Welcome Diane Wilson, and Host Josh Nelson.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

Diary of an Eco-Outlaw: An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth

Josh Nelson, Host:

Diane Wilson is truly an eco-outlaw. And yes, in case you are wondering, I consider that to be a huge compliment. The courage and perseverance she displays in the stories shared in this volume should be an inspiration for anyone concerned about the role of corporations in society or what those corporations are doing to the planet.

From Calhoun County, Texas to Bhopal, India, Diane is a fearless agitator for change and a voice for what’s right. Courage, fearlessness and perseverance aside, the attribute most essential to Diane’s activism is conviction. Like all environmental activism, Diane’s is fueled by a conviction that something has gone horribly wrong with the way people relate to the planet and that she has a unique responsibility to do something about it. Diane, like many others before and since, has a feeling growing inside her that unscrupulous corporations are literally killing the planet in pursuit of slightly higher profits. I’ve got the same feeling growing inside me, and I suspect many of you do too.

It’s the same kind of conviction that you can read in Rachel Carson’s words or hear in Bill McKibben’s speeches. It’s the same kind of conviction that motivated a young hero named Tim DeChristopher to risk his own freedom in order to disrupt oil and gas drilling on 150,000 acres in Utah. Activism that stems from such a strong conviction is powerful because it represents societal changes that can’t be defeated, only delayed. When you know you’re doing the right thing and making a difference, that knowledge will feed you during hunger strikes and keep you in the fight regardless of the odds.

From her upbringing on a Texas shrimp boat, through her progression as a mother and environmental activist, Diary of an Eco Outlaw puts Diane Wilson’s conviction on display time and time again. Her activism began when the nation’s first Toxics Release Inventory was made public in 1989. The inventory found her rural Texas County, which was littered with chemical plants, to be the most polluted in the county. Diane was changed by this knowledge, and immediately went to work learning everything she could about the nearby chemical plants and plotting strategies for forcing them to stop polluting her community.

But if the Toxics Release Inventory is what began Diane’s transition from shrimper to environmentalist, witnessing the devastation of Union Carbide’s carelessness in Bhopal, India is what caused her to transform further, from environmentalist to environmental activist – a title she now wears with pride. While in Bhopal, Diane listened to the stories of those who had survived the 1984 disaster and the family members of those who hadn’t. She learned about the panic and helplessness hundreds of thousands of people experienced on that December night when a huge quantity of gases and chemicals leaked from Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bhopal. And she saw a set of powerful photographs of unborn babies who were killed by the chemicals. They reminded Diane of her own children, and they’ll forever serve as a stark reminder of why it is important to continue the fight.

Whether it is Bhopal or BP, in the Arctic or at Upper Big Branch, there are no shortages of environmental and human disasters that can serve as similar reminders for each of us. Diane’s decades of smart and effective activism have shown over the years that it doesn’t take a Master’s Degree in public policy, an inside knowledge of the EPA’s bureaucracy or a thick rolodex to be an environmental activist. All it takes is a conviction that things aren’t right, a vision for how they should be and a willingness to jump into the fight with everything you’ve got.

95 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Diane Wilson, Diary of an Eco-Outlaw; An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth”

Jane Hamsher May 22nd, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Hey Josh thanks so much for that, and thanks to Diane for being here today.

What would you say your biggest challenge is right now?

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:02 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 1

My biggest challenge is balancing family problems (I am taking care of my 95 year old mom who has alzeheimers), writing another book, and staying up with the continuing issues that are developing within the environmental, peace, and social justice sectors. It’s a real balancing act and sometimes i fail big time

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Hi Jane — thanks for getting us started.

Diane — welcome to FDL.

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:03 pm

The balance is always difficult, I agree.

For those who aren’t familiar, how did you originally get involved in environmental activism?

Jane Hamsher May 22nd, 2011 at 2:06 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 2

I’m sorry to hear about your mom. That must be really hard.

I spoke at Powershift a couple of weeks ago, where 11,000 young activists came to DC to discuss environmental issues. There’s a lot of energy and certainly a feeling of urgency surrounding environmental issues.

It was great to see these young activists getting engaged. What would you say are the specific issues that are moving them?

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:13 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 4

oh excuse me, Josh. I just realized that you wrote me! yikes. Now, how did I orginally get involved?? I was working at a fishhouse at the docks because shrimping was so bad. We had had a series of tides: green tide, brown tide, and red tide and the fish were sticking their heads out of the water to get oxygen. then there were a lot of dead dolphins. About that time, the Toxic Release Inventory came out. it was the first time industry (think petrochemicals, oil, etc) had to report their toxic releases to the air, land, water, injections well and transference of wastes and my very small county (Calhoun County) was number one in the nation. We had half the waste generated in Texas…that information forced me into a simple decision (totally out of character for me) to ask for a meeting in town. then all heck blew! and thus began my activism….

BooRadley May 22nd, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Diane, thank you for all your work. I believe history will smile upon on activists such as yourself, in the same way it now acknowledges the early abolitionists.

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Hey everyone,

Feel free to post your questions and comments for Diane Wilson. She has lots of experience in environmental activism and some great insights to share.

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:18 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 6

I imagine it was quite a shock to see Calhoun County at the top of that list! It is always interesting to hear about what it was that flipped the switch in a person’s head and turned them into an activist.

EdwardTeller May 22nd, 2011 at 2:18 pm


Your work with Riki Ott – who I’ve known since the EVOS – has been so important. Your reports and appearances with her have been powerful, and I keep searching youtube and other sources to see if you are speaking together. Looking forward to reading your book, and hoping for many more from you.

If women like you ran this planet, I’d feel a lot safer.

Jane Hamsher May 22nd, 2011 at 2:18 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 8

Definitely. Thanks, Josh.

I’ll pose the same question to you — where do you think the hot spots are as far as activism goes? Where are people getting engaged, and how are they doing it?

BooRadley May 22nd, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Diane and Josh, just wondered if either of you had ever heard of black soldier flies for composting.

“In this study, approximately 1248.6 g fresh dairy manure was converted into 273.4 g dry residue by 1200 BSFL in 21 days. Approximately 15.8 g of biodiesel was gained from 70.8 g dry BSFL, and 96.2 g sugar was obtained from the digested dairy manure. The residual dry BSFL after grease extraction can be used as protein.”

“Bioconversion of dairy manure by black soldier fly” by Q Li

The Florida guy in this link, Raise Soldier Flies, raises their larve as a protein source for his hens and for use with aquaponics.

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:23 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 5

Hi Jane, well, I can tell you what moved the young 18 year old from our county who went to Washington DC. His dad was a whistleblower in one of the largest poly vinyl companies in the world that was located right on our bay.And what did his dad–and then his family–get for his dad trying to make improvement to the safety of the workers and trying to stop a company from illegally discharging toxins? His dad got harrassed by the company until he was eventually ran off and the agencies that were using his information, eventually did nothing. A common scene down here. This young man has a dad who has been permently damaged by the chemicals he has been exposed to and is no longer capable of working a job. Plus his efforts have not been rewarded or supported or anything done about it. I think what this young man wanted to do was tell his story that is largely unknown and try to make a difference by telling the stories of this country that need to be told in the very place they need to be told

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:26 pm
In response to BooRadley @ 7

hey boo, thank you for those kind comments. i surely hope things are smiling at us activists. I know that when i come home to Texas sometimes and go home to my pretty old momma, she will see me coming and say, “OH, Diane, you’re just trying to make me cry!” SO I’d love a little smiling!

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:27 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 11

On the environmental front, I think a few areas are especially hot right now:

1) Coal, particularly mountaintop removal mining and the fights against campus plants, have a lot of energy right now. We’ve had pretty good success fighting the construction of new coal-fired power plants in this country over the past few years. But the difficult work of shutting down the existing plants is just getting underway in earnest. Some of the activism around the Fisk and Crawford plants in Chicago is pretty exciting, especially with Rahm having just come into office there. Next month’s March on Blair Mountain should also be amazing.

2) Fracking. Between gasland, the Cornell study on fugitive methane emissions and the recent blowout in PA, attention to hydraulic fracturing in particular and natural gas in general has never been greater. For years natural gas was touted as a cleaner alternative to other fossil fuels, but it is now clear that it has a series of its own unique problems that make it far less viable. More and more people are figuring that out every day, so it is an exciting time.

3) I should also add oil subsidies. With gas prices high, the public is clamoring for Congress to stop the handouts. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any appetite for that in the mainstream GOP. I’m assuming someone will figure out how to use this to split the GOP, since Tea Partiers can’t credibly be for tax dollar handouts to hugely profitable corporations.

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:28 pm


Much of your activism has targeted individual companies, such as Formosa Plastics and Dow Chemical. What tactics have you found to be especially effective in campaigns against particular companies? And do you have any other advice for those considering getting involved in company-specific activism?

Phoenix Woman May 22nd, 2011 at 2:29 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 13

Diane, thank you for your courage and your activism. Your book title makes me think of George Bernard Shaw’s passage from his play Man and Superman: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:30 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 9

Hi Josh, yes that information just literally blew my mind. We are such a tiny county and I had never heard a ‘single’ word about there being toxins and pollutants of any sort…then to find out you’re number one—then the next click in my brain—was when every politician breathing came down on my back and told me to be a good citizen and leave things alone. dont do a meeting. talk about a backlash!

eCAHNomics May 22nd, 2011 at 2:31 pm

My overarching, forever Q on this subject, is: Why are environmental activists so scapegoated by law enforcement, media, TV episodes like L&O. It seems like their “terrorism” is regarded as an existential threat in the U.S. even though the actual damage they’ve caused, like destruction of an on-mountain lodge at Vail, a gas guzzler dealership, and one or two other episodes, with no loss of life, is minor. Is it bc “eco-terrorists” attack the wealthy? And are themselves weak & powerless so are easy victims for wealthy to scapegoat? They certainly aren’t anywhere near being important threats to the U.S. in general.

Not to mention the worthiness of the cause, if not the wisdom of the form the activism takes.

Ditto Q for animal rights’ activists, if you know.

Jane Hamsher May 22nd, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 15

Yes we see a lot of energy around here regarding fracking. And the coal activists actually demonstrated in front of the White House presentation at PowerShift.

What tactics do you think are working now? Have there been any good successes lately that we can learn from?

What I’m looking for these days are things like 10 point plans that we can teach to people so they can take action in their own communities.

eCAHNomics May 22nd, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 15

In any kind of law-abiding, first world country, these issues wouldn’t exist. Just a reflection on how far the U.S. has moved to 3d world station that these are problems.

Scarecrow May 22nd, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Diane — there’s obviously a lot of stuff happening. What’s the most important environmental/climate issue you think is being ignored — or are there dozens of them?

And what’s your take on all the backtracking and pressure to stop/stall EPA regulations we seem to be seeing now?

Jane Hamsher May 22nd, 2011 at 2:35 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 15

I spoke to Alan Grayson at length about the oil subsidy/tax situation yesterday. Also about environmental issues.

We want to have him present at a member webinar, because I think his leadership and his voice are important and people are really looking for direction right now. A lot of people expressed interest in pursuing environmental issues in advance of the 2012 election, and he’s a very concerned environmentalist. W

What would you recommend?

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 16

Well, I found out the hard way about what things worked to get corporations, agencies, and politicians attention. In Texas and especially the isolated rural place I was from, it certainly wasn’t working ‘inside the box’. I could have worked inside the box for the rest of my days, dotting every i and crossing every t and what i would have gained was a couple parts per million on chlorine or vinyl chloride. Nothing in fact. So, at the risk of losing my bay and an entire culture where I grew up, I took a risk—and did a hunger strike. That hunger strike worked because it was using a different kind of energy–i think it was heart energy, as gandhi talks about–and also it was something the corporations could not control. And it worked. i think we citizens of this globe need to get eyeball to eyeball with corporate ceo’s and tell them we will take NO MORE.

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:41 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 20

A few types of tactics that seem to be working:

1) Big picture-movement building work that gives people something to be a part of. 350.org does this better than anyone, and I’d encouraged everyone to get involved in their September 24th Moving Planet event.

2) Local activism seems to be where the action is. Congress clearly isn’t going to do anything worthwhile on energy policy anytime soon, so all we can do there is play defense. That is important, especially when it comes to defending the Clean Air Act from the barrage of GOP attacks, but our only opportunities to make real progress are at the state and local level. If greens took half the money they had invested at the federal level in the past five years and dumped it into state and local fights, they’d have a lot more to show for it.

Scarecrow May 22nd, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Josh and Diane — the environmental community seems to be going through a self evaluation similar to what other progressive orgs are doing — the common theme seems to be: the Administration is backtracking and kowtowing to business for now, and lots of stuff we hoped would happen under Obama didn’t. Did they have unrealistic expectations? Wrong political strategy? What’s your take on that debate?

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:42 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 19

Oh, I totally get what youre saying. That’s something that has came up time and time again for me. I once had a press conference next to the bay about just that issue. I called in unequal law enforcement and believe it or not I even got environemntal groups like Sierra Club and fishermen from Louisiana saying the same thing. It was why arent these corporate folks hauled off or their product hauled off when they violate the laws the same way a shrimper on the gulf can have his shrimp boat and net and catch confiscated for getting his Turtle Extruder sewed in wrong in his net. Or have 6 cops at the front office of a chemical company like there will be 6 wardens with guns loaded in a fish house checking on fishermen. I think the reason is that this is a corporate state where corporations rule and they believe that they are above the law…and by the way that these corporate ceo’s get away with murder, I guess they are above the law. sad sad direction.

BooRadley May 22nd, 2011 at 2:42 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 21

IMHO, a key group that has let us down are accountants. Coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear only appear less expensive if the accountants ignore the massive environmental damage at so many levels.

Another key carbon metric is how much more they are worth (to the taxpayers) if we leave them in the ground. Both parties are allowing the carbon kings to “privatize profits,” and “socialize losses.”

eCAHNomics May 22nd, 2011 at 2:43 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 24

Why did your hunger strike work? BC you got publicity for it? If so, how? Millions have marched for immigrants’ rights, to name one cause, and no one knows about it bc it never gets any media coverage.

I also find it hard to believe that you would influence any corp exec by a hunger strike.

So I ask again, why/how did your hunger strike work?

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 24

I think this is exactly right. Sometimes the situation calls for playing an inside game or playing by the rules. Other times (more often that not, it seems), the inside game is rigged and the rules are a joke, so you need to play by your own terms. I think the best approach is often to use a combination of both approaches, especially if you’ve got someone willing and able to play the good cop role w/o undercutting those playing the outside game.

eCAHNomics May 22nd, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 27

Just as I thought.

eCAHNomics May 22nd, 2011 at 2:47 pm
In response to BooRadley @ 28

Known as “externalities” in the economics jargon world.

All economists are well schooled in externalities, i.e. ignoring the public cost of pollution (other examples as well) for private benefit.

Only economists who pretend ignorance of externalities get to positions of power these days though.

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:47 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 23

Grayson is fantastic across the board, including on environmental issues. I’d love to see him more active in the space, both on an FDL webinar and elsewhere. I think there is a lot of room for hitting the GOP for hypocrisy on the subsidy issue. Those who are for small government can’t be for transferring billions of dollars in wealth from the taxpayers to the largest corporations in the world. That might be a good angle for Grayson to pursue.

Phoenix Woman May 22nd, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 25

This is what’s got to be keeping various DC-based advocacy group heads awake at night: The fear that their members will realize their money hasn’t gone towards effective change, but feathering various nests — or Veal Pens, as we say here.

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:49 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 20

Well, that’s an interesting question and many may not agree with what I say but I’ll just put it out there anyhow. Early in my activism, i had a very savvy environmental activist come to Seadrift and he told me that the cardinal rule was 1) never do anything you’re community is not ready for. Well, i told that activist if i wanted for my community than the bays would be destroyed before they were ready. and sometimes it goes that route. oftentimes, the majority is not ready. sometimes even the minority is not ready, whether to take the risk or just to get a toe in the water…so I tell each individual activist, citizen, that they have to be ready to step out. Just step out. We dont alwasy have to have a plan, we dont have to always have the administrative log jam running, we dont have to have the money, just one person, individually, step out. And ghandi even said as much, he said its a fallacy to think that we have to have people and money and a plan. We dont. We just need an intention and committment. And not half hearted committment. the full deal.

BooRadley May 22nd, 2011 at 2:49 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 27

I hope you take great pride in the cash Exxon Mobil has to spend on PR ads like this one.

Dr. Steven Phillips Exxon Mobil

If your efforts weren’t having an impact, they wouldn’t be investing in so much image make-over.

BooRadley May 22nd, 2011 at 2:50 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 32


Gitcheegumee May 22nd, 2011 at 2:52 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 27

Thank you for all that you do ,and what you stand(and stand up for.)

I saw you a while back in an interview and was very impressed with your gutsiness and candor.

Speaking of chemical plants on the Gulf Coast, ever see a film called Blue Vinyl,about Cancer Alley in Louisiana? Check it out,if you haven’t.Amazing stuff!

CNN very recently did a special about a community there called Mossville,and how the refineries have played the corporate dodge game for years-with state and federal laissez faire-and local indifference. Once again, it is the women who have been standing up for their communities.

Here’s a little quote that seems just right for the discussion at hand:

“Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”

~ Cree Indian Proverb

Jane Hamsher May 22nd, 2011 at 2:56 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 33

Ooh I like that. Emailing you.

I think you’re in the Army, Josh.


Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:57 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 22

oh my goodness, you folks are asking some dillies of questions! wow! and issues out there?? I cannot step out the door where I live without one hitting me in the face. And often, and sadly, the same thing for a small town grassroots person is not the same critical nature for a national group. For instance, in my home county, in my home bays, gulf of mexico, etc….I was trying to make the petrochemical companies (PVC Formosa Plastics, especially) recycle their toxic wastestream that they were discharging into our estuaries and bays. I was getting support from Greenpeace for a while, but then they said, “What a minute! We can’t support you asking for zero discharge of toxins into your bay. Our greenpeace goal is to eliminate PVC. recycleing their wastestream would keep them in business longer!” So greenpeace’s goal and my goal was different. They were looking at the long term future and I was trying to keep the chemical companies from killing the bays today!….So that is a difficult question. They are all urgent and we can sometimes get overwhelmed with the urgency–and what’s the most urgent. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, or sorta said, ” what we need to do is what we can where we are right now.”

eCAHNomics May 22nd, 2011 at 2:58 pm
In response to BooRadley @ 37

One of the gnatty “market imperfections” that neolibruls pretend don’t exist in a world of “perfect” markets.

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 2:59 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 26

Great question, Scarecrow.

I think much of the Democratic party had unrealistic expectations both about what Obama intended to accomplish and how much of that he’d actually accomplish. Environmentalists (myself included) fell for that trap about as badly as other liberal constituencies did.

I think the soul searching is useful if it helps us identify things we can do better, but it is often just an excuse to cast blame or score political points. Most of the analysis of the failure to pass a climate bill that I’ve seen has been less than useful.

It’s worth keeping in mind when we talk about the failure of environmentalists to enact their agenda that they are fighting against the largest corporations in the world. Nobody makes more money than energy companies, period. So it isn’t really a surprise that they flex more political muscle that the environmental movement.

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:01 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 35

This is sometimes quite difficult. While you don’t want to get ahead of the community you’re organizing, you’re totally right that no community will ever be completely comfortable with fighting the necessary fights. We have to find ways to push local communities to be aggressive in their activism without alienating them and leaving them behind.

Jane Hamsher May 22nd, 2011 at 3:02 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 35

Oh I don’t disagree. But we have a lot of members with different priorities, and we try to find places where we think we can have the most impact with what we have.

Limited resources, too many things that need doing.

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Diane: Any thoughts on Scarecrow’s question at #25?

BooRadley May 22nd, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Thanks Josh.

I prefer to refer to them as monopolies and oligopolies, the enemies of capitalism. They are blocking the very market forces which encourage innovation, quality, and a meritocracy.

It infuriates me that they wrap themselves in Adam Smith and the laws of supply and demand. Nothing could be further from the truth. They’re buying both political parties to use government to enact their agenda. That’s feudalism, not capitalism.

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:04 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 26

ha, that is so funny. and you are right. we are making an impact or else they wouldnt be spending the big bucks on ads. I know when i went to London recently for the BP shareholders meeting, there were huge ads of pristine gulf waters. NOT A SINGLE DROP OF OIL. This had been going on for some time. Then we had our little episode at the BP gathering and there were a few activists that got well oiled and a financial paper wrote about it and said that although some corporations bounced back after their ads, BP’s did not. Apparently the world was noticing the activists covered in oil more than they were watching BP’s loverly ads… ha. I think that was terrific. shows you to just keep on keeping on.

eCAHNomics May 22nd, 2011 at 3:04 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 42

I think we are not talking about “failure” of environmentalists (though there is plenty of talk about how large environmental groups like Green Peace, Sierra Club have either been put in the veal pen by O or infiltrated by corp donations), but rather by O’s outright duplicity.

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:07 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 17

George B Shaw is exactly where I got the title of my first book and all the other references. I just misquoted him. used women instead.

Gitcheegumee May 22nd, 2011 at 3:08 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 32

John Kenneth Galbraith:

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

eCAHNomics May 22nd, 2011 at 3:10 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 50

The more I hear/read about Galbriath pere, the better I like him.

Gitcheegumee May 22nd, 2011 at 3:11 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 51

x2—-moi aussi.

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:12 pm


What’s next for your activism? Do you have any projects you’re working on now or that you plan to tackle soon?

Phoenix Woman May 22nd, 2011 at 3:13 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 50

Yup, and all you need to understand Cons, Elites, and those who would serve them, from John Calvin to Ayn Rand.

Jane Hamsher May 22nd, 2011 at 3:14 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 53

I’ll add another – what do you consider your biggest success?

mzchief May 22nd, 2011 at 3:14 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 40

Corporations “recycle their toxic wastestream” all the time. A Texas Instruments engineer took the environment seriously and was able to convince/cajole upper management so she could convert all the PC board wash baths to a solvent that was based on the oils of oranges. Now how hard was that? Yeah, forcing them to do it has to be done by the local community.

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:17 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 45

hey folks, you folks are liquid dynamite! wow, ive got to type faster. and regarding Scarecrow’s comment. Oh, dont know if folks will like this, but this is from my EXPERIENCE in working with agencies (state and federal) and politicians. I do not put my time there anymore. (oh well, yes i do sometimes but NOT intensive)…I have found that there are laws laws laws on the books and they are not being enforced. then too, look at the Clean Water Act. In 1972, the goal of the Clean Water Act was to have ZERO toxins by l985, but what do we have? We have an enormous pollution problem with our bays, rivers, and oceans and the goal of the clean water act is what is the carrying load of that poor body of water? how much can it stand. then the engineers pull out their rulers and their calculators and decide it can take 100 lbs of mercury and 500 pounds of vinyl chloride and on and on. The point being that all that time and effort to get the clean water act and it is mangled beyond recognition and if things go like they’re looking now, we can expect a long of back pedaling on a lot of environmental regulations–not to mention safety to the workers in our most dangerous facilities. I AM TOTALLY DISGUSTED WITH CONGRESS. I spend my energy and time getting in the faces of these corporations and try to make change there

Gitcheegumee May 22nd, 2011 at 3:17 pm
In response to mzchief @ 56

Ever notice its the WOMEN who are speaking truth to power(and doing the heavy lifting) ,more often than not??

Personally, I think it is LONG past the time to put to bed that old canard that you have to be” twice the woman to be half the man”.

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:21 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 58

I’ve certainly noticed that.

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:24 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 43

hi josh, this is in response to your response about community involvement. I remember something funny once. i was working hard to get those dang fishermen involved but they were depressed and believed they were seeing their last days on the bay so there was NO involvement from them. Then the day came where i took my own shrimp boat into the bay to sink it on top of an illegal discharge of formosa plastics that NONE of the agencies were doing one thing about. Well the coast guard got called out with three of their cutters and they were calling me an ‘ecoterrorist’ on the high seas…..well, something about what was happening touched those fishermen at the docks and EVERYONE of them got in their shrimp boats and steered defiantly passed the coast guard and demonstrated in front of formosa plastics and that action, with those fishermen, was actually how i finally got formosa plastics to go zero discharge of their wastesttream. So what spurred the fishermen was a spontaneous loner action….so you never know what will move people to get involved.

CTuttle May 22nd, 2011 at 3:24 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 57


Nuff said…! ;-)

Aloha, Diane and Josh…! Mahalo for being here today…!

Gitcheegumee May 22nd, 2011 at 3:24 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 59

Josh, it was too late to edit my comment, but I wanted to add,present compamy excepted. *G*

Jane Hamsher May 22nd, 2011 at 3:25 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 57

I AM TOTALLY DISGUSTED WITH CONGRESS. I spend my energy and time getting in the faces of these corporations and try to make change there.

As someone once said to me, “why would I want to talk to the monkey when I can talk to the organ grinder?”

More and more it seems like Congress is just there to be bribed. They’re incapable of anyting else. And they’re not the ones calling the shots.

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:25 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 58

I totally agree!!! Get a bumper sticker. lets past that thought around…

Phoenix Woman May 22nd, 2011 at 3:25 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 57

I spend my energy and time getting in the faces of these corporations and try to make change there.

Might as well go to the source. That’s what Alinsky did — he didn’t waste time on the hirelings in Congress, he went to the people that paid their campaign expenses.

Gitcheegumee May 22nd, 2011 at 3:26 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 64

How’s about..

“Ya can’t substitute a wishbone for a backbone!”

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:27 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 63

ha, that is such a great quote. Ive got to remember that one. and yep yep, they are not the ones calling the shots. it is pretty obvious….

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 66

Wow, that’s great. who does bumper stickers these days? gimme a couple hundred…oh shoot, thousand!

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 60

That’s a great example of moving a community out of it’s comfort zone to participate in an action that moves the ball forward. Thanks for sharing that, Diane.

Gitcheegumee May 22nd, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Diane, with hurricane season just days away, do you find that the threat of hurricanes is a plus or minus in your efforts to make corporations more accountable?( Consider how the Murpy Oil refinery down in Meraux,Louisiana had oil soaking an entire community because the storage tanks weren’t properly filled prior to the storm surge after Katrina.)

I know that with the oil refineries, hurricanes pose a paricular threat .

Jane Hamsher May 22nd, 2011 at 3:32 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 69

Agreed. A very inspriational act, Diane.

eCAHNomics May 22nd, 2011 at 3:34 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 58

I’ve noticed the gender disparity on whistleblowers.

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:36 pm
In response to mzchief @ 56

I once had a lead lawyer for NRDC (the national environmental group) call me because she didn’t understand how i got ‘zero discharge’ from Formosa plastics. She said that her group and a number of large national groups were given an executive order from Pres Clinton to work with some of the largest chemical companies in the nation to find a way to reduce toxins and make it economically feasiable. Well, she said after two years they group did just that. they found a way to reduce toxins and also make it profitable for the company, but what did the chemical companies do? The NRDC lawyer said that the chemical company representatives said, “So WHAT!”…and walked off. there was nothing the groups could do to make the corporations actually impliment the findings. She said how did I did it and i told her that i wrestled formosa plastics to the floor….

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:38 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 70

i think folks in general have NO IDEA what is actually going on with this chemical companies during a hurricane. We had a near miss with the hurricane after Katrina, about 170 mile an hour wind brewing, and some of these companies were no where near prepared. The public at large has no idea, hurricane or no hurricane, what is actually going on with these corporations!!

Gitcheegumee May 22nd, 2011 at 3:39 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 73

Would you consider wrestling with the DOJ to get them to do THEIR job,too??

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:40 pm


I found your work on Bhopal to be fascinating. I can’t quite shake the image of you on a hunger strike outside the Calhoun County Dow Chemical plant sending nightly updates to India for dissemination.

Can you tell us how you got involved in fighting for justice in Bhopal and why you found that situation so compelling?

Gitcheegumee May 22nd, 2011 at 3:40 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 74

Seems like a first rate “teachable moment”,Miss Diane,don’tcha think?

Phoenix Woman May 22nd, 2011 at 3:41 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 73

“Don’t ask f’r rights. Take thim. An’ don’t let annywan give thim to ye. A right that is handed to ye fer nawthin has sometin the mather with it. It’s more thin likely it’s only a wrong turned inside out.” Finley Peter Dunne’s Mr. Dooley. (quoted by Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, p. 124)

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:47 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 55

Well, folks, Im working on what sometime appears to be conflicting directions but I trust myself enough these days to know that somehow the dots all connect. Meaning, I’m involved in county jail advocacy in Texas and trying to change them, one jail at a time (I’ve been jailed a lot). Another is Texas Injured Workers. Workers from the very corporations that i fight tooth and nail call me because there is no one else for them to talk to. No agency listening. Gee what would have happened if a whistleblower on the “Deep Water Horizon” had someone who had listened??? So I get the deep and gritty of what is really going on in oil, chemical and atomic industries on the gulf coast. Then too im trying to write a book about the last shrimpers in Texas. i call it’ gone baby gone’…yeah, i know there is a movie by that name, too…

Gitcheegumee May 22nd, 2011 at 3:49 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 78

“In times of universal deceit,telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act”

George Orwell

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:51 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 76

Well, i got involved with Bhopal because the big chemical plant outside my little fishing village was Union Carbide. that plant had just received the Safest Plant in Texas award, then the plant blew sky high and sent shrapnel bug as a cadallac clear out into the marshes. 120 were injured and one man died. two days later a man showed up in my front yard and i thought it was union carbide management but nope, this guy was UCC’s biggest nightmare. He was the one who invited me to Bhopal India and thats where my connection formed and never stopped.

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:51 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 80

Boy, that bears repeating and repeating and repeating!

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:53 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 75

I always advocate a good wrestling…and believe it or not, these guys take one look at me and believe i will wrestle them. And they think i might win. ha.

Elliott May 22nd, 2011 at 3:55 pm

As this Book Salon draws to a close,

Diane, thank you so much for stopping by the Lake and spending your afternoon discussing your new book.

Josh, thank you very much for hosting.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Diary of an Eco-Outlaw: An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth

Thanks everyone,
Have a great week!

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:56 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 78

haha, that’s great. where are you folks finding all of those terrific quotes??!!

Josh Nelson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:56 pm


I really appreciate you being here today. Your book is fantastic — highly recommended to everyone here.

Before we sign off, can you let everyone know if there is somewhere they can go to follow your work and what you’re up to?

Again, thanks for joining us for the chat today and for all of your excellent work.

Diane Wilson May 22nd, 2011 at 3:56 pm
In response to Elliott @ 84

Muchas gras!! i loved this little chatting episode!

Gitcheegumee May 22nd, 2011 at 3:57 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 83

Mind if I ask if you have been or are threatened?

And not to be too nosy, but are the local law enforcement sympathetic to your causes–or to the corporations?(Lots of off duty cops do security for these refineries.)

And I will buy your book,btw.

Jane Hamsher May 22nd, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Diane thank you so much for writing this book, and for being here today. Your work is inspirational, and I hope you’ll come back. We’d love to have you post about the things you’re doing.

mzchief May 22nd, 2011 at 4:01 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 73

You got that right. There has to be an array of folks working a multi-pronged approach. Too many non-profits are Veal Pen outfits. Citizen environmental monitors/field observers who bring their political involvement to the city and county levels and raise a ruckus independent of what the politicians and the politician’s corporate benefactors want are what we need in droves. Case-in-point is Portland, OR citizens who are again having to fend off the stealing of its pristine waters at City Hall. We could care less that Nestle wants to revitalize the Enron model and play future derivative games with in the international casino.

Great salon, great thread. Thank you for being here with us, Diane!

Gitcheegumee May 22nd, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Thanks to all here for a wonderful opportunity to be inspired—and informed.

Phoenix Woman May 22nd, 2011 at 4:07 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 85

I read that book nearly thirty years ago — got a copy from a couple for whom I babysat in college — and that quote stuck in my head. (Though I did have to look it up to make sure I got it right.)

And thank you for your book and the salon!

thatvisionthing May 23rd, 2011 at 1:33 am

I cannot believe I missed both Bill Moyers and Diane Wilson this weekend! My heroes of heroes, my favorites of favorites!

Diane, if you’re checking back later, I second Josh @85: “Before we sign off, can you let everyone know if there is somewhere they can go to follow your work and what you’re up to?” Can we reach you?

Huge, huge, HUGE respect and applause to you.

Diane Wilson May 23rd, 2011 at 10:00 am

hi, im not sure if i can still post my comment, but in case folks want to get ahold of me they can either go to my facebook page: Diane Wilson. Also texasinjuredworkers.com. Also chelseagreen.com…then put in my name. there is an Unreasonable Woman section on their website. Also there is a facebook page for Diary of An Eco-Outlaw. Thanks so much folks for those wonderful questions. wish the session had been longer. xxxdiane

thatvisionthing May 24th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to Diane Wilson @ 94

Hey Diane, I wrote to you at texasinjuredworkers.com — hope to be able to reach you that way. Best wishes always :-)

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