5 Big Eco Wins in November Elections v. Trump's Toxic Appointments
November 11, 2016 Dan Zukowski / EcoWatch & Lee Fang / The Intercept & The League of Conservation Voters
Florida voters saw through utility industry efforts to thwart the state's burgeoning solar energy business and California voters appeared to affirm a ban on single-use plastic bags while Massachusetts and Oregon passed key animal protection laws. Meanwhile, as Donald Trump promises to break the control of Washington by political insiders, his transition team is preparing to hand his administration over to a cozy clique of corporate lobbyists and Republican powerbrokers.
5 Big Wins, 2 Big Losses on Key Eco-Ballot Initiatives Dan Zukowski / EcoWatch
(November 9, 2016) -- Key environmentally related ballot measures in six states received mixed results yesterday. On the plus side, Florida voters saw through utility industry efforts to thwart the state's burgeoning solar energy business and California voters appeared to affirm the state's ban on single-use plastic bags. Both Massachusetts and Oregon passed key animal protection laws.
But, two historically significant measures didn't fare as well. An energy and big business-backed state constitutional amendment passed in Colorado, while a controversial carbon tax initiative in Washington went down to defeat.
1. FLORIDA: Florida's utility-backed Amendment 1, disguised as a pro-solar bill, failed to reach the 60 percent yes vote needed to become law.
"Florida voters weren't fooled by the misleading campaign that the utilities tried to perpetrate," Tania Galloni, Earthjustice managing attorney for Florida, said.
A hard-fought grassroots campaign worked to educate voters on the deceptive nature of the proposed amendment to the Florida constitution. The amendment would have allowed utility companies to charge fees to solar customers and make it more difficult for private solar companies to work with homeowners.
Tory Perfetti, chairman of Floridians for Solar Choice, told the Miami Herald, "We defeated one of the most egregious and underhanded attempts at voter manipulation in this state's history."
2. WASHINGTON: Voters rejected Initiative 732, which would have created the nation's first tax on carbon. The proposal would have set a price of $25 per metric ton starting in 2018, increasing to $100 over the next 40 years. The measure was opposed not only by the Koch brothers, but also by the Sierra Club.
However, as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. said days before the election, "By making Washington the premier American government to place a price on carbon, Evergreen voters will pioneer the trail away from our deadly carbon addiction and its murderous offspring: climate chaos."
3. COLORADO: Amendment 71, supported by the oil and gas industry, won approval in Colorado. Now, the state constitutional amendment makes it extremely difficult to get citizen initiatives on the ballot, essentially ceding control to big-money backers. An attempt to get an anti-fracking amendment on the ballot sparked the oil and gas industry to spend big on Amendment 71.
A group funded by Anadarko and Noble Energy donated at least $1 million to support passage. Other big backers included the Colorado Gaming Association, Colorado Dairy Farmers and the Colorado Association of Realtors.
4. CALIFORNIA: Two propositions affecting the use of plastic bags were on the state ballot this year. As of this morning, Proposition 67, which would keep the legislatively enacted statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, appears to be winning. Proposition 65, which was an industry-backed effort to create an ill-defined environmental fund supported by the 10-cent bag fee, was defeated.
The Surfrider Foundation and other environmental groups opposed Prop 65. They said it was designed to confuse voters.
5. MASSACHUSETTS: Voters enacted a landmark law that will protect farm animals from extreme confinement. By 2022, the measure will prohibit the use of veal crates for baby calves, gestation crates for mother pigs and so-called battery cages for egg-laying hens. All three confine animals to spaces so small they can't turn around or spread their wings, in the case of hens, and are inhumane.
The newly-passed Massachusetts law also makes it illegal to sell meat or eggs from animals kept in these conditions, including from those farmed outside the state.
6. OREGON: Voters overwhelmingly approved Measure 100 by a 70-to-30 margin, which prohibits the sale of animal parts and products from 12 species, including rhino, cheetah, tiger, sea turtle, lion, elephant, whale, shark, pangolin, jaguar, ray, and leopard.
More than 150,000 signatures were gathered to put the measure on the ballot.
"Oregon has a long and proud history of supporting wildlife conservation. With this sweeping victory, Oregon has set an important example for the rest of the nation and joins efforts around the world to protect imperiled animals, such as elephants, whales and sea turtles," said Scott Beckstead, senior Oregon state director for The Humane Society of the United States.
Environmental journalist and nature photographer. Member, Society of Environmental Journalists.
Since President Obama took office, over 10 Million acres of public lands and over 15 Million acres of public offshore waters in the Gulf of Mexico have been turned over to energy corporations for fossil fuel extraction.
Potentially worth millions in profit, these leases cost the richest companies as little as $1.50 an acre.
What do we get?
Decades of pollution, oil spills, contaminated water, and catastrophic climate change.
Across the country, local communities are demanding that the president protect their health, preserve wildlife habitat, and follow through on his climate commitment.
The President has just days left to establish a real climate legacy. For more than a year, individuals and organizations from across the country have called on President Obama to stop this disastrous corporate giveaway.
Mr. President, you can stop the sale of these leases — today. But your time to act is running out! People across the country are asking you: What Will Be Your Climate Legacy?
You have only a few weeks left to keep this carbon in the ground, to protect our communities and our climate, and to end fossil fuel auctions on public lands and waters for good.
(November 9, 2016) -- As Donald Trump finishes his campaign with a promise to break the control of Washington by political insiders, his transition team is preparing to hand his administration over to a cozy clique of corporate lobbyists and Republican power brokers.
"Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you the American people," Trump says in his closing campaign advertisement, followed by flashing images of K Street, Wall Street, and Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein.
But the Trump transition team is a who's who of influence peddlers, including:
energy adviser Michael Catanzaro, a lobbyist for Koch Industries and the Walt Disney Company;
adviser Eric Ueland, a Senate Republican staffer who previously lobbied for Goldman Sachs;
Transition General Counsel William Palatucci, an attorney in New Jersey whose lobbying firm represents Aetna and Verizon.
Rick Holt, Christine Ciccone, Rich Bagger, and Mike Ferguson are among the other corporate lobbyists helping to manage the transition effort.
Presidential transition teams develop policy plans and come up with a list of more than 4,000 people an incoming president appoints, including White House jobs, cabinet secretaries, and lower level positions that oversee the military, agriculture, trade, and beyond.
Trump for America Inc., a nonprofit group chaired by Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., to oversee the Trump transition, has quietly moved ahead, meeting with interest groups and reaching out to lobbyists to plan a future Trump administration.
The group has held regular meetings at the Washington, D.C., offices of Baker Hostetler, a law and lobbying firm.
On Thursday, the group hosted a breakfast at Baker Hostetler attended by Microsoft's Ed Ingle and Steve Hart, two lobbyists who, according to filings, have worked to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Other transition meetings have included briefings with the Financial Services Roundtable and the Investment Company Institute, two lobby groups that represent Wall Street interests, as well as with the BGR Group, a lobby firm that represents Saudi Arabia and the South Korean government.
Trump, of course, isn't alone is relying on entrenched political insiders to shape his future administration. The Hillary Clinton transition team is led by Ken Salazar and Tom Donilon, two former Obama administration officials who now serve on the lobbying teams of major law firms.
Though the Clinton campaign gained headlines for banning registered lobbyists from managing her transition, the distinction between registered and unregistered lobbying is largely a question of semantics.
Trump's decision to embrace lobbyists while denouncing them on the campaign trail should come as no surprise to any seasoned observer.
The reality television mogul seized on distaste for big money politics as a potent campaign issue, denouncing the role of Super PACs during the Republican primaries. "I have disavowed all Super PACs," Trump said, adding that he would oppose any support from lobbyists and other special interest groups.
After shoring up the nomination, the candidate quickly reversed himself, not only raising cash from lobbyists but switching gears to aggressively embrace the the same Super PAC strategies used by more traditional candidates. Several Trump staffers moved from his campaign to Super PACs supporting the Trump-Pence ticket.
25 New Congressional Climate Champions Elected Gene Karpinski / The League of Conservation Voters
(November 9, 2016) -- I am incredibly proud of the unprecedented work we did this election cycle. Thanks to you, at least 25 new climate champions are joining the US House and Senate, including Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, the first-ever Latina elected to the Senate, and rising stars like Ruben Kihuen in Nevada, Nanette Barragán in California, and Josh Gottheimer in New Jersey in the House.
New environmental leaders were elected and re-elected to state and local offices around the country, like Jay Inslee in Washington, Roy Cooper in North Carolina, and Steve Bullock in Montana. And thanks to you, our state partners had tremendous wins, like defeating Amendment 1, a polluter-backed proposition that would have made it harder for solar energy in Florida.
Hillary Clinton couldn’t have put it better: We are stronger together.
Thanks to the tremendous investment in this work, the environmental movement is now millions strong, and growing every day. Together, we will reject fear and division in favor of an optimistic, inclusive future -- a future that includes cleaner, safer, and more sustainable communities for everyone.
Together, we’ll defend the environmental progress we have made and -- more importantly -- continue to advance policies to confront the climate crisis at the federal, state, and local levels.
Together, we must brace ourselves for some of the fiercest battles we've faced yet as we look ahead to an extremely dangerous anti-environment President, Senate, and House.
I know that our 1.5 million LCV members will be there at every step of the way to counter them. Because we know that it is always worth fighting for what is right.
Thank you for ALL that you’ve done, and for all that you will do. Next week, next year, and for the rest of our lives.
Gene Karpinski is president of the League of Conservation Voters
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