Monthly Archives: May 2023

For Climate Action, participating in radio interviews

Brian Ettling getting ready to give a radio interview at the KMOX radio studio on December 26, 2017

“It sounded really loud, he said it really loud
On the radio, whoa-oh-oh-oh”

From the 1979 song “On the Radio” by Donna Summer

When I was a kid growing up in Oakville, Missouri, a suburb at the southern end of the St. Louis metropolitan area, I was fascinated by FM radio stations that played pop music. In some of my earliest memories around the age of 5 to 7 years old in the mid 1970s, I loved listening to Elton John and Paul McCartney on the radio. Every time my parents’ car drove past a very tall radio tower in St. Louis, typically painted in subdue red and white colors with a blinking light on top, I thought Elton John, Paul McCartney and other singers were performing their songs live somewhere from within that tower. It seemed magical and mystical in my young child’s imaginative brain. I didn’t understand how they would perform their hit songs repeatedly inside those towers. It did not occur to me until I was older that the singers recorded the songs just once on records and the radio stations were just playing the records.

I watched way too much TV growing up, but my favorite memories were listening to pop music on the radio. Someday I wanted to be “On the Radio” as that memorable 1979 song by Disco singer Donna Summer sang. As I grew up, other dreams took over my life. In the 1980s, I wanted to be a successful businessman like billionaire Donald Trump who I saw on TV as oozing with confidence and success. I loved his 1987 book The Art of the Deal. I wanted to be building skyscrapers and closing big money real estate deals like he was. In addition, my dad thought I should major in Business Administration in college to get what he called “a practical education.”

From 1988 to 1992, I attended William Jewell College in Kansas City, Missouri to major in Business Administration. I enjoyed my business classes, but I quickly discovered that I did not want to spend my life working in an office cubical. I just too ecliptic to be the practical adult that my dad wanted me to be. In 1991, Donald Trump went bankrupt. So much for that stellar businessman image that he projected. Even wore, he cheated on his first wife with the mistress who would eventually his second wife, bragging to the media that his extra martial affair was “the best sex he ever had.” Thus, I wanted no part of Donald Trump’s sleazy world and lifestyle. I stopped liking him then and wanted nothing to do with him ever since then.

Working in the national parks and discovering climate change

When I graduated from William Jewell College with my business degree in May 1992. I was unsure what to do with my life. I took a summer job at the gift store at Crater Lake National Park to help me find my own life’s path. When the train arrived in southern Oregon, on May 20, 1992. I found my spiritual home in Oregon at Crater Lake National Park. From that point on, I wanted to live close to snowcapped mountains and to nature. The odd thing was that Crater Lake was just a summer job. I had to find a different job for the winter.

Brian Ettling at Crater Lake National Park. Photo taken on November 3, 1992

In the winter of 1992-93, I worked at the front desk at the Flamingo Lodge in Everglades National Park, Florida. It was about as far away from Crater Lake as you could get in the United States. I could not wait to return to Crater Lake in May 1993. At the same time, I enjoyed my winter in the Everglades canoeing and seeing all the wildlife. It was fascinating to see alligators, crocodiles, dolphins, manatees, and the wide variety of wading birds in the Everglades.

From 1992 to 2008, I fell into this habit of spending my summers at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon and my winters in Everglades National Park, Florida. The national parks had little to no TV reception. Thus, I continued my lifelong love of listening to popular music on the radio. The FM radio became my companion during those cross-country drives across the United States, traveling from Crater Lake to the Everglades in the fall and the reverse trip every spring. In 2002, I switched to listening to local National Public Radio (NPR) stations in southern Oregon and Florida to stay up to date with the national news.

In 1998, I started giving ranger talks in Everglades National Park. Visitors then asked me about this global warming thing. Visitors hate when park rangers tell you, “I don’t know.” Soon afterwards, I rushed to the nearest Miami bookstore and to the park library to read all I the scientific books I could find on climate change.

The information I learned really scared me, specifically sea level rise along our mangrove coastline in Everglades National Park. Sea level rose 8 inches in the 20th century, four times more than it had risen in previous centuries for the past three thousand years. Because of climate change, sea level is now expected to rise at least three feet in Everglades National Park by the end of the 21st century. The sea would swallow up most of the park and nearby Miami since the highest point of the park road less than three feet above sea level.

It shocked me that crocodiles, alligators, and beautiful Flamingos I saw in the Everglades could all lose this ideal coastal habitat because of sea level rinse enhanced by climate change.

A photo by Brian Ettling of the wild Flamingos in Everglades National Park. Photo taken in 1999

Organizing for climate action in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri

I became so worried about climate change that I quit my winter job in Everglades National Park the year in 2008. I started spending my winters in St. Louis Missouri to find some way to organize for climate action. I started giving climate change talks at my nieces and nephews grade schools in the spring of 2010. In the winter of 2011, I joined South County Toastmasters to become a better climate change communicator. That same winter, I worked at the St. Louis Science Center at their temporary climate change exhibit from March to May 2011.

While attending a St. Louis Science Center lecture about how climate change is impacting the weather in April 2011, I met and became friends with St. Louis businessman Larry Lazar. We had a mutual longing to do something about climate change. Thus, Larry and I co-founded the St. Louis Climate Reality Meet Up group in November 2011 (now called Climate Meetup-St. Louis) to organize regular meetings and promote events to create more awareness about climate change in the St. Louis area.

Up until 2017, I still worked my summer job Crater Lake National Park. While working at Crater Lake for many years, the impacts of climate change became apparent with the average annual snowpack diminishing. I noticed more mild winters with below average snowpacks. The summer wildfire seasons became more longer, hotter, dryer and more intense. By August 2011, I had gathered enough information to start giving a climate change ranger evening program at the campground amphitheater to the park visitors.

Larry Lazar and I organized some informative meetings about climate change through our St. Louis Climate Reality Meet Up group during the winter of 2012-13. In June 2012, the Climate Reality Project, founded in 2007 by former Vice President Al Gore, invited Larry and I to attend their three-day training in San Francisco, California on August 21-23. As trained Climate Reality Leaders, Larry and I started giving climate change presentations in the St. Louis area that winter. Larry and I gave several joint presentations with Lucas Sabalka, a mathematics professor at St. Louis University who had also attended the Climate Reality San Francisco Training.

Larry Lazar, Lucas Salbalka, and Brian Ettling getting ready to give a joint Climate Reality presentation at the Ethical Society of St. Louis on December 6, 2012.

Learning about the unhealthy and deadly coal pollution in the St. Louis area

With the climate organizing that Larry, Lucas, and I did during the winter of 2012-13, I met Sara Edgar, an organizer with the Missouri Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. It was through Sara at the Beyond Coal Campaign and a news article I stumbled across that I learned how dependent St. Louis was on burning coal for electricity.

On December 31, 2012, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, my hometown newspaper, had this headline that grabbed my attention: One in five kids in parts of St. Louis area struggles with asthma. Underneath the headline was an 8-year-old African American boy, Xavier Miles, with a big smile on his face before receiving his spirometry test, which shows the function of the lungs, at his school. The caption stated that “Xavier has asthma and met with various educators who reminded him how to take of himself during an asthma attack.”

The article then mentioned that St. Louis has twice the national average of children suffering with asthma. What causes asthma?

According to the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, environmental factors are one of the top causes of Asthma:
“Pollution, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ozone, cold temperatures, and high humidity have all been shown to trigger asthma in some individuals.”

During periods of heavy air pollution, there tend to be increases in asthma symptoms and hospital admissions. Smoggy conditions release the destructive ingredient known as ozone, causing coughing, shortness of breath, and even chest pain. These same conditions emit sulfur dioxide, which also results in asthma attacks by constricting airways.”

Sara then shared with me statistics how deadly and unhealth it is to burn coal for energy. According to the Environmental Integrity Project, 1,000 asthma attacks and 57 to 100 premature deaths occurred each year because of the Meramec Coal Plant. Even more, according to the EPA, over 95% of our fixed source greenhouse emissions for St. Louis County came from the Meramec Coal plant at that time.

Volunteering and taking action for the Missouri Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign

Sara invited me to be the moderator of the Coal, Climate and Clean Energy Forum at the Cliff Cave Library in Oakville, MO on March 28, 2013. Around 50 people attended this event. Sara encouraged me to write letters to the editor, which were published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and neighborhood newspapers urging Ameren to retire the Meramec Coal Power Plant.

From the awareness I learned how bad it is to burn coal, especially in my hometown St. Louis, I gave a speech at the April 17, 2013, St. Louis South County Toastmasters meeting called What Keeps Me Up Late at Night. The goal of that speech was to urge my fellow Toastmasters to request the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to require Ameren, the local electric utility which operates Meramec Plant, to lower its sulfur dioxide emissions to levels that are safe for our families according to the Clean Air Act.

On April 25, 2013, Sara invited me to be one of the speakers at a Beyond Coal rally in front of the Ameren headquarters. All the speakers at this rally, including me, spoke to the attendees and the local TV & radio media about stopping coal ash pollution from Ameren’s four coal plants in the St. Louis metro region. We wanted Ameren to stop dumping coal ash from our coal power plants in our ground water, rivers, and local community.

Those volunteer actions I took for the Missouri Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign then led me to write an opinion editorial published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on July 10, 2013. Just like my Toastmaster’s speech, the title of this op-ed was called, “What Keeps me Up Late At Night.” This op-ed asked St. Louis area residents to urge Ameren to retire the local coal plants because of the health risks from the polluted air.

Brian Ettling speaking at the Missouri Beyond Coal’s “Coal Ash for Breakfast!” rally in front of the electric utility Ameren’s headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri

Briefly working for the Missouri Sierra Club and the Beyond Coal Campaign

All these volunteer action led to the Missouri Sierra Club hiring me in October 2013 to be an organizer primarily for the Beyond Coal campaign. At the time, it felt like a dream come true to work full time as a climate and environmental organizer.

The job soon felt like it was not an ideal fit for me just days after I started. Besides the Sierra Club, I organized for Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), the Climate Reality Project and I was the co-leader of the St. Louis Climate Reality Meet Up group, along with Larry Lazar. I took this job hoping to still coordinate with these other climate organizations. However, the job turned out to be all consuming with no time to interact with those organizations.

The St. Louis Climate Reality Meet Up had an event with a large attendance in November 2013. I hoped to go to recruit volunteers for the Sierra Club and the Beyond Coal campaign, as well as coordinate with those climate activists attending for future coalition organizing events. Sadly, my boss at the Sierra Club did not want me to attend because of a small gathering of Sierra Club volunteers scheduled to meet at the Sierra Club office that evening. I found his decision to be rather short sighted. It felt like we were just not seeing eye to eye on climate organizing.

Even more troubling, I learned that my job was an “exempt” position, not subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime regulations and, therefore, not entitled to overtime pay. It felt like I was working morning, afternoons, and evenings with very little free time. It felt stifling and confining compared to my other climate organizing and my summer job as a park ranger at Crater Lake National Park. Around Thanksgiving 2013, I did not want to do that job anymore, so I gave my two weeks notice.  

In agreement with my supervisor to leave on good terms, we agreed I would attend the Missouri Health Foundation Annual Retreat in Columbia, MO in early December. The goal of sending me there was to network with the conference organizers and attendees to coordinate more with the Sierra Club. My supervisor wanted to me to make connections with conference organizers and attendees to work on a shared goal to improve the health of Missourians by reducing pollution, especially from Missouri’s coal plants. It turned out to be a grueling conference with a lot of information and dry lectures. Many of the breakout sessions were about Medicaid expansion for Missouri, an issue that I do support. However, the breakout sessions about Medicaid expansion did not hold much interest for me.

Brian Ettling attending an anti-coal rally in St. Louis on November 18, 2013. Photo was taken when Brian briefly worked for the Missouri Sierra Club and their Beyond Coal Campaign.

Hearing two of my Climate Reality friends interviewed on a St. Louis area radio station

As I drove to the conference, I had a gut feeling it would be a very wonky conference on medical policy. Thus, I was not looking forward to attending. On the drive to this conference on Monday, December 9, 2013, two fellow St. Louis Climate Reality Leaders, my friend Larry Lazar and Chris Laughman, were featured on a radio interview on the environmental themed Earthworms radio show on independent community supported radio station KDHX 88.1 FM.

I was driving on the I-70 interstate towards Columbia, MO leaving the St. Louis metro area when the interview started. Sadly, the radio signal in my car was not strong since I was heading away from St. Louis. I became very angry turning the car around at the nearest exit to try to get a better radio signal. I was not thrilled about going to this health conference, so this radio show was to be my driving companion for this very dark and lonely December evening.

It was exciting when Larry Lazar mentioned me during this broadcast, which was totally unexpected. He said, “Brian Ettling has given 100s of climate change presentations. He is a national park ranger, and he has a very funny, compelling, and interesting presentation. He is one of our best.”

This was a huge honor for Larry to say this. Larry was recommending me to give climate change talks in the St. Louis area. Unfortunately, no online link is available to share a recording of this radio interview now. However, this was a moral boost for me that night in December 2013 because I felt down that the Sierra Club job did not work out for me. I drove to this health conference to complete a work obligation, not to fulfill a passion for me. To be honest, I was jealous at that moment that Larry and Chris were on the radio. I was excited for them, but I wanted to be that person on the radio talking about climate organizing.

With a new year approaching, I made it a high priority if not a 2014 resolution to be interviewed on the radio for climate action. If Larry Lazar and Chris Laughman could do it, I could do it!

Success! Landing my first live radio interview for climate action!

The host of that Earthworms radio show on KDHX 88.1 FM is Jean Ponzi. She is a great host. Jean is very engaging, funny, gregarious, and passionate about environment. Jean is the Green Resources Manager for EarthWays Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden. In addition, she hosts Growing Green St. Louis on the Big 550-KTRS AM, a weekly showcase for local sustainability achievements. On top of that, Jean is in demand as a public speaker promoting Green living options in business and public settings. I think it would be very safe to call Jean a very inspiring and positive “Force of Nature” in the St. Louis area.

Just like Larry Lazar and Chris Laughman had accomplished in December 2013, I really wanted to be on her radio show. At the same time, since she just had Larry and Chris on her show, I knew I was going to have to wait my turn to hang low for several months before I could reach out to her to request to be a guest on her show.

Going through my old emails and Facebook posts, I don’t know how I connected with Jean Ponzi. Somehow, it just happened. It might be because both of us gave presentations at the Webster University Sustainability Conference that took place the previous Friday. Maybe we had a conversation during that conference. I don’t remember now. Anyway, I did something right because Jean invited me into the KDHX studio in midtown St. Louis for a live interview on Monday evening, April 14 , 2014. My first radio interview was fun and exciting. I had finally made it, like the Donna Summer song, I was going to be “On the Radio.”

Brian Ettling with Earthworms radio host Jean Ponzi at the KDHX 88.1 FM studio on April 14, 2014.

The bad news is that there’s no longer an online link from this radio interview. The good news is that I got a picture of myself in the radio studio with Jean Ponzi. If I remember correctly, Jean had another guest booked, but that guest cancelled so she booked me to go on the air. That is one of the keys to getting on the air for climate action or other issues that you want to promote: being available if a booked guest suddenly cancels.

One of the things I loved about doing radio interviews is there is no eye contact with the audience. The listeners can’t see you. Thus, I brought in notecards of my favorite quotes, my short personal mantras for climate organizing such as “Think Globally and Act Daily,” and information on the events that I was promoting.

Yes, I did give Jean good eye contact during the interview to be fully engaged with her. At the same time, she did not mind at all when I glanced at my notes. There were times during the interview where she had to introduce the show, make announcements, station identification, promote upcoming broadcasts, etc. Thus, I had plenty of time to look at my notes and notecards to make sure I knew the talking points I wanted to emphasize during this radio interview.

The ultimate key to getting a radio interview is promoting an upcoming event you are leading in the community. For this interview, I promoted an event happening a few days later. On Thursday April 17th 7 pm, Climate Reality Leaders Larry Lazar, Corinne McAfee, Dr. Johann Bruhn, and I were presenting on climate change at Eastern Central College in Union, Missouri.

My parents, some of my friends, and my then girlfriend now wife Tanya Couture heard the live radio interview. They were all very pleased and proud to hear me on the radio.

The good news is that Jean Ponzi and I did stay in contact. She did invite me back as a guest for her radio shows six additional times in the five years after that. Larry Lazar and I were guests for her Growing Green St. Louis show on KTRS 550 AM on November 21, 2014. Larry and I talked with Jean about our efforts giving climate change talks in the St. Louis area as Climate Reality Leaders. It’s a shame that there is no recorded link from that interview.

The Earthworms archive recordings of their past podcast episodes goes back as far as February 3, 2015. Thus, you can listen to recordings of the other 5 times Jean invited me to be a guest on her Earthworms radio program/podcast:

  1. Brian Ettling On Climate Change Activism, recorded on April 7, 2015.
  2. Climate Change Tales – from a National Park Ranger, recorded on April 27, 2016.
  3. Citizens’ Climate Lobby – the Power of One, Many Times Over, December 7, 2016.
  4. Brian Ettling: Climate Change Advocacy Marches On!, recorded on October 2, 2018.
  5. Brian Ettling: A Climate Leader’s Update, recorded on November 27, 2019.

Starting in 2015, Jean did not even have me come into the radio studio to record these radio interviews/podcasts. We would agree upon a time, and she would call me on my cell phone. One of those calls on April 27 2016, I spoke to her from inside my car in a rest area in Colorado during my cross country drive from St. Louis to my summer job at Crater Lake national park. Those phone calls made it even easier to spread out my notecards and notes to share the exact quotes, talking points, and upcoming events that I wanted to emphasize during our interview.

My 2014 live radio interview on St. Louis NPR radio program KWMU “St. Louis On the Air”

In April 2014, staff at Eastern Central College in Union coordinated with Larry Lazar and me to promote our Thursday April 17th event. Climate Reality Leaders Larry Lazar, Corinne McAfee, Dr. Johann Bruhn, and I presented on climate change at Eastern Central College that evening.

Climate Reality Leaders Larry Lazar, Dr. Johann Bruin, Corinne McAfee and Brian Ettling after their climate change presentation at Eastern Central College in Union, Missouri on April 17, 2014.

The staff at Eastern Central College made a successful connection with the St. Louis National Public Radio (NPR) station, KWMU 90.7 FM for their daily show, St. Louis On the Air about “the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region.”

The show invited Larry Lazar, Dr. Jack Fishman, and me to be interviewed live on the air on April 15, 2014. Since 2011, Dr. Jack Fishman is a Professor of Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and the Director of The Center for Environmental Sciences at St. Louis University (SLU). Before arriving at SLU, he worked at the NASA Langley Research Center for 31 years, where his research focused on the area of tropospheric chemistry. Larry, Jack, and I were invited to appear on St. Louis On the Air “to discuss the impact of climate change on the Midwest, ways to reduce your carbon footprint, and local efforts to get the word out about global warming.”

We were primarily there to promote our event, The Panel Discussion on Climate Disruption on Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. at East Central College in Union, Missouri. During my winters in St. Louis, I regularly listened to KWMU for news. I especially enjoyed listening to St. Louis On the Air daily. In Florida, Oregon, and Missouri, I was a loyal listener to NPR for over ten years. It was so exciting to go to the radio studio to see where the show was broadcast live.

When I appeared on KDHX’s Earthworms with host Jean Ponzi, it was a thrill for me to be interviewed solo to have the challenge to think on my feet to answer all her questions by myself. At the same time, I loved the chance to share this experience to be interviewed on the St. Louis NPR station with my friends Larry Lazar and Dr. Jack Fishman.

Since 2011, Larry and I had given a lot of joint climate change presentations in the St. Louis area and had organized some climate events. Larry introduced me to Dr. Jack Fishman who really has a deep understanding of the science of climate change. I loved the challenge of answering questions in live radio interviews. At the same time, I don’t have all the answers. Sometimes I don’t think on my feet as well as I should. I don’t remember certain words when I am put on the spot and some answers to questions can allude me in the moment. Thus, I was very happy to have Larry there to share his perspective as a businessman and Dr. Fishman to share his knowledge and expertise as an atmospheric scientist.

It was fun to meet the host of St. Louis On the Air, Don Marsh, since I had heard his voice on my radio many times over the years. Even more, I remembered him years ago when I would see him on TV in St. Louis on stations KDNL and KTVI. I found him to be polite, reserved, and made us feel welcome in the radio station. He asked us great questions and he gave us the freedom to answer them in our own manner without interrupting us. It was great to get a picture of Don, Jack, Larry and I in the studio.

Larry Lazar, Brian Ettling, St. Louis On the Air Radio Host Don Marsh, and Dr. Jack Fishman at the KWMU radio studio on April 15, 2014.

Of course, my parents, Tanya, and many other friends heard us on the radio live. I got to hear the daily re-broadcast at 9 pm and I was very happy how all of us sounded. A day later, KWMU, posted a link, description and recording of our interview, Encounters With Climate Change: A Discussion With Three St. Louisans. Even more, a picture of me at Crater Lake National Park in my ranger uniform included with the online post.

This felt like my biggest accomplishment as a radio interview up to that point. I still dreamed though of getting a radio interview on KMOX 1120 am, the news and talk radio station, which has the biggest number of listeners by far in the St. Louis area. In April 2014, I did not know how I was going to make that happen. It took a couple of years while I pursued other opportunities, but this dream did eventually come true.

My October 2017 radio interviews for two southern Oregon radio stations

After that April 2014 appearance on the St. Louis KWMU NPR radio show St. Louis On the Air, I hoped to have other opportunities to be interviewed on the radio. As I mentioned before, Jean Ponzi did invite me several times to appear on Earthworms on KDHX. However, it took a couple of years before I had more opportunities to be on the radio.

In February 2017, my wife Tanya and I moved to Portland, Oregon. After we moved there, I became very active as a volunteer in the Portland, Oregon Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL). I immediately loved living in Portland, but it felt like ‘a blue bubble’ with many people living there who are passionate about climate change and taking climate action. Thus, I had this mission to travel around central, southern, and eastern Oregon to inspire and organize Oregonians in those areas to organize for climate action and join CCL.

The CCL volunteers and I who organized this tour called it The Oregon Stewardship Tour. We thought that taking climate action, especially with urging Congress to pass a carbon fee and dividend, is one of the best ways to be good stewards of Oregon’s precious air, and and water.

It was also one of the bravest and boldest feats I have done driving 1,600 miles myself in my car to 11 cities for this 12-day tour from October 24 to November 4, 2017. I traveled to give presentations in La Grande, Baker City, John Day, Burns, Prineville Redmond, Lakeview, Klamath Falls, and Grants Pass to talk to rural and conservative Oregonians about climate change.

This tour was a huge undertaking for me. For a recap, I had

  • 9 public outreach events
  • 2 lobby meetings with district offices of Rep. Greg Walden
  • 2 newspaper editorial board meetings
  • 2 live radio interviews
  • 4 published articles in Oregon newspapers featuring the tour
  • 4 press releases published announcing local tour events.

Looking back, I wish we could have booked more radio interviews. The organizers of the tour and I did not plan that part of the tour as well as we could. I wish we would have reached out to Oregon Public Radio (OPB) to their Think Out Loud program, a daily conversation covering local Oregon news, politics, culture, and the arts. This show reminded me of St. Louis On the Air, the local NPR show in St. Louis that covered local news and cultural topics. I was interviewed live on St. Louis On the Air on April 15, 2014. Since OPB’s Think Out Loud broadcasted in most of Oregon, this was a lost opportunity that we did not approach the show’s producers and contributors to let them know about my tour.

On the third day of the tour, I arrived in John Day and met up with Eric Means, another Portland CCL volunteer. Eric took advantage of the perfect fall weather to ride his motorcycle from his home to John Day. Eric and I then met up with Logan Bajett at the local John Day radio station KJDY to do a 10-minute radio interview about CCL and the Oregon Stewardship Tour. It was a taped interview that was scheduled to play Monday morning on Logan’s Coffee Talk radio show. Unfortunately, a couple days later, Eric received an email from Logan that the station management decided not to air the interview. That felt like a disappointment since the interview went well and we took time out of the busy schedule that day to complete this radio interview.

On November 1, 2017, on the tenth day of the tour in Lakeview Oregon, I had a radio interview conducted over the phone with Jefferson Public Radio (JPR) on their daily morning show The Jefferson Exchange. JPR was the local NPR station that had a broadcast area that included Ashland, Medford, Klamath Falls and much of southwestern Oregon. When I worked at Crater Lake National Park from 1992 to 2017, this was the local NPR station where I was a regular listener. Thus, I was very excited to be interviewed by this radio station.

The Jefferson Exchange’s Host Geoffrey Riley had a joint interview with me and Jim Walls, a resident of Lakeview who successfully led Lake County to be a net exporter of clean energy. Jim was my host while visiting Lakeview. Jim Walls was Executive Director for the Lake County Resources Initiative (LCRI), a non-profit working on natural resource projects to promote local clean energy projects to reduce the threat of climate change. With Jim’s leadership at LCRI, Lake County had become one of the first counties in the U.S. to be a net exporter of clean energy.

Brian Ettling with Jim Walls in Lakeview, Oregon on November 1, 2017.

Jim Walls wore a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, and a western belt buckle. He spoke with a down home twang like someone that you would hope to meet visiting a western wide open spaces landscape. Lakeview is about 14 miles north of the northeast California border. It was one of the highlights of my trip to visit Lakeview and meet Jim Walls. Lakeview is in one of the least densely populated areas of the United States. After I arrived in Lakeview, one of the first things Jim told me:

“Son, this is not rural out here. This is frontier country. You could drive over 100 miles in any
direction leaving Lakeview and not see another human being.”

Jim was so unique and a fantastic host, plus a big local leader in clean energy. Thus, it was an honor to meet him and participate in this joint radio interview with him on JPR. I remembered this as another great radio interview that I enjoyed doing. We were on the phone in two different rooms at the office building where Jim worked in Lakeview. We tried to be as far apart in the office so we would not get a weird audio feedback on the phone while we were interviewed live on the air. After the interview, the only downside was that I had to rush to leave Jim’s office to head to Klamath Falls for more scheduled activities happening during the tour.

On day later on the eleventh day of the tour, I traveled to Ashland, Oregon. An Ashland independent radio station KSKQ 89.5 FM scheduled me for a live radio afternoon interview. I shared my background how I first discovered and got involved with CCL. The radio hosts reacted very positively to my background information about myself, CCL’s carbon fee and dividend solution, and how that solution would help dramatically less air pollution.

At the end of the interview, the radio host wanted me or another local CCL volunteer back in three months for another interview. Even more, he offered to do public service announcements for future Southern Oregon CCL monthly meetings held in Ashland. The KSKQ radio staff’s positive enthusiasm for CCL was a wonderful way to wrap up the day. It felt like high note as the Oregon Stewardship Tour was wrapping up the next day in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Brian Ettling getting ready to participate in a radio interview at KSKQ in Ashland, Oregon on November 3, 2017.

My climate change radio interviews for KMOX 1120 AM, known as “The Voice of St. Louis”

The summer of 2017 was my last year working as a seasonal park ranger at Crater Lake National Park. During that summer, I was planning and focusing on CCL The Oregon Stewardship Tour that I would be taking that fall. In my job as a seasonal park ranger, I would sometimes lead “step on” bus narration tours where a private motorcoach bus filled with passengers on an organized company tour of the western U.S. would come to Crater Lake. It just happened that this tour company, Sunrise Tours, and the passengers all the passengers on board were from my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.

Among the group of St. Louisans on this tour bus was Debbie Monterrey, Co-host/co-anchor or Total Information AM, 5 to 9 a.m. weekdays on KMOX 1120 AM radio station in St. Louis. Debbie traveled on this bus tour with her family. It appeared that Debbie and her family were on this tour so she could promote Sunrise Tours for an on the air advertisement for KMOX.

Let me emphasize that KMOX is not any radio station in St. Louis. KMOX prides itself on being “The Voice of St. Louis.” This news, information, and talk radio station is the most dominating of all radio stations in the St. Louis region. It is the flagship station of the St. Louis Cardinals Major League Baseball team. At that time, the flagship station of the St. Louis Blues NHL hockey team. It carried the Rush Limbaugh Show from 11 am to 2 pm daily.

The station boasts of running on 50,000 watts and having a broadcast coverage area of nearly all of eastern Missouri and most of Illinois. On October 29, 2013, The New York Times profiled KMOX in article, Trying to Outrun the Cardinals’ Long Reach. The article states: “With a 50,000-watt signal originating from a transmitter across the Mississippi River, in Illinois, KMOX is said to be heard in 44 states and as far away as the Netherlands, East Africa and Guam.”

Since I was a child growing up in St. Louis, I knew about of the broadcast reach of KMOX in St. Louis and much surrounding Missouri and Illinois area, plus areas beyond. As an adult, I knew that KMOX has a large number of conservative listeners who loyally tuned in daily to the Rush Limbaugh Show. Thus, when I started organizing for climate action in St. Louis around 2010, this was my dream to somehow be interviewed on KMOX inspire listeners to act on climate.

Brian Ettling leading a “step on” ranger tour for St. Louis company Sunrise Tours at Crater Lake National Park on August 26, 2014. To connect with this audience, he briefly wore a St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap instead of his ranger hat.

With this in mind I did not know who Debbie Monterrey was before I led this “step on” ranger tour at Crater Lake National Park in August 2017. However, everyone on the tour knew who Debbie was, so it became apparent to me very quickly who she was. It’s one thing to meet a well- known news reporter and radio host. It’s another thing when they are genuinely friendly and easy to get to know. Anyone would want to be friends with Debbie. She is very interested in people, traveling, life, her family, and sincerely focuses on you in a conversation.

Debbie was very appreciative of everything I did leading this step on tour around Crater Lake. She especially liked how I interacted with her children. As a ranger, I always tried to go out of my way to interact with children during my ranger talks and make them feel important. Debbie generously complimented me about my tour.

I told her my parents were big listeners and fans of KMOX. I shared about my background as a native St. Louisan who graduated from high school there. I let her know that I come back during the winters to give public presentations about climate change and organize events in the area. At the end of the tour, we exchanged business cards. Debbie encouraged me to contact her next time I was coming to St. Louis so she could do a “profile interview” about me.

One week later, on August 24, 2017, Debbie enjoyed my Crater Lake ranger tour so much that she briefly talked about me live on KMOX that morning. My Dad happened to hear her remarks on the radio live. This is what Debbie said live on the air:

“Oregon is absolutely beautiful if you have never been there…When we went to Crater Lake, which is phenomenal, we had a guide come on board, Ranger Brian Ettling and he is from Oakville. He went to Oakville High School. He would do 6 months of the year at Crater Lake and 6 months coming back to St. Louis and he was so hilarious. He did a great job. My husband asked him: ‘Do you ever do stand-up comedy?’ And (Brian) responded, ‘Actually, I do YouTube videos about climate change. I try to make them funny. They are kind of silly.’ And Tosh.o on Comedy Central had Brian on for a Web Redemption, which you can find on YouTube, which I thought was pretty amazing.”

That December during the week around Christmas, Tanya and I traveled to St. Louis to visit with her parents and brother, and my parents, sisters and their families for Christmas. A few weeks before Christmas, I emailed Debbie to see if I could get a Profile Interview with her. We exchanged emails and scheduled a date for the day after Christmas, December 26, 2017, for me to come down to the KMOX radio studio in downtown St. Louis to be interviewed by Debbie.

I asked Debbie if my parents come join me in the studio, since they are lifelong regular listeners of KMOX. Debbie generously agreed they could join us. It felt like this was the best Christmas gift I could have given my parents. They loved every minute of being in the KMOX offices and studio. Debbie was very happy to meet them and to get a picture of all of us together. My parents were very proud to be in the studio when Debbie recorded our radio interview.

The profile interview aired on Saturday, January 6, 2018. Fortunately, here is the link where you can listen to this interview. After it aired, my mother-in-law commented that I sounded “Very impressive and smooth.”

Brian Ettling, KMOX Radio Host Debbie Monterrey, Fran Ettling and LeRoy Ettling (Brian’s parents) at the KMOX radio studio on December 26, 2017.

When I just listened to the recording afterwards, overall, I was very happy with it. Since KMOX has a lot of listeners who regularly listen to Rush Limbaugh on this radio station, I was striving for a message to reach moderates and conservatives. Debbie told me that the interview recording would probably air several times. That was good news since I was trying to reach moderates, conservatives, and their families who regularly listen to KMOX.

I am a little critical of myself that I did talk way too fast in some of my answers. When I do a future radio interview, I should have a piece of paper in front of that says: “Talk slowly! Relax.” I did not catch any ‘ahs’ or ‘umms,’ so my delivery was good. However, I definitely had pregnant pauses and I did use “And so” as crutch words.

Debbie was a very friendly and kind interviewer. As a news reporter, she still wanted my reaction to people who do not accept climate change, the Trump Administration, and people who think it is too late. Listening to the interview recording on January 6, 2018, I was very happy I was able to keep my answers positive and hopeful.

Overall, getting interviewed by Debbie Monterrey on KMOX was a highlight of my life and an incredible experience. It was a dream come true to talk about climate change for the biggest radio station in the St. Louis region. My interview went so well that KMOX did invite me to return for short interviews for couple of short news segments in the following years.

In October 2018, I organized a climate change speaking tour across Missouri to speak at my alma mater William Jewell College in Kansas City, Missouri University in Columbia, MO, my alma mater Oakville High School, St. Louis University, and teaching a climate change 101 continuing adult education class at the Meramec Campus of St. Louis Community College. KMOX did a short three-minute segment highlighting my speaking events in St. Louis that included a very short, recorded interview with me. Sadly, there is no online link to that radio promotion.

Debbie asked me to do a recorded phone interview with her for a short news segment for KMOX for telling the difference between ‘Weather vs. Climate.’ This two-and-a-half-minute segment aired on February 12, 2019. Fortunately, I gave a Toastmasters speech about this subject in January 2013. I turned the text of that speech into a blog, You Can See Clearly Now. Thus, it was very easy for me to provide Debbie with short sticky sound bite quotes that she could insert into this recorded news segment.

The COVID pandemic in 2020 grinded all of my climate change organizing to a halt for a couple of years. Thus, my most recent radio interview is my Earthworms interview with Jean Ponzi recorded on November 27, 2019.

I love public speaking and giving radio interviews. Thus, I hope to give more radio interviews in the future, if the opportunity presents itself.

Until then, here are my tips to give successful radio interviews:

  1. Get the contact information for the radio host and/or the producers for the radio program where you hope to be interviewed.
    This was how I got all of my radio interviews, I reached out by email and called the radio station and the host of the radio show where I wanted to be interviewed.

    The only exceptions were my local NPR radio interviews. For the April 15, 2014 interview on the local NPR show St. Louis On the Air, a staff person at Eastern Central College in Union, Missouri booked that interview. For my November 3, 2017 interview on the local NPR Southern Oregon show The Jefferson Exchange, someone from the local Citizens Climate Lobby Chapter in Ashland, Oregon reached out to Jefferson Public Radio to book that interview. Thus, if you have contacts that can make connections with a radio station to schedule an interview, utilize them.
  1. Radio hosts and shows are always looking for guests.
    Sometimes guests cancel. If someone suddenly cancels, a radio host or show might be eagerly looking to book someone for the next day or week, etc. Thus, be prepared that they might call you in on a very short notice if a guest cancels. Even more, climate change could be a breaking ‘hot topic’ news story where they need almost an immediate comment. Be ready to jump on those opportunities if they arise!
  1. It helps if you have an event you are promoting.
    Local radio hosts and shows like to tie their interviews to upcoming community events that are open to the public. Therefore, if you are leading or participating in a team organizing a nearby event, do let your local radio stations know. Radio stations are always looking to fill airtime. Thus, they might read a short press release about your event. Even more, they might be interested in a radio interview with you.
  1. Giving a radio interview can seem like a pop quiz since you don’t know what the radio host will ask you.
    If you can’t answer a question, don’t feel bad or panic. Just pivot to what you know. Talk about the event you are promoting or share the talking point you want to emphasize to the listening audience hearing you on the radio.
  1. It’s the radio! In most cases, you can have your notes or notecards with you.
    For most of my radio interviews, I had notecards and a page of notes with my favorite quotes, my short mantra statements like ‘Think Globally, Act Locally!’ and information on the event I was promoting. The radio hosts never objected that I had notes to glance over. I would still give the radio host good eye contact during the interview. However, they never complained about me glancing my notes during the interview to make sure I said exactly what I wanted to say.
  1. Speak slowly and enunciate well.
    In any public speaking situation, including a radio interview, I tend to speak fast and run my words together that makes it hard for others to understand me. Before the interview, take some relaxing breaths, meditate, or even write on a notecard “Talk slowly! Relax.”

    Remind yourself that the audience can’t see you. They will only hear your voice. Thus, make sure they can hear you clearly by speaking slowly and pronouncing your words so that they can understand you and your message.
  1. Have Fun! It is a very enjoyable experience to be interviewed on the radio.
    All the radio hosts who interviewed me, such as Jean Ponzi, Debbie Monterrey and Don Marsh, loved their job. They wanted their guests, such as me to have a great and enjoyable experience. Each radio host I encountered were genuinely happy to see me, meet me, and wanted to do a great interview with me. They appreciated me being there. Their personalities, mannerisms, and the way they interacted with me put me at ease and I felt honored to be there.

Final Thoughts

As you can tell by this blog post, I had great memories getting interviewed for climate action on the radio over the years. As a child growing up listening to FM rock music stations, this was a dream come true to be on the radio. As a climate organizer during the past 13 years, it was a life goal for me to be on the radio to reach a wider audience to try to inspire them to act on climate. I hope this blog post will inspire you to go “on the radio” for climate action.

Brian Ettling participating in a radio interview with KMOX Radio host Debbie Monterrey at the KMOX radio studio in St. Louis, Missouri on December 26, 2017.

For Climate Action, giving oral testimony to legislative committees 

Brian Ettling giving oral testimony to the Oregon Senate Environmental & Natural Resources Committee on February 6, 2020.

Over the past four years, I had the opportunity to give oral testimony to Oregon Legislative committees five times to urge them to support strong and effective climate legislation. In this blog, I include the text from those testimonies.

Even more, I will provide my tips for giving oral testimonies to legislative committees, such as:

  1. Practice and prepare giving testimony for less than two minutes.

    Every Oregon legislative committee that I testified required testimony of a maximum of no more than two minutes. If the time went over two minutes, the committee chair would cut of the person giving testimony even if they were in mid-sentence trying to complete their final talking points.

    To avoid going over the time limit, find out in advance on the legislative committee website page how long you will be allowed to speak. If it is not spelled out on the website, assume that you will only have about two minutes to speak.

    To keep your testimony under two minutes, type it out and keep the testimony to one page at 200 to 300 words at the most. Practice with a stop watch to become comfortable reading the text. If you are stumbling over the words, that will take time and possibly cause you to go over your allowed time.
  1. If comfortable, use humor.

    The oral testimony given by many private citizens tends to be very serious, factual, and finely messaged bullet points. After hearing many testimonies from professional lobbyists and private citizens, the oral testimonies can start to sound monotone and unappealing to the legislators and the audience in the hearing room.

    If you feel comfortable, try to inject appropriate humor to get the legislators’ attention and break the tension in the room with a good laugh. I did this by acknowledging the previous speaker or speakers and responding with what they said with a funny quip.

    As you will see from my oral testimony from February 20, 2020, I brought and briefly wore my park ranger hat to try to lighten up the situation. It felt like by using some humor that it made my oral testimony more memorable to the legislators at the committee hearing.
Brian Ettling giving oral testimony to Oregon Legislative Rules Committee on February 20, 2020.
  1. Share a compelling story about yourself.

    Most of the times I testified, I shared how I was a seasonal park ranger at Crater Lake National Park for 25 years. While working there, I talked about how I witnessed climate change with a diminishing annual snowpack and more intense wildfire seasons.

    At my February 6, 2020, oral testimony, I shared that my dad has stage 4 bladder cancer and currently is in hospice care. I then tied that personal information with the fact that our family lived for about 33 years a couple of miles from a coal fired power plant in St. Louis that had no modern pollution controls, increasing the risk of my dad’s cancer.

    I once heard climate communicator George Marshall say, “Science (or facts) is not what persuades people. It’s the stories they hear from the people they trust.”

    Therefore, briefly share a story that will get the attention of the legislators and the citizens seated in the back of the room to make your oral testimony more memorable.
  1. If you coordinate with a group to oppose or support a bill, use their talking points .

    At the same time, put the talking points into your own words. Again, monotony causes people to tune out from oral testimony. Say the talking points in your own way of speaking to make it sound more interesting to the ears of the legislators and the audience.

    In 2019 and 2020, when I testified to the OR Legislative Joint Carbon Reduction Committee, Renew Oregon asked me and others to give oral and written testimony. Often, Renew Oregon staff provided talking points for us how the cap and invest bill, known in 2019 as the Clean Energy Jobs Bill or HB 2020, would create a lot of jobs in Oregon while reducing pollution. They frequently had slips of paper with helpful facts they gave us to encourage to say in our oral testimony. However, they advised us to not sound like the repeating parrots or robots when we testified. They urged us to weave their talking point facts into our oral testimony in our own words so that we wold not sound monotonous.
Brian Ettling giving oral testimony to the Oregon Legislative Joint Carbon Reduction Committee on February 15, 2019.
  1. If possible, mention something you have in common with the legislators.

    For two of my testimonies, I told the legislators that I used to be a conservative Republican. With my background of having some understanding of GOP principles and values, I would then share how it is in their conservative interests to support this climate bill.
  1. Don’t forget to mention the bill name and/or bill # that you support or oppose.

    Sometimes you can feel nervous or rushed to get as much information as possible during the timed two-minute deadline. Thus, it is possible to forget to emphasize the bill name and bill number that you want the legislator to support or oppose. Elected officials often talk about lobby meetings they previously had with constituents who forgot to urge the lawmaker to support or oppose as specific bill or an amendment to a bill.
  1. If your legislators are not on the committee you are testifying, let the legislator know about your testimony.

    Our legislators are extremely busy. However, they want to know when constituents give oral testimonies to support or oppose a bill. If constituents show up in person or sign up on Zoom for a legislative hearing to share their thoughts on a bill, legislators appreciate when constituents want a bill on the legislator’s radar to support or oppose.
  1. Have fun!

    Use humor, a compelling story, tie your testimony to a previous testimony, bring friends and family to hear you testify or try other ideas to make your time testifying fun, especially in that tight two-minute time frame. The two-minute time frame will fly away very quickly like a bird. Find a way to have fun to make the experience more memorable, for the legislators, audience members, and you.
Brian Ettling getting ready to give oral testimony to the Oregon Legislative Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction on March 1, 2019 in The Dalles, Oregon

The rest of this blog with be the text from the five times I testified, plus the videos of my testimony that I downloaded from the Oregon Legislative website so you could see my testimony. I hope this will provide some inspiration and ideas if you decide to give oral testimony to a legislative committee to support or oppose a climate bill.

February 15, 2019

Co-chairs and members of the Joint Carbon Reduction Committee:

My name is Brian Ettling and that’s a tough act to follow (laughter from the audience from the compelling and humorous testimony from the previous person testifying, KB Mercer)

I was a seasonal park ranger at Crater Lake National Park for 25 years from 1992 to 2017. Hopefully, everyone here has been there. It’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

I loved my job as a park ranger interpreting the scenery for park visitors who come from around the world to visit Oregon.

Sadly, I have seen climate change while working at Crater Lake National Park. With a diminishing annual snowpack, a more intense fire season and more smoke in the summertime, to the extent now that visitors are cancelling their vacations. The Oregonian recently reported about this. Visitors are now shifting their visits to the shoulder seasons and less in the summer.

I actually worked the phones at Crater Lake helping people plan their vacations. And I saw that I had to tell people that if they had asthma or breathing difficulties that it was probably was not a good time to visit (when it was smoky). When people cancel their vacations, they don’t visit Oregon. They are not staying in our hotels, and they are not visiting our restaurants. It has a bad impact on our Oregon economy.

I actually grew up as a conservative Republican. When climate change is having a bad impact on our economy, it is just not good for us. So, we should be doing so much more. I really highly encourage you to pass the strongest Clean Energy Jobs Bill possible.

I submitted written testimony yesterday. I fully support what Renew Oregon and 350PDX recommends to strengthen this bill. Please pass the strongest bill possible to protect Crater Lake National Park, our incredible scenery in Oregon for our children and for all of us.

Thank you so much.

Video of Brian Ettling giving oral testimony to the Oregon Legislative Joint Carbon Reduction Committee on February 15, 2019.

March 1, 2019

Co-chairs and members of the Joint Carbon Reduction committee:

My name is Brian Ettling. I came here today strictly as a volunteer. I am not getting paid, but I will be glad to receive a check or a job if anyone wants to help me be active for climate change.

I was a seasonal park ranger at Crater Lake National Park for 25 years. I saw firsthand as a park ranger a diminishing snowpack and a more intense wildfire season.

My wife and I got to move to Portland Oregon two years ago. I love living in Portland, but it is a kind of a blue bubble. There are many people living there who are passionate about climate change. So, what I did in October 2017 was to travel around central, southern, and eastern Oregon to La Grande, Baker City, John Day, Burns, Redmond, Lakeview, Klamath Falls, and Grants Pass to talk to folks in rural and conservative parts of Oregon about climate change.

What I learned blew me away. There’s a county, Lake County, that’s been able to invest in so much solar. They are now a net exporter of clean energy. They have been able to hire teachers and hospital workers because of that.

We have 36 counties in Oregon, including Wasco (where the hearing was held that day in The Dalles, Oregon). We need to ask ourselves in each county: Do we want to be leaders on this issue or do we want to keep falling further behind.

The clean energy revolution is happening in front of us. 20% of the world’s carbon emissions now has a price on carbon, according to the World Bank’s (Carbon Pricing Dashboard). So, it is happening in front of us. China is putting together a price on carbon, as well as South Africa, Europe, and Mexico. So, we need to decide as Oregonians to be at the engine or caboose of this train.

I just want to say that I love the Clean Energy Jobs bill. I strongly support it. There are currently 50,000 clean energy jobs in Oregon. There are 11,000 clean energy workers in rural Oregon. 36 counties, including Wasco have clean energy workers. So this will be a big benefit to our state.

Thank you so much.

Video of Brian Ettling giivn oral testimony to the Oregon Legislative Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction in The Dalles, Oregon on March 1, 2019.

February 6, 2020

Senator Dembrow and members of the Senate Environmental & Natural Resources Committee:

My name is Brian Ettling and I live in NE Portland.

I am here today because of my dad, LeRoy Ettling, pictured here with my Mom.

My dad has stage 4 bladder cancer and currently is in hospice care.
Literally, I could get a phone call any time urging me to go back to St. Louis MO to be with him

7 years ago, my Dad had a huge tumor and kidney removed. The doctors all thought my Dad was a smoker since his cancer is consistent with a life-long smoker. My dad was always a non-smoker.

However, we lived for about 33 years a couple of miles from a coal fired power plant in St. Louis that had no modern pollution controls, increasing the risk of his cancer.

It’s well known that burning diesel, oil, natural gas, and coal, which is the leading cause of air pollution, causes an estimated 100,000 U.S. deaths each year, according to a 2019 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Thus, Message to you today is “Less Pollution = Saved Lives!”

A 2019 non-partisan study by Berkeley Economic Advising and Research (BEAR) shows that reducing carbon pollution will create 50,000 Oregon jobs in construction and clean energy.

Senator Olson and Senator Findley: I grew up as a conservative Republican. I ask you to pass a strong and effective climate bill this session for my Dad, all of our families and our grandkids.

Thank you!

Video of Brian Ettling giving oral testimony to the Oregon Senate Environmental & Natural Resources Committee on February 6, 2020.

February 20, 2020

Members of the House Rules committee:

My name is Brian Ettling and I live in NE Portland.

This is my fourth time in the past year testifying to urge you to pass a strong and effective climate bill.

Recent events, such as record warm temperatures Antarctica, huge catastrophic fires in Australia and recent very smoky summers in Oregon tells that we are in a climate emergency. Every day we delay, we deny our kids a livable future. Enough is enough.

For 25 years, I worked as a seasonal park ranger at Crater Lake National Park. I had a dream job giving various tours of this international scenic treasure. I even brought my hat today so you could see how good I looked as a ranger.

Sadly, I saw climate change working there with a more intense wildfire season. In the summers from 2015-2017, the smoke was so bad that I saw the park become a ghost town at times. Visitors would cancel their vacations to Crater Lake not wanting to breath the smoke or worried about family members who suffer from asthma triggering negative health consequences if they visited.

When visitation would drop, I saw the bad impact it had on the rural economy surrounding Crater Lake to the mom & pop campgrounds, restaurants, hotels, and businesses dependent on the summer tourist season. Seeing the negative impacts of climate change at Crater Lake is why I have volunteered full time for the last 2 years now trying to get a climate bill passed in the Oregon legislature.

Since then, I attended probably over a hundred hearings. I applaud the legislators who did the research, working groups, studies, debate, and allowed thousands of pages of testimony to carefully craft this bill with massive public input.

To protect the beauty of Oregon, our economy, our rural residents and our children, I urge you to please pass SB 1530 and HB 4167 now.

Thank you.

Video of Brian Ettling giving oral testimony to the Oregon House Rules Committee on February 20, 2020.

My April 8, 2023
Oral Testimony to the Oregon Legislature Joint Ways and Means Committee

Members of the committee.

My name is Brian Ettling. My wife Tanya and I live in northeast Portland. While living here for the past 6 years, we experienced the extreme weather, such as heat domes in the summer, extreme smoke making it hard to breath, and even extreme cold temperatures in the winter.

Because of climate change, scientists tell us the extreme weather in Oregon is getting worse. This extreme weather adversely impacts all Oregonians, but especially seniors, children, low income, BIPOC communities, and rural communities.

Thus, I urge you to fund and support these bills help Oregonians become more energy efficient, improve our buildings resilience, and naturally drawdown the greenhouse gas pollution:

First, please support and fund SB 530, the Natural Climate Solutions Bill. It allows financial incentives for voluntarily managing Oregon’s farms, forests, ranches, and natural lands for carbon sequestration.

Second, please support and fund the Building Resilience Senate Bills 868, 869, 870, and 871. These bills align energy efficiency programs and building codes with state climate goals for rapid deployment of heat pumps, weatherization, and building retrofits for Oregonians. Even more, these bills will improve energy efficiency of existing large commercial buildings and state government buildings, including schools.

I am here today asking to make sure that Oregon doesn’t miss the historic opportunity of billions of dollars in federal investments for individuals, state and local government, and the private sector from the Inflation Reduction Act.

These bills fight climate change while creating local clean energy jobs that can’t be exported and strengthens our economy. Now it’s time to get some help from the federal government.

Thank you for your time.

Video of Brian Ettling giving oral testimony to the Oregon Legislative Joint Ways and Means Committee on April 8, 2023.

And that’s not all! My Most Recent Oral Testimony to the Oregon Legislature

On April 24, 2023, I attended a meeting of the Metro Climate Action Team (MCAT) Transportation Committee bi-monthly meeting. MCAT is a volunteer group that is part of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV). The MCAT Transportation Committee Chair, Rich Peppers, and I agree to meet during the week to help him with his oral testimony to be given on Thursday, April 27 at a hearing for Oregon Legislative Joint Transportation Committee. MCAT Transportation Committee would be submitting their official testimony for their feedback for the proposed legislation replacing the I-5 bridge which connects the cities of Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, Washington.

MCAT is part of the coalition for the Just Crossing Alliance, a partnership of environmental, environmental justice and sustainable transportation organizations from across Oregon and Washington. This coalition recently organized the I-5 Bridge Right Size. Right Now campaign. The goal of this campaign to replace the outdated I-5 bridge with an earthquake-safe bridge that is “not sprawling boondoggle that will increase air pollution and drive up costs for working commuters.”

The Right Size. Right Now campaign wants a new bridge that includes funding for mass transit, a separate bike & pedestrian lane while staying within the footprint of the existing I-5 bridge. I helped Rich practice his oral testimony on Wednesday, April 26th. I asked Rich if I should sign up to give oral testimony, in addition to his testimony. He encouraged me to do that. Just after midnight on April 27th, I signed up on the Oregon Legislative website to give oral testimony virtually on the Transportation Committee Hearing held that evening.

Late that night, I quickly typed up my testimony with the talking points from the Right Size. Right Now campaign email blast that was sent to me earlier that day. On the morning and early afternoon of April 27th, I practiced the script of my oral testimony to make sure I kept it under the 2 minute required limit to give oral testimony. Rich decided to testify virtually on the Joint Transportation Committee’s Microsoft Teams video link, and I decided to do the same.

This would be my first time testifying virtually since I normally get rides with other climate organizers to attend hearings at the Capitol in Salem. You can definitely tell this by the image and video included below that my first time giving oral testimony virtually. Unfortunately, I did not position myself to be fully seen by my video camera on my I-pad. At the same time, I was excited to testify because the gridlock of rush hour traffic on the I-205 and I-5 bridges is my biggest pet peeve living in Portland. Vancouver and Portland needs to replace the I-5 bridge for one that includes public transit and peak congestion tolling to reduce traffic that presently comes to a near standstill during the afternoon rush hour in Portland.

Image of Brian Ettling’s Oral Testimony to OR Transportation Committee about I-5 Replacement Bridge on April 27, 2023.

April 27, 2023

Oral Testimony to the Transportation Committee aboutthe I-5 Replacement Bridge.

Dear Co-Chairs and committee members,

My name is Brian Ettling. When my wife and I moved to northeast Portland six years ago, in February 2017, we learned two things:

  1. The daily rush hour grid lock traffic that jams our roads leading to the I-205 and the I-5 bridges horrified us. Let’s rethink how we do our traffic infrastructure in the north Portland area.
  2. A friend told me that she drives very fast across the I-5 bridge. She is scared the bridge is structurally unsafe, especially when that big earthquake eventually happens.

Thus, I strongly support replacing the I-5 bridge, but oppose HB 2098 -2 and -4 amendments. This current bill with those amendments jeopardizes a right-sized Bridge Replacement, right now.

I support the -3 amendment that ensures this replacement bridge project moves forward smoothly with explicit pro-labor and community benefits provisions, financial guardrails, and major investments in mass transit.

o Please No Blank Check for ODOT for $1B general fund bonds. We want Phase project funding.
o We want to build our communities while building this bridge, No to Section 7: Please ensure this project invests in good local and union jobs, apprenticeships, and environmental justice, while secures community benefits for North Portland.
o No Freeway Expansions: Direct IBR to explore smaller bridge design options and choose a plan that is less polluting and more financially responsible.
o No Fiscal Free-for-all: Refresh and recommit to financial safeguards and accountability measures in existing law.

I urge the committee to please consider the -3 amendment from Representative Khanh Pham’s office that addresses all these concerns.

Thank you for your consideration.

Video of Brian Ettling’s Oral Testimony to OR Transportation Committee about I-5 Replacement Bridge on April 27, 2023.

Final Thoughts

As a climate organizer, giving oral testimony to Oregon Legislative committee to urge them to support strong climate bills is one of the most empowering actions I have accomplished. It feels very impactful to speak truth to power encouraging legislators to support or even modify climate legislation.

It can feel stressful to speak publicly to these elected officials in a packed hearing room with only two minutes to make vital points. At the same time, it can be a lot of fun to try to use some humor, share compelling stories, note common ground, and give important information why they should support, oppose, or modify a high priority climate bill that is in their committee.

From numerous times giving oral testimony to a legislative committee, I can testify with full confidence that you if have an opportunity to give oral testimony to a legislative committee about a climate bill, you should do it!

Image of Brian Ettling getting ready to give oral testimony to the Oregon Legislative Joint Ways and Means Committee on April 8, 2023.