Talk about the Green New Deal, not this Senate vote

Let’s get one thing clear about this week’s Senate vote on a Green New Deal: Mitch McConnell is a twerp.

The resolution that was voted on this week was not the non-binding Green New Deal resolution introduced by Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), which we’ve talked. a lot. about.

That resolution would need to be referred to committee, where it would have committee hearings and consideration and debate – the kind of stuff that might address the concerns we and others have raised about banning fossil fuels, stopping pipelines, and the like. It also would give time and space to fill in details that are missing.

McConnell doesn’t want that debate, so he introduced this binding resolution making “it is the sense of the Senate” that the Green New Deal should become “the policy of the United States.” Like I said, he’s a twerp.

But Whatever McConnell’s shady motivations, this week’s vote was a slap-in-the-face loss to the climate community. The vote was 57-to-0, with 4 Dems, 1 Independent and every Republican voting “no” and all other dems voting “present.”

That’s especially galling because the oil, gas, & coal industries contributed more than $55 MILLION to senators who voted “no” on the #GreenNewDeal resolution – 11x more than to those who voted “present”.

It’s also hard to swallow because after 3 months of a new Congress, thousands of media stories, hundreds of lobby visits, sit ins, protests, and press conference galore we’ve actually managed to convince a majority of Americans that this is a crisis worth tackling – and tackling this way.

Which is why I’m sticking to my guns on this 198-methods strategy: We need outside action, especially direct action, that slows or stops the buildout of fossil fuel infrastructure. AND we need an inside-strategy that presses politicians and regulators to take actions (like a real, fossil-free, Green New Deal), because only big policy solutions will change the dynamic fast enough.

What’s the big deal?

Don’t get me wrong, the Green New Deal has re-shaped the debate on climate change and gotten politicians to talk about the scope and severity of the crisis in a serious way for the first time in a long time.

But the conversation is still stuck in false assumptions that will not keep fossil fuels in the ground or address the systemic racism and injustice of sacrifice zones. In the House of Representatives (outside Mitch the twerp-turtle’s jurisdiction), at least 3 committees are considering climate legislation. But all those bills, and even the actual resolution from Markey and AOC still talk about “net zero emissions” or set the timeline to end fossil fuels and nuclear power way too far in the future (like 2050 or later).

And I’m not just being a stick-in-the-mud: The decision to leave fossil fuels and nuclear on the table in the Green new Deal is shaping the 2020 conversation already: Beto O’Rourke said he supports a Green New Deal, and fracked gas, when Friends of the Earth questioned him in New Hampshire. A few days later, Sen Cory Booker said “I already support the Green New Deal. This resolution of bold vision is what we need. … And I agree with you. Nuclear has to be part of this solution.”

As a side-note, Booker was at a South Carolina town hall meeting organized by CNN that night. If he’d read the local paper, he might have seen that a few miles away another nuclear waste site was caught leaking tritium into the ground water in Barnwell, SC.

If we leave fossil fuels and nuclear on the table, what we’re really saying is that we’re ok with sacrifice zones. Because if we don’t start phasing out dirty energy NOW then they will keep building them, and people will keep getting sick, having their land stolen, and worse.

The 5 biggest oil companies (BP, Exxon, Shell etc) are planning to spend $110 BILLION on new oil & gas projects THIS YEAR (2019) & just 3% as much on clean alternatives.

Wall Street, the fossil fuel companies, the utilities, every single Republican in the Senate and a shockingly large number Democrats are committed to that same vision: another 20-50 years of drilling, spilling, pipelines, genocide, and ecological devastation.

So, now what?

The Senate vote was a sham and a stunt — not least of all because it distracted everyone (effectively) from the real action in the House where this week Nancy Pelosi introduced HR 9 . to keep the US in the Paris climate agreement.

Paris is not a panacea — It’s non-binding, like the AOC/Markey resolution. But it creates a framework to debate bills that have a lot more force and effect.

It’s like agreeing on the playing field, the rules, and saying that we’re in the game. We still need to do all the things to win (in this case stop climate change before it kills us all). And none of that will be possible if we slash our own achilles’ tendons — which is what building 12 new gas export facilities, millions of acres of fracking and drilling rigs, and millions of miles of new pipelines would do to our chances.

But, it’s a start. So this April we’re encouraging you to work on those two tracks: You can join a local Promise to Protect training stop and learn how you can turn up to stop the Keystone Pipeline, and stay tuned for updates on other actions targeting Dominion and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. At the same time, keep the pressure on Congress to keep debating climate solutions, and make sure they #KeepItInTheGround and say #nonukes as part of those solutions. A great action this week is to call your Senators and tell them to oppose Trump’s choice to lead the Interior Department, David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist who is exactly as corrupt as you think he is.

UPDATE: The Mercer Family caught again

Days before the 2016 election, a shadowy group called called Secure America Now made an “Islamic States of America“ ad imagining that Syrian refugees had overtaken America. It shows the iconic Hollywood sign changed to say “Allahu Akbar,” the Statue of Liberty wrapped in a burka and Ground Zero in New York City as place where citizens can “celebrate our Islamic victories.​”

It is, without a doubt, some of the most hateful, racist, Islamaphobic stuff I’ve ever seen.

You’ve probably never seen this ad, or heard of the far-right neoconservative nonprofit that paid for it. And that’s exactly how Secure America Now wanted it. They have no employees or volunteers, and their mailing address is a D.C. law firm. But group, had millions of dollars in funding. And they used those vast resources to run this hateful garbage on Facebook and Google with precise targeting to voters in swing states.

Thanks to the researchers at Open Secrets.org, we know that most of the money came from Robert Mercer and the Mercer family. If Mercer’s name sounds familiar, it might be because he and his daughter Rebekah are at the center of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which exploited the Facebook data of almost 100 million people to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election. We told you about the Mercers last month, and thousands of you signed on to this petition demanding Rebekah resign or be removed from the American Museum of Natural history.

If your disgusted and outraged by this latest scandal, here’s three quick ways to help:

  1. Sign the petition, if you haven’t already, to kick Rebekah Mercer out of the American Museum of Natural History. Racist, corrupt, climate deniers have no place in our public science museums.
  2. After you sign, or if you already have, share the petition on Facebook, Twitter or email friends a link to this post to spread the word.
    1. Share on Facebook
    2. Share on Twitter
  3. Chip in to support our ongoing work on this campaign. We’re planning an event with partners to deliver all the signatures to the AMNH next month and we need your support to fund travel, materials, and other logistical costs. We’ll have more info as the action plan develops.

Kick Climate Deniers out of the Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City is one of the premier institutions for public understanding of science in America. It’s a place children come to learn and develop a sense of wonder about the natural world. And it’s a top scientific institution looking into how our planet and climate have worked for the last million years, and what that means for big issues like climate change.

So what in the world is climate-denying sponsor of Breitbart News, Steve Bannon, and Donald Trump — Rebekah Mercer — doing on the board?!

If Mercer’s name sounds familiar, it might be because she and her father are at the center of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which exploited the Facebook data of 50 million people to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election. Mercer is standing by Cambridge Analytica, where she sits on the firm’s board, despite an ongoing series of reports that the firm lied, stole, used sex workers and more in the service of conservative political campaigns like Trump’s.

Scientists from around the world and inside the AMNH have already asked Mercer to step down. But she shows no sign of bowing to public pressure.

Sign here to kick climate denier Rebekah Mercer out of our science museum. 

The Cambridge Analytica Scandal is only the latest in the Mercer family’s shady, and decidedly un-scientific exploits: The Mercer Family Foundation has spent millions propping up Breitbart.com and their leader Steve Bannon. They’ve supported dozens of climate-denying politicians from Ted Cruz to Roy Moore. And they routinely fund so-called think-tanks like the Heartland Institute, the CO2 Coalition, and the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide that routinely promote junk science denying that climate change is real, urgent, and a danger to our communities.

Clearly, Rebekah Mercer has no place on the board of one of our most famous science museums. But this isn’t just about kicking climate deniers out of our public institutions. It’s about making sure that billionaires can’t use their money to make climate denial and the politicians who support it (like Trump) seem legitimate. From her comfy position on the Board, Mercer can claim the attention, respect and even the tacit support of AMNH staff like Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But by standing together, we know we can win. Two years ago a lot of us engaged in a campaign to kick billionaire climate-denier David Koch off the board of the AMNH, and we won. Now is the time to do the same with Rebekah Mercer.

Sign here to kick climate denier Rebekah Mercer off the board at the American Museum of Natural History.