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:
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.
- The New Republic: Bernie’s Army is Running for Congress (TNR)
- Endorsers of Bernie Sanders for President (EBS)
- Democracy for America (DFA)
- Climate Hawks Vote (CHV)
- Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC)
- BlueAmerica (BA)
|Kim Foxx||IL-Cook County State’s Atty||DFA|
|John Fetterman||PA-SEN||TNR EBS|
|Nanette Barragan||CA-44||CHV BA|
|Bao Nguyen||CA-46||EBS BA|
|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|
|Alex Law||NJ-01||BA EBS|
|Lucy Flores||NV-04||EBS DFA TNR|
|Eric Kingson||NY-24||EBS BA|
|Zephyr Teachout||NY-19||EBS DFA|
Incumbents are marked with an asterisk.
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
- Ameriforge Group
- Atlas Resource Partners
- Cactus Wellhead
- Chief Oil & Gas
- Cimarron Energy
- Eclipse Resources
- EV Energy Partners
- Exterran Partners
- Gardner Denver
- Global Partners
- Gruden Acquisition
- Kenan Advantage Group
- Moxie Liberty
- Murray Energy Corp
- Vantage Energy
- Warren Resources
- Zachry Holdings
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.
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.
Senator 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
Distinguished Member of Scientific Staff, Lawrence Livermore National Lab
Member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences
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:
- President Barack Obama
- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
- Former president Bill Clinton
- Former president George W. Bush
- Former Obama chief economic advisor Austan Goolsbee
- Former senator Joe Lieberman
- Former senator Jeff Bingaman
- Former CNN reporter Steve Hargreaves President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness
- Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich
- Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney
- American Legislative Exchange Council
- Rep. Fred Upton
- Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt
- Council on Foreign Relations fellow Michael Levi
- Harvard environmental economist Robert Stavins
- Former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer
- All corporate media
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.