Over the weekend, some 10,000 environmental activist youth came to Washington D.C. to attend Power Shift 2011. The conference was designed to teach people already committed to saving the planet how to organize their communities to address climate change and confront corporate polluters. They’re also getting experience in how to remind Washington that America’s youth are not, as activitist Van Jones described Congress, “stuck on stupid.”
After two days of training, a meeting with Obama, and speeches from Al Gore and EPA’s Director Lisa Jackson, etc, the group heard Saturday night from 350.org’s Bill McKibben (see video).
McKibben was also on a panel that included Lt. Dan Choi and FDL’s Jane Hamsher, with a focus on how progressive activists must confront, provoke, and embarrass the nation’s leaders into paying attention. As you might expect, environmental advocates are having the same conversation as the rest of us about the, uh, “Obama problem.”
Monday’s events are designed around “make polluters pays,” so about 5,000 attendees gathered at Lafayette Park across from the White House to protest inadequate climate change actions and government/industry dropping the ball on Gulf cleanup and corporate accountability after the BP oil disaster.
In the past, labor and environmentalist have often been on opposite sides, with corporate polluters threatening to put people out of work if they have to comply with even the most moderate environmental regulation. Today, the next generation of environmental leaders was joined by labor leader Richard Trumka. Seems they have a common enemy in the polluters that are not just sending jobs overseas but despoiling the planet.
From there they marched to demonstrate in front of the Chamber of Commerce — there’s a FB video taken from an office above the route — home of the most lavish spending anti-environmental lobbying cabal on the planet. There’s a great picture of the rally here.
Last year, the Chamber spent more than any lobby group in history to help elect Tea-GOP Congressmen who are almost all climate deniers and anti-regulatory zealots. That’s how we wound up with Tea-GOP Governors and state legislatures clear cutting state environmental safeguards and why Congress keeps trying to repeal EPA’s authority to enforce the Clean Air Act, clean water regulations and anything that might deal with global climate change. Now the Chamber is lobbying to preempt state energy efficiency standards, like those in California that have paved the way for federal standards. So the protesters plan to move next to the Hill to confront legislators.
There are further actions planned to shut down BP gas stations, to call attention to BP’s failure to address the damage it’s oil disaster caused the Gulf.
Lots more photos here.