Fracking-Fund Billionaire Marc Lasry is a Top Clinton Advisor and Fundraiser

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 01 Mar 2016 16:39:00 GMT

Marc Lasry and Hillary Clinton
Marc Lasry and Hillary Clinton
Wall Street hedge-fund billionaire Marc Lasry is one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest financial supporters, and has built deep family and financial ties between himself, Obama, and Clinton. Now he is betting on a Hillary Clinton presidency, while betting the retirements of public-school teachers on a fracking renaissance.

In 2014, Lasry, founder and chair of Avenue Capital Group, raised $1.3 billion for a fund that bought loans of distressed energy companies, only to watch the debt become even more worthless. $200 million raised for the Avenue Energy Opportunities Fund came from the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System. Lasry has shrugged off the losses, confident the good times will come again for the frackers.

“There’s going to be a huge turnaround on energy,” Lasry told reporters this January. The oil and gas slump has hurt exploration and production companies, but prices “will always come back. The question is, does it take six months or does it take three years?”

Meanwhile, Marc Lasry—a co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks—has become a top contributor and bundler for the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign. When Clinton announced her campaign, Lasry emailed his friends looking to quickly raise $270,000 with ten maxed-out contributions of $2700 each.

“It’s been a long time coming, and now there’s a huge amount of excitement behind her,” Lasry told Bloomberg News. “You will start seeing it in the numbers as people start donating.”

The exact amount of money bundled by Lasry has not been publicly disclosed; the Clinton campaign only discloses which bundlers have raised over $100,000.

She’s moving a little bit to the left, and I think that’s fine,” Lasry told Bloomberg in May 2015, after hosting one her first campaign fundraisers at his townhouse. “People who are giving money to her understand that. Obviously, some people have some issues. I think the vast majority won’t have issues.”

On February 12 of this year, Clinton came out in favor of new domestic natural-gas fracking and pipeline infrastructure.

Marc Lasry has deep financial and familial ties to the Clintons and Obamas.

Lasry’s daughter Samantha was a Congressional intern for Rahm Emanuel in 2005, the future chief of staff for Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Lasry donated to Rahm’s campaign.

In 2006, Marc Lasry hired Chelsea Clinton to work at his hedge fund, Avenue Capital Group, while Hillary Clinton was Senator of New York. Meanwhile, Lasry contributed to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Marc Lasry was a top contributor and bundler for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Meanwhile, Alexander Lasry, his son, was a special assistant to Valerie Jarrett in the Obama White House from 2010 to 2012.

In 2011, Marc Lasry and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein invested in Eaglevale Partners, the hedge fund set up by Marc Mezvinsky, Chelsea Clinton’s husband. Lasry invested $1 million. The fund “underperformed.”

Oddly enough, Lasry was also one of Donald Trump’s top investors: he managed the bankruptcy buyout of Trump’s casinos in 2010. He then served as the chairman of Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc. from 2011 to 2013, with a 22 percent stake and managerial control of the Trump Plaza, Trump Marina and Trump Taj Mahal casinos.

In the same interview this January where Lasry bet that the oil and gas industry would rise again, he expressed similar confidence about his chosen candidate.

“Hillary is going to be the next president of the United States.”

Bernie Sanders: 'Hillary Clinton Supports Fracking. I Do Not.'

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 26 Feb 2016 15:27:00 GMT

“Hillary Clinton supports fracking. I do not.”

These words appeared in a recent fundraising email from Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, which fiercely attacked fracking and Hillary Clinton’s support from and for the natural gas industry.

In blunt language, Sanders contrasted his call for a national moratorium on fracking against Clinton’s fundraising from natural gas investors:
Just days before the Iowa caucus, Hillary Clinton left the campaign trail for a high-dollar fundraiser at a hedge fund. That same hedge fund is a major investor in fracking, an incredibly destructive practice of extracting natural gas by pumping hundreds of secret chemicals into the ground.

Hillary Clinton supports fracking. I do not.

And just as I believe you can’t take on Wall Street while taking their money, I don’t believe you can take on climate change effectively while taking money from those who would profit off the destruction of the planet.

Sanders’ email comes on the heels of the Clinton campaign’s February 12th release of a policy promoting new natural-gas extraction and infrastructure. Clinton’s promotion of “safe and responsible natural gas production” (the phrase “safe and responsible” was used five times) was praised by LiUNA, a trade union that had vigorously supported the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Domestically produced natural gas can play an important role in the transition to a clean energy economy,” Clinton’s policy position states, making no mention of the candidate’s February 4th pledge, caught on camera, to ban the extraction of fossil fuels, including natural gas, from public lands.

The conflict between Sanders and Clinton on natural gas is set to become a point of major political contention, as voters go to the polls next month in states overrun by fracking, including Oklahoma and Texas on March 1, Kansas and Nebraska on March 6, and Ohio on March 15. These states are reeling from the boom and bust of the fracking industry, left with earthquakes, degraded water supplies, and thousands of non-union workers exploited and poisoned by the private fracking companies Clinton’s donors have financed. Fights over natural-gas pipelines and facilities have mobilized activists in dozens of other states.

On a national scale, a growing body of scientific evidence is building that the climate benefits of switching from coal to natural gas were a total mirage, with the catastrophic Porter Ranch methane blowout the most visible and extreme example of a nationwide surge in methane leakage as a result of the domestic fracking boom promoted by the Bush and Obama administrations. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide on a twenty-year timespan.

Read Sanders’ full email:

Sisters and Brothers -

Just days before the Iowa caucus, Hillary Clinton left the campaign trail for a high-dollar fundraiser at a hedge fund. That same hedge fund is a major investor in fracking, an incredibly destructive practice of extracting natural gas by pumping hundreds of secret chemicals into the ground.

Hillary Clinton supports fracking. I do not.

And just as I believe you can’t take on Wall Street while taking their money, I don’t believe you can take on climate change effectively while taking money from those who would profit off the destruction of the planet.

Please contribute to our campaign right now to help elect a president who isn’t beholden to special interests that profit off of pollution.

Dick Cheney pushed through changes to the Safe Drinking Water Act that legalized fracking, despite the fact that fracking companies keep the chemicals they pump into the ground a secret.

People who live near fracking locations no longer have drinkable water, and in some cases their tap water is actually flammable. Oklahoma has even seen a rash of earthquakes that many believe are a result of fracking.

In short, fracking is a disaster for the planet.

We need a president who is not beholden to special interests and who will do everything in his or her power to fight the effects of climate change. It’s clear that to elect that kind of president, millions of people need to come together and chip in whatever they can.

Make a contribution to our campaign now to send a message that you want to elect a president who will do everything possible to fight climate change.

We can’t afford to let people who would destroy our planet elect our next president.

Thank you for your support.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

In Letter to Shareholders, Warren Buffett Mockingly Compares Global Warming to Y2K

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 22 Feb 2016 22:13:00 GMT

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has dismissed the threat of global warming to Berkshire Hathaway, comparing it to the "dire" Y2K bug fear which caused only minor problems in a letter to investors opposing a shareholder resolution on climate. Athough Buffett admitted it is "highly likely" that climate change "poses a major problem for the planet," he concluded that "when you are thinking only as a shareholder of a major insurer, climate change should not be on your list of worries."

At the upcoming Berkshire Hathaway shareholders' meeting, the Nebraska Peace Foundation and Bold Nebraska are presenting a proposal calling for a report from Berkshire Hathaway's insurance division (which includes Geico) on the risks posed by climate change. The board, following Buffett's wishes, is opposing the proposed report.

Buffett's conglomerate is increasingly invested in the fossil-fuel industry, from his anti-community-solar NV Energy utility in Nevada to his railroad company BNSF, which profits heavily from oil-train and coal-train traffic.

Download the shareholder resolution and Buffett's opposition here.

The text of Buffett's letter is below:

It seems highly likely to me that climate change poses a major problem for the planet. I say "highly likely" rather than "certain" because I have no scientific aptitude and remember well the dire predictions of most "experts" about Y2K. It would be foolish, however, for me or anyone to demand 100% proof of huge forthcoming damage to the world, if that outcome seemed at all possible and if prompt action had even a small chance of thwarting the threat. If there is only a 1% chance the planet is heading toward a truly major disaster and delay means passing a point of no return, inaction now is foolhardy. Call this Noah's Law: If an ark may be essential for survival, begin building it today, no matter how cloudless the skies appear.

It's understandable that the sponsor of the proposal believes Berkshire is especially threatened by climate change because we are a huge insurer, covering all sorts of risks. The sponsor may worry that property losses will skyrocket because of weather changes. And such worries might, in fact, be warranted if we wrote ten- or twenty-year policies at fixed prices. But insurance policies are customarily written for one year and repriced annually to reflect changing exposures. Increase possibilities of loss translate promptly into increased premiums.

So far, climate change has not produced more frequent or more costly hurricanes or other weather-related events covered by insurance. As a consequence, U.S. super-cat rates have fallen steadily in recent years which is why we have backed away from that business. If super-cats become costlier and more frequent, the likely - though far from certain - effect on Bershire's insurance business would be to make it larger and more profitable.

As a citizen, you may understandably find climate change keeping you up at nights. As a homeowner in a low-lying area, you may wish to consider moving. But when you are thinking only as a shareholder of a major insurer, climate change should not be on your list of worries.

Bernie's Army: 2016's Class of Progressive Candidates

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 12 Feb 2016 23:17:00 GMT

The presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is is calling for a “political revolution” to take control of our political system from moneyed interests. His campaign has been criticized repeatedly for offering an ambitious democratic-socialist agenda that would be blocked by a Republican-dominated Congress. Clinton’s less ambitious but still liberal plans will similarly face a stone wall of GOP opposition. As they might say, “Oh yeah? You and what army?”

Thus, the policy success of the Democratic candidates relies in large part on whether they are buoyed by wins down the ticket. The Clinton campaign and its supporters argue such down-ballot successes are a political impossibility.

However, as David Dayen noted in a recent article in The New Republic, a wave of progressive candidates – which he dubbed “Bernie’s Army” – is running for Congress. Below is a list of candidates who may deserve that label – candidates endorsed for progressive platforms, who have endorsed the Sanders presidential campaign.

Endorsements Local
Candidate Race Notes
Kim Foxx IL-Cook County State’s Atty DFA
Jennifer Boysko VA-HD-86 DFA
U.S. Senate
Candidate Race Notes
Alan Grayson FL-SEN BA
Rob Hogg IA-SEN CHV
Tom Fiegen IA-SEN EBS
Donna Edwards MD-SEN BA
PG Sittenfield OH-SEN BA
John Fetterman PA-SEN TNR EBS
Russ Feingold WI-SEN BA
U.S. House of Representatives
Candidate Race Notes
Raul Grijalva* AZ-03 EBS
Wendy Reed CA-23 EBS
Lou Vince CA-25 BA
Nanette Barragan CA-44 CHV BA
Bao Nguyen CA-46 EBS BA
Susannah Randolph FL-09 DFA
Tim Canova FL-23 EBS TNR running against DWS
Joseline Peña-Melnyk MD-04 DFA BA
Jamie Raskin MD-08 DFA CHV BA running against Chris Matthews’ wife
Paul Clements MI-06 BA
Pat Murphy IA-01 BA
Mike Noland IL-08 BA
Keith Ellison* MN-05 EBS
Carol Shea-Porter* NH-01 BA
Alex Law NJ-01 BA EBS
Peter Jacob NJ-07 EBS
Lucy Flores NV-04 EBS DFA TNR
Ruben Kihuen NV-04 BA
DuWayne Gregory NY-02 BA
Bill Perkins NY-13 EBS
Diana Hird NY-18 EBS
Eric Kingson NY-24 EBS BA
Zephyr Teachout NY-19 EBS DFA
Tom Guild OK-05 EBS
Shaughnessy Naughton PA-08 CHV
Angela Marx WA-03 EBS
Parmila Jayapal WA-07 EBS
Mike Manypenny WV-01 EBS

Incumbents are marked with an asterisk.

Clinton Goes to Pennsylvania to Reap Windfall from Pennsylvania Frackers

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 28 Jan 2016 16:34:00 GMT

Clinton enters the Franklin Square Capital Partners headquarters through a back entrance. Credit: Yong Kim
Last night, Hillary Clinton attended a gala fundraiser in Philadelphia at the headquarters of Franklin Square Capital Partners, a major investor in the fossil-fuel industry, particularly domestic fracking. The controversial fracking industry is particularly powerful in Pennsylvania, which will host the Democratic National Convention this July.

Clinton has avoided taking any clear stand on fracking. While she has embraced the Clean Power Plan, which assumes a strong increase in natural-gas power plants, she also supports a much deeper investment in solar electricity than the baseline plan. The pro-Clinton Super PAC Correct the Record, run by David Brock, touts Clinton’s aggressive pro-fracking record.

Numerous grassroots groups have risen to oppose the toxic fracking of Pennsylvania and its labor abuses, including Marcellus Protest, No Fracking Way, Pennsylvanians Against Fracking, Keep Tap Water Safe, Stop Fracking Now, and Stop the Frack Attack.

As reported by the Intercept’s Lee Fang, “One of Franklin Square Capital’s investment funds, the FS Energy & Power Fund” the Intercept’s Lee Fang reports, “is heavily invested in fossil fuel companies, including offshore oil drilling and fracking.” The company cautions that “changes to laws and increased regulation or restrictions on the use of hydraulic fracturing may adversely impact” the fund’s performance.

Through its fund, Franklin Square invests in private fracking and oil drilling companies across the nation, as well as Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. This includes heavy investment in Pennsylvania frackers.

Franklin Square companies in the Pennsylvania fracking industry

Bold indicates a company that runs fracking wells in Pennsylvania (Eclipse Resources is a Pennsylvania-based company with fracking operations in Ohio). The other companies listed are industry service companies with business in Pennsylvania, including pipelines, trucking, chemicals, and power plants. Murray Energy runs coal mining operations in Pennsylvania.

Tickets to the event ranged from $1,000 to $27,000. Contributors at the $2,700 level got a photo taken with Clinton, and the $27,000 contributors were afforded the opportunity to meet and hear Jon Bon Jovi perform an acoustic set.

Business Coalition Suggests Detailed Language for Paris Talks to Achieve Rapid Decarbonization

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 24 Nov 2015 13:35:00 GMT

The We Mean Business coalition of private-sector climate activists has released detailed recommended language for the upcoming climate negotiations in Paris. The report was prepared by BSR and DLA Piper for the coalition, which includes B-Team, Ceres, Carbon Disclosure Project, the Climate Group, the Prince of Wales Corporate Leader Group, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Funding was provided by the ClimateWorks, IKEA, and Thomson Reuters Foundations.

Corporate members on the board of We Mean Business include Starbucks, Nike, IKEA, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Kingfisher, Unilever, HP, Tata, CLP Power, and NEUW Ventures.

1. WMB Ask #1: Net zero greenhouse gas emissions well before the end of the century

Businesses and investors need a strong long-term goal in the Paris Agreement that sets a clear destination and time frame, and that operationalizes a global emissions pathway which holds warming below 2°C. This would provide the policy certainty and clarity needed to drive low carbon and climate resilient investment in the real economy. By providing long-term details in national decarbonization strategies to 2050, governments will increase business confidence in making multi-decadal low carbon capital investments.

Preferred Text

  • Article 2 (Purpose)
    “The purpose of this Agreement is to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2°C and preferably below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by ensuring deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions, and to achieve the global transformation to low carbon and climate resilient economies and societies.”
  • Article 3 (Mitigation)
    “To achieve the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2 of this Agreement, Parties collectively aim to reach net zero global greenhouse gas emissions well before the end of this century.”
  • COP Decision
    “Strongly encourages Parties to formulate and communicate, by 2018, national decarbonization strategies to 2050, to facilitate the mobilization of climate finance and investment.”

2. WMB Ask #2: Strengthen commitments every 5 years

After COP21, from 2016 to 2020, businesses will unleash additional low carbon innovation and investment. Continuous improvement should apply not only to businesses but to governments as well. By strengthening their commitments every 5 years, starting in 2020, governments will keep pace with private sector innovation, stimulate increased private sector ambition, and progressively realize the transformation of the global economy.

Preferred Text

  • Article 3 (Mitigation)
    “Successive nationally determined commitments shall be communicated every 5 years.”

    “Each Party shall progressively strengthen the ambition of their successive nationally determined commitment every 5 years from 2020 onwards, informed by the global stocktake set out in Article 10 and by the best available science, until the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC and the objective of this Agreement are achieved.”

  • Article 10 (Global Stocktake)
    “The CMA shall, in 2024 and every 5 years thereafter, take stock of the implementation of this Agreement, to assess collective progress towards achieving the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC and the objective of this Agreement, in order to inform the formulation and communication of successive nationally determined commitments.”
  • COP Decision
    Requests all Parties to communicate an updated nationally determined commitment well in advance of the twenty-sixth session of the COP (by the first quarter of 2020 for those Parties ready to do so), with a view to enhancing the ambition of their nationally determined commitment.”

    Decides to convene a dialogue among Parties in 2019 to take stock of the collective efforts of all Parties, to inform the communication of their updated nationally determined commitments.”

3. WMB Ask #3: Enact meaningful carbon pricing

Carbon pricing is one of the key policy instruments needed to harness the power of business to tackle climate change. With the majority of INDCs either putting or considering a price on carbon, whether through carbon taxes or markets, the Paris Agreement should recognize their efforts and the merits of these approaches to driving emissions reductions. Over a thousand companies have reported using an internal carbon price or plan to do so, in anticipation of future regulation. A price on carbon incentivizes low carbon innovation, shifts investment towards low carbon technologies, and helps ensure sustained economic competitiveness. To be effective, carbon pricing needs to be adopted globally, to reach high enough levels to change investment decisions and behaviour towards lower carbon ones and to converge to avoid trade friction.

Preferred Text

  • Preamble
    Emphasizing that many Parties have already put a price on carbon, and that where the price is sufficient to drive lower carbon investment and behavior, this is an important, efficient, and cost-effective approach to achieving deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions.”
  • Article 3 (Mitigation)
    “The CMA shall further facilitate international cooperation between Parties in the implementation of mitigation activities.”

    “Parties shall ensure the environmental integrity of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes used towards the fulfillment of its nationally determined mitigation commitments. Internationally transferred mitigation outcomes must avoid double-counting and be real, permanent, additional and verified.”

  • COP decision
    Invites all Parties to consider further international cooperation in the implementation of nationally determined mitigation commitments.”

    Requests that the IPC commence a work programme to develop standardized accounting rules which ensure the environmental integrity of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes, with a view to the IPC making recommendations to the CMA at its first session.”

    Decides that the CMA shall, at its first session, adopt standardized accounting rules which ensure the environmental integrity of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes.”

  • NDCs
    Many submitted NDCs put a price on carbon, whether through carbon taxes or markets, and if through markets, anticipate potential links to other markets.

4. WMB Ask #4: New and additional climate finance at scale

The satisfaction of the Copenhagen pledge to mobilize $100 billion per year of climate finance in 2020 is key to an ambitious deal in Paris. But building the low carbon economy will take trillions – not billions – of dollars in climate finance. To shift these trillions, the Paris Agreement will need to improve the predictability of financial flows, improve domestic enabling environments to facilitate climate investment, and direct international support towards low emission and climate resilient investment.

Preferred Text

  • Article 6 (Finance)
    “Developed country Parties, and other Parties willing to do so, shall scale up the mobilization of climate finance from USD 100 billion per year from 2020.”

    “Parties shall improve the predictability of finance flows, including through the transparency system set out under Article 9.”

    “All Parties shall strive to improve domestic enabling environments, to encourage the mobilization of climate finance from a wide variety of sources, including public and private, bilateral and multilateral and alternative sources.”

    “Parties shall enhance international support for low emission and climate resilient investments, and reduce international support for high emission and maladaptive investments.”

  • COP Decision
    Decides that Parties shall, in accordance with their national circumstances, consult and cooperate to mobilize climate finance and investment, including partnering with other Parties and with the private sector.”

5. WMB Ask #5: Transparency and accountability to promote a race to the top

A strong transparency system under the Paris Agreement will reassure businesses and investors that all governments will be accountable for their commitments. By making collective progress towards a global 2°C trajectory clear, transparency will allow businesses to prepare for the climate impacts of projected warming. Shared accounting and reporting rules will prevent governments from gaming their commitments, which would distort the perceived risks of climate impacts.

Preferred Text

  • Article 9 (Transparency)
    “The purpose of the system for transparency of action is to:
    (a) provide the clearest possible understanding of the emissions and removals of individual Parties, and of global aggregate net emissions relative to the objective of this Agreement in Article 2, and the long-term mitigation goal in Article 3;
    (b) ensure clarity and tracking of progress made in implementing and achieving individual Parties’ nationally determined mitigation commitments;
    (c) provide a clear understanding of Parties’ progress in implementing adaptation actions…”

    “The purpose of the system for transparency of support is to:
    (a) ensure clarity on support provided and received by individual Parties;
    (b) provide a full overview of aggregate support provided, mobilized and received…”

    “In tracking progress towards achieving their nationally determined commitments, Parties shall apply the principles of transparency, accuracy, completeness, comparability and consistency according to rules adopted by the CMA at its first session.”
    “Each Party shall, subject to its respective capabilities, provide information at least biennially. This information shall be reviewed, subject to the Party’s respective capabilities, by an expert review team, which shall identify any issues related to facilitating implementation and compliance under Article 11.”

6. WMB Ask #6: National commitments at the highest end of ambition

An agreement with the broadest possible participation will address business concerns around maintaining competitiveness on a fair playing field. Broad and ambitious participation is also crucial to addressing climate change. Businesses will need to be confident that national commitments made by governments are more than words, and will be implemented. Countries joining the Paris Agreement should therefore commit to implementation and not merely communication of their national climate action plans.

Preferred Text

  • Article 3 (Mitigation)
    “Each Party shall regularly formulate and communicate a nationally determined mitigation commitment that it shall implement.”

    “Each Party’s successive nationally determined mitigation commitment shall be at that Party’s highest possible level of ambition as of the time of its formulation.”

  • NDCs
    The Paris Agreement is universal. Nearly all countries covering nearly all global greenhouse gas emissions submit nationally determined commitments for the Paris Agreement and becomes Parties to the Paris Agreement.

7. WMB Ask #7: Adaptation to build climate resilient economies and communities

Even if warming is held below 2°C, businesses will need to adapt to substantial climate impacts. By treating adaptation with the same political parity as mitigation, including with a long-term global vision on adaptation, the Paris Agreement will signal that all actors must build climate resilience while they reduce emissions. Business can play a constructive role in building this resilience not only within their own economic infrastructure, but also within the workforce, communities, and ecosystems on which they depend. Private sector consultation in national adaptation planning will help to facilitate this.

Preferred Text

  • Preamble
    Emphasizing that adaptation is a global challenge which must be addressed with the same urgency as mitigation.”
  • Article 4 (Adaptation)
    “Parties establish the long-term vision of increasing resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, recognizing that adaptation is a challenge faced by all, with local, national, regional and international dimensions, and impacts on all sectors, and that it is a key component of a contribution to the longer-term global response to climate change to protect people, livelihoods, ecosystems, and economies.”

    “Parties recognize that adaptation will be needed regardless of the level of mitigation reached and that the greater their mitigation efforts, the less adaptation will be needed.”

    “Each Party shall engage in a national adaptation planning process and enhance its adaptation plans, policies and actions…”

  • COP Decision
    Decides that the national adaptation plans, policies and actions referred to in Article 4 should be developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders including…the private sector/b>.”

8. WMB Ask #8 Pre-2020 ambition through Workstream 2

In the years 2016 to 2020, Workstream 2 under the Durban Platform can raise pre-2020 ambition by exploring and scaling up technical solutions to reduce emissions and build climate resilience. Two high-level champions will give this effort the political profile needed for success. An annual high-level event can build upon the many initiatives that have been launched under the Lima-Paris Action Agenda at COP21, and promote new efforts.

Preferred Text

  • COP Decision on Workstream 2, High-level Dialogue/Events
    Decides that two high-level champions, with relevant experience in leadership positions in government and the private sector, shall be appointed to facilitate the scale up and launch of new or strengthened efforts, voluntary initiatives and coalitions, through strengthened high-level engagement in the period 2016-2020, including by:
    (a) Working with the UNFCCC Executive Secretary and the current and incoming presidencies of the COP to coordinate an annual high-level event that provides an opportunity to announce new or strengthened efforts;
    (b) Engaging intensively with interested Parties and non-Party stakeholders, including the private sector; and
    (c) Providing guidance on the organization of the Technical Examination Processes.
  • COP Decision on Workstream 2, Mitigation
    Requests the appointment of co-facilitators to guide the Technical Examination Process on mitigation and, in consultation with Parties and high-level champions referred to below, to create a detailed work programme for 2016 and 2017 focused on scaling up implementation.”

    Encourages Parties, Convention bodies, international organizations and non-Party stakeholders, including the private sector, to engage actively and effectively in this process, to submit their experience and suggestions…to this process, and to cooperate in implementing the policies, practices and actions identified during this process…”

  • COP Decision on Workstream 2, Adaptation
    Decides to launch a second Technical Examination Process on adaptation in the period 2016-2020…with the meaningful participation of non-Party stakeholders, to enhance adaptation action and support, share best practices and address gaps in implementation, knowledge, finance, technology, planning and institutional capacity.”

Carol Browner E-Mail to LCV Members Announcing Hillary Clinton Endorsement

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 19 Nov 2015 03:37:00 GMT

The following is the text of the e-mail sent by the League of Conservation Voters on November 9, 2015, to members announcing the organization’s unprecedented early endorsement of Hillary Clinton.

Dear friend,

As a valued LCV member and fellow environmentalist, I’m eager to deliver an important announcement to you.

We are at a critical juncture for our climate, our environment, and our families’ future. Thirty-five years ago, I devoted my career and my life to fighting the most pressing issue of our time: climate change. Back then, I never could have imagined how far we would come — or the kind of outrageous opposition we would face. Opposition that some would argue has never been more challenging than it is now.

I’ve worked in several administrations to build solid environmental policy and progress — including serving as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from 1993 to 2001 under President Clinton and as the director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy under President Obama. I’m immensely proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past 20 years for clean air, clean water, and the health of our communities. And as President Obama continues to prioritize climate change through this year and next, I know we must continue that legacy into the next White House.

Today, as Chair of LCV’s Board, I’m honored to announce that the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund is endorsing Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the United States.

As an environmentalist and a woman, I feel the full gravity of what this election will mean. With your support, we will elect the first woman and a true environmental champion to the White House. Please know that LCV’s Board of Directors carefully considered each candidate, and I’m 100 percent confident telling you that Hillary Clinton is the best candidate for the job.

Here’s why:

  1. From Senator to Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has made the environment and climate change a top priority. She has consistently championed clean water, clean air, and repealing Big Oil tax handouts to invest in clean energy.
  2. Hillary Clinton laid the groundwork for international climate agreements. With President Obama, she forged international commitments to reduce climate pollutants like carbon and methane.
  3. Hillary Clinton opposes dirty drilling and wants to break Big Oil’s chokehold on our country. She has publicly opposed the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and drilling in the Arctic Ocean.
  4. We will achieve the clean energy future with Hillary Clinton. She has pledged that the U.S. will install more than 500 million solar panels by the end of her first term and generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America by 2027.

Hillary Clinton is a fighter — there’s no doubt about that. And as vicious as the opposition can get, we know that she has the fortitude and tenacity to take them on and come out on top.

The next president will be key in determining where we go from here — do we bow to Big Polluters who are destroying our planet, or do we give everything we’ve got to confront the climate crisis? We know that once Hillary Clinton is in the White House, she will continue her excellent environmental record and build upon President Obama’s work to make the U.S. a global leader in the fight against climate change.

Nonetheless, we can be sure that Hillary Clinton’s opponent next November will be downright dangerous. Not only will he or she lack a solid plan to fight climate change, he or she will also almost certainly deny the indisputable science that proves it’s happening.

We need your help to elect Hillary Clinton, a proven climate leader. Please support her campaign by donating to Hillary for America today through LCV Action Fund’s GiveGreen program. Every contribution goes straight to her campaign and lets her know that the environmental community supports her candidacy and urges her to continue to prioritize an environmental agenda. Please make a generous gift today.

We value your membership and all that you’ve done with LCV. Together, we can secure a strong environmental future.

Thank you,

Carol Browner
Board Chair
League of Conservation Voters

Paid for by the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund and authorized by Hillary for America.

Staying in touch via the League of Conservation Voters’ email list is the best way we have of keeping in regular contact with supporters like you across the country and letting you know about the ways you can take action to protect the environment. Click here to unsubscribe from our supporter list, but if you leave, it will be harder for you to stay involved with LCV and continue the work that you’ve been such a critical part of. LCV wins environmental policy fights and elections because of dedicated activists like you, and we’d love to hear your ideas. Send us any comments, criticisms, or feedback here, or just reply to this email! Thanks for your support.

A Brief List of Keystone XL Supporters

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 06 Nov 2015 17:51:00 GMT

After a protracted political battle pitting the climate movement against the power players of Washington DC, TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline has been rejected by President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Below is a brief and far from exhaustive list of political insiders who supported the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline or predicted its approval at some point between 2011 and today:

Actual climate scientists were near-unanimous in their opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, based on a serious analysis of the pipeline’s potential climate impact. Ralph Keeling, James Hanson, Ken Caldeira, Peter Gleick, James McCarthy, Michael Oppenheimer, Michael Mann, Steve Running, Richard Somerville, Jason Box, George Woodwell, and many others supported calls for civil disobedience against the pipeline. Hansen and Jason Box were themselves arrested.

On Senate Floor, Sen. Whitehouse Calls for RICO Investigation of 'Climate Denial Machine'

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 20 Oct 2015 23:52:00 GMT

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, called for a civil RICO investigation of ExxonMobil and the “climate denial machine” on the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday afternoon. Whitehouse, who speaks on climate change every week that the Senate is in session, had raised the possibility of such an investigation in a speech in May that compared the fossil-fuel industry’s campaign of deception to that of the tobacco industry.

With new investigations by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times about ExxonMobil’s history of knowing climate deception, and rising calls from the public led by Climate Hawks Vote for civil or criminal action by the Department of Justice, Whitehouse again took the floor.

Whitehouse took on his critics, mocking the “histrionics on the far right” and describing the Wall Street Journal editorial page as the”Troll-in-Chief for the fossil-fuel industry.”

The senator concluded with a call for a civil RICO investigation of the “climate denial scheme,” from the fossil-fuel giants like ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers to the organizations they back, like the Wall Street Journal and the Manhattan Institute.

This was Senator Whitehouse 115th “Time to Wake Up” climate speech.

Whatever the motivation of the Wall Street Journal and other right-wing climate denial outfits, it is clearly long past time for the climate denial scheme to come in from the talk shows and the blogosphere, and have to face the kind of truth-testing audience that a civil RICO investigation could provide. It’s time to let the facts take their place, and let climate denial face that “greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.”

With his speech, Whitehouse joined the growing ranks calling for a DOJ investigation of the fossil-fuel industry, which now include Merchants of Doubt author Naomi Oreskes, Representatives Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier of California, and Democratic presidential candidates Martin O’Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The Climate Hawks Vote petition, which unlike Sen. Whitehouse’s call includes language open to criminal investigation of ExxonMobil’s activities, can be found here.

Transcript:

Mr. President, last week, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Robert M. White passed away at the age of 92. Dr. White served this nation under five presidents and pioneered the peaceful use of satellites to understand our weather and climate. “We do have environmental problems and they’re serious ones, the preservation of species among them,” he said, “but the climate is the environmental problem that’s so pervasive in its effects on the society. . . . The climate is really the only environmental characteristic that can utterly change our society and our civilization.”

That was in 1977. That same year, James F. Black, a top scientific researcher at the Exxon Corporation gave that company’s executives a similar warning: “[T]here is general scientific agreement,” he told Exxon’s Management Committee, “that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels.” According to emerging reports, Exxon executives kept that warning a closely guarded company secret for years.

I rise today for the 115th time to urge that we wake up to the threat of climate change. I rise in the midst of a decades-long, purposeful corporate campaign of misinformation, which has held this Congress and this nation back from taking meaningful action to prevent that utter change. Scrutiny of the corporate campaign of misinformation intensifies, and scrutiny of the fossil fuel polluters behind it intensifies, and the regular cast of right-wing, climate-denier attack dogs have got their hackles up.

On May 6, I gave a speech here on the Floor. The speech compared the misinformation campaign by the fossil fuel industry about the dangers of carbon pollution to the tobacco industry’s misinformation campaign about the dangers of its product.

The relevance of that comparison is that the United States Department of Justice, under the civil provisions of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute—RICO for short, brought an action against the tobacco industry. The United States alleged that the tobacco industry’s misinformation campaign was fraudulent. And the United States won, in a lengthy and thorough decision by United States District Judge Gladys Kessler.

Go ahead and read them. DOJ’s complaint and Judge Kessler’s decision can be found at the websites of the Justice Department and the Public Health Law Center, respectively, and are linked on my website, whitehouse.senate.gov/climatechange. I will warn you: the judge’s decision is a long one—but it makes good reading.

The comparison is strong. There are whole sections of the Department of Justice civil RICO complaint, and whole sections of Judge Kessler’s decision, where you can remove the word “tobacco” and put in the word “carbon,” and remove the word “health” and put in the word “climate,” and the parallel with the fossil fuel industry climate denial campaign is virtually perfect.

This is not an idea I just cooked up. Look at the academic work of Professor Robert Brulle of Drexel University and Professor Riley Dunlap of Oklahoma State University. Look at the investigative work of Naomi Oreskes’s book Merchants of Doubt, David Michaels’s book Doubt is Their Product, and Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner’s book Deceit and Denial, describing the industry-backed machinery of deception.

Look at the journalistic work of Neela Banerjee, Lisa Song, David Hasemyer, and John Cushman Jr. in the recent reporting of InsideClimate News about what ExxonMobil knew about climate change versus the falsehoods it chose to tell the public. Look at a separate probe by journalists Sara Jerving, Katie Jennings, Masako Melissa Hirsch, and Susanne Rust in the Los Angeles Times.

From their work, we now know that Exxon, for instance, knew about the effect of its carbon pollution as far back as the late 1970s, but ultimately chose to fund a massive misinformation campaign rather than tell the truth. “No corporation,” said professor and climate change activist Bill McKibben, “has ever done anything this big and this bad.”

Here’s how Judge Kessler depicts the culpable conduct of the tobacco industry: “Defendants have intentionally maintained and coordinated their fraudulent position on addiction and nicotine as an important part of their overall efforts to influence public opinion and persuade people that smoking is not dangerous.”

Compare that to the findings of Dr. Brulle, whose research shines light on the dark money campaigns that support climate denial. The climate denial operation, to quote Dr. Brulle, is “a deliberate and organized effort to misdirect the public discussion and distort the public’s understanding of climate.”

The parallels between what the tobacco industry did and what the fossil fuel industry is doing now are so striking, I suggested in my speech of May 6, that it was worth a look: that civil discovery could reveal whether the fossil fuel industry’s activities cross the same line into racketeering. I said that again in an op-ed piece I wrote in the Washington Post on May 29 regarding the civil RICO action against tobacco.

Oh, my, what caterwauling has ensued from the fossil fuel industry trolls! Here’s a quick highlight reel of the tempest of right-wing invective.

One climate denier, Christopher Monckton, declared, “Senator Whitehouse is a fascist goon.” Another denier compared me to Torquemada, the infamous torturer of the Inquisition. And the official Exxon responder got so excited about this suggestion he used a word I am not even allowed to say on the Senate Floor! He forgot Rule One in crisis management: don’t lose your cool.

The right-wing website Breitbart.com responded by calling me “the preposterous Democrat senator for Rhode Island,” and saying the notion that there is an industry-funded effort to mislead the American people about the harm caused by carbon pollution is “a joke,” a conspiracy theory on par with Area 51 or the faking of the moon landing. Tell that to tobacco.

Paul Gigot, editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal, said global warming concerns, “are based on computer models, not by actual evidence, not by actual evidence of what we’ve seen so far.”

The polluter-funded George Marshall Institute, a long-time climate denial outfit, wrote that this was an attack on constitutional rights; a presumptuous argument on their part given that there’s no constitutional right to commit fraud.

Similarly, Calvin Beisner, founder of a phony-baloney industry front called the Cornwall Alliance, said the same: the mere suggestion represents a “direct attack on the rights to freedom of speech and the press guaranteed by the First Amendment” and is “horrifically bad for science.” Coming from a science denial outfit, that concern for science is rich. And again, fraud is not protected by the First Amendment.

In the National Review, I was accused of wanting to launch “organized crime investigations . . . against people and institutions that disagree with [me] about global warming,” in order to “lock people up as Mafiosi.”

“Crime”? “Lock people up”? Let’s remember, Mr./Madam President, that we are talking about civil RICO, not criminal. No one went to jail in the tobacco case. Investigating the organized climate denial scheme under civil RICO is not about putting people in jail. Query why the National Review would mislead people about such an obvious fact.

All a civil RICO case does is get people to have to actually tell the truth, under oath, in front of an actual impartial judge or jury, and under cross-examination—which the Supreme Court has described as “the greatest legal invention ever invented for the discovery of truth.” No more spin and deception.

But that’s exactly the audience polluters and their allies can’t bear, so the flacks set off criminal smokescreens and launch “fascist goon” and “Torquemada” hysterics. A few weeks ago, 20 scientists agreed with me, and wrote a letter to Attorney General Lynch supporting the idea of using civil RICO.

That was too much for the Troll-in-Chief for the fossil fuel industry: the Wall Street Journal editorial page. The Wall Street Journal editorial page has long been an industry science-denial mouthpiece. They use the same playbook every time: one, deny the science; two, question the motives of reformers; and three, exaggerate the costs of reforms.

When scientists warned that chlorofluorocarbons could break down the atmosphere’s ozone layer, the Wall Street Journal ran editorials—for decades—devaluing the science, attacking scientists and reformers, and exaggerating the costs associated with regulating CFCs. When acid rain was falling in the Northeast, the Wall Street Journal editorial page questioned the science, claimed the sulfur dioxide cleanup effort was driven by politics, and said fixing it carried a huge price tag. Ultimately, the Journal’s editorial page, after years of this, had to recant and admit that the cap-and-trade program for sulfur dioxide “saves about $700 million annually compared with the cost of traditional regulation and has been reducing emissions by four million tons annually.”

Now, on climate change, the Journal is back to the same pattern: deny the science, question the motives of climate scientists, exaggerate the costs of tackling carbon pollution. For decades, the Journal has persistently published editorials against taking action to prevent manmade climate change.

On this the editorial page said, by talking about civil RICO I’m trying to “forcibly silence” the denial apparatus. “Forcibly silence”? First of all, against the billions of the Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil, fat chance that I have much force to use. And “silence”? I don’t want them silent; I want them testifying, in a forum where they have to tell the truth. Is the Journal really saying that in a forum where deniers have to tell the truth their only response would have to be silence? Making them tell the truth forcibly silences them? Because the only thing civil RICO silences is fraud.

By the way, the Journal editorial never mentions that the government won the civil RICO case against tobacco on very similar facts. That would detract from the fable.

Who does the Journal cast as the victim in their fable? None other than Willie Soon, who they said I singled out for—here’s what they said—having “published politically inconvenient research on changes in solar radiation.” Actually, what’s inconvenient for Dr. Soon is that the New York Times reported that he gets more than half of his funding from big fossil fuel interests like ExxonMobil and the Charles G. Koch Foundation, to the tune of $1.2 million, and didn’t disclose it. Dr. Soon’s research contracts even gave his industry backers a chance “for comment and input” before he published, and he referred to the papers he produced as “deliverables.” In case you don’t know it, that’s not how real science works. Of course, none of this sordid financial conflict is even mentioned by the Wall Street Journal editorial page. They’d rather pretend Dr. Soon is being singled out for “politically inconvenient” views. Please.

It gets better. In the editorial, the role of neutral expert commenting on this goes to Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry. She offers the opinion that my “demand . . . for legal persecution . . . represents a new low in the politicization of science.” This is a particularly rich and conflict- riddled opinion, as Ms. Curry is herself a repeat anti-climate witness performing regularly in committees for Republicans here in Congress. Again, no mention of this interest of Ms. Curry’s by the Wall Street Journal editorial.

The fossil fuel industry’s climate-denial machine rivals or exceeds that of the tobacco industry in size, scope, and complexity. Its purpose is to cast doubt about the reality of climate change in order to forestall a move toward cleaner fuels and allow the Kochs and Exxons of the world to continue making money at everybody else’s expense. And the Wall Street Journal editorial page plays its part in the machine.

Even though it’s only the editorial page, and not the Journal’s well-regarded newsroom, facts and logic are supposed to matter. Ignoring the successful tobacco litigation; omitting the salient fact of Dr. Soon being paid by the industry involved in his research; and bringing in a climate denier as their neutral voice without disclosing that conflict—I’d like to see them get this editorial by the editorial standards of their own newsroom.

So why all the histrionics on the far right, Mr./Madam President? Why the deliberate subterfuge between civil and criminal RICO? Why the name-calling? Have we perhaps touched a little nerve? Have we maybe hit a bit too close to home? Are the cracks in the dark castle of denial as it crumbles maybe beginning to rattle the occupants?

Whatever the motivation of the Wall Street Journal and other right-wing climate denial outfits, it is clearly long past time for the climate denial scheme to come in from the talk shows and the blogosphere, and have to face the kind of truth-testing audience that a civil RICO investigation could provide. It’s time to let the facts take their place, and let climate denial face that “greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.”

I yield the floor.

Congressional Climate Hawks to DOJ: Investigate Exxon's "Immoral" And "Sustained Deception Campaign" On Climate

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 16 Oct 2015 15:37:00 GMT


Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)
On Thursday, two Democratic members of Congress have called for the Department of Justice to investigate the legality of ExxonMobil’s “sustained deception campaign disputing climate science.” In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Representatives Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier of California “request the DOJ investigate whether ExxonMobil violated RICO, consumer protection, truth in advertising, public health, shareholder protection or other laws.”

The request, motivated by independent journalistic investigations by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times, compared Exxon’s deliberate “campaign to deceive the American people about the known risks of fossil fuels” to the tobacco industry’s actions “to deceive the American people about the known risks of tobacco.” The tobacco industry was the subject of a successful RICO lawsuit.

The apparent tactics employed by Exxon are reminiscent of the actions employed by big tobacco companies to deceive the American people about the known risks of tobacco. In this case, Exxon scientists knew about fossil fuels causing global warming and Exxon took internal actions based on its knowledge of climate change. Yet Exxon funded and publicly engaged in a campaign to deceive the American people about the known risks of fossil fuels in causing climate change. If these allegations against Exxon are true, then Exxon’s actions were immoral. We request the DOJ to investigate whether ExxonMobil’s actions were also illegal.

The representatives’ letter follows a public call for such an investigation made by the members of Climate Hawks Vote in September of this year.

Also on Thursday, climate activist Bill McKibben held a one-man protest against Exxon, getting arrested at an ExxonMobil gas station in Vermont in order to raise public knowledge of the news stories.

Download the DOJ letter or view the full text below.

TED W. LIEU
33RD DISTRICT, CALIFORNIA
COMMITTEE ON THE BUDGET
COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM

October 14, 2015

Loretta E. Lynch, Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Lynch,

As Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, we are alarmed by allegations that Exxon (becoming ExxonMobil in 1999) intentionally hid the truth about the role of fossil fuels in influencing climate change. Investigations by the Los Angeles Times and Inside Climate News allege that Exxon scientists confirmed fossil fuels’ role in climate change decades ago, but top executives decided to hide the truth and instead embarked on a massive campaign of denial and disinformation.1

ExxonMobil’s apparent behavior is similar to cigarette companies that repeatedly denied harm from tobacco and spread uncertainty and misleading information to the public. The Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecuted tobacco companies under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. We ask that the DOJ similarly investigate ExxonMobil for organizing a sustained deception campaign disputing climate science and failing to disclose truthful information to investors and the public. We request the DOJ investigate whether ExxonMobil violated RICO, consumer protection, truth in advertising, public health, shareholder protection or other laws.

According to the investigation by Inside Climate News, in July 1977 at an Exxon Management Committee meeting, senior Exxon scientist James Black “delivered a sobering message: carbon dioxide from the world’s use of fossil fuels would warm the planet and could eventually endanger humanity.” In 1978 Exxon “launched its own extraordinary research into carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and its impact on the earth.” Exxon “assembled a brain trust that would spend more than a decade deepening the company’s understanding” of global warming.

In 1982, Exxon prepared a corporate primer on carbon dioxide and climate change. The primer—which was circulated to management but marked “not to be distributed externally”—stated that heading off global warming “would require major reductions in fossil fuel combustion” and that unless that happened “there are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered.” Exxon “did not elaborate on the carbon problem in annual reports filed with securities regulators,” nor did Exxon “mention in those filings that concern over CO2 was beginning to influence business decisions it was facing.”

In 1988, instead of following their own scientists and the actual science, Exxon apparently started doing the opposite and engaged in a campaign of denial and disinformation. The company “started financing efforts to amplify doubt about the state of climate science.” Exxon “helped to found and lead the Global Climate Coalition, an alliance of some of the world’s largest companies seeking to halt government efforts to curb fossil fuel emissions.”

Despite its public efforts to deny climate change, Exxon apparently took company actions based on its knowledge of global warming. According to the Los Angeles Times investigation, in 1990 engineers at Exxon “were quietly incorporating climate change projections into the company’s planning and closely studying how to adapt the company’s Arctic operations to a warming planet.” A top Exxon researcher, Ken Croasdale, explored how much easier and cheaper oil drilling in the Arctic would be with a melting ice cap.

The Times investigation concluded that “As Croasdale’s team was closely studying the impact of climate change on the company’s operations, Exxon and its worldwide affiliates were crafting a public policy position that sought to downplay the certainty of global warming.” The Times identified a “gulf between Exxon’s internal and external approach to climate change.”

The apparent tactics employed by Exxon are reminiscent of the actions employed by big tobacco companies to deceive the American people about the known risks of tobacco. In this case, Exxon scientists knew about fossil fuels causing global warming and Exxon took internal actions based on its knowledge of climate change. Yet Exxon funded and publicly engaged in a campaign to deceive the American people about the known risks of fossil fuels in causing climate change. If these allegations against Exxon are true, then Exxon’s actions were immoral. We request the DOJ to investigate whether ExxonMobil’s actions were also illegal.

Sincerely,

Ted W. Lieu, Member of Congress

Mark DeSaulnier, Member of Congress

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