Building the Future We Want

I wrote about the Rally for Reproductive Justice at the Iowa Women of Achievement bridge in downtown Des Moines last Friday. The event was a case study of how I hope and pray we find our way toward the goal of Beloved community. This is urgent now as the systems we have depended on continue to collapse around us.

White Christian problem

I’m always uncomfortable talking about myself but being asked to take photos at this event represents one principle of how we can work together. White males represent/perpetuate the systems of dominance that we must get rid of. Being a white male, I work to avoid those attributes in what I do.

White people need to wait to be invited into this work. So, I was honored that one of my friends, Sikowis Nobiss, of the Great Plains Action Society asked me to take photos at the rally. It takes a long time for this trust to develop. I’ve been working with the Great Plains Action Society for five years.

Sikowis Nobiss

There were several signs at the gathering like the one below that say “end the white Christian problem and keep abortions legal”. White supremacy is at the root of systems of dominance and oppression. White Christians should work to liberate themselves from their systems of dominance and oppression. In the process, helping liberate those oppressed by those systems.


I’m going to try to explain how the principles of the Red/Green New Deal in the diagram above were represented at the Reproductive Justice event. The Green New Deal (GND) represents the idea of modeling bold initiatives to address environmental disaster on the New Deal of the 1930’s.

LANDBACK

The Red New Deal stands for Indigenous led Green New Deal. This is represented in the diagram above as LANDBACK.

The Reproductive Justice rally was supported by the many justice organizations in Iowa listed in this graphic. My friend Sikowis Nobiss of the Great Plains Action Society was one of the main organizers (and who asked me to take photos). Other Indigenous friends included Mahmud Fitil who took video via a drone, Donnielle Wanatee, who gave prayers, and Ronnie James of Des Moines Mutual Aid who setup the Wells Fargo Kills Communities banner. Our gathering was just across the street from the Wells Fargo Arena.

NOTE: I have another blog which is about LANDBACK titled LANDBACK Friends.

It is the reclamation of everything stolen from the original Peoples.

  • Land
  • Language
  • Ceremony
  • Medicines
  • Kinship

It is a relationship with Mother Earth that is symbiotic and just, where we have reclaimed stewardship. 
It is bringing our People with us as we move towards liberation and embodied sovereignty through an organizing, political and narrative framework. 
It is a catalyst for current generation organizers and centers the voices of those who represent our future. 
It is recognizing that our struggle is interconnected with the struggles of all oppressed Peoples.
It is a future where Black reparations and Indigenous LANDBACK co-exist. Where BIPOC collective liberation is at the core. 
It is acknowledging that only when Mother Earth is well, can we, her children, be well. 
It is our belonging to the land – because – we are the land. 
We are LANDBACK!

LANDBACK Manifesto


Black Liberation

BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. White supremacy is the attempt of White people to dominate those who are not white, i.e. BIOPC people. Much of what I’ve been writing about regarding Indigenous peoples applies to black and other people of color. The obvious differences relate to the history of enslavement and continued injustices related to skin color.

From the LANDBACK Manifesto (above): “It is a future where Black reparations and Indigenous LANDBACK co-exist. Where BIPOC collective liberation is at the core.” This is represented by Black Liberation in the diagram above.

One of the main organizations involved in the Rally for Reproductive Justice was Des Moines Black Liberation. The concept of black liberation represents moving beyond the concept of Black Lives Matter.


Abolition

Today abolition commonly refers to abolition of police and prisons. The public lynching of so many unarmed Black and other people of color appear relentlessly because of news and bystander videos. There are incredible inequities of prison populations and long sentences of BIPOC people compared to white people. Prisons are abused to keep BIPOC people off the streets.

There are numerous examples of the success of dispatching mental health personnel instead of police where appropriate.

Mutual Aid

Mutual Aid has been my focus for justice work for the past several years. While Des Moines Mutual Aid is not listed in the organizations supporting the Rally for Reproductive Justice, several of us were at the Rally. One thing they did while I was taking photos was set up this banner calling attention to missing and murdered Indigenous relatives (MMIR).

The Rally for Reproductive Justice was in solidarity with the annual day of awareness about MMIR that is observed at this time. The Wells Fargo banner calls attention to the bank’s financing fossil fuel projects. Pipelines are often intentionally built near native communities. Violence against native peoples occurs from the men in the camps at the construction sites. The Wells Fargo Arena is just across the street from where the rally was held.

The color red is associated with MMIR. Many in the crowd at the rally wore red, and the Women of Achievement bridge was lit in red for the same reason.

Bridge lit in red in support of missing and murdered Indigenous relatives

As shown in the graphic above, Mutual Aid is about getting rid of vertical hierarchies, which is fundamental for building Beloved communities. There won’t be power structures of superiority, dominance, and oppression if we commit to the framework of Mutual Aid.

Conservation

For healing for Mother Earth to occur, it is essential to dramatically reduce extraction and consumption of resources. We must act in a manner that will be best for the next seven generations.

Spirituality (Religious socialism)

My friend Donnielle Wanatee offered prayers during the Rally.

Donnielle Wanatee

That briefly covers what is included in the graphic above (Red/Green New Deal).


I wanted to mention there were people at the rally to sign for those with hearing impairments.

One of the other organizations supporting the Rally was Iowa CCI (Citizens for Community Improvement) that I’ve just begun to become involved with. One of my friends is Jake Grobe, who is the Climate Justice Organizer for Iowa CCI. Jake and I often see each other at the Des Moines Mutual Aid food giveaway each Saturday morning.

Jake and Sikowis are two of the people who did a great deal of work creating a new coalition, the Buffalo Rebellion. This coalition will do much to help us build the future we want. The Buffalo Rebellion recently held an intense Climate Summit that I was blessed to attend, to build a network of climate and justice advocates.

Sikowis Nobiss and Jake Grobe

As my Mutual Aid friends and I left the Rally we said, “I’ll see you in the morning” where we’ll be at our food giveaway.

Building a coalition

I’m reflecting and praying about what happened this past weekend during the Climate Summit of the newly formed Buffalo Rebellion, a new coalition of Iowa organizations that are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice.

Buffalo Rebellion is a new coalition of Iowa organizations that are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice. The Earth Day Rally will be an afternoon of honoring Mother Earth through sharing stories and visions for climate justice and taking action together for a world that puts people and the planet before profits for a few.

Following the Earth Day Rally, Buffalo Rebellion will be holding two days of immersive training to develop 100 grassroots leaders who will build local teams to take on climate justice issues in their community and come together to create a thriving state-wide movement.

Formed in 2021, Buffalo Rebellion is comprised of seven Iowa organizations: Great Plains Action Society, DSM Black Liberation Movement, Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice, Sierra Club Beyond Coal, Cedar Rapids Sunrise Movement, SEIU Local 199, and Iowa CCI.

Buffalo Rebellion


Extremely thankful for this community we built this weekend. Looking forward to fighting for the future alongside all of you.
Thank you to the organizers, and big love to the participants.
Keep an eye out for Buffalo Rebellions next move.

Photo by @karl.ajconrad
@iowacci@iowammj@desmoinesblm@greatplainsactionsociety@sunrisemvmtcr
#climatecrisis#climatejustice#landback#racialjustice
Buffalo Rebellion 4/24/2022


How do you build a coalition? You bring together organizations and people who have demonstrated they are effective at building community and organizing for change. And who are aligned in their purpose.

My experience is there are a small number of people and organizations who shoulder justice work in a city or geographical area. Which means they are acquainted with each other. A given individual often belongs to multiple organizations.

But these groups often don’t work together. Building a coalition is how to remedy that. The organizations listed above are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice. That is our common purpose. Rapidly evolving environmental chaos is an existential threat that requires radical action now.

Centering on racial and economic justice is crucial for many reasons. Blatant environmental racism is seen over and over again by the location of hazardous infrastructure in Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) communities. Conversely, solar panels are not often seen there.

There are many aspects of economic injustice as well. Those economically disadvantaged also tend to live in areas of environmental hazards. And supply the labor for jobs such as coal, oil, and tar sands mining, while white capitalists receive (steal) the profits.

Building a coalition requires us to know and trust each other. And to learn about each other’s work. Tools that we can bring to our organizations. Or know who has expertise we can turn to for help.

This past weekend of Buffalo Rebellion meetings and action went a long way in beginning to accomplish these goals. It was important to have the action of marching to the offices of MidAmerican Energy. Demonstrating how direct actions work.

The many excellent presentations shared the tools and knowledge of experts in our coalition. The following table of presentations gives an idea of what was done.

Community Building & StorytellingCedar Rapids Sunrise
End-Stage Iowa, Indigenous Land Stewardship & the Green
(Red) New Deal
Great Plains Action Society (GPAS), Iowa Citizens Community Improvement (ICCI)
NoDAPL Reunion Panel
Fundamentals of Organizing (Starting an Issue Based Campaign
and Fundraising 101)
DSM Black Liberation, ICCI, Sierra Club Beyond Coal
Police, Prison, & Military Abolition for Climate JusticeDSM Black Liberation Movement
Lobbying: Get Your Local Green New Deal Passed into LawCedar Rapids Sunrise
Migration in Iowa and Big-AgIowa Migrant Movement for Justice
Art and ActivismSay Poetry, DSM Black Liberation Movement
Frontline Tactical Methods to Protect the Land: From Direct Actions and Resistance Camps
Landscapes: The Kinship of Climate, Wildness, and Community
Mutual Aid: Bail Funds, Court Solidarity, and Incarceration Support in Resistance MovementsGPAS, DSM Mutual Aid
Linking the Origins of Iowa’s Contemporary Environmental Problems to the Extractive Nature of White Settlement
Ending White Supremacy in Climate OrganizingCPAS, DSM Black Liberation Movement, Sierra Club Beyond Coal
Launching the Movement: Strategic Applications of Drones for Grassroots ActionsGPAS
Building Power with Public NarrativeCedar Rapids Sunrise, ICCI, DSM People’s Town Hall
Damn Lies and C02 pipelinesScience and Environmental Health Network
Deep Canvassing ICCI, DSM People’s Town Hall
Urban Farming and Community FridgesSweet Tooth Farms
Bird-Dogging 101Cedar Rapids Sunrise, ICCI, DSM Black Liberation Movement
Youth Caucus ReportSeventh Generation Youth Climate Caucus

You can see the videos of most of these presentations on the Buffalo Rebellion Facebook page.

For example, this is the presentation by my friend Ronnie James of Des Moines Mutual Aid and Great Plains Action Society.

Mutual Aid: Bail Funds, Court Solidarity, and Incarceration Support in Resistance Movements

– Ronnie James, DSM Mutual Aid & Great Plains Action Society

An introduction to the how and why of supporting frontliners that suffer arrest during Movement activities. Instruction will cover the reason for, creation of, and implementation of a Bail Fund. We will also touch on the main phases of the arrest and court process: Arrest, Pre-Trial, Trial, Post-Trial, Sentencing, and Incarceration, and some of the avenues of support the defendant will require during these phases. We will discuss the role of the Defense Committee, and how they compare and contrast with the Legal Defense Team. Finally, there will be a brief summary of how this works in Des Moines, Iowa in the present moment.

Click here to see video.


The goal of this weekend of immersive training was to develop grassroots leaders who will build local teams to take on climate justice issues in their community and come together to create a thriving state-wide movement. I think that was accomplished.



#IAClimateJustice #ClimateJustice @NoCCSIowa

@iowacci @iowammj @desmoinesblm @greatplainsactionsociety @sunrisemvmtcr
#climatecrisis #climatejustice #landback #racialjustice

Hazardous liquid carbon pipelines

There are many reasons why carbon, or CO2 pipelines, should not be built.
Some I’ve written: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/?s=carbon+co2

My friend Mahmud Fitil maintains the Facebook group Iowa Carbon Pipeline Resistance Coalition @NoCCSIowa.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is not the answer to the climate emergency. CCS is unproven, dangerous and delays real solutions to the climate crisis such as energy conservation, regenerative agriculture and renewable energy

The Iowa Sierra Club, Science and Environmental Health Network, Iowa Food and Water Watch, and Great Plains Action Society are all a part of the Iowa Carbon Pipeline Resistance Coalition.

Iowa Carbon Pipeline Resistance Coalition

Mahmud gave an excellent presentation at the Buffalo Rebellion Climate Summit this past weekend, “Launching the Movement: Strategic Applications of Drones for Grassroots Actions” during which he discussed and showed drone videos that documented the damage from leaking pipelines, damaged oil rail cars and toxic ethanol plant waste.

The state requires the hazardous liquid pipeline permit because carbon dioxide in large concentrations can cause illness and asphyxiation.

Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register

The following article about carbon capture pipelines was published in the Des Moines Register today.

A company that wants to build a controversial carbon capture pipeline across Iowa should tell residents in its path how much danger they face in the event of a leak, the state’s consumer advocate says.

Summit Carbon Solutions should provide an analysis assessing the pipeline’s risk along with the company’s emergency response plan before regulators consider the company’s request for a hazardous liquid pipeline permit, Jennifer Easler, Iowa’s consumer advocate, wrote in a motion filed this month with the Iowa Utilities Board.

The state requires the hazardous liquid pipeline permit because carbon dioxide in large concentrations can cause illness and asphyxiation. 

“Iowa official asks Summit Carbon Solutions for more information about possible pipeline leaks, dangers” by Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register, April 26, 2022


Mahmud and Sikowis Nobiss organized a gathering at the offices of Summit Carbon Solutions in Ames. Following are some of the photos I took at that event.


I took these photos at last weekend’s Buffalo Rebellion Climate Summit.

#IAClimateJustice #ClimateJustice @NoCCSIowa

Dare we hope?

I was searching for a way to describe what WE experienced during OUR Buffalo Rebellion Climate Summit this weekend. A moment reminiscent of the times of the civil rights and anti-war movements which brought together thousands of people and created change. This weekend a coalition of people and organizations came together to rise to the challenges of rapidly evolving environmental devastation and collapse of the systems of capitalism and white supremacy.

As I wondered whether to write “what WE experienced” versus “what I experienced” I realized this was emblematic of what the Buffalo Rebellion is about. Dare WE hope? In its simplest expression, we need to change from “I” to “We” in all we do.

Those of us who have been working to protect Mother Earth are more aware than the general public of the breadth and depth of damage being done. More alarmed, more discouraged after years of work with little apparent progress.

The COVID pandemic made us more isolated and made it difficult to safely do our organizing work. Although our Des Moines Mutual Aid community never stopped distributing free food every week. We strictly enforced wearing masks and gloves and attempted to maintain social distancing by limiting the number of volunteers.

As an example of how long some of us have been working to protect our environment, fifty years ago I was led to refuse to own a car. I’m not aware of that changing other people’s lives.

In 2013 the Keystone XL pipeline struggles began to bring some people and organizations together. One group was known as the Cowboy-Indian Alliance.

What little I learned about native cultures showed peoples who lived with far more integrity than I was able to. When I first became engaged with fossil fuel and pipeline resistance in 2013, I began to hear stories of Indigenous peoples working to protect the water. The Cowboy-Indian Alliance came together to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline. I was honored to be given this poster from the 2014 Harvest the Hope concert.
[See: The Cowboy and Indian Alliance.]

It was clear to me and others that nonnative folks needed not only to join with Indigenous peoples but be led by them. How to make that happen?

Indigenous Iowa and Bold Iowa organized the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March in 2018, with the intent of providing a small group of native and nonnative people the time to get to know each other, so we could begin to work on issues of common interest and concern. We walked and camped for eight days along the path of the Dakota Access pipeline from Des Moines to Fort Dodge, Iowa, ninety-four miles.
[see stories and photos from that sacred journey here: First Nation Famer Climate Unity March]

A number of us worked on various projects together since, strengthening our friendships. A number of those on that March are involved in the new coalition, the Buffalo Rebellion. That includes Sikowis Nobiss, Mahmud Fitil, Trisha Entringer, Donnielle Wanatee, Miriam Kashia, Peter Clay and me.

I plan to write a lot about the Buffalo Rebellion but wanted to begin with this introduction.

I believe the answer to the question posed by this post, Dare WE hope? is yes.

Buffalo Rebellion

#IAClimateJustice

Earth Day Rally

I’m excited about attending this Earth Day Rally organized by the Buffalo Rebellion. And attending the immersive training Saturday and Sunday. The organizations that make up this coalition can be found below.

We believe that we must address the root of climate change, insatiable corporate greed and white supremacy, to make change happen. This will require a multi-racial movement of working people struggling together to upend politics as usual.

This Earth Day, millions of people are demanding that world leaders take the crises we’re facing seriously.

Join us Friday, 12-4pm for an Earth Day Rally & Action!

If you listen to Iowa Public Radio today, you’ll hear about Buffalo Rebellion, an exciting new coalition of Iowa organizations working to grow a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice. 

This weekend, Buffalo Rebellion is holding two-days of immersive training to develop 100 grassroots leaders who will build local teams to take on climate justice issues in their community.

But first, we want to come together for an afternoon of honoring Mother Earth through collective action.
WHAT: Honor Mother Earth Rally & Action! 
WHEN: Friday, April 22 from 12 pm – 4 pm 12 pm – we’ll gather for lunch with local food trucks at Cowles Commons, 1 pm – rally around stories and visions for climate justice, 1:45 pm – we’ll take action together for a world that puts people and the planet before corporate profit.
WHERE: Cowles Commons, 221 Walnut St, Des Moines, IA 50309
DETAILS TO KNOW: The event will happen rain or shine  (forecast looking ok though)! Bring money for lunch (or bring your own) and parking (parking maps and info here). The action will consist of a <1 mile march. Family friendly, the action is youth-led. 
WHY: The latest IPCC report continues to make the path forward very clear: it’s either people and the planet or fossil fuels. It’s up to us to build power and push our leaders to action.  For a brighter future,

Jake Grobe (he/him)
Climate Justice Organizer
——————–

We believe that we must address the root of climate change, insatiable corporate greed and white supremacy, to make change happen. This will require a multi-racial movement of working people struggling together to upend politics as usual.

“Iowa has been made into a sacrifice zone by government sanctioned Big-Ag corporations, which have a stranglehold on the climate and environmental legislation. Colonial-capitalist farming practices are poisoning our water, depleting the soil, and are a leading contributor to Iowa’s greenhouse emissions causing climate chaos.” – Sikowis Nobiss, Plains Cree/Saulteaux, Executive Director, Great Plains Action Society

Buffalo Rebellion was formed in November 2021 and consists of:
Great Plains Action Society
DSM Black Liberation Movement
Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice
Sierra Club Beyond Coal
Sunrise Movement Cedar Rapids
SEIU Local 199
and Iowa CCI.

The coalition is part of the national Green New Deal Network.

If you’re interested in attending the training potion of the summit or have any other questions, please email us at IowaBuffaloRebellion@gmail.com.

The Duty to Resist

“The Duty to Resist” is an article in a recent edition of Friends Journal, The Duty to Resist by Carlos Figueroa, Friends Journal, April 1, 2022

I had forgotten Bayard Rustin had been incarcerated for draft resistance. He joins the list of those who have written about their prison experiences such as Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King, Jr.

In March 1948, Bayard T. Rustin, in his capacity as secretary of FOR’s Racial-Industrial Department, was honored with the opportunity to deliver the William Penn Lecture as part of the Young Friends Movement of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Since its inception in 1916, the William Penn Lecture had been given by several Quaker luminaries. The lecture, titled “In Apprehension How Like a God” (drawing on Shakespeare’s Hamlet), touched on many Quaker values but, more importantly, the moral and pragmatic lessons Rustin had learned while incarcerated for two years in Kentucky and Pennsylvania federal prisons for refusing induction into the military. 

In his lecture, Rustin reminded Friends of the need to uphold their moral responsibility with integrity as individuals and within the broader community whenever witnessing and confronting domestic or global social injustices. Rustin implored Friends toward consistency and truthfulness in the face of violence, war, and oppression.

The Duty to Resist by Carlos Figueroa, Friends Journal, April 1, 2022

In the magazine, Ithaca College’s Carlos Figueroa looks back at an important talk Bayard Rustin gave to the young Friends association in Philadelphia in 1948. It was a pivotal moment in a life that contained so many: Rustin had spent the early 1940s organizing with the Fellowship of Reconciliation and was recently released from a prison term for violating the Selective Service Act. This was his opportunity to lay out a pacifist politics for the Cold War era:

Rustin explicitly sought to persuade others into considering civil disobedience as a social democratic strategy for pursuing structural and policy change. Rustin advocated for a humanitarian, communal, and moralistic approach to change, thus disregarding an individual’s political affiliation, geographic location, or government system.

Bayard Rustin in Friends Journal, A Blog from Martin Kelley, April 7, 2022


Rustin explicitly sought to persuade others into considering civil disobedience as a social democratic strategy for pursuing structural and policy change.


From the introduction of the QuakerSpeak video below: As a gay African-American, civil rights activist Bayard Rustin faced discrimination his entire life—sometimes, Walter Naegle reminds us, among his fellow Friends. Walter, Rustin’s partner and companion in his final decades, discusses his vital contributions to Quaker testimony of peace, integrity and equality.

“Bayard believed in the oneness of the human family, in the brotherhood and sisterhood of all people,” Walter says. “He believed in the power of nonviolence which comes out of that belief in the oneness of all people.… He saw everybody as equal in the eyes of the divine.”


“I put my life on pause, rewound, now I’m pressing play. The come up, grinding until the sun up, knowing it could all be gone if one person puts their guns up. A black Quaker no savior, I’m on my Bayard Rustin to convince all the skeptics and get people to just trust em.”

Sterling Duns

I’m reminded of a teach-in by my friend Ronnie James, The Police State and Why We Must Resist. “As bleak as this is, there is a significant amount of resistance and hope to turn the tide we currently suffer under.”


I’ve been working on this post for days, which is unusual. Not quite sure how these seemingly disparate parts fit together. In part because there will increasingly be direct actions related to environmental devastation. I’ll be attending a Climate Summit this weekend, which will include training for and participation in direct action.


#IAClimateJustice #Climatejustice #Climateaction

Another nail in our coffin

In 2020, President Biden told voters, “no more drilling on federal lands, period.” Yesterday the Biden administration broke that promise, saying it will resume selling leases to drill for oil and gas on federal lands.

The fossil fuel industry has found new life as the energy consequences of the war in Ukraine are being used not as an opportunity to wean off oil production, but the opposite; to ramp up fossil fuel development.

Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released part of its latest report on Monday.

Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness

Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.

Jake Grobe

“It is never a good sign when the President announces something at 5pm on a Friday. But President Biden can’t get away with this disastrous climate decision. The fact of the matter is that more drilling won’t solve high gas prices right now – so why is Biden breaking his campaign promise to stop drilling on public lands? 

“This is why young people are doubting the political process altogether. If Biden wants to solve for voter turnout in 2022, he should actually deliver on the things he promised, not move farther away from them. On November 8, 2022 we don’t want to hear anyone asking why young people didn’t vote. Biden is actively turning voters away. If we’re going to combat fascism and win in 2022, he must be a leader and course correct. This election and our futures depend on it.”

In 2020, President Biden not only ran and won on a bold climate agenda, but told voters, “no more drilling on federal lands, period.” Today, his administration is expanding drilling on public lands, stalling on climate legislation and concurrently, his approval ratings are plummeting, especially among young people. 

Sunrise Responds to Biden Plans to Open More Public Land to Drilling, Sunrise Movement, 4/15/2022

Is there no hope for the future? How can we possibly do this to our children? How long will these questions go unanswered? Is it too late?

Iowa opportunity to significantly cut carbon emissions

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is working to get 1,000 of us to sign this petition to make the Des Moines City Council demand MidAmerican Energy commit to stop burning coal. MidAmerican is negotiating a new franchise agreement with Des Moines to secure a monopoly on supplying the city with energy.

Sign our petition to the Des Moines City Council TODAY! 

Right here in Iowa, we have an incredible opportunity to significantly cut carbon emissions that are contributing to the devastating effects of climate change. But we’re going to have to up the ante if we want to succeed.

We need to demonstrate widespread community support to push our elected leaders to action. Organizationally, we want to add 1,000 petition names to this effort to put pressure on city council and to build our people power.

For the people and places we love, and the whole damn planet,  
Jake Grobe (he/him)
Climate Justice Organizer

P.S. We know a petition alone will not get us the change we need. Join us on Earth Day, Friday, April 22nd to take our message directly to Iowa’s biggest carbon polluter. Learn more and RSVP here.

My friend Jake Grobe is ICCI’s Climate Justice Organizer. From his bio: He believes that climate justice is an intersectional fight for racial, economic, and social justice. “Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.”


Des Moines needs to follow through on 100%, 24/7 carbon-free electricity resolution

Target: Des Moines City Council

Last year the community made it loud and clear that we need climate action now. We were pleased to see Des Moines City Council follow suit by passing a resolution for 100%, 24/7 carbon-free electricity by 2035.

Now it’s time to make this goal a reality, but MidAmerican Energy – Iowa’s biggest carbon polluter and monopoly energy corporation – has publicly stated they’re planning to burn coal until 2049.

The choice is simple. We can work together to decarbonize our energy system as quickly as possible to prevent the worse effects of the climate crisis, or we can continue burning coal to extinction.

Right now, MidAmerican Energy is negotiating a new franchise agreement with Des Moines to secure a monopoly on supplying the city with energy. The current contract lasted 25 years and expires in June.

We are calling on Des Moines City council to refuse approving a new franchise agreement until they get these three commitments from MidAmerican Energy:

  • Phase out their five remaining coal plants in Iowa by 2030 and replace them with wind and solar plus energy storage for 24/7 carbon-free electricity use
  • Increase funding to insulate and weatherize Iowa homes to lower energy bills and save on energy use (to make up for the bad bill MidAmerican lobbied Iowa to pass in 2018 that cut funding requirements for much-loved energy efficiency programs.)
  • Stop utility shutoffs and provide energy debt relief for working families (MidAmerican made a record $883 million in profits in 2021)

Franchise negotiations are one of the rare opportunities that cities have used to push their energy provider to help them meet their clean energy goals. MidAmerican wants a long contract because it guarantees profit for a long period of time, and Des Moines is their largest customer.

These coal plants are not needed to meet Iowa’s energy demands and shutting them down will save money and save lives.


To: Des Moines City Council
From: ______________________

The climate crisis is an existential threat that requires bold action now to drastically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions fueling it. We were pleased to see Des Moines City Council take this seriously by passing the 100%, 24/7 carbon-free electricity by 2035 resolution in 2021.

When it passed, MidAmerican Energy agreed to work with the city to achieve this goal, which would have a big impact on lowering our emissions and keeping rates low. However, the company has publicly stated that it plans to burn coal until 2049.

As the monopoly energy provider to Des Moines, we can’t achieve the aforementioned resolution if MidAmerican Energy is supplying the grid with electricity from coal-fired power plants.

Being MidAmerican’s largest customer, and knowing that they want a contract with us that will guarantee long-term profits, Des Moines should refuse to sign a new franchise agreement until getting these three commitments:

–Phase out their five remaining coal plants in Iowa by 2030 and replace them with wind and solar plus energy storage for 24/7 carbon-free electricity use
–Increase funding to insulate and weatherize Iowa homes to lower energy bills and save on energy use (to make up for the bad bill MidAmerican lobbied Iowa to pass in 2018 that cut funding requirements for much-loved energy efficiency programs.)
–Stop utility shutoffs and provide energy debt relief for working families (MidAmerican made a record $883 million in profits in 2021)

MidAmerican Energy owns five coal plants which make them the single biggest carbon polluter in Iowa. Most of which is burned to sell excess electricity to other utilities that don’t serve Iowans.

Wind and solar energy coupled with storage is now the lowest cost source of electricity available. We can keep rates low and continue making Des Moines a leader in clean energy by demanding these plants be retired as quickly as possible with a just transition for workers.

Making the carbon-free resolution a reality will require investment in local clean energy production, storage, and microgrids. These developments will boost the local economy and improve energy reliability for Des Moines.

The climate crisis is an existential threat, anything less than bold action that meets the scale of the crisis will be a death sentence for generations to come. We call on you to act now

Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.

Jake Grobe

In February Jake organized people to attend a meeting at the Iowa Energy Center. The reason for going to the meeting was MidAmerican’s CEO Kelcey Brown had refused multiple requests to meet with ICCI and she was going to be at this meeting. I was there to take photos and wrote a blog post about the meeting. https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/2022/02/18/stopburningcoal


Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness

The fossil fuel industry has found new life as the energy consequences of the war in Ukraine are being used not as an opportunity to wean off oil production, but the opposite; to ramp up fossil fuel development.

The Biden administration is releasing a million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And pressuring oil companies to activate their oil leases. To ramp up natural gas exports. Other countries are releasing their oil reserves.

PARIS (AP) — The International Energy Agency said Thursday that its member countries are releasing 60 million barrels of oil from their emergency reserves on top of previous U.S. pledges to take aim at energy prices that have soared since Russia invaded Ukraine.

The releases show “the determination of member countries to protect the global economy from the social and economic impacts of an oil shock following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said. “Events in Ukraine are becoming more distressing by the day, and action by the IEA at this time is needed to relieve some of the strains in energy markets.”

Energy markets have been squeezed by surging demand as the global economy rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic, outpacing supply and driving up prices. High energy prices have fueled inflation worldwide, and the war in Ukraine exacerbated the problem amid uncertainties about oil and natural gas supplies from Russia and Western sanctions on Moscow.

IEA member countries hold 1.5 billion barrels in public reserves.

Nations to release millions of barrels of oil amid war, Associated Press, April 6, 2022

As horrific as the atrocities of the war are, the real consequence is acceleration and escalation of the consequences and chaos of increasing greenhouse gas emissions.


Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released part of its latest report on Monday. This scientific summary, focused on how the world can cut greenhouse gas emissions, warns of the extraordinary harm to all of humanity caused by fossil fuels and the need for a rapid energy transition away from oil, gas, and coal, calling for meaningful changes over the next three years. “Such investments will soon be stranded assets, a blot on the landscape, and a blight on investment portfolios.”

That same day, oil giant ExxonMobil made an announcement of its own: a $10 billion final investment decision for an oil and gas development project in the South American nation of Guyana that the company said would allow it to add a quarter of a million barrels of oil a day to its production in 2025.

Meanwhile, major carbon capture projects like Southern Company’s $7.5 billion attempt to build a coal-fired plant that could capture its own emissions were abandoned. Other closely watched carbon capture projects like Petra Nova and Boundary Dam have failed to live up to expectations.

As a result of that one-two punch, new fossil fuel projects may find themselves fighting against the tides, facing not just cheaper competition but also the drive to slash demand for their products to combat climate change. “Without carbon capture, coal and gas plants would need to retire about 23 years earlier than expected in order to hold global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius

ExxonMobil Announces $10 Billion Oil Investment the Same Day IPCC Signals End for Fossil Fuels. The oil giant’s massive plan to drill in Guyana’s waters comes as the UN Secretary General warns of fossil fuels as a “blight on investment portfolios.” By Sharon Kelly, DeSmog, Apr 5, 2022

As the article says, one bright spot is that the expense and failure of carbon capture means the oil industry cannot legitimately use that technology as a part of their plans to show how they will meet targets to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. That doesn’t mean they won’t try.


The following article is wrong. It states the “giant warning” is that it will take time to ramp up oil production. The real warning is the increase in greenhouse gas emissions that will result.

U.S. crude oil prices jumped more than $10 overnight to $130 a barrel on news that the U.S. was considering prohibiting Russian oil imports, though prices backed off later during Monday trading. That rally has driven retail gasoline prices up more than 46 cents in the past week, reaching a national average of $4.06 a gallon, according to fuel price service GasBuddy.

Exxon has said it expected to increase its production from the Permian by 100,000 barrels per day this year, on top of a sharp ramp up last year to 460,000 barrels per day. “We’re well on our way to that,” CEO Darren Woods told an industry conference in Houston on Monday. Chevron has also said it would increase its production there by 60,000 barrels per day this year.

U.S. oil industry prepares to boost production — but with a giant warning. A jump in gasoline prices above $4 has oil companies eyeing crude oil output hikes, but pain at the pump will linger as shaky oil markets shun Russian cargoes. by Ben Lefebvre, Politico, March 7/2022


While the PA Governor and Attorney General continue to delay halting construction and cleaning up toxic spill in Marsh Creek, local residents take matters into their own hands with direct action and win in court today. “We had no choice but to resort to peaceful protest on an active construction site to raise awareness of the dangers that have not been addressed by the responsible government agencies.”

The proceedings were watched with cheering support from families across Pennsylvania. Attorney Read used the argument § 503. Justification generally (a) General rule. Conduct which the actor believes to be necessary to avoid a harm or evil to himself or to another is justifiable if: (1) the harm or evil sought to be avoided by such conduct is greater than that sought to be prevented by the law defining the offense charged.

Pipeline Protestors Found Not Guilty by Watchdogs of Southeastern Pennsylvania (WaSEPA), April 6, 2022


Mutually exclusive

Greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause of increasing environmental catastrophe, most recently evidenced by days of multiple tornados and severe thunderstorms.

This is an existential crisis. Dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions, radically reducing burning fossil fuels is the only way to start to mitigate the environmental chaos

Instead, the Biden administration is bringing more oil into the market.

  • releasing a record-shattering 180 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and
  • proposing fines on companies that aren’t producing oil on lands they are leasing for that purpose.

Reducing fossil fuel emissions or increasing oil production are mutually exclusive.

Capitalist economic systems are driven by profits regardless of the consequences. Even though the consequences will continue to be rapidly evolving environmental chaos. What choice do you think your children and their children want us to make?

The consequences of increasing gasoline prices need to be dealt with. But there are alternatives to bringing more oil to markets. Greenhouse gas emissions decreased as many worked from home because of the pandemic. Free public transportation would help although capacity would need to be increased significantly, rapidly.

Alternatives to capitalist economic systems need to be developed. Such as Mutual Aid communities.

Even though oil prices have nearly doubled since the end of 2019, US production is down about 10% over that period.

“This is a bridge towards greater supply coming on the market from the United States and elsewhere,” a senior administration official told reporters during a conference call Thursday.

To encourage US oil companies to ramp up production, the White House said Biden is calling on Congress to make companies pay fees on wells from their leases that they haven’t used in years and on acres of public lands that they are hoarding without producing.

Companies “will have to choose” whether to start producing or pay a fee for each idled well and unused acre, the White House said.

What Biden’s shock-and-awe campaign means for high gas prices. Analysis by Matt Egan, CNN, March 31, 2022