are deep cuts in the research programs there and at the EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, also a 5 percent cut to NASA’s Earth science budget.
It’s actually pretty remarkable to observe the intensity of the administration’s hatred of unwanted facts. Just two days ago, The New York Times reported the concern of climate scientists that the Trump budget cuts calls for closing down NASA’s main missions that monitor the global climate. That’s a pittance in the budget. It’s a statistical error, practically. But it has a major impact on understanding of what’s happening to the world. But it’s best not to know what we do not like. That’s a guiding principle of the administration and, indeed, the Republican Party.
The budget itself is of unusual savagery, even for the Paul Ryan wing of the Republican establishment, which is effectively running the show behind the facade of the Trump—Trump-Spicer Twitter affairs, which are designed to grab the headlines. It’s a bitter attack. If you look at the details, it’s a bitter attack on the working class and on the poor, while lavishing even more gifts on the wealthy and the corporate sector, along with I think what we can describe as a project of Talibanization of America, literally, in accordance with the Bannon-Sessions-DeVos ideal of a society, and which they’ve made explicit: a society based on Judeo-Christian tradition, white supremacy, destruction of the humanities, the arts, public schooling, even medical research.
Well, practically every issue of the science journals provides more grim forecasts. There’s one recent paper in a journal, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, by noted climate scientist James Hansen, 18 others, compares today’s climate with that of 120,000 years ago, when temperatures were only slightly warmer than today. At that time, it turns out, there was a sea level rise of 20 to 30 feet, when much of the polar ice disintegrated. And the paper predicts not only that, but, in the near future, killer storms, stronger than any in modern times, a disintegration of large parts of the polar ice sheets, leading to the melting of huge glaciers, and a rise in the sea sufficient to begin drowning the world’s coastal cities before the end of this century. And Hansen says we’re in danger of handing young people a situation that’s out of their control, with precipitous rises in sea level not far down the road and other dire consequences. Now, there are other studies that indicate that climate change is occurring faster than at any time in the past 100 million years, by some estimates, far faster. Last year, atmospheric CO2 passed the symbolic level of 400 particles per million, considered a crucial danger point. It’s the first time in 4 million years and possibly irreversible. Well, that’s only a small sample of many such reports. They appear regularly in the science journals. Sometimes they make it to the major media.
Meanwhile, the Republican wrecking ball is systematically dismantling the structures that offer any hope for decent survival. And it’s not just Trump. The whole Republican Party leadership at the national level and, indeed, at much of the local level. So, in North Carolina, couple years ago, a scientific study was commissioned by the Coastal Resources Commission, which estimated that the sea level in North Carolina will rise by almost 40 inches by the end of the century. And the Republican-run Legislature had a response: It passed a law that barred state and local agencies from developing regulations or planning documents anticipating a rise in sea level. The best comment on this that I saw was by Stephen Colbert. He said, “This is a brilliant solution. If your science gives you a result that you don’t like, pass a law saying the result is illegal. Problem solved.” Unfortunately, that’s not a joke. Captures all too well the mentality of the Republican Party leadership.
A couple of years ago, Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana, who succeeded in sinking it even deeper into the abyss, he warned Republicans that they’re becoming the stupid party. The respected conservative political analysts Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute described the party as a “radical insurgency” that has abandoned parliamentary democracy and, for that matter, rationality. And perhaps a simpler characterization is the utterly outrageous charge that they have become the most dangerous organization in world history, dedicated to destruction of the prospects of decent survival. Indeed, an outrageous charge, but is it wrong? Well, I already mentioned Paris 2015 and Marrakech, Morocco, 2016.
Let’s go back to the 2016 primary campaign. It was pretty surprising, in many respects, but primarily because of the attitude of the candidates to climate change. Every single Republican candidate either denied that what is happening is happening, or the sensible moderates, like Jeb Bush, who said it’s all uncertain, but we don’t have to do anything about it, because we’re producing more natural gas thanks to fracking, or John Kasich, who was supposedly the adult in the room, who did at least agree that it’s taking place, global warming, but he says, “We’re going to burn coal in Ohio, and we’re not going to apologize for it.” As for the media, they just ignored it. After all, it’s only the most important issue in human history.
CARLA WILLS: That was Noam Chomsky speaking earlier this month at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
I’m standing here right now, today, on Saturday, in the middle of the People’s Climate March, standing in front of the White House, right across the street from Lafayette Park. And, of course, just earlier today, the march started, and it started on the other side of D.C., near the U.S. Capitol, came, made its way over here to the White House, where people sat and then beat on their chests to send a human heartbeat, a harmonious human heartbeat, and then stood with a roar to send a signal to Donald Trump, this administration, to the White House right here behind us, to talk about the policies of this White House, this administration, and why climate change is important. And I’m standing now with a family of women who came from across the country, converged here in D.C. before the White House, in front of the White House here. Tell me your name and where you’re from and why you came here today.
MARLENE ZEILER: I’m Marlene Zeiler from Atlanta, Georgia. And I came here to just show my unity, to fight for social justice. And I brought my girls with me.
CARLA WILLS: And tell me who your girls are. Your name and where you’re from?
DIANA BAUMGARTEN: My name is Diana Baumgarten, and I’m from Denver, Colorado. And I came for the same reason my mother did, to fight for what we know is right, and fight for our climate and our Earth and our rights and everything that falls under that.
CARLA WILLS: And your name and where you’re from?
JEAN ZEILER: Jean Zeiler from Boston, Massachusetts. And I came to be with them and also because I believe in science and facts and the future of our children.
CARLA WILLS: And this is your daughter-in-law. Your name and where you’re from?
ROSIA ZEILER: I’m Rosia Zeiler, and I am from Denver, Colorado, as well. And I came here so that we can fight to leave this planet for, maybe someday, my grandchildren.
CARLA WILLS: And so, talk about—you’re from Atlanta. Of course it’s hotter there now than it usually is. Talk about the issues of climate change in the South, in particular.
MARLENE ZEILER: Well, it’s just gotten hotter and hotter, and it’s gotten stormier and stormier. There’s a lot of damage every time we have a storm. There’s a lot of trees in Atlanta. And there’s a lot of chaos after a storm. If we don’t wake up to that, then I don’t know when we will, if we don’t do it right now.
CARLA WILLS: And today, of course, is the 100th day of Donald Trump’s administration, on the day of this climate march. What message do you have to send to him? And what do you think about his first 100 days in office?
MARLENE ZEILER: I think these first hundred days have been agony. And I expect the next hundred, and hundreds after that, to be agony. But I think we should keep protesting, because we’re free people. We have to remain free. We have to send a message to our congressmen and women.
CARLA WILLS: And talk about how important protest is, why this show, this action, is important.
DIANA BAUMGARTEN: Because at this point it’s our main means of being able to put forth what we believe in and to do what we know is right. And we owe it to our Earth and our children and our children’s children to fight and stand up.
CARLA WILLS: And you’re wearing a sticker that says—well, tell us what it says and why you’re wearing this sticker.
JEAN ZEILER: “Labor for climate change.” Well, I work in the labor movement, and I think climate is jobs. It’s not just the environment. It affects a whole range of issues for the whole Earth, for countries around the world. And so, it’s all connected. We’re connected. And we need to stand up and protect this Earth of ours.
CARLA WILLS: And you’re in Denver.
JEAN ZEILER: I’m in Boston.
CARLA WILLS: Oh, in Boston. Talk about the labor movement there, the actions you’re doing in Boston.
JEAN ZEILER: Well, Boston, we are very lucky. We’re a blue state. We have strong labor rights. We have number one public education. We are really strong in social justice and healthcare. I think we’re a good model, and it’s a great state. And I think the labor movement matters. And all—just all these issues are connected.
CARLA WILLS: Of course, Donald Trump is saying there are jobs in pipelines.
JEAN ZEILER: I don’t know that there’s that many jobs in pipelines, once they’re built. I guess there are. There’s construction jobs. But there’s housing and education. There’s jobs in a lot of other places, too, our infrastructure. How about that? Tons of jobs there. Build our bridges, build our roads, which I thought we were going to do. We heard from him. So do it. You know, let’s do it.
CARLA WILLS: And Denver, of course—talk about what’s going on there, in the climate justice movement in Denver.
ROSIA ZEILER: Well, we’ve been having quite a bit of fracking, and that kind of concerns me. You know, some neighboring states are witnessing mini-earthquakes and things like that. So, that’s a little worrisome. And mining is still big there, as well. You know, we have a huge snow industry with the skiing. And some years we have some, and some years we don’t. So we depend on that economy for—that industry for our economy.
CARLA WILLS: And again, I’m standing here in front of the White House with a family of women who have converged from all around the country to come here today for the climate march, the People’s Climate March, here in Washington, D.C. Amy, back to you.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!s coverage of the People’s Climate March. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re at the Reflecting Pool right now, which is between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. And I’m joined by one of the women who began the standoff at Standing Rock. Yes, you could call her an historic troublemaker. Her name is LaDonna Brave Bull Allard. She’s with the Standing Rock Sioux, a kind of unofficial historian. And it was LaDonna Brave Bull Allard who, last April 1st, opened her property, invited people to come to her property along the Cannonball River in North Dakota to resist the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. And LaDonna Brave Bull Allard is here in Washington, D.C. It’s great to have you with us on Democracy Now!
LADONNA BRAVE BULL ALLARD: I am so honored to be here. I’m so honored to be here at this march, to continue to stand up for the water. We have not backed down. We continue to stand. Even though things transpired on Standing Rock where our camp was closed, we moved to another location, we continue. I think that at this moment in time this became bigger than Standing Rock. It became the world. And this is the seed for the world to now stand up everywhere.
AMY GOODMAN: So, April 1st, you started the Sacred Stone Resistance Camp. That blossomed into many other resistance camps. Thousands came to Standing Rock. But the Dakota Access pipeline, while initially stopped by President Obama, was given the go-ahead by the new president, President Trump. And your massive resistance against building the pipeline under the Missouri, in the end, that pipeline did get built. Where does it all stand today?
LADONNA BRAVE BULL ALLARD: So, right at this moment, there is no oil in the pipeline. We continue to stand against the Dakota Access pipeline and Energy Transfer. And we continue to stand in prayer and nonviolent direct action to make sure that no oil ever flows in that pipe.
AMY GOODMAN: Why hasn’t the oil flown yet?
LADONNA BRAVE BULL ALLARD: I believe there’s a lot of issues that Energy Transfer and Dakota Access are having. We also have a huge program on divesting, and we’re asking the world to divest from Energy Transfer and Dakota Access, as we are now divested in the billions. We will continue to divest across the world in all extractive industries.
AMY GOODMAN: What does that divestment mean? What does it look like?
LADONNA BRAVE BULL ALLARD: We have asked people who have their money in banks that fund Energy Transfer, Dakota Access, to remove their money, to put it in capital credit unions, to use their money for communities and community development, rather than in banks who endorse extractive industries. And it has been an amazing, amazing program that we’ve had. We have a billboard on Times Square to divest. And the world is also divesting.
AMY GOODMAN: And for you as a woman, one of the leaders of the movement, you really began this by—you didn’t know what would happen April 1st, when you did this.
bq. LADONNA BRAVE BULL ALLARD: I had no idea. I had no idea any of this would happen. All I knew is I had to stand up.
AMY GOODMAN: And how do you feel today? We’ve just passed the first anniversary of the opening of your property. Is it still a resistance camp?
LADONNA BRAVE BULL ALLARD: No. The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has issued an order to close the camp. We sat down and said, “What do we do? We’ll go in peace and prayer, because we’ve been in peace and prayer.” So we moved the camp. The Sacred Stone still exists. We’re just in a different location. And we will continue to stand.
AMY GOODMAN: And your plans today in this People’s Climate March?
LADONNA BRAVE BULL ALLARD: To stand up, fight back, to spread the word that we can live a better life with green energy, that we can live a better life honoring the Earth and the water. We can live, because if we continue to do extractive industry, we will die. I truly believe that.
AMY GOODMAN: LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. This is democracynow.org. She’s a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and opened her property along the Cannonball River to the resistance, to resist the Dakota Access pipeline. That began over a year ago, on April 1st, 2016. I’m Amy Goodman. This is Democracy Now!
AMY GOODMAN: From the Dakota Access pipeline to Washington, D.C., from Florida to Maine to Texas to Tennessee, people are coming out all over the country. The organizers estimate 150,000 people have marched today, now at the White House, where we’re going right now. Yes, this is the People’s Climate March. Carla Wills is at the White House, where a mass sit-in is going on. Carla?
CARLA WILLS: This is Carla Wills. I’m standing here again outside the White House, here at the People’s Climate March. I’m standing here with another activist. Tell me your name and where you’re from.
RACHEL MERRIMAN-GOLDRING: Hi. My name is Rachel Merriman-Goldring. I grew up in Arlington, Virginia, right near here, and I go to school in Williamsburg, Virginia.
CARLA WILLS: And talk about what this is behind us.
RACHEL MERRIMAN-GOLDRING: Sure. So, absolutely. So, I’m here as part of a contingent of 35 students at the College of William & Mary. We’re here with our environmental group, as well as the Sierra Club and the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition. And this pipeline here is a prop that’s used by the Sierra Club as part of ongoing activist efforts to stop a pipeline called the Atlantic Coast pipeline, that’s a proposed pipeline in Virginia. The ACP, as it’s colloquially referred to, is a huge issue, both because pipelines are bad for the environment, but also because they’re bad for local communities. The ACP has a compressor station slated to be in Buckingham County, which is a huge issue of environmental justice. We have poor communities and communities of color that are consistently and repeatedly and intentionally disproportionately impacted by issues of environmental injustice. So, for us here, we’re marching today for climate justice and, more broadly, for environmental justice, because we think that we really have to talk about those intersections between environmental problems and social justice issues, because they really are one and the same. So I’m here with a fantastic group of fellow students who have been also integral in this effort. My friend Amirio can talk a little bit more about issues of environmental justice in the region.
CARLA WILLS: Yeah, talk about that, the issues that are facing particularly communities of color here.
AMIRIO FREEMAN: Yeah, I can talk a little bit about that. So, I’m from the Tidewater area in Virginia. Especially in that area and like majority-minority communities, like, for instance, we’re thinking about like the lack of flooding infrastructure. That’s like a huge issue, especially with regards to like climate change. As the planet warms up and the sea levels rise, we have to think about those communities that are very vulnerable to like those rising sea levels. We’re also going to have like another Katrina right here in Virginia, right here in the southern-eastern part of Virginia, the Tidewater area. So, as Rachel said, this is an intersectional issue. This is related to so many people, including like people of color, who are just disproportionately marginalized and affected by climate change and just environmental issues in general. So, yeah, I’m just happy to be here and happy to be here with Rachel.
RACHEL MERRIMAN-GOLDRING: Yeah, I guess to add to that even a little bit, we don’t have any infrastructure needed for that next Katrina, that next major storm event in Hampton Roads. For example, state-managed shelters in the region, we estimate that we need to evacuate about 500,000 people from the area. And we would need about 50,000 to go to state-managed shelters. But as of a report of a couple years ago, we only have the capacity for 20,000 people. So there’s this huge gap in terms of emergency preparedness. Like we talk about climate change like it’s this big, distant phenomenon, but like it’s not. It’s already affecting people’s lives. And it’s already affecting particular communities in disproportionate ways. And I really hope—we’ve seen today already at the climate march that that’s an issue that’s being talked about more than it has before. And I really do have this deep hope that as the movement moves forward, that will be embraced a lot more, because this is an intersectional issue, like you said.
AMIRIO FREEMAN: And to continue on a little bit, like I think we think of environmentalism as like a really abstract issue, but it’s a really human issue that’s affecting people right now. So I encourage everyone out there, look at your local communities, look at your own backyard, and really see how you can be involved in these issues, so that there is more flooding infrastructure, there are—there is more awareness of these issues, so that we can help the people who are being affected right now.
CARLA WILLS: And, of course, you guys are students. Talk about the importance of the youth movement, young people, in this climate march.
RACHEL MERRIMAN-GOLDRING: Oh, man, I have such faith in that. So, I mentioned we’re here partially due to the help of the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition. If you haven’t checked out their work, it’s VSEC. They’re doing fantastic work on the local level in terms of climate mobilization. I think we’re seeing that all around the country right now, in terms of young activists really banding together. In a lot of ways, because we don’t have the institutional constraints of larger like mainstream environmental nonprofits, we can be more justice-oriented, and we can be more progressive. And so, I would say I really see the youth movement moving us forward. But it’s also great, actually, to be here and see such an intergenerational aspect. Like we have people—I was marching here with my parents earlier, which was a fantastic experience. And we have people who are, you know, retirees. I saw a sign for like an elderly organization around green issues. I think that’s fantastic, too. It really needs to span from young children all the way to the elderly and retired. But I also have faith for the sort of movement that the youth are pushing forward within that.
RACHEL MERRIMAN-GOLDRING: Yeah, just like a little bit—I know like the environmental movement historically has been largely white, focused on like white people, in general. So like I have so much faith in this movement right now, the young people. There’s so much enthusiasm making sure that we’re intersecting all these issues with absolutely everybody, with like immigrant rights and women rights, queer rights, LGBT rights, just everything. So I’m really happy that it’s more intersectional, more inclusive of everybody, because, ultimately, this is touching on so many aspects of our lives, so many facets of our lives. So, it’s really great.
CARLA WILLS: And again, here we are in Lafayette Park, across from the White House, in the middle of the People’s Climate March. The march will then move forward from here to the Washington Monument. Carla Wills, here at the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C.
AMY GOODMAN: And thank you so much, Carla. I’m Amy Goodman, here with Nermeen Shaikh. The march started this morning, early morning, like 6:00 a.m., with a water ceremony led by Native Americans, Native American women. And then they moved on to the Reflecting Pool, and people organized. There were teach-ins. And they prepared for a press conference of local grassroots activists, which was very powerful, a clarion call for people around this country to be involved with the issue of climate change. And then the elected leaders spoke. Senators, congressmembers, an attorney general of Massachusetts all spoke about the importance of the issue. And they spoke to the Congress that was right them, the Capitol, and their colleagues there, as well as to what’s down the road, the White House, where President Trump was this morning. We’re going to turn right now back to the White House.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Where we’re joined—we’ll be joined by one of our producers and correspondents, Deena Guzder, who’s at the sit-in in front of the White House. Deena?
DEENA GUZDER: I’m Deena Guzder for Democracy Now! We’re standing outside the White House, where thousands of people have converged for the People’s Climate March on Washington, D.C., delivering their message, telling Donald Trump he must take climate change seriously now. We’re joined now by a family, three generations, all here together for the People’s Climate March. Let’s start with the grandmother. What’s your name, and what brings you here to day?
ELLEN SABELKO: My name is Ellen Sabelko, and I flew in here from Wisconsin to be with my daughter and my granddaughter. And the president doesn’t take climate change seriously. But we do. And we’re here to let him know and to stand with all the other people that want to save our planet for future generations.
DEENA GUZDER: And you’re the mother. What’s your name, and what brought you out here today with your own mother and your own daughter?
KIM SABELKO: So, I’m Kim Sabelko from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And we’re here, as my mom said, marching for our future. We have to invest not in fossil fuels, but in green energy, to protect our planet.
DEENA GUZDER: And can I ask you what your name is and how old you are? And can you tell us about that beautiful sign in your hand?
NAOMI: I’m Naomi. I am 7 years old. And I made this sign to show that I care about climate change.
DEENA GUZDER: And for people who can’t see your sign, could you describe it for our audience, what the sign says and what the colors are?
NAOMI: The colors are rainbow and blue and green. And it shows that I care about the Earth.
DEENA GUZDER: And it says, “I’m with her,” and points to the Earth and says, “Stop polluting air.” Well, thank you all so much for joining us. For Democracy Now!, I’m Deena Guzder, outside the White House.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Deena Guzder, who’s at the White House right now, where thousands of people are. Actually, Nermeen, they’ve estimated 150,000 people marched today, on this April 29th, the hottest April 29th, it’s believed, in Washington, D.C., history, or at least one of the hottest.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: That’s right. And I think a large part of the reason, much like as we’ve seen over the years, we can, ourselves, attest to the changes in climate. I mean, it’s 93 degrees, close to 93 degrees, in Washington, D.C., today. Already, April was the warmest month since temperatures started being recorded in Washington, D.C. So I think that’s why. We were standing here. We’ve been here. To see our full coverage, five hours, you can visit our website at democracynow.org. And we’ve been here as thousands, tens of thousands, of people marched behind us here, down Pennsylvania Avenue, and are now doing a sit-in at the White House.
AMY GOODMAN: Right, and this is a massive sit-in. They divided at the White House so that they could encircle the whole thing. We are standing in front of the Newseum, where the protest, the rally, the People’s Climate March began. We’ll talk more about that in a minute. But right now, Carla Wills back at the sit-in at the White House.
CARLA WILLS: This is Carla Wills, here at the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. I’m standing here with Randy Orwig. Tell me where you’re from and what your sign says.
RANDY ORWIG: I’m from Elon, North Carolina. And my sign is about “be the church.” And this is a—from our United Church of Christ denomination. And it talks about what it means to be the church. And we think protecting the environment is one of the top things we need to do. And so that’s why we’re carrying this sign, in honor of that today. But we also know that there’s a lot of intersectionality. There’s issues of racism and of taking care of the poor and of working to help and to forgive. That’s a big part of it, too. So, yeah, we’re here. We’re proud to be here and glad to be able to stand and witness. That’s what we’re doing.
CARLA WILLS: And why is resistance and this kind of a march important?
RANDY ORWIG: Well, there’s just so much happening right now, in terms of—we were hoping we were making some progress, and then the progress is slowing down politically. And we just don’t want to let it slow down. And so, we’ve got to keep talking. We’ve got to keep standing. We’re working in our church in a very big way to try to bring solar power to our church, to try to do things, recycle, composting, all kinds of things. We work with our sister Elon University, which is right across the street, and do a lot of work with them. And we have a farmer’s market to buy local. So, we’re—we really feel like we’re doing our part, and we want to continue to see others doing their part. We want to try to share this message. That’s a real important part.
CARLA WILLS: And, of course, today is the 100th day of Donald Trump’s presidency. What’s your message to him? And what do you think about his first 100 days?
RANDY ORWIG: Well, as a pastor, I try not to be, you know, candidate-driven. But unfortunately, there’s just so many negative signs. And what we’re trying to—what we’re trying to do is to allow people to see that the kinds of decisions that are being made right now are not helpful for this—for our environment, for our government, for any of our people in our community. So, we’re going to try to continue to resist. We’re going to try to continue to bring a positive message. And we’re going to try to bring renewables and make renewables an important part and get this particle count down to 350 or below. We’re at 400 now. And we were just at a climate conference yesterday with our sisters and brothers in the United Methodist Church. And it’s just not right. What we’re doing right now is not right.
CARLA WILLS: And talk about what’s going on in the North Carolina Legislature, the state Legislature not allowing climate change to be—
RANDY ORWIG: Well, we are—we’re really impaired there. We’re really working hard to deal with state people, as well as local governments, trying to get some change to take place. But it’s going to be a very uphill battle. We’re really thankful that we have a governor that seems to be on board. And we’re trying to find a way to continue to kind of chip away, if you will, to try to get back some semblance of sanity, because alls we’re getting right now is just a lot of nots and a lot of takeaways, but we’re not really getting anything real positive.
CARLA WILLS: And so, what do you plan—what do you hope to leave here with? What’s the message?
RANDY ORWIG: Well, we need to—we need to turn this all into votes. That’s the biggest thing. And we’re working very hard to get people registered to vote, especially around the college community. We’re working very hard to bring renewables, to introduce the idea of renewables around even in municipalities, trying to get them to be renewable-friendly, trying to get people to create targets for what percentage they will use for renewable energy in the next 10 years. And that’s the thing we’re going to be doing. We’re—we have a green church committee in our church, and we’re working very hard to advocate. So, we’re just going to continue to work and continue to study, continue to advocate and continue to grow.
CARLA WILLS: Thank you. Again, Carla Wills here at the People’s Climate March. We’re standing right here outside of the White House, across from Lafayette Park. It’s actually winding down now. People are walking to the Washington Monument again, finishing up the march over there. And it will, I guess, be—what? You’re hoping that they—
RANDY ORWIG: They’re going to do some more speeches and stuff there.
CARLA WILLS: They’re going to do more speeches there.
RANDY ORWIG: And then, they’re supposed to be done around 5:30 or so.
CARLA WILLS: OK, perfect. All right, again, Carla Wills reporting with John Hamilton from the People’s Climate March here in Washington, D.C.
AMY GOODMAN: And thank you so much for that, Carla. Nermeen and I are back at the beginning of the march, where, well, they’ve opened up traffic right now. This has been an epic day. And as we stand in front of the Newseum, I hope it’s a lesson to the media. They’ve focused a lot on this first 100 days of the Trump presidency and what it means. There should not only be a report card or an assessment of the first hundred days of the Trump presidency, but there’s always a force more powerful, whether it’s a Democrat or Republican in the White House, and that is the force of people, people protesting. Now it’s been dubbed hashtag #TheResistance, also an assessment of where people have come during this 100 years [sic], from the women’s march the day after—
NERMEEN SHAIKH: One hundred days.
AMY GOODMAN: One hundred days.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Hopefully not a hundred years.
AMY GOODMAN: From the women’s march the day after the inauguration, moving on to the mass Muslim ban protests, the tax protest. May Day is the big immigration protest. Folks, we just have a minute to go. I want to let you know I’ll be speaking tonight at the Plymouth Congregational Church, 5301 North Capitol NE, at 7:00 p.m.; Sunday, 5th and K, Busboys, at 5:00. Then, we’re on to Durham on Monday in North Carolina, Tuesday in Miami, Tampa on Wednesday, Atlanta Thursday, Minneapolis and Carleton College on Friday. Then we’re on to Madison, Chicago. And on Sunday, we’ll be in Kalamazoo, Lansing and Grand Rapids.
Thank you to the amazing team that made this broadcast possible. All the team in New York—Julie Crosby, Charina Nadura, Mike Burke. Here in Washington, D.C.—Deena Guzder and John Hamilton, Denis Moynihan, Andre Lewis, Carla Wills. The whole team. Special thanks to Renée Feltz and Denis Moynihan, to Nermeen Shaikh. Thanks so much for co-hosting today. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.
[End of Hour 5]