If you’ve been paying attention for the last 3 years, it won’t shock you to learn that William Pendley, Trump’s Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is a climate-denying white nationalist.
But even in Trump’s swamp, Pendley is worth paying attention to – because this corrupt critter is dangerous, dirty and Congress has the power to remove him – if we speak out.
Let’s start with the basics. The BLM is responsible for maintaining federal lands and resources for everyone’s benefit across the country. They manage federal monuments and wilderness areas, and even have a role in protecting national parks. The job of the BLM director is, basically, to take care of public lands. To be a good steward and protect them for future generations.
But that’s not Trump and Pendley’s vision. Pendley is a long-time advocate of selling off public lands or giving them to states to sell. His vision is about profit, not protection — and he’s made a fortune selling our public lands to the fossil fuel industry for a pittance. Pendley’s last job was lawyer for a couple counties in Utah that wanted to carve up sections of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments for drilling, fracking and mining. Check out this informative video from the Years Project for more.
Any one of these actions – his conflicts of interest, his climate denial, his radically anti-public lands message or his close ties to white nationalist militias is enough to disqualify Pendley from serving. And here’s the thing: Pendley is only at BLM by Congress’ agreement – he’s another “acting” director who can be hauled in front of Congress to explain his past-deeds, and removed if enough members of Congress don’t like his answers.
February brought an old fight back to the fore – the fight to stop Keystone XL. Trump has been trying to build the pipeline, without success, since he was sworn in in 2017. So far court cases and local permits have kept him at bay – but we’re waiting for the moment when Trump’s fossil-fueled-authoritarian tendencies overwhelm those flimsy buffers and they simply begin lighting the fuse of this carbon bomb without proper permits and paperwork.
May also launched our campaign to get disaster relief for Puerto Rico. This became a recurring theme as Congress would appropriate money for disaster relief, but Trump would refuse to sign or disburse the money – IF, and this is a big if, the people helped by the funding were black, brown, or tended to vote for Democrats. Later in the year we broadened this campaign to include climate refugees from the Caribbean and eventually the whole global south.
Climate Strike! That was the big theme in September as we supported hundreds of Climate Strike events here in the US. Greta Thunberg asked the United Nations “How Dare You” and I personally buckled in as part of two beautifully troublesome actions.
So there you have it! A year in photos and images to illustrate all our work. You can also check out our previous post which covers more of the science and policy on how we’re ending 2019. Next week, after the New Year, I’ll write you a message about our plans for 2020 but you can be sure it will continue a few of these themes:
Holding corrupt Trump cronies like Wheeler and Bernhardt accountable;
Working as part of the global Climate Strike movement to demand bold action from our elected leaders;
Pushing US policy makers to adopt a bold, fossil-fuel-free Green New Deal; &
Bringing you great direct-action powered online campaigns at the local, state, and federal level to demand climate action.
This really good thread and podcast discussion by The Hot Take co-founder Mary Annaïse Heglar makes the argument that it’s not hope, but resolve, action, and some other things that are necessary in this moment.
I agree with both parts: that we need more hope, and that the antidote to fear is not hope, but action and conviction in the face of uncertainty. If you agree and are able, I hope you’ll click here to donate.
As has become a tradition, I’m going to tell the story of where our climate and common home is at with a series of charts and graphs. Next week I’ll send you a year in photos so you can look back at some of what we’ve done this year.
The fires in the Rainforest are both a symptom of climate-fueled draught, and also a cause of the loss of Arctic Sea Ice; which in turn is contributing to slower circulation of the Atlantic ocean current; and on and on.
There are a lot of climate emergencies happening all over the planet, and none of them are un-connected. Wherever you are, you’re likely seeing impacts, and your local impacts and emissions are fueling the crisis somewhere else.
That emissions are still rising is probably not a surprise, nor is the fact that we’re not doing enough to combat the climate crisis. If we were, emissions would be going down, right? But the distance between what we need to be doing, and what we say we are doing is also getting wider.
So there it is – the state of the climate movement in 4 charts, and it is NOT good.
We’re approaching a series of interconnected ‘tipping points’ of climate chaos much faster than expected.
That’s because emissions of carbon dioxide and methane are still going up despite years of promises by the world’s governments to reduce them.
Most devastating, the gap between what we say we will do, what we need to do, and what we are doing keeps getting wider.
That U.N. report was described as “Grim,” “Bleak” and “drastic” when it came out. But it was not without hope. The authors of the same report on the ambition gap wrote that, “the political focus on the climate crisis is growing in several countries, with voters and protesters, particularly youth, making it clear that it is their number one issue.”
Next week I’ll be back with a photo and video year in review of some of the amazing work we’e been a part of this year – from challenging Trump’s corrupt, climate denying cabinet; to shutting down DC as part of the global climate strike; and much much more.
But now there’s a new opportunity to take down another Trump Administration official, like we did with Zinke, Pruitt and others before. Congress is considering opening an investigation into Bernhardt’s cozy relationship with his former lobbying clients. Can you help us encourage them to do so?
Even for the Trump administration, this is naked, brazen corruption. And it’s up to Congress to investigate, and eventually remove Bernhardt from office — just like they’re doing with the impeachment investigation.
Here’s the short version of how we got here: FERC has seen record turnover since Trump was elected. With the departure of Democratic Commissioner Cherly LaFleur earlier this summer, there are only three commissioners left, two Republicans and one Democrat). That’s barely enough for a quorum, and gives the last remaining Democrat, Richard Glick extra leverage to block votes or halt projects by refusing to participate.
At the same time, there’s been an explosion in protests and opposition to pipelines. Inspired by campaigns against the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, activists have been rising up to resist fossil fuel infrastructure from coast to coast. We’ve been part of a number of those campaigns and I know you have been too. At the same time, our allies have been suing every pipeline they can to slow them down and stop the approval process. And in a few very important instances, the combination of those tactics – the lawyers suing and the people protesting – have combined to stop big projects like Keystone and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
And that’s where Danly comes in: Fossil fuel profiteers and their cronies in the Trump Administration can only win in court if they have regulators who ignore the lower courts. They’ve succeeded in firing or driving out thousands of civil servants at the EPA and Interior Department, and replaced them with lifelong fossil fuel cronies like Andrew Wheeler and David Bernhardt. Those guys were put in charge because they were corrupt, but not cartoonish, as their predecessors Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke had been.
There’s no upside to Craft being approved. But the vote frames two important reasons why we fight, and how we will fight on:
It’s not our last chance to hold Craft accountable, and just like we fought the nominations of Rex Tillerson, Scott Pruitt, and Ryan Zinke – only to eventually get them to resign or be fired later – we need to keep at it until every member of this corrupt regime is impeached, removed, and gone.
The five Democrats who voted for Craft – Sens. Maggie Hassan (NH.), Joe Manchin (WV.), Chris Murphy (CT), Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) – are still a problem, but they’re a vanishing breed. We need to keep pushing, and to hold these Democratic turncoats accountable.
So, Kelly Craft, corrupt owner of coal mines and climate-denier-except-when-she-doesn’t is headed to the UN? Well, so are we. The next UN general assembly is just over a month away, and a lot of eyes will be on New York.
Just as important, Congress is home in their districts for the next 6 weeks. If you live in NH, WV, CT, NH or AZ, make sure to contact your Senator at a town hall meeting or public forum and tell them you’re sick and tired of Democrats enabling Trump’s climate-wrecking agenda.
Rex Tillerson and Scott Pruitt, two other famously corrupt Trump cronies who eventually resigned or were forced out, received only one or two Democratic votes in confirmation. Which makes Craft’s confirmation a troubling sign of back-sliding in the party.
They may think they’ve found a way to talk big on climate without any action or consequence, but we know better. Craft’s nomination was hustled through because she’s a long time donor and friend of Mitch McConnell. But when we’ve had more time to organize opposition – like against Barry Myers, or Trump’s climate denying FERC nominees – we’ve shown that we can be effective.
Like I said, there’s no silver lining to Craft being confirmed. A corrupt, climate-denying UN ambassador is just a terrible idea, and even worse in practice. But we’ve got more opportunities to fight coming up soon, and when we fight, we can win. I hope you’ll stay in this fight for our climate and common home with me.
It’s bad enough that Craft is headed to the full Senate for Confirmation this week, where her old friend Mitch McConnell will try and ram through her nomination as a pay-back for all the dirty coal money she’s donated to Republican campaigns. But to think that Democrats might enable the Trump team’s lawless, corrupt, climate denying administration again after all we’ve seen in the last two years. Well, it makes me so mad I could spit nails.
Donald Trump has nominated Kelly Knight Craft, the wife of coal baron whose family still owns coal mines and is a major Republican donor, to be our next ambassador to the United Nations. This. Is. A. Terrible. Idea.
I don’t have to tell you that The United Nations (UN) is an essential partner in the global fight to stop climate chaos. The UN is the arbiter of the Paris climate agreement, and has unique leverage over the nations of the world to cut pollution and steer us toward a more just and sustainable future.
Oh and, not that it matters to the Trump team, but she’s wildly unqualified. UN Ambassadors have to negotiate and represent us every day with dozens of countries and heads of state. But Craft has virtually no diplomatic experience. She had a symbolic post under President George W. Bush and 18 months as US Ambassador to Canada.
We deserve a UN Ambassador who will support solutions to climate change, believes in the importance of humanitarian aid, and will be at least physically present to make important decisions on the world stage.
Once again, Trump has nominated Barry Myers, a totally unqualified, wildly corrupt businessman accused of sexual harassment to lead a major climate change research agency.
This is actually Myers THIRD time being nominated. But while the idea hasn’t gotten any better, the Senate is rushing his nomination through without so much as a committee hearing – which might indicate they intend to install another Trump loyalist before anyone notices.
Here’s the short version – Trump nominated Barry Myers to run the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) because he’s the CEO of AccuWeather – a private forecasting company you might know from annoying pop up ads on your phone. But Myers isn’t a scientist, and while at AccuWeather he spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress to dumb down NOAA research and stop them from giving away weather and climate data for free. Oh, and like Trump, Myers’ entire business is under investigation for a pervasive culture of sexual harassment that went all the way to the top.
NOAA is an important agency in the fight against climate change. They maintain a fleet of satellites, fly planes into hurricanes, and most important they share all the temperature and weather data they gather with scientists and the public for free. Their research and data has formed the backbone of big parts of our National Climate Assessments and global reports on the increasing pace and severity of climate change.
The pattern is clear. Trump has nominated another corrupt, unqualified business man with a history of sexual harassment and hostile workplace investigations to lead an agency with an important mission for researching and stopping climate change. The Senate already failed to stop former oil and gas lobbyists from running the EPA and Department of interior. Let’s make sure they stop this one from running NOAA too.
The House passage is a big victory because it’s the first time in months Congress has put aside partisan bickering to address the unprecedented climate disasters rocking America – from Puerto Rico still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, to the record-setting floods in the midwest that are still disrupting planting season.
But Trump didn’t just forget about which chamber had already voted on the bill – he also forgot that he’d spent months railing against disaster funding in racist, fact-free ways. As soon as he remembers or one of those 58 Republican Trump supporters reminds him, his signature is not guaranteed.
It’s also important to put this victory in context. We started this campaign with Daily Kos, 350 dot org, Power 4 Puerto Rico and other allies because Trump was singling Puerto Rico out to not get disaster funding. Congressional negotiators were successful in getting the total aid to Puerto Rico increased from $600 million to $900 million – that’s a 50% increase over the objections of the President and nearly a third of all Republicans in the House of Representatives.
But Puerto Rico, and a lot of American Communities, need a lot more help. Our coalition estimates that Puerto Rico needs closer to $1.5 billion in relief funding – almost twice what Congress approved this week. And with midwest flooding continuing to slow planting season in the midwest, it’s likely we’ll need more aid there too before the summer is over.
The point is, in a climate changed world, it’s never been more important to demand that Congress and the President take urgent action to help Americans hit by climate-fueled storms, fires and other disasters.
This week’s vote in Congress is a good step, and a clear indication of teh work we still have to do. First, let’s make sure Trump doesn’t screw this up this progress for Puerto Rico and other communities. Then we need to keep fighting for the changes we need that will protect us all from the next climate disaster.
Just a reminder, the 2019 hurricane season started this week. Thanks for signing, please share this message to engage your networks online and spread the word. And stay tuned for more actions you can take soon.