Invitation to Attend the Trial

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.