In a march from Red Square to L Street on Nov. 18, about 200 members of the Georgetown community protested the appointment of Myron Ebell as head of the transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ebell is a climate contrarian and currently heads environmental and energy policy at the libertarian think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is funded in part by the coal industry, per The New York Times.
George Washington University students joined the march towards Ebell’s office on L Street at Farragut Square. About 30 students from The George Washington University participated in the march.
Government professor Andrew Bennett, who helped spearhead the protest, questioned the decision of Ebell as head of the EPA transition team.
“We think this is an issue we can win on because this guy, Myron Ebell, is the worst form of climate denier. He’s paid by the fossil fuel industry to challenge science and he has no scientific credentials of his own whatsoever. We can win,” Bennett said.
Students for Climate Security, a student-led group at Georgetown demanding Ebell’s removal from the EPA transition team, organized the protest.
Students carried signs with messages including, “Caring for Creation is Loving your neighbor” and “End Ignorance.”
Demonstrators chanted, “Don’t deny, protect,” “Stop the Ebell, power to the people” and “When you deny, people die” as the march left campus guided by police.
Students at Harvard University organized a simultaneous protest against Ebell in Harvard Yard.
SCS Member Alexandra Porrazzo (COL ’17), who was at the protest, emphasized the importance of rallying against Ebell.
“I’m also really passionate about it because this isn’t like other issues,” Porrazzo said of the potential danger to the climate in Ebell’s policies. “It’s not something that can be fixed in four years after somebody else gets reappointed. Pulling out of the Paris agreement has long-term international consequences.”
Bennett first started organizing the protest by reaching out to students in the government department.
“The first day when I sent out an email, within hours, on very short notice, there were almost 40 students converging on the government department to start planning this event and beyond, so that was really gratifying that there were so many people who really felt strongly that they wanted to do something,” Bennett said.
SCS is planning additional events, including a demonstration Dec. 2 called Stop the Ebell Day, with a social media campaign and Senate phone-in campaign.
“We want to get the Senate to commit to filibuster or deny any nominees who are climate change deniers or fossil fuel lobbyists. That’s our goal for the campaign,” Bennett said.
For Bennett, this issue was particularly important to take a stand. Bennett has not participated in a protest in 35 years, but he said the gravity of this issue compelled him to take initiative.
“It’s important because damage to the climate is irreversible. For me personally, I felt that this is not a normal era in politics,” Bennett said. “And I couldn’t face my students or my own children if I didn’t do something about this so that’s why I’m out here.”
Sean Berman (SFS ’19), who was at the protest, said protests from young people like this can have tangible effects on the decisions in government.
“This protest can at least show Ebell that we’re all watching. We’re watching what he’s doing, the decisions that he makes, the people that he’s going to want to put in the EPA,” Berman sad. “And if he doesn’t want to listen, or pay attention to how people are watching him, we’re just going to keep dissenting and keep dissenting until he changes.”