December 15, 2016

350.org: Sit-ins Planned Against Climate Denial Cabinet

Washington, D.C. — The climate campaign 350.org is planning a full grassroots push against what they’re calling Trump’s “Climate Denial Cabinet” in the New Year.

“We’re pulling out all the stops,” said 350.org’s US Campaigns Director Jenny Marienau. “People are horrified by Trump’s appointees and we’re going to channel that outrage into action.”

350.org is currently bringing in tens of thousands of new members onto its email list through petitions targeting Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, and for the EPA Administrator appointee, climate change denier Scott Pruitt. On Tuesday, the campaign will deliver petition signatures to the Trump Transition office in Washington, D.C.

Activities will ramp up in the new year, with a national day of action targeting Senate offices across the country on January 9. Activists are already laying the groundwork for not only lobby visits, but also sit-ins, protests, and creative actions to target key Senators who say they recognize the threat of climate change, but haven’t yet come out against Pruitt and other deniers in the cabinet.

“Senators are delusional if they think their constituents support appointing a climate denier to run the EPA or the CEO of ExxonMobil to head the State Department,” said Jason Kowalski, 350.org Policy Director. “Take a state like Maine, where 74% of voters support EPA actions to protect the environment. There is no way Senator Collins can get away with a vote for Pruitt and not come across as a sellout to the fossil fuel industry.”

In-district events will be accompanied by a digitally supported phone banking operation to drive thousands of calls into Senate offices across the country.

“We want phones ringing off the hook from January 3 onwards,” said Marienau. “People don’t need to be convinced these appointees are terrible picks, they just need to be reminded to express their outrage directly to their representatives. Our digital capacity provides all sorts of useful tools to drive calls in the right direction.”

Actions in-district will be followed by more sit-ins and protests in Washington, D.C. 350.org organizers are keeping plans close to the chest for the time being, but do note the organization’s fondness for office occupations.

“Our goal isn’t just to pressure key Senators,” said Jamie Henn, 350.org Communications Director. “It’s to make sure that every one of their constituents knows if their representative is selling out to the fossil fuel industry and voting for a climate denier. This is the purest test you can imagine: either you’re pro-science or anti-science, either you stand with the people or you stand with the polluters. It’s that simple.”

The group will also continue to shine a particularly strong spotlight on ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson and the company’s history of climate deception. In conjunction with Tillerson’s the Senate hearing, 350.org is looking to host a public trial or hearing in Washington, D.C. in January on Exxon’s track record, with spokespeople from across the country and around the world testifying to the company’s environmental and human rights abuses.

“ExxonMobil is going to regret that day that Rex Tillerson walked into Trump Tower,” said Henn. “We will use this nomination fight to shine an even brighter spotlight on how Exxon lied to the American people about the threat of climate change. All of the company’s dirty secrets, from its deals with Russia to its ongoing funding of climate denial, will be brought into the light.”

350.org is one of the organizations behind the #ExxonKnew campaign, which has helped shift public opinion and drive forward investigations into the company’s history of climate denial and extensive efforts to block action to address the crisis. Both ExxonMobil and Republican Representative Lamar Smith are subpoenaing the 350.org and other environmental groups for their work to hold Exxon accountable for its climate crimes.

350.org will also be supporting other progressive groups and networks taking on other Trump appointees, and encouraging its members to get engaged in those fights.

“When we say climate justice for all, we mean it,” said Marienau. “A racist like Jeff Sessions is just as much a threat to Americans as a climate change denier like Scott Pruitt.”

Win or lose the nomination fights, 350.org sees the months ahead as only the first round in ongoing opposition to the Trump agenda. With a network of activists in all 50 states, a student network that spans hundreds of campuses, and a track record of bold actions and mass mobilizations, the organization is ready for a fight.

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Contact: Dani Heffernan, dani@350.org, (305) 992-1544

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