Labor-Environmental Alliance Releases High-Level Climate Action Principles

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 24 Jun 2019 15:29:00 GMT

On June 24th, the BlueGreen Alliance released “Solidarity for Climate Action”, a compendium of labor and environmental principles with the goal of achieving net-zero carbon pollution by 2050 in line with the Green New Deal vision.

Several union leaders associated with the fossil-fuel industry have responded to the call for a Green New Deal with skepticism or hostility, despite its emphasis on full employment and a unionized workforce; the work of the BlueGreen Alliance represents the viewpoint of another side of labor movement. The opening lines of the document emphasize the importance of collaboration as much as the end result:

“The BlueGreen Alliance and its labor and environmental partners are committed to the vision, principles, and policies outlined in this document, and are committed to a process of working together to identify concrete solutions to achieve these goals.”

The high-level vision document was unveiled at a presentation featuring Mike Williams of the BlueGreen Alliance, Leo Gerard of the United Steelworkers, and the National Wildlife Federation’s Collin O’Mara.

The members of the Alliance include the environmental organizations Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Defense Action Fund, League of Conservation Voters, and the National Wildlife Federation; and the labor unions United Steelworkers, Communication Workers of America, Service Employees International Union, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), Utility Workers Union of America, American Federation of Teachers, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA), and the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC).

This effort echoes The Leap Manifesto and the platform of the European Green Party, though with less ambition.

Download “Solidarity for Climate Action” or read the text below:

Vision

Americans face the dual crises of climate change and increasing economic inequality, and for far too long, we’ve allowed the forces driving both crises to create a wedge between the need for economic security and a living environment. We know this is a false choice—we know that we can and must have both, and we need a bold plan to address both simultaneously.

Many solutions are already being put into place across the country. For example, tradespeople built the Block Island offshore wind project off the coast of Rhode Island, autoworkers are on the factory floors building cleaner cars and trucks in Michigan, and previously unemployed workers in St. Louis and Los Angeles are gaining access to high-skilled jobs in energy efficiency retrofitting, pipefitting, and transit manufacturing, while mine workers are extracting palladium to be used in catalytic converters. These are all good, union jobs building a clean energy and climate-resilient economy today.

At the same time, not enough of the new jobs that have been created or promised in the clean energy economy are high-quality, family-sustaining jobs, nor are these jobs in the same communities that have seen the loss of good-paying, union jobs. Wildfires, hurricanes, heat waves, droughts, and sea-level rise driven by climate change are hurting communities across the country and will only worsen if we don’t take decisive action. Lower income workers and communities of color are hit the hardest and are less able to deal with these impacts as wages have fallen and their economic mobility and power in the workplace has declined.

It is critical that working people are front and center as we create a new economy: one that values our work, our families, our communities, and our environment. It is with that imperative that we call for a new plan to create jobs and protect the environment for the next generation. This plan must respond to the climate crisis on the scale that science demands, while simultaneously addressing inequality in all its forms.

Principles

Climate Stability: It is projected that the emissions path the world is currently on could result in an increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels of at least 2.5°C—and could exceed 4°C by 2100—if some countries do not fulfill their Paris Agreement commitments. This will have devastating impacts on both human communities and natural ecosystems. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming, we must act now to shield workers and communities from increased climate disasters: “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, farreaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” which “could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.” This global effort to address climate change and inequality must happen at the speed and scale demanded by scientific reality and the urgent needs of our communities.

High-Quality Jobs: We must strive to create and retain millions of high-quality jobs while putting forward bold solutions to climate change. Unions are a primary vehicle to confront the economic insecurity most Americans face. Unions empower workers, create quality jobs, and sustain families. Making union jobs more accessible to all and increasing our nation’s union density will lift up all working people. When working people have power, they have greater capacity to fight for change.

Community Resilience: We must dramatically increase the capacity of the public sector, the health care system, and community-based nonprofit sectors to prepare for and respond to the demands our changing climate places on first responders, healthcare workers, social workers, and others who deal with climate-induced disasters. We must also deal with the increasing stresses placed on communities and the health of workers due to more gradual manifestations of climate change. We need to expand public and private sector investments in our infrastructure and built environment that incorporate social, environmental, and economic considerations. We must support the efforts of frontline communities to adapt to and recover from the increased frequency and severity of climate change-induced natural disasters and impacts, ensuring that resources flow to those most impacted.

Repair America: We cannot address climate change with derelict infrastructure. It is time we made the long and deep commitment to fully and properly remake and modernize all sectors of our nation’s infrastructure, while also building out the new systems demanded by an advanced economy dealing with climate change demands. Infrastructure must be designed in ways that reduce emissions and that reflect projected conditions over its lifespan, including the ability to withstand the increased frequency and severity of climate-driven natural disasters.

Rebuild American Manufacturing: American leadership in inventing—and manufacturing—the most advanced technology of all kinds was once a cornerstone of a strong and growing middle class and a pathway for many out of poverty. U.S. manufacturing could be revitalized by building cutting-edge products and materials with clean, safe, and efficient industrial processes. A comprehensive national commitment to sustainably manufacture the next generation of energy, transportation, and other technologies in the United States will fully capture the benefits to workers and communities.

Clean Air, Clean Water, Safe and Healthy Workplaces and Communities: Tackling climate change goes hand in hand with ensuring that all workers and communities have access to clean air and water. We must also guarantee that our workplaces and communities are safe, clean, and free of hazardous chemicals and toxic pollution. This must include stepping up workplace protections and improving our industrial infrastructure through improved process safety and investments in inherently safer technologies.

Equity for Marginalized Communities: Generations of economic and racial inequality have disproportionately exposed low-income workers, communities of color, and others to low wages, toxic pollution, and climate threats. We must inject justice into our nation’s economy by ensuring that economic and environmental benefits of climate change solutions support the hardest hit workers and communities. Special attention must be given to the industries and communities that are most likely to be impacted by the effects of climate change and the transition to a clean economy.

Fairness for Workers and Communities: Working people should not suffer economically due to efforts to tackle climate change. The boldness of any plan requires that the workers and communities impacted are afforded a just and viable transition to safe, high-quality, union jobs. We must also maintain a focus on reducing environmental burdens, continuing to be stewards of our air, water, and lands, and deploying technologies that are safe, as well as effective.

Promote Inclusive Public Dialogue: Workers and communities must have a central role in framing the problem and developing solutions to address climate change. Public dialogue between workers, employers, and governments should be present at all levels, from policy design to implementation and the measurement of results. Representatives of organized labor, community-based groups, and business associations should participate actively and equitably in dialogue at the enterprise, sectoral, and national levels to assess opportunities and resolve challenges posed by the climate transition.

Policies

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Reductions: To avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change, we must significantly reduce the pollution that causes it. Doing so can and should benefit working people and communities across the country. As such, America must commit to implementing the following:
  • Rapid GHG emissions reductions—based on the latest science and in line with our fair share—which would put America on a pathway of reducing its emissions to net zero emissions by 2050. The urgency required to stave off the worst impacts of climate change requires that by 2030 we are solidly on a path to net zero emissions;
  • Deploy clean and renewable technology nationwide. Low-and-no carbon electricity production; carbon capture, removal, storage, and utilization; natural ecosystem restoration; and zero carbon transportation options are important parts of the solution;
  • Make massive immediate investments in energy efficiency across all sectors;
  • Utilize continual scientific review to inform and refine our progress; and
  • Recommit to achieving our emissions reduction pledges under the Paris Agreement, and to restoring American leadership in global negotiations going forward.
Infrastructure and Community Resilience: Our nation must move forward with an ambitious plan to rebuild and transform America’s infrastructure. If we do it right, we will boost our economy, create millions of jobs, and strengthen the resilience of our communities in their ability to prepare and respond to climate related disasters, while also reducing pollution and combating climate change. Strategic investments in infrastructure and a well-trained workforce—including significant investments in revitalizing our public sector workforce—can further ensure that our infrastructure and communities are prepared for the impacts of climate change and the challenges of the next century. Federal, state, and local governments play a crucial role in planning and leading our transition to a cleaner economy while responding to the growing threats of climate change. Our plan must include:
  • Ambitious and strategic public investments to rebuild and modernize America’s infrastructure and make our communities more resilient—repairing our failing roads and bridges, replacing lead pipes and upgrading our water systems, stopping fugitive emissions from existing natural gas distribution pipelines, modernizing our schools, increasing the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings in all sectors from commercial to residential to hospitals and universities, expanding and modernizing our electric grid, building clean and affordable transportations systems, and redeveloping brownfields and cleaning up hazardous waste sites;
  • Investment in the revitalization and expansion of the public sector workforce and ensuring staffing levels are sufficient to accomplish clean energy, resilience, adaptation, and crisis response objectives;
  • Robust investments in natural infrastructure, including improving climate resilience through natural defenses that act as carbon sinks, recovering America’s wildlife, restoring forests and wildlands, reclaiming mines, and addressing the public lands maintenance backlog;
  • Vigorous investment in broadband networks to close the digital divide, achieve universal access to high-speed Internet, and full utilization of the federally backed FirstNet network for first responders;
  • Adaptation, resilience, and pre-disaster mitigation policies and investments, including sustainable land-use, housing, transportation, and natural infrastructure investments that are equitable, community-driven, and designed to uplift rather than uproot communities;
  • Targeted policies and investments to communities with the most need and engaging local organizations to advocate, plan, and sustain positive development outcomes; and
  • Prioritization of the use of the most efficient, resilient, and cleanest materials and products with the lowest carbon and toxicity footprints.
Competitiveness, Strength, and Innovation: The economic strength of our country has long been connected to the well-being of the middle class. Yet, we can’t ensure prosperity if we’ve fallen behind the rest of the world in building the technologies of the future, and if working people and communities don’t see the gains from innovation and a cleaner economy. We need an aggressive agenda to regain American leadership in clean technology innovation, deployment, manufacturing, and good job creation. We can rebuild American competitiveness in the global economy, and secure and create a new generation of good, middle-class jobs across America through:
  • A national strategy to lead in clean and emerging technology production and supply chain development, including major investments in domestic advanced technology manufacturing and innovation, penalizing offshoring, and a commitment to at least doubling funding of clean technology research, development, manufacturing, and deployment;
  • Application of strong Buy American and Davis-Bacon requirements, as well as utilization of project labor agreements, for all public spending, and procurement policies that ensure the use of domestic, clean, and safe materials made by law-abiding corporations throughout the supply chain;
  • Environmentally, economically, and socially responsible mining projects and effective recycling initiatives for strategic materials necessary for a clean energy future; Investment in efficient domestic materials production and innovation to greatly limit the emissions associated with energy intensive manufacturing;
  • Closing the carbon loophole and stopping the leakage of jobs and pollution overseas through procurement standards, sound trade enforcement, and border adjustments; and
  • Ensuring trade agreements are enforceable, fair for all workers, and benefit the environment, including the climate.
High-Quality Job Creation and Retention: American workers have faced wage stagnation, difficult working conditions, and a wholesale effort to decimate their ability to organize for the past several decades. Unionization offers the best pathway for quality jobs and more importantly a good, family-sustaining livelihood. A commitment to high-quality job creation across all sectors of the economy—but especially related to clean energy, adaptation, and resilience—will only be realized if we commit to:
  • Increasing union density across the country through strong support of the right to organize throughout the economy, including in the clean technology sectors;
  • Remove policy barriers to organizing and promote productive policies to ensure that workers have a meaningful voice on the job;
  • Applying mandatory labor standards that include prevailing wages, safety and health protections, project labor agreements, community benefit agreements, local hire, and other provisions and practices that prioritize improving training, working conditions, and project benefits. This includes respect for collective bargaining agreements and workers’ organizing rights such as neutrality, majority sign-up, and first contract arbitration for construction, operations, and maintenance;
  • Raising labor standards in the nonconstruction sectors through improved wages and benefits and the prioritization of full-time work that eliminates the misclassification of employees and misuse of temporary labor;
  • Investing in training, equipment, preparedness, plan development, and other tools including through registered apprenticeship programs to ensure a robust, skilled, and well-prepared workforce to address the extreme weather events and other impacts caused by climate change; and
  • Maximizing the utilization and support for established training providers (such as registered apprenticeships, community colleges, and union training centers) and skill certifications for manufacturing.
Equity, Responsibility, and Safe and Healthy Communities: Justice and equity are critical aspects of any effective climate plan. We must utilize our collective power to solve climate change in ways that lift up all people and make every community more resilient against the impacts of climate change as well as changes in the economy. We must also make sure through this plan that communities are made safer and healthier. As such, America must commit to just solutions through:
  • Community benefit, workforce, and other similar agreements that improve access to jobs and career paths, and identify and implement mechanisms to ameliorate and improve local economic and environmental impacts;
  • Direct reduction of hazardous waste, toxic chemical emissions, particulate matter, and other non-GHG pollutants across the country, but first and foremost in frontline communities;
  • Addressing cumulative environmental impacts that burden frontline communities with disproportionate air, water, and land pollution and climate risks;
  • Improve the safety of our industrial facilities and protect workers, first responders, and fence-line communities;
  • Taking steps to avoid creating a “low-carbon, high-toxicity” economy, including reducing our toxicity footprints through investment and innovation in green chemistry;
  • Ensuring that frontline communities and workers have equitable access to energy efficiency savings and clean, affordable energy, water, and transportation choices;
  • Ironclad commitments to safe and healthy working conditions; and
  • A recognition of our country’s opportunity and responsibility to help fund a clean energy economic development model for developing and emerging countries, including the transfer of technologies and capacity building, as well as assisting vulnerable developing countries in coping with the mounting impacts of climate change through ramped-up investments in adaptation and resilience strategies.
Fairness to Workers and Communities: America lacks a decent support system for people who have fallen through the cracks in our economy. Solutions that rely on or fail to address these systems are doomed to create new problems and ensure that America lags behind in the global race for a prosperous 21st century economy. As such, the United States must establish a globally competitive social safety net, including:
  • Effective and equitable access to high-quality employment, training, and advancement for all workers, particularly those from low-income households, those historically underrepresented on the basis of race, gender, and other criteria, and those adversely impacted or dislocated by technological change—notably including those in energy, transportation, and trade impacted communities;
  • Guaranteed pensions and a bridge of wage support, healthcare, and retirement security until an impacted worker either finds new employment or reaches retirement;
  • Dedicated community engagement including workers, community members, and leaders to support and enhance the development of the local economy;
  • Massive economic investment in deindustrialized areas, including remediating any immediate loss of tax base or public services for communities;
  • Mandated reclamation of closed and abandoned industrial sites to remediate deindustrialized blight, coupled with economic development and diversification; and
  • Requirements for fair and safe working conditions throughout global supply chains.

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.

Despite Environmental Endorsements, Sen. Susan Collins Has Spotty Record on Confronting Climate Change

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 26 Mar 2014 22:32:00 GMT

Collins adSen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), facing reelection this year in a strongly Democratic state, has garnered the support of national environmental organizations despite a conflicted record on climate policy. In September 2013, the League of Conservation Voters launched an ad campaign praising Collins’ “environmental leadership.” A new advertisement from the Environmental Defense Fund and Moms Clean Air Force praises Collins for “confronting climate change” in marked contrast to the majority of her Republican colleagues. The organizations have not formally endorsed a candidate in the rate.

The EDF ad cites Collins’ vote on “S. Amdt 359 to SCon Res 8, Roll Call #76, 3/22/13.” That day Collins broke with the Republican caucus to vote against an amendment introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) prohibiting further greenhouse gas regulations for the purposes of addressing climate change.

She cast a similar vote on April 6, 2011, when she broke the Republican ranks to vote against the McConnell amendment prohibiting EPA regulation of greenhouse gases.

On December 11, 2009, Collins and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced climate legislation (S. 2877) in competition with Kerry-Boxer (S. 1733), the Senate version of the Waxman-Markey bill. Cantwell-Collins offered a simpler cap-and-trade system and weaker emissions targets than Kerry-Boxer.

However, a broader review of her voting record finds that Collins repeatedly acted to help Republicans prevent the passage of climate legislation during the Obama presidency and to weaken executive action on climate rules:

  • On April 1, 2009, Collins allied with Republicans and conservative Democrats in key votes to preserve the ability of Republicans to filibuster climate legislation during Obama’s first term. She voted against non-filibusterable budget reconciliation for green economy legislation, if “the Senate finds that public health, the economy and national security of the United States are jeopardized by inaction on global warming” (Roll Call Vote #125). She then voted to prohibit the use of reconciliation in the Senate for climate change legislation involving a cap and trade system (Roll Call #126. She voted for Sen. Kit Bond’s amendment establishing a point of order against climate change or similar legislation that would increase federal revenues (Roll Call #142).

    These votes arguably made the future demise of climate legislation in the Senate inevitable, in contrast to health care legislation, which became law through the reconciliation process despite unified Republican opposition.

  • On April 6, 2011, Collins voted for Rockefeller’s bill to delay greenhouse-gas regulations for two years (Roll Call #53).
  • On March 21 and 22, 2013, Collins voted for Sen. Roy Blunt’s amendment to create a point of order against legislation that would create a federal tax or fee on carbon emissions (Roll Call #59) and against Sen. Whitehouse’s amendment that would support the creation of a carbon fee (Roll Call #58).

Moreover, Collins has been a consistent supporter of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, voting that “that no additional safety or environmental analysis of the pipeline was necessary” in 2012 (Roll Call #34) and in 2013 (Roll Call #61). Collins is also “the only member of Maine’s congressional delegation that has not called upon the State Department to do a full environmental review” of the possibility of the Portland Montreal Pipeline being used to carry tar sands crude, as the Canadian government opens the route from Alberta to Quebec for the carbon-intensive fossil fuel.

Although Collins has expressed a desire for “limiting the worst effects of climate change,” when the opportunity has come to display true climate leadership, she has supported her caucus instead more often than not.

Podesta Rebukes Environmentalists For Criticizing Obama's "All of the Above" Support For Fossil-Fuel Extraction

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 17 Jan 2014 20:10:00 GMT

Obama’s new top climate adviser rebuked environmental leaders who challenged the president to dump his “all of the above” energy strategy as incompatible with needed climate action. In a letter obtained by the Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin, John Podesta questioned why the climate advocates criticized the president for his support of increased fossil-fuel extraction.

Making reference to Obama’s “bold Climate Action Plan” announced in June 2013, Podesta cited “significant decreases in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions” despite “opposition to key components of the plan” from Republicans in the House and Senate. Podesta noted that the plan “commits to additional steps to cut the emissions of carbon pollution, prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to combat global climate change,” claiming that the “breadth of the plan makes it impossible to detail those steps in this letter.”

Podesta’s only reference to President Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy of increased fossil-fuel extraction came in his criticism of the environmentalists:

Given this context, I was surprised that you chose to send your January 16 letter to President Obama. The President has been leading the transition,[sic] to low-carbon energy sources, and understands the need to consider a balanced approach to all forms of energy development, including oil and gas production.

Podesta did not reply to the environmentalists’ mention of the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline, which he has previously criticized. Upon taking the White House job, Podesta said he would not weigh in on the decision of whether the construction of the pipeline would be in the national interest, a determination to be made by the State Department and President Obama.

Under Podesta’s direction, the Center for American Progress offered divergent views on Obama’s “all of the above” policy:
  • Center for American Progress Director of Climate Strategy Daniel Weiss testified in 2012 and in 2013 in support of Obama’s “all of the above” strategy.
  • Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Joseph Romm, editor of Climate Progress, bluntly said in 2012 that the “all-of-the-above energy strategy” is what defines Obama’s “failed presidency.” He later excoriated Obama’s “big wet kiss to oil and gas.”

The text of the letter, typos included, is below:

THE WHITE HOUSE
WASHINGTON

January 17, 2014

TO:

Wm. Robert Irvin, American Rivers, President and CEO
Robert Wendelgass, Clean Water Action, President
Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife, President and CEO
Trip Van Noppen, Earthjustice, President
Maura Cowley, Energy Action Coalition, Executive Director
Margie Alt, Environment America, Executive Director
Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund, President
Eric Pica, Friends of the Earth, President
Gene Karpinski, League of Conservation Voters, President
David Yarnold, National Audubon Society, President and CEO
Larry J. Schweiger, National Wildlife Federation, President & CEO
John Echohawk, Native American Rights Fund, Executive Director
Frances Beinecke, Natural Resources Defense Council, President
Andrew Sharpless, Oceana, Chief Executive Officer
Catherine Thomasson, MD, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Executive Director
John Seager, Population Connection, President
Michael Brune, Sierra Club, Executive Director
Sandy Newman, Voices for Progress, President

I am writing in response to your January 16 letter to President Obama regarding climate change. President Obama understands that climate change poses a significant threat to our environment, to public health and to our economy. He believes it is imperative that we act to address these threats, and that doing so provides an opportunity for the United States to lead in the development and deployment of clean energy technologies needed to reduce emissions. For these reasons, the President has taken steps to address the climate change challenge throughout the last five years, including a issuing a bold Climate Action Plan in June of 2013.

The Climate Action Plan builds on major progress during the President’s first term, including: historic fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for light-duty vehicles that will cut 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide pollution, cut oil consumption by 12 billion barrels of oil, and save consumer $1.7 trillion over the lifetime of the program; energy efficiency standards for appliances that will cut pollution and save consumers and businesses hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming decades; historic support for renewable energy that has helped to drive down technology costs and more than doubled generation of electricity from wind and solar. These steps by the Obama Administration have contributed to significant decreases in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions; 2012 emissions of carbon dioxide were at their lowest level the lowest [sic] in nearly twenty years.

The Climate Action Plan outlined by President Obama in a historic speech at Georgetown in June of 2013 builds on these measures, and commits to additional steps to cut the emissions of carbon pollution, prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to combat global climate change. The breadth of the plan makes it impossible to detail those steps in this letter, but key commitments to continue to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions include establishing the first-ever carbon pollution standards for power plants, a multi-sector strategy to reduce methane emissions, action to limit the use of HFCs and promote the use of more climate-friendly alternatives, additional DOE energy efficiency standards, and additional fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for heavy duty vehicles.

We have made significant progress in implementing the plan in the last seven months, and I attach for your review a recent report that details this work. However, significant work lies ahead in meeting the commitments outlined in the Climate Action Plan. In addition, opposition to key components of the plan remains. Last week, the White House had to fight off anti-environmental Appropriations riders, including ones that would have prevented the EPA from implementing regulations to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, and would have prevented the Administration from moving forward with Tier 3 vehicle and fuel standards. On the day your letter arrived, the Senate Minority Leader filed a Congressional Review Act resolution to overturn rules to regulate CO2 emissions from new power plants.

Given this context, I was surprised that you chose to send your January 16 letter to President Obama. The President has been leading the transition,[sic] to low-carbon energy sources, and understands the need to consider a balanced approach to all forms of energy development, including oil and gas production.

With respect to meeting the threats posed by a rapidly changing climate, implementation of the Climate Action Plan must and will remain the focus of our efforts. In the meantime, we will continue to welcome your advice, based on your very long experience on how to convince the American public of the need and opportunity to transform dirty energy systems to ones that are cleaner and more efficient.

Sincerely,

John D. Podesta

Enviro Coalition Letter Calls on Obama to Drop 'All of the Above' Strategy for 'Carbon-Reducing Clean Energy' Strategy

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 17 Jan 2014 04:49:00 GMT

In a letter sent to President Barack Obama on Thursday, the leaders of the nation’s top environmental organizations aggressively criticized his “all of the above” energy strategy. The 16 groups, ranging from environmental justice organizations such as the Native American Rights Fund to the corporate-friendly Environmental Defense Fund and the progressive advocacy group Voices for Progress, praised the president’s “goal of cutting carbon pollution” but sharply rebuked the White House’s support for expanded fossil-fuel extraction:
An “all of the above” strategy is a compromise that future generations can’t afford. It fails to prioritize clean energy and solutions that have already begun to replace fossil fuels, revitalize American industry, and save Americans money. It increases environmental injustice while it locks in the extraction of fossil fuels that will inevitably lead to a catastrophic climate future. It threatens our health, our homes, our most sensitive public lands, our oceans and our most precious wild places. Such a policy accelerates development of fuel sources that can negate the important progress you’ve already made on lowering U.S. carbon pollution, and it undermines U.S. credibility in the international community.

The groups made special note of Obama’s announcement in June that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would be judged for the “net effects” of its “impact on climate.” The Keystone XL pipeline is incompatible with the 2°ree;C warming limit to which Obama has committed the United States, but the administration may attempt to use a different, high-emissions scenario as the baseline against which to judge the pipeline’s “net effects.”

The environmentalists concluded with the recommendation that the White House’s “all of the above” strategy be replaced with a “carbon-reducing clean energy” strategy:
We believe that a climate impact lens should be applied to all decisions regarding new fossil fuel development, and urge that a “carbon-reducing clean energy” strategy rather than an “all of the above” strategy become the operative paradigm for your administration’s energy decisions.

The full text of the letter is below.

American Rivers * Clean Water Action * Defenders of Wildlife * Earthjustice *
Energy Action Coalition * Environment America * Environmental Defense Fund *
Friends of the Earth * League of Conservation Voters * National Audubon Society *
National Wildlife Federation * Native American Rights Fund *
Natural Resources Defense Council * Oceana * Physicians for Social Responsibility *
Population Connection * Sierra Club * Voices for Progress

January 16, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D. C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We applaud the actions you have taken to reduce economy-wide carbon pollution and your commitment last June “to take bold action to reduce carbon pollution” and “lead the world in a coordinated assault on climate change.” We look forward to continuing to work with you to achieve these goals.

In that speech, you referenced that in the past you had put forward an “all of the above” energy strategy, yet noted that we cannot just drill our way out of our energy and climate challenge. We believe that continued reliance on an “all of the above” energy strategy would be fundamentally at odds with your goal of cutting carbon pollution and would undermine our nation’s capacity to respond to the threat of climate disruption. With record-high atmospheric carbon concentrations and the rising threat of extreme heat, drought, wildfires and super storms, America’s energy policies must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, not simply reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

We understand that the U.S. cannot immediately end its use of fossil fuels and we also appreciate the advantages of being more energy independent. But an “all of the above” approach that places virtually no limits on whether, when, where or how fossil fuels are extracted ignores the impacts of carbon-intense fuels and is wrong for America’s future. America requires an ambitious energy vision that reduces consumption of these fuels in order to meet the scale of the climate crisis.

An “all of the above” strategy is a compromise that future generations can’t afford. It fails to prioritize clean energy and solutions that have already begun to replace fossil fuels, revitalize American industry, and save Americans money. It increases environmental injustice while it locks in the extraction of fossil fuels that will inevitably lead to a catastrophic climate future. It threatens our health, our homes, our most sensitive public lands, our oceans and our most precious wild places. Such a policy accelerates development of fuel sources that can negate the important progress you’ve already made on lowering U.S. carbon pollution, and it undermines U.S. credibility in the international community.

Mr. President, we were very heartened by your commitment that the climate impacts of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would be “absolutely critical” to the decision and that it would be contrary to the “national interest” to approve a project that would “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” We believe that a climate impact lens should be applied to all decisions regarding new fossil fuel development, and urge that a “carbon-reducing clean energy” strategy rather than an “all of the above” strategy become the operative paradigm for your administration’s energy decisions.

In the coming months your administration will be making key decisions regarding fossil fuel development — including the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking on public lands, and drilling in the Arctic ocean — that will either set us on a path to achieve the clean energy future we all envision or will significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. We urge you to make climate impacts and emission increases critical considerations in each of these decisions.

Mr. President, we applaud you for your commitment to tackle the climate crisis and to build an economy powered by energy that is clean, safe, secure, and sustainable.

Sincerely,

Wm. Robert Irvin
President and CEO
American Rivers

Robert Wendelgass
President
Clean Water Action

Jamie Rappaport Clark
President and CEO
Defenders of Wildlife

Trip Van Noppen
President
Earthjustice

Maura Cowley
Executive Director
Energy Action Coalition

Margie Alt
Executive Director
Environment America

Fred Krupp
President
Environmental Defense Fund

Eric Pica
President
Friends of the Earth

John Seager
President
Population Connection
Gene Karpinski
President
League of Conservation Voters

David Yarnold
President and CEO
National Audubon Society

Larry J. Schweiger
President & CEO
National Wildlife Federation

John Echohawk
Executive Director
Native American Rights Fund

Frances Beinecke
President
Natural Resources Defense Council

Andrew Sharpless
Chief Executive Officer
Oceana

Catherine Thomasson, MD
Executive Director
Physicians for Social Responsibility

Michael Brune
Executive Director
Sierra Club

Sandy Newman
President
Voices for Progress

NWF Opposes "All Of The Above" Bill; LCV Opposes Even More Industry-Friendly Motion To Recommit 5

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 16 Sep 2008 20:00:00 GMT

As votes near this evening on the “all of the above” Democratic energy package (H.R. 6899), National Wildlife Federation president Larry Schweiger sent a letter to Congress opposing the bill because it lifts the oil shale moratorium. He writes:
The public, including National Wildlife Federation’s four million members and supporters, wants Congress to take the urgent and necessary steps that will give consumers better energy choices, cut oil dependency and cut global warming pollution. While we favor many provisions in the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Taxpayer Protection Act (H.R. 6899), especially when compared to the expected motion to recommit, we oppose the bill because of its provision allowing commercial oil shale leasing. As a result of this provision, the bill fails to address the fundamental challenge of avoiding significant new increases in global warming pollution and protecting important wildlife habitat on our public lands.
League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski issued the following statement opposing the Republican motion to recommit:
Drilling is no longer the issue – unfortunately, both H.R. 6899 and the motion to recommit include drilling. The issue today is whether or not each Member of Congress will stand up for the American people or stand with the oil industry lobbyists.

All summer, Republicans have called for an ‘All of the Above’ plan on energy. Now, presented with a compromise that gives them everything they’ve asked for, the Republican leadership refuses to support it. Instead, they offer a motion to recommit, which will remove every provision from the bill that Big Oil doesn’t like: provisions that reduce tax breaks to Big Oil and extend them to renewable energy companies, increase efficiency, and create the first national renewable energy standard.

How each member votes will highlight the real differences between those in Congress who support clean energy as central to America’s energy future, and those who remain tied to big oil and want to keep us stuck in the past. LCV opposes the motion to recommit and calls on the Members of Congress who support it to stop working for the oil companies and start working for the American people.