The New Progressive Alliance (NPA) continued to expand our organizational outreach and are now allied with eighteen other national and international organizations including 350, America Changes Today, Antemedius, Corporate Reform Coalition, Global Campaign for Climate Action (Tck Tck Tck), Green Party of Washington State, Move to Amend, North Carolina Independents, Old Elm Tree, Peaceful Uprising, Peoples’ Truck, Popular Resistance, Qualiatica Press, Radicals’ Clothing, Rootstrikers, Take Back America for the People, Tar Sand Actions, and We Are the Democracy. (see http://newprogs.org/our-allies)
- Facebook likes (readers who subscribe to our articles) have grown steadily and were over 1,250 by the end of the year. Many readers share our articles for wider circulation and NPA members publish to a wider audience with their own money. (see https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Progressive-Alliance/172365886150915?sk=wall&filter=1)
- Last year together with the Corporate Reform Coalition we petitioned the Security and Exchange Commission to mandate disclosure of corporate political activity. This is to further the NPA goal on election reform contained in our Unified Progressive Platform and the Corporate Reform Coalition’s goal to increase transparency and accountability for corporate political spending On January 8, 2013 the Corporate Reform Coalition applauded in a press release the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) commitment to seek disclosure of all corporate political spending in response to a historical demonstration of investor demand for such a rule-making. In one of the last actions of departing SEC Chair Mary Schapiro’s term, the agency announced that it will consider a proposed rule to require that public companies provide disclosure to shareholders regarding the use of corporate resources for political activities. The Corporate Reform Coalition included the following organizations: Public Citizen, Demos, CREDO Action, Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending, Common Cause, New Progressive Alliance, Walden Asset Management, Natural Investments LLC, Responsible Endowments Coalition, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, The New School Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility, the Campaign Legal Center, Green Century Capital Management, Krull and Company, Colorado Sustainable Financial Planning, Effective Assets™, Alliance for a Just Society, Main Street Alliance, Corporate Ethics International/ Business Ethics Network, the AFL-CIO, Friends of the Earth, Democracy 21, Sunlight Foundation, Pax World Mutual Funds, Domini Social Investments LLC, Public Campaign, Citizen Works, NorthStar Asset Management, Inc., the Communications Workers of America, the American Sustainable Business Council, AFSCME, Trillium Asset Management LLC, CREW, Zevin Asset Management, CTW Investment Group, Coffee Party USA, the Social Equity Group, People For the American Way, the League of Conservation Voters, and US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.
- We continued throughout the year coordinating with the United Nations to become an officially recognized Non-Government Organization (NGO) so as to better carry out the ten goals of our Unified Progressive Platform which are aligned with the 30 Articles of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the eight U.N. Millennium Development Goals.
- We worked with Quaker Earthcare Witness and Friends’ Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) along with many other individuals and organizations to get President Obama to hold a National Climate Change Summit.
- Though 2013 was much less an election year than the Presidential election year of 2012, we still endorsed candidates. As always, the endorsement was based upon support of the Uniform Progressive Platform. Should an endorsed candidate or partner organization of the NPA renege on their promise to support the Unified Platform in word or deed, we will very publicly and unceremoniously disavow them - because, in order to progress, we need to avoid empty promises, and justifications such as that we hear all too often from adherents of the corporate-run parties: “Sometimes you just have to hold your nose and vote for the lesser of two evils!"
- On January 26, 2013 the New Progressive Alliance made a presentation to the Climate Activists of Atlanta, passed out business cards, and discussed how we could pursue mutual goals.
- On the Feb. 9, 2013 NC Independents met with an NPA representative Susan Rose-Pizzo in Durham, NC. They discussed current efforts to open the electoral process in NC, including changing laws about the number of signatures needed to qualify as a candidate or the number of votes needed to qualify as a party. NC Independents is also drafting a pledge akin to our platform - a sort of 'open-the-process' commitment that candidates and elected representatives can make to voters. NC Independents will attend the national Independents meeting in NYC, a video of which is available on their Facebook page.
- On February 12, 2013 Scott Sadler, President of Atlanta-based Boardwalk Capital Management, addressed the Cobb Alliance for Smart Energy (in Georgia) on his concept of "sustainable and responsible" investing that guides the company he founded. A summary was posted on the NPA Facebook Page because it addressed two of the ten goals of the Unified Progressive Platform on corporate accountability/reform and saving the environment.
- In March we wrote the Governor of NC and encouraged him to support structural electoral reforms that will help make the political process in North Carolina more open and less partisan-driven. Such measures include open primaries, redistricting, and increased ballot access. These measures are fully aligned with the goals of the Unified Progressive platform on election reform. The North Carolina Independents, which we are allied with, started this drive.
- On March 8, 2013 we wrote the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency opposing the Pacific Northwest LNG Project. The New Progressive Alliance urged a science based approach and pointed out the following.
- The record on Pipeline Safety both in Canada and the United States is poor.
-Locating it on Lelu Island means a potential of greater environmental damage.
-Japex, which now owns at least 10% of this project, is in the tar sands business which will be under increasing scrutiny because of the environmental damage it does.
-Economic benefits in Australia, Canada, and the United States on energy export businesses tend not to go to the exporting country. Liabilities, however, for accidents – which are predictable and routine – are paid for by the exporting country.
- In March we wrote to the U.S. State Department opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline and specifically pointing out the flaws in the draft Environmental Impact Statement. Such flaws include the earlier objections to the equally misleading EIS remaining unanswered, the assumption that this ecologically destructive and carbon-intensive extraction and processing of highly corrosive oil would develop at roughly the same pace regardless of whether the United States issues a permit for this pipeline, safety considerations, our county's aquifers, the stability of our oceans, the fact that American taxpayers - not oil-sands refiners - foot the bill for spills of tar sands oil on US soil, the recent IRS decision exempting tar sands refiners from paying the 8-cents-per-barrel excise tax applied to other crude oil and petroleum products that funds the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, false job claims, most of the oil-sands are destined for export and will not improve the US’s energy independence, the increasing problems with climate change, and the more immediate environmental effects of the destruction of 140,000 square kilometers of the boreal forest in northern Alberta.
- In March the New Progressive Alliance wrote to Michigan Governor Snyder urging him to extend the state's current renewable electricity standard. Michigan is on track to meet its goal of 10 percent renewable energy by 2015. Continuing and expanding this requirement will help grow Michigan's economy by creating jobs, lowering costs, and improving public health and the environment. This has been shown repeatedly in other states and other countries. We were successful.
- In March we wrote the Environmental Protection Agency urging the ban of the widely used organophosphate insecticide, chlorpyrifos. Recent science documents it is even worse than supposed in 2001 when it was banned from home use because exposure puts children’s developing nervous systems at risk.
- In March we supported of the Shareholder Protection Act in California, SB 121 (Evans). We had also signed on to a letter of support for this bill last year when it was SB982. This bill requires corporations who engage in political activity to issue an annual report outlining its political expenditures from the previous fiscal year and also to notify its shareholders no less than 24 hours prior to making any political contribution made during the current year. This falls within the goal of the Unified Progressive Platform on Election Reform. Note that here again we are only calling for reporting – not limiting - campaign contributions. Even that modest goal is quite difficult.
- On April 16, 2013 in WASHINGTON, D.C. the NPA as part of the Corporate Reform Coalition called on newly confirmed SEC Chair Mary Jo White to act now to require disclosure of corporate political spending. A record-breaking 500,000 investors and members of the public have submitted comments supporting the rule, demonstrating the importance of this issue. The previous December the agency announced that it would consider the proposed rule to require that public companies provide disclosure to shareholders regarding the use of corporate resources for political activities. A petition requesting this rulemaking was filed in 2011 by a bipartisan committee of leading law professors. The SEC has a responsibility to protect investors by regulating the securities markets to ensure that they have the information they need to make investment decisions. Investors and members of the public have deluged the SEC with half a million comments urging the agency to act to protect their investments. Organizations joining the NPA to back the disclosure of corporate political spending include Public Citizen, Demos, Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending, Trillium Asset Management LLC, Walden Asset Management, Sunlight Foundation, People for the American Way, the Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21, Main Street Alliance, Alliance for a Just Society, U. S. PIRG, Responsible Endowments Coalition, the Coffee Party, Harrington Investments, Inc., CREDO, Social Equity Group, and US SIF.
- In April the NPA went to North Carolina's Earth Day/Climate Change Awareness Day event in Raleigh and helped the North Carolina Conservation Network collect signatures for a 'Slow the Rush To Fracking' petition. The North Carolina Conservation Network brings a number of groups together around 'equitable and sustainable solutions for the environment.'
- On April 25, 2013 the Shareholder Protection Act was introduced in the US House of Representatives HR 1734 and US Senate S824 to establish procedures of corporate governance that would involve shareholders in corporate political spending decisions and inform the public of corporate spending in elections. The call for approval of the Shareholder Protection Act was made by 39 organizations and individuals representing very diverse backgrounds, ranging from environmental and religious groups to institutional investors and labor unions and included the following. Brennan Center for Justice at N.Y.U. School of Law.
Center for Media and Democracy
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
Coffee Party USA
Corporate Accountability International
Corporate Ethics International/Business Ethics Network
Free Speech for People
Friends of the Earth
Harrington Investments, Inc.
Holy Cross International Justice Office
Illinois Campaign for Political Reform
Krull and Company, Peter W. Krull, President & Founder
League of Conservation Voters
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
National Consumers League
New Progressive Alliance
North Carolina Center for Voter Engagement
NorthStar Asset Management, Inc.
Ohio Citizen Action
People for the American Way
Progressive States Network
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Social Equity Group, Ron Freund and Duncan Meaney
Strategic Counsel on Corporate Accountability, Sanford Lewis
U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG)
United Food and Commercial Workers
West Virginia Citizen Action
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Zevin Asset Management, LLC
- The NPA endorsed a national Labor Fightback Conference for concerned trade unionists who want to do something about labor’s plight held on May 10–12, 2013 at the Rutgers University Student Center, New Brunswick, New Jersey. This conference will addressed the key question: “What strategy will enable labor to mount the most effective and powerful fightback possible against the corporate assaults?” Other endorsing organizations included the following.
Rutgers American Association of University Professors– American Federation of Teachers
Council of New Jersey State College Locals, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
National Jobs for All Coalition
Coalition of Labor Union Women, Greater New Jersey Chapter
International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 877
American Federation of Government Employees
Michael C. Pierce
Roger Baum, Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer
Southern Workers Assembly
El Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas
Chicago & Midwest Regional Joint Board, Workers United
Black Workers for Justice
United Electrical Workers Local 150
South Central Federation of Labor, Wisconsin
South Carolina AFL-CIO
Wisconsin Bail Out the People
University of Wisconsin–Madison Teachers Assistants’ Association (TAA)
Campaign for a Mass Party of Labor
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, New York Chapter
International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1422
Communications Workers of America Local 1082
South Carolina Progressive Network
Savannah Regional Central Labor Council
Kansas American Federation of Teachers
New Jersey State Industrial Union Council
New Jersey Labor Against War
Colia L. Clark
Indiana Peace & Justice
Communications Workers of America Local 1081
Local 194, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, AFL/CIO-CLC
PennFed Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees–International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Emergency Labor Network
Union of Rutgers Administrations–American Federation of Teachers Local 1766
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1208
Laurens R. Hunt
People’s Organization for Progress
Communications Workers of America Local 4502
Mark W. Weber
Ohio State Labor Party
New Jersey Progressive Democrats of America
Lansing Workers Center
Richard Roman, Associate Professor
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 372, District Council 37
Defending Dissent Foundation
- On May 28, 2013 the NPA has made a public comment for the record objecting to the United States Bureau of Land Management about the proposed ALEC written guidelines by Obama for fracking on public lands.
- The United States is the world's largest subsidizer of fossil fuels. Stop that and renewable energy could play on a more level playing field. One way to help do that is to support the bipartisan Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act. Since 1980, Congress has allowed coal, oil, and natural gas producers to form Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) to raise capital on the stock market, while enjoying special tax benefits. Meanwhile, renewable energy producers have been denied access to the same opportunity. This bill would for the first time allow producers of many types of renewable energy, including wind and solar power, to take advantage of MLPs to compete more freely for investors and low-cost financing. In June the NPA, in addition to contacting congressmen, encouraged the readers on our Facebook page to support this bill with an applicable reference to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
- In June the New Progressive Alliance met with Occupy Owensboro, Kentucky to coordinate activities.
- In June the NPA made a formal comment to the Environmental Protection Agency allowing a dramatic increase in glyphosate contamination of food crops, edible oils and waterways at concentrations which are thousands of times higher than the amount needed to cause cancer. The science on this is clear. The false claims of Monsanto are also clear. The NPA urged the EPA to follow science and the action many other countries have already taken.
- In June the NPA wrote to the Department of Energy to urge it to deny the 8.3 billion dollar taxpayer loan to Southern Company and its partners for construction of two new nuclear reactors at the Vogtle site in Georgia. Even though the Department of Energy has extended the deadline for completion of the loan package several times, the loan still has not been granted because the utilities want a sweetheart deal that would put all the risk on the taxpayers. That is why the Office of Management and Budget has not approved the loan. The proposed Vogtle loan would be 15 times larger (and far riskier) than the failed one given to Solyndra. There are many signs of overcharging and incompetence at Vogtle. These reactors are already behind schedule and over budget, according to the Georgia Public Service Commission's own watchdog. (The original Vogtle reactors were 1200% over budget when completed!) The nuclear energy industry has a consistent history of over 50 years of being vastly over budget, not to mention safety or nuclear waste disposal problems. There are many renewable energy projects that could be on line sooner, cheaper, and with greater reliability.
- In June the NPA wrote to the North Carolina NAACP in support of its opposition to devastating cuts to citizens by the North Carolina legislature and governor. Rob Stephens, the Field Secretary of the NC NAACP, replied “We appreciate your support!!”
- Starting in June and extending the rest of the year 2013 the NPA engaged in an extensive discussion with many other similar organizations on coordinating our actions.
- Starting on June 29 and July 20, 2013 and frequently thereafter the NPA met with the Fulton County Green Party in Atlanta, Georgia to coordinate activities.
- The New Progressive Alliance joins others pledging to never invest in Fossil Fuels. For a full list at our allied organization 350 see http://gofossilfree.org/commitments/
- In August the NPA wrote the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) opposing the plan to allow fracking on public lands. In addition to many organizations such as ours, about 650,000 individuals wrote the BLM.
- In September Alan Maki representing the NPA, concerns in Minnesota, and many organizations in Uniting People made a Press Prelease urging the United States not to go to another war in Syria.
- In September we urged the United States Department of Agriculture to withdraw the so-called "Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection." Turning most of poultry inspection over to poultry companies so that they can police themselves would have predictably disastrous results. Some of the concerns detailed in the letter we wrote follow.
-The proposed rule would make one USDA inspector responsible for inspecting an impossible number of birds, up to 175 birds per minute or three birds per second.
-In order to compensate for missed fecal contamination, the proposed rule would permit companies to use more anti-microbial chemicals to clean the poultry carcasses which would in turn encourage the use of dangerous chemical cocktails to compensate for increased line speeds.
-Poultry plants that receive traditional USDA inspection had lower salmonella rates than pilot plants using the privatized inspection model. Two of these pilot plants FAILED salmonella testing in recent testing conducted by USDA.
-This rule would put the safety of our food at risk, as well as the health of the workers who are using increased amounts of hazardous chemicals to decontaminate the poultry.
- In September we wrote to Commanding General of the Military District of Washington, Major General Jeffrey S. Buchanan, and to the Manning legal defense team urging a reduction in Manning’s sentence. Reporting war crimes should not merit a more serious sentence than committing them.
- EPA whistle-blowers have exposed how the EPA has shut down its own fracking-related water contamination investigations after being pressured by the oil and gas industry. In October the NPA made a formal complaint with the EPA on the three following investigative shut downs.
- 1. Parker County, TX – The EPA began an investigation after a homeowner reported that his drinking water was bubbling like champagne. But after fracking company Range Resources threatened not to participate in another study in March 2012, the EPA set aside the "smoking gun" report connecting methane migration to fracking.¹
- 2. Dimock, PA – The mid-Atlantic EPA began testing water in Dimock, PA after residents complained that their drinking water was contaminated from nearby fracking operations. But the federal EPA closed the investigation in July 2012 even after the staff members who had been testing the water warned of methane, manganese and arsenic contamination.²
- 3. Pavilion, WY – The EPA released a draft report in 2011 linking fracking to contamination of an underground aquifer. After drawing criticism from the oil and gas industry, the EPA handed the investigation over to the state of Wyoming in June 2013 to be completed with funding from EnCana, the drilling company charged with contaminating the water wells in the first place.
- In November the NPA submitted a clemency application seeking a reduction by 45 days in the 10 month prison sentence PFC Kimberly received for failing to return to her unit in Iraq and fleeing to Canada. The request for clemency was based on humanitarian reasons due to pregnancy. Unless clemency is granted, will be forced to give birth in prison and then immediately relinquish custody of her son while she continues to serve the remainder of her sentence. Unfortunately military regulations provide no provisions for her to be able to breastfeed her infant son while she is in prison.
- In November the NPA urged the EPA to move forward with the proposed carbon dioxide limits for new power plants. The agency had already determined the debilitating effects of carbon dioxide pollution (plus the many other pollutants involved in mining and burning of coal) and the deadly and expensive costs of climate change. These changes, though modest and late, are a necessary first step. In the face of mounting costs caused by climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency should in the future raise the limits on new power plants and apply new limits on old power plants.
- In December the NPA made a formal comment urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to enact four critical safety recommendations for the transportation of crude oil and tar sands by rail. This will become increasingly important because the tar sands pipeline is virtually already built except the last segment which will go by rail.
- Political contributions by corporations used to be strictly controlled. Now they do not even have to be reported to the government or even the shareholders of the company. Despite over three quarters of a million comments (including those of the NPA) urging more disclosure, the Securities and Exchange Commission recently submitted an agenda with nothing on disclosure. It was submitted over Thanksgiving in hopes it would go unnoticed. In December 2013 the NPA joined with the below 52 other organizations in protesting the outrageous decision.
Alliance for a Just Society
American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFLCIO)
As You Sow
American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
Americans for Campaign Reform
Boston Common Asset Management
Brennan Center for Justice
Campaign Legal Center
Center for Political Accountability
Center for Responsive Politics
Change to Win
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
Clean Yield Asset Management
Communications Workers of America (CWA)
Domini Social Investments
Dominican Sisters of Hope
Friends of the Earth
Green Century Fund
HIP Investor, Inc.
International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT)
Investor Voice, SPC
League of Conservation Voters
Main Street Alliance
National Consumers League (NCL)
New Progressive Alliance
Newground Social Investment, SPC
People for the American Way (PFAW)
Responsible Endowments Coalition
Social Equity Group
The Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott and Coolidge
U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S.PIRG)
Union of Concerned Scientists
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)
United for a Fair Economy
Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk
US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment
Walden Asset Management
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
WV Citizen Action Group
Zevin Asset Management
- In December we urged Port Metro Vancouver to perform a new valid Environmental Impact Assessment before expanding the Fraser Surrey Docks coal terminal. Stricter regulations and fierce community resistance has American coal producers looking to BC ports for a way to ship their dirty coal overseas. We pointed out numerous procedural irregularities and said that if the Port Metro Vancouver cannot properly assess the potential impacts of coal exports, it should deny the Fraser Surrey Docks permit and suspend any further expansion of coal exports.
- In December we urged the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to reject the PolyMet proposed sulfide mine described in their Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement. In the summer of 2013 over 24,000 people signed the Mining Truth petition asking Governor Dayton to use four basic criteria to evaluate sulfide mining proposals. Not one of those criteria has been met by PolyMet’s Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The proposal could be summarized as involving a trade of 20 years of mining for perhaps centuries of monitoring, treatment of polluted water, and site maintenance. Due to the problems with the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement, we believe the mine should not be built as described.
In December the NPA prepared for its 2014 “De-Corporatize Congress” campaign, which will involve encouraging people to run and/or recruit candidates for the US House of Representatives and Senate.