Lobster Boat Blockade Of Coal Plant Leads District Attorney To Climate Leadership
Once i met my husband Geof Day, his work as a climate activist launched me to some interesting folks involved with 350.org. Not too long ago, I heard the inspiring story of Ken Ward and Jay O’Hara, two local weather activists who, up till September 8th, thought they can be doing prison time for his or her bold action of blockading the largest coal-fired power plant on the East Coast with an outdated lobster boat. Final week, Sam Sutter, a neighborhood District Attorney, agreed that because the actions of Ward and O’Hara at Brayton Level have been moderately reflective of a broader danger (that of local weather change), all costs, beyond paying some minor damages, needs to be dropped. Later, in a stunning move, that very bomber stone island same DA–while waving a replica of Rolling Stone that includes an article by 350.org founder Invoice McKibben–acknowledged that climate change is “one of the greatest crises our planet has ever confronted,” that political management on this matter has been “sorely missing,” and that he could be joining them on the upcoming People’s Climate March.
That is an interesting and necessary story, especially on the eve of world leaders’ convergence at what is being billed as “the largest local weather march in history” – the Individuals’s Climate March – in New York City on Sept 21, 2014.
Here’s an interview with Jay O’Hara and Ken Ward, with because of Geof for connecting me to them so that they could inform their very own story.
When the Bristol County District Legal professional appeared in court docket the day your trial was scheduled to begin and dramatically dropped criminal costs in opposition to you, had been you stunned
KEN WARD: We were not stunned that the charges had been diminished, because the prosecutor had tried the week before to have the case knocked out by the court docket, and we knew from personal conversations that morning that the DA agreed with us on climate and would make an announcement, which was pretty exciting, but we have been frankly blown away when DA Sutter issued his indictment of the failure of present political management and stated, in impact, that civil disobedience is an acceptable response underneath these circumstances.
JAY O’HARA: I was taking a look at Tim DeChristopher, who spent nearly two years in federal prison for disrupting a federal drilling lease auction and who’s been serving to us in our trial, and Tim’s jaw simply dropped as DA Sutter read his assertion. Yes, we have been all stunned and thrilled.
Why had been you thrilled
JAY O’HARA: It’s important to picture what was occurring. We had a hundred people who had come to Fall River expecting to spend two or three days watching and supporting us and I think everyone had fairly combined feelings after we trooped out of the courthouse–completely happy that Ken and i weren’t going to get prison time, however dissatisfied, I believe, that we weren’t going to be in a position to use the trial to draw consideration to the local weather disaster.
KEN WARD: We had Invoice McKibben and Jim Hansen and other consultants ready to testify and a staff of topnotch attorneys led by Matt Pawa and Joan Fund – working at no charge – set to current a primary-ever climate necessity defense. Then, just an hour after court docket convened, the criminal costs have been dropped, which meant that we would not be in a position to supply the necessity defense. DA Sutter’s statement was thrilling because having the prosecution agree with the reasoning behind our action achieved a lot of what we sought by going to trial, simply in an unexpected manner.
Jay, you will have spoken earlier than about being open to the “unexpected” and I do know that that is a part of your Quaker religious tradition, can you communicate extra about that
JAY O’HARA: Sure, the lobster boat blockade I did with Ken was part of what I consider my Pals ministry – an expression of faith in motion. By taking the first step of placing oneself able to observe damage as it is being finished – and i consider burning coal, given all the pieces we all know, to be amongst essentially the most terrible actions doable – we do what is known as “bearing witness” within the Buddies tradition. And that is necessary even when there isn’t any purpose to believe that something optimistic will come out of it, and even that anybody will know you had been there. Ken and i had been ready to do what we did even if there had been no information about it. When we try this, miraculous, unexpected things happen, comparable to we saw at the trial.
KEN WARD: I’m a UCC Congregationalist, and come at this perhaps a bit more hardheaded in terms of trigger and effect, however over two years of difficulties and boundaries we’ve seen many, many doors open where we didn’t expect them. The lobster boat motion achieved what we wanted, but not always by the means we anticipated. Jay talks about a “means opening” which I generally joke about (hey, my cellphone’s about to die and we have received that call with the brand new York Times reporter; don’t be concerned, a way shall be opened), however that has, in truth been our expertise all along.
Inform me about some of these obstacles.
KEN WARD: Effectively, I remember getting a name from Jay a couple days earlier than the action was planned. The boatyard the place our lobster boat, the Henry David T.was saved over the winter had just put the boat within the water and Jay thought it was sinking.
JAY O’HARA: There have been three inches of water shooting up into the air all alongside several seams.
What did you do
KEN WARD: I informed him, “don’t fret, a manner will open (chuckle).” Nah, I hadn’t heard that phrase yet.
JAY O’HARA: We bought a pump and saved the water beneath the extent of the engine until the wooden swelled up.
What different sorts of difficulties did you face
KEN WARD: Probably the most troublesome impediment was opposition from Massachusetts environmental teams. Once we began to discover the idea, this was in the fall of 2012, we had a spherical of meetings with organizations in the “Coal Free Massachusetts” coalition–leaders in the effort to close Brayton Point and other Mass coal plants. We hadn’t expected that they’d essentially embrace us, however we also didn’t count on the form of, ah, vigorous opposition we bought.
JAY O’HARA: At one point we had been informed that if we went forward, “somehow” phrase would get to Brayton Point security and the Somerset Police.
Wow, that is difficult to imagine. Why have been they so opposed
KEN WARD: I was somewhat sympathetic, having been in a similar place in the past. Stone When I used to be Director of recent Jersey Public Interest Analysis Group, which had a big toxics program, a Greenpeace workforce went out and welded a chunk of steel over the largest pollution discharge pipe going in the ocean (led by Jon Hinck, who’s now an environmental lawyer in Maine). I was annoyed, it’s was a turf thing, however then we noticed that all the things modified. Virtually in a single day there was an entire new willingness to do one thing about toxics and groups like ours had rather more room to maneuver and get things accomplished.
JAY O’HARA: Earlier than our action, nobody was significantly discussing quick shutdown of Brayton Level. Our motion led to 2 major demonstrations at the plant site and a particular shift in attitude towards the plant. All of the groups who opposed our motion have, roughly, come round, and a few are even enthusiastic.
KEN WARD: After all, inexperienced teams are still a very long away from the place we’d like them to be.
In terms of local weather work
KEN WARD: Exactly. We just saw perhaps the weakest display this summer. In Might, we had the Rignot study saying that the West Antarctic ice shelf is now in “unstoppable” collapse, which suggests 10′ of sea level rise, and only a month later President Obama issued his coal plant emissions rules which are completely horrible – professional-natural gasoline and fracking, professional-nuclear power, and, I’d argue, pro-coal, because they intention to maintain 30% of electricity era from coal burning – and each single considered one of the foremost US environmental groups endorsed this miserable proposal, most of them without even a peep of complaint.
JAY O’HARA: Certainly one of our goals is to exhibit a completely trustworthy method that does not flinch at placing local weather science reality first. We won’t shade actuality with a purpose to pander to average public opinion. We believe the sincere strategy will work to remodel politics, and we expect we have confirmed that right here.
The place do you go from here
JAY O’HARA: Nicely my companion Meg and i are crusing down Island Sound for the time being, sharing our experience at forums and Associates Meetings alongside the way, heading bomber stone island for brand new York the place we will be collaborating in a flotilla as a part of the Sept. 21 People’s Local weather March simply earlier than the UN climate meetings.
KEN WARD: I am working with Tim DeCristopher, our legal professionals and other members of our assist committee to finalize plans for a Local weather Disobedience Middle, which we plan to open simply after the September march. We want to supply help, training and other resources to folks occupied with or planning civil disobedience on climate along the traces of our lobster boat blockade.
On account of this small action, historical past has been made. A small precedent has been set. Civil disobedience towards coal-fired vitality on this case was judged each symbolically and in reality for the greater good of the setting, and to the advantage of the public.
Perhaps a new way of understanding local weather change has indeed opened, as manifested by the journey of the Henry David T. and the no-longer-sorely-missing management of 1 principled and courageous public official.
Lori Day is a advisor and writer with Lori Day Consulting in Newburyport, MA, masking politics, present occasions, tradition, media and girls’s rights within the Huffington Submit. You’ll be able to join with Lori on Fb, Twitter, or Pinterest.
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