Cold, dark, hungry. Not my usual experience going into an EQAT action! Last week volunteers and supporters of the Power Local Green Jobs Campaign participated in a week of action. We fasted, prayed and held short vigils at PECO headquarters to express our disappointment with PECO’s DSP - PECO's plan to not plan for climate change or justice. Each day, small groups of us, socially distancing and wearing masks, appeared at PECO headquarters at a different time with signs to highlight PECO’s failure to make a climate plan. PECO reacted differently each day, but they were clearly not happy to be reminded that we have not gone away.
Last week, EQAT members hosted an “Equatic Action”, sending a canoe catamaran and a flotilla of kayaks up the Schuylkill river to PECO's headquarters. Check out this report back from Board member Dana Robinson about the action:
Yesterday was the first kick-off meeting of the Racial Justice Praxis Cohorts. Twenty-six EQATers came together to begin the process of Learning, Acting, and Reflecting that will carry us through this four-part series. EQAT members engaged spiritually and intentionally with being anti-racist as individuals, an organization, and a society, and to lay the groundwork for the actions we will take in this program. Facilitators Dwight, Lina, and Monty put together an amazing session, and set us off with resources to begin this journey.
As campaigners at the intersection of racial, economic, and environmental justice, pandemics, uprisings, and heatwaves keep reinforcing what's at stake in our work. During our Summer of Values and Solidarity, we want to go deeper in our learning specifically on the theme of racial justice, and how it animates our campaign, our lives, and rising to join Black Lives Matter actions in solidarity.
In the midst of an activated landscape, this month has been a big moment for the Power Local Green Jobs campaign. For the first time in years, PECO was forced to listen to the concerns community members had on its proposed Default Service Program. For an unprecedented four and a half hours, state representatives, city officials, community leaders, experts, grandparents, neighbors all went on the record to voice their dissatisfaction with PECO’s plan. Participants demanded PECO make a plan to procure 20% of its electricity from local solar by 2025, cover the cost of any transition to solar instead of passing it off to ratepayers, and take the necessary steps to procure electricity that ensures a sustainable and just future for us all.
It's hard to believe it's only been two months since the COVID-19 crisis began sweeping through our communities. However, this pandemic has also illuminated why our vision for an accessible and just solar transition is necessary. It hasn't been easy to adjust to our new landscape, the future has looked bleak and uncertain while the conditions for how we take action have shifted dramatically. Despite all of this, we have continued to keep the pressure on PECO.
Horns blaring and banners flying, EQAT took action today while Exelon executives insisted to shareholders that their profits are sacrosanct.
A word about COVID-19: We should be taking all possible precautions, and we can hold those who are impacted even more than others in our hearts: those who are disabled, have compromised immune systems, are struggling to keep up with child care or have to go to work, who lost or will lose jobs, and those who are on the front lines of caring for all who are ill.
This moment is also reminding us of the life and death stakes we are fighting for in our campaign. We need to transform our energy system so that shut offs are a thing of the past, so that air pollution and climate change are no longer endangering public health, and so that everyone has a good job.
March is a big month.
PECO will be submitting its Default Service Program (DSP) to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), which will show how it plans to buy its electricity over the next two to four years. Why does this matter? Because the DSP will indicate whether PECO has committed to a plan towards 20% local solar by 2025, or if it will continue to choose its profit over climate and the people of this region.
It's 2020 and I'm reminded of the urgency of climate change. This month, we continue to witness the fires that consume the wildlife and ancestral homelands of Australia's First Nation people. We continue to hear the cries of a global youth climate movement calling for government accountability. And yet corporations like PECO sit back - recklessly choosing inaction in the face of climate crisis, globally, and economic injustice, locally.