Polar bear plunge: Activists protest Trump/McAuliffe in Potomac swim

earthOne week after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, 160 DC-area residents took an ice-cold plunge into the Potomac River on Saturday to take a stand against Virginia’s proposed fracked-gas pipelines and Trump’s anti-climate agenda.

The annual “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge, now in its 12th year, raises awareness about the climate crisis while raising funds to support the Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s work for clean energy solutions across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. This year’s plunge builds upon the momentum seen at the historic Women’s March, where millions gathered across the country to oppose Trump’s anti-democratic agenda, including his environmental policies.

Saturday’s plunge drew local leaders, including Councilmember Mary Cheh of D.C.’s Ward 3, Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, along with committed plungers of all ages—[from local high school students to Franciscan priests.

“We’re here today to show our leaders we will get up and FIGHT for climate action, even if it means freezing our toes off,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “With a climate denier taking office as president just weeks after the third-straight hottest year on record, we need bold, aggressive global warming policies on the state and local level now more than ever.”

The year 2016 was the third-straight hottest year ever recorded on Earth, according to NASA scientists, and the DC region experienced devastating weather events hitting home. Meanwhile, President Trump has promised to rescind current climate policies, and has already taken extreme measures to silence and de-fund the Environmental Protection Agency and greenlight dangerous fossil fuel projects.

“With an election that’s left us reeling, and the natural world roaring its testimony about the urgency of repairing our climate, we’re taking a plunge of courage today with our friends and allies,” said Karen Leu of Interfaith Power & Light.

CCAN is committed to resisting the anti-climate policies from Donald Trump and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. In 2017, the group’s priorities include passing legislation to ban fracking in Maryland, stopping the dangerous fracked-gas pipelines in Virginia, and generating the first-ever state funds to fight flooding in coastal Virginia communities, and launching a groundbreaking carbon tax and rebate in D.C.

Each year, non-profit and community organizations across the region partner with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network on the plunge, joining the icy dip and also raising money to support their shared missions.

“As the Potomac Riverkeeper, I felt it was important to take part in the Polar Bear Plunge to support climate change and clean water,” said Dean Noujaks, the Potomac Riverkeeper.

“We at Climate First! appreciate the opportunity to freeze our ??? off as we raise money for the climate at the Polar Bear Plunge,” said Ted Conwell, Founder and Lead Organizer of Climate First! “In view of the pressing science and the new US. administration’s proposed terrible policies regarding climate protection, it seems that we all should become ‘polar bears’ for the Plunge every year.”

“Envision Frederick County board members and staff really don’t want to plunge into the icy Potomac,” said Executive Director Kai Hagen. “But we’re doing it anyway, to support the most effective organization in our region fighting the most serious threat there is to our planet, including our community and everyone we know.”

SPONSORS: The annual plunge is hosted by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. The event is co-sponsored by 350 Loudoun, All Souls Church Unitarian, Audubon Naturalist Society, Blue Water Baltimore, Climate First!, Community Forklift, Envision Frederick County, Franciscan Action Network, Green Neighbors, Interfaith Power & Light, Montgomery County Conservation Corps, and Potomac Riverkeeper Network.

BUSINESS PARTNERS: Clyde’s Restaurant Group, Howard County Citizens’ Climate Lobby, McLoone’s Pier House, Orvis Sporting Traditions, Patagonia, REI Co-op, Perfect Settings, Save vs. Poison Productions, Takoma Bicycle, Waste Neutral, Zeke’s Coffee.

Find more information on the 2017 Polar Bear Plunge at www.keepwintercold.org.

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