The Climate Change Elevator Pitch


We’ve all heard of the Elevator Pitch concept, right?  Well, we at SD350 have adapted the idea to serve our passion for taking action against climate change. Given the opportunity to tell a friend or a stranger why we care about climate change, we must be prepared to provide a brief, powerful and motivating testimonial.

Read the words of some of our members, and prepare to be inspired: to act against climate change and perhaps to craft your own Climate Elevator Pitch.

By Peg Mitchell

“Her name is Jillian. In 2070 she will be 60 years old, my age now. She is my youngest of 6 grandchildren. She is smart, outgoing and absolutely sure to be a future climate warrior. But I don’t want her to have to be a warrior – I want her to be happily looking forward to her retirement and time to play with her grandchildren. But on today’s status quo trajectory of human caused – us caused – climate change – she may be faced with fighting for her own survival if she even makes it that far. We can’t let that happen to the children of today’s world. We made this mess, we refused to accept the responsibility and now we are facing the truly overarching issue of our time. Will we step up, own our folly and change before it’s too late?”

By Jeanne Peterson

“I care about climate change because of my children. I simply cannot leave them such a mess, and make them live in a world that is uninhabitable and where our weather is so unreliable that we can’t even grow our own food. For me it is a question of justice and morality.

I don’t trust the politicians – any of them – to protect our interests because they get so much money from gas and oil companies.  I look at this battle like a David and Goliath situation.  Even so, I think we have a chance to turn this around, because there are so many great social movements that started out just as small as we are, and they still make their voices heard.”

By Dwain Deets

“The industrial revolution brought a new kind of climate change — but it wasn’t recognized for generations. The change was detected starting 55 years ago, when Charles David Keeling first measured carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Recently, severe weather events have increased notably in frequency and magnitude. Climate scientists now, with a 97% consensus, say this change is caused by human activities.

With powerful supercomputers, climate models project average weather over coming decades. If our use of fossil fuels follows a “business as usual” pattern, this will be catastrophic. This is NOT something humans can adapt to.

But the market system offers a solution. If an appropriate fee is collected on fossil fuels when taken from the ground, with receipts returned to the public, then use patterns will change automatically away from “business as usual,” the economy will grow, and catastrophic results will be avoided. “

Vigil and Protest Against Keystone XL Pipeline

Join Thousands across Country in Calling on President Obama to Deny Permit to Canadian Pipeline

San Diegans will gather Monday for a candlelight vigil to send President Obama a message that he must not allow Canadian oil interests to build the Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL) across America. Reacting to the final environmental impact statement (EIS) released today by the State Department that gives Obama political cover to approve the pipeline permit, organizers are appealing to the public to join the growing movement to convince the President that the KXL is not in our national interest.  Hundreds of other vigils will also occur Monday across the country.

WHEN:      Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6 PM

WHERE:     In front of the Federal Building, 880 Front Street, San Diego

WHAT:      Candlelight vigil with songs, chanting, and speakers to call on President Obama to reject the Keystone Pipeline proposal

VISUALS:   Signs, candles, and many local opponents of the keystone pipeline

Organizers say the public is the last line of defense in confronting the Keystone XL Pipeline project.  The EIS triggers a 90-day “national interest determination” by the State Department, with input from relevant federal agencies, before it provides a recommendation to President Obama for final approval. In recent months the Keystone Pipeline has become a battleground between the fossil fuel industry and environmentalists, ranchers, faith communities and neighborhood groups concerned about the loss of life and economic and environmental devastation created by climate change.

While Obama has admitted that he has doubts about the KXL (he called the oil industry’s job-creating claims an exaggeration and said he would not let the project proceed if there was a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions), organizers of the vigil fear the new State Department report reflects the influence of the wealthy oil industry on the review process.  Climate scientists have stated that two thirds of all known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if we wish to avert the worst impacts of climate change, especially carbon-dense fossil fuels like the Canadian tar sands. NASA scientist James Hansen famously called the KXL “Game over for the climate”. Along with other environmental groups across the nation, San Diego activists have decided to draw a line with Keystone, making a stand to stop the endless mining of fossil fuels and expedite the transition to clean energy sources.

The vigil is organized by with support from Citizens Climate LobbySierra Club San DiegoWomen Occupy San Diego and other local organizations. Local Keystone opponents held a rally opposing the pipeline at MissionBay in February 2013 with over 500 participants, and another in September 2013 at the Federal Building with over 200 participants.

To participate in #NoKXL action against the Keystone Pipeline, join us on Monday:

The event is organized by with support from Citizens Climate LobbySierra Club San DiegoWomen Occupy San Diego and other local organizations.

The above was written by Jeffrey Meyer and Masada Disenhouse, volunteers for San Diego

SD350 Very Disappointed in Obama’s State of the Union

Activists Say He Has Failed Our Country at its Most Critical Hour

SAN DIEGO – A local environmental group was “very disappointed” in President Obama’s State of the Union speech, saying he has failed the country at its most critical hour in the battle over climate change.  They say his vacillating policy on energy may even lead to local civil disobedience actions in the next few months, due to the uncertainty of his leadership on climate change issues.

“How can he tell the nation we have a climate change threat and in his next breath, extol his efforts to achieve a historic boom in oil and natural gas drilling,” asked one of the founders of, Masada Disenhouse.  “If this president really is worried about our children’s children as he says, then he has to stop waffling on what to do about climate change.”

At a national level, 18 environmental groups sent Obama a letter just days before his speech, pointing out the contradiction in his energy policy of increasing oil and gas production while attempting to reduce pollution from fossil fuels.  After his speech, most were furious about his failure to explain his confusing national energy policy. expressed serious doubts about that energy policy, especially concerning fracking, which threatens central and southern California.

“In southern California we face an enormous conflict with fossil fuel corporations over their intent to frack oil and gas, creating a multitude of threats to our communities and our dwindling water supply.  There was not one word from Obama on fracking, beyond his boasting of a surge of oil and gas production during his administration,” said Peg Mitchell, who has led the local community in its resistance to fracking.  “We are pleased with some of progress he has made, but this opportunity to address climate change on a national stage was a complete failure.”

Obama’s speech has made the San Diego environmental community especially concerned about his upcoming decision on  granting a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would be a gateway from Canada to the Texas coastal refineries for tar sands oil slurry.    The Keystone proposal is to mine 140,200 square kilometers of boreal forest in Alberta, Canada and build pipelines to deliver the bitumen slurry to the Texas coast to create refined petroleum products, like gasoline, primarily for export.  These products simply can’t be used, according to numerous international climate organizations, because research shows two thirds of existing fossil fuel reserves have to stay in the ground if we are to keep global warming below 2°C.

Along with other environmental groups across the nation, San Diego activists have decided to draw a line with Keystone, making a stand to stop the endless mining of fossil fuels and force the development of alternative energy sources. released a statement in response to Obama’s speech that they have developed civil disobedience plans to protest the approval of this pipeline, should it appear that Obama will approve the Keystone permit.

To participate in action against the Keystone Pipeline, join us on Monday:

The above was written by Jeffrey Meyer, volunteer for San Diego

Press Release: San Diegans Disappointed in Preliminary CPUC Pio Pico Decision to Lock County Residents into Expensive, Unnecessary Dirty Fossil Fuel Power

Say a clean energy future is better for our wallets, our health, and averting climate change impacts (SD350) opposes a preliminary decision reached 1/6/14 by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to approve the Pio Pico Power Plant to be located in Otay Mesa. Nestor, San Diego resident Ken Brucker stated, “These industries have been polluting my neighborhood, giving my neighbors dirty air. Children are the casualties of their search for more profits.” The group said that the proposed $1.6 billion power plant would lock County residents into paying for dirty fossil fuel power that is unnecessary for the next 20-30 years. And that price tag doesn’t even include the cost of the energy. Alternatively, investing resources into renewables and energy efficiency could provide any potentially necessary power while reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and disease-causing air pollution. From day one the plant will significantly exceed the EPA’s proposed limits on new power plant carbon emissions, and will make it more difficult to meet California’s carbon reduction targets.

“This proposed plant is a giveaway to SDG&E” said Emily Wier, an SD350 member who was a key organizer of a rally at the EPA’s air quality hearing for the plant that drew over 60 people to San Ysidro in December, “the investor-owned utilities are feeling threatened by the growing rooftop solar revolution and are trying to lock us in to a dirty energy future we don’t want and we can’t afford.” (The group performed a skit at the EPA hearing featuring checks to “San Diego Greed & Electric” – see photo below.)

“As a mother of two young children, I have a message for the CPUC: We must do everything we can to keep the planet livable for my kids and all kids,” said SD350 member Dr. Jeanne Peterson, “That means saying no to this dirty fossil fuel power plant and other plants like it and supporting a shift to rooftop solar right now.”

“SDG&E is trying to scare San Diegans by saying if we don’t do this the lights are going to go out” said SD350 member Dr. Nicole Peill-Moelter, “but that’s simply not true. California Independent System Operator (CalISO – which monitors electricity demand and supply) clearly shows we’ve had more than enough energy to meet demand during the entire San Onofre shut-down, and with more solar production and at least 165 MW of storage coming online, there’s no reason – other than SDG&E profits – to even consider this costly fossil fuel relic.”

“It is simply unacceptable that we are even considering this fossil fuel power plant that will annually emit greenhouse gases and air pollutants equivalent to burning 70 million gallons of gasoline.” said SD350 member Masada Disenhouse, “we must begin the transition to clean energy now to meet California’s emissions reduction goals and avert the worst climate impacts, including wildfires, water shortages, coastal flooding, and heat-related diseases.”

Proposed Pio Pico Power Plant: A Costly 25-Year Mistake San Diegans Cannot Afford

power plantSan Diego is at the forefront of America’s advanced energy and transportation revolution accelerating our clean energy future.  That’s why it is disappointing that once again San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) is taking us backwards by proposing a 300 Megawatt natural gas-fired peaker power plant at Pio Pico in Otay Mesa.  Pio Pico is expensive for ratepayers. It hurts our air quality. It commits us to 25 years of carbon emissions that worsen climate change. It delays the inevitable switch to smart, clean, job-creating renewable energy. It isn’t even needed. We urge you to stand with San Diego 350 and other community organizations in speaking against Pio Pico at the Environmental Protection Agency’s permit hearing on December 17.

Expensive for Ratepayers

Pio Pico is projected to cost ratepayers $1.6 billion just to build. Actually generating electricity will cost even more. Generation cost is tied to the price of natural gas.  That price is at an all-time low in the US because of the recent boom in natural gas extraction, but it will likely rise as natural gas is sold on the world market where prices are 3-7 times higher. Costs will be increased further by the premium on carbon emissions, under California’s climate-change mitigation law, AB32. Pio Pico would lock ratepayers into volatile electricity prices for 25 years.

Worsens Already-Poor Air Quality

The American Lung Association’s 2013 State of the Air report scored San Diego County with an F for ozone and particulate matter – both of which would be worsened by Pio Pico.  These pollutants put San Diegans at increased risk for premature death, asthma, lung cancer, reproductive harm, and cardiovascular harm.

Exacerbates Climate Change

Most importantly, Pio Pico is projected to emit 40 million tons of carbon emissions over its lifetime – emissions that the world cannot afford.  Climate science has made it clear that every year of delay in transitioning to renewable energy will significantly increase the consequences and costs of climate change, including more frequent and intense wildfires, droughts, water shortages, heat waves, and coastal flooding.  The battle to end our dependency on fossil fuel is playing out across the country and around the world.  Let San Diego be a shining example that it can be done to everyone’s benefit.

No Urgency for Additional Capacity

Energy experts have provided ample evidence to the California Public Utilities commission that we do not need the $1.6 billion Pio Pico plant to keep the lights on in San Diego.  SDG&E’s request ignores the California Public Utility Commission’s separate and more appropriate comprehensive planning process – the Long-Term Procurement Plan. The Commission should deny SDG&E’s latest scheme to keep us shackled to dirty energy for decades to come.

Smarter Alternatives

Fortunately there are less expensive, cleaner, job-creating alternatives:  efficiency, demand-response, storage and renewable energy.  California has had such great success in reducing its energy demand through energy efficiency that its per capita energy consumption has been flat since 1990.  Energy efficiency programs save more money than they cost, generate jobs and drive high-tech innovation.

As appliances and electronic devices become energy-aware and Internet-connected the amount of electricity demand that can be controlled and time-shifted by utilities is enormous.  For example SDG&E pays residents for the ability to turn off air conditioning units temporarily to reduce peak demand during very hot days.  Demand-response is a very cost-effective way to avoid the need to build new power plants and burden ratepayers with long term costs.  EnerNoc, a demand-response company, manages 25,000 Megawatts of peak load that can be taken offline on short notice.

Where Pio Pico will cost $1.6 billion just to build, and its cost to produce electricity will be tied to rising natural gas prices, an equivalent three-hundred megawatts of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) solar, even at an unsubsidized cost of $5/watt, would cost only $1.5 billion to produce 20-30 years of reliable electricity at a fixed price. Plus solar would create jobs, help California meet its AB32 emission reduction target, and do our part to reduce the impacts of climate change.

Stand With Us Against Pio Pico

These alternative solutions don’t generate carbon emissions or pollution, are cost-effective, and stimulate the economy.  So why are we considering building Pio Pico?  If this doesn’t make sense to you either, as a rate payer and concerned citizen, join us,,  in taking action:

Creative Commons License This text by Nicole Peill-Moelter and Kimberly Tomicich is used here by permission of the authors, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License