Guest: Imperial Beach, CA Mayor, surfer, environmentalist Serge Dedina; Also: Dems work to overcome Manchin's corruption; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2021, 6:10pm PT  

ExxonMobil picked the wrong guy to try and intimidate. That much was clear as day during our interview with him on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

As the most powerful storm in history, with record breaking rain and winds, slams the West Coast, a nor'easter threatens the East Coast and powerful storms, including late season tornadoes, threaten the middle of the country and the Gulf Coast this week. Tens of millions of Americans are currently under threat of severe weather. In total, according to NBC, "more than 90 million people will experience dangerous weather in the form of high winds, flooding rainfall or severe thunderstorms through Wednesday."

Welcome to our climate change-fueled future, where record rains and mudslides are the "welcome" relief to seemingly endless drought and wildfires on the West Coast. And as other regions of the country, still recovering from summer hurricanes, are now staring the barrel of still more climate-related threats. Its going to get much worse from here, according to a new study published on Monday by the World Meteorological Organization. The report finds that greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for our quickly worsening climate crisis, hit a new record high last year and increased at a faster rate than the last decade's average, even amid temporary decreases during pandemic lockdowns.

That report, and several others warning that things are getting worse, not better, come as the nations of the world plan to meet beginning next week in Glasgow, Scotland for a critical, U.N. sponsored climate conference to figure out how to decrease emissions and stave off the worst of what is coming --- and what is already here.

But while some are trying to save the world, others are simply trying to save their own town by pushing back against the fossil fuel industry that caused this mess by lying, for decades, about the dangers of burning their products, while spending millions to lie about the reality of global warming.

On today's program we're joined by Imperial Beach, California MAYOR SERGE DEDINA, who has sued [PDF] ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and 30 other fossil fuel companies to demand they cover the costs of saving his small, poor Southern California coastal town from the ravages of rising sea levels. According to The Guardian, "Imperial Beach commissioned an analysis of its vulnerability to rising sea levels which concluded that nearly 700 homes and businesses were threatened at a cost of more than $100m. It said that flooding will hit about 40% of the city’s roads, including some that will be under water for long periods. Two elementary schools will have to be moved. The city’s beach, regarded as one of the best sites for surfing on the California coast, is being eroded by about a foot a year."

Dedina has since been attacked by Exxon's attorneys and accused of "collusion" with other towns, some of whom, like Santa Cruz, have also sued the oil giant for fraud. The attorneys even demanded documents from Dedina's cell phone and computers which, apparently, turned up little more than videos of his son surfing.

"I think they're throwing lots of things at the wall to see if they stick," Dedina tells me. "The only thing I have in common with Santa Cruz is that I like to surf, and they have good waves there."

His small majority minority town, bordering Tijuana, has an annual budget of $20 million. That's just $5 million more than the ExxonMobil CEO was personally paid by the company last year alone. Now Dedina wants Exxon and the others to pay up for their dangerous and fraudulent lies about the climate, which are now costing the small coastal town much more than they can possibly afford to save it.

"They're grasping at straws," says the Mayor, in response to the harassment from the oil companies. "They spent millions of dollars on lawyer fees to take on a city that has nothing. Literally nothing. We have nothing to give. We've given it all already. We're just trying to have a decent life for our residents, who have little as well. God, what a waste of money and time."

But Dedina, a lifelong resident, award-winning environmentalist as well as co-founder and Executive Director of WILDCOAST, a non-profit ocean conservation organization, says he has no interest in backing down.

"We're still going to hold them accountable," he explains today. "We're not going to be intimidated. They can't do anything to us that the ocean hasn't already done."

"You grow up in our city, you have nothing. You learn how to be a scrappy fighter and stand up for what you believe in. You fight for what our city needs.  That's why I'm mayor, and why I was elected mayor. We're going to keep fighting these companies. They took on the wrong guy," warns Dedina.

Next, we catch up with the weekend "sausage making", as President Biden and Congressional Democrats continue to try and find accommodation for corrupt, obstructionist Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), in hopes of passing the critical healthcare, education, child care, family leave and climate change legislation known as the Build Back Better Act. The weekend's accommodations including more scaling back of the bill and its wildly popular provisions, which are otherwise favored by largely the entire Democratic Congressional caucus and the White House. That, after Manchin already forced the removal last week of the measure's key provision meant to fight the ravages of climate change.

Still, as Desi Doyen reports today, there are enough provisions left --- at least as of now --- that, along with cooperation from states, individuals and private companies, it may still be feasible for the U.S. to meet President Biden's pledge to cut U.S. emissions by 50% overall by 2030, and to reach net zero emissions by 2050. But it ain't gonna be easy. And, even if successful, it may not be nearly enough.

Finally, callers ring in on all of the above, calling out who they blame for all of the various fine messes the nation, and the world, now find itself in.

Oh...and one more thing! As mentioned during the show, I'm going to appear for a Q&A tomorrow (Tuesday) after the 7pm ET/4p PT free virtual screening of the award-winning 2006 documentary Murder, Spies and Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story. The screening is part of a new weekly series by SmartElection.us (where you can register for the Zoom event) and, of course, the film is based on my exclusive reporting of the stunning --- and, at times, terrifying --- story of a computer software programmer who testified in 2004 that he was asked by a sitting Republican congressman to create vote rigging software for touchscreen voting systems. Hope you can stop by and say hello!

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