Environmental Defense Fund Board Members Actively Invest in Fracking

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 25 Dec 2017 19:07:00 GMT

frackingEnvironmental Defense Fund (EDF), unlike some other environmental groups which support a ban on fracking, argues that natural gas extraction can be done responsibly, perhaps reflecting the views of board members profiting from active fracking investments.

Hydraulic fracturing isn’t all good, but it doesn’t have to be all bad, either,” an EDF blog post summarized in May of this year.

The organization’s top natural gas official, vice president Mark Brownstein, responded to this week’s New York state ban on hydraulic fracturing with an ambiguous statement:
“The risks associated with hydraulic fracturing and unconventional oil and natural gas development are so serious, EDF believes that every state has the right to decide whether or not development is consistent with the interests and wishes of its citizens. New York State has made its decision—but with or without drilling here, New York remains the country’s fifth largest natural gas consumer, with an extensive network of gas transmission and distribution lines. Methane leaking from these systems has more than 80 times the climate-warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe. State officials and the companies that operate these pipes need to find and fix those leaks as part of the ongoing effort to modernize New York’s electric and gas infrastructure and accelerate the state’s transition to cleaner, renewable, and more efficient energy.”

EDF’s approach to environmentalism is pro-market, built upon investment strategies and corporate partnerships. The organization has partnered with dozens of companies in the natural gas industry for a suite of studies on methane leakage from fracking, storage, and distribution.

Meanwhile, several members of EDF’s board of trustees, who provide millions in funding for the organization, are actively invested in fracking. (This is far from unique among environmental non-profits.)

The board member with the strongest conflict of interest is Edward Stern, an active investor in fracking and a direct funder of pro-fracking front groups in New York, although he is not the only problematic trustee.

Edward Stern is the founder of Hartz Capital, which focuses “on the acquisition of properties for the development of oil and gas in emerging shale plays.” Hartz owns shale gas leases in upstate New York and funded the pro-fracking front group Clean Growth Now.

Trustee Kristine Johnson is wife of Tim Dattels, of TPG Capital. In 2007, TPG Capital was part of a consortium that purchased TXU Corp for $48 billion, and closed several high-pollution coal plants, a move touted by an actively involved EDF. That investment is now effectively worthless, in part because of the fracking boom.

However, TPG has also poured billions into successful fracking investments. In 2011, TPG Capitol formed Maverick American Natural Gas, a fracking company, with Hughes and Hart. In 2013, TPG sold its stakes in tar-sands and shale-oil refiner Northern Tier Energy (in which TPG had invested about $200 million in 2010), natural gas pipeline giant Copano Energy (in which TPG invested $300 million in 2010), and fracking equipment company Valerus Field Solutions (in which TPG had invested $500 million in 2009). In February 2014 TPG announced it was building a new $1.25 billion fund to invest in similar companies. In March of this year Maverick acquired $1.8 billion worth of active fracking wells in Wyoming’s Jonah field from the Canadian oil and gas giant Encana.

Hedge-fund billionaire Julian H. Robertson, Jr., who bankrolled the 2012 Mitt Romney run, is also an active fracking investor. The 80-year-old has been one of EDF’s largest donors, putting in over $60 million to support EDF’s cap-and-trade push during the 2000s. Robertson is now mostly retired, but is an advisor to Tiger Infrastructure Partners, a fund formed in 2009 with over $500 million invested in “midstream oil and gas fracking companies in a joint venture with Kiewit.

There are also several trustees with smaller but meaningful investments in the fossil-fuel industry.

Trustee Susan Mandel is the wife of Stephen Mandel, whose Lone Pine Capital has holdings in the liquid natural gas giant Cheniere Energy.

Trustee G. Leonard Baker, Jr. is a partner in the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sutter Hill Ventures, whose holdings include Chengwei Capital, which invests in oil & gas ventures in China.

Trustee Ann Doerr is the wife of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers venture capitalist John Doerr. Most of Kleiner Perkins’ energy investments are in the clean tech space, but it has some “cleanish” fossil-fuel investments as well. Portfolio company Luca Technologies “owns and operates wells and infrastructure, then sells natural gas into existing markets,” and portfolio company GreatPoint Energy does coal-to-gas conversion.

EDF’s board also includes two scions of influential conservative families—Sam Rawlings Walton, grandson of Sam Walton, and Kathryn Murdoch, daughter-in-law of News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch.

Interestingly, Katherine Lorenz, the granddaughter of George Mitchell, the “father of fracking,” is on the board.

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Patrick Leahy Oppose Trump USDA Chief Scientist Nominee Sam Clovis

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 01 Nov 2017 15:43:00 GMT

Two more members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, and Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat of North Dakota, are publicly opposing the confirmation of Sam Clovis, Trump’s nominee to be USDA chief scientist. Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow of Michigan announced her opposition in September.

Clovis, long under criticism for his lack of scientific credentials, is now embroiled in the Mueller investigation for his role as a top Donald Trump presidential campaign official. Clovis directed his subordinate on the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos, to “make the trip” to Moscow to collude with Russian agents.

“If his anti-science record were not enough cause for concern,” Leahy’s statement reads, “the latest reporting suggesting that Mr. Clovis may have facilitated Russian collusion in our elections raises these concerns to an alarming level. Even for this administration, that should be disqualifying.”

“Sam Clovis is uniquely unqualified to serve as USDA’s top scientist, and his confirmation would be harmful to North Dakota’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities,” Heitkamp said in a statement to Politco. “North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers need and deserve someone in this role who will work in their best interest – and that is not Sam Clovis. I’ll oppose his nomination.”

With Leahy and Heitkamp’s announcements, there are ten senators, including three on the Agriculture Committee, to publicly oppose the nominee, who rejected the science of climate change, promoted the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and argued that homosexuality is a choice.

A growing coalition of environmental, science, and sustainable farming organizations oppose Clovis.

Senators in public opposition to Sam Clovis:
  • Kamala Harris (D-CA)
  • Brian Schatz (D-HI)
  • Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
  • Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)*
  • Tom Udall (D-NM)
  • Patty Murray (D-WA)
  • Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-VT)*
  • Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)*

    Members of the agriculture committee are marked with an asterisk.

  • Climate Hawk Sen. Tom Udall Opposes Trump USDA Chief Scientist Nominee Sam Clovis

    Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 22 Sep 2017 22:20:00 GMT

    Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, is opposing the confirmation of Sam Clovis, Trump’s nominee to be USDA chief scientist. Udall based his opposition on concerns that New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers are exposed to the dangers of climate change, and need government officials who respect the science.

    Udall is the fifth senator to publicly oppose the nominee, who rejected the science of climate change, promoted the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and argued that homosexuality is a choice.

    On a campaign website, Udall wrote:
    The USDA is incredibly important to farmers and ranchers in New Mexico. They fund research that helps farmers and ranchers adapt to climate change, so extreme weather patterns don’t cost them their livelihoods.

    We need someone in this position who will take steps to stop climate change from destroying crops. We could be facing serious threats to food safety and our natural resources in the coming years — and Trump should nominate someone with the expertise and know-how to handle those threats.

    Trump’s current nominee for chief scientist at the USDA has no significant scientific training or experience.

    Demand President Trump to rescind Sam Clovis’s nomination and replace him with someone qualified.

    The four other senators who publicly oppose Clovis are Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

    A growing coalition of environmental, science, and sustainable farming organizations oppose Clovis.

    Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Top Ag Democrat, Opposes Trump USDA Science Nominee Sam Clovis

    Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 12 Sep 2017 20:43:00 GMT


    Sen. Debbie Stabenow; Sam Clovis
    In a letter to supporters, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, announced her opposition to President Trump’s nominee to be the top scientist at the Department of Agriculture, Sam Clovis. She highlighted his lack of professional qualifications as well as his “absurd” statements on climate change, LGBTQ issues, and race.

    “I’m opposing President Trump’s nomination of Clovis for Chief Scientist in the Department of Agriculture,” Stabenow wrote. “As ranking member of the Agriculture Committee, I oppose his nomination and I call on President Trump to withdraw it immediately. If he does not, I will lead the opposition and promise to bring his troubling record to light.”

    Clovis, a right-wing talk show host from Iowa who ran a failed campaign for the Republican Senate nomination and held a senior position in the Trump election campaign, has a long history of prejudicial and anti-science statements. In a 2011 blog post, Clovis called progressives “race traitors.” He believes climate change is “junk science.” He said Trump’s border wall is a “matter of national security and national sovereignty.” Clovis said the science was still out but “as far as we know” homosexuality is a choice.

    Clovis helped devise Trump’s Muslim ban, and has claimed that Barack Obama was not born in Honolulu. He called Eric Holder a “racist black,” Tom Perez a “racist Latino,” and claimed that President Obama “wants to enslave all who are not part of his regime.”

    Clovis’ positions on agriculture policy are similarly radical: he has consistently opposed federal crop insurance, calling for it to be privatized in a 2014 interview and questioning its constitutionality in a 2013 radio interview.

    In July, Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas said at an Agriculture Committee hearing, “If there is some nominee who is coming before the committee who says crop insurance is unconstitutional, they might as well not show up.”

    The law requires that the USDA’s Chief Scientist be chosen from “distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.” Clovis has no such experience.

    Stabenow joins Democratic senators Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, and Kamala Harris of California in opposition to Clovis. She is the first member of the Agriculture Committee to formally oppose Clovis’ nomination.

    A broad and growing coalition of agriculture, climate-justice, environment, science, and civil rights groups have forcefully opposed the Clovis nomination.

    Stabenow’s letter is below:

    Subject: PETITION: Say no to Sam Clovis
    Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2017 14:26:08 +0000
    From: Debbie Stabenow

    We have a right to expect that only the best, most qualified individuals will be nominated for leadership jobs in our government.

    That’s not Sam Clovis.

    I’m opposing President Trump’s nomination of Clovis for Chief Scientist in the Department of Agriculture.

    Why?

    First, Sam Clovis isn’t a scientist, a qualification required by law to be Chief Scientist in the Department of Agriculture. Clovis himself made this lack of qualification abundantly clear when he stated that he was “extremely skeptical” of proven climate change science.

    Second, his absurd statements on LGBTQ issues, race and President Obama totally disqualify him from consideration.

    As ranking member of the Agriculture Committee, I oppose his nomination and I call on President Trump to withdraw it immediately. If he does not, I will lead the opposition and promise to bring his troubling record to light.

    I won’t shy away from asking the hard questions about his ability to carry out this critically important job for Michigan.

    Sign on now and stand with me in telling President Trump to withdraw Sam Clovis’ nomination for Chief Scientist.

    Thanks,

    Debbie Stabenow United States Senator

    Pruitt Puts Environmental Justice Under The Control of Koch Operative Samantha Dravis

    Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 08 Sep 2017 17:04:00 GMT

    Samantha DravisAn email sent by EPA associate administrator for the Office of Policy Samantha Dravis, a long-time Republican operative, outlines organizational structure changes that put the Office of Environmental Justice and Office of Federal Activities under her control.

    Dravis previously ran EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s industry-funded, anti-regulatory dark-money group, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, when he was Oklahoma Attorney General. She was also legal counsel at the Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce dark-money group. Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2017 8:17 PM
    To: OP-Everyone
    Subject: Announcement

    From: Kime, Robin On Behalf Of Dravis, Samantha

    Dear Colleagues,

    For the past several months I’ve had the pleasure of learning about the many ways the Office of Policy (OP) contributes to the mission of the Environmental Protection Agency. The analysis and support we provide for the agency’s most critical functions is of the utmost importance to me. As a cross-media and cross-agency office, I believe that the following changes to OP’s organization will enhance our ability to advance Administrator Pruitt’s priorities in line with EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment.

    Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ): In order to better serve overburdened communities, OEJ will join the Office of Policy. OEJ will work in partnership with the Office of Sustainable Communities, which will be renamed the Office of Community Revitalization. It is important to both Administrator Pruitt and myself that the most underserved and overburdened communities have a meaningful say in environmental protection and regulation. EPA has, and will continue to consider and incorporate environmental justice concerns into our regulatory process and this move enhances our ability to achieve this core function. It will also enable EPA’s EJ program to maximize its ability to support meaningful engagement and public participation across the agency and lead federal level coordination to consider overburdened community needs and the application of federal resources to meet those needs. Moving OEJ to OP allows OECA, where OEJ was previously located, to focus on its mission of enforcement and compliance assurance.

    Office of Federal Activities (OFA): OFA will join the Office of Policy where it will continue to carry out its vital responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Also within OFA will be a Permitting Policy Division to build on the successful streamlining efforts in the NEPA program. Together, these organizations will focus on two of the Administration’s top priorities: expediting federal infrastructure projects and streamlining permitting processes. This move will reform the agency’s permitting and NEPA roles that will streamline the entire environmental review process and reduce subjectivity, providing our stakeholders with more clarity and certainty on their projects; ensure staff are able to quickly elevate high visibility issues to the Administrator for resolution; coordinate with the permitting AAs which will allow the agency to drive solutions to expedite the entire environmental review process, as directed by the President under Executive Order 13766, under one central office; and continue the progress that has already been made to strengthen the NEPA program and our partnerships with our sister federal agencies. OFA staff who work on hazardous waste transport issues will move to the Office of Land and Emergency Management, where complementary work resides.

    Sectors Team: I have established a Sectors Team within the Office of Policy’s Immediate Office to work with staff across OP and the agency. The Sectors Team will develop strategies that better protect human health and the environment by engaging with partners at all levels to ensure the agency puts forth sensible regulations that encourage economic growth. This team will coordinate with stakeholders to better understand their needs and challenges so as to improve environmental performance and inform smarter and more predictable rulemaking. This work will build upon our experience with the Sector Strategies Program as well as our ongoing work in regulatory and permitting reform.

    Operations Office: Over the course of the last year, the Operations Team in the OP Immediate Office started efforts to streamline and improve our administrative and operational activities. To further these efforts, I have established an Operations Office, through which we will consolidate our operations and administrative support functions, leading to increased efficiency and enhanced processes.

    Office of Strategic Environmental Management: To fully staff OP’s priorities, including the new functions noted above, many OSEM staff will be reassigned to OFA, ORPM, NCEE, and other areas where additional staffing is critical to meeting OP’s core mission and the Administration’s goals. I appreciate the unique skills and leadership OSEM has brought to numerous cross-cutting EPA priorities over the years and believe that OP’s new organizational structure will allow us to better harness their talents. The team will concentrate on streamlining the agency’s operations, especially in programmatic areas such as permitting.

    The new responsibilities outlined here are a testament to OP’s valued expertise and its many past successes. I am excited about the new opportunities for OP, and how we can help the agency achieve its mission of protecting human health and the environment more efficiently and effectively for the American people.

    Samantha

    Save EPA Releases Guide to Resisting the Trump De-Regulatory Agenda

    Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 13 Jul 2017 23:36:00 GMT

    Trump and Manchin
    Sen Joe Manchin grins as Donald Trump signs legislation rescinding the Stream Protection Rule in February 2017.
    Save EPA, a volunteer organization of former Environmental Policy Agency staffers, has released a guide for activists who wish to counter attempts by the Trump administration to roll back public protections issued by any federal agency. The guide is inspired by the Indivisible project, which began as a guide for activist engagement with Congress by former Hill staffers.

    Trump has made systematic deregulation, a longtime priority of the Koch brothers and other corporate-right leaders, a top priority. A January executive order of questionable Constitutional legitimacy called for the elimination of two federal regulations whenever a new regulation is issued.

    The first draft of “A Practical Guide For Resisting The Trump De-Regulatory Agenda” explains:
    Fortunately, no president can roll back regulations by fiat. The Trump Administration must go through the same process that’s used for making regulations, and that process gives everyone the opportunity to participate. Regulated businesses are sure to participate, since they are directly affected and may save money if regulations are delayed, watered down or repealed. Public interest groups are likely to participate, too, but they can’t be expected to save regulations all on their own. As members of the public that the regulations are designed to protect, we need to be loud and clear that the regulations are important to us. We can’t afford to be silent while President Trump tries to take away our protections.

    The guide includes a comprehensive guide to the public comment process, recommendations for how to draft effective comments, and additional tips for influencing regulatory decisions. The guide also recommends Columbia Law School’s Climate Deregulation Tracker.

    The guide can be downloaded here.

    An accompanying press release offers three recommended actions to take for one current and two upcoming comment periods:

    Proposed 2-year stay and reconsideration of methane emissions standards for oil and gas sector – The public comment period is ongoing; comments must be received on or before 11:59 pm August 9. To comment, search for Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0505 on the federal eRulemaking portal. The proposal was signed June 16. EPA web link

    Waters of the U.S. rule proposed rescissionA 30-day comment period will begin soon when the rule, signed June 27, 2017, is published in the Federal Register. To comment, search for Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203, on the federal eRulemaking portal. EPA web link

    Withdrawal of proposed Pebble Mine determinationEPA is proposing to withdraw a July 2014 Clean Water Act Section 404© Proposed Determination that would have imposed restrictions on the discharge of dredged or fill material from the potential “Pebble Mine” in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed. A 90-day comment period will begin soon when the withdrawal notice is published in the Federal Register. Comments can be emailed to ow-docket@epa.gov (reference docket number EPA-R10-OW-2017-0369 in the email subject line). EPA link

    Senate Intelligence Committee Votes to Approve Climate Denier Dan Coats for DNI 13 to 2

    Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 13 Mar 2017 21:15:00 GMT

    Another climate denier is one step closer to filling another seat in Donald Trump’s cabinet. On Thursday, March 9, the U.S. Senate Select Committee for Intelligence advanced the nomination of Dan Coats, Republican of Indiana, to the Senate floor.

    Coats has dismissed the threat of global warming when asked, talking about snowstorms as if they disprove manmade climate change.

    Only Democrats Ron Wyden of Oregon and Kamala Harris of California voted against the former senator and corporate lobbyist, who has limited foreign-affairs or intelligence experience.

    Voting to approve Coats were all eight Republicans on the committee and five of seven Democrats.
    • Richard Burr (R-N.C.)
    • James Risch (R-Idaho)
    • Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
    • Susan Collins (R-Maine)
    • Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
    • James Lankford (R-Okla.)
    • Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)
    • John Cornyn (R-Texas)
    • Mark Warner (D-Va.)
    • Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
    • Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)
    • Angus King (I-Maine)
    • Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.)

    These five members of the Democratic caucus (King is an independent) have voted for other of Trump’s climate-denier nominees, despite all professing concern about the threat of manmade climate change.

    Senate Democrats Vote En Masse for Climate Deniers

    Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 03 Mar 2017 17:06:00 GMT

    This week, Senate Democrats joined the Republican majority to confirm three avowed deniers of climate science into Donald Trump’s cabinet — Ryan Zinke for Interior, Ben Carson for Housing and Urban Development, and Rick Perry for Energy. Zinke was confirmed on Wednesday, and Carson and Perry confirmed on Thursday. Democrats chose not to use the 30 hours of debate time following the Perry cloture vote, instead allowing his confirmation to occur immediately after.

    Seventeen members of the Democratic caucus voted for Ryan Zinke; 11 voted for cloture on Carson; and 12 voted for cloture or confirmation on Perry. In all, 22 Democrats voted at least once with Republicans for these nominees.

    Angus King (Maine) is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

    Democrats for Zinke
    • Michael Bennet (Colo.)
    • Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
    • Chris Coons (Del.)
    • Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.)
    • Joe Donnelly (Ind.)
    • Martin Heinrich (N.M.)
    • Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.)
    • Tim Kaine (Va.)
    • Angus King (Maine)
    • Joe Manchin (W.Va.)
    • Claire McCaskill (Mo.)
    • Chris Murphy (Conn.)
    • Bill Nelson (Fla.)
    • Jon Tester (Mont.)
    • Tom Udall (N.M.)
    • Mark Warner (Va.)
    • Ron Wyden (Ore.) – voted present for cloture, for confirmation
    Democrats for Carson
    • Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
    • Ben Cardin (Md.) – voted for cloture, against confirmation
    • Tom Carper (Del.) – voted for cloture, against confirmation
    • Joe Donnelly (Ind.)
    • Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.)
    • Joe Manchin (W.V.)
    • Bob Menendez (N.J.) – voted for cloture, against confirmation
    • Jack Reed (R.I.) – voted for cloture, against confirmation
    • Jon Tester (Mont.)
    • Mark Warner (Va.)
    • Angus King (Maine)
    Democrats for Perry
    • Ben Cardin (Md.) – voted for cloture, against confirmation
    • Tom Carper (Del.) – voted against cloture, for confirmation
    • Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.)
    • Joe Donnelly (Ind.)
    • Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.)
    • Angus King (Maine)
    • Joe Manchin (W.Va.)
    • Tom Udall (N.M.)
    • Claire McCaskill (Mo.)
    • Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)
    • Jon Tester (Mont.)
    • Mark Warner (Va.)

    Ex-President Barack Obama Orchestrated Tom Perez DNC Chair Victory

    Posted by Brad Johnson Sun, 26 Feb 2017 19:29:00 GMT

    Former president Barack Obama, whose legacy is being rapidly dismantled by President Donald Trump and a Republican Party dominating all levels of government, was instrumental in the election of Tom Perez as the new head of the Democratic Party. Perez defeated Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the initial front-runner in the Democratic National Committee Chair race, by a 235-200 vote on Sunday.

    Obama, whose presidency oversaw a catastrophic collapse in electoral power for Democrats, and who paved the way for Hillary Clinton as the failed Democratic presidential nominee, has publicly expressed his intent to continue to direct the party now that he is out of office.

    Ellison entered the race with backing from influential leaders across the Democratic Party, appearing to unify the interest groups of the party that had been split into the camps supporting Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic primary. Ellison’s career includes environmental-justice and civil-rights organizing, local and national electoral organizing, and effective public engagement on the national stage—perhaps most notably his warning to the nation to take Donald Trump’s presidential campaign seriously in the summer of 2015, while political pundits were treating Trump as a good-for-ratings joke.

    Ellison’s campaign faced concerted public attacks against Ellison’s candidacy from anti-Muslim activists and party funders who accused Ellison of being an anti-Semite despite a long record of alliance with and advocacy for progressive Jewish politics.

    In addition, Ellison ran a campaign publicly discouraging engagement by the grassroots members of the party, contradicting his own declared vision of a grassroots-driven party.

    Meanwhile, Perez rose in favor among the DNC membership after gaining the public endorsement of key Obama allies, foremost among them former Vice President Joe Biden. That Obama was personally backing Perez was widely understood but never directly confirmed.

    In the wake of Perez’s victory, Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere has reported that Obama himself selected Perez to run and then personally lobbied DNC members on behalf of Perez:
    [T]he distaste for [Ellison’] approach and profile . . . helped push former President Barack Obama to urge Perez into the race — and continue the support all the way through. He called DNC members himself, and had aides including confidante Valerie Jarrett, former political director David Simas and his White House director of political engagement Paulette Aniskoff working members by phone through the votes on Saturday afternoon. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who officially endorsed Perez, also worked the phones with members.

    Obama and Biden made a four-point pitch, according to a person familiar with the call strategy: Perez’s unimpeachable progressive credentials at the Justice and Labor departments, his ability to bring people together, his management skills and how he was one of the stars of the Obama administration.

    (Some progressive critics have impeached Perez’s record at Justice and Labor, particularly his strong support for the TPP.)

    Obama’s direct involvement in the race was not reported until after Perez was elected. Soon after Perez won, Obama made his first public statement on the race, congratulating Perez and his own “legacy”:
    Congratulations to my friend Tom Perez on his election to lead the Democratic Party, and on his choice of Keith Ellison to help him lead it. I’m proud of all the candidates who ran, and who make this great party what it is. What unites our party is a belief in opportunity – the idea that however you started out, whatever you look like, or whomever you love, America is the place where you can make it if you try. Over the past eight years, our party continued its track record of delivering on that promise: growing the economy, creating new jobs, keeping our people safe with a tough, smart foreign policy, and expanding the rights of our founding to every American – including the right to quality, affordable health insurance. That’s a legacy the Democratic Party will always carry forward. I know that Tom Perez will unite us under that banner of opportunity, and lay the groundwork for a new generation of Democratic leadership for this big, bold, inclusive, dynamic America we love so much.

    Obama’s depiction of the Democratic Party as the party of “opportunity” hearkens back to President Ronald Reagan, who frequently described the Republican Party as the party of “opportunity.” After his victory, Perez told Meet the Press “we are the party of opportunity and inclusion.”

    In post-election exit interviews, Obama made clear that he intends to maintain control over the Democratic Party, whose problems he perceives to be rooted in messaging failures, not policy weaknesses. He told Rolling Stone that it would be “incorrect” to conclude that the Obama administration neglected rural or working-class communities; instead the discontent is a result of a “communications” problem to be solved by a new “common story” and then “figuring out how do we attract more eyeballs and make it more interesting and more entertaining and more persuasive.”

    If you look at the data from the election, if it were just young people who were voting, Hillary would have gotten 500 electoral votes. So we have helped, I think, shape a generation to think about being inclusive, being fair, caring about the environment. And they will have growing influence year by year, which means that America over time will continue to get better. This is a cultural issue. And a communications issue. It is true that a lot of manufacturing has left or transformed itself because of automation. But during the course of my presidency, we added manufacturing jobs at historic rates… The challenge we had is not that we’ve neglected these communities from a policy perspective. That is, I think, an incorrect interpretation. You start reading folks saying, “Oh, you know, working-class families have been neglected,” or “Working-class white families have not been paid attention to by Democrats.” Actually, they have. What is true, though, is that whatever policy prescriptions that we’ve been proposing don’t reach, are not heard, by the folks in these communities. And what they do hear is Obama or Hillary are trying to take away their guns or they disrespect you. I’ll spend time in my first year out of office writing a book, and I’m gonna be organizing my presidential center, which is gonna be focused on precisely this issue of how do we train and empower the next generation of leadership. How do we rethink our storytelling, the messaging and the use of technology and digital media, so that we can make a persuasive case across the country? And not just in San Francisco or Manhattan but everywhere, about why climate change matters or why issues of economic inequality have to be addressed.
    Well, the most important thing that I’m focused on is how we create a common set of facts. That sounds kind of abstract. Another way of saying it is, how do we create a common story about where we are. It’s gonna require those of us who are interested in progressive causes figuring out how do we attract more eyeballs and make it more interesting and more entertaining and more persuasive.

    Obama told NPR and David Axelrod that his post-presidency plan is to focus on “developing young Democratic leaders” to continue the same policies as his administration but with a better messaging approach to ex-urban and rural voters.

    Now, with his pick as the head of the Democratic Party, a newly re-launched Organizing for Action, and a foundation overseen by Silicon Valley and Wall Street executives, the former president is in a strong position to put his plan to defend his presidency’s reputation through a new generation of Democratic politics into action.

    Army Corps Grants Expedited Dakota Access Pipeline Easement

    Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 07 Feb 2017 20:50:00 GMT

    Douglas W Lamont
    Douglas W. Lamont, acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works
    Cancelling an ongoing environmental review, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given Congress 24 hours notice of its decision to grant an easement for the construction of the final leg of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. The action was directed by one of President Donald Trump’s first presidential memoranda.

    In the waning days of the Obama administration, after global pressure built from sustained opposition by Native American tribes to the Bakken shale pipeline in North Dakota, the Army announced it would begin a new environmental impact statement review of the project. Trump’s presidential memorandum of January 24th directed the Army Corps to expedite the approval process for the pipeline by any legal means necessary. In memos issued by Douglas W. Lamont, acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, the corps terminated the environmental impact statement process and foreshortened the Congressional notification period from two weeks to one day.

    Final construction on the pipeline could thus begin as early as tomorrow.

    In other news, Arctic temperatures are nearing 50 degrees above normal, a massive crack is spreading across one of the major Antarctic ice shelves, and a massive tornado hit New Orleans.

    Download Lamont’s DAPL EIS termination memo.

    Download Lamont’s expedited DAPL easement memo.

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