The Skywriter

Policy Update 3/1/2011: Wisconsin and Climate

1
Mar

Policy Update 3/1/2011: Wisconsin and Climate

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Rallies sprung up nationwide this weekend in solidarity with the workers in Wisconsin. Much of the opposition faced by unions is from the same polluter-funded front groups that have opposed climate legislation for years. The protests in Wisconsin have the opportunity to be a key turning point in the fight against corporate influence on our politics. The House and Senate will return to D.C. this week for further consideration of short-term spending bills. The government is currently funded only through Friday, March 4th, but a compromise that continues current funding levels for two weeks is likely to pass.

Wisconsin and Climate

Rallies took place in state capitals and major cities all over the country this weekend. A climate organizer with 350.org gives us a taste of what it's like to be in Madison, Wisconsin right now.

As co-sponsors, 1Sky, 350.org, Green For All, and other allies were put up on one of Glenn Beck's infamous chalk boards on Fox News. Some groups were even labeled with red communist flags. Bill McKibben with 350.org writes about his new life as a communist.

Politico noted that the Wisconsin fight was years in the making for conservative grassroots groups as they have long been focused on building a base of support in Wisconsin. They have spent over $340,000 on ads in just the past three weeks to mobilize their base.

The same polluter-backed front groups attacking labor unions in Wisconsin have been attacking climate legislation for years: the Koch brothers, via Americans for Prosperity, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who claim to speak for American small businesses. To chip away at the Chamber's influence, 350.org is launching a new campaign: "The Chamber Doesn't Speak for Me."

Congressional Budget Fights Continue

A short term resolution to fund the government for the next two weeks is likely to pass this week, giving the House and Senate time to compromise on a spending bill to fund the government from March through September. Unlike the House spending bill, the short term bill won't attack bedrock climate policies like the Clean Air Act -- just "energy earmarks, including funds for nuclear energy research, energy efficiency and fossil energy research."

The longer-term House bill that passed last week gutted key climate and clean energy policies, namely the Clean Air Act. Climate advocates will be on high alert in the coming months to make sure any compromise reached by the House, Senate, and President Obama does not include the egregious attacks on climate policy passed by the House.

Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) is under attack in his own district for his role as the leader of the anti-climate legislation and budget riders in the House.

Obama Under Pressure to Weaken Key Climate Rules

After months of intense pressure from polluting industries and their allies in Congress, President Obama's EPA offered a new set of rules for air toxics from industrial boilers. Though the new rules are more moderate than many climate advocates might like to see, they will still have a profound impact on both toxics (mercury, acid gasses) and climate pollution (carbon dioxide), similar to many of the Clean Air Act rules being updated by the EPA. Dave Roberts from Grist has a post about the economics (and the politics) of smart pollution regulations.

Under pressure from energy-intensive industry in Ohio, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) wrote President Obama yesterday asking him to "reevaluate" (i.e. weaken) specific Clean Air Act standards for big polluters.

  • 1Sky and our allies at 350.org, Greenpeace, and the Energy Action Coalition organized a 30-person rally outside Senator Brown's Cincinnati office calling on him to stand up against pressure from big polluters and stop compromising on the Clean Air Act.

Please direct questions or comments to jason@1sky.org.

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