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…]

The Truth of the Matter

Originally Published in the San Diego Free Press on 11/24/16

by Mark Hughes

One of humorist Will Rogers’ signature lines was: “Well, all I know is what I read in the papers.” In subtext, he’s saying he trusted what he read, so it seems reasonable to believe that in those days newspapers lived and died by getting the story right. What a simpler time; if Will was reading papers and the Internet and watching TV today, depending on the sources he chose, some to much of what he learned would be either misleading or just plain false. The information portal guardians have been overrun by hordes bearing rocket-propelled innuendo, guided missile conspiracy theories, and bandoleers bristling with self-serving lies. But that was only the first wall to fall. In this country, those hordes are no longer raging outside governmental gates; soon they will be the government itself.

Welcome to the newest incarnation of the world. The rules, as they always do, have once again changed, and the eternal response is demanded: what do we do about it? How do we live now?

Let’s start with a review of the situation. Truth, in both the social setting and as science’s burnished product, took a hard beating in this election cycle. But perhaps that was an almost foregone conclusion, obvious once recent history is examined from a certain angle.

[Read more…]

SD350 Took Climate Action to Sacramento in 2016

We know climate change is a serious threat, as do 81% of Californians, according to a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California. Thanks to the dedication and commitment of SD350 volunteers, we took climate action to Sacramento this summer.

As members of the SanDiego350 Public Policy Team, we work to educate our members and the public, lobby officials and create a healthier climate future. In addition to advocating for improved climate laws at the local level, we also review state legislative bills related to climate change and advocate for their passage or defeat. This year we focused on eight priority bills. We educated ourselves and members of SanDiego350, posting our positions on social media, making making calls to legislators, and lobbying key San Diego Assemblymembers to urge them to vote for our priority bills. We are happy to report that 50% of the priority bills we supported were passed by the legislature and have been signed into law by the governor, including SB 32, a two-year bill we also supported in 2015, which cements California’s place at the forefront of climate action by codifying the state’s ambitious emission reduction targets into law.

The SanDiego350 Public Policy Team decided early in the year to focus on identifying and prioritizing state bills that would reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and to train SanDiego350 members on advocating for legislation with elected officials. Members of our team identified relevant bills, prioritized the eight we felt were most important, and tracked the progress of these bills over the course of the legislative session.


Legislative training

We sent letters on behalf of SanDiego350 in support of legislation to shut down Aliso Canyon, to include an Environmental Justice element in General Plans, and to prevent coal from being shipped overland to the Oakland Terminal. We worked in concert with our allies in the Bay Area and in San Diego to increase visibility of these bills and encourage their passage in the legislature (for example, we authorized 350 Bay Area to speak for us at committee hearings in the legislature in Sacramento). [Read more…]