On Nov. 17, a group of students marched from Red Square to the office of Myron Ebell, the head of President-Elect Donald Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ebell is currently the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Between 75 and 100 students participated in the march, which was organized by Professor Andrew Bennett and a group of students called Students for Climate Security.
Ebell questions the scientific research supporting the idea of climate change and his employer, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a self-described “non-profit public policy organization,” has ties to the fossil fuel industry. Trump has also expressed doubts about climate change, writing in a Nov. 6, 2012 tweet, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
Students gathered in Red Square around 2 p.m. and after short speeches by Bennett and Win Radcliffe-Trenner (SFS ‘19), the march’s liaison to police, the marchers left campus around 2:20 and headed toward Ebell’s office at 1310 L St Northwest. Accompanied by a police escort, the marchers walked through the city streets chanting slogans like “When the EPA is under attack, what do we do? Stand up! Fight back!” and “Don’t deny! Protect!”
Passers-by in buses, trucks, taxis, and personal vehicles honked in support, and people could be seen crowding the windows of the high-rises lining the streets in order to view the protesters who were carrying signs with slogans like “There is no Planet B” and “Caring for Creation is Loving your Neighbor.”
After being joined by protesters from George Washington University (GW), the marchers stopped outside Ebell’s office where they continued to chant. Standing in front of a sign that read “Not Wanted: Climate Criminal Myron Ebell– Keep Climate Change Deniers Out of the EPA,” several students from Georgetown, GW, and University of Maryland gave speeches interspersed by chants and shouts from the protesters until they dispersed shortly before 4 p.m..
One of the speakers, Jasmine Ouseph (SFS ‘19) spoke on the importance of activism during a Trump administration. “If you showed up for Ebell, show up for Black lives, show up for Muslim lives, show up for trans* lives,” she said. “Climate change does affect us all. Environmental justice is social justice and that requires solidarity and action against all fronts and all fights.”
Galyn Sumida-Ross (SFS ‘18), who attended the protest, said “The past couple weeks have been kinda rough because of Donald Trump’s election. A lot of people have been really upset about a lot of different issues… and I think this is a really important issue because it affects a wide range of people, not just in the U.S. but across the world.”
The protest is the beginning of a campaign to prevent Ebell from receiving the nomination as head of the agency. In addition to circulating an online petition, Students for Climate Security also plan on contacting senators to persuade them to filibuster the nomination. The campaign will culminate on Dec. 2 with Stop the Ebell day.
Justin McCartney (SFS ‘19), one of the students who organized and spoke at the event, also spoke of the importance of continued activism. “If we want to get Trump’s attention, if we want to get Myron Ebell’s attention and really need to change the narrative around environmental protection in this administration,” he said, “we need to make a big splash, and that includes getting senators on our side, having the media report on it, and getting students across the country to unify.”