Environmental Action http://environmental-action.org Mon, 27 Feb 2017 15:16:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Great Monarch Massacre (and What You Can Do to Stop It) http://environmental-action.org/blog/2837/ Mon, 06 Feb 2017 23:46:57 +0000 http://environmental-action.org/?p=2837 Growing up in south central Kansas in the 1980s, I used to marvel at the elegant beauty of the monarch butterflies each spring as they migrated north.

Sometimes I’d sit motionless in the tallgrass prairie, quietly hoping one would choose to rest on my outstretched hand. More often, though, I’d race after these black and orange-winged butterflies, laughing as I tried […]

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Growing up in south central Kansas in the 1980s, I used to marvel at the elegant beauty of the monarch butterflies each spring as they migrated north.

Sometimes I’d sit motionless in the tallgrass prairie, quietly hoping one would choose to rest on my outstretched hand. More often, though, I’d race after these black and orange-winged butterflies, laughing as I tried in vein to catch one.

Sadly, the sight of monarchs flitting above the prairie is far more rare these days.

Monarch Butterfly. Source: Flickr user SidPix.

Monarch Butterfly. Source: Flickr user SidPix.

Threats to Monarch Butterflies

One billion monarchs once fluttered across North America, but disappearing habitat, climate change, pesticides, and other threats reduced their numbers to just 56.5 million by 2015. (1) In fact, researchers have documented a decline of more than 80 percent in the number of monarchs in central Mexico and 74 percent in coastal California. (2)

The monarch’s dramatic decline is not only a profound loss of natural beauty — it also has serious implications for our environment. Monarchs play an increasingly important role in pollinating wild flowers and other plants and are an important food source for many birds. (3)

While monarch numbers have rebounded slightly in recent years thanks to increased awareness of their plight, proactive efforts by the federal government and private landowners, this beautiful butterfly’s ultimate fate is far from certain.

Monarchs need milkweed to survive. Unfortunately, widespread use of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide has destroyed much of the milkweed that monarchs need to survive. (4) But Roundup is just one of the threats these vital pollinators face. Commonly used pesticides can unintentionally kill these butterflies. Harsh winters have caused larger than usual die-offs. And logging — legal and illegal — has deprived monarchs of winter habitat. (5)

How You Can Help Save Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterflies have a special and vital place in our ecosystems — and in our hearts. To ensure that these beautiful creatures are around for future generations to enjoy, we must safeguard their future.

In 2015, then-President Obama’s administration announced an ambitious plan to protect monarchs (6), but more action is needed. (7) That’s why Environmental Action has joined with conservation advocates across America to urge the federal government to protect monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Listing monarch butterflies under the ESA is the single best way to ensure the survival of these butterflies. It will protect monarchs from pesticides and herbicides that can harm them and safeguard the vital feeding and breeding habitat monarchs need to survive.

You can help save our monarch butterflies — just click here to add your name to our petition urging the federal government to protect monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act.

With your help, we can help monarchs recover — and restore an inspiring source of natural beauty for children of all ages.

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(1) US Fish and Wildlife Service, Nov. 3., 2016. https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/done­this­before.html
(2) The Xerxes Society, retrieved online Feb. 2, 2016 http://www.xerces.org/monarchs/
(3) One Green Planet, Jan. 28, 2015 http://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/how­the­butterfly­can­shape­an­ecosystem­and­why­we­nee d­to­protect­them/
(4) Yale Environment 360, April http://e360.yale.edu/features/tracking_the_causes_of_sharp__decline_of_the_monarch_butterfly
(5) The Xerxes Society, Ibid.
(6) The Washington Post, May 21, 2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning­mix/wp/2015/05/21/the­white­house­plan­to­save­the­mo narch­butterfly­build­a­butterfly­highway/?utm_term=.5ce299cc91fd
(7) The Center for Biological Diversity, March 10, 2016 https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2016/monarch­butterfly­03­10­2016.html

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Obama blocks drilling in Arctic, Atlantic oceans http://environmental-action.org/blog/obama-blocks-drilling-in-arctic-atlantic-oceans/ Tue, 20 Dec 2016 23:02:02 +0000 http://environmental-action.org/?p=2830 For Immediate Release: Contact Anthony Rogers-Wright (631) 402-7855; anthony@environmental-action.org

We are pleased but not satisfied with this important announcement. While there is much to celebrate with the protection of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, the Gulf of Mexico was, again, omitted from consideration for protection. The Gulf South continues to be a premier sacrifice zone for the United States of America. […]

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For Immediate Release: Contact Anthony Rogers-Wright (631) 402-7855; anthony@environmental-action.org

We are pleased but not satisfied with this important announcement. While there is much to celebrate with the protection of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, the Gulf of Mexico was, again, omitted from consideration for protection. The Gulf South continues to be a premier sacrifice zone for the United States of America. This region, home to areas such as “Cancer Alley” and the first federally recognized climate migrants, the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Biloxi Tribe, has been more impacted by oil and gas drilling than the two regions Barack Obama protected today.

The Gulf South Region is also home to vulnerable low-wealth/communities of color who continue to suffer from abject environmental racism. If President Obama is serious about leaving an environmental legacy that is complete, he will call for the cessation of new leases and all drilling in the Gulf of Mexico immediately. Environmental Action stands with the Gulf South and excellent organizations standing with the people like Bold Louisiana, Gulf Restoration Network and Louisiana Bucket Brigade who will continue fighting until the deference offered to the Arctic, with its white polar bears, and the Atlantic is offered to the Gulf of Mexico.

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Donald Trump Taps Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt to Head EPA http://environmental-action.org/blog/donald-trump-taps-oklahoma-ag-scott-pruit-to-head-epa/ Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:43:54 +0000 http://environmental-action.org/?p=2825 For Immediate Release 

Contact Anthony Rogers-Wright: 631-402-7855; anthony@environmental-action.org

President-elect Trump continues to engender a foundation of concern for those in the climate, environmental and social justice movements with his appointments to imperative federal positions. The nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency would be like asking David Duke to head a Civil Rights Commission named after […]

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For Immediate Release 

Contact Anthony Rogers-Wright: 631-402-7855; anthony@environmental-action.org

President-elect Trump continues to engender a foundation of concern for those in the climate, environmental and social justice movements with his appointments to imperative federal positions. The nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency would be like asking David Duke to head a Civil Rights Commission named after Barry Goldwater.

Pruitt has been a thorn in the side of the agency charged with being the nation’s vanguard for natural resources and climate change. He’s sued EPA over the Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Rule, has advocated heavily for increased fracking and fracked gas infrastructure and has even been implicated in sending letters to federal officials that were almost entirely written by the oil and gas industry. He has proven to be nothing more than a petroleum puppet whose strings are being pulled by Big Oil whom he’s beholden to. Worse yet, he’s a climate denier like his fellow Oklahoman, Climate-Denier-In-Chief, Sen. James Inhofe. With nearly 200 science deniers in Congress already, we can’t afford for the EPA to become an agency bereft of scientific considerations.

Pruitt’s confirmation would be perilous for our climate, natural resources and dismantle the agency’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable populations through their Environmental Justice initiatives. The only things that would be protected under a Pruitt EPA would be Big Oil profits and their belief that they can slash, drill, burn, and pollute with no consequences. It’s our duty as concerned citizens, climate justice advocates and moral people to do all that we can to block this nomination with  all haste.

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Activists Shut Down API Event During DNC Convention http://environmental-action.org/action/activist-shut-down-api-event-during-dnc-convention/ Thu, 28 Jul 2016 21:53:09 +0000 http://environmental-action.org/?p=2807 Yesterday environmental activists, Indigenous youth, and other concerned citizens disrupted a Politico event sponsored the American Petroleum Institute (API), the leading American trade group of the fossil fuel industry. The event, “Energy and the Election at the DNC”, featured prominent Democratic lawmakers and energy advisors including, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Ed Rendell, […]

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Yesterday environmental activists, Indigenous youth, and other concerned citizens disrupted a Politico event sponsored the American Petroleum Institute (API), the leading American trade group of the fossil fuel industry. The event, “Energy and the Election at the DNC”, featured prominent Democratic lawmakers and energy advisors including, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Ed Rendell, former PA Gov., Trevor Houser, Hillary For America Energy Policy Advisor, and Heather Zichal, former Obama climate official.

Activists expressed deep concern that API-sponsored energy events at the DNC are still acceptable platforms for Democrats to attend, despite the oil and gas industry’s long history of climate denial and “dirty energy money” campaign donations. Over the last decade API has directly donated nearly $150,000 to Democrats, and its member corporations have donated many millions more. Inside the Politico event, advocates demanded the Democratic Party follow through on its climate commitments and take immediate steps to keep fossil fuels in the ground instead of blindly catering to oil and gas industry executives.

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Activists Hang a 400 Square Foot Banner From a Parking Garage Near API Event.

The actions commenced before the event began when activists unleashed a 400 square foot banner at a parking complex across the street that read, “Frackenlooper, Ban Fracking,” referencing Gov. Hickenlooper’s efforts in killing state policies that would implement a fracking ban, as well as suing local municipalities across Colorado who promulgated fracking bans.

Once inside the event, the well orchestrated action kicked off with Americans Against Fracking founder, David Braun, holding up a banner that read, “Toxic Industry Dollars Pollute Our Democracy.” While security guards and Politico staff struggled to remove Braun and confiscate his sign, myself and Colorado resident Mickey San Miguel used the opportunity to walk on stage so that Miguel, a resident of Weld County, Colorado could address Gov. Hickenlooper directly. You can see the action all go down by clicking the video below.

Activists await attendees with signs calling for fracking ban

Activists await attendees with signs calling for fracking ban

After being ejected from the event with David and Mickey, multiple waves ofdisruption took place, eventually forcing the event to eventually conclude earlier than scheduled. Politico’s Elana Schor, who was also acting as a moderator for the event, remarked after one of the later disruptions, “I think that’s the proverbial curtain dropping.” Meanwhile, outside of the event, activists awaited those departing the event with messages printed on signs that communicated the urgency of climate change and a call for a national ban on fracking.

 

This was a very successful example of peaceful direct action that communicated an important message to key Democrats and to API. I would like to thank the amazing work of all those who took part in the planning and execution of this action including friends from Oil Change International, WildEarth Guardians, Beyond Extreme Energy and Greenpeace USA. This will certainly not be the last time we are forced to descend on events that promote the continuous violence to our climate with the politicians who have been purchased by crude crash.

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Climate Activists Pull Off Power Move before Democratic Convention http://environmental-action.org/blog/climate-activists-pull-off-pre-convention-power-move/ Mon, 25 Jul 2016 23:14:55 +0000 http://environmental-action.org/?p=2790 The Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) convention officially launches today, but climate activists wasted no time making their presence known in Philadelphia, or as we like to say the DNC in PHL: Last weekend we held a series of events and mobilizations. We joined friends from Food & Water Watch, Americans Against Fracking, Stop the Frack Attack and for the Summit […]

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The Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) convention officially launches today, but climate CoE4SjZXYAE0dNm-1activists wasted no time making their presence known in Philadelphia, or as we like to say the DNC in PHL: Last weekend we held a series of events and mobilizations. We joined friends from Food & Water Watch, Americans Against Fracking, Stop the Frack Attack and for the Summit for a Clean Energy Revolution on Saturday, and our friends Energy Action Coalition held the first of their PowerShift series on the same day. It was quite an intense day for me as I spoke or gave trainings at both events in addition to presiding over passage of the People’s Convention climate plank, just before leading a workshop on climate justice with Brad Johnson of Climate Hawks Vote.

USA: Thousands rallied for clean energy on DNC eve

But it was Sunday when the climate freedom fighters really flexed their muscles, commanding the entire day with two amazing events that showcased how important climate change will be in this election.

First, the March for a Clean Energy Revolution brought together more than 10,000 fracktivists, climate justice activists and environmental leaders from the faith community who walked from Philadelphia’s City Hall to Independence park demanding a carbon free future that includes an end to fracking, a rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a just transition from fossil fuels.

The event included big delegations impacted by fracking on the frontlines, like our friends from Action united here in Philadephia- who spoke powerfully about the impact of fracking, oil trains and oil refineries on public health. And it was lead by people impacted by fossil fuel infrastructure: our allies at Marcellus Outreach butler and Sane Energy Project fighting FERC approval of pipelines and compressor stations and working to stop Senate plans to expedite fracked gas export facilities.  Thanks to all who donated to help fund buses that brought people to Philly from all over the country. The march concluded with a series of amazing speakers from around the country who have been personally affected by fracking and other extreme energy extraction practices. Check out the feed on the left for all the news, photos and more!

CoKgl8ZWgAA--92Following the March, filmmaker Josh Fox held his event dubbed the “Climate Revolution is Up to Us,” featuring an eclectic mix of artists, actors and activists. The rally was attended by Susan Sarandon, Shailene Woodley, Danny Glover, Ben Jealous, Amy Goodman from Democracy Now and many others. I was honored that Josh asked me to speak at and emcee the event. During my remarks I reminded the crowd of roughly 2,000 people that climate change is a system of hate and oppression, it’s racist, patriarchal, bigoted, homophobic, islamophobic and continues to commit acts of violence against people of color and genocide against Native Americans.

Climate Revolution
This later event, which included an outdoor, under the stars screening of his film “How To Let Go of The World, and Love All The Things Climate Can’t Change,” finished up with an amazing musical performance by Nahko Bear, the audience spontaneously forming a circle hand in hand and singing a collective “Ohm.” Literally, right after the ohm was completed, the skies opened up and it rained gently on the collective who seemed to really espouse the paradigm of author/journalist Wen Stevenson who said, “What we are fighting for now is each other.”

If you can, please chip in to support great activism and events like this. We’ve agreed to help pay for housing, buses and other logistical support for these events, but we’re still a few thousand dollars short of covering our costs.

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Protect the Boundary Waters http://environmental-action.org/blog/protect-the-boundary-waters/ Thu, 21 Jul 2016 20:22:51 +0000 http://environmental-action.org/?p=2780 Nearly 900 people packed a stuffy high school auditorium in northeastern Minnesota, Tuesday evening, to give emotional testimony both for and against the contentious issue of mining in and around the Boundary Waters. Polluter profiteers are pushing to conduct a toxic form of mineral extraction called sulfide mining next to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Runoff from this kind […]

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Nearly 900 people packed a stuffy high school auditorium in northeastern Minnesota, Tuesday evening, to give emotional testimony both for and against the contentious issue of mining in and around the Boundary Waters. Polluter profiteers are pushing to conduct a toxic form of mineral extraction called sulfide mining next to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Runoff from this kind of mining can create sulfuric acid and mercury contamination — both of which could pollute the pristine Boundary Waters.

“With all of the development in our world there aren’t a lot of places like this anymore and it deserves to be protected,” said Tonia Kittelson at Tuesday’s meeting. “There has never ever been a mine like this copper nickle sulfide mine in the country that has not resulted in serious pollution. Every mine to this day has polluted both surface and ground water at toxic levels. The risk for this particular area is a water rich environment, it won’t be able to prevent pollution from flowing not just to the boundary waters, but also to Lake Superior, and the Mississippi head rivers, which are located close by. Serious concerns about where that pollution is going to go, not whether or if, but when and where.”

With the help of some of our friends, like Save the Boundary Waters and Friends of the Boundary Waters, we dropped off more than 65,000 petition signatures opposing the mining plan at the Superior National Forest headquarters in Duluth, MN.

The mineral exploration and a future mining project would be done outside the protected Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, but even Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, says a Twin Metals project in that watershed area poses the same threat as if it was in the Boundary Waters.

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) will decide whether to renew two federal mineral leases near Ely. While the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is the holder of the Twin Metals leases, USFS has a right of consent to any lease renewal because the land is in the Superior National Forest. In a letter to  BLM last month, USFS said it could withhold consent for renewal of the leases.

Until they do, we’ll keep the pressure on to save the Boundary Waters – and you can help! Share this blog post and update with all your friends, and tell them to go to http://bit.ly/BoundaryWaters to join our campaign!

Boundary Waters hearing

 

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St. Louis Sum Up: Netroots Nation 16 http://environmental-action.org/blog/st-louis-sum-up-netroots-nation-16/ Mon, 18 Jul 2016 18:11:09 +0000 http://environmental-action.org/?p=2758 Netroots Nation has become one of my favorite gathering of national progressives, activists and organizers. This work requires lots of travel and digital organizing, so one of the best parts of the Netroots conferences is the opportunity to meet people I’ve worked with online, in person. This year’s conference was particularly important as I was one of the keynote speakers, […]

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Netroots Nation has become one of my favorite gathering of national progressives, activists and organizers. This work requires lots of travel and digital organizing, so one of the best parts of the Netroots conferences is the opportunity to meet people I’ve worked with online, in person. This year’s conference was particularly important as I was one of the keynote speakers, at a discussion about the intersection between climate change and other forms of injustice.

Prior to my keynote address, I attended an excellent panel with NextGen Climate founder, Tom Steyer, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and CREDO climate activist Murshed Zaheed. Their panel focused on how the so called “Keep It in the Ground” movement continues to turn the tide and deliver progressive victories on several key climate battles, such as Keystone pipeline and Arctic drilling. But the biggest news was when Sen. Merkley announced that he will introduce a bill calling for 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 — the announcement received raucous applause and I look forward to learning and sharing more. Congress is off on summer recess until September, so we’ll have to stand by to see the details and learn how we can support Sen. Merkley and other leaders like him in Congress. You can see a video of that panel, here.

Anthony on the keynote panel at Netroots NationDirectly after that panel, we rushed to the main stage of Netroots for the keynote address. It was an honor to represent Environmental Action and have an excellent discussion with Mr. Steyer the founder of NextGen Climate my good friend Jacqui Patterson from the NAACP, and my new friend Michelle Romero from Green for All. Our discussion touched on a variety of issues including the need to understand and communicate that climate change is a form of violence. We also talked about why that violence primarily and disproportionately impacts communities of color and low-wealth citizens. We discussed the merits of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, and the need to clean up the plan, which currently promotes fracked gas and fracking. Finally, I called on conference goers (and my fellow panelists) to support the real frontline struggles and amazing work organizations who represent them. You can watch the full keynote discussion by clicking here.

I am very encouraged that Mr. Steyer expressed his interest and desire to continue a discussion about what more needs to be done to support frontline environmental struggles. We quickly discussed the need to increase and improve the transmission of urgency as it pertains to climate change being a form or violence and oppression.

Anthony, Brad and Ferguson MO State Senator Nadalle-Chapelle at Netroots Nation

Climate Hawks Votes, Brad Johnson; State Senator Nadalle-Chapelle and Anthony Rogers-Wright, Environmental Action

Another highlight at the conference was the annual Progressive Candidate Meet and Greet sponsored by our friends Democracy for America. They bring progressive candidates from all over the country, focusing mainly on down ballot elections. Brad Johnson, Director at Climate Hawks Vote, and I had the opportunity to speak with State Senator Maria Nadalle Chapelle, who represents Ferguson, MO and is currently running for Congress. Ms. Chapelle agreed that climate change is implicated in many of the issues associated with economic and racial injustice that she has observed since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson a few years ago.

Anthony and Zephyr at netroots nation

Anthony speaks Indy Rock with Zephyr Teachout

I also spoke with New York’s Zephyr Teachout, who just won her primary for Congress. Ms. Teachout has been outspoken on the need to treat climate change as a national emergency. Funny story, while I was speaking to her I was explaining that when I was first told by a friend, “you need to check out Zephyr Teachout,” I was looking for her on Spotify. After telling her I though she was an Indy Rock Band, she pulled me in close and replied, “I AM an Indy Rock Band.”

Clearly, the pinnacle of the weekend was when many conference goers took part in an action coordinated by Dante Barry from Million Hoodies for Justice along with local Black Lives Matter activists. This was an amazing show of solidarity that vindicated much of what I discussed during my keynote. Together we showed that climate disruption cannot be addressed without addressing disruption to all forms of justice including racial justice, economic justice and justice to vulnerable populations such as transgender citizens.

Netroots nation protest event

Local and Netroots activists shut down a freeway in St. Louis as part of a commemoration of Michael Brown’s death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
I’m sorry to wrap up an excellent weekend of conversations, organizing, trading stories and action. But the work is not even close to over, so I’m headed back on the road to keep organizing and activating with all of you. We’ll be in contact soon about where to take the amazing lessons we received from Netroots 2016.

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Ban the Bomb Trains Week of Action ends with a bang! http://environmental-action.org/blog/ban-the-bomb-trains-week-of-action-ends-with-a-bang/ Wed, 13 Jul 2016 20:21:31 +0000 http://environmental-action.org/?p=2753 Don’t panic, It wasn’t that kind of bang: After an amazing week of action all over the country, we won a big victory in Baltimore MD (your author’s home town) when Houston Big Oil pusher Targa Resources withdrew plans to ship volatile crude oil on so-called “Bomb Trains” through to the port.

It was a great way to wrap up the #StopOilTrains week of action so […]

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Don’t panic, It wasn’t that kind of bang: After an amazing week of action all over the country, we won a big victory in Baltimore MD (your author’s home town) when Houston Big Oil pusher Targa Resources withdrew plans to ship volatile crude oil on so-called “Bomb Trains” through to the port.

It was a great way to wrap up the #StopOilTrains week of action so many Environmental Action members have shown up or chipped in to support.

Our goal for the week was to raise awareness about the bomb trains — shipments of crude oil and other fossil fuels by rail through United States and Canada. While some events were overshadowed by the bloody violence in Texas, Louisiana and Minnesota — many more went forward as planned and delivered real results.

Our hashtag dominated Twitter on July 6, the anniversary of an oil train derailment and explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, that killed 47 people. The Pacific Northwest has dominated headlines since a derailment in Oregon ignited a blaze that one of the first responders told Oregon Public Broadcasting “looked like the apocalypse.”

But Bomb Trains run all across the United States, including through Houston, Chicago’s South Side and Philadelphia, where people of color are the majority. That’s why, our movement came together for the 3rd annual #StopOilTrains week of action — hosting dozens of events from coast to coast that showed the risk, called attention to the issues and demanded action.

Here are some of the tweets, photos and actions to show you what it looked like. PS – it’s not too late to support this campaign by chipping in to support our work or signing here to tell President Obama it’s time to ban the Bomb trains for good!

 

bomb trains share

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RNC platform goes off the deep end of Climate Denial http://environmental-action.org/blog/rnc-platform-goes-off-the-deep-end-of-climate-denial/ Tue, 12 Jul 2016 20:57:04 +0000 http://environmental-action.org/?p=2745 It’s no secret that of the two major political parties, the Republicans are the less climate hawkish. All through the early part of the primary process, we pressured candidates from both parties — but especially the Republicans — to face up to the facts that climate change is real, caused by humans and that we need a massive national response at all levels of […]

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It’s no secret that of the two major political parties, the Republicans are the less climate hawkish. All through the early part of the primary process, we pressured candidates from both parties — but especially the Republicans — to face up to the facts that climate change is real, caused by humans and that we need a massive national response at all levels of government to address it.

Sadly for Republican Climate Hawks (yes they’re out there, though more rare than most endangered species as far as we can tell) the nominee, Donald Trump, is an avowed climate denier and opponent of clean energy. But, just because one nominee opposes action on climate change, there’s no rule that says the entire ticket has to follow suit. Not that long ago there was a healthy debate over how to address climate change inside the party with some leaders, like former GOP-Nominee John McCain, supporting a cap and trade plan — while others favored a price on pollution and incentives for green energy instead.

But those days seem to be long gone as the RNC platform committee meets this week to finalize the party’s platform. The final platform wont be final until the Convention next week, but the committee has already agreed upon, “America’s natural resources, energy and environment” and “Great American families, education, healthcare and criminal justice” — and yeah, it’s pretty weird.

Unlike the DNC, which has had several public meetings on their platform, and invited testimony and input from climate leaders like Bill McKibben, Josh Fox, Jane Kleeb and many others (read more about how that turned out in Anthony’s post next door), the RNC platform was crafted mostly by political insiders and fossil fuel lobbyists — and it shows.

The RNC platform on energy calls Coal “clean” endorses an “All of the Above” energy strategy — by which they seem to mean “anything below” since it specifically says we must develop all “American God-given resources” while deriding investment in wind and solar as “venture capital… for risky endeavors.” I guess they forgot about the $1 trillion dollars a year the U.S. other G20 countries spend on fossil fuel subsidies every year.

The platform specifically says the RNC is “committed to approving the Keystone XL Pipeline and to streamlining permitting for the development of other oil and natural gas pipelines.” While it doesn’t specifically say that Exxon can seize your house or your land to make money, it’s clear they’re on the side of eminent domain for private gain. It also specifically supports drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, and just about anywhere else they can think to name.

There’s more, but honestly the debate over the future of life on earth is not given nearly as much page space (or debating space) as truly  wacky issues like teaching the bible in public schools, declaring pornography a public health crisis, and basically declaring anyone who’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or queer to be illegal.

RNC platform frackingSo where do we go from here? Well, the platform wont be final until the Convention. So until then we’ll keep calling on the RNC to ban fracking and other extreme energy sources in their party platform. But we’re also focussing a lot more attention on the DNC and their platform, which took a good turn over last weekend when it added more language on climate change, methane, and other issues we care about.

If you want to be part of that fight, consider joining us at the March for a Clean Energy Revolution on July 24 in Philadelphia – or sponsoring a fellow fractivist to attend. This non-partisan, candidate-neutral march will give our climate movement a big chance to come together and be seen, heard and active on the eve of the DNC convention – where we’ll have (at least) one more chance to ban fracking and make their platform even stronger.

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DNC’s Climate Commitment, Closer, but Still No Cigar http://environmental-action.org/blog/dncs-climate-commitment-close-but-still-no-cigar/ Tue, 12 Jul 2016 00:16:22 +0000 http://environmental-action.org/?p=2730 Many eyes were on Orlando, Florida this weekend as they Democratic National Committee (DNC) converged to vote on the Party Platform. The platform is meant to serve as a navigator for Democratic candidates running for office at all levels of government, as well as a statement of party unity. But right from the start it was clear from the onset that […]

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Many eyes were on Orlando, Florida this weekend as they Democratic National Committee (DNC) converged to vote on the Party Platform. The platform is meant to serve as a navigator for Democratic candidates running for office at all levels of government, as well as a statement of party unity. But right from the start it was clear from the onset that some of the most contentious issues separating the Sanders and Clinton campaigns were climate related, specifically fracking, a price on global warming pollution, the use of eminent domain for fossil fuel infrastructure and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. The daylight between the two campaigns on this issue was as profound as the unforgiving sun in Orlando, which contributed to, at times, unbearable heat – as if climate change was trying to tell all in attendance something.

Anthony speaks at the press event before the DNC's orlando meetingPrior to the kick off of the two day meeting, fracktivists from across the country and Florida including David Braun from Californians Against Fracking, Russell Greene, Bill McKibben, Deborah Snyder, Josh Fox and Betty Osceola held a press conference sponsored by our friends Food & Water Watch. For my part, I reminded the DNC that failing to call for a national ban on fracking is akin to climate denial. I also reiterated that  fracking is a profound demonstration of environmental racism because communities of color, including Native American communities, are more likely to be situated near fracking operations and waste.  The press conference was very positive and we were fired up and ready to take our concerns to the entire 187-person platform committee.

What We Didn’t Get

1. Trans Pacific Partnership

The TPP agreement is one of President Obama’s last big pending votes in Congress. But it’s also a controversial part of his presidency. That’s because many in the environmental movement (including Environmental Action) are concerned that previous free trade agreements, like NAFTA, don’t include strong or enforceable environmental guidelines. Political activist, and proud progressive Texan, Jim Hightower offered a spirited testimony on the need to reject the TPP as part of the party platform, referring to it at one point as “manure.” Former NAACP President, Ben Jealous, also pleaded for Democrats to consider the political ramifications while the Republicans plan to include a call for rejecting the TPP in their party’s platform.

Anthony and Cornell West at the DNC meeting in OrlandoScholar and activist Dr. Cornell West also chimed in remarking, “We want unity, but we want it real. We do not want it on the backs of working people. We want opposition to the TPP in this platform.” And during these remarks, the Sanders camp produced boxes that contained over 700,000 signatures from people across the country who oppose the TPP. I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. West throughout the weekend and explained to him that my main opposition to TPP is because of fracking. Two-thirds of the countries that make up this trade agreement are included in the top 50 global importers of natural gas. This will lead to more fracking and fracked gas infrastructure as the United States, pursuant to the Natural Gas Act, is compelled to fast track the exports of natural gas to any country it has a free trade agreement with.

In the end, the Clinton Camp had the votes to prevent any calls for a TPP rejection to be included as part of the party platform – though this did lead to many calls of “shame” from the audience.

2. National Fracking Ban

This was arguably the most charged debate of the weekend…literally the only issue where everyone in the audience stood the entire time. The debate kicked off with remarks from filmmaker, fracktivist and Sanders surrogate Josh Fox. Josh electrified the crowd and reminded them that fracking is a big deal in swing states like Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania – states with single issue voters who, “refuse to vote to frack their own backyards.” Despite an amazing testimony, which made clear that a majority of Democrats (including the audience),  support a ban fracking, the Clinton camp voted down a fracking ban as part of the platform.

What we Did Get

DNC climate amendment unity

Jodi Archambault Gillette, Josh Fox, Dr. Cornell West, Deborah Parker, Ben Jealous and Russel Greene speak ahead of Unity Amendment passage

In a moment of party unity, the DNC Platform Committee after negotiations between the two camps that included Ben Jealous, Bill McKibben, and Jane Kleeb, the Democrats emerged with a “Unity Agreement” on climate change that reads:

Democrats believe that carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases should be priced to reflect their negative externalities, and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy and help meet our climate goals. Democrats believe that climate change is too important to wait for climate deniers and defeatists in Congress to start listening to science, and support using every tool available to reduce emissions now. We will streamline federal permitting to accelerate the construction of new transmission lines to get low-cost renewable energy to market, and incentivize wind, solar and other renewable energy over the development of new natural gas power plants.  We support President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. As we continue working to reduce carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gas emissions, we most ensure federal actions don’t “significantly exacerbate” global warming. We support a comprehensive approach that insures all federal decisions going forward contribute to solving, not significantly exacerbating climate change. Democrats believe that our commitment to meeting the climate challenge most also be reflected in the infrastructure investments we make. We need to make our existing infrastructure safer and cleaner and build the new infrastructure necessary to power our clean energy future. To create good-paying middle class jobs that can’t be outsourced, Democrats support high labor standards in clean energy infrastructure, and the right to form or join a union, whether in renewable power or advanced vehicle manufacturing. During the clean energy transition, we will insure landowners, communities of color and tribal nations are at the table.

It should be noted that this agreement was only negotiated in response to the threat of mass mobilization if further climate amendments were refused. The Break Free Actions, and many other events, have shown that our movement can mobilize, organize and carry out peaceful direct action that disrupts the regular operations of the beltway class and their fossil fuel backers. Apparently many people have been paying attention.

What it Means 

While none of the language is binding, it does demonstrate that the Democrats will consider greenhouse gas pricing, applying a climate test to all federal actions and projects and greater inclusion of communities of color, including Tribal nations, in the process of a just transition. While the language is encouraging, it is not a total victory. As Dr. West reminded the audience during his remarks, “We must applaud the coming together, but at the same time, we’ve got to keep the focus on the gap between declaration and execution. It’s a beautiful thing to come together and put it on paper. But I also want to see the practice.” He continued, “This means we have to have an inside/outside strategy…a movement in the streets with people willing to go to jail.”

I could not agree with Dr. West more. We need to do much more because as I said in Phoenix: climate change has stolen time from all of us. The age of perfunctory platitudes and incrementalism must become an anachronism. This is why we are pleased to be working with our friends at Food and Water Watch on the March for a Clean Energy Revolution. It is why we are pleased to be working with our comrades at Beyond Extreme Energy, and it is why we are honored to be working with frontline activists and leaders like Cherri Foytlin who we will continue to fight with until the DNC and RNC include a call for the cessation of offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico like they did for the Arctic and the Atlantic.

Stay tuned for report backs in the coming weeks about how we will continue to press the DNC for an overall climate policy that treats climate change like the national and global emergency that it is.

The post DNC’s Climate Commitment, Closer, but Still No Cigar appeared first on Environmental Action.

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