Current Events

Obama must keep his climate promises to world's poor


The world's poorest nations are on the front lines of catastrophic climate change. The recent floods in Pakistan and droughts in Africa are just the most recent examples of how the world's poor are suffering because of our leaders' indifference to the climate crisis. Now that we face a Congress full of climate deniers and shills for big polluters, President Obama must become a true global climate leader to help the world's poorest nations cope with climate chaos.

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Weekly roundup 11/12/10: Coal, mad scientists and a moon bounce (VIDEO)


This week we're looking across the board from scientists to politicians to the EPA and how we spent our Veterans Day. But first, let's look at some developments in coal.

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Speak out on toxic coal ash crackdown by Nov. 19


The Environmental Protection Agency will soon close its public comment period on regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste (submit your comments before Friday, November 19). It may seem a bit wonky or out of place to discuss the detrimental effects of coal ash in an every day conversation, but to the people who live near coal plants, it's a topic that concerns their health and welfare.

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Murkowski's donors already trying to collect


We probably won't know for a while who won the U.S. Senate race up in Alaska (somebody named "Write-in Votes" is ahead right it me or are names getting weirder?), but apparently Lisa Murkowski's loan sharks campaign contributors are sure enough of her eventual victory that they've already called in her debt.

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Early weekly roundup: Mixed messages from Election Day

Election day 2010 is over, but the fight to address climate change is not -- so say many of the bloggers posting since Tuesday's election. We survived the Senate's inability to pass climate change legislation before the election recess. We survived attacks against the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases (so far). And we can and will survive the loss of a pro-climate majority in the House of Representatives.
Janelle Corn, Ph.D., is an ecologist and wildlife biologist living in western Montana. She has lived and worked in the western U.S. for 30 years, and is currently an activist for addressing climate change before it's too late. Her new blog is Natural History Now. The author's opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the 1Sky campaign.
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Young voters in California lead decisive victory against Prop 23


Young voters celebrated a decisive victory against Big Oil by defeating a deceptive ballot measure, Prop 23. The initiative, funded with millions of dollars from oil corporations, sought to wreck California's clean energy economy and effectively repeal the state’s landmark clean air and clean energy laws.

Gabriel Elsner is currently the Campaign Director for the California Student Sustainability Coalition's Power Vote Campaign to mobilize the youth vote and stop the dirty energy proposition, Prop 23. He previously served as Global Warming Solutions coordinator for the Student PIRGs and is a former 1Sky Policy Fellow.
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How big polluters bought the election


The dust from yesterday's election is settling and it's already clear that we're about to have the most pro-dirty energy Congress we've seen in a long time. As you'd expect, dirty energy companies and their allies are already spinning this election in the press as a rejection of climate and clean energy legislation.

This spin is outrageous, and it's our job to push back.

From where I stand it's very simple: Big Oil and Dirty Coal spent a fortune to swing this election, and last night they got exactly what they paid for.

If you remember nothing else about Election 2010, remember this: Big Oil and Dirty Coal have spent $70 million on energy-related attack ads this election cycle and put $20 million directly into the pockets of their allies running for Congress. That's on top of the $500 million they've already spent on lobbying in the past two years.

Now that they've bought themselves a new Congress more to their liking, big polluters will try to spin this election as an endorsement of dirty energy. But they can't change the fact that the American people overwhelmingly support policies that cut climate pollution and create new jobs in a clean energy economy. They can't spin away the strength of the climate movement, either. The 10/10/10 Global Work Parties showed just how big and vibrant the climate movement really is, while the defeat of Prop 23 in California showed how this movement can lead voters to vote their hopes, not their fears.

The battle for what will become the "conventional wisdom" in the press about yesterday's election is on-- and we can't allow Big Oil and Dirty Coal to spin this election as a legitimate victory for them. That's why we're asking all our supporters to write their local newspapers and tell them how big polluters bought this election -- and that it can't happen again.

Now that the election is behind us, many of us in the climate movement will focus much of our energy on pushing the Obama Administration and Congress to use the Clean Air Act to cut global warming pollution and jump start investments in clean energy. We will also push the Administration to support strong climate financing at the upcoming United Nations climate talks in Cancún.

I know that a Congress with so many more climate deniers and tools of dirty polluters is discouraging, but now is not the time for anyone in the climate movement to give up. I personally remember the dark days after the 1994 election, and how we banded together to defend the health of our environment and communities from dirty polluters and their friends in Congress. If we could do it then, we can certainly do it again by joining forces and fighting as hard as we possibly can.

Climate change is escalating even as we keep falling behind much of the world in the race to build clean energy economies. As a movement, we have no choice but to keep fighting. And that's exactly what we're going to do.

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Why voting matters for the climate movement


Who owns our democracy: Big Business or We the People?

Corporations -- led by Big Oil and Dirty Coal -- are trying to buy this election in plain sight. Their front groups are on target to spend more than $300 million to buy the election -- and this is after big polluters have already spent a fortune lobbying Congress, mounting a PR offensive after the BP oil spill, and trying to kill California's Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) with Propositions 23 and 26.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, there's been an unprecedented amount of outside spending during the 2010 mid-term elections, with a far greater increase in funds from conservative-leaning outside groups. Right-wing groups have spent $169.2 million so far -- up from $19.6 million in the last midterm (increased by a factor of 8.5). Analysis from Center for American Progress notes that more than $68 million of outside political spending is coming from dirty energy industries like Big Oil and coal-heavy electric utilities.

It’s impossible to look past the corporate influence in this election cycle -- brought on by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling -- from big polluters and climate science deniers. It's glaring even at the state level: Out of eight Northeast states with contested governor's races, only Vermont has a race where both candidates affirm climate science. Anti-climate candidates in these key states could roll back the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) or state renewable energy standards.

There’s no sugarcoating the chances for future comprehensive climate policy in the next two years. In fact, we anticipate an all-out attack on the EPA and the Clean Air Act by several House and Senate members.

But anger and despair can’t lead to inaction or apathy. Voting still matters for the climate movement. Why?

  • Recent polling consistently shows an 11-point spread against California Proposition 23. Getting the vote out in California is crucial to defeating both Prop 23 and Prop 26 at the polls and widening a margin that only a month ago favored Big Oil.
  • Climate champions like Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA), and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) are all committed to pushing for climate-related legislation next year. Waxman told Politico: "I think the issue is becoming more and more serious and people are realizing it, which I hope will increase the pressure on the Congress to take the actions we need to.”
  • Brad Johnson at the Wonk Room outlines 15 House races and six Senate races where climate heroes are running against climate deniers. These are races in which candidates need to hear that climate is still an issue.

More importantly, voting is a right that gives voice to your concern about climate change. People in the climate movement -- or anyone who believes in what we’re doing to avert a climate crisis and bring about an energy revolution -- can push back on Big Oil and Dirty Coal by exercising their right to vote. See you at the polls on Tuesday!

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Prop 26: "Stealth Initiative" to Undermine CA's AB32


California’s ballot initiative Proposition 23 has received a tremendous amount of public attention and financial support from both sides over the past few months. Prop 23 would suspend implementation of the state’s AB32 climate change law that seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 until unemployment falls below 5.5% for four consecutive quarters. Thanks to the large coalition of investors, politicians, and influential figures that have sided with the ‘No on Prop 23' campaign, it appears as though the measure to prevent climate progress in California has little chance of passing.With the majority of Prop 23 funding coming from two Texas-based oil companies, namely Tesoro and Valero, gaining support to reject this blatant effort by out of state big oil to stop carbon regulation has been relatively easy to do.

While the public has been focused on efforts to stop Prop 23, an alternative “stealth initiative”  filed as Proposition 26 has gone practically undetected by comparison. Prop 26 would effectively derail AB32's carbon reduction mechanisms such as the renewable energy standard and cap and trade program by amending “the state constitution to require a two-thirds majority -- rather than the current simple majority -- to enact any regulatory fees by declaring them taxes,” reports The proposition officially named “the Stop the Hidden Taxes Initiative” but commonly referred to as the ”Polluter Protection Act” is being spearheaded by Big Oil, along with tobacco and alcohol companies, to essentially strip away the funding needed to effectively run AB32. Most notably, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) would find it almost impossible to raise the necessary fees needed to implement auctioning, monitoring and reporting systems needed to run an effective cap and trade program if a supermajority vote from the Senate was required.

By Christopher Porto, cross-posted from Carbon Capitalist.
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Prop 23: An slick bid to kill green jobs


The title of Proposition 23 on California's November 2nd ballot reads: "Suspends Implementation of Air Pollution Control Law (AB 32) Requiring Major Sources of Emissions to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions that Cause Global Warming Until Unemployment Drops to 5.5 Percent or Less for Full Year."

Wow ... that makes it pretty clear what Proposition 23 does without reading the entire text. The proposition would essentially kill AB 32, California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 because there is little chance that the unemployment rate will drop below 5.5% for a full year any time soon. With the urgent imperative to begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avert climate catastrophe, killing -- or even delaying -- the implementation of AB 32 emission reduction targets is the last thing we want.

The proponents of Proposition 23 claim that jobs will be lost as a result of implementing AB 32. In fact, California has proven exactly the opposite to be true: the number of clean energy businesses and clean energy jobs has increased in California 45% and 36%, respectively, in the period between 1995-2008. This rate of growth is 10 times more than the state's average job growth rate.

Proposition 23 threatens California's more than 12,000 clean energy businesses and 500,000 people who are employed in clean energy occupations. With over $9 billion in venture capital funds, California's clean energy firms have received 60% of venture capital funds in North America. With these facts, one wonders why such a proposition is even on the ballot.

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