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Civil Liberties and Climate Change

James Hansen and Eugene’s CLDC team up at PIELC
James Hansen
James Hansen

Lauren Regan and the organization she founded, the Civil Liberties Defense Center, have become known nationwide for defending civil liberties and environmental issues, including representing Keystone XL pipeline protesters. The CLDC is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and Regan not only be giving a keynote at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, she will also appear on a number of panels. Perhaps most notable for those who have been following efforts to halt global warming, she will share a workshop with James Hansen, formerly of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Hansen brought climate change to the world’s attention in the 1980s, and as a scientist  he has been criticized for taking an activist position on the issue. He left NASA in order to better fight global warming. Even before leaving the space agency, Hansen took vacation time to be arrested or cited protesting climate change. 

Hansen tells EW, “We must work on several approaches at the same time. I am spending less time on civil disobedience for the time being because there are only 24 hours in a day and seven days a week.” He says, “Civil disobedience was successful in getting some attention. However, ultimately what we must get is a rising fee on carbon, and I believe the only way that can work is as a fee-and-dividend approach, with the fee collected from fossil fuel companies and the funds distributed to the public, an equal amount to all legal residents, so people who do better than average in limiting their fossil fuel use will make money.”

The Civil Disobedience Workshop takes place Saturday, March 1, at 3:30 pm in room 175 of the UO law school, and it will also feature Cathy Sampson-Kruse of the Walla Walla Tribe of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla, who was recently arrested for attempting to block megaloads of tar sands equipment going through Oregon. Hansen has called tar sands oil “the dirtiest of fuels” and said reliance upon it is “game over” for the climate.

Hansen says he is working with the Citizens Climate Lobby “as they promote fee-and-dividend.” He adds, “I also think the legal approach that Our Children’s Trust has initiated has the potential to both draw attention to the issue and force the government to come up with a plan.” Our Children’s Trust is using the public trust doctrine in courts to argue for climate recovery.

Hansen will keynote the conference at 7 pm Saturday, March 1, along with UO law professor Mary Wood, author of Nature’s Trust. Regan keynotes earlier that day at 12:15 pm with Richard Monje, vice president of Workers United/SEIU. Regan says she and Monje she will share the keynote hour “talking why more unites us than divides us.” 

All are invited to celebrate the CLDC’s 10th anniversary party at 7 pm Saturday, March 1, at Sprout! 418 A Street in Springfield. $3-$30, sliding scale.