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.

Stop McNamee, Block Manchin, Act on Climate with a Green New Deal

If you’re one of the more than 30,000 people who already signed our petition stop Bernard McNamee: Thank you. (If not, sign here)

You’ll remember that just last week McNamee was under fire in a Senate Energy Committee over a speech he he gave calling for a “unified campaign” to support fossil fuels. He also falsely claimed that renewable energy “screws up” the grid and and described any legal opposition to pipelines and cliamte change as a “constant battle between liberty and tyranny.”​

Trump and his puppet Mitch McConnell know that Mcnamee’s nomination will never stand up to public scrutiny – so they’re rushing a vote McNamee today — Monday December 4!  But they may have overplayed their hand.

Senator Maria Cantwell and allies from the Energy Democrats have vowed to fight, and there’s a chance we can stop this nomination on the Senate floor, but only if we call right now! Dial (833) 261-7330 right now and tell your Senators to vote NO on Bernard McNamee?

Not sure what to say? These can be quick calls there are two basic points you need to make:

  1. Bernard McNamee is a dangerous nominee – he’s corrupt, unqualified, a climate-denier and part of Trump’s plan to force ratepayers to bail out coal and nuclear power.
  2. Senators MUST vote NO on cloture and NO on his nomination, and must ensure that all votes are recorded. No unanimous consent or procedural gimmicks (that’s how we got the last three Republican FERC commissioners).

Your calls today are part of a coordinated series of actions to get Senate Democrats, in particular, to step up on climate. Here’s a quick explainer recorded early this morning.

I’ll be all over Capitol Hill today and posting regular updates through Social Media. Check it all out and keep up with us on our Facebook page​, but here’s a quick Rundown:

Later this morning, friends from Sunrise NYC are headed to Chuck Schumer’s office in New York to demand he lead on Climate Change by supporting a Green New Deal, and blocking Joe Manchin from becoming chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Manchin, you may recall, was the only Democrat to vote for McNamee last week in the committee — yet another example in a long line of how out of touch his is with Democrats and common sense on climate change. But, because of the archaic rules that govern the Senate, and because Democrats lost seats in the senate last month, when the new Congress is sworn in there’s a real chance Manchin — the only Senator to have publicly ​shot​ a climate bill in a campaign ad, with a rifle — would be the leading Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Manchin, like McNamee, is a test of Chuck Schumer and the Senate Democrats willingness to lead, and fight, on climate change.​Which is why I’ll be amplifying the Sunrise team’s action this morning, and going to Schumer’s DC office this afternoon to re-iterate their demands and ask Schumer to lead the fight to stop McNamee, Block Manchin, and act on Climate.

And there is reason to be hopeful – since other Democrats in the Senate are leading on this issue. In fact, if you want to end your day on an optimistic note, tune in with us for Senator Bernie Sanders’ live town hall on climate change tonight at 7pm Eastern. Bernie will be joined by Bill McKibben, Shailene Woodley, climate scientists and more. I’ll be there live and you can tune in with us online here.​

National Dream Act Day of Action Feb 7

You probably remember, less than a month ago, when all but 16 hard-line Dream Heroes in the Senate (not-coincidentally some of our most reliable votes on climate change) voted to re-open the government. They did so based on a promise from Mitch McConell and Donald Trump allow a vote to protect Dreamers before February 8.

This week, the bill for that bad bet comes due. Tomorrow is the 8th and no vote on the Dream act has been scheduled. The Government runs out of money, again, this Friday and we’ve made no progress.

Today hundreds of young Dreamers from across the country have traveled to D.C. to demand that Congress pass a clean Dream ActClick here to check out the live feed of their actions on capitol hill, and then call 478-488-8059 so United We Dream can patch you through to Congress. Tell them to pass a CLEAN Dream Act and protect immigrant youth without harming their families.

As we explained last timethis Dream Act vote is a critical litmus test  for climate change.

It’s also clear that we can’t trust most of the “deals” that have been offered by Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell in recent days. McConell has already broken his promise by not scheduling an up or down vote on immigration, and today’s proposed two year spending plan does nothing to protect Dreamers — giving us us even more reason to distrust him.

Trump’s plan is even worse. He’s actively calling for a government shut down unless Congress gives him a racist immigration plan that a Washington Post analysis confirms will mostly have the effect of making America Whiter, Older, and more poor.6 It’s no surprise that President “shit-hole” isn’t a reliable negotiating partner. But that’s why we need Republicans and Democrats in Congress who claim to agree on immigration (just like many of them claim to agree on the need for climate action) to do their job and VOTE on the issue.

Let your Senators know you demand that Mitch McConell be held to his promise, and that Congress vote on a clean dream act – not a compromise that includes racist policies like an end to family reunification or a border wall – NOW. Call 478-488-8059 right now and tell them to pass a CLEAN Dream Act and protect immigrant youth without harming families.

Images from United we Dream

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.