Over 100 People Celebrate Valve Turners Climate Direct Action Event in San Diego

By Scott T. Starbuck, SanDiego350

(Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on 2/19/2017)


The Five Valve Turners. Photo courtesy of www.shutitdown.today

Reuters reported that on October 11, activists in four states “shook the North American energy industry.” An appreciative audience at First Church of the Brethren greeted them Monday with $2,300 in donations for their legal funds, repeated applause, and a standing ovation honoring their vision and courage. A donation link has been set up for those who want to support Valve Turners. Of the group of five, Emily Johnston, Annette Klapstein, Leonard Higgins, and Michael Foster were present and spoke at the event. Ken Ward, the fifth member and first to face trial, was unable to attend due to preparing for a retrial after a jury in Mt. Vernon, Washington, refused to convict him on February 1. San Diego was the last California stop on this leg of the Valve Turners Speaking Tour that will take them from Pacific to Atlantic in effort to awaken consciences of citizens to respond to climate reality. The Valve Turners’ personal risk and message of nonviolent direct action has gained press locally at the UT, nationally in The Nation, and on Democracy Now!

The Valve Turners Present Their Story

The Valve Turners Present Their Story. Photo by Amy Knight

Specifically, all of the five, as well as four of their videographers, are facing felony charges and prison sentences up to 51 years for coordinated actions which, according to former lawyer / current Valve Turner Annette Klapstein, “shut down all the major tar sands pipelines coming into the US across four states, in solidarity with [ . . .] brothers and sisters at Standing Rock who are struggling to stop the DAPL Pipeline and to call attention to the catastrophic climate emergency which the fossil fuel companies and their accomplices have created.” To highlight the seriousness of the situation, Ward, a former deputy director of Greenpeace USA, emphasized in a recent Willamette Week article, “The world is ending. Act freaked out.” Ward clarified his motive for shutting down Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline near Anacortes, Washington: “In five years we have to stop all new exploration for all fossil fuels, and we have to stop burning all coal, and we have to stop burning all tar sands.” Ward said street protests will never achieve these goals so he feels civil disobedience is the only viable option now to preserve a livable Earth. [Read more…]

Hearts Gather to Protect the Earth

by Trinity Willis, SanDiego350

On February 14th, a day celebrated by many in the name of love, people gathered early in the morning to advocate love for our planet. In front of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in San Diego, we wrote out our unconventional love letters on cardboard for passersby to read. Our signs expressed the following feelings: “Keep It In The Ground,” “Protect Our Climate, Water, and Health,” and, a favorite, “This Is Reality”. While it was an early start, honks of acknowledgement from the passing traffic invigorated us. We rewarded each supportive honk with instant cheer, not for the driver vigorously waving at us, but in affirmation of our cause.

SD350 Members Line Aero Drive

SD350 Members Line Aero Drive. Picture by Olga Cortes

Sometime in the second hour of our occupation, we moved into the parking lot, directly in front of the building. A handful of speakers lined up opposite us, voices amplified by a microphone, determined for those inside to listen. Among them: a proud and outspoken mother, whose speech grounded us in the knowledge that clean water for all families is a fundamental right. A professor from City College talked us through the cultural connection and obligation to Mother Earth. Also there: two brave people from Standing Rock, sharing with us their experiences on the frontline and solidarity with the Water Protectors back in North Dakota. When they had spoken their pieces we formed a wide circle at the entrance to the parking lot and began praying. Drums boomed and voices rose; we sang for hope, for peace, for our Earth. The Lakota language stirred a sense of pride, and we swayed in the spirit of the rhythm.

[Read more…]

County Supervisors to Vote on Community Choice Energy and Kill SDG&E’s Monopoly

By Tyson Siegle, SanDiego350

Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on 2/13/2017

On February 15th, San Diegans will have an opportunity to take a huge step forward on clean energy. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will vote on implementation for some or all of the San Diego County Comprehensive Renewable Energy Plan (CREP). Many of the steps outlined in the plan save the county money and promote a healthier environment, but one particular piece of the plan could do more to promote clean energy and lower costs than all the rest combined: Community Choice Energy (CCE). If you already know about CCE programs and want to know what you can do to make sure the County Supervisors fund a CCE feasibility study, scroll down to San Diego County CCE Advocacy. For those of you interested in learning about Community Choice Energy and the impressive features of the newest program, read on.

What is Community Choice Energy?

Community Choice Energy, also referred to as Community Choice Aggregation, gives a city or county the power to decide where its electricity comes from, how much it will cost, and the sources used to generate that power. A CCE does not eliminate the utility option. It simply provides customers the additional option of Community Choice Energy. For the CCE option the local community takes over the power purchasing decisions from the utility company.


CCE/CCA program model. Source LEAN Energy US

Cost control, location, and generation type each deserve further discussion. [Read more…]

Why I Support Standing Rock Sioux’s Nonviolent Protest Against Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline

by Scott Starbuck, SanDiego350

The past two terms, my students asked why I support Standing Rock Sioux’s nonviolent protest against Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline.  In the fewest possible words, these two RISE videos explain why: Part 1 and Part 2.  I am grateful cnbc.com reported that 4,000 veterans, and many others, from as far away as Norway, are supporting this effort.

Oceti Sakowin (main camp) Photo by Paul Sasso

Oceti Sakowin (main camp) Photo by Paul Sasso

One of my favorite thinkers, Isaac Asimov, said, “[Y]ou do your best to disprove your own findings.” which is what I did before I threw my support behind the Sioux.  In other words, I read Energy Transfer Partners’ claims and positions, and compared them with those of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters. However, I didn’t stop there.  I called former North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple’s office and had a conversation with his secretary.

[Read more…]

County Supervisors’ Vote Could End SDG&E’s Monopoly

By Tyson Siegele, SanDiego350 (Originally published in the East County Magazine on 2/12/17)

This coming Wednesday, February 15th, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will vote on implementation for some or all of the San Diego County Comprehensive Renewable Energy Plan (CREP). Many of the steps outlined in the plan save the county money and promote a healthier environment, but one particular piece of the plan could do more to promote clean energy and lower costs than all the rest combined: Community Choice Energy (CCE).

Source: Peninsula Clean Energy

Source: Peninsula Clean Energy

CCE, also referred to as Community Choice Aggregation, is a program that gives consumers an additional choice in electricity provider. In the past, all power has been sourced by the local utility, in monopolistic fashion. This approach, of course, does not tend to produce the lowest costs. Under a CCE program, the local utility will have to compete with alternative energy electricity generation, and the consumer will be able to choose who supplies his power, thus breaking up the monopoly.

The cities/regions in California that have adopted CCE programs have seen reductions in the cost of electricity offered. Not only that, but consumers can choose between electricity packages that can range from 30% to as much as 100% renewable energy. In some cases, even the 100% greenhouse gas free option is cheaper than the standard utility offering. This is because, for the last few years, wind and solar have been the two cheapest forms of new electricity generation, even without subsidies. Better yet, wind and solar costs are still dropping.

The first step toward setting up a CCE for San Diego county is a feasibility study. This is what the county supervisors are voting on this coming Wednesday. To contact them regarding your opinion on whether CCE should move forward, call or write:

District 1 — Greg Cox — 619-531-5511, greg.cox@sdcounty.ca.gov

District 2 — Dianne Jacob, Chair — 619-531-5522, dianne.jacob@sdcounty.ca.gov

District 3 — Kristin Gaspar — 619-531-5533, kristin.gaspar@sdcounty.ca.gov

District 4 — Ron Roberts — 619-531-5544, ron-roberts@sdcounty.ca.gov

District 5 — Bill Horn — 619-531-5555, bill.horn@sdcounty.ca.gov


Tyson Siegele, a SanDiego350 member, is an architect who works to promote sustainable design and clean energy. Recently he created ButItJustMightWork.com, a residential clean energy handbook, to chronicle things to do as well as things to avoid on one’s path to zero emissions.

San Diego 350 Calls on Senators Feinstein and Harris to Reject Trump’s Climate Denier Cabinet

By David Harris, SanDiego350

Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on 1/26/17

Two weeks ago, a sign-wielding crowd of 150 people gathered together in front of the downtown Federal Building to deliver an urgent message to California’s two Senators: reject four nominations made by President Trump to key cabinet-level level posts. Why? Because all four of these men deny the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change.

SD350 Cabinet Nominee Protest

Protesters rally against Trump’s Cabinet Nominees. Photo by Chris West.

At the peaceful but spirited rally, speakers Diane Takvorian of the Environmental Health Coalition and newly elected Councilmember Georgette Gomez called upon Senators Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris to reject Trump’s nominees. “I know how much California has done and plans to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” stated Takvorian, “and I know Senators Feinstein and Harris support this progress. That’s why it’s now so critical for them to take a vocal, principled stand and oppose these climate denying nominees who value corporate profits over our communities.”

[Read more…]

SD350 Impressions of the Downtown Women’s March

The International Women’s March was held on Saturday, January 21st, 2017. More than 670 sister marches were held around the world, in countries and places as diverse as Belarus, Ghana, Iraq, Vietnam, and Antarctica. All in all, an estimated 4.8 million people took part, all marching to declare that women’s rights are human rights, to demand justice for all, including the environment.

SD350 Women's March

SD350 members take part in Women’s March. Photo by Bill Wellhouse.

It all started on one computer, with Theresa Shook asking 40 Facebook friends what if they descended upon Washington DC around Inauguration day to make their demands known? The next morning, she awoke to find that 10,000 people had signed up. The event(s) only escalated from there, in true democratic fashion. One person, indeed, can make a difference.

[Read more…]

SD350 Supports MLK Day March

by Rick Bramhall, SD350

It’s said that Martin Luther nailed his list of complaints to the door of a church in 1517, thereby starting the Reformation and the Protestant movement. What’s known for certain is that on Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day, January 16, 2017, the Reverend Shane Harris taped his list of ten social justice demands to the San Diego City Council on the door of the City Administrative Building. This was the culmination and end of the Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day People’s March and Rally, organized by the National Action Network chapter in San Diego.

MLK Day March

SD350 members gather at the march’s beginning. Photo by M. Hughes

Representing San Diego 350 on that march were Karen and Mark Hughes, along with myself. The event was organized by Rev. Harris, president of the San Diego chapter of the National Action Network (commonly known as NAN). He explained in remarks before the march got underway that, unlike the Sunday parade of a day before, there was no fee for participating and that everyone was welcome to step out. [Read more…]

SD350 Joins Fight for $15 Demonstration Against Puzder Nomination

By David Gangsei, Ph.D.

On 1/12/17, a cloudy, cool, and rainy Thursday, four SD350 members (Mark, Karen, Tyson, and myself) took part in a rally organized by the labor coalition, Fight for $15, to protest the nomination of Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. CEO Andy Puzder for Secretary of Labor in the Trump administration. Thirty spirited protesters gathered for the  rally, held at the Carl’s Jr. located at 3008 El Cajon Blvd.

Dr. Peter Brownell speaks to protesters. Photo by D. Gangsei.

Dr. Peter Brownell speaks to protesters. Photo by D. Gangsei.

Speakers included two minimum wage workers, Simone and Danielle, Fight for $15 organizer Emiliana Sparaco, Rabbi Shai Cherry representing the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice, and Dr. Peter Brownell from the Center for Policy Initiatives. Themes addressed included the necessity of a higher minimum wage, the destructive working conditions faced by Carl’s Jr. and other fast food workers, the documented history of labor abuses and official findings against Carl’s Jr., and the moral imperative to treat all people with fairness and justice. Recent CPI research shows that $20/hr is needed in San Diego to cover our higher cost of living – and the current CA minimum wage is $11/hr. Simone and Danielle said they must have government assistance to make ends meet. What this means is that the government is subsidizing not only fast food industry labor, but all minimum wage jobs.

[Read more…]

The Benefits of Community Choice Energy – and How California Utilities Aim to Block Them

Originally Published in the San Diego Free Press on 12/22/2016

by Tyson Siegele

In California, the fight is on between renewable energy advocates and the old guard electric utilities. All across California, cities and counties have been moving to implement Community Choice programs because they provide cheaper, cleaner, locally generated electricity. In fact these programs are so good, the utilities hope you never hear about them.


Community Choice Energy delivery model. The CCE provides energy, the utility provides transmission, and you receive cleaner, cheaper energy. Source: Peninsula Clean Energy

Before we get to the conflict and intrigue, let’s look at the basics of this new approach to buying electricity. Community Choice Energy, also known as Community Choice Aggregation, is a way for cities, counties or regions in California to look out for their own energy interests, a hybrid between regulated and deregulated electricity supply. The local utility still provides all of the billing services and infrastructure to supply electricity to the point of use, but they are no longer responsible for selecting the electricity supplier. Instead, the community chooses its energy supplier. Possibly the best part of a Community Choice Energy program is that it allows us choice. While CCEs across the state offer electricity with significantly more renewable content—and at lower costs than the utility—customers can still choose to stay with the status quo. No one is required to buy CCE power, anyone can opt-out. By example, let’s look at an actual program. [Read more…]