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James Cromwell on Citizen-Led Climate Action and the Current 'Revolution of Love'

Truthdig Deputy Editor Kasia Anderson and actor James Cromwell. (Truthdig)

Academy Award-nominated actor James Cromwell is on a mission: to stop a fracked gas-fired plant from being built in suburban Orange County, N.Y. Although he was sentenced to jail for his protests against the plant, which is being built by Competitive Power Ventures (CPV), Cromwell continues to take part in citizen climate activism.

Cromwell sat down with Truthdig Deputy Editor Kasia Anderson to discuss his recent time in prison and the state of climate activism in America. He expanded on the protests against the New York fracked gas-fired plant, which are being led by the advocacy group Protect Orange County, and a similar protest against a plant in Southern California’s Riverside County. He also responded to questions from the audience.

Watch the interview below:

“People call it natural gas — there’s nothing natural about it,” Cromwell told Anderson, referring to methane produced from fracking. He said these plants are popping up all over the U.S. “You see now that [with] these pipelines … the idea is to turn the United States of America into eastern Poland.”

A press release from Protect Orange County explained why the plant would negatively impact the environment:

Activists call CPV “the head of the snake,” as its projects are some of the most egregious in the vanguard of the industry’s bid to rapidly expand fracked gas-fired power plants and infrastructure across the US. CPV’s projects in California and New York seek to make Los Angeles and New York City dependent on fracked gas in direct contradiction of those states’ GHG emissions reduction and air quality goals.

CPV manipulated and distorted New York and California state regulatory systems to obtain permits for these fracked gas-fired power plants. It is under investigation and prosecution for paying large bribes to New York officials to advance its Orange County project, which is moving towards completion despite the fact it will raise state GHG emissions by at least 10% and put state emissions reductions goals out of reach. CPV also worked to weaken California air quality standards to obtain permit construction of its Riverside County plant, despite the fact that EPA projected Riverside and San Bernadino Counties would have the worst particulate pollution in the US by 2020, not counting the additional 60 tons of PM 2.5 the CPV Sentinel plant would add annually. In addition to particulate pollution, fracked gas emits large quantities of methane, which is at least 86 times more powerful a warming agent than carbon dioxide, making fracked gas worse for the climate than oil or even coal.

Protect Orange County presents three ways citizens can protest the construction of CPV’s plant: file public comments with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, sign a petition asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to stop the plant, or participate in an Aug. 10 rally in Albany, N.Y.

Cromwell also talked about the politics at play in climate change activism. “Any senator who has to raise 75k a day … he’s gonna listen to the lobbyist, he’s gonna listen to the money,” Cromwell said. “He’s not gonna listen to us. … We are supporting an industry that will kill us.”

He responded to audience questions about how to effectively organize in today’s political climate. “The left has to get organized,” he said, noting that many political and environmental issues affecting Americans stem from capitalism. “Part of the process is finding out what you need to do to address the issue that affects you.”

Cromwell believes that modern-day activism is on the right track, and he compared it to the activist movements in the 1960s. “It’s about love,” Cromwell concluded. “This is a revolution of love now.”

Watch past editions of “Live at Truthdig” here.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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