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

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

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

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

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

Download the shareholder resolution and Buffett's opposition here.

The text of Buffett's letter is below:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Incumbents are marked with an asterisk.

Clinton Goes to Pennsylvania to Reap Windfall from Pennsylvania Frackers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Franklin Square companies in the Pennsylvania fracking industry

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

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

Timeline: During Paris Talks, D.C. Breathed Life Into U.S. Oil Industry

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 15 Dec 2015 15:37:00 GMT

Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), December 3:

Hein­rich pre­vi­ously voted against a pro-ex­ports bill that cleared the En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee on a party-line vote, but signaled that he could sup­port ex­ports if they’re coupled with strong re­new­able-en­ergy in­cent­ives. “We are look­ing for things that bring people to the table from both sides,” he said. “I think there is a real op­por­tun­ity here. I hope we real­ize it.”

“It’s effectively carbon-neutral” to allow crude exports, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) told reporters last week, “because you’re going to burn the oil someplace under the current regime.”

Tim Kaine (D-Va.), December 3:

“There is a wide range of opin­ion [in the Demo­crat­ic caucus], some pro, some con,” Sen. Tim Kaine, a Vir­gin­ia Demo­crat, told Na­tion­al Journ­al. “The ma­jor­ity opin­ion is prob­ably [that] we’d be will­ing to con­sider it if we got some very strong en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency and green­house-gas-re­du­cing pro­vi­sions along with it.”

Heidi Heitkamp, December 9:

“The good news is there is no one saying ‘absolutely no,’ and there is a range of belief systems in terms of what you would need in order to accomplish the lifting of the ban,” Heitkamp said Tuesday. “We believe we’re at a spot where we could actually get a deal.”’

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, December 9:
In a press conference on Tuesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest reiterated the administration’s position, but wouldn’t threaten a veto of the omnibus or tax extenders package if a provision lifting the decades-old ban on crude oil was tucked inside.

Democratic Senator Wants to Add Oil-Refiner Subsidy to Crude Export Deal

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 10 Dec 2015 17:25:00 GMT

Tom CarperSenator Tom Carper (D-Del.) has proposed a tax credit for oil refiners to be added to legislation that would lift the decades-long ban on crude oil exports. This double-subsidy deal for the oil industry during international climate negotiations belies Carper’s claimed concerns about climate change but would benefit Delaware refineries.

Politico’s Elana Schor reports that Carper wants “a narrowly crafted tax credit that would particularly help the East Coast refiners with the most to lose if producers can sell their product overseas. The credit, which large, integrated oil companies could not collect, would also spread some love among refiners in California and the Gulf Coast, creating a large band of members of Congress who might be willing to back it. Sources tells Elana that oil patch Senators are likely to push back hard on Carper’s proposal.”

Download the draft Carper oil-refiner tax-credit language, or see below.

Led By White House, Democrats Are Looking to Give Big Oil A Major Win During Climate Talks

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 09 Dec 2015 01:02:00 GMT

In a paywalled article at Politico Pro, reporter Elana Schor describes how the Democratic effort to cut a deal to lift the decades-long crude oil export ban is being quietly directed by the White House. The administration has quietly walked back its October veto threat against this top oil-industry priority, despite the global attention on climate change during the Paris climate talks. Remarkably, even climate champion Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) indicated her willingness to cut a deal that would rejuvenate the tar-sands and Bakken-shale industry, telling Schor, “I’ve heard environmentalists say this is a great opportunity; others say it’s not.”

Schor’s story did not make mention of which environmental groups are on which side. The Sierra Club has been leading the fight to ensure the ban stands, whereas the National Wildlife Federation has been pushing for a deal in order to achieve some of its land-conservation goals.

The carbon pollution caused by lifting the ban on crude oil exports, depending on future oil prices, could be equivalent to the pollution from 42 new coal plants.

Lifting the crude oil export ban would be a dramatic blow to American prestige within the international climate negotiations, where the United States, led by President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, have been claiming the moral high ground. Youth activists from historically black universities who are monitoring the talks recently sent a video plea to President Obama and the U.S. Senate, saying “the ban must stand.”

White House keeps GOP hopes for oil exports alive

The White House on Tuesday declined to rule out accepting a Congressional measure to allow U.S. oil exports for the first time in four decades, a potential signal to senior Democrats who are considering striking a deal with the GOP to overturn the ban in exchange for other party priorities.

The White House “continues to oppose” a legislative provision rolling back the decades-old ban on exporting U.S. crude, spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, “but I’m just not going to get into a detailed list of things we are going to veto or not veto.”

Asked about ending the ban as part of a potential budget package that would otherwise be favorable to the White House, a senior Obama administration official said only that legislation on the issue is “not needed at this time”- repeating the language and tone used previously that’s raised alarms among some green groups.

Climate Hawks Vote political director Brad Johnson urged President Barack Obama to close the door to oil exports to reinforce the administration’s goal of reaching a strong global emissions pact at the climate change conference in Paris this week.

“All the efforts of his climate negotiators in Paris could be blown away by this one boneheaded appeasement of Big Oil,” Johnson said.

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

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

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

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

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.

Letter from Ben Santer in Support of Tom Karl, Climate Scientist Under Attack by Lamar Smith

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 19 Nov 2015 02:15:00 GMT

Message from Ben Santer: Here is a message of support I sent to Tom Karl on November 17, 2015. I remain deeply concerned by the unwarranted Congressional scrutiny that the 2015 Karl et al. Science paper continues to receive.

I have no concerns about public distribution of this letter.

Dr. Thomas R. Karl
Director, National Center for Environmental Information
Veach-Baley Federal Building
151 Patton Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801-5001

Dear Tom,

I just wanted to express my gratitude and scientific appreciation for the critical research you and your NCEI colleagues have performed over the last several decades. You have been pioneers in many different areas: in producing observational estimates of global-scale changes in land and ocean surface temperatures, in identifying non-climatic artifacts in temperature measurements, in developing rigorous scientific methods of adjusting for such artifacts, and in accounting for the incomplete, time-varying coverage of observations.

NCEI has made its surface temperature data sets freely and openly available to the entire climate science community, thus enabling important research on the nature and causes of climate change, climate variability, and climate model evaluation. NCEI staff have clearly and thoroughly documented each surface temperature data set that NCEI has released – in scientific publications, in presentations to policymakers and professional societies, and in extensive online material. No scientific organization has done a more thorough or transparent job in developing and analyzing observations of 20th and early 21st century changes in Earth’s climate.

I am deeply concerned that NCEI’s science is now being subjected to Congressional scrutiny and criticism. Such scrutiny and criticism is not warranted. The leadership of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology should understand that science is dynamic rather than static. All observational temperature data sets have evolved in important ways over time, in tandem with improvements in the ability to identify and adjust for inhomogeneities introduced by changing measurement systems, changing measurement practices, and changes in the spatial coverage of measurements. This is true not only for surface temperature data sets, but also for measurements of the heat content of the world’s oceans, and for satellite-based estimates of temperature change in Earth’s lower and upper atmosphere. Evolution of observational temperature data sets is a normal, on-going scientific process. It is not evidence of non-scientific behavior.

If our country is to take informed decisions on how to address problems arising from human perturbations to the climate system, we need access to the best-available scientific information on how Earth’s climate has actually changed. NCEI provides such critically important information to the scientific community, policymakers, and the public. You and your NCEI colleagues deserve our sincere thanks and our continued support.

With best regards,

Ben Santer

Distinguished Member of Scientific Staff, Lawrence Livermore National Lab
Member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences

A Brief List of Keystone XL Supporters

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

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

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

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

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