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THIS! Newsletter #14
November 2023

Solidarity in an MVP Experience

By Jim Thompson
Some friends and I recently visited Virginia and West Virginia where protests against the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a horrendous monstrosity being built to transport fracked gas from West Virginia to Virginia for shipping abroad, were happening.

There are lots of negatives associated with the MVP, including potentially destroying one of the most beautiful mountain areas in the world. It’s not surprising that John Denver sang about this in “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (a song that has been adopted by West Virginia as one of its four official state songs).

I assumed that the MVP would be hard to stop, but I learned it is already 5 years beyond its projected completion date, and its budget has ballooned from $3 billion to $7 billion. Meanwhile it has some of the toughest terrain yet to cover.

I was struck by the commitment of so many people fighting the MVP and the solidarity involved. I missed the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in my home state of North Dakota, but I met people on this trip who had been part of that struggle (which isn’t over — see below in the “Allies in the Movement” section).

I also ran into a number of people who I had met at the Enbridge Line 3 protest in Minnesota in 2021. I realized that there is incredible solidarity among people who realize that the destructiveness of one pipeline is not limited to the area where it is to be sited.

One of the things the stop-the-MVP movement desires is connection with other climate actions in other parts of the country to highlight the MVP. The photos below are from a protest against one of the worst climate-bad banks, Wells Fargo, which is a financier of the MVP. And this was just a few days after the return from West Virginia. Solidarity is our superpower!

To support these efforts consider donating to one or more of these organizations:

Help Us Grow

Please donate to keep THIS! Is What We Did able to do its work helping people move their money from climate-bad banks and teaching classes that show people how to have effective climate conversations.

THIS! is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Your gift is eligible for a tax deduction and will help us keep fighting for the future of the only planet we have.

Gifts to THIS! Is What We Did will be matched up to $50,000and will help us continue and expand our work fighting global overheating.

Donations can be made online at

Or you can send a check to THIS! Is What We Did at 80 South 5th Street, San Jose, CA 95112.

Thank you for your support! It means a lot to us.

Don’t Miss THIS!

Learn to have Effective Climate Conversations
One of the most important things each of us can do to fight climate change is talk about it. But this is often easier said than done.

Learn how to avoid common pitfalls and communicate effectively about climate change in a way that helps grow the climate movement. Our next Effective Climate ConversationsTraining will start on Thursday, November 30th at 5-6:30pm PTvia Zoom. Learn more and sign up here.

One recent participant said:

“This training has elevated the value of conversations for me so that I feel I am doing something just by talking about the climate.  I had the value of conversation in my mind for a while, but this validated it so much more and gave me better tools, deeper thinking and more confidence.”

Allies in the Movement

Please submit a public comment as soon as possible calling for the Dakota Access Pipeline to be shut down – instructions on how to do so can be found here. This opportunity for public comments is thanks to tireless advocacy from Indigenous leaders fighting the destruction that this pipeline will bring if it is allowed to move forward. Here is just one of the impacts: DAPL continuing to operate is a threat to 17 million people who drink water from sources that are downstream.
This week has seen a wave of actions happening in San Francisco, with several climate groups coming together to shut down the Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation’s (APEC) Summit and demand that world economies take drastic action to phase out fossil fuels. The event features a CEO summit with over 1200 corporate CEOs, including those of Exxon, Chevron, and Citibank, as well as 21 heads of state.

Sign the petition to show your support!

Read more about the impacts of APEC here.

Lots of climate organizations are teaming up to encourage Costco to clean up their credit card and drop Citibank, the #2 fossil fuel enabler worldwide! You don’t have to be a Costco member to sign the petition.

Check out this amazing toolkit to collect signatures in your local community and spread the word throughout November and early December.

Another easy digital action: send a feedback form! Use this one if you’re a Costco member and this one if you’re not.

Curious about cleaning up your own cards and accounts? Check out our Office Hours program in partnership with Third Act.

Another action item for this week: write to the Department of Energy to stop a massive planned increase in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports. From Bill McKibben: “There are plans for 20 huge export terminals to add to the seven that already exist. If they are built, the emissions associated with them will be as large as all the emissions from every home, factory, and car in the EU and will wipe out every bit of progress the U.S. has made on reducing carbon and methane since 2005.”

1. Address your letter to:
The Honorable Jennifer Granholm
Secretary of Energy
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave. SW
Washington DC 20585

2. Include some key points:

  • These plants are carbon and methane bombs. In the hottest year of human history it’s obscene to be putting up more of them.
  • We’re already the biggest gas exporter on earth, and have more than enough capacity to meet the needs of the Europeans in the wake of the Ukrainian war.
  • When we export all this gas, we drive up the price for those Americans who still rely on it for cooking and heating. Rejecting this project will fight inflation.
  • It’s an environmental justice travesty—as usual, these projects are set for poor communities of color.
  • They’re planned for smack in the middle of the worst hurricane belt in the hemisphere.
  • So rewrite the criteria (they’re currently using a Trump-era formula) for figuring out if such plans are in the national interest.

3. Take a picture of the letter on your smartphone and email it to

Good News Bad News

Good News: Hawai’i Supreme Court Decision Brings Us Closer to Taking Down Big Oil
On October 31st, Hawai’i’s Supreme Court rejected Big Oil’s appeal to keep a climate-washing lawsuit from moving forward.

ExxonMobil, Shell, and Chevron are among the oil and gas companies being sued by the city of Honolulu for spreading misinformation about climate change and their role in it for decades. The suit is now allowed to move to trial.

“Across the country, litigation has emerged as a key tool for climate activists, through youth-led lawsuits, climate-washing cases, and taking universities to court to force them to divest from fossil fuels. The fight has seen some key wins in recent months, including in Montana, where a climate case brought by youth plaintiffs landed a significant — though preliminary — victory at trialin August… Now, in Hawaii, another key trial is on the horizon” (The Lever).

Bad News: The World is On Track for Record Fossil Fuel Production
Based on a new UN-backed report, The New York Times reports that:“In 2030, if current projections hold, the United States will drill for more oil and gas than at any point in its history. Russia and Saudi Arabia plan to do the same.

They’re among the world’s fossil fuel giants that, together, are on course this decade to produce twice the amount of fossil fuels than [the 1.5°C] threshold allows…”

With the upcoming COP28 talks being overseen by the chief executive of a state-run UAE oil company, many are concerned that commitments will remain hollow.

“In the absence of a tax on carbon, which has been politically untenable in the United States and elsewhere, there are few incentives for state-owned or private companies to cut production.

What’s more, the world still lacks examples of industrialized countries that have successfully moved away from oil and gas.”
(NYT Climate Forward Newsletter)


A common challenge we all face when having climate conversations is the unexpected “curveball.” That is, some kind of argument that comes ‘out of left field’ and can leave us at a loss for words. In every newsletter, we’ll try to give you some information to help you respond to these curveballs.

One of the trickiest kinds of curveballs is an outright falsehood assuredly delivered as if it were a documented truth. This issue’s “curveball” is:
“The only reason renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels is that the government subsidizes them.”

First, let’s note that fossil fuels are massively subsidized and have been for over a century. A 2017 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) that took into account both direct and indirect subsidies found that, globally, fossil fuels enjoyed 20 times what the renewable energy sector receives in subsidies. While there has been a significant shift in the US over the last decade or so – allocating more direct subsidies for renewables – the key takeaways remain:
(1) While both industries are subsidized, support for the renewable energy sector has historically been a small fraction of the support for the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuels would be far more expensive without these subsidies. And
(2) We need to be increasing use of renewables! Our future depends on it!

When confronted by this statement, you might say something like:

“You’re correct that the government subsidizes renewable energy projects. But did you know that the government also massively subsidizes fossil fuels and has for over a century?Historically, subsidies for renewables have been a small fraction of those for fossil fuels. Would you like me to send you some information about this?”

Some more thoughts about responding to falsehoods:

It’s important to note that engagement is often more effective with people who are at least somewhat open-minded about climate change (89% percent of the US adult population!). If the person you’re talking with is “Dismissive” (part of the other 11%), it’s likely that climate denial is wrapped up in their identity, and therefore not worthwhile to engage.

If you do decide to engage with a falsehood, you might say something like, “That isn’t consistent with what I’ve learned about ______ (this issue, etc.). Can you share with me where you learned that?”

And follow that up with:

“Would you be open to my sharing some information that shows why I believe something different?” If they say “okay,” this gives you a chance to do some research (including asking us at THIS! Is What We Did) before going back to them.

Want to learn more about fossil fuel subsidies? Check out this FAQ from Human Rights Watch.

Poetry and Reconstituting the World
Poetry has been an integral part of THIS! from our beginning. As Adrienne Rich says, “Poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire.”

In this newsletter’s poem, we will honor more words from Adrienne Rich. We recognize the immense destruction happening in the world right now. And together, reconstitute the world…

Natural Resources
—Adrienne Rich

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.

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