The Green Old Deal

Big Green to help Biden finish a dirty job


At yesterday’s League of Conservation Voters gala, President Joe Biden received the endorsement of the nation’s top environmentalist political operations—LCV, Sierra Club, the National Resources Defense Council, and billionaire Tom Steyer’s NextGen—for his reëlection to “finish the job.” Read about it in Politico, the polluter-sponsored publication owned by a right-wing German media giant mostly controlled by the hedge fund KKR.

Reuters’ Trevor Hunnicutt and Jarrett Renshaw drily commented:

The groups represent the mainstream part of the environmental movement and tend to reflect older voices. Younger activists, such as the ones that sought to disrupt the annual White House Correspondents Dinner earlier this year, may be less enthusiastic to back Biden.

In his remarks, Biden called climate change “the only truly existential threat” and went after “MAGA Republicans in Congress,” but somehow failed to mention the fossil-fuel projects he greenlit for mega-Democrat in Congress Joe Manchin. Biden started off by praising the “young people in this country”:

“I don’t have to tell you that it’s the young people in this country in particular who are leading the way.  And I mean that sincerely.  One of the reasons I’m so incredibly optimistic.  The is the best educated, most committed generation in American history, and they’re going to take us over the end — over the — over — just work it out for us.

As forecast in yesterday’s newsletter, those “younger activists” with Climate Defiance were indeed outside the gala, protesting. As Climate Defiance’s Michael Greenberg told The New York Times, a performatively anti-trans, Trump-obsessed, polluter-sponsored publication:

“You cannot honor the president and call him a climate champion when he is actively approving new fossil fuel projects.”

Well, Michael, maybe you can’t, but watch the other groups do just that! The joint endorsement reeked of fear of the admittedly dire alternative of a Republican presidency, with blustering overstatement about the quality of Biden’s climate record so far:

“President Biden has acted courageously during a critical inflection point in the climate fight. No other administration has done more to move us forward.” Ben Jealous, executive director of the Sierra Club.1

“They have done more than any administration in history by far to address the climate crisis and advance clean energy solutions and environmental justice.”Tiernan Sittenfield, LCV senior vice president of government affairs.

“President Biden’s climate leadership has been nothing short of historic.”Manish Bapna, president and CEO of the NRDC Action Fund.

Climate Defiance activists getting to re-use their White House Correspondents Dinner banner outside the LCV gala.

To the degree that the groups represent the climate agenda rather than market Democrats to climate voters, this is an uncomfortable compromise at best. But it’s nothing new. In 2015, the League of Conservation Voters pre-emptively endorsed Hillary Clinton even though she was the weakest Democratic primary candidate on climate according to their own public metrics. And in 2010, the Sierra Club responded to the BP oil disaster by praising President Barack Obama as “the best environmental president we’ve had since Teddy Roosevelt.”

Even though in some sense the endorsement was a foregone conclusion, it was kept a closely held secret by the organizational leadership, who managed to keep a tight lid on the even the news that Biden would show up at the gala until the last minute.

Let’s just say that not too many frontline environmental-justice activists were given a heads up.

Trevor and his colleague Nandita Bose have an update:

U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to California next week to raise campaign cash from tech and climate donors as he races to raise over a billion dollars for his re-election fight, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter. . . The president will attend a reception co-hosted by eight tech, climate and private equity entrepreneurs and investors including Dan Kalafatas, Hadley Mullin, Steve Silberstein and Mark Robinson.

The climate movement has just enough power to be at the table, but not to choose what gets served.

Lead Locally is one of the groups working hard to build lasting power for the climate movement from the ground up. They’re hosting their second “Run For Climate” training bootcamp, a free, six-week online series, starting July 18th:

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This morning, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) held the latest of his series of hearings on the rising scourge of plastic pollution, this time focusing on environmental justice communities. Witnesses include Louisiana environmental justice activists Angelle Bradford and Sharon Lavigne and New Jersey activist Chris Tandazo, and the Republican witnesses: American Chemistry Council- and ExxonMobil-backed ethylene cracker advocate Kevin Sunday and American Chemistry Council- and ExxonMobil-backed fracker advocate Donna Jackson.

Meanwhile, the House Natural Resources Committee hosted governors Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Mark Gordon (R-Wyo.) for a hearing on rescinding the proposed Bureau of Land Management Conservation and Landscape Health Rule, which would allow the agency to consider environmental concerns when making decisions about use of federal lands under its jurisdiction. Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah) is the lead sponsor of H.R. 3397, the bill to block the BLM rule.

Hearings on the Hill:

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1 The Sierra Club endorsement came with caveats, for what it’s worth.

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