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.

Call now for a Green New Deal

It’s here! A joint Resolution for a Green New Deal was just released.

As had been reported many many times, the resolution does not mention fossil fuels or pipelines, and leaves the door open to nuclear power, some kinds of fracking, and more.

Most important the resolution is a starting gun – an official letter introduced in Congress that you can call your members about and tell them why the Green New Deal matters to you.

Pick up the phone right now and dial (833) 768-7693 to tell Congress to be Real Climate Leaders by supporting a strong Green New Deal.

Not sure what to say? Here are some simple talking points based on the demands that more than 1000 activists have been delivering at more than 100 congressional offices this week:

  • This week activists are meeting with congressional offices from coast to coast urging Congress to transform our economy and energy systems through a Green New Deal.
  • More than a thousand activists are meeting with more than 100 members of Congress.
  • We’re delivering more than 100,000 signatures to support a Green New Deal.
  • Specifically, we’re demanding that
    • You support a Green New Deal that halts all new fossil fuel extraction, infrastructure and subsidies, and transitions power generation to 100% renewable energy by 2035 or sooner.
    • This must be a bold, progressive policy that ensures a Fair & Just Transition led by impacted communities and workers and one that passes a national jobs guarantee.
    • To tackle climate change, we need to decarbonize the agriculture and transportation sectors and expand access to public transportation.
    • And we must respect and uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples.
    • Add your own local concerns too – about pipelines, nuclear power, or any other local issue you’re working on!

I wrote earlier this week about why I’m worried this could be another “all of the above” plan. And as more and more news reports came out, it was clear that was a real danger. To re-cap that argument:

Under the All of the Above plan from Obama, the US dramatically increased production of Renewable energy at the same time we even more dramatically increased fossil fuel production and especially fossil fuel exports. Donald Trump even bragged on it at his state of the Union on Tuesday – and when Trump brags about something, you know it’s just the worst. Some of the places that got hit first and worst by this boom in fossil fuels:

  • The Gulf of Mexico, especially poor, black or brown communities in places like Louisiana and Texas who are also on the frontlines of climate-fueled super storms.
  • Indigenous communities in Canada and the plains, where a boom in tar sands and shale oil brought crime, pollution and pipelines.
  • California communities – again usually poor or black or brown or all of the above – that saw a massive expansion of fracking for oil and gas even as state leaders touted 100% renewable goals and carbon trading markets.
  • And the shale-fields of Pennsylvania, where a boom economy in fracking left behind pollution, bomb-trains, pipelines and chemical plants, but failed to deliver lasting economic stability.

That’s not the Green New Deal we hoped for or need. But even if it’s imperfect, the resolution introduced today is an important place to start conversation. We need to begin changing everything, and we can. But only if EVERYONE shows up right now to tell Congress: This is the moment to call – Congress just started to hold hearings yesterday on climate change, and this new Resolution for a Green New Deal is like a starting gun being fired. Now we race towards solutions, with only 10 years to make the big changes we need.

What’s a Green New Deal that doesn’t ban Fossil Fuels?

This is getting exciting: In the last week, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren became the latest 2020 Presidential candidates to support a Green New Deal. And rumors are swirling in Washington that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey are about to release a joint resolution for a Green New Deal too.

But will these new candidates and resolutions live up to the hype? Will they halt all new fossil fuel extraction, transition to 100% renewable energy, rapidly decarbonize our agriculture and transportation sectors, ensure a fair and just transition led by impacted workers and communities, uphold Indigenous rights, and pass a national jobs guarantee? In short, will the Green New Deal live up to our demands for justice and climate action?

They will, if we demand it. Which is why I need your help to deliver our demands for Real Climate Leadership this week.

FIRST – click here to see if there’s a Real Climate Leadership event planned near you. If so, sign up to join us.

No More climate Cowardice

No event near you? No problem:

  1. Click here to look your member’s nearest office by entering your zip code;
  2. Print out these two letters and bring them with you:
    1. A campaign letter signed by more than 600 organizations with our policy demands; and
    2. Our cover letter outlining the 5 principles we’re asking all Members of Congress to publicly support.
  3. BONUS! Got an extra minute to plan ahead? Click here to add the date and time of your event to our map. Planning ahead for your event will enable our organizing team to follow up with additional support and help you recruit more people to attend.

Here’s why I’m also worried about what these candidates, bills and resolutions will really deliver:

If your inbox is anything like mine, you’ve already gotten emails from Sunrise and 350.org asking you to “support AOC” and “move this legislation forward by turning up the heat on our members of Congress” before draft legislation is available for public comment and scrutiny

And on a call last week, Sunrise and 350 both defended the idea of focussing on the jobs guarantee, not keeping fossil fuels in the ground or stopping new pipelines. There’s no reason to think any of these politicians and groups – Sunrise, 350, Sen Markey or Rep. Ocasio-Cortez – are trying to sell us out.

But until we see the text of that resolution – the way we previously were shown a copy of the draft legislation to create a Select Committee on a Green New Deal – there’s no way to know what it says. *update* And Articles like this more or less confirm we wont like it when we do see it.

Because we’ve been burned before: Under President Obama the Democratic party trumpeted an “all of the above” energy policy that sounded a lot like a Green new Deal in its pursuit of 100% renewable energy and a booming economy with no mention of keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

That policy directly created the biggest buildout of fossil fuel infrastructure in 100 years – most of it for export. That’s why the US exporters of oil and gas have increased more than 468% since Obama took office. and we’re now one of the largest oil and gas exporters in the world along with (wait for it) Russia.

And in specific states like California that have combined bold 100% renewable plans with carbon trading schemes that let bog corporations “buy” offsets in the global south the picture is even darker: The price of 100% renewable in California has been a dramatic expansion of fracking and pollution in poor, often latino communities, and the theft of land from and outright murder of indigenous people across central and South America.

Those are the costs of getting climate policy wrong – by endorsing actions that focus on and reward economics and job creation rather than what is truly just or fights the climate crisis.

I’m excited about the prospect of a Green New Deal. And I’m encouraged by new leaders like AOC that are talking about the scope and scale of the problem in ways that match the science.

But we need to be very careful, right now at the start of the new Congress, that those big ideas and bold demands don’t get coopted into something like an All of the Above part 2.

And that’s why out actions this week are so important. By showing up right now and making a clear demand for Real Climate leadership based on these 5 demands, we can make sure that any new resolution or plan is judged against them and can steer the conversation towards solutions we need.

Together with more than 50 partner organizations we’re making calls and recruiting volunteers. And Congress and the 2020 Presidential campaigns are already responding.

But to make this work, we need volunteers to deliver our demands from coast to coast at EVERY congressional office. I don’t care whether your Representative is a Democrat or a Republican; Whether they’ve signed on to support a Green New Deal already, or are a climate-denying Trump supporter. EVERY member of Congress needs to hear that there are people in their neighborhood these demands, and with your help, we’ll make sure they do.

Host a Green New Deal Action!

Donald Trump has finally given in and ended the longest government shutdown in history. But his attacks on our climate and common home keep coming. If there’s one thing we can learn from the shutdown, it’s that when we stick together and stand by our principles we can win. And that’s why I’m so excited to fight with you for a Green New Deal.

Progressive champs like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have given us a unique chance: Her Green New Deal vision is a bold climate solution that would put power in the hands of communities, not corporations, provide family-sustaining jobs, and end our reliance on fossil fuels.

The idea of a Green New Deal is gaining momentum in Congress. But too many Democrats claim to support the “idea” of a Green New Deal, while continuing to support fracking, fossil fuel subsidies and our dirty, climate-wrecking status quo.

Which is why from February 4-8th, we’re joining a broad coalition of environmental organizations and people like you to visit our members of Congress and tell the we need REAL climate leadership. Will you join us?

Demand that your Representative fight for Real Climate Leadership and a Green New Deal: Sign up to organize an event in your community next week!

No More Climate Cowardice Tell democrats we need a strong Green New Deal by hosting an action now.

This is the moment to show the strength of our movement for climate justice: presidential hopefuls are starting to voice support for a Green New Deal, and new Congressional leaders are defining their priorities for the year ahead. If we are willing to push hard for the bold climate action we need, we can create real change.

But only if we show up and speak out: You saw what can be accomplished when hundreds of Sunrise activists mobilized in the halls of Congress this winter to make the Green New Deal a possibility. Now, we need a second wave of action to make sure Democrats in Congress and on the campaign trail follow through. Help us ramp up our call for a Green New Deal by calling on your Representatives to:

  • Halt all new fossil fuel extraction, infrastructure, and subsidies; And transition power generation to 100% renewable energy by 2035 or sooner.
  • Rapidly decarbonize agriculture and transportation sectors and expand access to public transportation.
  • Ensure a Fair & Just Transition led by impacted workers and communities, including low income and communities of color, without relying on corporate schemes or market-based mechanisms.
  • Uphold Indigenous Rights.
  • Pass a national jobs guarantee, creating good jobs with collective bargaining and family-sustaining wages.

Dozens of organizations and hundreds of volunteers are already hard at work organizing events at local Congressional offices demanding a robust and powerful Green New Deal. Just check out the map of actions so far!

Once you sign up to host, we’ll send you information and materials like signs, copies of petition signatures, and a toolkit from partners to help you plan your event. You just need to pick a time and place (your local Member of Congress’ office) and recruit some friends to join you there!

Sign up to organize in your community for the Green New Deal Week of Action! We’ll support you as you plan your event and we’ll be on hand to answer any questions you have.