The pursuit of climate justice

Democratic leaders "invest in Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous communities"


Joe Biden’s commitment to climate justice, in action. Credit: Tim Aubry

When Chuck Schumer promised in January 2021 to respond to the “climate emergency” and “invest in Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous communities” in doing so, I didn’t know he meant having his police force arrest the Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous leaders of climate justice organizations trying to stop a fossil-fuel boondoggle, but here we are.

The leaders of eleven climate-justice organizations were arrested by U.S. Capitol Police on Thursday after they successfully blockaded the Hart Senate Office Building in a protest against Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) dirty fossil-fuel fast-tracking deal. The arrestees pictured above are:

The other arrestees are:

Sen. Michael Bennet, (D-Colo.) running for re-election and trying to remain silent on the Manchin deal, was turned away by the protest.

Environmental justice leaders around the nation are calling on the politicians who claim that Black lives matter to them to stop this deal.

National Wildlife Federal Executive Vice President Mustafa Santiago Ali said the Manchin deal should come with a warning label:

“CAUTION: This legislation is dangerous for your health, will increase pollution in Black, brown, and indigenous, and lower-wealth communities, and may exacerbate the climate crisis.”

WE ACT for Environmental Justice founder Peggy Shepard, a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC), reiterated that message:

“By making it more difficult for communities to participate in the permitting process, the fossil fuel industry and others will be able to hastily secure permits without adequate time for review and consideration of the environmental impacts, which will only continue the legacy of pollution that has turned these communities into sacrifice zones.”

Youth activist Jerome Foster II, the youngest member of WHEJAC, blasted the deal:

This is an immoral deal written by and for the fossil fuel industry. Leader Schumer could attach this legislation to a must-pass government spending bill next week, so we must do everything we can to stop this legislation in its tracks.

In a letter delivered to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schumer yesterday, more than 400 scientists and health professionals urged Congress to reject the dirty deal. The letter, written by Dr. Sandra Steingraber, noted that “we need to leave oil, gas, and coal in the ground and turn off the spigot of carbon pouring into the air in the form of both carbon dioxide and methane” but that Manchin’s plan “takes us in exactly the opposite direction.”

An increasing number of Democratic members agree:


Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), enthused by the fast-tracking of the fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline through her state, has announced she will vote for the Manchin plan.

Senate Environment Chair Tom Carper (D-Del.), co-founder of the Senate Environmental Justice Caucus, has decided to throw environmental-justice communities under the bulldozer as a favor to Schumer and Manchin.

Gregory Wetstone, chief executive of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), is backing the plan, which surprised me, until I learned that ACORE members include fossil-industry companies Chevron, Dominion, NextEra, and NRG; and fossil-industry financiers BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citi, and Wells Fargo; and fossil-industry lobbyists Bracewell, Vinson, Skadden, Steptoe & Johnson.

Heather Zichal, head of the American Clean Power Association, is backing the plan, which surprised me, until I learned that the ACPA board has carbon capitalists AEP, NextEra, Duke, Dominion, Southern Power, Bank of America, and Berkshire Hathaway; and until I remembered that Zichal was on the board of directors of the fracking giant Cheniere.

Last but not least, Satan thanked Manchin at an energy conference Friday for pushing the Mountain Valley Pipeline: “Joe, we’re going to see you some day, we have a place saved for you.”

Unfortunately for the Devil and his allies, The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports that “the combined funding and permitting reform bill will fail to get the necessary 60 votes to be added as a substitute amendment to the shell bill.” 

This means President Biden now has to choose whether the White House will let the dirty deal die, start whipping Democratic senators more aggressively, or go for making the bill even friendlier to the GOP Big Oil agenda. I don’t think he’d do that last, but I’m pretty naïve.

According to President Biden, Hurricane Fiona was a disaster for only some of Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Fiona is knocking out power in Nova Scotia after barreling through Bermuda, as the newly formed Tropical Storm Ian aims for Florida.

President Biden, “laser-focused on what’s happening to the people of Puerto Rico again,” weirdly omitted Puerto Rico’s one overwhelmingly Black municipality, Loíza, from his disaster declaration, even though the community was devastated. Not to worry though, the island’s five 90%+ white municipalities are covered. #AmendTheMap.

Also weird: the crypto bros who moved to Puerto Rico to dodge taxes are worse than useless, Andrew Chow reports.

I have another newsletter’s worth of links piled up, but I got a little carried away today with the dirty-deal dealings. I hope to churn out another post this weekend to catch up!

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