Do not mourn: love your mother and organize

How young people in Rhode Island are translating political aspirations into action

Photo courtesy fo Chloe Moers

Chloe Moers, a litigant in the lawsuit being brought by Nature's Trust Rhode Island against the R.I. Department of Environmental Management.

By Chloe Moers
Posted 10/29/18
A young adult explains why she is suing the State of Rhode Island to force changes in policies and practices around climate change.
How will the lawsuit by Nature’s Trust Rhode Island change the policies of R.I. DEM around climate change? Do the new lawsuits by young adults around climate change signal a new environmental movement in the U.S.? What are the opportunities for Nature’s Trust Rhode Island to engage with the original organizers of Earth Day and compare successful strategies? When will the news media focus on the contribution being made by behind-the-grid solar, which was as much as 2,000 megawatts during the summer of 2018, in reducing the need for new power plants?
Much of the current structure of the utility industry in New England is the result of the effort to deregulate the electricity and gas utilities in 1997, under the guise of empowering consumers to be able to make choices from competitive energy suppliers in the expanded marketplace.
The deregulation has not worked out the way it was intended, to say the least. For instance, National Grid, a foreign company based in the United Kingdom, has a virtual monopoly on gas and electricity markets in Rhode Island. Competitive markets for residential consumers remain virtually non-existent, save for those pushing what often appear to be bait-and-switch scams. The role of the public utility commission in Rhode Island has been weakened.
Twenty years later, it may be time for the R.I. General Assembly to re-examine the laws governing utility deregulation and move forward with a restructuring of the industry. Newly elected progressive legislators should consider making such an effort as a priority in the 2019 legislative session, as part of an initiative to look at policies around climate change.

Editors Note: In 1970, the small group of advocates who had organized the first Earth Day celebration and formed Environmental Action, through which they sought to transform the new found consciousness around environmental issues into political action.

In the group’s first political action campaign that fall, Environmental Action targeted 12 members of Congress, calling them the Dirty Dozen, for their willingness to serve and protect the interests of corporate polluters. Seven of the 12 members of the Dirty Dozen were defeated in their re-election campaigns.

In his recent episode of “Story in the Public Square, taped in Ochre Court at Salve Regina University, John Kerry, the former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and 2004 Presidential candidate, talked about that first Dirty Dozen campaign in 1970 by environmental activists as an example of how best to turn political aspirations into political action.

As readers of ConvergenceRI may know, Chloe Moers, a high school student at the Met School in Providence, has recently contributed two stories: the first focused on her neighborhood, the second focused on the music play list for her day-to-day activities.

In this, her third story, Moers talks about her role as one of the litigants for Nature’s Trust RI, which is suing the State of Rhode Island in order to force the government to take action on climate change. The motto of the organization is: Securing the right to life, liberty and happiness on a healthy planet; it believes that the right to a livable climate is fundamental to a free and ordered society.

On Sept. 5, Nature’s Trust RI filed a petition on climate change with the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, seeking to compel the State of Rhode Island to step up and do its fair share to stop climate change before it is too late.

The petition to DEM alleged that state agencies had not lived up to their legal obligations, as defined by the Rhode Island Constitution.

On Oct. 5, DEM responded by denying the petition, setting up a court battle. In the news release by Nature’s Trust Rhode Island, the petitioners expressed dismay, noting that DEM’s denial coincided with the release of the Special Report on Global Warming issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and cited The Washington Post headline about the special report, which said: “The world has just over a decade to get climate change under control, U.N. scientists say.”

In the news release, Moers, a member of the board of Nature’s Trust Rhode Island, was quoted as saying: “This response ignores the need for change to happen in Rhode Island and is dismissive of our constitutional rights. This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed immediately and it affects the well-being of all of us.”

Moers and her young compatriots in Rhode Island have chosen a similar path to those original environmental activists in 1970, pursuing their environmental rights in court, seeking political action by the state to address climate change. Here, in her own words, is her story why.

PROVIDENCE – My name is Chloe Moers and I am a litigant for Nature’s Trust RI. I am part of a team of youth who are suing the State of Rhode Island in order force state government to take action to reduce Rhode Island’s impact on climate change and even work at reversing it, which includes stopping the over-dependence on fossil fuels and to stop releasing an alarming amount of greenhouse gases into the air.

This planet is in a crisis, caused by all of us and our inventions, experimentations and recklessness, in our every-day activities.

We consume and use straws that cannot be recycled; we eat foods produced by corporate animal agriculture. We eat foods out of season, buy products that are not made close by, we drive cars with gasoline and many of us do not compost.

Big companies promote planet-threatening products and services for money; they use resources that are outdated; churning out low-priced products for consumers – but at a high expense for the planet and future generations.

We are no longer thinking of the far-away future when it comes to climate change. It is now estimated that change must happen now, for if we wait more than a few years it will be too late: the dirt we need to fill the hole we’ve dug will have disappeared.

Threatening the home we share
The home we all share, all the people and all the animals and trees and plants, the rivers and bays and oceans, is collapsing around us. Our basic survival needs – clean air, clean water, safe food to eat – are soon not going to be able to be met.

We will experience more hurricanes, more “natural” disasters, increasing fear. There will be more refugees and more land not capable of sustaining life. Coral reefs will become non-existent and bees may even disappear, causing the demise of so many of the foods we love and the ecosystems that sustain us. Profit from oil and fracked natural gas cannot save our future generations, but taking action on climate change today can hopefully alleviate the mess we have created.

Legal action
The R.I. DEM denied Nature’s Trust RI’s petition asking for action to be taken, based upon the best available science in order to reduce the health and risks of climate change. And so Nature’s Trust RI is taking them to court. They ignored the need for change and ignored scientific facts. The R.I. Department of Environmental Management is not putting the planet and the lives of Rhode Island residents first; they are turning their head in the other direction.

[See links below the petition filed by Nature’s Trust RI and the response by R.I. DEM.]

A similar case with young people suing over climate change had been given approval by a federal district court judge to proceed to trial – but the lawsuit is being temporarily held up, as a result of a motion filed by the U.S. Department of Justice before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The lawsuit, brought by 21 children and young adults, accuses federal officials and oil industry executives of violating their due process rights by knowing for decades that carbon pollution poisons the environment, but doing nothing, according to a story by NBC news.

Who profits?
The people are being ignored by the government and by those companies who have an abundance of money – and political power. The more we unite together, the more we are able to take the power back, and the more we can protect the earth.

The earth is our home; it is not being protected even close enough to the amount it needs to be for our continued health and peace.

It is my responsibility as a young adult – and all of our responsibility to work together, no matter how old or young you are, to make change happen together.

Chloe Moers is a student at the Met School in Providence.


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

© convergenceri.com | subscribe | contact us | report problem | About | Advertise

powered by creative circle media solutions

Join the conversation

Want to get ConvergenceRI
in your inbox every Monday?

Type of subscription (choose one):

We will contact you with subscription details.

Thank you for subscribing!

We will contact you shortly with subscription details.