Public Comments 2015

The New Progressive Alliance periodically makes Public Comments by itself or with other organizations to federal agencies and legislative bodies in the United States and Canada in support of the Unified Platform. They are reproduced here in full and also briefly mentioned with our other activities in the Annual Reports and under "News."

  • January 2015 - EPA Coal Ash
  • January 2015 - Texas Land Office on Fracking
  • January 2015 - Commission on Presidential Debates
  • January 2015 - Unity Statement of Principles
  • January 2015 - Money in Politics Legislation
  • February 2015 - Off Shore Drilling-OEM
  • February 2015 - U.S. Export-Inport Bank - No Loan for Australian Coal
  • February 2015 - Chevron and Election Reform
  • February 2015 - Pfizer out of ALEC
  • February 2015 - E.O. requiring Full Disclosure of Political Money for Public Contractors
  • March 2015 - Shareholders United
  • March 2015 - GA. EPD Nuclear Water Discharge Permit
  • March 2015 - Save Our Public Postal Service
  • March 2015 - Beyond Extreme Energy and FERC
  • April 2015 - UN ECOSOC Energy Subsidies
  • April 2015 - GA DOT Pipeline
  • April 2015 - Michigan selling forest for mining
  • April 2015 - NRC - Two New Florida Nuclear Plants
  • April 2015 - SEC-CRC
  • May 2015 - Call for United Nations NGOs
  • May 2015 - Fraser River Coal Port
  • May 2015 - FEC-Piercing the Corporate Veil
  • June 2015 - SEC Nominee
  • June 2015 - BLM PRB Coal
  • July 2015 - DOL overtime
  • September 2015 - UPS Leave ALEC
  • September 2015 - Politicians - Inappropriate Policy Riders
  • September 2015 - GA EPD - Protect Chatahoochee River from Coal Ash
  • September 2015 - Pope on Climate Action

 

 

January 2015 - EPA Coal Ash

January 2, 2015

Environmental Protection Agency

Re:Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities final rule signed on December 19, 2014

Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W. 
MC 5305P 
Washington, D.C. 20460

            The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  is pleased that the EPA has finally acted on regulating coal ash. We agree with  EPA administrator Gina McCarthy that “This is a huge step forward…For the first time in our history we have clear, concise standards for these facilities moving forward.” Specifically, we support

  • the new requirements to increase dam safety
  • require emergency action plans
  • require more frequent dam inspections
  • secure independent engineering evaluations of dams
  • requiring that  ash dumps at retired coal plants be dewatered and capped (Coal ash impoundments impact nearly every major watershed in the Southeast – the majority of these dumps are unlined, over 30 years old, and many are within proximity to drinking water sources. These impoundments contain more than 118 billion gallons of toxic waste.)
  • requiring all active coal ash ponds and landfills to have publicly available groundwater monitoring information. (In states like Georgia and Alabama, groundwater monitoring is currently not required.
  • requiring any ash impoundments constructed in the future are required to have composite liners and leachate collection systems.

    The only item we respectfully disagree with is the classification of coal ash as solid waste instead of hazardous waste. Coal ash is a toxic byproduct of coal combustion that contains chemicals such as arsenic, chromium, mercury, and lead.  In Kingston, Tennessee in 2008 a dike broke and released this toxic coal ash which has cost over a billion dollars to clean up so far. There was another coal ash spill in Eden, North Carolina. Taking the common sense approach of classifying coal ash as hazardous waste would have required federal enforcement and stricter rules. Classifying it as solid waste (akin to household garbage) means enforcement will be left to states and private citizens by lawsuits. This has traditionally proved to provide inadequate protection.

    Thank you for your consideration. Both the New Progressive Alliance and future generations appreciate the efforts the EPA is taking now to reduce and regulate coal ash.

 

January 2015 - Texas Land Office on Fracking

January 5, 2015

Texas General Land Office
William B. Travis Building
1701 N. Congress Avenue
Suite 935
Austin, Texas 78701

            The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  urges you to withdraw the lawsuit to invalidate the vote of Denton to ban fracking. In Denton, flares burn off benzene––a known carcinogen. Wells have exploded, spewing toxic fracking chemicals into neighborhoods. Ozone levels exceed standards for safety.

    The experience of the Denton citizens is consistent with other citizens nationwide in fracking. The future is not natural gas obtained by fracking - "in essence, explode a pipe bomb a few thousand feet beneath the surface, fracturing the surrounding rock." Unregulated by the EPA because of congressional action combined with the support of President Obama, companies refuse to even reveal the chemicals they are "fracking" with, nobody is monitoring the pollution to water and our aquifiers, and nobody is factoring the release of methane as a GHG. Of the 750 chemicals that can be used in the fracking process, more than 650 of them are toxic or carcinogens, according to a report filed with the U.S. House of Representatives in April 2011. See references 60, 63, 150, 183, 194, 220, 244, 280, 288, 296, 301, 303, 345, 355, 359, 370, 374 - 377, 404, 410, 414, 434, 456, 475, 483, 521, 542 - 544, 594, 602, 639, 683 - 689, 712, 713, 715 - 718, 734 - 736, 745, 746, 776, 815 - 824, 845, 846, 929 - 941, 989, 1052 - 1071, 1166 - 1173, 1345-1362, 1557, 1560-1561, 1576-1583, 1668-1669, 1687-1689 of the article “The Environment” located here: http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty

    The GLO's mission statement is: "The Texas General Land Office serves…all people of Texas by…protecting their environment…and prudent stewardship of state lands and resources." Supporting democracy, protecting the environment, and showing a prudent stewardship of state lands and resources could best be accomplished in this instance by withdrawing the lawsuit to invalidate the vote of Denton to ban fracking.

 

January 2015 - Commission on Presidential Debates 

January 12, 2015

Commission on Presidential Debates

            The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  urges you to expand the eligibility for Presidential debates.  All presidential candidates and their running mates who have qualified for placement on enough state ballots to win the Electoral College and the Presidency of the U.S. should be included in the presidential debates.

    Currently, the Commission on Presidential Debates excludes all candidates who do not poll at 15% or higher in at least 5 national polls (raised from 5% after that threshold secured Ross Perot a spot in the 1992 debates). However, most national polls exclude third party candidates, making it impossible to achieve the required percentage of support. Further states have varying and very restrictive procedures enforced by the traditional republican/democratic monopoly.

    Debates between presidential candidates are important forums that help voters make informed decisions. Realistically restricting eligibility to the two major parties means restricting the ideas discussed. Expanding eligibility means expanding the discussion and choices for voters.

 

January 2015 - Unity Statement of Principles 

January 20, 2015

In December 2014 we joined with 50 other organizations in supporting a Unity Statement of Principles to combat the undue influence of money in politics. This closely aligned with points 8 (election reform) and 9 (corporate accountability/reform) of the Unified Platform. By January 2015 in time for the fifth anniversary of Citizens United there were 131 signing organizations in support of the below Unity Statement of Principles.

Unity Statement of Principles:

Solutions to the Undue Influence of Money in Politics

Democracy requires a commitment to self-government passed from one generation to the next. We recognize our obligation to preserve our representative democracy as our way of resolving reasonable disagreements on public policy. Like generations before us, we come together as citizens setting aside policy differences and uniting to preserve our democracy, so that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this Earth. We stand united in support of a comprehensive set of public policies that recognizes the people as the ultimate check on the corrosive influence of money in politics that is eroding the very foundation of self-government.

This Unity Statement of Principles reflects policies already working in many parts of the country to ensure a democracy where everyone participates and everyone’s voice is heard; where everyone knows who is buying influence in our elections and government; and where politicians play by common sense rules and are held accountable with enforceable penalties to deter bad behavior.

Everyone participates: In a democracy, everyone should have a voice in the decisions affecting their lives. Our system of funding elections should not privilege any particular interest, nor suppress the voices of others. We need to provide incentives that encourage the active participation of small donors in our elections so candidates are accountable to, and dependent on, the people, not moneyed interests.

Everyone’s voice is heard: Our democracy is based on the principle of one person, one vote—not one dollar, one vote. From equal access to the ballot box to the right not to be silenced by big money, democracy requires we recognize each other as equals in the political process. When elected representatives only hear the policy preferences of the very rich it distorts government’s responsiveness to the people. We need limits on using money in politics so our democracy doesn’t just respond to wealthy and corporate interests but responds to the needs of the people.

Everyone knows: Voters have the right to know who is trying to influence our views and gain improper influence over our representatives. We need effective disclosure requirements for the use of money at all levels of government because transparency is a foundation for accountability.

Everyone plays by common sense rules: Access to and influence over our elected representatives should not be determined by the size of your wallet. We must overturn the effects of cases like Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC and reclaim our Constitution to empower people to adopt common sense rules to stop the improper influence of big money on our government.

Everyone is held accountable: We need a fair and accessible elections system so our elected officials will be responsive and accountable to the people. This requires the FEC, IRS, SEC, FCC, and state agencies to enforce our laws so those who break them face real consequences that deter bad behavior.

 

  • 350 Colorado

 

  • ActivUs

 

  • AFL-CIO

 

  • Alliance for a Just Society

 

  • American Association of University Women (AAUW)

 

  • American Family Voices

 

  • American Sustainable Business Council

 

  • APALA-DC

 

  • Appalachian Coalition for Just and
  • Sustainable Communities

 

  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice

 

  • Ben & Jerry's

 

  • Bend the Arc Jewish Action

 

  • Boston Common Asset Management

 

  • Brave New Films

 

  • Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law

 

  • BridgeRoots

 

  • Center for Effective Government

 

  • Center For Environmental Health

 

  • Center for Media and Democracy

 

  • Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists

 

  • Center for Science in the Public Interest

 

  • Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

 

  • Chicago Democratic Socialists of America

 

  • Christopher Reynolds Foundation

 

  • Citizen Works

 

  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

 

  • Co-operate Colorado

 

  • Coffee Party USA

 

  • Common Cause

 

  • Communications Workers of America

 

  • Community Organizations in Action

 

  • Conference of Major Superiors

 

  • Constitutional Accountability Center

 

  • Corporate Accountability International

 

  • Courage Campaign

 

  • Cow Hollow Fund at San Francisco Foundation

 

  • CT Citizen Action Group (CCAG)

 

  • Daily Kos

 

  • Democracy 21

 

  • Democracy for America

 

  • Democracy Matters

 

  • Democracy Matters - UPenn Chapter

 

  • Demos

 

  • Eco-Justice Ministries

 

  • Endangered Species Coalition

 

  • Energy and Policy Institute

 

  • Environment Texas

 

  • Ethical Markets Media

 

  • Every Voice

 

  • Fair Share

 

  • Food & Water Watch

 

  • Franciscan Action Network

 

  • Free Speech For People

 

  • Friends of the Earth

 

  • Government Accountability Project

 

  • Green Party Alliance at USF

 

  • Greenpeace

 

  • Harrington Investments

 

  • Illinois Democratic Women

 

  • Illinois Right to Know GMO

 

  • Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

 

  • Investor Voice

 

  • Iowa Citizens for Community
  • Improvement

 

  • Issue One

 

  • Jobs With Justice

 

 

 

  • Justice Party USA

 

  • Kansas Values Institute

 

  • League of Conservation Voters

 

  • Left Action

 

  • LocalHarvest

 

  • Metro Denver

 

  • Missionary Oblates JPIC

 

  • Money Out Voters In

 

  • MoveOn.org

 

  • MOVI Wisconsin

 

  • NAACP

 

  • National Coalition on Black Civic
  • Participation
  • National LGBTQ Task Force

 

  • National People's Action Campaign

 

  • National Women's Political Caucus

 

  • Natural Resources Defense Council

 

  • NCLR Action Fund

 

  • NETWORK, A National Catholic Social
  • Justice Lobby

 

  • New Progressive Alliance

 

  • Newground Social Investment

 

  • North Carolina Voters for Clean
  • Elections Coalition

 

  • NorthStar Asset Management, Inc.

 

  • Northwest Side Housing Center

 

  • OurTime.org

 

  • Pax World Management LLC

 

  • Pay to Play

 

  • People Demanding Action

 

  • People For the American Way

 

  • People's Email Network

 

  • Piper Fund

 

  • Progress Florida

 

  • Progress Texas

 

  • Progressive Change Campaign Committee

 

  • Progressive Democrats of America

 

  • Public Campaign

 

  • Public Citizen

 

  • Purdue NORML

 

  • Represent.Us

 

  • ReThink Media

 

  • Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network

 

  • RootsAction

 

  • Say No To Big Money

 

  • Sierra Club

 

  • Sisters of Mercy -
  • Institute Justice Team

 

  • Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

 

  • Social Equity Group

 

  • Stamp Stampede

 

  • State Innovation Exchange (SiX)

 

  • Story of Stuff

 

  • Temple Political Science Society

 

  • The Main Street Alliance

 

  • The Other 98%

 

  • UConn Students for Sensible Drug Policy

 

  • Unitarian Universalist Association

 

  • United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

 

  • Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, U.S. Province

 

  • US PIRG

 

  • USAction

 

  • Vermont PIRG

 

  • Voices for Progress

 

  • WAmend

 

  • Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

 

  • Women Donors Network

 

  • Working America

 

  • Young Democratic Socialists

 

  • Zevin Asset Management, LLC

 

January 2015 - Money in Politics Legislation

January 21, 2015

    On the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United v. FEC decision, the New Progressive Alliance with 28 other organizations supports legislation closely aligned with points 8 (election reform) and 9 (corporate accountability/reform) of the Unified Platform.

     This “Defend Democracy” Legislative Package and signers are below.

1.         Democracy for All Amendment: Provides Congress and the states with the authority to determine reasonable regulations on campaign financing and distinguish between natural persons and other artificial entities under campaign finance laws. Key sponsors: Sens. Udall, Sanders, Tester/Reps. Deutch, Edwards, McGovern.

2.         DISCLOSE Act: Establishes a system of disclosure of campaign spending and the sources of those funds for all entities that make independent expenditures (at any time) and electioneering communications (in calendar year of an election for Congress; 120 days before the primary for presidential elections). Key sponsors: Sen. Whitehouse/Rep. Van Hollen.

3.         Empowering small donors and increasing political participation: Matching public funds for small dollar contributions, and various other provisions. “Government by the People Act” (congressional elections), key sponsor: Rep. Sarbanes. “Empowering Citizens Act” (congressional and presidential elections), key sponsor: Rep. Price. “Fair Elections Now Act” (congressional elections), key sponsor: Sen. Durbin.

4.      Prohibit campaign coordination: Clarifies the definition of “coordination” to include the close relationships and ties between a candidate and outside group or super PAC. Key sponsors: Rep. Price.

5.         Real Time Transparency Act: Requires all political committees, including joint fundraising committees, to disclose electronically within 48 hours all cumulative contributions of $1,000 or more in a calendar year. Key sponsors: Sen. King/Rep. O’Rourke.

6.       Sunlight for Unaccountable Nonprofits Act (SUN Act): Makes public the donors who give more than $5000 to tax-exempt groups that engage in election activities.  Key sponsor: Sen. Tester.

7.         Shareholder Protection Act: Requires corporations to disclose to shareholders and the public spending of funds for independent expenditures and electioneering communications, even if such spending is indirectly done through a third party. Key sponsors: Sen. Menendez/Rep. Capuano.

African American Ministers In Action
Alliance for a Just Society
American Association of University Women
Common Cause
Communications Workers of America
Courage Campaign
Daily Kos
Democracy 21
Democracy Matters
Demos
Endangered Species Coalition
Every Voice
Franciscan Action Network
Food and Water Watch
Free Speech For People
Friends of the Earth
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Main Street Alliance
Money Out Voters In
MoveOn.org
New Progressive Alliance
OurTime.org
People For the American Way
Public Campaign
Public Citizen
Responsible Endowments Coalition
Say No To Big Money
US PIRG
Voices for Progress

February 2015 - Off Shore Drilling-OEM

February 7, 2015

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

Re: Proposal for the five year program for the Outer Continental Shelf, which lays out what types of offshore oil and gas activities will be permitted in the next offshore planning period, from 2017 to 2022.

The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  opposes the sale to lease the waters off of the Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia for oil and gas development.

As we approach the 5th anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy it would be well to recall the details and extent of the disaster.  It happened during exploratory drilling – exactly what is being proposed here. Also similar is the use of methane hydrate, a particularly volatile and dangerous gas resource which likely comprises the majority of the gas resource off of the South Atlantic coast. Initially Deepwater Horizon killed 11 workers and exposed tens of thousands of cleanup workers to hazardous chemicals for months; devastated seafood and tourist-driven businesses; coated beaches and wetlands with an oily slick; killed countless birds, fish, and marine mammals; cost tens of billions of dollars; and ultimately dumped 200 million gallons of oil into the ocean over the course of 87 days. US Sovereignty was handed over completely to BP for the oil spill resulting in long lasting permanent continuing damage to the environment and a free pass for BP. The extent of damages are still being discovered. See references 1, 71, 151, 166, 187, 199, 224, 244, 250, 269, 329, 371 - 373, 397, 405, 470 - 473, 487, 553 - 556, 593, 636, 637, 669 - 676, 833, 843, 882, 891, 911 - 923, 971, 1040 - 1047, 1160 - 1164, 1329 - 1339, 1556-1557, 1572-1573 in this article: http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty

Please do the right thing for future generations and do not proceed with a sale to lease these waters.

February 2015 - U.S. Export-Inport Bank - No Loan for Australian Coal

February 10, 2015

U.S. Export-Import Bank Headquarters

811 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20571

The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  urges you not to fund Australia’s Abbot Point coal port expansion both because the port expansion and the coal mines that would feed it would gravely damage the local environment including the Great Barrier Reef and because it would accelerate climate change. 

It would gravely damage the local environment including the Great Barrier Reef because of the resultant dredging and ship traffic. It threatens one of the world’s most biodiverse and fragile ecosystems under protection as a World Heritage Site. The coal industry is embarking on a project that would also do grave damage to the Great Barrier Reef by massively expanding the port at Abbot Point and building new coal mines in Queensland, Australia.

Climate Change and results already being felt are not a matter for controversy among the overwhelming majority of published credentialed scientists in the field. The danger is if we reach certain tripping points we will not be able to recover which will be disastrous for future generations. Climate Change is a matter of weather and physics. Politicians, rich people, or the failure of people to believe have no effect. If we fail then future generations will likely judge us by this issue more than any other.

See references 10, 17, 32, 64, 78, 79, 81, 85, 88, 93 - 95, 102, 105, 107, 110, 113, 119, 122, 127, 128, 130, 144, 146, 152, 164, 170 - 172, 176, 177, 182, 185, 186, 204 - 206, 208 - 210, 221, 225, 228, 234, 246, 255, 272, 297, 311, 312, 317, 318, 322, 333, 335, 336, 343, 349, 357, 362, 368, 387, 391, 392, 394, 399, 400, 403, 413, 415, 417 - 419, 426, 440, 441 - 444, 455, 460, 464 - 467, 499, 502, 503, 505, 509, 511, 527, 532, 537, 550, 577, 578, 581, 592, 594, 600, 601, 634, 635, 650 - 652, 653 - 664, 666, 667, 690, 707 - 710, 750 - 760, 776, 801 - 808, 829, 840 - 842, 883 - 899, 1009 - 1023, 1122, 1123, 1124, 1125 - 1155, 1174, 1198, 1199, 1200 - 1202, 1213, 1215, 1238 - 1290, 1472-1524, 1652, 1664-1665, 1671-1682, 1715-1721 of this article at http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty

Burning coal is one of the highest producers of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Coal pollution already worsens air quality resulting in more asthma attacks, heat-related deaths, and respiratory complications. Carbon pollution contributes to warmer temperatures which is speeding the spread of infectious diseases. Coal Plants also emit   mercury, sulfur, arsenic, cyanide, soot, and lead which have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities. Coal companies are not responsible for these health effects or for clean up when coal ash spills and destroys water supplies. See references 52, 82, 97, 98, 101, 133, 159, 174, 207, 308, 421, 498, 814, 830, 906, 1024 - 1036, 1156, 1214, 1216, 1292 - 1312, 1422, 1525-1532, 1666, 1708, 1709, 1722-1725 of the above mentioned article.

This deal would pave the way to double coal production in Australia -- already one of the world’s biggest coal exporters -- in the midst of a climate emergency. The climate impacts would be catastrophic, as building out Abbot Point would mean a dramatic expansion of coal mining in Australia's Galilee Basin, one of the world's largest stores of carbon. The planned mega-mines would be among the largest in Australia, and would dramatically increase greenhouse gas pollution.

The coal industry needs international bank funding to make their reckless new project happen. U.S. taxpayer dollars should not fund this project. Both U.S. banks – including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley – as well as global banks - including HSBC, Barclays, and Deutsche Bank - have refused to finance this project. Please join them and do the right thing for future generations.

February 2015 - Chevron and Election Reform

   The New Progressive Alliance joined with other groups in releasing the following press release. It fits well within our goal of election reform in the Unified Platform.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, February 12, 2015 

Richmond residents to Chevron: Get your dirty money out of politics 

RICHMOND, CA — Richmond residents, social justice advocates, elected officials, and Chevron shareholders today announced a resolution being put forward at Chevron's upcoming shareholders meeting that would prevent the company from dumping money into the political cycle. The resolution comes after Chevron spent more than $3 million to influence elections in Richmond — a small portion of the millions spent to influence elections at all levels across California and the country.

Despite being outspent 20-1, community leaders in Richmond defeated Chevron-backed candidates. Now the community is backing the resolution as part of ongoing efforts to reclaim their neighborhoods and put an end to Chevron's pollution of their air, water, and democracy.

The events in Richmond and the Chevron shareholder resolution are part of a growing movement to beat back polluter-backed candidates and interests as communities work to clean up their environments and our democracy.

"Chevron flooded our democracy with millions of dollars in 2014, but Richmond voters saw through their attempt to buy our elections and the progressives candidates triumphed.  Chevron should refrain from its oversized influence on our local democracy if it has any desire to repair its profoundly damaged reputation among our community," said city councilmember and former Richmond Mayor Gayle Mclaughlin.

"In Richmond, a lot of us are living in poverty and therefore we tend to gravitate towards money. But with this last election we proved that like our health, our elections are not for sale! Chevron's money is no longer good in Richmond. We choose to live, and vote for leaders who care for our health and shared wealth, "said Sandy Saeteurn of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network.

The Chevron refinery in Richmond has a history of health, safety, and environmental problems, including an explosion in 2012 that sent 15,000 community members to the hospital. Yet instead of abiding by safeguards, the company has abused the political system to change the laws.

"For a refinery that is under probation until the end of 2015 after pleading ‘no contest’ to six counts of criminal negligence for the fire of 2012, Chevron has proceeded as if money could help the community forget while it tried to buy a city council. Moving to clean energy is vital and Chevron should be finding ways to transition instead of processing dirtier crude.  The bottom line should be human health and safety, not profits.  If their disregard for the community did not outweigh their good works, we would be finding solutions to global warming together," said Eduardo Martinez, recently elected city councilmember.

"Chevron has resisted the will of the people for too long and has demonstrated a perverse willingness to spend escalating obscene amounts of money to try and impose their will. Fortunately the people of Richmond are strong and we have shown that we will not back down in the face of their corporate bullying. History has shown us in Richmond that when the people organize they can demand accountability. Shareholders should be ashamed and demand an end to this kind of behavior," said Andrés Soto, Richmond resident and social justice advocate.

"Chevron continues to try to throw its weight around like a bully on the playground as it drowns local elections with a flood of shareholder dollars in an attempt to influence local decision making and democracy," stated Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century Capital Management. "Shareholders don’t want to keep footing the bill for Chevron’s failed gambles in politics, and are calling on the company to put an end to political contributions."

"Chevron has spent millions of dollars to try and roll back state and federal regulations to the detriment of our climate, our environment, our communities, and even the safety of their own workers," said Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter Director Michelle Myers. "We support the community of Richmond and Chevron shareholders in calling for Chevron to stop corrupting our democracy."

 

February 2015 - Pfizer out of ALEC

February 24, 2015

 

Pfizer, Inc.

235 East 42nd Street

New York, New York 10017

 

To:

Ian C. Read, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Frank D’Amelio, Executive Vice President of Business Operations and Chief Financial Officer

Rady Johnson, Executive Vice President and Chief Compliance and Risk Officer

Laurie J. Olson, Executive Vice President, Strategy, Portfolio and Commercial Operations

Freda C. Lewis-Hall, M.D., DFAPA, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President

Sally Susman, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs

Doug Lankler, Executive Vice President, General Counsel

Anthony J. Maddaluna, Executive Vice President / President, Pfizer Global Supply

 

We are writing to ask Pfizer to end its affiliation with the American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC.

 

Over the last few months, numerous companies, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Yahoo, have ended their ALEC membership due to concerns about the harmful role ALEC has played in our democratic process. This includes concerns with ALEC’s policy stands, its secretive practices, and its effort to treat what most people consider a lobbying operation as “charitable” activity. This last concern has generated at least three separate complaints to the Internal Revenue Service that contributions to ALEC should not in fact be treated as tax deductible.

 

The public knows that the ALEC operation—which brings state legislators and corporate lobbyists behind closed doors to discuss proposed legislation and share lavish dinners—threatens our democracy. The public is asking Pfizer to stop participating in this scheme. Among Pfizer’s pharmaceutical peers, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Sanofi have all announced they have left or were leaving ALEC in recent years.

 

In September 2014, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt stated the following on The Diane Rehm Show regarding ALEC’s denial of climate science: “We should not be aligned with such people – they’re just, they’re just literally lying.” Since Google’s departure, Facebook, Yahoo, Yelp, International Paper, Occidental Petroleum, News Corp, SAP America, AOL, eBay, and Northrop Grumman have all announced they also have left or were leaving ALEC. This recent exodus of corporations was in part due to concerns over ALEC’s extreme views and agenda. That extreme agenda includes denying the science of climate change, blocking access to affordable healthcare, defunding public services, privatizing public schools, curtailing workers’ rights, and opposing net neutrality.

 

We recognize Pfizer’s strong policy in regards to addressing climate change. Pfizer states the following on its website: “Pfizer believes that climate change is a global environmental and public health issue that requires more action on the part of industry, the government and the public.” Citing research by the World Health Organization, Pfizer lists the potential health

impacts of climate change including increasing rates of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, diarrheal disease, malaria, dengue and others.

 

Yet, during ALEC’s August 2014 annual convention in Dallas, a meeting Pfizer sponsored, ALEC officers and corporate lobbyists held training seminars to promote the denial of climate change science and to teach legislators how to block legislation that encourages clean energy solutions. One of these trainings was led by the Heartland Institute, an organization Pfizer claims it stopped supporting in 2012 due to Heartland’s denial of climate science.

 

Pfizer has also been supportive of the Affordable Care Act, publicly stating the legislation “takes important first steps toward addressing many of the problems facing the U.S. health care system.” Despite this, ALEC has worked to undermine and repeal the law. Pfizer has also been a leader in helping Americans stop smoking, yet Pfizer continues to participate in ALEC, which is sponsored and supported by tobacco companies Reynolds American and Altria.

 

Pfizer has not heeded requests, including a shareholder proposal at the company’s 2014 annual meeting, to reevaluate your membership in ALEC, despite the fact that ALEC’s agenda is severely out of step with Pfizer’s corporate culture and may bring significant reputational and business risk to the company. The fact that more than 100 companies have decided to leave ALEC underscores the reputational risks companies face when their business interests and goals do not align with a third party’s programs and policy objectives.

 

The undersigned organizations have varying opinions on these issues, but we all know that Pfizer’s membership in ALEC undermines the company’s publicly stated corporate social responsibility to public health and safety, especially around climate change and healthcare reform.

 

We, the undersigned organizations, believe that in the spirit of your organization’s priorities and in the spirit of what is best for the American public: it is time for Pfizer to end its membership in ALEC.

Sincerely,

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)

Alliance for a Just Society

Alliance for Retired Americans

Amalgamated Transit Union

American Family Voices

American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)

Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice

Center for Community Change

Center for Effective Government

Center for Media and Democracy/ALEC Exposed Project

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

Climate Parents

ColorOfChange.org

Common Cause

Courage Campaign

Daughters of Charity, St. Louise Province

Demos

Dignity Health

Dominican Sisters of Hope

Energy Action Coalition

Food & Water Watch

Forecast The Facts

Friends Fiduciary Corporation

Green Century Capital Management

Greenpeace

Harrington Investments

Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, U.S.A.

In The Public Interest

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

KyotoUSA

Maryknoll Sisters

Mercy Investment Services, Inc.

Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investment

Money Out Voters In

Montana Environmental Information Center

National Education Association (NEA)

New Economy Project

New Progressive Alliance

Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment

PAX World Management

PennFuture

People For the American Way

Portfolio Advisory Board, Adrian Dominican Sisters

Progress Florida

Progress Iowa

Progress Missouri

Progress Ohio

ProgressNow

ProgressNow Arizona

ProgressNow Colorado

Public Citizen

School Sisters of Notre Dame Cooperative Investment Fund

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

ShareAction

Sierra Club

Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Center for the Celebration of Creation

The Marco Consulting Group

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, U.S. Province

Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota Coalition for Responsible Investment (WIM/CRI)

Zevin Asset Management

 

February 2015 - E.O. requiring Full Disclosure of Political Money for Public Contractors

February 27, 2015

 

The Hon. President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C.  20500

RE:     Take action on money in politics; immediately issue an executive order to promote transparency in government contracting

Dear President Obama:

Six years into your presidency, and five years after the Supreme Court issued its tragically misguided ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, we’re now living in a Wild West campaign spending world:

 

  • ·Big Money outside organizations are concentrating their spending in closely contested races and flooding money into elections, often outspending candidates themselves, defining campaign narratives and practicing the “gutter politics” you properly denounced in the State of the Union.
  • · In mockery of the majority opinion reaffirming disclosure in Citizens United, hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in our elections by donors who remain anonymous, leaving voters in the dark about the people and interests to whom candidates are beholden.
  • ·The staggering sums raised and spent are empowering a very narrow class of super-rich donors, with a self-interested agenda. They have undue power to affect who runs for office, who wins election, and what winning candidates do. And as you acknowledged in The Audacity of Hope – in the pre-Citizens United world – these individuals, across party, have a different worldview and different policy preferences than average Americans. Economic inequality and political inequality are now reinforcing each other – and choking democracy in the process.
  • · The McCutcheon decision and the increased campaign spending authorized in the December “CRomnibus spending bill will bring even more money into future elections, further bolstering the power of the super-rich donor class.
  • · Candidates – including elected officials – must spend ever increasing amounts of time fundraising, further distancing themselves from the overwhelming majority of their constituents and leaving them with less time to study issues and develop sound public policies.
  • · This flood of big dollar contributions has overwhelmed the voices of everyday Americans, the very people who are our government's prime constituents and who are supposed to count most in our democracy.

 

Against this backdrop, it is imperative that you act. There is no single solution to the problem of Big Money dominance. In fact, there are many desperately needed solutions. Today, we urge you to act on one option immediately—tackling the issue of corruption in government contracting.

 

As the dominance of Big Money continues to corrupt our democracy, the incentives are too great for federal contractors to spend money on elections in exchange for favors with contracts, service deals, leases and more.

 

We urge you in the strongest terms to issue immediately an executive order requiring full disclosure of political spending by business entities receiving federal government contracts, and furthermore require federal contractors to affirmatively certify that they are in compliance with 2 U.S.C. 441c’s ban on direct or indirect political contributions. 

 

While federal and state laws generally bar action to reward or penalize government contractors based on their political expenditures, the public perception that companies and executives who provide the most generous campaign financial support get special treatment has been validated too often by scandal.

 

An executive order shining a light on political spending by contractors would attack the perception and the reality of such “pay-to-play” arrangements. It need simply require that every federal contractor disclose its political spending and that of its senior management and affiliated political action committees post-contract award. By requiring this, the public may judge for themselves whether contracts are being awarded and administered based on merit rather than political favors, as the Court in Citizens United desired.

 

This kind of transparency in government contracting is nothing new at the state level. In response to numerous contracting scandals, more than a dozen states have imposed specific campaign finance disclosure requirements on government contractors.

 

At the federal level, many contractors are already required to disclose their PAC contributions and expenditures. The executive order would also require them to disclose the outside spending that was authorized by the Supreme Court in Citizens United.

 

The majority in Citizens United properly noted that disclosure requirements “do not prevent anyone from speaking.” The justices also declared that:

 

“Shareholders can determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.”

 

The flip side of transparency is secrecy and the specter of hundreds of millions of dollars in secret campaign cash coming from companies that derive much of their wealth from government contracts. In order to keep in check actual or perceived corruption in government contracting, it is imperative that there be full disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures by federal government contractors.

 

An Executive Order on government contracting would be just one modest step toward fundamental reform – but nevertheless a significant move forward.

 

We the People desperately need your leadership to preserve our democracy. Please act now.

 

Sincerely,

 

99 Rise

 

Alliance for a Just Society

American Family Voices

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

American Sustainable Business Council

Ben & Jerry's

California Clean Money Campaign

Campaign Legal Center

Center for American Progress

Center for Effective Government

Center for Media and Democracy

Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Common Cause

Communications Workers of American

Courage Campaign

Democracy 21

Demos

 

Domini Social Investments, LLC

Energy Action Coalition

Everyvoice

 

Franciscan Action Network

Free Speech for People

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Friends of the Earth

Global Witness

Government Accountability Project

Greenpeace

Harrington Investments, Inc.

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Main Street Alliance

Michigan Campaign Finance Network

Money Out Voters In

MoveOn

 

NAACP

 

New Progressive Alliance

NorthStar Asset Management

Pax World Management, LLC

People for the American Way

Progressive Change Campaign Committee

Project on Government Oversight

Public Campaign

Public Citizen

Sierra Club

Social Equity Group

Sunlight Foundation

U.S. Public Interest Research Group

Women Donors Network

Young Democratic Socialists

 

March 2015 - Shareholders United

March 3, 2015

(The below letter has the support of the New Progressive Alliance and 19 other of the below listed organizations. It starts in the Maryland legislature and we will work to spread the demand for corporate transparency in political contributions to other states and the nation.)

  •  

We, the undersigned organizations, write to urge you to support a bill that would require Maryland corporations to get majority approval from shareholders, proportionate to shares owned, before spending in any federal, state or local elections, and require corporations to publicly post all political contributions on their website. Furthermore, if the owners of the majority of shares cannot vote on a political action, this bill forbids the corporation from making the campaign contribution or independent expenditure. 

When the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United they opened the floodgates to an unprecedented amount of corporate spending. This money often enters our election as dark money without transparency or accountability. Many corporations choose to give to sham non-profits that operate without public disclosure of their donors. This means that the public including the corporate shareholders, have no way of knowing how the corporate money is being used in politics.. Spending in secret has become the norm. While all outside spending is up, the most significant increase is from groups that do not disclose some or all of their donors. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, dark money spending increased to at least $219 million in the 2014 cycle, up from $160.8 million in 2010.

Currently there is no process in place to ensure that shareholders, the people whose money is being spent for political purposes, are informed about the spending and have a say in how their money is being used. Secret expenditures by corporations, which keep their investors in the dark, are harmful to both our market and democracy.  This legislation would shine a light on corporate spending.

Responsible corporate governance requiring the participation of informed shareholders is not a partisan issue. A Bannon Communications poll, commissioned by the Corporate Reform Coalition showed eight out of 10 Americans (80%) agree that corporations should only spend money on political campaigns if they get approval from their shareholders first, which would be an important step towards allowing investors to control the political activities of the companies they own. Support for that proposition was at 78 percent among Republicans surveyed, and did not fall below 76 percent among all political subgroups.

More broadly, the poll showed that Americans of all political backgrounds agree: there is way too much corporate money in politics. Nine in 10 Americans (89%) agree with that statement, and 51% strongly agree. More than 80% of every ideological and partisan subgroup expressed agreement that there is way too much corporate money in politics, and that we need solutions.

These undersigned groups represent the diverse range of support, spanning from investors and the small business sector to environmental groups, calling for this reform. We urge you take this opportunity to make your state a national leader on this issue, taking huge steps to make sure Maryland corporations are held accountable to their shareholders before they spend in elections.

 

Sincerely,

 

Alliance for a Just Society

Citizen Works

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

Common Cause

The Communications Workers of America/ CWA Maryland State Council

Free Speech for People

Green Century Capital Management, Inc.

Greenpeace US

Harrington Investments, Inc.

Issue One

Main Street Alliance

Money Out Voters In

New Progressive Alliance

PAX World Mutual Funds

People for the American Way

Public Citizen

Sierra Club

The Sunlight Foundation

U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG)

Zevin Asset Management, LLC

 

March 2015 - GA. EPD Nuclear Water Discharge Permit

March 5, 2015

Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Environmental Protection Division
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Suite 1456, East Tower
Atlanta, GA 30334

Subj: NPDES Permit Issuance – Plant Vogtle

The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  urges you not to approve the Plant Vogtle water withdrawal permit request in its current form for the following reasons.

  • This permit request is for up to 74 million gallons per day. This is in addition to the 127 million gallons per day withdrawal permit from the Savannah for the existing two Vogtle reactors. Plant Vogtle also requires a water discharge permit that is fundamentally intertwined with the withdrawal permit for the two new nuclear plants under construction. EPD should consider the two permits together.
  • Removal of huge amounts of water mentioned above with only partial returns of hotter water into the already overloaded Savannah River reduces the biological integrity of this river.
  • The Savannah River is stressed and rated as the country's third most toxic river. Dissolved oxygen in and near the harbor falls critically low during hot, dry stress periods as a result of pollutants. With two more water-intensive nuclear reactors under construction at Plant Vogtle, flows will be reduced still further, and this already dire situation will get even worse.
  • Combine Vogtle’s current and predicted future water use with Plant McIntosh - the antiquated coal-fired power plant - and Georgia Power is clearly the biggest drain on the Savannah River. Indeed, the total is much more than many cities combined - including Augusta and Savannah!
  • There are two feasible, cost-effective technologies are available to substantially reduce water usage by the proposed two Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at Plant Vogtle, and yet they are not considered.  They are indirect wet-dry cooling and zero liquid discharge (ZLD) from the cooling system. With these two technologies, water use could be reduced by at least 70% at a reasonable cost.
  • The long-awaited dissolved oxygen standard for the river and the long term drought management plan must be completed before EPD can meaningfully assess the impacts the proposed water withdrawal will have on the Savannah River.
  • The estimated consumptive loss for the proposed reactors - water that is never returned to the river - is significant with tens of millions of gallons lost per day. EPD has acknowledged a worst-case scenario of consumptive losses up to 88%. The existing reactors already have considerable consumptive loss, on average only returning one-third of what is withdrawn. This presents a real potential for disaster during times of drought and low-flow periods for the third most toxic river in the country.
  • No study of climate change has been included. This lack of both quantity and quality of water can become much worse decades into the future as the realities of global warming are realized across the region.
  • The only mitigation proposed is likely inadequate. The only mitigation measure proposed in the permit is to install untested “Speece” cones (often referred to as “bubblers”) far downstream of Vogtle, just north of the Savannah Harbor, to inject more oxygen into the river. No mitigation measures are proposed elsewhere, especially closer to the facility where serious impacts to aquatic species are most likely to occur.

Given all these concerns, the New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  urges you not to approve the Plant Vogtle water withdrawal permit request in its current form.

March 2015 - Save Our Public Postal Service

(The below letter to the United States House of Representatives was signed by the NPA and a final total of 53 other organizations as well as several cosponsors in the House of Representatives for supporting House Resolutions 54 and 12.)

March  12, 2015

Mission Statement: A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service

The United States Postal Service is a wonderful national treasure, enshrined in the Constitution and supported by the American people. Without any taxpayer funding, the USPS serves 150 million households and businesses each day, providing affordable, universal mail service to all – including rich and poor, rural and urban, without regard to age, nationality, race or gender. The U.S. Postal Service belongs to "We, the People."

But the USPS and postal jobs are threatened by narrow monied interests aimed at undermining postal services and dismantling this great public institution. Even some postal executives have been complicit in the drive toward the destruction of the Postal Service and ultimate privatization: They have slowed mail service, closed community based Post Offices and mail processing facilities, slashed hours of operations, tried ceaselessly to end six-day service as well as door to door delivery, and eliminated hundreds of thousands of living wage jobs.

Good postal jobs are vital to strong, healthy communities, and have provided equal opportunities and the foundation for financial stability for workers from all walks of life, including racial and ethnic minorities, women and veterans. Postal services are essential to commerce and bind together families, friends and loved ones. In the day of e-commerce, a public postal service is as relevant as ever.

Yet those corporate forces who want to privatize public services allege that curtailing postal services and eliminating jobs are necessary due to diminishing mail volume and "burdensome" union wages and benefits. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, a Congressionally-manufactured USPS "crisis" imposed an unfair crushing financial mandate on the Postal Service that no other government agency or private company is forced to bear. (The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 compels the USPS to pay approximately $5.5 billion per year to fund future retiree healthcare costs 75 years in advance.)

Without this unreasonable burden, the USPS would have enjoyed an operating surplus of $600 million in 2013 and over $1.4 Billion in 2014. The people of this country deserve great public postal services. We advocate expanded services, such as non-profit postal banking and other financial services. We call on the Postmaster General and Postal Board of Governors to strengthen and champion the institution.

The public good must not be sacrificed for the sake of private investment and profit. A strong public Postal Service is our democratic right. Join us in the fight to protect and enhance vibrant public postal services now – and for many generations to come.

Signatories as of March 12, 2015:

A

A. Philip Randolph Institute
AFL-CIO
Alliance for Retired Americans
Amalgamated Transit Union
American Federation of Government Employees
American Federation of School Administrators
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
American Federation of Teachers
American Postal Workers Union and Auxiliary
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance

B

Black Women’s Roundtable

C

Campaign for America’s Future
Catholic Labor Network
Center for Community Change Action
Center for Effective Government
Center for Media and Democracy
Center for Rural Affairs
Center for Study of Responsive Law
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
Coalition of Labor Union Women
Color of Change
Communications Workers of America
Congressional Hispanic Caucus
Consumer Action

D

Democracy for America

E

Essential Information

F

Farm Aid
Farm Labor Organizing Committee

G

Gamaliel Network
Greenpeace USA

H

Healthcare-NOW!
Hightower Lowdown

I

In the Public Interest
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Interfaith Worker Justice
International Association of Fire Fighters

J

Jewish Labor Committee
Jobs With Justice

L

Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

M

Ms. Foundation for Women

N

National Action Network
National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association
National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees
National Association of Letter Carriers
National Association of Postal Supervisors
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
National Consumers League
National Council of Churches
National Education Association
National Farmers Union
National Organization for Women
National People’s Action
National Postal Mail Handlers Union
National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association
New Progressive Alliance
9to5

P

People for the American Way
Pride at Work
Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.
Public Citizen

R

Rainbow PUSH Coalition

S

Service Employees International Union
Sierra Club
Social Security Works

U

United For A Fair Economy
United Students Against Sweatshops
USAction

V

VoteVets Action Fund

W

Working America

 

March 2015 - Beyond Extreme Energy and FERC

 

March 15, 2015

           

The New Progressive Alliance along with 34 other organizations endorsed the general goals of the “Beyond Extreme Energy,” the specific goals in regards to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the pledge to use nonviolence activism.

General Goals

The governments of the United States and other nations must adopt clear, immediate and binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions and on the extraction and combustion of oil, coal and gas. They must vastly expand their commitments to developing and implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy, particularly wind and solar. So must local and state governments. We also support earth-friendly practices and conservation by individuals, businesses, government agencies and other institutions.

We have an urgent crisis on our hands. An extensive number of people and organizations — including scientists and scientific organizations, government and international agencies, NGO’s worldwide, organizations like the World Bank, our own Department of Defense, grassroots and community organizations — agree that if we do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions substantially, civilization as we know it faces severe threats. We must start immediately, with the objective of bringing these emissions close to zero as soon as possible.

The United States, as the largest greenhouse gas emitter historically, can and must be a leader in this work.  That other countries are partly responsible cannot be an excuse for U.S. inaction. In fact, our overconsumption of products created cheaply in other countries has fueled this crisis. Without U.S. leadership and example, solutions will remain out of reach.

Specific Goals in Regard to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is uniquely positioned, given its key role in the energy system, to help bring about this change. And because of the world’s focus on developing a strong climate treaty at the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris in December, the opportunity for progress is RIGHT NOW.

Toward these ends, Beyond Extreme Energy proposes and will advocate and fight for these changes to the mission and practices of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC):

1. Enact a moratorium on new gas infrastructure and export terminals until FERC has been reorganized with independent funding and a clearly defined mission of playing a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and shifting to renewables and an energy efficient power grid. Permitted gas infrastructure and gas export terminals that are not yet operating must cease construction until the new FERC has emerged, new priorities are in place, and a reassessment has been made about whether the project should go forward.

2. Transform FERC’s approval process and mission. No community wants these disruptive projects because we don’t want toxic chemicals in our air, land and water. We don’t want exploding pipelines and liquefaction factories in our towns and under our farms. We can no longer sacrifice so many for the wealth of a few. We are ready for an economy fired on clean, safe energy. A new FERC can help make that transition.

3. We call for an investigation into the extent to which FERC is influenced or corrupted by the funding it receives from the industries it is regulating.

4. FERC must fully and comprehensively assess the environmental, health and climate effects of a proposed project and of the clean-energy alternatives. Segmentation of projects that obscures the cumulative effects of infrastructure expansion must end immediately. FERC’s claims that an increase in fracking is not “reasonably foreseeable” from its permitted projects is disingenuous and unacceptable.

5. FERC must be guided by a conscious policy of supporting wind, solar and energy efficiency first, with proposals for dirty, climate-heating energy sources scrutinized as to why renewables and/or efficiency should not be required.

6. FERC’s governing body must include members of the public to represent consumers and the environment. In addition, an advisory board of climate and environmental scientists must have a seat at the table during permit considerations.

7. FERC monthly meetings must include time for public comments.

8. FERC must make its website easier to navigate.

9. Congressional hearings should be held on how to transform FERC’s mission and procedures for a world under severe threat from global warming.

 

Nonviolence Pledge

Together we agree:

  • We will be open, honest, and respectful to all we meet.
  • We will carry no weapons.
  • We will use no drugs or alcohol.
  • We will use no violence–physical or verbal.
  • We will not damage property.
  • We (all participants) will accept the legal consequences for the action and will not seek to evade these consequences beyond legitimate legal recourse.
  • We will hold each other accountable to respecting these agreements.

 

2013 Walk For Our Grandchildren

350 Loudoun

Arise For Social Justice

Berks Gas Truth

Chesapeake Citizens

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Clean Air Council

Climate First!

ClimateMama

DC Rising Tide

DC Statehood Green Party

DC Metro Science for the People

The Enviro Show

Flood Boston

FreshWater Accountability Project

Friends Of The Great March For Climate Action

Hampshire College Climate Justice

Howard County Climate Change

Lehigh Valley Gas Truth

Marcellus Outreach Butler

Metro DC Committee of Correspondence for Democracy and Ecosocialism

Minisink Matters

Myersville Citizens For A Rural Community

No Frack Gas in Mass

New Progressive Alliance (NPA)

The Nuclear Free Future Coalition Of Western MA

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Popular Resistance

Roseland Against Compressor Station

Stop The Algonquin Pipeline Expansion

Stop The PennEast Pipeline

Students for a Just and Stable Future

SustainUS: U.S. Youth for Sustainable Development

Warriors for American Revolution – Smart Meter Campaign

We Are Cove Point

 

April 2015 - UN ECOSOC Energy Subsidies

The below was submitted to the Office for United Nations ECOSOC Support and Coordination of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs as a written statement for the 2015 ECOSOC High-Level Segment (HLS) for NGOs in ECOSOC consultative status. In June 2015 we learned that the Public Comment was accepted for distribution to all participants of the 2015 High Level Segment NGO meeting from July 6 - 10, 2015 at United Nations Headquarters and was being translated into the six official United Nations languages.

 

April 24, 2015

The theme for the 2015 session of the Economic and Social Council is “Managing the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the sustainable development goals: what it will take”.

The most important factor in sustainable development goals is sustainable environmental progress in the face of climate change which has already started. Given the predictions of the vast majority of scientists on future generations this is the most important issue we should be addressing right now. It will be greatly affect all eight of the Millennium Developmental Goals.

A major problem in preventing climate change is governments and the World Bank subsidizes and supports fossil fuels  more than renewable energy. A remedy would be if the United Nations listed for every country the ratio of subsidies for fossil fuel to subsidies for renewable energy. A reasonable initial goal would be to have subsidies for renewable energy be equal to or greater than subsidies for fossil fuel.

There is a huge cost to using fossil fuels quite apart from climate change. That cost is rising. It consistently costs the United States well over ten billion dollars a year for fossil fuel subsidies.  It recently rose from 12.7 billion in 2009 to 18.5 billion in 2013. These subsidies include  tax breaks, incentives for production on federal lands (such as royalty fees that haven't been adjusted in 25 years) and tax deductions for clean-up costs. If state subsidies for oil, gas and coal production are also included, the total value climbs to $21.6 billion for 2013. It is estimated that the world will spend an extra $8 trillion over the next 25 years to prolong the use of non-renewable resources, a cost that would be eliminated by eventually transitioning instead to 100% renewable energy. More than just the costs of massively subsidizing the failed fossil fuel business model is involved. There are also externalities - such as healthcare costs due to pollution, government guaranteed loans, environmental destruction through mountaintop removal for coal, tar sands oil drilling, fracking for natural gas, and wars for oil and uranium. Also consistently ignored is the price for adjusting to the effects of global climate change - even if possible - is far greater than the cost of stopping global warming at this stage.

Unlike the climbing costs of fossil fuels, the cost of renewable energy is declining and has been for decades. One should be able to compare with each country the total subsidies for fossil fuels with the total subsidies for renewable energy. Of course, the United Nations and the World Bank should never again subsidize fossil fuels for developing nations. Let renewable energy play on a level playing field with fossil fuels and it will expand even faster and lessen the degree of climate change. Publishing where countries are really spending their money would allow groups such as the New Progressive Alliance to push them in the right direction.

The above is documented under “Costs” in the article The Environment at http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty  

 

April 2015 - GA DOT Pipeline

April 25, 2015

Georgia Department of Transportation, 10th Floor
Office of Utilities
600 West Peachtree Street, NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30308

            The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  respectfully requests the Georgia Department of Transportation to deny Kinder Morgan (KM) a permit for the use of eminent domain to condemn private property for the risky and unneeded Palmetto Pipeline.   There are three reasons for this request.

            The first reason is it is a danger to our water resources in a time of draught as well as being a danger to our environment. The 360 mile long petroleum pipeline would flow 167,000 barrels of gas, ethanol and diesel per day across 210 miles of Georgia wetlands and rivers. This risks our state’s precious waters and ecosystems. Sensitive environmental areas include freshwater wetlands, tidal marshes and all of our coastal rivers and tributaries. The path runs along the Savannah River and crosses the Ogeechee, Altamaha, Satilla and St. Mary’s River. A spill would ruin a coastal economy that depends on clean beaches, a multi-billion dollar fishery, and heavy industrial uses of surface water. A single day of a broken pipe carrying the proposed 167,000 barrels per day of fuel would be equivalent to 700 fuel transport trucks dumping their loads into the river in one day.

          Further, the likelihood of a spill is increased because of KM’s safety record. It is responsible for more than one-half of all pipeline accidents in the U.S. since 2003 resulting in tens of millions of dollars in property damage, fines, and even deaths. In December 2014 an undetected pinhole-sized leak in their Plantation Pipeline in South Carolina leaked over 8,000 gallons of gas into a nearby neighborhood.  Leaks like this  put in danger the surface and groundwater that Georgians rely on.  Based on total miles, Georgia will be hit with 58% of the detrimental risks and effects.

         The second reason to deny Kinder Morgan a permit for the use of eminent domain is because this taking of Georgia landowners’ private property by use of eminent domain is unfair to the Georgians who own the land. To build this pipeline, Kinder Morgan will forcibly take private property in 12 Georgia counties through eminent domain.  While the landowner receives a small one-time payment, use of the property is severely limited and the owner will still have to pay all property taxes on it indefinitely.    

         The third reason to deny Kinder Morgan a permit for the use of eminent domain is it is simply not needed. With the demand for petroleum products declining, this pipeline serves no public need. Georgians are being asked to tolerate risks even though they will not receive the full benefits of the oil. Of the 167,000 barrels per day of product to be transported, KM promises that, at most, only 25,000 barrels per day will be delivered in Georgia. KM admits that it cannot control where the shippers of the product will deliver their product, so the promise of delivery in Georgia is an empty one.  Gasoline prices are much higher in Jacksonville, the end point for this pipeline, so it’s more probable that Kinder Morgan wants to actually ship the entire product to Jacksonville where it will reap the greatest profit, leaving no public benefit at all to Georgia. This project does not benefit Georgians though Georgians bear a majority of the negative impact and risks.

Conclusion:  In light of all the risks to our water supply in the midst of a drought, Kinder Morgan’s extensive record of accidents, the unfairness to Georgia landowners, and the failure of KM to show any need or public purpose for the pipeline, the Palmetto Pipeline proposal for use of eminent domain should be rejected.

 

April 2015 - Michigan selling forest for mining

April 26, 2015

The Honorable Governor Rick Snyder
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909 

            The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  urges you to oppose the “Rexton Project- Greymont” sale of 10,178 acres of Michigan’s state owned land by the Michigan Department of Natural (MI DNR) resources. A Canadian mining company will use  1,665 acres to create a new strip mine and 7,026 acres will be used for a new underground mine with the remaining land would be used for mining support infrastructure. This land sale of mostly undeveloped forests would be the largest of its kind in Michigan State history.

            The proposed mining operations are a high risk for water pollution. The abundant lakes and wetlands in the mining area are maintained by a high elevation water table. These wetland support wildlife and drain into the Great Lakes. Private drinking water wells will be impacted by the mining operations. Once the forest is cleared for strip mining and mining support infrastructure it will take years to regrow these forests and for the wildlife to be reestablished. The land involved is prime habitat for wildlife and the proposed mining operations will threaten these animals including the fragile wolf population. The mining operations will also negatively impact the quality of life for those living nearby including small family farms

            Please do the right thing for future generations.

 

April 2015 - NRC - Two New Florida Nuclear Plants

April 27, 2015

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

            The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  urges you to reject Florida Power and Light’s plan to build two new nuclear reactors on the shores of Biscayne Bay. The two nuclear plants are poorly placed, are a clear and present danger to the water supply, and are a bad risk in light of over 50 years of history on the use of nuclear power.

            The two nuclear plants are poorly placed because the massive new reactors are adjacent to Biscayne National Park – one of the nation’s largest marine parks. There are also three sets of massive power lines going inside Everglades National Park at the heart of Everglades restoration.  The vented hot steam will likely contain household chemicals, pharmaceuticals, bacteria and viruses that end up in the county’s wastewater. Even in small amounts, these can affect human health and terrestrial and marine environments like mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs. The aerosol mist can be dispersed widely by wind and water currents. Within just six miles of the proposed site there are a state-managed aquatic preserve, expansive wetland habitat preserve, two national parks and a national wildlife refuge. These two new nuclear plants would also threaten other sensitive marine resources such as dozens of federally protected species to include the American crocodile, Florida manatee and five species of sea turtle. Power lines from the expanded plant could also be run across the eastern side of Everglades National Park.

            The two new reactors are a clear and present danger to the water supply. With two new reactors, Turkey Point would become one of the largest nuclear facilities in the country. They will require 90 million gallons a day of Miami-Dade’s treated wastewater for cooling. The project would be highly water-intensive, potentially threatening both the Biscayne Bay and the Biscayne Aquifer. If there is insufficient treated wastewater for cooling the reactors, the radial wells used for back-up cooling would become one of the largest well-fields in the Southeast and could lead to further saltwater intrusion into the Biscayne Aquifer, already a major problem impinging on South Florida’s limited freshwater supply.

            The two nuclear plants are a bad risk in light of over 50 years of history on the use of nuclear power. Over half a century of experience throughout the world indicates nuclear energy is not the answer. It is the most expensive, the most delayed, and dangerous. No nuclear plant has yet been built that is not over budget and behind schedule. It is also carbon intensive in uranium mining, uranium processing where fracking is used just as for natural gas, building the nuclear plant, and transportation of uranium to and used radioactive waste away from the nuclear plant.

            The half-life of the main fuel, U-235, is 703.8 million years. Plutonium is also routinely created in the process of running a nuclear plant. It is highly toxic and its various isotopes have half-lives ranging from about 25,000 to 80 million years. These extremely dangerous substances will require secure storage and protection for a very long period of time and we do not have an agreed upon place to store or agreed way to transport nuclear waste. This is especially a problem for these two nuclear plants because they are in an area likely to be hard hit by increasing sea-level rise, storm surges and hurricanes.

            For verification see references 65, 70, 89, 103, 125, 126, 131, 223, 274, 344, 364, 378 - 380, 406 - 408,412, 435 - 439, 484, 485, 519, 520, 558 - 565, 582 - 585, 603, 604, 692 - 705, 719, 720, 747 - 749, 834 - 836, 847, 848, 891, 942 - 963, 1072 - 1077, 1175 - 1196, 1320, 1364 - 1382, 1584-1591, 1690-1692, 1774, 1789, 1823-1832 of this article: “The Environment” at http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty

            We at the New Progressive Alliance ask you to do the right thing  because these two nuclear plants are poorly placed, are a clear and present danger to the water supply, and are a bad risk in light of over 50 years of history on the use of nuclear power.

 

April 2015 - SEC-CRC

April 28, 2015                                                                    

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The New Progressive Alliance and 54 other organizations said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should require disclosure of corporate political spending for the sake of a functioning and accountable corporate democracy. The groups ranged from environmental groups to asset managers to religious organizations.

 

April 28th, 2015

Securities and Exchange Commission

100 F Street, NE

Washington, DC 20549

Re: Disclosure Effectiveness Review

Chair Mary Jo White:

We, the undersigned, many of whom are members of the Corporate Reform Coalition, write today in support of petition 4-637 (“to Require Public Companies to Disclose to Shareholders theUse of Corporate Resources for Political Activities”).

The Corporate Reform Coalition is a group of more than 80 organizations including investors, corporate governance experts, civil society organizations, and more. As a group we are focused on the evolving need of investors to more fully understand the political activities (and the risks those activities present) of companies in which they invest. It is through that lens that we offer our perspective on the need for enhanced disclosure.

Petition 4-637 was submitted on August 3, 2011 by a committee of prominent law professors seeking to address the issue of corporate political spending transparency, an issue of concern for many investors.

The petition has since received a record-breaking 1.2 million supportive comments, illustrating the extensive concern from investors regarding political expenditures made by public companies with corporate assets without disclosure to shareholders.

“The resources of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are required to write numerous rules, police the markets, and react to changes in company structure,” the letter stated. “To enact its mandate to protect investors, the SEC needs to require material disclosures of critical business information for investors, and this includes being able to react quickly to the changing practices and priorities of corporate entities.”

The increased amount of spending in politics by corporate entities has come in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. A petition to the SEC for rulemaking on disclosure of this spending has received more than 1.2 million comments in support – a record for that agency.

“Without adequate disclosure of corporate political spending, shareholders and investors have little means to hold corporate directors accountable and to safeguard their investments,” the letter says. “And investors understand this; a recent survey of members of the CFA Institute, an association of professional investors, found that 60% of members believe that if corporations are able to spend money in elections, they should be required to disclose the spending. 

“Without an SEC rule requiring full disclosure for all public companies, shareholders have no uniform means to monitor these activities, or assess the risks of corporate political spending. Voluntary disclosure has led to a patchwork of understanding which makes it impossible for investors to manage, and potentially mitigate, the full range of risks presented by corporate political spending.”

The letter’s signers maintain that the SEC must obey its mandate to protect investors and heed this request for action.

The resources of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are required to write numerousrules, police the markets, and react to changes in company structure. In order to enact its mandate to protect investors the SEC needs to require material disclosures of critical business information for investors, and this includes being able to react quickly to the changing practices and priorities of corporate entities.

One such change was brought about by the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United. The decision allowed corporations greater freedom to spend shareholder money to influence politics, however there have still been no new rules or procedures established to ensure that shareholders – those who actually own the wealth of corporations – are informed of decisions about spending their money on politics.

This lack of regulation is in direct conflict with the Court’s opinion in the case. In fact, Justice Anthony Kennedy justified permitting corporate electioneering in large part on the expectation that the corporate funders of the ads would be disclosed, thereby enabling shareholders and the public to hold corporations accountable:

“A campaign finance system that pairs corporate independent expenditures with effective disclosure has not existed before today. With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure ofexpenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions…. Shareholders can determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are in the pocket of so-called moneyed interests.” –Justice Kennedy

The growing number of shareholder resolutions demanding greater investor oversight of corporate political spending further demonstrates the vast shareholder support for such transparency. Shareholders have been concerned about the business sense of corporate political spending for some time – but the concerns have become more pronounced as the scope and nature of corporate political activity has expanded under Citizens United. Since 2010, shareholders have filed 530 resolutions on corporate political activity, making it by far the most common shareholder proposal, including 110 resolutions in 2014.

These figures demonstrate clear and ongoing demand from investors for this information. We infer from the voting results, and the negotiated policy changes, strong agreement with the observation made in the initial rulemaking petition filed by 10 prominent securities law professors: “Absent disclosure, shareholders are unable to hold directors and executives accountable when they spend corporate funds on politics in a way that departs from shareholder interests.”

Without adequate disclosure of corporate political spending, shareholders and investors have little means to hold corporate directors accountable and to safeguard their investments. And investors understand this; a recent survey of members of the CFA Institute, an association of professional investors, found that 60% of members believe that if corporations are able to spend money in elections, they should be required to disclose the spending.

However because there are no current rules that require that companies disclose this spending to their shareholders, it is essentially impossible for an investor to obtain a full picture of any individual company’s political spending unless the company chooses to disclose. Without an SEC rule requiring full disclosure for all public companies, shareholders have no uniform means to monitor these activities, or assess the risks of corporate political spending. Voluntary disclosure has led to a patchwork of understanding which makes it impossible for investors to manage, and potentially mitigate, the full range of risks presented by corporate political spending.

From an issuer’s perspective, a disclosure mandate would level the playing field by relieving concern that disclosing activities could disadvantage the issuer’s standing or competitiveness.

The robust support for petition 4-637 and the general concerns of those in the investment world must not be ignored by the agency tasked with protecting their interests. Shareholders should not be left in the dark when their companies spend their money to influence a political cause. Information on political spending is material to shareholders as they make decisions about whereto invest, particularly with growing evidence that political spending might not always benefit the corporate bottom line.

Sincerely,

Agenda Project Action Fund

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO)

Alliance for a Just Society

Avaaz

Boston Common Asset Management

Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law

California Clean Money Campaign

Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Community Change

Center for Effective Government

Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists

Citizen Works

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Clean Yield Asset Management

Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes

Congregation of St. Joseph

Communications Workers of America (CWA)

Common Cause

Demos

Democracy 21

Dominican Sisters of Hope, Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, U.S. Province

Every Voice

Harrington Investments, Inc

Government Accountability Project

Greenpeace US

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Investor Voice, SPC

Issue One

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

Greenpeace US

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Investor Voice, SPC

Issue One

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

Main Street Alliance

Nell Minnow, founder of Governance Metrics Institute

New Progressive Alliance

Newground Social Investment, SPC

Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investments

NorthStar Asset Management, Inc.

OIP Trust and Missionary Oblates

USPPax World Management

People for the American Way

Public Campaign

Public Citizen

Social Equity Group

Sonen Capital, LLC

Sr. Valerie Heinonen, Mercy Investment Services

Stamp Stampede

Sunlight Foundation

Susan Makos; Daughters of Charity, Province of St. Louise

International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT)

Trillium Asset Management, LLC

U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG)

ValueEdge Advisors

Walden Asset Management

West Virginia Citizen Action Group

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Voices for Progress

Zevin Asset Management, LLC

 

May 2015 – Call for United Nations NGOs

In April 2015 the United Nations requested our assistance as an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) with consultative status. They asked us to tell other NGOs of the benefits of obtaining Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) consultative status. On May 20, 2015 we published on our Facebook and Ello page the below.

 

May 20, 2015

The process to become a United Nations NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) with consultative status is neither easy nor quick. The NPA started in 2011 and only recently in 2015 was granted this status. Still, if your organization is seeking goals similar to that of the United Nations then cooperation might be beneficial for both organizations. The U.N. may have the big picture, but often field organizations have crucial details that the U.N. lacks. Further, there are many opportunities to meet other NGO members, make formal recommendations, and gather at U.N. meetings.

The next deadline is 1 June 2015 deadline for NGOs to apply for ECOSOC consultative status in order to be considered by the 2016 NGO Committee. NGOs interested in applying for ECOSOC consultative status should submit their application and required documents on or before 1 June 2015.

Further information may be gotten at this web address:
http://csonet.org/index.php?page=view&nr=337&type=230&menu=14

 

May 2015 - Fraser River Coal Port

May 24, 2015

 

Mr. Jeff Scott

CEO Fraser Surrey Docks LP

11060 Elevator Road

Surrey BC

V3V 2RZ

            The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  urges you not to expand your Fraser River from a barge loading facility to an expansive coal port because of damage to both the local and international environment.

           Local environmental damage includes pollution from increased train traffic including the known carcinogen of diesel exhaust, more noise, more coal dust, and more danger from train accidents which are happening with increasing frequency. Increased freighter traffic in the Salish Sea also means increased risks of shipping accidents and oil spills.

          As for international damage to the environment, burning coal is one of the highest producers of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Coal pollution already worsens air quality resulting in more asthma attacks, heat-related deaths, and respiratory complications. Carbon pollution contributes to warmer temperatures which is speeding the spread of infectious diseases. Coal Plants also emit   mercury, sulfur, arsenic, cyanide, soot, and lead which have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities. Coal companies are not responsible for these health effects or for clean up when coal ash spills and destroys water supplies. See references 52, 82, 97, 98, 101, 133, 159, 174, 207, 308, 421, 498, 814, 830, 906, 1024 - 1036, 1156, 1214, 1216, 1292 - 1312, 1422, 1525-1532, 1666, 1708, 1709, 1722-1725, 1897-1905, 1960, 1963, 2016 of the article “The Environment” at http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty

         Please take a hard look at the future shows coal will not be part of a prosperous business plan.

 

May 2015 - FEC-Piercing the Corporate Veil

 

Federal Election Commission                                                                May 29, 2015

Attn: Amy L. Rothstein

Assistant General Counsel

999 E Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20463

 

Submitted electronically

 

 

“Piercing the Veil” – Determining Whether Nominally Separate Entities of the Same Corporate Family Constitute a Single Contractor

(Comments on REG 2014-09)

Dear Ms. Rothstein:

 

Please accept the following coalition comment on REG 2014-09 (Amendment 11 C.F.R. 115, “Enforcement of the Federal Pay-to-Play Law”) signed by 31 civic and religious organizations, academics, investors and officials.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

Craig Holman, Ph.D.

Government affairs lobbyist

Public Citizen

215 Pennsylvania Avenue SE

Washington, D.C. 20003

202-454-5182

cholman@citizen.org

 

 

 

 

Federal Election Commission                                                                May 29, 2015

Attn: Amy L. Rothstein

Assistant General Counsel

999 E Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20463

 

“Piercing the Veil” – Determining Whether Nominally Separate Entities of the Same Corporate Family Constitute a Single Contractor

(Comments on REG 2014-09)

Dear Ms. Rothstein:

 

            Pay-to-play is the all-too-common practice of a business entity making campaign contributions to a public official with the hope of gaining a lucrative government contract. Rarely does pay-to-play constitute outright bribery for a government contract. Rather, pay-to-play usually involves a business entity endearing itself and buying access for consideration of a government contract. It often results in wasted taxpayer dollars as contracts are awarded based on politics rather than merit, and can cause legitimate businesses to think twice about engaging in government services, which is why the federal government and 15 states restrict campaign contributions from government contractors.[1]

 

            The federal pay-to-play law reads in part: “It shall be unlawful for any person … who enters into any contract with the United States … to make any such contribution to any political party, committee, or candidate for public office or to any person for any political purpose or use….” (52 USC §30119, formerly 2 USC §441c)

 

            Section 30119 prohibits any person who is a signatory to, or who is negotiating for, a contract to furnish material, equipment, services, or supplies to the United States Government, from making or promising to make a political contribution to a candidate, party or political committee. It has been construed by the FEC to reach only donations made or promised for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of candidates for federal office. See 11 C.F.R. §115.2. In addition, the Act prohibits any person from knowingly soliciting a contribution from any person who is negotiating or performing a contract with the United States government. 52 USC §30119(a)(2); 11 CF.R. §115.2(c).

 

            On February 25, 2014, the Commission dismissed a complaint charging that Chevron Corporation, Chevron USA, Inc. and the Congressional Leadership Fund violated the federal pay-to-play law. The complaint (MUR 6726) documented that “Chevron” was recorded in FEC disclosure reports as making a $2.5 million campaign contribution on October 7, 2012, to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a registered super PAC which was used to finance negative ads against 14 congressional candidates. The complaint documented that Chevron is a major recipient of federal government contracts.

 

            The Commission dismissed the complaint on the grounds offered in Chevron’s response: that one incorporated entity of Chevron – Chevron Corporation – made the campaign contribution, while a different incorporated entity of Chevron – Chevron USA – held the government contracts.[2]

 

            The Commission’s rationale for dismissing the complaint runs afoul of the spirit, if not the letter, of the pay-to-play law, allowing any major enterprise to make campaign contributions from one incorporated division, and to receive the rewards of lucrative government contracts to another incorporated division. Not only does this rationale underline the very purpose of the pay-to-play law, which is to prevent a government contractor from currying favor through campaign contributions, it also ignores well-established precedent for “piercing the veil” used by other governmental agencies in determining whether entities of the same corporate family are so interwoven as to constitute a single company.

 

            Our organizations request that the Federal Election Commission revisit its rationale for defining a government contractor subject to the pay-to-play laws, and clarify the rules in Title 11, Section 115 of the Code of Federal Regulations, to provide a more accurate assessment, in conformity with legal precedent, of whether nominally separate entities of the same corporate family constitute a single contractor.

 

Specifically, we ask that the Commission clarify in 11 C.F.R. §115 the factors for determining whether entities of the same corporate family are in fact distinct business entities. This clarification of the rules should establish more exacting scrutiny to protect the integrity of 2 U.S.C. § 441c in conformance with established legal precedents that prevent corporations from creating nominally separate entities that operate as single enterprises to do what would otherwise be illegal for the company as a whole.

 

Some of the key factors in making such a determination should be (i) common ownership, even via linked business enterprises, (ii) common directors and/or officers, (iii) de facto exercise of control, (iv) unity of personnel policies emanating from a common source, and (v) the dependency of operations, including such a close relationship as to create a public perception of a single corporate enterprise.

 

  1. A.     Piercing the Veil

            Piercing the veil doctrine, as it exists today, is most often used in order to decide if corporate shareholders (including parent corporations) should be held legally responsible for the actions of a corporation. It is one of the most litigated issues in U.S. corporate law, and there is a great deal of information available about the factors that courts have considered important in making this decision.[3] Many of the same factors could be used in cases involving contributions by related corporations to determine whether or not a parent company and its subsidiaries should be considered liable for each other’s actions and obligations. In the Supreme Court case United States v Bestfoods, it was stated that “the corporate veil may be pierced when necessary to do justice in particular cases.”[4]

One study conducted by University of Indiana compiled 31 factors that courts have considered when determining if the corporate veil should be pierced.[5] While 31 factors may be excessive, we believe that the FEC needs to use more of these factors and create firm guidelines as to the relationship that a corporation and its subsidiaries must have in order to protect the integrity of the federal pay-to-play laws. In the original decision on MUR 6726, only a few factors were cited as reasons for dismissing the case, and the research left many questions unanswered.[6]  Under the loose standard now employed by the Commission to determine whether companies are separate and distinct, all a federal contractor need do is create a legally separate company on paper to make a contribution, and show that that corporation had income not directly attributable to the contract that exceeded the amount of the contribution. The parent company can own 100 percent of the shares of the subsidiary company through linked companies, and the two corporations can share the same CEO and other directors, share the same headquarters, function as dependent components of a single corporation, and cast themselves as a single corporate enterprise to the public and lawmakers, and nonetheless give with impunity to political committees to support or oppose candidates and lawmakers.

We do not consider some of these factors to be as important in this case, given that the objective for the Federal Election Commission is not identical to that in some other contexts in which veil-piercing is attempted. In civil litigation, for example, the purpose of veil-piercing is often to avoid a situation where a corporate shell is used to avoid liability, and if the corporation is sufficiently capitalized to allow it to pay a judgment and meet its other debts, there usually is not any need to pierce the veil.

For the Federal Election Commission, however, the objective is to make sure that one corporation (the contractor) does not benefit from contributions made by another. Whether the contractor has sufficient capital to support its operations, and whether proper formalities have been observed, has little bearing on that objective. What is much more significant is whether the corporations are perceived as being the same, so that the recipient will identify the two and thus fail to distinguish, in terms of the favoritism resulting from the contribution, between the contractor and the contributor.

  1. B.     Existing Precedent: National Labor Relations Board Standards

Precedent exists in other legal contexts that can provide some guidelines for the Federal Election Commission in promulgating more exacting standards in determining when two entities of the same corporate family are in fact a single company.

According to the National Labor Relations Board under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the mere fact that a parent corporation owns all the stock of a subsidiary and exercises the authority “ordinarily incident to ownership” does not provide a basis for piercing the subsidiary's veil.[7] But when a parent goes beyond the normal exercise of ownership control over the subsidiary by preventing the subsidiary from operating as a genuinely independent entity, for example, or by interfering in its decision-making structures and procedures, then a subsidiary is considered a mere “instrumentality” of its parent and the veil must be pierced.[8]

The long-established NLRA “single employer” doctrine seeks to determine whether two or more enterprises are sufficiently intertwined that they should be considered a single employer for NLRA purposes. These new regulations were created to address a major issue in labor law. In the 1980s corporations often split in two, with one entity complying with NLRA requirements while the other did not. The division of the company was sometimes justified on the grounds that the two incorporated entities could compete in different markets, when in reality it was just an attempt to sidestep the law.[9]

In applying its “single employer” doctrine, the National Labor Relations Board and reviewing courts consider four basic factors: interrelation of the enterprises' operations; common management; centralized control of labor relations; and common ownership. No one factor is determinative and not all of them need to be shown, but together they provide a framework for evaluating whether separate enterprises should be considered one single employer.[10]

In an earlier 1960 decision, NLRB v. Deena Artware, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court held that the National Labor Relations Board properly imposed liability upon a parent company based on similar veil-piercing principles. Citing familiar corporate law doctrines, the Court ruled that inter-corporate liability would be appropriate when a parent’s “dominion” over the subsidiary is “complete” or its “interference ... obtrusive” and when the subsidiary is “operated as a division of” the parent.[11]

  1. C.     The Forgotten Factor: How Does a Company Advertise Itself?

Regarding the Chevron case, many of the factors noted above suggest that Chevron Corporation and Chevron USA are but two entities of the same corporate family. Chevron’s response to MUR 6726 concedes common ownership of stock from Chevron Corporation through a short list of links to Chevron USA:

 

Chevron Corporation holds 100% of the stock of Chevron Investments Inc. Chevron Investments Inc. in turn owns the stock of other companies, including Texaco Inc. Texaco Inc., in turn, owns the stock of other companies, including Chevron U.S.A. Holdings Inc. Chevron U.S.A. Holdings Inc., in turn, owns 100% of the shares of Chevron U.S.A. Inc.[12]

 

            Additionally, Chevron’s response emphasized that the Corporation derives its money not only from the government contracts awarded to Chevron USA (among numerous other contracting subsidiaries), but also from dividends on the stocks of these subsidiaries.[13]

 

Regarding the criteria of common officers and common operations, as was pointed out in an addendum to MUR 6726, Chevron Corporation and Chevron USA Inc. are located in the same office building in San Ramon, California.[14] Moreover, in its legal analysis, the Commission admitted that “publicly available information indicates that Chevron and Chevron U.S.A. may share the same CEO,”[15] and the most definitive statement the analysis could make regarding the staff of the respective companies is that “most of the companies’ directors and officers do not overlap.”[16] This obviously leaves open the possibility that many of the companies’ directors do, in fact, overlap.

 

Also overlooked by the FEC in MUR 6726 is that the company presents itself with one face: Chevron. The campaign contribution in 2012 was registered and reported to the FEC as coming from “Chevron.” (Chevron exercised some greater caution in a subsequent $1 million donation to the same super PAC the following election cycle, as coming from “Chevron Policy, Government & Public Affairs,” which appears to refer to an unincorporated division of Chevron Corporation, at the same address.) Chevron’s 2013 and 2014 Annual Reports, for example, offer little data to distinguish Chevron USA or any other subsidiary; all their business efforts are simply referred to as undertaken by Chevron. On Chevron’s web page there is little evidence of distinct business entities. Chevron U.S.A. is only mentioned one time on the website in the section about the company’s history – nowhere does it mention Chevron U.S.A’s current business model or the fact that it has government contracts.[17] There is very little differentiation between the subsidiaries and the parent on the company’s website.

In piercing the veil, marketing two incorporated entities as a single company is a strong indication that they are indeed just two divisions of the same corporate family. It certainly rings that way for the recipients of Chevron’s campaign contributions. In the minds of lawmakers and the public, Chevron doles out sizeable campaign contributions and Chevron receives lucrative government contracts.

  1. D.    Conclusion: Why MUR 6726 Should Not Serve as a Model For Future Cases

In the factual and legal analyses done for MUR 6726, there were some statements of fact and conclusions that could not be verified, and the final rationale used for dismissing the complaint fundamentally undermines the integrity of the federal pay-to-play laws. If that rationale stands for future cases, the effectiveness of 52 USC §30119 in reducing the potentially corrupting influence of large campaign contributions over the government contracting process will be at risk.

The Commission applied a simple and inaccurate standard in evaluating whether Chevron Corporation and Chevron USA should be seen as members of the same corporate family. The Commission found that because they are separately incorporated entities, and the parent company has sufficient revenue for its campaign contribution derived from sources other than its contractor subsidiary, the two entities do not qualify as an interwoven corporate family subject to the pay-to-play laws. The large campaign contribution from Chevron Corporation, in other words, was not viewed as coming from the contractor and thus was outside the prohibition of 52 USC §30119, regardless of whether such a contribution would in fact be likely to lead recipients to favor the interests of Chevron U.S.A. (including its interests in the award of government contracts).

The Commission reached this conclusion despite the fact that the corporate entities share the same CEO and probably other officers; derive revenues from each other’s business operations; share the same address; depend in no small part on each other’s success; and cast themselves as a single entity to lawmakers and government officials, the public, shareholders and the business community alike.

It is inevitable that large campaign contributions from Chevron Corporation are going to be widely perceived as coming from the Chevron corporate family; and lucrative government contracts awarded to Chevron U.S.A. are going to be widely perceived as benefiting the corporate family that doles out large campaign contributions.

It is not necessary to get bogged down in the specifics of the Chevron case, however, because this rulemaking proceeding does not involve reconsideration of that vote. We are asking for a set of more exacting standards to be developed for 11 C.F.R. §115 that can be used in cases like this in the future.

The green light given by the Commission for federal contractors to develop simple mechanisms to evade 52 USC §30119 and make both campaign contributions to super PACs and receive lucrative government contracts is not yet being widely abused. So far, Chevron and a handful of other federal contractors – such as Oxbow Carbon, Bollinger Shipyards, Clean Energy and AJL Resources, Inc. – appear to have either taken advantage of this mechanism, or may be ignoring the law altogether, to pay to play in the game of government contracting. But, if not addressed soon, it is likely to spin out of control rapidly. Super PACs are increasingly dominating federal elections, providing campaigns with the means to sidestep contribution limits as they work closely with candidate and party committees,[18] and are now even taking on many of the critical functions of candidate campaigns.[19] As super PACs become de facto campaign committees for candidates, they provide a direct and valuable link to curry favor with lawmakers and candidates.

The Federal Election Commission could prevent further erosion of the federal pay-to-play law. More exacting standards for piercing the veil are readily available from the experiences of other governmental agencies, such as the Department of Labor, striving to preserve the efficacy of laws that regulate the conduct of business activity, and such standards have been established as precedent by the courts.

            We urge the Federal Election Commission to clarify in 11 C.F.R. §115 the factors for determining whether entities of the same corporate family are in fact distinct business entities for the purposes of the prohibition on campaign contributions from federal contractors. These factors should include, at the least, scrutiny of the following factors: (i) common ownership, even via linked business enterprises, (ii) common directors and/or officers, (iii) de facto exercise of control, (iv) unity of personnel policies emanating from a common source, and, especially, (v) the dependency of operations, including such a close relationship as to create a public perception of a single corporate enterprise.

 

 

Sincerely,

99Rise

Amazon Watch

Center for Science and Democracy

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

Common Cause

Daniel P. Tokaji, Charles W. Ebersold and Florence Whitcomb Ebersold Professor of

Constitutional Law, The Ohio State University | Moritz College of Law (affiliation for the purpose of identification only).

Dick Simpson, professor of political science, University of Illinois at Chicago (affiliation for the

 purpose of identification only).

Franciscan Action Network

Greenpeace

Harrington Investments

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Issue One

James A. Thurber

League of Women Voters

Mayor Tom Butt, City of Richmond, California

Michael Halberstam, professor of law, SUNY at Buffalo (affiliation for the purpose of

            identification only).

Michigan Campaign Finance Network

Move to Amend Pinellas

New Economy Project

New Progressive Alliance

NorthStar Asset Management, Inc.

Oil Change International

OpenTheGovernment.org

Pax World Management, LLC

Project on Government Oversight

Public Citizen

Sandy Maisel, William R. Kenan Jr. professor of government, Colby College (affiliation for the

            purpose of identification only).

Union of Concerned Scientists

US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG)

West Virginia Citizen Action Group

Zephyr Teachout, associate professor of law, Fordham University (affiliation for the purpose of

            identification only).



[1]  For a list and description of jurisdictions with pay-to-play laws that restrict campaign contributions from government contractors, go to: http://www.citizen.org/documents/wagner-case-record.pdf

[2]  Whether Chevron Corporation held any federal contracts at the time of its campaign contribution to the Congressional Leadership Fund is a separate question that is in dispute. Though Chevron Corporation had held contracts at some points in time, Chevron argued that the division did not hold contracts on the date of the campaign contribution. The Office of General Counsel noted that “one contract could arguably be attributed to Chevron during the relevant time period (Contract No. SP0600095C5541), [but] Chevron states that the true vendor for this contract was its subsidiary, Chevron USA Product Company.” MUR 6726, Factual and Legal Analysis (March 11, 2014) at 6.

[3] Wilson McLeod, “Shareholders’ Liability and Workers’ Rights: Piercing the Corporate Veil Under Federal Labor Law,” Hofstra Labor and Employment Law Journal (Vol. 9:1, 1991). http://bit.ly/1JUGYA4

[4] CaseBriefs, “United States v. Bestfoods,” http://bit.ly/1dxaCBJ

[5] William J. Rands, “Domination of a Subsidiary by a Parent,” Indiana Law Review (Vol. 32:421, 1999). http://bit.ly/1bGqmkv

[6] MUR 6727, Factual and Legal Analysis (March 11, 2014).

[7] McLeod, “Veil Under Federal Labor Law” at 116.

[8] Id. at 117.

[9] Id. at 141.

[10] Id. at 142.

[11] Id. at 151.

[12] MUR 6726, Chevron Response, at 2.

[13] Id.

[14] M.U.R. 6726 “Chevron USA Inc.,” Complaint, Appendix A; Addendum to Complaint, Attachment.

[15] MUR 6726, Notification to Public Citizen (March 11, 2014), at 6.

[16] Id.

[17] See Chevron, “Company History 1947-1979.” http://bit.ly/1bGT3xJ

[18]  Taylor Lincoln, Super-Connected 2014 (Public Citizen, 2015).

[19]  Jennifer Epstein, “Is New Hillary Clinton Super PAC Pushing Legal Boundaries?” Bloomberg News (May 12, 2015), available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-05-13/is-new-hillary-clinton-super-pac-pushing-legal-boundaries ; and Philip Bump, “The Robots Are Here:  Jeb Bush and the First Super PAC Run Campaign,” Washington Post (April 21, 2015), available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/04/21/the-robots-are-here-jeb-bush-and-the-first-super-pac-run-campaign/

 

June 2015 - SEC Nominee

June 12, 2015

 

The Honorable Barack Obama

President

White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC  20006

 

Dear President Obama: 

 

We write to express our views regarding the upcoming vacancies at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

 

The Commission has a stated investor protection mission, and the persons chosen to lead the agency must be staunchly supportive of that mission and fully committed to enhancing the financial security of all Americans.

 

To be acceptable for the nomination, candidates should have direct and substantial experience developing public policy positions from the perspective of investors. Too regularly in recent history, nominees to serve on the SEC have been ‘revolving door’ Wall Street insiders with a pattern of moving back and forth between financial firms and the agency charged with overseeing those firms. This back and forth leads to decisions that are biased toward the interests of the financial industry and away from the interests of the public and investors. A drastic change in approach is needed as we select new nominees to run this important agency.

 

Anyone being considered for these posts should have the expertise to oversee complicated securities rulemakings, as well as the ability to articulate related policy analysis in understandable terms for the investing public, as well as to Members of Congress and their staffs. Any nominee should also be skilled at coordinating with others and ready to be stalwart if faced with policy proposals that would skew towards assisting Wall Street issuers rather than Main Street investors. 

 

One obvious issue that can and should serve as a litmus test for the selection of the nominees is the wildly popular rulemaking petition calling for the agency to promulgate a rule requiring disclosure of corporate political spending information. This issue is of incredible import, as in the post-Citizens United universe corporations can spend money in secret, without informing those that invest in them, and regardless of the potential harms of embroiling their shareholder dollars in hot-button political topics. The demand for this rule has been robust, and has come from every angle—with more than 1.2 million public comments in support, including comments from a bipartisan group of former Chairs and Commissioners of the SEC, state Treasurers, institutional investors, Members of Congress, and more. Any qualified nominee to the agency should be in support of something so robustly requested by investors and in favor of moving this rulemaking forward. We encourage the administration to use this regulation as a signpost for the quality of potential candidates.

 

We appreciate your consideration of our views as you and your team evaluate candidates for the Commission.

 

Sincerely, 

 

Avaaz

Boston Common Asset Management

CREW

 

Common Cause

Demos

Dominican Sisters of Hope

Greenpeace

Harrington Investments, Inc

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Investor Voice

New Economy Project

New Ground Social Investment

New Progressive Alliance

Pax World Management, LLC

Public Citizen

Rootstrikers

Social Equity Fund

U.S. PIRG

Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk

Voices for Progress

West Virginia Citizen Action Group

 

June 2015 - BLM PRB Coal

June 15, 2015

 

Bureau of Land Management

U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C Street, NW, Room 5665

Washington, D.C. 20240

            The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  urges you to withdraw your approval for mining more Powder River Basin (PRB) coal. The coal would be sold at a give away price amounting to coal subsidy, have an inadequate bond, and have adverse effects on world health.

Inadequate Price: Carbon pollution from publicly owned coal leased just during the Obama administration will cause damages estimated at between $52 billion and $530 billion, using the federal government’s own methodology for estimating the social cost of carbon. In contrast, the total amount of federal revenue generated from those coal lease sales only amounted to $2.3 billion for a huge amount of coal. 16.9 billion metric tons is the equivalent of about 1/33 the amount of CO2 released by humans since the dawn of the industrial age. The PRB is already responsible for  42% of America’s coal production. Up to 28 new massive coal leases would make as much as 10.2 billion tons of coal available for exploitation. This is made even worse because PRB companies such as Ambre Energy, Cloud Peak Energy and more have been busted selling coal to their own subsidiary companies and then reselling that coal at a higher price to reduce or avoid royalty payments to the federal government. Mining companies are also allowed to deduct transportation and washing costs from the sale price before applying the royalty.

Insufficient Bond: As of May 29, 2015, Alpha Resources which operates the sizable Eagle Butte mine is no longer eligible for self-bonding. If other PRB coal producers also fail on their self-bonding requirements then that makes this mining operation even more of an unjustified risk.

Burning coal   is one of the highest producers of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. The proposed 10 billion tons of PRB coal would generate as much as 16.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide which would all be released into the atmosphere. Whether it is released in China or the United States makes no difference as to its global warming effects. Coal pollution already worsens air quality resulting in more asthma attacks, heat-related deaths, and respiratory complications. Carbon pollution contributes to warmer temperatures which is speeding the spread of infectious diseases. Coal Plants also emit   mercury, sulfur, arsenic, cyanide, soot, and lead which have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities. Coal companies are not responsible for these health effects or for clean up when coal ash spills and destroys water supplies. See references 52, 82, 97, 98, 101, 133, 159, 174, 207, 308, 421, 498, 814, 830, 906, 1024 - 1036, 1156, 1214, 1216, 1292 - 1312, 1422, 1525-1532, 1666, 1708, 1709, 1722-1725, 1897-1905, 1960, 1963, 2016 of the article “The Environment” at http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty

Taking into consideration the inadequate price, insufficient bond, and world wide harmful effects of mining and burning coal we hope you do the right thing by withdrawing your approval for mining more Powder River Basin (PRB) coal.

 

July 2015 - DOL overtime

July 14, 2015

 

The Honorable Secretary Perez

U.S. Department of Labor 

Frances Perkins Building

200 Constitution Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20210

        

The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  supports the Department of Labor’s plan to strengthen overtime protections, specifically the proposal to increase the overtime salary threshold to $50,440 a year which will boost pay for 5 million people. Economists have shown that almost all of that pay will go directly and effectively into the economy.

In 1975 more than 60% of salaried workers were guaranteed overtime pay. Today, only 8% of salaried workers are. Bringing overtime protections to be in line with the 1975 level is both fair and will give a needed stimulus to the economy.

 

September 2015 - UPS Leave ALEC

 September 2, 2015

 

United Parcel Service

55 Glenlake Parkway, NE

Atlanta, GA 30327

 

To:

David Abney, CEO

D. Scott Davis, Chairman and former CEO

Rodney C. Adkins, Board Member

Michael C. Burns, Board Member

William R. Johnson, Board Member

Dr. Candace Kendle, Board Member

Ann M. Livermore, Board Member

Rudy H.P. Markham, Board Member

Clark T. Randt, Jr., Board Member

John T. Stankey, Board Member

Carol B. Tome, Board Member

Kevin M. Warsh, Board Member

 

We are writing to ask you to end your affiliation with the American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC.

For the past few years, hundreds of thousands of UPS customers have asked companies like UPS to end their ALEC membership because of their concerns about the harmful role ALEC has played in our democratic process. This includes concerns with ALEC’s policy stands, its secretive practices and its effort to treat what most people consider a lobbying operation as “charitable” activity. This last concern has generated at least three separate complaints to the Internal Revenue Service that contributions to ALEC should not in fact be treated as tax deductible.

The public knows that the ALEC operation—which brings state legislators and corporate lobbyists behind closed doors to discuss proposed legislation and share lavish dinners—threatens our democracy. The public is asking UPS to stop participating in this scheme.

Last year, many companies joined an ALEC Exodus, bringing the amount of companies who have left the organization to 106. This extraordinary measure was due to concerns over ALEC’s extreme views; that extreme agenda includes denying the science of climate change, defunding public services and supporting worker misclassification.

During their recent meetings in San Diego, ALEC officers and corporate lobbyists held training seminars to teach legislators how to talk about secret money in our political system. It is unconscionable that the organization should seek to enable

legislators to lie to the American people about how the system is being gamed and our democracy being misshaped by untraceable, unlimited financial contributions.

The undersigned organizations have varying opinions on these issues, but we all know that the harm being done to our country by ALEC vastly outweighs the supposed benefits that it brings to the table. We are asking you as responsible corporate citizens to end your affiliation with ALEC today.

Sincerely,

African American Ministers In Action

Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN)

Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA)

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU)

American Family Voices

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

American Postal Workers Union (APWU)

Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)

Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights

Americans United for Change

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA)

Bend the Arc Jewish Action

Bold Nebraska

Campaign for America’s Future

Care2

Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Effective Government

Center for Media and Democracy/ALECExposed

Christopher Reynolds Foundation

Climate Parents

ClimateTruth.org

Common Cause

Communications Workers of America (CWA)

Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes

Courage Campaign

CREDO Action

Democracy for America

Demos

Energy Action Coalition

Food & Water Watch

Food Chain Workers Alliance

Franciscan Action Network

Georgia Rural Urban Summit

Greenpeace USA

Harrington Investments, Inc.

In The Public Interest

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

International Labor Rights Forum

Jewish Labor Committee

Jobs with Justice

Latino Victory Project

League of Conservation Voters (LCV)

Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)

Main Street Alliance

Marco Consulting Group

Money Out Voters In

MoveOn.org

NARAL Pro-Choice America

National Education Association (NEA)

National Employment Law Project

New Progressive Alliance

OIP Investment Trust, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate Partnership for Working Families

Patriot Majority

Pax World Mutual Funds

Peace and Justice Team of the Congregation of St. Joseph

People for the American Way

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Progress Florida

Progress Iowa

Progress Missouri

Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC)

ProgressNow

ProgressNow Arizona

ProgressNow Colorado

ProgressOhio

Public Citizen

Reinvestment Partners

Responsible Endowments Coalition

RootsAction.org

ShareAction

Sierra Club

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

Sisters of the Presentation of Aberdeen, SD

Social Security Works

Stand Up to ALEC

SumOfUs

United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW)

United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS)

VoteVets

We Act Radio

Working America

 

September 2015 - Politicians - Inappropriate Policy Riders

Dear President Obama, Members of Congress,

 

We, the undersigned organizations, write to ask you to oppose any funding bill that contains inappropriate and ideological policy riders.

 

Appropriations bills are being used to undermine essential safeguards through “policy riders” – provisions that address extraneous policy not funding issues, and are slipped in to appropriations bills to win approval as part of must-pass funding legislation. These are measures that the public opposes, and the President would likely veto as standalone legislation. The American people support policies to restrain Wall Street abuses and ensure safe and healthy food and products, to provide for clean air and water and keep workplaces safe, to prevent consumer rip-offs and corporate wrongdoing, and to ensure continued access to vital health care services.

 

These inappropriate riders are being inserted to advance the priorities of special interest donors and supporters. They have become the “new earmarks,” but they are actually far worse than the old earmarks, because they have vastly greater reach and consequence for the American people. Some Members of Congress have even gone so far as to say they are willing to shut down the entire government over outrageous policy riders like the defunding of Planned Parenthood which provides health services to millions of low-income Americans.

 

Below are just a few of the many examples of wildly inappropriate policy riders which have been attached to the FY16 funding bills to serve the narrow interests of particular industries at the expense of public health, safety, workers’ rights, financial security, science, and the environment. These legislative proposals would:

 

·         Prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from updating one of our most important air quality standards-the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone (Senate EPA Interior).

·         Prohibit the Department of Labor from finalizing or enforcing a rule that would ensure retirement savers are getting sound financial advice on their retirement savings (House Labor HHS).

·         Force the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to redo a study on forced arbitration, a tactic increasingly used by corporations to deny consumers and or employees access to the courts to settle disputes (House Financial Services).

·         Eliminate any funding for the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, created by Congress to provide federal agencies with scientific evidence to improve the safety, affordability and accessibility of health care to the American public (House Labor HHS).

·         Bar the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from issuing a final rule, years in the making, to protect workers from toxic silica dust until it spends up to $800,000 on an unnecessary scientific study to provide “epidemiological justification” for imposing exposure limits, ensuring further delay and more diseases and deaths. When the new rule is established, it will prevent 700 deaths a year and 1,600 new cases of silicosis annually (Senate Labor HHS).

·         Roll back rules by the National Labor Relations Board to modernize and streamline the election process, block the Board's efforts to ensure that workers can negotiate with companies that control their wages and working conditions, and strip workers in commercial operations on tribal lands from the protections of the National Labor Relations Act (House Labor HHS).

·         Weaken a pending Food and Drug Administration rule on liquid nicotine and flavored cigars by exempting these tobacco products currently on the market from any regulation; this will limit the agency’s ability to protect children and teens from these harmful products (House Agriculture FDA).

·         Block the Securities and Exchange Commission from requiring publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending; derail the IRS from defining political activity for nonprofits, and prevent the administration from requiring federal contractors to disclose their political spending (House Financial Services).

·         Continue to block rules that would place limits on the number of hours truckers could work without an adequate rest break despite safety concerns that trucker fatigue causes serious crashes and significantly increase truck size and weight limits. (House and Senate Transportation HUD).

·         Eliminate the recently finalized Environmental Protection Agency rule defining which waters are subject to protections under the Clean Water Act (House and Senate Energy and Water).

·         Block science-based protections under the Endangered Species Act for numerous species, including the iconic gray wolf (House Interior EPA).

·         Roll back financial regulations in areas ranging from protections against irresponsible mortgage lending to limits on excessive borrowing by large banks, to undermining the effectiveness of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Senate Financial Services and General Government).

·         Prevents the Food and Drug Administration from improving generic drug safety labeling so that it better protects patients (House Agriculture FDA).

·         Prevent the administration from cracking down on contractors that don’t comply with workplace laws (House and Senate Labor HHS).

·         Place arbitrary restrictions on evidence supporting a healthy diet from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and undermine nutritional standards for school foods provided to millions of American schoolchildren (House and Senate Labor HHS Agriculture FDA).

·         Roll back the Federal Communications Commission’s strong Net Neutrality rules, or put barriers in place that prevent the FCC from enforcing these protections for Internet openness and affordability (House and Senate Financial Services).

·         Zero-out funding for private fair housing enforcement grants; prevent the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Justice from enforcing a rule that provides a unified standard for challenging discriminatory housing policies and practices; and prevent HUD from implementing a rule to empower local policymakers to create local solutions to address persistent barriers to fair housing choice (House CJS, Transportation HUD).

·         Eliminate any funding for the Title X Family Planning Program, cutting the preventive care — including family planning services, well-woman exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatments for sexually transmitted infections — that nearly 4.6 million people currently rely on (House Labor HHS).

 

We urge Members of Congress and Senators to oppose flawed funding proposals such as the non-exhaustive list of examples above if they come to the floor. We further urge the administration in the strongest possible terms to oppose any eventual omnibus funding package that includes these or other dangerous legislative proposals. If included in a final package, any ideological policy riders would undo key safeguards and protections for Main Street.

 

Sincerely,

 

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

AcademyHealth

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates)

AIDS Action Baltimore

Alaska Wilderness League

Alaska PIRG

Alliance for a Just Society

Alliance for Retired Americans

American Association for Justice

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

American Council on Exercise

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFLCIO)

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

American Lung Association

American Public Health Association

American Sexual Health Association​

American Thoracic Society

Americans for Financial Reform

Arizona Consumers Council

Arizona PIRG

As You Sow

Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN)

B.Komplete, LLC.

Blue Green Alliance

Breast Cancer Action

California Reinvestment Coalition

CALPIRG

California Project LEAN

Campaign for America’s Future

Caney Fork Headwaters Association

Center for Auto Safety

Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Community Change Action

Center for Effective Government

Center for Food Safety

Center for Justice & Democracy

Center for Media Justice

Center for Progressive Reform

Center for Responsible Lending

Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH)

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service, Inc. (COA)

Common Cause

Communications Workers of America (CWA)

Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health (ConnectiCOSH)

ConnPIRG

Consumer Action

Consumer Federation of America

Consumer Federation of California

CoPIRG

 

Color of Change

CREDO

 

Cumberland Counties for Ecojustice

Daily Kos

Defenders of Wildlife

Demos

 

Earthjustice

Economic Policy Institute

Employee Rights Advocacy Institute For Law & Policy

End Hunger Connecticut!

Endangered Species Coalition

Energy Action Coalition

Farmworker Justice

Florida PIRG

Fight for the Future

Foundation for Healthy Generations

Franciscan Action Network

Free Press Action Fund

Friends of AHRQ

Georgia PIRG

GreenLatinos

Greenpeace

Hepatitis Foundation International

ICWUC Health and Safety Department

Illinois PIRG

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Institute for Science and Human Values

International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)

Iowa PIRG

Jewish Women International

KidsAndCars.org

KyotoUSA

Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, Teachers College, Columbia University.

League of Conservation Voters

Main Street Alliance

Maine Public Health Association

Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network

Maryland PIRG

MASSPIRG

Massachusetts Consumers' Council

Mental Health America

Missouri Association of Local Public Health Agencies

MoPIRG

 

NAACP

 

NARAL Pro-Choice America

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE)

National Association of Consumer Advocates

National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)

National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials

National Center for Health Research

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Coalition of STD Directors

National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low income clients)

National Council for Occupational Safety and Health

National Employment Lawyers Association

National Fair Housing Alliance

National Health Care for the Homeless Council

National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund

National Organization for Women

National Partnership for Women & Families

National WIC Association

National Women’s Law Center

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

NCPIRG

 

NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility Of United Church of Christ

New Progressive Alliance

New Rules for Global Finance

New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)

NHPIRG

 

NJ PIRG

 

NJ Work Environment Council

NMPIRG

Nonprofit VOTE

Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance

Ohio PIRG

Oregon PIRG (OSPIRG)

Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.)

PennPIRG

People for the American Way

Physician Assistant Education Association

PIRG in Michigan (PIRGIM)

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Prevention Institute

Progressive Campaign Change Committee

Public Citizen

Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association

Public Knowledge

Public Justice Center

Rachel Carson Council

Real Food for Kids – Montgomery and Healthy School Food Maryland

Rhode Island Council on Occupational Safety and Health (RICOSH)

RIPIRG

 

Safe Climate Campaign

SafeWork Washington

School-Based Health Alliance

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Shape Up America!

SMART-TD (International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, Transportation Workers, Transportation Division)

Sierra Club

Society for Public Health Education

TexPIRG

 

The Arc

 

The National Consumers League

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Trauma Foundation

Truck Safety Coalition

Trust for America’s Health

U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)

U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG)

United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)

United Steelworkers (USW)

United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities

Voices for Progress

VPIRG

 

Washington State Public Health Association

WashPIRG

Western Nebraska Resources Council

Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health

Wider Opportunities for Women

WISPIRG

Workers Defense Project (Texas)

Worksafe

 

September 2015 - GA EPD - Protect Chatahoochee River from Coal Ash

 

September 14, 2015

 

Georgia Environmental Protection Division

2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, SE Suite 1152 East Floyd Tower

Atlanta, GA 30334-9000

Re: NPDES Permit Reissuance – Plant McDonough-Atkinson

Plant McDonough’s wastewater discharge permit is now up for renewal. The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  urges you to protect the Chattahoochee River from coal ash pollution by requiring coal ash pollution be stored in lined pits, limit toxic discharge, eliminating exposure to high hazard dams, and not overly exposing the hazards to poor people.

The NPA urges you to requiring coal ash pollution be stored in lined pits. Right now coal combustion waste lies stored in giant unlined pits. In recent incidents like the Dan River spill in North Carolina, coal ash ponds have given way, releasing tens of thousands of tons of ash, and millions of gallons of contaminated water into adjacent waterways. We can’t afford a similar disaster in metro Atlanta. Georgia Power should excavate and remove coal ash waste to lined storage away from rivers, lakes, and streams as other leading southern utilities are already doing.

The NPA urges you to limit toxic discharge. There are no limits on dangerous toxins in coal ash discharges such as arsenic, selenium, mercury and lead. Georgia Power is not required to avoid polluting the groundwater, it is not even required to monitor to see if groundwater pollution is occurring from the unlined pits.

The NPA urges you to eliminating exposure to high hazard dams. One of the dams is a “high hazard” dam under state law, meaning that lives would likely be lost if it fails. This outdated method of waste disposal threatens communities with catastrophic dam failure and pollutes rivers, lakes, groundwater, and drinking water supplies. It lacks sufficient safeguards for preventing catastrophic failure of the dams holding the coal ash waste back from the river and surrounding communities. Coal companies in the past have declared bankruptcy which would leave Georgia with the pollution and the bill.

The NPA urges you to stop overly exposing environmental hazards to poor people. This is an environmental justice issue: over 50% of the people living within 3 miles of the McDonough plant are African-American.

Avoiding burning coal is an overriding issue. Why should we pay for coal from out of state?  Burning coal is one of the highest producers of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Mountain Top Removal for coal - which destroys mountains forever through explosions and destroys thousands of miles of streams - continues unabated. Coal pollution already worsens air quality resulting in more asthma attacks, heat-related deaths, and respiratory complications. Carbon pollution contributes to warmer temperatures which is speeding the spread of infectious diseases. Coal Plants also emit   mercury, sulfur, arsenic, cyanide, soot, and lead which have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities. Coal companies are not responsible for these health effects or for clean up when coal ash spills and destroys water supplies. See references 52, 82, 97, 98, 101, 133, 159, 174, 207, 308, 421, 498, 814, 830, 906, 1024 - 1036, 1156, 1214, 1216, 1292 - 1312, 1422, 1525-1532, 1666, 1708, 1709, 1722-1725, 1897-1905, 1960, 1963, 2016, 2038 2052, 2091-2103 of the article located at http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty

Please consider the four recommendations by requiring coal ash pollution be stored in lined pits, limiting toxic discharge, eliminating exposure to high hazard dams, and to stop overly exposing the hazards to poor people.

Thank you for your consideration.

 

 

September 2015 - Pope on Climate Action

September 15, 2015

Most Holy Father,

We write to you as young people, as constituents of Jesuit institutions, other Catholic, Christian, and religious institutions, and non-religious institutions as people of goodwill, on behalf of an entire generation. We are standing on the precipice of climate catastrophe. Since the release of your encyclical “Laudato Si” in June, we have been inspired by your call for climate justice and the awakening of the Catholic and global community to the systemic causes of the climate crisis.

We have resonated with your criticism of the lack of response from our politicians and leaders in addressing climate change. St. Ignatius of Loyola urged us to see God in all things. Regrettably, many of our leaders are overlooking this important lesson.  It is remarkable how weak international political responses have been. The message that we are getting out to the world through our fossil fuel divestment work echoes your observation that “The failure of global summits on the environment make it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance. There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.” We wholeheartedly agree with your analysis, Holy Father, and we see divestment as a means to strip fossil fuel special interests of their political power, which thus far has helped in blocking meaningful climate legislation to come to fruition. As you have taught, highly polluting fossil fuels must be replaced without delay, and that cannot happen while these interests have control of our political processes.

Additionally, fossil fuel divestment proclaims, as you did at the Second World Meeting of Popular Movements, that “there is an invisible thread joining every one of [the many forms of exclusion and injustice].” You asked: “can we recognize it? These are not isolated issues. I wonder whether we can see that these destructive realities are part of a system which has become global. Do we realize that that system has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature?”

We answer yes. All around us, we see the frightening consequences of an extractive capitalist economy, colonialism, systemic racism, and other forms of injustice. Divestment as a tactic is pivotal to the climate justice movement in that it forces us to think of issues with intersectionality on a global scale. One can not truly address the climate crisis and environmental injustice issues without dismantling the larger system which allows these things to continue. By calling on our institutions to divest their endowments from fossil fuel companies, and reinvest those funds into renewable technology and into those communities which have been marginalized, we force dialogue on climate change in terms of a global system urgently in need of an overhaul.

Despite the colossal challenges that face our young generation, we have hope in the future and are fighting to secure a world for ourselves in which a just and stable future is possible. We have been inspired and invigorated by your witness to the Gospel, and your calls for real, structural change. We highly anticipate your September visit to the United States and the furthering of the conversation surrounding the changes that we urgently need. During your visit, we ask that you call on our universities, along with other institutions, to divest from fossil fuels. Some of America’s largest Catholic organizations still have millions of dollars invested in heavily polluting fossil fuel companies. Within a few years, this remarkably fast-growing movement has reached some incredible milestones, but unfortunately many of our own educational institutions, which cite Christian values, are ignoring your call for climate justice by refusing to divest. Additionally, we ask that you continue efforts to divest your own “campus,” as The Vatican has an equal responsibility as our universities and institutions to cut ties with the fossil fuel industry. We wholeheartedly believe in the Catholic values of stewardship for the Earth and for oppressed people, and we are offering our institutions the chance to live out these values as well. We are doing all that we can, but we need your help so that together we can take part in the “globalization of hope.”


We thank you again for your love and your leadership, Holy Father.

 

As young people for a just world,

 

(list schools and groups)

Climate Justice at Boston College

Boston College Alumni for Divestment

Fossil Free LMU, Loyola Marymount University

Tufts Climate Action, Tufts University

Saint Mary’s College Sustainability Committee

Swarthmore Mountain Justice

Bowdoin Climate Action

Maine Students for Climate Justice

University of New Hampshire’s Student Environmental Action Coalition

Divest Central Michigan University

Student Environmental Alliance at Central Michigan University

Take Back the Tap at Central Michigan University

Divest Chico State

Fossil Free Caltech (Teachers for a Sustainable Future)

Fossil Free UCLA at University of California, Los Angeles

Fossil Free University of Tasmania, Australia

Fossil Free Monash University, Australia

Fossil Free RMIT, Melbourne, Australia

Boston University Students for a Just and Stable Future

Fossil Free San Francisco State University

Fossil Free MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

DivestNOW! Cornell, Cornell University

Fossil Free NAU, Northern Arizona University

Fossil Free Lesley, Lesley University

Divest Carleton, Carleton College

Southwest Divestment Network, Divestment Student Network

DivestNU, Northeastern University

Fossil Free AppState, Appalachian State University

Fossil Free Reed College Alumni

People and Planet, Fossil Free UK, United Kingdom

Go Fossil Free Washington State University

Colorado College Student Divestment Committee

Go Fossil Free Ball State

Divest Barnard from Fossil Fuels

Divest Dartmouth, Dartmouth College

Fossil Free Lakehead, Lakehead University

Divest University of Washington

Fossil Free ND, University of Notre Dame

Fossil Free Warwick University, UK

Pacific University: Go Fossil Free

Fossil Free Cal, UC Berkeley

Fossil Free UC, University of California

DivestPBurgh, State University of New York at Plattsburgh

Go Fossil Free SBCC, Santa Barbara City College, California

Divest DU, University of Denver, Colorado

Green Jays, Creighton University

Fossil Free NU, Northwestern University

Columbia Divest for Climate Justice, Columbia University

Sierra Student Coalition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Fossil Free UCSC, University of California Santa Cruz

Divest Stonehill, Stonehill College

New Progressive Alliance

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