I pursue moments. A few months ago, on March 31st, I caught one in Purchase, New York.
You’ve seen the incendiary encounter: Hillary Clinton, a composed and confident orator, exploded at my partner, Greenpeace organizer Eva Resnick-Day, over the question of fossil fuel donations.
You haven’t seen the not-quite moments that mounted Clinton’s frustration — those when she claimed, repeatedly, that she’d “look into” the donations, or shrugged off $150,000 as “not very much,” or ignored the question entirely. In truth, 350 Action has asked Clinton about fossil fuel money since the beginning of her campaign. I have been to dozens of Clinton events filming dozens of climate activists asking one of the most powerful people in American politics to take a stand against the toxic influence of the fossil fuel industry.
You don’t have to be affiliated with the Sanders campaign to express concern about the corrosive power of ExxonMobil. That same company, the target of recent investigations by multiple state Attorneys General, is represented in DC by Theresa Fariello, a lobbyist who has given the maximum donation to the Clinton campaign. In other words — I am not a Sanders staffer, as Clinton insinuated, and I am not lying about the money that she has accepted from fossil fuel lobbyists.
On Meet the Press a few days after the encounter, Clinton expressed concern for my generation. “I feel sorry sometimes for the young people who believe this,” she lamented, adding “they don’t do their own research.” Such sympathy would be better directed toward the young people whose futures are robbed by reckless fossil fuel extraction, or to the communities sickened every day by fracking. I have been helping other young people do research into the fossil fuel industry for years. The more we discover — of Exxon’s climate cover up, of the catastrophic consequences of methane leaked from fracking — the more disillusioned we become of institutions that remain invested in destruction. The fossil fuel industry is toxic for our planet. The industry’s money is toxic for our politicians.
I follow Clinton down the campaign trail because I believe in her. I train activists across the nation to ask her to champion keeping fossil fuels in the ground because we want Clinton to be our ally in our fight against the fossil fuel industry. That means refusing money from the industry’s lobbyists. We’ll do it by creating more moments like the one last week where we made Hillary Clinton defend her donations from a rogue industry.
I pursue those moments. But the movement produces them.
Miles Goodrich is the National Rapid Response Organizer for 350 Action. Follow him on Twitter @doublemgood.