AN INTERVIEW WITH TOM PRICE
Tom Price, director of strategic initiatives for All Power Labs | Photo by Martin Klimek/AP Images
Q & A with Tom Price
What about using fear to get pledges, encourage corporate responsibility?
It’s been remarkable to witness change that’s taking place on corporate levels. Facebook, Twitter, Google, have all cracked down on fake news and alt.right trolls. Patagonia has a black image covering their front page: Endless pressure, endlessly applied. Companies can hear from people asking them what they’re doing what they’re doing to confirm commitment to equality, diversity, etc. We have an ability to punish companies instantly. And that also goes the opposite way to rewarding companies for their commitments to justice.
What can we do to stop the US from pulling out of Paris Agreement?
Chinese delegation today said that climate change is not a conspiracy, and that they are going to lead on this topic if we’re not. Also, President Obama and his team were smart in how they structured the Paris Agreement commitments. Primary commitments to energy reduction are happening at private and state levels, and can’t be as quickly undone at the federal level as you might think. And, once again, Clean energy is being done because it finally makes sense economically. The Sierra Club’s non-coal campaign has already gotten 103 coal power plants to go offline. The private sector will no longer fund new coal plants in the US full stop.
How do we find allies in the right, since this issue [of environmental protection] is bipartisan?
It’s absolutely doable. Republican mayor of Lancaster has become a tremendous advocate for solar. Leaders like that should be celebrated. Private sector companies that are leading on this stuff. There are so many. Dan Caiman at energy lab at UC Berkeley, Merekesh delegation, just released a paper that says that it doesn’t matter whether you care about the environment, renewable energy is just better for the economy. The head of the coal industry in Kentucky said that even rolling back all regulations won’t add that many more jobs.
Why shouldn't we be despondent?
Nixon’s environmental laws are strong, and there are lots of ways we can slow down attacks. Republicans are going to try to do everything at once with an incompetent team. They won’t be able to do it all. The way DC works, the most powerful tool is the filibuster in the Senate. Orrin Hatch came out in support of preserving the filibuster. Democrats will still have that to shut down really bad stuff. The reason clean energy will thrive and grow is that, for the first time in history, it's the most economically viable path forward.
What can we do RIGHT NOW?
a. Very small groups can be tremendously effectively if they have capacity. Contributing resources is especially valuable right now because these groups are having to staff up. Regular donations or targeted donations to an issue. Obama can push through a lot of legislation in his lame duck era that will impact environmental policy in the Trump era, so now is the most important time to contribute to the Sierra Club- there have been donation matching running in these final weeks.
b. Most important thing is morale. We’re going to have to take loses and use them to fuel rage and frustration and move forward. We’ll be successful by encouraging this struggle. A bunch of our side stayed home.
c. Lobbying. There is nothing more effective than a half dozen people who know what they’re talking about who take the time to visit their district offices and then the Washington offices. Politicians want to keep their jobs. You all have the ability to enable that or take that away. Your member of Congress has 200 or 300 issues that their staff is tracking. If you care about one thing, have intensity, focus and tenancy. Be informed, be polite, and be in contact repeatedly. That has enormous power. Understand that staff have incredibly difficult jobs, and their number one priority is to make sure no issue comes out of the sky like an asteroid to hit their boss. You can be a help to them.
d. We need to listen to the rural working poor who feel unheard -- we on the coasts, who have more education and better job opportunities. We all are guilty of ignoring the states between the coasts. It really comes down to how to knit back the people who are not as fortunate as us to the opportunities that we experience.
e. Right now, people in SoCal right now can sign up (for a small percentage a month) to receive power only from renewable energy sources. The law is written so that renewable energy cannot be purchased or subcontracted by another company, but must be generated directly by the SoCal utility company. So if enough people sign up for this service, the power company will be forced to build more renewable energy sources.
What should we be happy about, in CA?
CA is in an extraordinarily strong position. Leadership has already said they’re not stepping backward, and our legislature has already put out press release that they’ll lead resistance. Our economy is so big, that the standards for fuel emissions, etc, are the standards for the nation. What we decide dictates what the rest of the country does, because companies aren’t going to set up 2 systems. Everyone running for governor is competing to be most environmental person in the race. SB 32 is already signed into law, committing us to lower carbon emissions. That alone is going to create a massive incentive for California to get into line.
What’s the most boiled down pitch for getting people to care about climate change without freaking them out?
Our brains are not designed to comprehend or to handle problems of this scale. It is an existential risk to the planet. And one that people can’t see happening. On the other hand, there are enough changes taking place that there has been a massive uptick in the number of people who believe in climate change. It is so important to encourage people in whatever small micro steps that they take. Recycling a can is a gateway drug. Meet them where they are. Don’t overwhelm them with fear, and let them know they’re not alone.
EXPERT REPORTS COMING SOON:
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
Miry's List: Supply directly to local families in need of basic living supplies (diapers, beds, etc).
Nonprofits assisting LGBTQ community:
The Trevor Project: Crisis and Suicide Prevention for ages 13 to 24. TONS of information and resources on their website
Human Rights Campaign: advocates for LGBTQ Equality
ACLU: The American Civil Liberties Union. They protect and defend individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and our laws.
GLAAD: Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. A Monitoring Organization, making sure the media gets the story right.
GLAD: Legal Advocates and Defenders for the LGBTQ Community.
The Los Angeles LGBT Youth Center NEEDS Resources. https://lalgbtcenter.org/how-you-can-help
EQCA: Equality California. A Civil Rights Organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society.
Refuge Restrooms: This is an App that lets Transgender people know where there are safe bathrooms for them to use. This App picked up where the Safe2Pee website left off.
Nonprofits Assisting Immigrants:
KIND (Kids in Need of Defense) provides legal representation to unaccompanied minors in immigration court and accepts donations of clothing, used baby items toys, etc
Carecen (Central American Resource Center) offers low cost legal services and community organization http://www.carecen-la.org/take_action
IRLC (Immigrant Legal Resource Center) provides citizenship resources to the community and educational materials to the California and Arizona bars on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions https://www.ilrc.org
Al Otro Lado offers post-deportation legal services in Tijuana http://www.alotrolado.org/take-action
ACLU Immigrant Rights Project spearheads important federal court litigation supporting the rights of immigrants https://action.aclu.org/secure/renew-your-aclu-membership?s_src=UNN160001C00&alt_src=UNV160001C00&ms=web_horiz_nav_hp_renew
AIC American Immigration Counsel employs a range of strategies such as policy advocacy, litigation, research, communication, and education to promote sensible and humane immigration policy https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/get-involved
Catholic Charities offers, among other things, immigration assistance to refugees
Nonprofits for Reproductive Rights:
Planned Parenthood: Planned Parenthood is a trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world. Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are#sthash.XX18TW2B.dpuf
Emily’s List: Supporting pro-choice women running for congress and governor.
RAINN: The nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. Anti-sexual assault organization working with local rape crisis centers across the U.S. Also has a web-based crisis hotline providing live and anonymous support.
Volunteer to escort at abortion clinics when you’re home for Thanksgiving or winter holidays.
Call your nieces and teenaged family members and tell them that they can talk to you, especially if it’s a reproductive rights issue – let your family know they can feel safe with you.