Democrats cave on Dreamers, here’s why it’s bad for the climate.

Yesterday Chuck Schumer led Senate Democrats to abandon their bargaining position and re-open the government. For their vote, those Democrats got absolutely zero protections for Dreamers and only a verbal contract (worth the paper it’s printed on) that he’d allow a vote to protect Dreamers before February 8.

Let’s be clear: Schumer made a BAD deal. Voters, especially young people and independents, already blamed Trump and the Republicans for the shutdown. And as we explained in our last post, huge majorities of people favor action on DACA (just like they do on climate).

Also, as we explained last time, this was a critical litmus test vote for climate change. If we can’t trust Democrats and a handful of Republicans who ​say​ they back a wildly popular policy — in this case protecting nearly 800,000 young people from deportation, but the parallel​ to climate action are clear — ​to stand up and vote that way when given a chance, then we just can’t trust them.

And unfortunately that mushy middle where most politicians live has collapsed again. All but 16 hard-line Dream Heroes (not-coincidentally some of our most reliable votes on climate change) voted to re-open the government rather than be tagged as ‘obstructionists. If you’re angry and looking to do something today, I highly recommend the Dreamer Pledge website which lets you check how YOUR Senators voted, and contact them by phone, by emailing their senior staff directly, and by showing up at their offices.

The decision to re-open the government was not cut and dry: knowing when to end a shut down action never is. And there are some arguing today that the Democrats did the right thing by voting the way they did. There are more of us, however, arguing that the Democrats caved too soon, not only on Dreamers but on Health Insurance and everything else they supposedly “got” in this deal.

At the end of the day, the key issue is whether you believe you can “trust” Trump and his Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. And to be clear, I DON’T. McConnell has been the leading advocate for coal and other fossil fuels in the Senate for years, giving us in the Climate movement more chances than most to observe his duplicitous, double-dealing nature. But it was McConnell’s more recent promises to Senators Flake and Collins that he would hold voted on health care and immigration in exchange for their support of the tax cut that should have tipped Senators off. After all it was Richard Nixon, of all people, who said “With all the power that a president has, the most important thing to bear in mind is this: You must not give power to a man unless, above everything else, he has character.”

It’s doubly disappointing because for once the climate and environmental communities had done a great job of coming together in solidarity, with dozens of groups signing a solidarity letter and showing willingness to show up and shut things down in order to make progress on essential issues like immigration and climate change.

Reacting to the Democratic capitulation, Sierra Club’s executive director, Michael Brune, was unflinchingly critical: “Everyone in the Senate should have learned the lesson Senators Flake and Collins learned: you can’t trust Mitch McConnell. His promises are empty from the start.”

Let your Senators know you are willing to shut things down in order to open them up, and that you expect them to do the same. Click here to make a call with the Dreamer pledge team and stay tuned for more updates within 3 weeks.

BXE and 198 statement on Restoration of FERC qourum

Republished with Permission from Beyond Extreme Energy

Standing alone in the Well of the Senate on Thursday night, just after 6pm and moments before the Senate adjourned for August recess, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski committed a deft coup d’etat on behalf of the oil and gas industry. The vote to confirm Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was anything but un-controversial, and was a serious breach of regular order.

Just hours earlier, seven activists were arrested in front of Senator Chuck Schumer’s office. They had refused to leave until the Minority Leader spoke out about the dangers of FERC nominees and an energy bill that would dramatically expand FERC’s powers. The activists, including several of Schumer’s constituents, had delivered a letter backed by more than 30,000 comments of support asking him to vote no on FERC nominees and no on the energy bill. Hours later, Schumer and every member of the Democratic Caucus, including 3 senators who had previously voted against the nominees in committee, stood silent as Murkowski rammed through the nominations on a voice vote with no other members present, no accountability, and no opportunity for citizens to call or contact their senators to voice concerns.

photo by Erik McGregor c 2017
photo by Erik McGregor c 2017

For years, we’ve worked to expose and fight FERC’s corruption, the harms it inflicts on communities and the climate, its ties to the gas industry, and its arcane procedures that shut out the public and empower corporations. Senators like Schumer, Cardin, Warner, Whitehouse, Sanders, Hirono and Merkley have sympathized and offered statements of support. On Thursday night, August 3rd, when it actually mattered, they stood aside and let violence be done on our communities. As we warned Senator Schumer, they must now expect our growing rebellion. We cannot forgive and will not forget this utter betrayal, and pledge outright resistance in every way we can peacefully muster it to stop FERC from meeting, rubber stamping permits and engaging in further communicide.

–Drew Hudson and the Beyond Extreme Energy crew

New Yorkers Arrested at Senator Schumer’s Office as Trump’s FERC Nominee Advances

Republished with Permission from Beyond Extreme Energy

Washington, DC— Senate Minority Leader and New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer’s Washington, DC office was rendered inoperable this morning when nearly two dozen people blockaded the office doors, delivering a letter backed by 15,000 supporters demanding that the Senator oppose Trump’s nominations to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 (S 1460). Hailing from New York, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Virginia, and representing a coalition of over 190 groups pledged to fight Trump’s FERC nominees, seven individuals held up a banner and were arrested for refusing to move. The banner read “Senator Schumer: Don’t Trump Our Future. Vote no on FERC Nominees. Vote No on the Dirty Energy Bill.”

These arrests happened only hours after Trump officially nominated Democrat Richard Glick, an energy aid to Senator Maria Cantwell, to FERC. Richard Glick will now have to pass through the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources before coming up for a confirmation vote by the full Senate. Republican FERC nominees Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson have already made it through the committee and are up for a full Senate vote soon. Powelson and Chatterjee need to be approved before FERC has the quorum it needs to approve fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

Senators on both sides of the aisle have shown little to no opposition to Trump’s FERC nominees. Because FERC has lacked a quorum since February, Bloomberg reports that $14 billion worth of infrastructure projects are being held up, worrying investors. This includes Dominion’s proposed $5.5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and the Nexus pipeline, a $2.1 billion joint project from DTE Energy Co. and an Enbridge subsidiary.

Those opposed to Trump’s nominations to FERC point out FERC’s utter disregard for communities and the climate. FERC regulates the electricity market and is responsible for rubber stamping fossil fuel infrastructure such as fracked gas pipelines, compressor stations, and LNG export terminals. Climate protectors, individuals, and groups from around the country are demanding that the Senate reject Trump’s FERC nominees until FERC’s abuses of power and law are investigated, and steps are taken to replace FERC with an agency dedicated to a just transition off fossil fuels.

“Concerned New Yorkers have been focused on Senator Schumer standing up to FERC since 2015 when they approved the Spectra Pipeline adjacent to Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant,” states blockader Kim Fraczek, Director of Sane Energy Project, based in Brooklyn, NY, where Senator Schumer also lives. “We were pleased when the Senator met our demand to request FERC issue a Stop Work Order for the harmful and undemocratic pipeline. FERC denied his request to protect 20 million of his constituents. It’s clear to us that Senator Schumer understands the peril FERC facilitates, and why it is necessary to block Trump’s nominees, Chatterjee and Powelson, whom we expect to fast-track further detriment to our health, safety and democracy.”

“The Democrats seem to enjoy talking about climate change to media and at public events to their constituents. But talk is different than action,” said Jess Rechtschaffer of New York, who was arrested when she refused to stop blocking the office doorway. “Chuck Schumer, along with the majority of the Democratic Party, have been enabling the fossil fuel industry for years, at the expense of public health and safety for decades now.”

Deborah Kushner was also arrested blocking Schumer’s office. Deborah is from Nelson County, Virginia, a battleground between local residents and Dominion Power’s proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline. “Everything is wrong in this scenario,” she said. “Taxpaying property owners faced with eminent domain seizure of their land by a for-profit company, wondering about our home’s proximity to an “incineration zone,” finding huge gaps and incorrect data in FERC’S Environmental Impact Statement, seeing property values plummet before work starts. FERC must be stopped in its tracks and turned 180 degrees around so that we can continue to live and breathe in peace.”

Drew Hudson of South Carolina, an organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and founder of 198 Methods, said he participated in the blockade because he wanted to “demand Chuck Schumer and other Senators who claim to care about the climate to put up or shut up. You can’t claim to care about the climate and the Paris accords if you vote for FERC, fracking and fossil fuel exports.”

The FERC Vacancies Campaign has been working for months to fight Trump’s FERC nominations. They have sponsored national lobby days, call-in days, district office visits, and disruptions to pressure senators into voting no on Trump’s nominees. They pledge that the resistance will continue to the end, and that there will be political consequences for Schumer and anyone else if they vote in FERC’s favor by approving either Trump’s FERC nominees or the upcoming energy bill.