October 2009

Congratulations Senators Kerry and Boxer October 6, 2009 : 10:11 AM

Last week Senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer introduced the Clean Jobs and American Power Act. If enacted, this bill will be the most significant piece of climate legislation to ever pass the Senate.

In the Politico last week Senator Kerry wrote,

“The Clean Jobs and American Power Act takes a comprehensive approach to meeting our energy challenge head on."

"It sets ambitious carbon pollution reduction targets, creates powerful new incentives for companies to find the most cost-efficient ways to meet them and makes historic new investments in technology and efficiency that will improve every sector of our energy economy. And it does not raise the deficit by one single dime."

"Based on the successful bipartisan plan that reduced acid rain, a market-based pollution reduction and investment system will set ambitious yearly targets. It will reduce carbon pollution 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, a decrease that scientists consider the minimum necessary to avert a climate disaster.”

We need to let our Senators know that we want this legislation passed and passed quickly. There is no time to wait.


The Chamber of Commerce and the Climate Crisis October 8, 2009 : 11:48 AM

During the past few weeks, Pacific Gas and Electric, Exelon, and now Apple have left the Chamber of Commerce, and Nike resigned from the organization’s board because of its stand on the climate crisis.

This exodus has made the Chamber sensitive to criticism. Last week a chamber spokesperson had the gall to claim, “We’ve never questioned the science behind global warming.” However as Think Progress points out,

“This is a blatant falsehood, by any definition. Just last month, the Chamber’s Senior Vice President William Kovacs called for the “Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century” to put “the science of climate change on trial.”

I know a lot about the Scopes Trial, because it was held in my home state of Tennessee, and I have visited the courtroom where it took place. It divided our country in the early part of the 20th century and became a national embarrassment. The fact the Chamber of Commerce would openly call for a repeat of the Scopes Trial should be an embarrassment to every business leader still belonging to the organization and every American who believes that we should guide America’s destiny on the basis of truth and scientific fact, rather than ideologically driven propaganda.

Think Progress continues,

“The Chamber, dominated by pollution-industry skeptics such as Don Blankenship, Harry Alford, and Fred Palmer, has questioned climate science since at least 1992:”

“2008: Chamber President Tom Donohue Says ‘Scientific Inquiry’ Into Climate Change ‘Should Continue’ Because Of ‘Cooling Trend.’ [U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 3/4/08]”

“2001: Chamber Claims Global Warming ‘About One Percent From Human Activity,’ Says ‘Things Just Change.’ [CNNFN, 7/16/01]”

“1992: Chamber Sponsors Global Warming Denier Pat Michaels To ‘Refute The Global Warming Warnings.’ [Chicago Sun-Times, 5/13/92]”

Not only has the Chamber spent decades denying the existence of the climate crisis, now it is dedicating a significant quantity of resources and money attempting prevent Congress from taking action. It’s time they stop letting conservative ideology get in the way of policy that will ultimately be good for American businesses and consumers.


CIA Takes Action On The Climate October 8, 2009 : 5:48 PM

I've written several times before about how the climate crisis is not only an environmental and economic issue, but a security one as well. The CIA agrees.

According to UPI:

"The Central Intelligence Agency announced plans to launch a center on climate change to examine the potential security risks of environmental issues. The CIA said it was working on its new Center on Climate Change and National Security to examine the national security impact of environmental issues such as population shifts, rising sea levels and increased competition for natural resources."


Bipartisanship October 13, 2009 : 9:02 PM

It's become conventional wisdom in some circles that bipartisanship is dead when it comes to climate legislation. I want to thank Lindsey Graham and John Kerry for proving those doubters wrong. Their bold article in The New York Times this past weekend surely will add momentum to our cause.

In the piece they write:

“Many Democrats insist on tough new standards for curtailing the carbon emissions that cause global warming. Many Republicans remain concerned about the cost to Americans relative to the environmental benefit and are adamant about breaking our addiction to foreign sources of oil.”

“However, we refuse to accept the argument that the United States cannot lead the world in addressing global climate change. We are also convinced that we have found both a framework for climate legislation to pass Congress and the blueprint for a clean-energy future that will revitalize our economy, protect current jobs and create new ones, safeguard our national security and reduce pollution.”

“Our partnership represents a fresh attempt to find consensus that adheres to our core principles and leads to both a climate change solution and energy independence.”

I want to thank both of these leaders for working to find a common ground on this vital issue. Working together we will solve the climate crisis.

Their article closes by stating,

“We are confident that a legitimate bipartisan effort can put America back in the lead again and can empower our negotiators to sit down at the table in Copenhagen in December and insist that the rest of the world join us in producing a new international agreement on global warming. That way, we will pass on to future generations a strong economy, a clean environment and an energy-independent nation.”

I could not agree more.


Three Bombs October 14, 2009 : 8:57 PM

Last week Tom Friedman wrote a great article entitled Our Three Bombs:

“I am a 56-year-old baby boomer, and looking around today it's very clear that my generation had it easy: We grew up in the shadow of just one bomb -- the nuclear bomb. That is, in our day, it seemed as if there was just one big threat that could trigger a nonlinear, 180-degree change in the trajectory of our lives: the Soviets hitting us with a nuke. My girls are not so lucky."

"Today's youth are growing up in the shadow of three bombs -- any one of which could go off at any time and set in motion a truly nonlinear, radical change in the trajectory of their lives."

"The first, of course, is still the nuclear threat, which, for my generation, basically came from just one seemingly rational enemy, the Soviet Union, with which we shared a doctrine of mutual assured destruction. Today, the nuclear threat can be delivered by all kinds of states or terrorists, including suicidal jihadists for whom mutual assured destruction is a delight, not a deterrent."

"But there are now two other bombs our children have hanging over them: the debt bomb and the climate bomb."

"As we continue to build up carbon in the atmosphere to unprecedented levels, we never know when the next emitted carbon molecule will tip over some ecosystem and trigger a nonlinear climate event -- like melting the Siberian tundra and releasing all of its methane, or drying up the Amazon or melting all the sea ice in the North Pole in summer. And when one ecosystem collapses, it can trigger unpredictable changes in others that could alter our whole world."


A Prediction October 15, 2009 : 3:27 PM

The Senate will pass a green jobs and climate bill before Copenhagen. This might go against what the pundits are saying, but I believe we are on the cusp of this remarkable achievement – however we all need to work our hardest to turn this prognostication into a reality. Now is the time to contact you member of the Senate and demand they support this legislation.


Underwater Cabinet Meeting October 16, 2009 : 11:41 AM

The Maldives lie just seven feet above sea level in the Indian Ocean. Climate change and rising sea levels could cause this tiny country to disappear. This week the country's President Mohammed Nasheed plans to hold a cabinet meeting underwater to highlight the challenge his nation is facing. “At the meeting, the Cabinet plans to sign a document calling on all countries to cut down their carbon emissions ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, where the countries will negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.”

President Nasheed has been a unique voice on the issue of climate change. He has promised to make his nation the first carbon neutral country within the next ten years and has even launched a fund to buy a new homeland if the seas rise and the Islands are submerged.


Leading by example October 17, 2009 : 2:29 PM

With little notice, President Obama has unveiled a new executive order that will reduce the carbon footprint of the federal government. According to the White House:

“The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to set a 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target within 90 days; increase energy efficiency; reduce fleet petroleum consumption; conserve water; reduce waste; support sustainable communities; and leverage Federal purchasing power to promote environmentally-responsible products and technologies.”

"As the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. economy, the Federal government can and should lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally-responsible products and technologies," said President Obama. "This Executive Order builds on the momentum of the Recovery Act to help create a clean energy economy and demonstrates the Federal government's commitment, over and above what is already being done, to reducing emissions and saving money."


Virginia October 19, 2009 : 6:12 PM

Saturday night I had the pleasure of attending a fundraiser for Virginia Gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds. He is locked in a tough race against Republican Bob McDonnell.

If you live in Virginia, I encourage you to get out and support Creigh Deeds. Even if you don’t, you can contribute to his campaign by clicking here.


Chamber of Commerce on the defensive October 21, 2009 : 4:11 PM

The Chamber of Commerce is on the defensive. For the first time their anti-environmental ideology is catching up with them and prominent members are leaving the organization.

According to the New York Times:

“Companies should ignore calls from "environmental extremists" and other adversaries to resign from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a senior official with the business association implored today.”

“In a letter to chamber members, the Washington, D.C.-based association's chief operating officer, David Chavern, said that some companies may have received e-mails, letters and other communications from third parties as the chamber lobbies Congress and the White House on climate change policy, health care, union voting rights and other contentious issues.”

"Please note that these calls against the chamber are part of a broad-based, multi-source campaign against us being carried out by our normal adversaries -- trial lawyers, activist unions, environmental extremists, etc.," Chavern wrote. "It is a 'corporate campaign' in the classic sense, where groups are looking for public leverage to force us to do things against the best interests of the business community."

“Chavern promised to send members additional information about what he dubbed the "scope and objectives" of the adversaries' campaign. Chamber spokesman J.P. Fielder declined to elaborate as to what Chavern meant.”

The Chamber is worried because they know that companies can no longer attempt to look green, while outsourcing their anti-environmental activities to other organizations.

Far from “environmental extremists” most Americans support our government taking action to solve the climate crisis. The Chamber on the other hand, would like nothing more than the status quo, something that is clearly no longer acceptable to many of their members


Dishonest Lobbying October 22, 2009 : 3:09 PM

According to AP:

"A coal group and two of its contractors were aware of forged lobbying letters that had been sent to three Democratic House members before a vote on major climate legislation, but the lawmakers weren't told about the forgeries until well after the vote, according to documents obtained by a congressional committee."

This subversion of our democracy is disgusting. The fact that members of the House of Representatives went to the floor to vote on the climate bill with false information is unacceptable.

As the Senate begins work on this issue, members should view communications from lobbying groups opposing climate and green jobs legislation with increased skepticism.


Meet me at the Wall October 29, 2009 : 3:33 PM

When a clean energy economy finally becomes a reality in America, people will look back to the day that together, you and I launched The Repower America Wall.

The Wall is a place where literally thousands and thousands of people committed to a revolutionary new energy future for our nation and the world are coming together -- to express our hopes, share our resolve, and step up to a leadership role in building a grassroots movement for change like nothing America has ever seen. It's an opportunity for you to be part of the climate movement in a new way, in a way that takes us beyond ourselves.

By asking people from all over the country to share their thoughts and images on the Wall, we are fueling a campaign that brings together the power of national media with the strength and connection of on-the-ground organizing in a way that no one has ever done before. Your voice, and the voices of your friends, neighbors and colleagues, will become the language of our campaign on TV, in print, on billboards, online, and in brand new ways that you will help us invent as we create the Wall.

We know that the political will to transition America to a clean energy economy already exists. You are part of it. But now we must make sure our leaders know it too. The Wall will become our collective voice and thus transform the debate into action.

It's an ambitious strategy -- and it has to be.

Nothing short of every one of us joined together is needed to overcome the resistance of the powerful special interests blocking our path to a clean energy future, settling for the dangerous status quo.

But the time for politics is over. We have the power to force change in America.

Together, you and I will use the Wall as the foundation for all of our activism in the days and weeks ahead.

But first, I need you to meet me at the Wall.

Share your voice on The Repower America Wall right now.

The Wall is a revolutionary approach to standing up for what we believe in -- for what our country needs. It combines the power of your voice with the force of a multi-media campaign, to build a collective call for change so loud it's undeniable.

The messages you and many thousands of others leave at the Wall are the tidal wave that will break on Washington, and put us on the path to victory.

Our grassroots organizers in the states will use the Wall -- your Wall -- as proof that all of our friends and neighbors are as committed to clean energy as we are -- that we are joined together in this commitment.

Content shared on the Wall will be used to create ads and other forms of communication that will go directly to your elected officials so that everywhere they look they will see the very people they represent, their constituents, calling for action now on clean energy -- in the local newspaper, on television, on billboards, on the radio, and on important local and national websites. There will be no place to hide. The Wall will be everywhere.

When our opponents throw roadblocks in our way, we'll gather at the Wall to fight back.

And when key decisions are at hand, we'll light up the Wall to let politicians who side with powerful interests against clean energy do so at their own peril.

The time to demand a clean energy future for America is now. But we must stand together. Unless we do everything in our power to make our voices heard, the change we seek will not happen.

Stand up and be a part of the generation that makes future generations proud -- join the movement and share your voice on The Repower America Wall today.

This is just the beginning. Next week we will take this campaign to the airwaves with new Repower America national television ads featuring real messages from the Wall. By acting now to share your own personal message on the Repower America Wall, you can insure that you were there at the start.

What you and I do today will determine everything about our country's future and the world our children will inherit. The time for action is right now and the cause deserves your best efforts.

If you want to win and insure our clean energy future, I'll see you at the Wall.

Together we can make this happen.