The big story this week revolves around Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit to Washington and meetings with President Obama. The bulk of their conversation has been pre-packaged with less-than-savory global issues that are set to heat up already tense relations. But energy has found its way between the two world leaders as grounds for compromise.
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.
If you have been paying attention to 1Sky's Twitter or Facebook feed in the last weeks, you'll recall hearing about the great event that is the Brita Climate Ride. If you don't know what Climate Ride is, here's the short version: two incredible women whose day jobs involve showing others the world on bicycles decided to help make a difference on climate change. In 2008, they started a five-day bike ride from New York to Washington, D.C. to raise money and awareness about climate and clean energy groups. Climate Ride has now grown into a bi-annual action with hundreds of riders. This year, 1Sky was chosen as a beneficiary and I was able to take part in this epic event down the coast of Northern California.
Overall, the trip was inspiring – from the amazing landscapes, the steel-willed riders, and the incredible ride staff. The week officially started when we all met in the small town of Fortuna, CA during a beautiful sunset before we were to set off. The room was full of more than 100 riders, Climate Ride staff, and a few family members. I knew that this was a room of people who cared about fighting climate change, but it wasn't until later in the week that I realized what incredible company I was in. That night ended with the riders being invited to write messages to President Obama on pre-addressed postcards about why we were doing Climate Ride and what the issue means to us.
Day one was through the most perfect setting imaginable for such a ride. After the morning safety talk (and me shoving a triple-decker peanut butter and jelly sandwich down my face – energy food, clearly), we set off and soon found ourselves riding through the redwood forests of Northern California. They don't call it the Avenue of the Giants for nothing. Living in D.C., I can sometimes forget just how breathtaking nature can be. This day reminded me of that very quickly.
There's no way to avoid starting this week's roundup with more awful news from the Gulf of Mexico: another offshore oil rig exploded yesterday -- and predictably, there's an oil slick to contend with:
A mile-long slick is spreading from an oil
platform in the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion forced its 13 rig workers
into the water, one of whom was injured, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The workers told rescue crews that the slick was about 10
feet wide but hoped that no more oil would leak into the sea, Chief Warrant
Officer Barry Lane told AFP.
Thankfully, all 13 workers are alive and safe and this oil leak seems relatively small, but this latest incident is part of a pattern: offshore drilling is inherently unsafe for workers and for the environment. In fact, calls are already pilling up for tighter regulation of offshore drilling:
The fire in the Gulf of Mexico “is further proof that
offshore drilling is an inherently dangerous practice,” Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, said in a statement
yesterday. Obama halted deep-water exploration after BP’s
Macondo well exploded in April, killing 11 workers and causing
the biggest U.S. offshore oil spill in history.
Even more effective than extending the offshore drilling ban, however, would be to tackle the underlying reason why those 13 workers were out there risking their lives yesterday: our addiction to dirty energy sources like coal and oil. As Ada wrote yesterday:
What this explosion reveals is that our oil addiction (80 million barrels a day in the U.S. alone) has unavoidably dangerous consequences. The only way to avoid tragedies like this moving forward is to reduce our dependency on oil and move toward sustainable sources of clean energy. We need to take personal responsibility for our consumption, and also hold our elected leaders accountable.