By James Boyle
Posted Jan 6, 2017 at 12:01 AM
Activists in Bucks County will rally in Newtown Borough on Monday night against the confirmation of certain proposed members to President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet.
The protest is one of more than 60 planned and organized nationwide for Monday by environmental group 350 in an effort to lobby U.S. senators to deny executive-level positions to four nominees who have questioned or denied the science behind climate change.
“There are enough senators with integrity that understand the science and will not want in power people who deny what 97 percent of scientists say is true,” said Steve Bacher, of Newtown Township, who serves on the steering committee for the Bucks County chapter of 350. “We are hopeful that Sen. Pat Toomey is one of those senators.”
Monday’s event will begin at 6 p.m. with a presentation at Newtown Friends Meetinghouse on Court Street in Newtown Borough. Donald Brown, scholar in residence and professor for sustainability ethics and law at Widener University’s Environmental Law and Sustainability Center, will give a talk titled “Prospects for Preventing Catastrophic Climate Change In Light of the Recent Marrakech International Climate Negotiations.”
Brown will discuss the latest developments on the Paris Agreement and the ramifications Trump’s presidency could have on the climate accord adopted in December 2015 and ratified by more than 100 countries, including the United States through an executive order by President Barack Obama.
Trump consistently indicated at campaign rallies that he would remove the United States from the agreement, which sets targeted nationally determined contributions of greenhouse gases for participating countries. The framework of the agreement remains under negotiation, with full adoption targeted for 2018.
Following the presentation Monday, the protesters will march down Newtown Borough’s State Street, Bacher said. The plan, Bacher said, is to stop at a busy corner and hold a candlelight vigil.
“There’s no RSVP system for the announcement, so we don’t have an estimate on how many will attend,” said Bacher. “We held a last-minute meeting on the environment in December, and more than 50 showed up from different organizations. We reached out to them, and they will reach out to their members. I will be happy if we get at least 50 on Monday.”
The rally and march will protest the nominations of four cabinet hopefuls:
- Rex Tillerson for secretary of state;
- Scott Pruitt for EPA administrator;
- Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the Department of Energy;
- Ryan Zinke for the Department of Interior.
“We are focusing on the conflicts of interest regarding climate change and the fossil fuel industry,” said Bacher. He rattled off reasons why each nominee should be rejected, highlighting Tillerson’s work as former CEO of ExxonMobil, Perry’s public call to get rid of the Department of Energy during his 2012 presidential run, and a letter sent in 2014 by Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt to the EPA. The content of the letter, which claimed regulators overestimated the amount of methane gas emitted by the drilling of new natural gas wells, was taken near verbatim from a memo sent to Pruitt by energy company Devon Energy, according to the New York Times.
According to 350′s website, another rally is planned at U.S. Sen. Robert Casey’s office on Market Street in Philadelphia at noon Monday, but nothing appears to be scheduled for Toomey’s office.
Asked about the rally, Elizabeth Anderson, communications director for Toomey, said, “Sen. Toomey appreciates feedback from his constituents and hearing their concerns. It is for this reason that he travels across the state and hosts various forums to hear their thoughts on the best way to create jobs, keep our nation safe, and end the wasteful spending and crony capitalism in Washington.”