All posts by tedglick

Keeping the Faith

July 21st was the 42nd anniversary of my and my wife Jane Califf’s 1979 wedding. 20 years later, in 1999, we had a 20th anniversary gathering in our backyard in northern New Jersey with about 50 of our closest friends and relations. We filmed that event, and last evening, for the first time in 22 years, we watched it.

We were all eyes and ears as the video showed the circle of participants. About a quarter of those present then are no longer alive. Everyone else, of course, was 22 years younger, some of whom, today, are having their significant life and medical issues. It was a startling reminder of the reality of mortality all of us must deal with.

In the video Jane and I re-read the vows we had taken 20 years before, and last evening we felt like we had done a pretty good job sticking to them. In the video we also each reflected out loud with our 20th anniversary thoughts and feelings, there together with those we considered part of our extended family, whether by blood or otherwise.

One of the things I spoke about was the importance of connections—connections to family and friends, connections to the natural world, connections to those who have come before us, and connections to those coming after us. I said that our marriage was able to survive and deepen in large part because Jane and I consciously worked at maintaining all of those connections over the years.

In 1997, a couple years before this 20th wedding anniversary event, I wrote a poem about connections, Our Awesome Task. These were the concluding verses:

“Where do we look for strength in times like these–hard times, struggling times, fighting-seemingly-insurmountable-odds times?

“To one another, as we learn the “to” (one another) and not the “on” that has been
our history on the Left, within the union structures, in our other organized efforts–the competition, the pettiness, the backstabbing, the dishonesty–a history that must be, and fortunately is, being transcended.

“Some find strength in spiritual traditions, even rituals, connecting us to one another, to those before, to the natural world.

“Some love and meditate on “God”–Truth, Justice, Compassion–(“And what does God require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”) —with all their heart and soul, and their neighbors as themselves, fulfilling Humankind’s Greatest Commandment.

“Some gather children, grandchildren, neighbor children, friends’ children, students
around them–‘and the little children shall lead them.’

“And some of us just muddle along, doing the best we can, learning from history,
understanding the historical truth, the law of physics, that for every action there is a reaction–that oppression breeds resistance–that, as Dr. King said, “The arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

“Accepting–we have no choice!–our limitations, our limited power right now, while never accepting injustice and evil, the evil system we must transform;

“Using our anger, our outrage, our humanity, our love, burning like a low flame, a pilot light, flaring up as necessary into a burning torch to lead others into a future, a future world, we must, we have to, claim and win.”

The poem articulates a macro overview of ways that we can keep the faith and keep going despite all the many obstacles we encounter. But, ultimately, keeping the faith requires each of us to develop specific daily or weekly ways to keep the higher purposes, Higher Love, foremost in our consciousness.

Howard Thurman, an African American minister who was active in the 60s Black Freedom Movement and a close friend of Martin Luther King, Jr., has written very perceptively and non-religiously about this way to “regain perspective:”

“The restlessness of our age, the churning tumult of our times, the quiet frustrations and the riotous frustrations in the midst of which we live, all these surround us in the quietness, and yet we recognize the privilege of unhurried contemplation, of laying ourselves bare to the searching processes of singleness of mind, the privilege of becoming aware of needs of which we are scarcely conscious in our fevered rush, the privilege of hearing voices that need not speak above a whisper in our hearts, pointing us to the way that we should take in the midst of our own problems and responsibilities, our own hopes, and our own fears. The time of regaining of quiet. The time of searching of heart. The time of regaining of perspective. The time of lifting of hopes about ourselves and the world. The time of insight. The time of the renewal of courage.” 
            -Howard Thurman, Sermons on the Parables **

In this “churning tumult of our times,” we must daily strive to let our inner light shine, an inner light kept alive not by accident but by conscious intention, in whatever ways we each determine to do so.

**Sermons on the Parables, edited by David B Gowler and Kipton E. Jensen, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, p. 5


Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.

Sabotage?

“How to Blow Up a Pipeline” is a book written by a Swedish climate activist and writer, Andres Malm. It was published earlier this year by Verso. A friend who read my Burglar for Peace book and knew about my belief in strategic nonviolent direct action recommended it to me.

The book is a call for greater seriousness in action by those of us who get it on how urgent the climate emergency is. By greater seriousness, Malm means one thing: sabotage.

I have some experience with what could be called “sabotage.” In the winter of 1972 I spent weeks working with a team casing an AMF factory in York, Pa. that made bomb casings for seeing-eye bombs to be dropped in Indochina. In late March several of us entered a railroad box car loaded with hundreds of these casings and proceeded to use a powerful bolt cutter to make a gash in the threads at the top, permanently putting these planned bombs out of commission.

The action happened right at the beginning of the trial of the Harrisburg 7, indicted for a supposed conspiracy to kidnap Henry Kissinger and blow up heating tunnels under Washington, D.C. I was the eighth defendant indicted but I was severed from the trial of the other seven right before trial because I insisted on my right to defend myself.

There was no plan to kidnap anyone or blow up anything, though Phil Berrigan, Catholic priest and founder and leader of this ultra-resistance network, had given serious thought to the idea of shutting down government buildings on a winter day by puncturing steam pipes providing heat to government buildings. After consideration and some exploration, the idea was dropped in part because of concern that if the action was successful and steam was released, it could burn or kill homeless people who slept on the warm grates.

This sabotage idea, and the actual sabotage action in York, were undertaken by activists in the Catholic Left. For years a series of raids on draft boards, war corporation offices and FBI offices did both political damage and, in the case of the hundreds of thousands of draft files destroyed, practical damage to the government’s war machine. I was part of all of this for about three years, including 11 months in prison.

Malm’s book brought back these memories. I thoroughly identify with his feeling that the climate emergency is so serious and the response of the world’s governments so weak, given the continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions and the very serious threat it poses to human society, that some of us need to consider much stronger action. Like what? Here’s what Malm writes at one point:

“So here is what this movement of millions should do, for a start. . . Damage and destroy new CO2-emitting devices. Put them out of commission, pick them apart, demolish them, burn them, blow them up. Let the capitalists who keep investing in the fire know that their properties will be trashed. If we can’t get a prohibition [of all new CO2-emitting devices], we can impose a de facto one with our bodies and any other means necessary.” (p. 67)

Elsewhere Malm writes approvingly of stone throwing and “revolutionary violence as an integral component.” He reviews the history of pipeline sabotage in various popular struggles against repressive governments. He attacks pacifism on strategic grounds and writes of the fact that mass struggles for major change often involve use of both nonviolence and people who are armed or who take violent action. He writes of focusing property destruction on the property of the rich, on “luxury emissions.” He tells about being involved years ago in organized vandalizing of SUV cars in rich neighborhoods.

And yet, he then seems to have second thoughts.

He writes that “strict selectivity would need to be observed. There was a randomness to the property destruction undertaken by the suffragettes [in England in the 1910’s], which wouldn’t do now.” (p. 69) We need to recognize, he says, that “it will be states that ram through the transition or no one will. . . [With] “a Green New Deal or some similar policy package, property destruction would appear superfluous to many.” (p. 118)

And violence carries political risks: “In the eyes of the public, in the early twentieth-first century and particularly in the global North, property destruction does tend to come off as violent.” (p. 101) “Because of the magnitude of the stakes in the climate crisis, negative effects could be unusually ruinous here.” (p. 121)

He spends a number of pages addressing the issue of property destruction as it compares to tactics which can hurt or kill people. He gets it that there is a difference.

Back during the Vietnam War, those who initiated the Catholic Left actions to destroy draft files—doing so in ways that insured the only people who might get hurt would be those doing the actions, no one else—experienced criticism from more than a few people in the peace movement. There was concern that such actions would help the government paint the movement as violent.

Over time, however, as participants in the first actions openly revealed their identity, explained why they were moved to risk years in prison, and argued that destroying pieces of paper sending young men to Vietnam to kill and die was in no way violence, the political dynamics in the country changed. By 1972, people arrested inside the Camden, NJ federal building about to break into draft boards were acquitted of all felony charges by a jury.

As far as I know, there has been one major act of property destruction related to climate in the US. In 2016 and 2017 two young women, Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya, members of the Des Moines, Ia. Catholic Worker movement, burned pieces of heavy equipment at construction sites of the Dakota Access Pipeline. They eventually decided to make themselves known so that they could explain why they did what they did. Malm quotes them saying, “We are speaking publicly to empower others to act boldly, with purity of heart, to dismantle the infrastructure which deny us our rights to water, land and liberty. We never at all threatened human life. Nothing was ever done by Ruby or me outside of peaceful, deliberate and steady loving hands.” (p. 98)

Three weeks ago Reznicek was sentenced to eight years in prison, and Montoya will be sentenced at the end of this month.

50+ years ago I don’t remember once talking with others in the Catholic Left about “sabotage.” I think I know why. Those older and wiser leaders of this wing of the peace movement, like Phil and Dan Berrigan, wanted to keep the focus of what we were doing on the WHY, on the war victims, the draft-age young men, the threat of wider and wider war. I am sure that they felt that to talk or write about what we were doing as “sabotage” was, in essence, playing into the hands of our militaristic and imperialist enemies.

Ultimately, it is not the words we use but the actions we take which are important: actions appropriate to the urgency of our situation—actions which do not lead to serious injury or death of others—actions which cannot be painted as mindless, reckless violence—actions which educate and motivate others, build the movement—and ultimately, actions which help to build so much political pressure on government leaders that they finally must do the right thing.

As Albert Camus said, “Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”


Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.

Walking and rocking for a fossil fuel free world

When the planning began, four or so months ago, for what became a nine-day, 175 mile, 2021 Walk For Our Grandchildren that ended two days ago, the pandemic was still strong. It was weakening, as the Biden Administration from day one made its defeat its top priority, but up until a month or so ago the first thing we talked about on our weekly Walk planning calls was the pandemic and if we should keep moving forward, or adjusting, our planning.

Biden and his administration deserve credit for their leadership on this huge issue. But when it comes to the existential issue of the deepening climate emergency, it’s a different story. And that is why from June 20 to June 28, from Scranton, Pa. to Wilmington, De., from Biden’s birthplace to his current home, a core group of about 20 people, most but not all grandparents, walked, rode, met with local activists, rallied, picketed, demonstrated and, on the last day in downtown Wilmington, in front of a major Chase Bank corporate headquarters, blocked a major intersection by sitting in 10 rocking chairs, leading to 15 arrests.

200 or more people took part in one or more of the 18 different events over these nine days. 70 organizations supported it, many of them frontline groups fighting fracking and proposed new fossil fuel infrastructure. A highlight of the press coverage we received was in Scranton, where good stories were aired by three local TV stations, and two consecutive days of coverage was given to us by the major local daily newspaper. Two TV networks came to our Independence Hall rally in Philadelphia. A daily Wilmington area paper carried a good story on the civil disobedience action in front of Chase.

All along the way we passed out half-page leaflets which explained why we were walking: “We stand with local people whose air, water and land are being poisoned by oil and gas pollution and whose health is suffering. We demand that Chase Bank stop its massive funding of fossil fuel companies. We call for keeping fossil fuels in the ground to prevent the escalation of destructive weather events for the sake of future generations and all life on earth. The current proposals by the Biden administration to address the climate emergency and many environmental injustices are inadequate. We need a rapid, uncompromising transition away from the extraction and burning of toxic fossil fuels while embracing renewable energy, especially solar and wind power.”

On a daily basis, we were gratified by the support given to us and expressed by people we encountered as we were walking, or who had stepped forward to give us floor space to sleep in their church or temple or lawn space on their property to camp. Local organizers all along the route responded to our plan to undertake this walk and worked with us to organize successful local actions and gatherings. The wonderful people from Seeds of Peace kept us well-fed with their traveling food-service operation.

There were challenges all throughout these nine days: high heat and humidity for about half of them; a strong wind and rain storm that came through Scranton on the second night and forced us to alter our plans for the next day as we dealt with lots of wet tents, clothes and continuing rain for most of the third day; rain on day seven as we walked along the 291 Industrial Highway to Chester and Marcus Hook, Pa.; and just staying on a very packed schedule of walking, actions, public gatherings, walker gatherings and dealing with the logistics of the trip.

We got through all of this because we had to, because there was a shared and openly expressed feeling about how urgent the issues are that we were addressing. That feeling built as we met and talked with local people along the way dealing with the negative impacts of a toxic, extractive, fossil fuel economy, a corporate-dominated economy, which puts profits for a tiny few above the health and wellness of the many. On this walk, we saw, smelled, learned about and were moved, over and over again, by those realities.

Without a doubt, the walk deepened our personal commitments to do all that we can both right now, when Biden and Congress need strong pressure to do the right thing legislatively, and for years to come to change this unjust, unequal, corrupt and polluting system.

 
Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.

It’s Time to Hit the Streets

For the last 15 months, since the first economy-wide shutdowns because of the pandemic, in-the-streets activism on the political Left has been rare. The huge exception was the massive, Black-led, multi-racial response of many millions of people all around the country last summer after George Floyd was murdered. Another exception is the heroic fight led by Indigenous women in Minnesota against the building of another tar sands pipeline, Line 3, across Anishinaabe and other land. Tomorrow, June 7, could see a thousand or more people risking arrest as part of that months-long direct action campaign.

The Sunrise Movement is also shifting gears, away from the zoom-call-only mode into something much more visible. Several days ago they sat in at the White House and on June 28 they are planning a major DC action—Biden Be Brave, No Compromise, No Excuses–demanding that “Democrats must take their power seriously and stop negotiating with a GOP which is not serious about climate action or delivering jobs for the American people.”

Also in late June, from the 20th to the 28th, there will be a 2021 Walk For Our Grandchildren from Scranton, Pa. to Wilmington, De. “to remind the Biden Administration and others that our love for our families and their futures requires a rapid, uncompromising transition away from the unhealthy, unsafe extraction and burning of fossil fuels while embracing renewable energy, especially solar and wind power.”

This upsurge of in the streets activism is happening, not coincidentally, at the same time that COVID 19 is being defeated, at least in the US and at least for now. This is the case primarily because of the effectiveness of the vaccines and the effectiveness of the vaccination campaign begun on January 20th when Biden/Harris took office. The science is telling us that, at least for this summer, many things that couldn’t happen over the last 15 months now can.

It is essential that our movement of movements on a wide range of issues recognize and act upon this new reality. From a strategic perspective, as far as how fundamental social, economic, political and cultural change happens, actions in the streets are essential. We must intelligently organize public marches, demonstrations, work and hunger strikes and nonviolent direct actions that underline the seriousness of our issue campaigns, inspire millions of people who hear about them, and bring pressure to bear on decision-makers to do the right and needed things.

This is not the only thing we need to be doing. It is also essential that our movement be grounded in day-to-day, community-, workplace-, and issue-based organizing by millions of volunteer and paid activists and organizers, utilizing popular education, dialogical approaches and techniques as much as possible. And we need to engage in the electoral arena, supporting independent and progressive candidates, and sometimes, for tactical reasons, people like Biden because of the threat from the Trumpists, racists and neo-fascists. We need do this from the most local to the highest national level, doing so in a tactically flexible way as far as whether to run on a Democrat, independent, Working Families, Green, or other line.

At any one time, one of these three legs of our movement-building stool—street action, electoral action and day-to-day dialogical organizing—will take precedence. In 2020 electoral action was the priority. Right now street action, holding those elected accountable, bringing political pressure to bear, has to be the priority, and not just via zoom calls. It’s time to hit the streets!


Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.

Walking For Our Grandchild

A little more than three weeks from now, my wife Jane Califf and I will head west to Scranton, Pa. to join with others in the eight-day, 2021 Walk For Our Grandchildren and Mother Earth: Elders and Youth on the Road to Climate Justice. The Walk begins in Scranton on June 20, Father’s Day, and will end in Wilmington, De. on June 28. On that day we will take nonviolent direct action at a major corporate headquarters of Chase Bank, the world’s leading financial supporter of the fossil fuel industry.

Eight years ago I helped to organize the 2013 Walk For Our Grandchildren, from Camp David in Maryland to the White House via Harpers Ferry. That one ended with about 60 people being arrested at the offices of Environmental Resources Management, the greenwashing company that did the KXL oil pipeline’s official environmental impact statement.

Many of the people who I met and walked with in 2013 ended up joining together the next year to take nonviolent direct action at the headquarters of FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, out of which emerged the organization Beyond Extreme Energy. BXE is still going strong, supporting frontline groups fighting new fracked gas infrastructure and advocating with increasing effectiveness for FERC to be replaced by FREC, a Federal Renewable Energy Commission.

For Jane and me this year’s Walk will have one very big difference: as distinct from back then, today we are actual grandparents. Earlier this month, with the pandemic thankfully receding, we spent time in Montana with four month old grandson Rio and our son and daughter-in-law, and unsurprisingly, we fell deeply in love with him.

It helps to personalize why we are working and struggling and fighting, day after day, for a very different future than the one we are facing absent very big societal changes.

Many years ago, in 2006, I did this personalization as I climbed up a ladder onto a ledge about 25 feet above the DC area entrance to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I did so as part of a campaign being conducted by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network the year after Hurricane Katrina, calling upon NOAA to release a study they had done of the connections between global heating and stronger and more destructive hurricanes.

In preparation for this action I practiced climbing up a 32 foot ladder behind the CCAN office. Doing so wasn’t easy because I have a fear of heights. I had to figure out a way of keeping down my fear as I climbed those rungs, and what I did was to think about my two great nieces, 1 and 4 years old at the time, and how I needed to overcome my fear so that, hopefully, their world would be a much better one than today’s. I ended up writing a poem about this experience, “The Ladders, Then and Now, and Abby and Ellie.”

I am sure that as we move from Joe Biden’s birthplace to his Wilmington home town on this year’s Walk, Jane and I will be thinking often about Rio, gaining energy to keep walking in the expected summer heat. But if we weren’t actual grandparents, we would still be taking part.

Right now is a critical time for visible action to demand that President Biden and Democrats in Congress take seriously their responsibility to act now, this summer, as part of the American Jobs Plan, to accelerate the urgently needed shift off of fossil fuels to renewables—solar, wind, moving water and geothermal. It’s time to put a stop to the construction of Line 3 and the building of any new fossil fuel infrastructure, which even the International Energy Agency just last week said must be done if we are to reach the world’s Paris Climate Agreement goals and prevent worldwide climate catastrophe. It’s time to step it up!

(For information on the Walk For Our Grandchildren and to sign up, go to About | 4ourgrandchildren (wixsite.com)


Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.

Israel/Palestine!

Indian independence leader Mohandus Gandhi was a believer in nonviolence as the most effective way to bring about social change, but he also believed that violent resistance is better than surrender to oppressive conditions.

Clearly, Israel’s open-air imprisonment of the people of Gaza and the continuing, expanding, illegal, Israeli occupation of major portions of the West Bank are conditions that people will resist, in small ways daily and in bigger ways when conditions ripen for mass resistance, whether nonviolent or violent. That, above all else, is the underlying reason for the war now raging.

It is a good thing that political pressure from most of the world’s nations, the grassroots in the US and from progressive Democrats and independents in Congress is having an impact on Biden, given the historic role of the US as a deep-pockets enabler of Israel’s repressive policies. As this is being written, he is toughening his stance toward Israel’s once-again, death-from-the-skies, disproportionate response to Hamas’ barrage of missiles.

I wonder what a Trump administration would be doing if they were in power now. It’s hard to see them doing anything other than cheering on their fellow right-winger Netanyahu, with potentially huge implications for the entire West Asia region.

It has been a positive thing to see the progressive wing within the Democratic Party stepping forward only a few days into this latest violent war to demand that the Biden Administration support a cease fire, halt the shipment of weapons to the Netanyahu government and act as if it is genuinely concerned about not just Israelis but Palestinians also. From what I’ve seen in the liberal mass media, this position has been presented there as a legitimate one.

In today’s New York Times, for example, in a front page article with a headline, “Gaza Reels From Strikes That Underscore Scope of Deep-Rooted Misery,” they report in the second paragraph that, “Sewage systems inside Gaza have been destroyed. A desalination plant that helped provide fresh water to 250,000 people in the territory is offline. Dozens of schools have been damaged or closed, forcing some 600,000 students to miss classes. Some 72,000 Gazans have been forced to flee their homes. And at least 213 Palestinians have been killed, including dozens of children.”

“Genocidal” is the word that comes to mind for what Israel is now doing.

It is also positive to read in another article in the Times that “hundreds of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel stopped work for the day on Tuesday, as did other Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and in Gaza, protesting violence against Arab Israelis, the unfolding Israeli military campaign targeting Hamas militants in Gaza and the looming eviction of several families from their homes in East Jerusalem.”

I hope this successful day of mass nonviolent action is the beginning of a Palestinian mass movement that will continue and grow in its impact, and I hope that growing numbers of non-Palestinian Israelis join with them.

And for those of us in the USA, we need to keep coming out for demonstrations being organized around the country in support of a cease fire and, ultimately, genuine justice, equality and peace in Israel/Palestine for all of its peoples.

Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.

FERC: From Rubber Stamp to Climate Action Leader?

(This is testimony that I presented publicly to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioners last Friday at an all-day FERC workshop to move toward setting up an Office of Public Participation, 43 years after it was authorized by Congress. I testified on behalf of Beyond Extreme Energy, which has been taking nonviolent direct action at their headquarters in DC and putting as much pressure as possible on them since 2014.)

I have been interacting with and experiencing FERC for the last decade. As the gas industry has expanded nationally I have been involved with numerous efforts to prevent the imposition of pipelines, compressor stations and export terminals. I’ve done so in the county, Essex County, NJ, where I live, in other parts of NJ, in the Md/DC/Va. area when I was the National Campaign Coordinator of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and nationally through CCAN and the organization Beyond Extreme Energy.

A constant among all of these experiences is that FERC has operated as a willing partner with the gas and pipeline industries, making sure that in virtually every single case they get their permits to expand their operations. It doesn’t matter if the number of comments opposing a project is 99-1 opposed; they’ll get their permit, their Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. That’s why FERC is widely seen by those who experience it as a rubber stamp agency. According to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, in a release put out in April of last year, “FERC has a pattern of rubber-stamping these certificates.  According to data submitted to the Subcommittee, in the past 20 years, FERC has granted 1,021 certificates, while rejecting only 6, a greater than 99% approval rate.”

The main responsibility of a new Office of Public Participation must be to end this rubber-stamping process, create a level playing field in which the opinions of local landowners, communities and towns on proposed projects are taken seriously. For this to happen, several things are necessary.

First, an OPP must be adequately staffed, both numerically and with people who have expertise and experience in democratic community organizing and governance. With all due respect to those who must work within a necessarily bureaucratic structure, there is a difference between democratic and participatory ways of work and bureaucratic ways.

Second, environmental justice concerns must be central to the functioning of an OPP. This means there must be people of color and people from low-income backgrounds part of the staff, and these issues must be prioritized. Indeed, for FERC as a whole, we would urge that an Environmental Justice Impact Statement for proposed new energy infrastructure, as well as an Office of Indigenous Relations, become part of the functioning of a new and reformed FERC. We need a 21st century federal energy regulatory agency, not one mired in 20th century thinking and practices.

The Office of Public Participation cannot be an operation separated out from the rest of the way FERC operates. The concept of “public participation,” of genuine community involvement, of taking seriously the concerns of local people affected by proposed projects and policies, must permeate all of FERC. This means that current FERC leadership must take on the issue of fossil fuel industry influence over and corruption of the way FERC operates. All of the many ways that this happens, from the revolving door between FERC employment and industry employment, to the hiring of contractors with deep industry ties, to hiring industry-connected individuals to lead FERC departments, and more, all of these must be identified and changed. FERC’s culture must change from one of industry participation and influence to one of genuine popular participation and influence.

And if that can’t happen, if it is just too deeply rooted, FERC needs to be replaced with a new federal energy regulatory agency that can do so.

Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.

A Winning Climate and Political Agenda

I don’t have any regrets about the work, and the 32-day hunger strike, that I did last fall to get Joe Biden elected. I knew what we would be getting: first and most important, an end to Trump in the White House and second, someone replacing him who wasn’t a climate denier.

I support the Green New Deal idea, embodied in Congress in the Thrive Agenda, introduced in February by Senator Ed Markey and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. That agenda is much stronger than what President Biden put forward last week, much more realistic as far as what is needed to prevent worldwide societal breakdown via climate and environmental catastrophes. But, thinking big picture, it is a major improvement from the Trump years to have an opening-up, three-way, public debate between Republican climate denialism, centrist Democrat proposals not-to-the-scale of the need, and the progressive Green New Deal/Thrive Agenda.

It is absolutely essential that the much more realistic progressive approach continue to grow in popular understanding and support, this year, next year and as long as necessary. If the Biden proposal is the best that can be passed this year, then it should be supported and passed, but with a clear understanding that it is a beginning, not an end.

This three-way debate over government policy is not going away. One of the latest examples is an article, “What To Do About Natural Gas,” published in the April issue of Scientific American. It is authored by Michael E. Webber, a writer, educator and Chief Science and Technology Officer at ENGIE, a global energy and infrastructure company. From my research, ENGIE seems to be an all-of-the-above kind of energy company, though it’s selling some of its coal assets. Webber is definitely big on gas pipelines and infrastructure.

One of his sentences about hydrogen in the article is revealing: “Anticipation feels similar to what arose during the very early days of fracking shale: a huge resource is out there, if engineers can figure out how to harness it cheaply and safely.”

There’s not a word of substantive criticism of fracked gas in Webber’s article. Nothing about how people living near gas wells, compressors and pipelines have been poisoned. There is no mention of the fact that, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the overwhelmingly primary ingredient in gas, methane, is 86 times more impactful as a greenhouse gas than CO2 over a 20 year period.

Also unmentioned is the clear need to stop building out new gas and oil infrastructure, stop the decades-long, rubber-stamp approval of industry expansion permit applications.

Webber quickly dispatches renewables in his third paragraph because of transmission issues. Then he never looks back as he proposes various ways to keep the gas and pipeline industries in business for seemingly forever through various still-to-be-proven proposals. In his final paragraph he opines that “climate change requires many solutions. Declaring who cannot be part of those, such as natural gas companies, only raises resistance to progress.”

Reading this yesterday, I was reminded of how Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm spoke in an interview April 1 on PBS. Talking about fossil fuels, she never used any language to the effect that we need to reduce, much less get off, fossil fuel use. She kept saying that what we need to do is “clean up fossil fuel emissions.”

That approach is directly tied to support of the holy grail of industrial carbon capture and sequestration, something I have been following since I became a climate activist in 2003. So far, 18 years later, it has yet to be commercially viable but, clearly, the fossil fuel industry and their active or passive supporters in government have every intention of getting as much money as they can for this failure of an approach to solving the climate emergency.

I’m not opposed to some funding going into research into potential new ways to advance genuinely clean technologies and reduce emissions. But that is not the same thing as research to prop up 20th century industries in a 21st century that must move as rapidly as possible to truly clean, renewable energy as the dominant energy sources. Fortunately, with the technology improving, the prices of solar steadily dropping, and the growth of battery storage technologies, renewables dominance can happen this decade.

And with polls for many years consistently showing that 75-80% of all US Americans, including about half of Republicans, support wind and solar, this is a political winner.

Progressives, let’s keep our eyes on the prize.

Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.

On Aging and Clear Vision

The month of March has been a month when I’ve both felt my age (71) and experienced the possibilities for positive physical change despite the unstoppable process of growing older. How? Through eye cataracts, their removal, and the eye renovation that followed.

It was several years ago that my optometrist first told me I was in the beginning stages of cataracts. Since then, when getting my yearly check-ups, I was told that they were getting worse but very slowly. Then last year, all of a sudden that changed when, mid-year, I noticed that the vision in my left eye had definitely gotten worse. Eventually, this month, that led to my getting cataract operations on both eyes. The old lenses in my eyes were replaced with human-made prescription ones; I’m still recovering, putting drops in them throughout the day.

What has been amazing is that, for the first time since I was in second grade, I no longer need glasses or contacts to see things. I need reading glasses to read, but that’s it. It’s like a miracle! And apparently, much of the cost is going to be covered by Medicare (still not sure about that).

I’m still 71, and there are other health issues that I have related to the aging process, but overall, now that I have what feels like a new set of eyes, I look forward to an improved quality of day to day life, God willing.

I remember hearing decades ago about people with cataracts needing to spend days in bed as still as possible after cataract surgery. Today, with modern medical technology and the advance of human knowledge, it is completely different. And very importantly, that knowledge and technology, some of it, is available not just to the rich and powerful but to the masses. That is progress.

Of course, Improved Medicare for All will extend the reach of the best of health care to everyone, which is absolutely what is needed and what we should be fighting for. I’m very clear-eyed about that.

Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.

Senate Action an Historic Turning Point?

Despite all of the efforts over many weeks by the Trumpist Republicans to paint the just-passed American Rescue Plan Act as just more “liberal pet projects,” they’ve failed big time.  Polls over the last month have shown margins of 62, 73 and 76 percent of US Americans in support, including half or more Republicans.

This is for a piece of legislation that will cost $1.9 trillion, over twice as much as the stimulus package in 2009 to deal with the Great Recession. Politically, this is a very big deal.

Why has it maintained this level of support? Clearly, it’s because of the twin crises of the pandemic and the economy, but not just that. It’s also that people can see that this is truly in the best interests of the vast majority of the country on both accounts. And it helps a lot to see a unified Biden/Harris Administration successfully leading the fight against the pandemic, in a way the Trumpists failed spectacularly to do.

This morning on MSNBC one of the talking heads was talking about the passage of this legislation as, potentially, the beginning of a turn away from the last 40 years of Ronald Reagan-inspired policy to shrink-the-government (except for police and the military) and let-loose-the-capitalists. If that turns out to be true, what just happened is an even bigger deal, for sure.

What about the failure to include a $15 minimum wage? There’s no question but that this was a defeat for which 50 Republicans and eight Democratic Senators are responsible. 42 of them voted in favor of Bernie’s amendment to include it, but these eight Dems deserve to be targeted by progressives for maximum political pressure going forward.

There are some on the Left who believe the minimum wage defeat should lead to the Squad and Progressive Caucus members in the House voting against the bill when it comes up for a House vote tomorrow. This makes no sense to me. It’d be like resigning from an overall decent job your family really needs the income from because some co-workers put you down in a disrespectful way.

I liked Bernie’s role in this fight. He played a major role putting together a very progressive piece of badly needed legislation. When the $15 minimum wage had to be taken out to get the rest of the package over the finish line, he stood up and proposed an amendment to keep the issue alive and to make visible for all to see who it was on the Democratic side who needed to be held to account.

The independent progressive political forces that supported this legislation after helping to get Biden elected despite very real differences deserve more than a small bit of the credit for this legislative and political victory. Without us, it wouldn’t have happened. Let’s keep building a principled but tactically-smart, inside and outside, multi-racial people’s movement that turns this country around, maybe much more quickly than any of us thought possible just a couple of months ago.

Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.