Letter to the Editor Concerning WSPA’s Self-serving Op-Ed

The president of WSPA (the Western States Petroleum Association – a fossil fuel lobbying group), somehow got this nonsense published in the San Francisco Chronicle the other day.

The next day there was a great letter to the editor, which I reproduced here:

When elves can deliver oil

Reading the piece by the president of the Western States Petroleum Association (“America’s energy renaissance,” Open Forum, April 8) made me wish I lived in the alternate reality of PR spin that she was describing, where little railcar explosions that level towns only happen in the land of Sillytown and Whoopsyville and never anywhere near you.

All this wonderful black gold comes from magical fracked wells in the Midwest to make things better and better, and it gets delivered by whistling elves with rainbows across the sky overhead. Yes, this does seem a wonderful place to live.

Adam Knowles, San Francisco

I had to write in myself. I don’t know if it will get published, but here it is:

It’s hard to top Tuesday’s letter from Adam Knowles, but I would like to add one point concerning the self-serving op-ed from the president of the Western States Petroleum Association. One of the reasons so many of us are adamantly opposed to crude-by-rail is its ability to bring in Canadian tar sands – one of the dirtiest fossil fuels, with very high emissions that cause climate change.

Moving to safe, sane, clean energy is the path to true energy security and is the only course of action that can be called “responsible”.


Some Modest Suggestions for #Googlebus Activism

Second Update:
I recently attended a meeting of “Tech Workers Against Displacement”. After that meeting, I realize that the Google bus protests are, at this point, probably pissing off potential allies (tech workers) more than achieving any real goals. So, while I still think Google et al. have a lot to answer for, I’d no longer recommend most of the below (the ILLEGAL one’s still not a bad idea, though, nor blocking fare enforcement of natural persons).

In general, we need more strategic thinking in addition to creative actions. I look forward to seeing how this movement develops.

Well, the Supes have done it. Missed a chance to treat the large corporations like the rest of us, and require an EIR for the tech commuter bus “pilot” program (what pilot lasts 18 months?).

So, like or not, the “pirate” buses will be reinvested with symbolic significance. Here are some ideas for activism focused on them:

  • Enter the bus, and insist on gathering money from the riders. At some fair amount, like $50, you leave, and take the money to the MTA (they have a building at Market and Van Ness, or you can feed it all into a Muni fare collector). Note: this is best done in costume, as a Muni fare enforcer. Please refrain from shooting anyone on the bus if they evade the fare.
  • When a bus stops at a red zone, sit in front of it and call SFPD’s non-emergency number: 415.553.0123. When the cops arrive, ask them to ticket the bus. If they demur (perhaps not knowing that the buses’ actions are still illegal under city law until the pilot starts, and anyway illegal under state law), point out that the bus companies can always appeal the ticket. Tell the police that the buses should be cited under California Vehicle Code (CVC) 22500.
  • While passengers are boarding, run a heavy chain through a wheel of the bus. Loop the chain through the loop of a fixed metal object (eg a bicycle rack or Muni bus shelter) and close it with a heavy padlock.
  • While the bus is idling, spray-paint the word “ILLEGAL” on the side of the bus. Use multiple people with stencils for a large effect and quick completion.
  • Let the air out of the tires of one side of the bus.

And, of course, you shouldn’t let this limit you. The more creative actions are the best – I very much enjoyed the “Gmuni” free bus program from Googlebuses.com!


Some other thoughts:

  • With a small group, surround a group of Muni fare enforcers, linking arms and chanting “Google won’t pay? We won’t pay!”.
  • On the day when the courts hear the lawsuit about San Francisco’s bullshit attempt to exempt the shuttle regularization from CEQA (or the day before), block Google buses everywhere in a people-heavy, arrestable way (small groups sitting in front of each bus, not leaving until arrested).
  • On May 1st, stop Google buses everywhere (could use less people-heavy methods like locking the bus to a bike rack) and leave signs on the buses telling the workers to take the day off for May Day!