Halt the Heist Tax Scam Rally

Tax rally photo by Charles Moehle
Photo credit: Charlie Moehle from Pro-Bono Photo

On December 4, 2017, IEB and other local Indivisible chapters held a rally in front of Senator Kamala Harris’ San Francisco office to protest the tax scam bills making their way through the Congress. Below are accounts from several IEB members who attended the rally, beginning with rally co-lead Nancy:

By Nancy:

I walked up from Civic Center BART to the UN Plaza to be met by gorgeous rally weather – blue skies and gentle winds. A few wonderful team-mates from the rally organizing team were already there, with set-up well underway – and two frenzied weeks of planning were about to pay off. 

A little before noon people were gathering, some singing tax carols and chanting. I’m an introvert, and was waiting to get nervous but I never did – I think I was too angry. Or more likely I was just too happy to look around and see this radiant gathering of the community – of people who know that this is what Democracy looks like. Honestly, most of the rally feels like a blur at this point. All I really remember is that it was a gorgeous show of solidarity, caring, and action. The beautiful crowd wanted EQUITY, and they wanted it NOW!

Most of us didn’t even know each other until we threw our hats in the ring together to plan this rally, but we were united in our rage at the unfairness, wrongheadedness, and bottomless bad faith of the tax heist. I am in awe of the willingness of everyone to say at every turn: “sure, yes, I’m on it.” No matter what else they had going on, they just got it done – and with brilliance and boundless good humor. I’m so grateful to the whole amazing team! Clear heads, valiant hearts, speaking truth to power: that’s who we are, dammit.

Tax rally photo by Charles Moehle
Photo credit: Charlie Moehle from Pro-Bono Photo

Meet the team (with a partial list of their duties):

  • Karen (Indivisible Sonoma County): Rally Co-Lead, Press List Wrangler, Tireless Promoter, Warrior Goddess and Cat Herder
  • Lisa (Indivisible Sausalito): Rally Co-Lead, Warrior Goddess and Mover-Alonger of Rally Activities
  • Ted (IEB): Steward of Rally Signs and Doer of Everything that Needs to be Done
  • Heather (IEB): Media Advisory Writer, Ruthless Editor, and Keeper of Captive Designer of Rally Signs
  • Robyn (Indivisible Sonoma County): Harris Team Liaison and Person Bonding with Rally Crowd
  • Shana (Indivisible Sonoma County): Keeper of Rally Central on Rally Day, and Cheerful Rememberer of Small Details Leaders Have Forgotten
  • Rohit (IEB): Writer of Harris Letter, Prolific Live Tweeter, and Knower of All Things Tax Bill/Healthcare-Related
  • Barbara (IEB): Storyteller and Person Making Sure All is Well with the Sound System

And special thanks to:

  • Amelia (IEB), who reached out to and coordinated with staff from Harris’ and Pelosi’s office
  • Christine (ISF) who edited our Media Advisory
  • Gen (Indivisible Sonoma County) who helped with the press list and sent out the Advisory and Press Release
  • Charlie Moehle (IEB) who documented the rally

Remarks to the crowd by George McRae:

Immediately after my 16th birthday I had to, by law, begin to have deductions made from my paycheck. There was the shock of a take-home amount much, much less than I had been used to. But I understood, and accepted that this was my responsibility as a citizen to contribute to the common good of the nation. Among the deductions were Social Security and Medicare, money I have since been faithfully paying into my account my entire working life. I always had the expectation that this money would be there for me when I needed it. Now at 64 years old I have no expectation, because the government is planning to steal this money to make up the budget shortfall with the tax scam. The Republicans admit to this and Senator Sanders got them to admit it the other day. Mitch McConnell himself said that the middle class would be screwed.  I played by the rules, and now I’m about to get screwed. No one held a gun to my head and told me — you are now 64. You get to this age automatically. And I didn’t get here with the expectation that I would be screwed for just getting here. The only way to stop this is to flip the congress. I urge everyone to work tirelessly to do that. Here in California that means the primaries in March, only three months away! Unless we get these sons of bitches out, this will continue. Thank you.

By Rohit:

When we come together, anything seems possible. Over 200 people attended the protest in front of Senator Harris’ office. Many courageously shared personal stories of how the GOP tax plan will hurt our communities. Representatives from Harris’ and Pelosi’s office listened and reiterated their resolve to do everything possible to stop the Trump tax heist. Special thanks to the indefatigable organizers at Indivisible chapters of East Bay, San Francisco, Sausalito, and Sonoma County, for bringing us together, and a shout-out to our partner indivisible San Francisco, who helped so much with promotion and who brought a big contingent to the rally. Check out Facebook to see how we are continuing the fight.

By Barbara Kluger:

I’m overwhelmed with the continuous daily political assaults and relieved whenever I can be with others who actually want to talk openly about it. Some people shared their personal stories on paper we made available on the info table; we will send these to Senator Harris. Others shared stories aloud by microphone to the crowd. Everyone attending was keen on meaningful human interaction: singing the satirical songs, chanting slogans, encouraging speakers with focused attention. It’s good to be together when so much of our time is spent keeping up with the latest news and interacting online. I had planned to tweet our activities during the rally, but never had time. I’m not sure my tweets would have made any impact on anyone, but I know that talking face-to-face with others was good for me.

Tax rally photo by Rohit Reddy
Ted speaking at tax rally. Photo by Rohit

By Ted:

For several weeks, a team of amazing Indivisibles from Indivisible East Bay, Sonoma County, and Sausalito planned the December 4th anti GOP tax rally in United Nations Plaza in San Francisco. The goal of this noon rally was to get Senator Kamala Haris’ staff and as many concerned citizens involved in this blatant “rob from the poor to give to the rich” GOP tax bill.

IEB’s Nancy kicked off the rally with an introduction of the terrible tax bill and its near certain bad effects. She and Karen of Indivisible Sonoma County led the large crowd in chants of “Kill the Bill” and similar messages. Many progressive groups showed up to show their support in creative ways: one group sang “Kill the Bill” Christmas carols! After ten people told the crowd how the tax bill would negatively affect them personally,  Robyn from Indivisible Sonoma County gave a letter, drafted by all the Indivisible groups present, to Daniel Chen from Senator Harris’ office, urging Harris to stand strong against the GOP bill. Mr. Chen then addressed the large crowd and reiterated Senator Harris’ opposition to the bill and her efforts to fight it.

Tax rally photo by Charles Moehle
Photo credit: Charlie Moehle from Pro-Bono Photo

Giving thanks

It’s cold, it’s wet, it’s dark before you get home – winter has arrived in the Bay Area, and with it, the Thanksgiving holiday. Regardless of the day’s hurtful origins, there’s no reason not to take time during these long nights to nurture gratitude for the good in our lives. We’ve compiled this list of people and things that had America’s back in 2017, to give you and yours an easy way to spread a little of your infinite light this winter. This list isn’t exhaustive – it’s not even close – but it’s a starting point.

Members of Congress

Quick note: Not all of these people are perfect or have perfect legislative records. There are even a few we disagree with the vast majority of the time. We don’t think that disagreeing with someone sometimes means you can’t thank them for the times when you found yourselves aligned.

Representative Mark DeSaulnier

Mark DeSaulnier has represented CA-11 with progressive values this past year. He’s held town halls and been willing to meet with his constituents – including Indivisible members – face-to-face.

Representative Barbara Lee

From her work on racial, economic, and environmental justice to her leadership over the last 16 years on repealing the 2001 Authorization of Military Force (AUMF), Barbara Lee has been a powerful voice for Alameda County in Washington, D.C.

  • Phone: (510) 763-0370
  • Email: This form (you can also sign up for her excellent newsletter, Lee Mail, on this site)
  • Snail mail: 1301 Clay Street, Ste. 1000-N, Oakland, CA 94612

Representative Eric Swalwell

Eric Swalwell has been a strong advocate for CA-15 and a tireless voice in the fight to uncover the connections between President Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Senator Dianne Feinstein

We’re grateful to our senior senator for her work to protect an independent judiciary and the rule of law, and for her passion for very particular causes such as gun control and protecting the Mojave Desert and the undocumented, including an undocumented Oakland nurse and her family. She’d want us to say we’re thankful for her “ability to get things done,” and she has come closer than most Democrats—her sexual abuse bill passed the Senate and there is a (narrow) path forward for her bump stocks ban. We are thankful for her continued belief, backed by a lifetime of public service, in that ability to find a way forward against all odds.

Senator Kamala Harris

From her work on the Senate Intelligence Committee to her bold stances and direct and forceful questioning style in confirmation hearings, our junior senator has made an outsized impact during her first year in Washington. We are thankful for her eagerness to get out ahead of other politicians to endorse Medicare for all, for her promise to force the Republicans to protect DACA youth or shut down the government, and for her attention to women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ folks. And we are thankful for her efforts to look past politics to draw strength from our common humanity and use that strength to fight terrible policies.

  • Phone:  (415) 355-9041
  • Email: This form
  • Snail mail: 50 United Nations Plaza, Suite 5584, San Francisco, CA 94102

Senator Susan Collins

Hark! A Republican from Maine who voted consistently to save our healthcare from the worst excesses of her own party. No matter where she falls on the tax heist, she put her career on the line and took fire from some of the nastiest people in politics not just for the sake of the people she represents in Maine, but for the whole country. Visit her website or her Twitter.

Senator Lisa Murkowski

Like her colleague Senator Collins, Murkowski stood fast against her own party to protect the healthcare of millions of Americans. She has some seriously questionable opinions about a lot of things, but without her and Collins (and some late glory-theft by John McCain), the ACA wouldn’t be with us this holiday. Let’s hope that her vote on the tax plan doesn’t dismantle it. Visit her website or her Twitter.

Senator Chris Murphy

The junior Senator from Connecticut has been a steadfast progressive on the national stage, representing us and our values with clarity and consistency. His particular attention to gun safety law is worthy of note. Visit his website or his Twitter.

Senator Elizabeth Warren

It’s everyone’s most favorite nerd! Warren has spent the past year doing what she does best: persisting at being a detailed-obsessed, unerringly intelligent thorn in the side of the GOP. She’s been on their tail with numbers, facts, and unimpeachable arguments across all issues, but especially her mainstays in economic policy and consumer protection law. Visit her website or her Twitter.

Representative Frederica Wilson

Wilson shot to the national stage this year with her relentless and dignified defense of a Gold Star family living in her Florida district. The Trump administration and all of its apparatus came for her and that family with a racially-motivated fervor, and she resisted all of it flawlessly, setting a wonderful example for the rest of us in not taking shit from people just because they’re in power. Plus: cowboy hats! Visit her website or her Twitter.

Representative Maxine Waters

She reclaimed her time, showing the world how it’s done, and she continues to be a brave and powerful leader for residents of Southern California – and the entire country – in resisting the administration. Visit her website or her Twitter.

Journalists and Journals

Journalism is facing a critical moment in its history. Whether or not it survives this period of time, and in what form, will depend almost entirely on the people running it. Below are a list of newsrooms that have spent this past year working to protect journalism, hold the Trump administration to account, and sincerely tell truth to power.

Reveal News from the Center for Investigative Reporting

Based out of Berkeley, the Center for Investigative Reporting has been providing high quality investigative journalism to the Bay and the nation for years. Its writers have sharpened their focus this past year to shed light on abuse in the justice system, the Trump cabinet and its slumlords, and federal women’s health care spending. Reach out with thanks on their site or via Twitter.

ProPublica

ProPublica is a nonprofit news organization dedicated to in-depth investigative journalism. Like the Center for Investigative Reporting, ProPublica has this year turned its focus squarely on the Trump administration and its corporate sponsors. It is part of the only projects in the country that are actively tracking hate crimes and, separately, the causes behind America’s astonishingly high maternal death rate. Reach out on their site or on Twitter.

The Washington Post

After the election, the Washington Post adopted a new masthead motto: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” First-rate reporting on issues international, national, and local, together with a first-rate mobile website and app. Yes, WaPo has a paywall, but journalists need to eat – so if your support of the First Amendment allows, please consider paying the entry fee.

The New York Times

The “failing” New York Times has been a constant thorn in the side of the Trump administration. The Dear Leader seems to reserve a special brand of distaste just for it and its journalists, which makes its strong growth and consistently illuminating journalism all the sweeter. Reach out via their site.

NPR / KQED / KALW / KPFA

National Public Radio (NPR) and its subsidiary stations, and Berkeley-based community radio station KPFA, give us free access to high quality local and international reporting and analysis without the need for an internet connection or a paper subscription. Despite repeated threats against its funding by the current administration, NPR has maintained its excellent programming while rising to become the nation’s dominant podcast network. You can thank them by reaching out through their site, or by, yes, giving in and sending them some money the next time a funding drive gets in the way of Fresh Air.

Progressive Voices Radio

Thirsting for more in-depth and radical analysis? The free internet radio programs on Progressive Voices include shows from leading progressive talk hosts like Stephanie Miller, Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann, and more.

Free Speech TV

The anti-Fox News, Free Speech TV is a 24-hour TV network and multi-platform news source committed to advancing progressive social change. FSTV is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization funded entirely by individual donations and foundation grants.

Media Matters

Media Matters is a web-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

Teen Vogue

Oh yes, you read that right. Alongside articles about Kylie Jenner’s birthday dress and thong jeans, TV has an amazing News and Politics beat where you can read about disability rights, reproductive rights, America’s gun problem, and much more. Their slogan: “Don’t Just Sit There: Now is the Time to RESIST Donald Trump’s America.” You go, girls!

Our Favorite Research & Resistance Resources

Wikipedia, the Congressional Research Service, the Congressional Budget Office, Snopes  … where would we be without research at our fingertips, arming us with facts to fight fake news and crazy claims?

A few of our top go-to’s on the why and how to #resist:

Info & actions: Indivisible Guide, Resistance Manual, Jen Hofmann’s Americans of Conscience Action Checklist

Tools & apps: 5calls, Resistbot, and two by local (Oakland) heroes: Rapid Resist, Purple Patriot

Awesome Local Businesses

Though much of IEB’s work is done online, we welcome the opportunity to join together IRL at meetings, actions, and events …  Since we’re not getting Koch $$ or Putin rubles, and our George Soros checks all bounced, we often rely on the kindness of local businesses and institutions. Big thank-yous to:

  • Panorama Framing and owner Patrick Cheatham, for letting the IEB Governance Committee meet gratis at your wonderful picture framing shop and art gallery! Check out the great political (and other) artwork at Panorama!
  • Drake’s Dealership, Oakland, for hosting our Rapid Resist texting meetups and All Member Meetings!
  • Sports Basement, Berkeley, for providing free meeting space at the coolest sports emporium in the Bay Area!
  • The Oakland Public Library, bringing you free books, videos, computers, music, events, and so much more – and gracious host for IEB’s All Member Meetings. (P.S. Any California resident can get full borrowing privileges and one of their beautiful library cards!)

Please patronize these terrific businesses, and tell them THANKS for helping IEB #resist!

Awesome Famous People

Colin Kaepernick

Football player, philanthropist, activist, educator, GQ citizen of the year … He took a stand and a knee and lost his football career for it, with no guarantee that anything would come his way to replace it. This is a person we’ll be talking about for decades. Say thanks on Twitter or on his site.

Rev. Robert Lee IV, General Lee’s grandson

When all around him embraced hate, Rev. Lee rejected them, bringing down insults, threats, and instability on himself and his home. He stood up against centuries of racism – against the legend and legacy of his own ancestors – to move his congregation and his community forward. Say thanks on Twitter.

Amy Siskind

Somehow, Amy Siskind has it within her to track everything the Trump administration does and then record it. Her weekly list of its activities was terrifying in the moment, but has taken on an even greater sense of horror as the months have passed by. Her work is in the Library of Congress now; it’s a true document of our times, and she deserves everything in the world for gritting her teeth and writing every excruciating detail of it down. Say thanks on Twitter or on Facebook.

Lin-Manuel Miranda

I don’t mean to brag, but dang I amaze and astonish … It’s one thing to write the greatest musical of all time, but quite another to use the platform that your success grants you to pick fights with the government and further the causes of your own people. In Miranda’s case, that has meant being a tireless advocate for Puerto Rico, both before and after the (ongoing) horror of Hurricane Maria. Miranda has also been a tireless advocate for Planned Parenthood, the National Resources Defense Council, and United We Dream. Say thanks on Twitter, or buy a fridge magnet with his face on it here.

Jimmy Kimmel and his writers

The next in a long line of brave residents putting their careers on the line to say something, Jimmy Kimmel has taken his enormous platform and used it to give emotional, rousing speeches on health care and gun safety. He didn’t have to do this. It would have been easier, so much easier, for his show to have remained impartial, but they chose to do the difficult thing, and their decision spread the message on health care further than we could have ever hoped. Say thanks on Twitter.

Chef José Andrés

Celebrity chef José Andrés took the initiative to build a food network of his own in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, and has so far served over a million and a half meals to families in need. That’s more than any other organization, including the Red Cross. Say thanks on Twitter, or support his World Central Kitchen.

The Woman Who Flipped Off Trump’s Motorcade from Her Bicycle

Not all heroes wear capes. Say thanks to Juli Briskman on Twitter. #her2020

Ivanka Trumps’s Festive Trash Clam

Sensing that the nation was feeling weary, Ivanka Trump took a break from her busy career in nepotism to brighten our collective season with her contribution to festive centerpiece design. It’s as if Franz Kafka directed the opening shots of The Little Mermaid. Stolen ideas, elementary school Nativity play production values, racism so deeply ingrained that it turned the pumpkins white: it’s the Trump way.

You!!

If you’ve made it this far into this post – or even if you skipped down here, we don’t judge – you’re likely someone who is owed gratitude. We are thankful for every phone call, every postcard, every difficult conversation with a loved one, every protest, every sign, every idea, every atom of energy you gave to our resistance this year. Despite how difficult it’s been, despite the psychic and social horror of it all, we have won far more often than we have lost. Our successes and our continued defense of the United States is down to you, your families, and your communities. Sincerely and with the deepest hope for our next year: thank you.

 

Image lovingly borrowed from the NPR media library.

Two State Directors in Two Days

It was quite a week at the beginning of October 2017 – we met back to back with the state directors for Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

We didn’t plan on having our first meeting with Sen. Harris’ state director, Julie Rodriguez, the evening before our umpteenth meeting with Sen. Feinstein’s state director, Sean Elsbernd. (Julie is based in LA, so we normally meet with with Daniel Chen, the head of the senator’s SF Office. But Julie has agreed to another meeting the next time she’s in  town.)

But two in a row worked out well, since there are a lot of things we wanted to impress on both senators: from reminding them of the urgency of passing the DREAM Act, to expressing disappointment that they both voted in favor of a huge national defense authorization bill last week, to some specific asks on long-term help for Puerto Rico as part of a hurricane relief package.

We heard a few more details about Sen. Feinstein’s hesitations around endorsing Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All — mainly about implementation and some remaining fuzzy details on the funding side. But Sean tells us that it’s the feedback from us that has moved her from off the cuff comments about “complete government takeover of health care” to asking her staff to take a close look at Sen. Sanders’ bill.

We also heard a few more details about Sen. Harris’ next steps in her push for Medicare for All. Julie says she will take the lead from Sen. Sanders, but that with a minority in Congress, the important thing to focus on is building grassroots support for single payer health care.

We shared our concerns about oversight of the Homeland Security Department, specifically ICE, and learned about some of the individual cases involving detention centers that each of our senators’ constituent services departments have worked on. In fact, Sean told us, a couple of years ago when ICE detention facilities were overcrowded due to the Central American refugee crisis (including many unaccompanied children), Sen. Feinstein had her staff visit every facility in California to compile a report and recommend changes to President Obama.

We spoke with Sean at length about Trump’s judicial nominations being fast-tracked through the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Sen. Feinstein is the lead Democrat. He told us she’s fighting hard to preserve the “blue slip” process, which gives every senator a say about judges appointed to the federal courts within their state. We asked Sen. Harris to make a statement in support of the senators who have withheld blue slips on dangerous federal court nominees in Oregon and Minnesota.

Indivisible East Bay Meets With Sen Harris’s Staff

Meeting with Daniel Chen

Walking into the IEB meeting with Daniel Chen, Senator Kamala Harris’s District Director on August 2, 2017, we had varying opinions on most issues we wanted to discuss – but we were INDIVISIBLY united on one question: when would Senator Harris hold a Bay Area Town Hall?

Unfortunately we left the meeting without an answer. Daniel clearly heard our message – it is not acceptable that Senator Harris hasn’t held ANY town halls in Northern California – but the most he would say was that an August Town Hall was a “number one priority” for Harris.

Daniel didn’t give many firm answers to the rest of our questions, but he took notes and said he’d convey our suggestions and concerns to the Senator.

Meeting with Daniel Chen

A rundown of the main issues we covered:

  • Health Care: We asked Senator Harris to join Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) in committing to make no cuts to Medicaid before agreeing to any bipartisan health care bill. Daniel acknowledged and thanked Indivisible’s extensive grassroots work fighting for our health care.
  • Budget and Defense Spending: Daniel will ask Harris to issue a statement on why she agreed to co-sponsor Senate Bill 1414. The SHIPS Act mandates expansion of military spending on battle force ships, up from 276 to support a minimum of 355. The bill is primarily a reward to military contractors.
  • Department of Homeland Security Oversight: Daniel said that the Senator is currently mainly focused on retaining Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). She is aware that ICE and border control have been turning away asylum seekers without granting legally mandated hearings, and she’s seeking documentation of this in the field. Daniel will convey our suggestion that she consider visiting the border to greet asylum seekers.
  • Defense Appropriations and Constitutional Role of Congress: We expressed our concern that the executive branch’s impulsive, undisciplined, and unreliable approach to foreign policy is leading to escalated U.S. involvement in conflicts abroad without strategy or accountability. Daniel will talk to the Senator about supporting a bill to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, work that Rep. Barbara Lee has been doing for years and that recently gained significant support from both sides of the aisle before being removed from the House Defense Appropriations Bill at the direction of Paul Ryan.
  • LGBTQ Rights: Daniel will convey our request that Harris co-sponsor S. 1303. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act prohibits discrimination in adoption or foster care placements based on the sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status of any prospective adoptive or foster parent, or the sexual orientation or gender identity of the child.
  • Reproductive Rights: He will also convey our deep concern about the DCCC’s announcement that they’re willing to fund Democratic candidates who don’t support abortion rights, and about the failure to mention abortion rights in the Democrats’ “Better Deal” agenda. We stated that abortion rights should definitely be a litmus test for Dem candidates.
  • Obstruction of Justice: We were disappointed by Harris’s vote to confirm Christopher Wray as the new FBI Director. Daniel told us she was convinced by his responses at the hearing that Wray would remain independent, and gave us her statement regarding her vote.

It’s nearly a week since we met with Daniel, and still no word on an August recess Town Hall with Senator Harris. Please contact Senator Harris and tell her you want her to meet with her Bay Area constituents!

Update: Senator Harris asked for constituent input on priorities, please use this form to give her feedback.

Still Time To Submit Comments! Something in the Water: Marine Sanctuaries at Risk

In late April 2017, Donald Trump signed an executive order that would expand offshore drilling for oil and gas and would also stop the expansion of any new marine sanctuaries and require the Secretary of Commerce to review any marine national monuments created or expanded over the past decade.

This order, if enacted, could have disastrous consequences for California’s marine sanctuaries, sections of the ocean where human activity is legally limited or prohibited. Though the executive order does not apply to sanctuaries established prior to 2007, the order could reverse recent protections put in place by the Bush and Obama administrations: President Bush expanded the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary by 496,000 acres, and President Obama in 2015 doubled the size of the Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones marine sanctuaries. The order would also reverse the current strategy implemented under President Obama preventing any new oil leases in California through 2022.

Background: the Santa Barbara Offshore Drilling Disaster and the Environmental Movement

Marine sanctuaries, like many of our country’s environmental laws, have been in place since the 1970’s and were originally the creation of a Republican administration. President Nixon started the marine sanctuary program 45 years ago as a result of the horrific 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill, in which 3 million gallons of petroleum from an offshore drilling site leaked into the Pacific Ocean. Images of impaired sea otters, oil-drenched birds, and corpses of dolphins and seals, victims of the month-long oil spill at 1,000 gallons per hour, drew national outrage.

The LA Times says this oil spill “changed the consciousness of the nation.” Then-U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt later said that the spill “was the most important event that led to the environmental revolution of the 1970s.” The Santa Barbara Oil spill marked the beginning of an environmental movement, sparking new laws and legislation that regulated pollution and protected endangered species, as well as federal policies that placed severe penalties on offshore drilling platform operators in the event of another oil spill.  

Up to Us to Keep History From Repeating Itself

Until now, no president has ever reduced or eliminated a national marine sanctuary in the 45 years since President Nixon started the marine sanctuary program. But this executive order can potentially do just that.

Trump’s order seeks to prioritize offshore drilling above marine sanctuaries: Section 4 calls for a “review” of current Marine Sanctuaries, which would analyze the cost to maintain these sanctuaries and “the opportunity costs associated with potential energy and mineral exploration and production from the Outer Continental Shelf, in addition to any impacts on production in the adjacent region.” In addition to potentially shrinking current marine sanctuaries for the sake of offshore oil drilling, the executive order seeks to prevent expansion of current marine sanctuaries and designation of new marine sanctuaries, unless “the sanctuary designation or expansion proposal includes a timely, full accounting from the Department of the Interior of any energy or mineral resource potential within the designated area—including offshore energy from wind, oil, natural gas, methane hydrates—and the potential impact the proposed designation or expansion will have on the development of those resources.” In other words, business is to be weighed against the marine environment, with a heavy thumb on business’s side of the scales – potentially bringing us right back to where we were before 1969.

What you can do: A detailed notice of the executive order has been posted to the Federal Register’s site, and the 30-day public comment period is still open and accepting new comments. You can submit a formal comment opposing this order and telling the Secretary of Commerce that our marine sanctuaries should be prioritized ahead of off-shore drilling, and must be preserved or expanded, not diminished. The comments period has been extended to 11:59 PM ET on August 15, 2017. (More information and sample letter here.)

More that you can do: Both California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris have urged Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to preserve all four of California’s marine sanctuaries currently under review: Greater Farallones, Cordell Bank, Monterey Bay, and Channel Islands. Please thank them for their support!

– By A. Hernandez