Tim DeChristopher


July 15, 2011

It’s not quite as elusive as the ivory-billed woodpecker, but in activism, an effective “inside-outside” strategy shares some of the same attributes as that storied bird: It’s highly sought after and much talked-about, but rarely seen.

First, some background. The basic idea of the inside-outside strategy for environmental reform is this: Some folks work inside legal channels, such as litigation or legislation, while other folks create outside public pressure through civil disobedience or protest. The outside folks bring attention and generate public interest, while the inside folks provide the means for lasting change (at least in theory).

I’m lucky enough to have unwittingly been a part of a successful inside-outside strategy. When I disrupted a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction in 2008, some environmental groups happened to have filed a lawsuit at the same time. My actions created some chaos, a delay, and a whole lot of attention. Their lawsuit translated that public awareness into the lasting impacts of a canceled auction and significant reforms in the onshore oil and gas auction process.

Unfortunately, such examples are rare because the inside groups often choose appeasement over reform, and the outside groups often fail to act strategically.

This month saw the launch of what has the potential to be a real, lasting inside-outside strategy. Free Speech for People and Appalachian Voices filed a request [PDF] for Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden to revoke the corporate charter of Massey Energy.

Read the full article, here.

Sign the petition calling for Massey Energy’s corporate charter to be revoked, here.