About Jay O'Hara

Jay is a native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.


In 2013 Ken Ward and Jay O’Hara, with the support of a team on shore, blockaded 40,000 tons of coal being delivered to the Brayton Point generating station in Somerset, Massachusetts – the largest single source of climate changing carbon emissions in the northeast.

The two of us headed to trial intending to offer a climate necessity defense, which had been permitted by the judge. But to our surprise the prosecutor, District Attorney Samuel Sutter, dropped the criminal charges and on the steps of the courthouse in Fall River made a breathtaking statement about climate change, and pledged to join us for the People’s Climate March in New York City in two weeks.

Ken and I have gone on to help found the Climate Disobedience Center and were both subsequently involved in the October 2016 #ShutItDown tar sands valve turning action in four states.

Please enjoy reading through this piece of history on this site!

Minute of Appreciation

The Quakers of West Falmouth (Jay’s home Meeting) approved the following minute:

West Falmouth Friends Meeting is deeply grateful for the care and support given to Jay O’Hara and Ken Ward at the time of their trial at the Fall River District Court on September 8, 2014. The trial was a consequence of their action to block the delivery of 40,000 tons of coal to the Brayton Point Power Plant on May 15, 2013.

Meeting is grateful to the hundreds of supporters who sent letters, prayers and financial & material support and who filled the courtroom to overflowing at the time of the trial. In particular we raise up the pro bono counsel of attorneys Joan Fund and Matt Pawa. We are grateful to the Better Future Project, and Marla Marcum particularly, for effectively bringing together students, community members and the faith community in lifting up Ken and Jay’s witness. We thank Tim DeChristopher and Bill McKibben for sharing their insights and experience.

We appreciate Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter’s courageous stand of conscience to reduce the charges brought against Jay and Ken, and to make a public statement. Sutter gave voice to the need for change in how our government and policy makers respond to the climate crisis and the need for bold prophetic action.

As one Friend expressed about the trial, “What a journey we have had and a blessed resolution.” For the Inner Light that guided all of us in this witness, we are deeply grateful.

This minute of appreciation was approved at West Falmouth Friends Meeting for Business on September 28, 2014.

People’s Climate March

True to his word in front of the Fall River courthouse, District Attorney Samuel Sutter, our prosecutor, joined Ken and I in New York City for the epochal People’s Climate March. Sam brought his family and several of his staff from the DA’s office to join him and marched with us for over three hours.


Ken Ward’s Testimony on EPA Carbon Regulations TODAY

Ken Ward outside the Environmental Protection Agency

Today Ken testified at 350PM on the EPA’s proposed regulations from coal fired power plants. Below is his testimony. -Jay

Comments on EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan and Carbon Pollution Standard for Modified Sources Rule, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Kenneth Ward

July 30, 2014
Washington, DC

Mister Chairman, my name is Kenneth Ward and I live in Corbett, Oregon. I speak for myself.Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the EPA’s proposed rule to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.

When my fourteen year old son asked me why I was traveling from Oregon to Washington, DC to speak for 5 minutes, I gave him a pat answer about the importance of civic participation (and I don’t think he bought my Mr. Smith-goes-to-Washington, civic duty spiel).

But the real reason, is that I am scared. I am scared that this is a singular moment when my boy’s future will be decided and the fate of the world determined and I think the wrong choices are being made.

As one individual, I can’t do much to influence the vast powers at play here, but I can speak of obvious truths that are being glossed over in this proposal and, I believe, in President Obama’s handling of climate change.

The challenge before us is often compared with the US effort in World War 11. This is a useful in helping to imagine the kind of effort required for a society to survive, but also problematic, because America did very little to prepare for the conflict.

After Pearl Harbor however, the nation moved with incredible speed. The US went to war on December 7, 1941. Sales of private automobiles, which were 3 million that year, were frozen on Jan 1, 1942 and all auto manufacturing shifted to wartime production by February.

That’s less than two months to completely shift the largest industrial operation in the nation.

We should be moving from coal to renewables and efficiency with that kind of speed and determination, because we’ve already had our Pearl Harbor.

In May, a month before this proposed rule was issued, NASA’s Eric Rignot and colleagues and a independent group at the University of Washington reported that the West Antarctic ice shelf is now in “unstoppable” collapse.

By itself that it staggering news, equating to 4 feet of sea level rise, but more profoundly, it shatters any notion that climate change is some moderate, far off threat. The worst case is happening and happening at a speed that not even our most worried experts imagined

When Jim Hansen first pointed out that ice sheet collapse might be rapid and non-linear – in “A Slippery Slope”, published in 2004 – he thought this would occur “on the order of centuries, not millennia,” but it turns out to be a matter of decades, possibly years.

In the EPA rule, supporting documents and public statements, there is a single reference to this terrible reality — Administrator McCarthy’s comment that “If we do nothing… temperatures could rise 10 degrees and seas could rise by 4 feet.”

But nothing in the proposed rule or the “All of the Above” energy policy it is presented within, in any way addresses this risk.

• We need to immediately stop burning coal and keep it in the ground; but this plan aims for 30% of our electricity to come from coal through 2030.

• We need an swift and dramatic shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables; but this plan aims for 60% reliance on fossil fuels and is far more focused on promoting nuclear power than solar and wind.

• We need to mobilize a nation; but this plan dumbs down risk and promises to solve the problem.

I don’t believe those who say that the President is cynically avoiding a tough political fight or advancing this interest or that.

I think that the President is in a very tough bind, facing a determined opposition which is still able to focus the debate on whether there is any such thing as climate change, as Sen. Inhofe did yesterday (deftly disected by my home state Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse).

This plan was crafted to win in tough political conditions and it is certainly a masterful political proposal — a hat trick that managed to mute opposition (with moves like pegging the reference year at 2005 rather than 2012), further isolate the total denial crowd by its very reasonableness, and still have environmentalists calling it “bold” and “courageous.”

But winning at the cost of the truth isn’t worth it and won’t work in the long run.The problem with this plan can be summed up in three points:

• The plan is presented as a step toward meeting the US commitment made in Cancun.

• The Cancun pledges, even if met, are consistent with scenarios reaching 550 ppm atmospheric carbon.

• Climate systems are in free fall now at 400 ppm, heading with unbelievable speed toward conditions in which global eco-systems must collapse and civilization cannot be sustained.

This plan is frivolous in comparison to what needs to be done.

If this is the best that US political conditions allow, than we will, in fact, condemn this generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing.

But we are better than that.

I urge that this rule be withdrawn. In its place, the President should present a graver, franker explanation of the fix we are in and put forward a serious plan of action.

In the words of President Lincoln, “The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present… We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.” December 1, 1862

The time slot I was assigned today was 3:50 pm, which seemed appropriate, as that is the number we should be shooting for, or lower.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment.​

Join us in Fall River September 8 & 9

Dear Friends,

This may be a bit different from most invitations, but we hope you’ll bear with us for a moment. The two of us are about to go on trial and have the chance to argue for the necessity of aggressive, science-based climate action in a court of law. This is a rare opportunity for our movement to be heard loud and clear, to break through the clutter and show just how grave the danger is. We hope you’ll consider joining us in Fall River for the trial September 8th and 9th to drive that message home.

Let’s back up a minute and explain how we got here. (Or if you’re ready to go straight to the RSVP, click here.)

Last year on May 15th, the two of us in our little white lobster boat, the Henry David T, blockaded 40,000 tons of West Virginia coal from being unloaded at the Brayton Point Power Station, the largest single source of climate-warming emissions in New England. It was a different sort of action. There was no chanting, and no politicians or legislatures were involved. We placed our bodies (and boat) in the path of a coal freighter, challenging the business-as-usual routine that is pushing us over the climate cliff, demonstrating exactly what it is we’re up against and what needs to change.

To avoid the cliff we need to change course now, so we called for the immediate closure of Brayton and the end of coal. This is the only morally responsible course, given what we know scientifically. The lobster boat blockade launched a summer of action at the plant, including the arrest of 44 valiant folks at the gates of the plant, and last fall the owners announced the closure of Brayton Point in 2017.

As we prepare to go to trial September 8th, it is abundantly clear that 2017 is not soon enough. This summer scientists argued for the first time that the collapse of some of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is now inevitable, guaranteeing 10 feet of sea level rise from those glaciers alone. At the same time, the EPA and the President have put forward new rules on coal power plants — part of the White House’s “all of the above” energy strategy — which are about as good as doing nothing and will keep us charging towards a 6°C future.

As climatologist Jim Hansen (one of the expert witnesses at our trial) has written, if we want to have a chance of getting back to a stable climate, “the principal requirement is that coal emissions must be phased out by 2030.” If it takes us another three years to shut down a plant in Massachusetts that we don’t need, what are the prospects for closing the rest of the country’s coal plants, stopping exports, and ending the mining and burning of the stuff worldwide in the next 13 years? We have to draw the line here.

This is serious business, and we are going to act seriously. Obviously it’s serious for us — we are potentially facing months in prison — but it is more serious for our movement, as we have to make the case that half-measures and superficial victories simply are unacceptable. We hope you will join us as we set about making that case to the jury, backed by our expert witnesses Dr. James Hansen and Bill McKibben.

But we also want you to join us in making the case to the world. People seem to pay more attention to things in a courtroom, and your presence will help communicate exactly how much this matters. And we hope this will be a special time for our movement, a chance to see our work in a new way and to be in fellowship with one another in a new way.

In that spirit, we’d like to keep it classy: dress in your Sunday best, leave the signs and chants at home, and be prepared to sit patiently and to join together in song. This will be a time for serious joy, but not anger.

If you want to be a part of this work, we ask that you RSVP here. We have a stellar organizing team who are helping to put our arrangements together, and we will keep you abreast as event plans, transportation and logistics get sorted out.

Many thanks are due to all who have supported us this far. We know it’s asking a lot to come to Fall River on a weekday for something that’s more than a lunchtime rally. But it is our privilege to be able to keep this fight going in the most serious possible way. We hope you’ll join us.

Ken Ward
Jay O’Hara

PS. Please feel free to pass this invitation on to others you know who may be inspired to join in.

Fundraising, Lawyers and More

What an amazing couple of weeks it’s been. We passed out $10,000 crowdfunding goal on Indiegogo on June 17th – a whole two weeks before our deadline. And last week Ken and I met with our lawyers for the first time to begin the serious trial preparation.

We are so grateful to the 131 people who have thus far contributed to our legal defense fund. This money will enable our team to pay the expenses for our expert witnesses, and make sure that our organizers have the resources necessary to make the trial on September 8th and 9th a serious, colorful and joyous celebration that effectively communicates our message and the message of the climate movement. Thank you to all who have shared our story, passed the link on to your friends and contributed money. We were supported mainly by lots of small contributions (an average of $78), so every little bit helped. THANK YOU SO MUCH for making this campaign a success.

Also, last Tuesday, Ken and I met with our two lawyers for the first time to begin to flesh out our legal strategy going into the trial. One of the biggest pieces of information is that we are certain at this point that the trial will last two days (the 8th and 9th of September). We also talked about honing our list of witnesses, the order of the legal proceedings for the day, and likely consequences. Our criminal attorney let us know that we were potentially facing more jail time than we had thought – just one of our charges (disturbing the peace) carries the potential maximum of 6th months in prison. And that the sentences for other three charges can be added on top of this.

But we aren’t daunted! Our trial organizing team is meeting again this coming Tuesday in Cambridge, and we’ll be making sure that our plans for outreach, media and arts and culture for the event itself are all lined up.

Again, from the bottom of our hearts – thank you all who have helped us get this far.

We’re Halfway There and New Video

If you haven’t donated yet, please head over to Indigogo and DONATE TODAY.

It’s been a week since we launched our crowdfunding campaign, and we are excited that we are already halfway to our goal of $10K to support our expert witnesses, our arts and culture activities, and our little legal defense fund. Woohoo! Huge thanks to all who have helped out so far.

But there’s still further to go. Today we’re excited to have a little video from our friend Tim DeChristopher explaining why the Lobster Boat trial is important, and asking for your support. We are grateful to have Tim and nearly a dozen amazing folks from the climate movement around Boston and New England on our organizing team for this trial. It is incredible to know that we are not alone on this journey.

So, I hope you’ll join Tim and pitch in. Thank you.

1 Year Anniversary – DONATE TODAY!

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Please donate today on our Indigogo Project Page.

One year ago today, Ken and I were anchored in a wooden lobster boat off of the coal pier at Brayton Point. It was a day filled with brilliant sunshine, anxiety and adrenaline. Supported by half a dozen incredible folks on the shore, we managed to block the landing of a shipment of coal for a full day. The following three months saw a groundswell of action at Brayton Point, as the enormous plant became a central focus for the movement towards a more just and stable future.

Today we are announcing the beginning of a fundraising campaign to raise $10,000 to support the trial. We are raising money to pay travel and other expenses for experts testifying at the trial, for communication and documentation of the trial, banners and art supplies for trial festivities, and as a fund to help defray court costs and any fines that are levied.

Help make this trial a success by donating today.

Throughout the day we’ll be reliving last year’s event and tweeting with #lobsterboat. Please share the story of the lobster boat blockade with your friends, and let them know that they can help by donating. The Indigogo page has all sorts of tools for sharing with social media.

Thank you so much for joining us on this journey. We are so lucky to have you aboard.