Dozens of passionate climate protestors disrupted Pete Buttigieg's talk on stage at a Baltimore event yesterday, calling him a coward for considering a Texas petrochemical project. They also chanted "Stop Petro Pete!" and "Which side are you on, Pete? Which side are you on?" (See video below.)
When the protestors, part of the group Climate Defiance, first confronted Buttigieg, who was participating at an all-day conference at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall organized by news outlet The Baltimore Banner, the Transportation Secretary thought they could hash things out.
"Your DOT just approved the Seaport Oil Terminal, a project that will have 80 coal plants worth of greenhouse gas emissions and will worsen air quality in areas that already live in cancer clusters," said one of the protestors surrounding Buttigieg, who was sitting in a chair. "This is about environmental racism and it's about the climate impacts this project will have."
"So, I don't want to say anything off the cuff," Buttigieg said, "but I respect where you're coming from…" Well, perhaps, but the group did not respect where the Transportation Secretary was coming from, and as they began to loudly chant, he made a mad dash for the exit door, with his security physically holding protestors back.
"Think about why he said he can't 'speak off the cuff' on climate. Please!" one of the protestors said on stage after Buttigieg had cleared the room. "We're ready to! We're happy to have a conversation with Secretary Pete."
From The Baltimore Banner:
Trevor Carroll of the organization Better Brazoria said the protesters want the Department of Transportation to reject permits for the Sea Port Oil Terminal (S.P.O.T.) crude export facility located 30 miles off the coast of Brazoria County, near Houston. If approved, it would export 2 million barrels of crude oil per day from an area known as the nation's energy capital.
Security officers tried unsuccessfully to clear the stage and eventually asked the audience to leave the room. Protesters continued singing and chanting for five minutes.
After they left, Buttigieg returned to the stage and talked about the project and the issue of climate change underlying the protest, and what President Joe Biden's administration has done to address it. Biden successfully pushed for passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which contains incentives to expedite the country's transition from fossil fuels. …
Once outside, Carroll said the protests aimed to draw attention to the oil export terminals that are being proposed.
Pipeline infrastructure will wind through residential areas in Brazoria, Carroll said, and end in Surfside Beach, which is populated by tourists and retirees. Groups are worried about the risk of an oil spill at the "massive oil export terminal" that will be built at the end of the pipeline.