*This was originally published in The Ithacan on April 26, 2015
On April 20th, Heather Doyle plead guilty to her actions at
Dominion’s Cove Point LNG export terminal in Lusby, Maryland on Feb. 3,
in which she trespassed onto a construction site and scaled the arm of a
crane to drop a banner that read, “Dominion get out. Don’t frack
Maryland. No gas exports. Save Cove Point.”
Doyle, 31, did not accept probation and instead chose to go to jail.
Judge John E. Nunn of the Calvert County Court sentenced Doyle 40 days,
which she is now serving. In his statement the judge said he was
sympathetic to the environmental movement, but did not understand why
Doyle and her fellow crane-climber, Carling Sothoron, needed to scale
construction equipment to make their point.
Writing letters and signing petitions only go so far, and in some
cases, like Seneca Lake and Cove Point, our only remaining option is to
speak with our bodies.
The following is a letter I wrote to Doyle. I wanted to share it on
my blog to bring attention to her valiant efforts to protect what she
loves, and her self sacrifice for a greater good. I hope sharing this
will also bring attention to Dominion’s ill-fated intentions to
construct the first LNG export facility on the East Coast.
The first time I ever risked arrest was in the summer of 2013 outside
of the State Department in Washington, D.C. It was to protest the
Keystone XL Pipeline. I was the youngest person in the group that staged
a sit-in outside of the building.
We were not arrested that day, but I could not have been happier. I
met so many amazing people, and our action brought a lot of attention to
the issue. There was a French news station there, which I thought was
At one point, I looked out across the crowd of supporters and saw a
young man holding a sign. It read, “Thank You Climate Heroes!”
I was so touched by that, and I started to cry. I had never
considered my actions to be heroic. I was just doing what I felt I
needed to do to protect my future. I didn’t get to meet that young man
at the time, but a year later when I joined the Great March for Climate
Action walking from L.A. to D.C., I would realize that my fellow Marcher
Lee Stewart was that young man. My opportunity to thank him for that
sign came a year later.
Heather, I want to thank you for being a climate hero, even though
you and I haven’t formally met yet. I hope I can meet you when I come to
D.C. in May and thank you in person.
What you did on February 3rd at the Cove Point LNG export facility
was far braver than my attempt to disrupt the State Department back in
2013. You scaled a crane! Your act at “Offsite A” with Carling Sothoron
was truly commendable and inspiring, and when I heard you had been
sentenced 40 days in jail I was very touched. You have made a huge
sacrifice to stand up for something you believe in, and I hope your
actions and commitment will encourage others to step outside of their
comfort zones and take a stand. Fear of stepping away from normal,
structured life holds many back from taking greater action.
Recently, I interviewed a student activist, and in response to one of
my questions, he talked about me. I’ve never had that happen before,
where someone turned the interview around to me. I wanted to share with
you what he said to me, because when I think back on it now, it makes me
think of you.
“People, I think, are afraid to step out of normal limits. But I
think that you’re the best example of somebody on campus who has stepped
out of being afraid to do things the normal way, who has stepped out of
the scope of being afraid, in a way. You have decided that you want to
make such a difference. That you’ll go above and beyond what the normal
person is willing to consider. The second that someone says arrest, they
don’t want you to talk about it anymore, they want you to leave. They
believe that that’s somehow going to be a burden on them for the rest of
their lives, and obviously that’s not true.”
He went on to say that this hesitancy to act is a part of a broader
system that works to suppress people from talking about major issues and
taking direct actions.
Thank you, Heather, for going against the grain. A revolution can’t
start until someone, or a few someones, turn around and start walking
against the masses. It’s hard at first, and slow-going, when there’s
just a few. But until someone takes that first step, change just cannot
happen. Thank you for being one of those people.
Things are going to get harder before they get better. According to
Mohandas Gandhi, the progression goes like this: first they ignore you,
then they laugh at you, then they fight you and then you win.
“They” — the industry, the government — have started to fight us, but quietly.
“The number one domestic terrorism threat is the eco-terrorism,
animal rights movement.” These are the words of FBI official John Lewis,
who specialized in domestic terrorism. We can see this mentality in the
way Vera Scroggins is being treated by our so-called “justice system” for offering tours of fracking wells in Pennsylvania.
They are trying to fight us without making it look like they are.
They want the wider population to believe that everything is okay, and
to return to your regularly-scheduled programming. But we can’t go back
to that … our regularly scheduled programming is slowly suffocating us.
Your decision to go to jail is launching this issue into a broader
sphere in a way that can’t be ignored. Thank you for making a personal
sacrifice for a greater good. I hope my letter is one of many you will
receive that will show how much your actions have impacted others like
I hope your message is not just heard by the general population, but
also “they” who are fighting us. I hope your actions and the actions of
others, slowly increasing and expanding, will show them this isn’t going
away, and we aren’t backing down.
It’s our future, and we only have this planet. We do not have the choice to back down.
You have all of my love and support during your incarceration. I hope
you can use this time for reflection and meaningful growth.
With love from Seneca Lake,
Read more about Heather Doyle and Carling Sothoron’s actions here.