Public Comments 2017 (112-

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 on our website under "News." 

  • Public Comment 112: January 2017 - WA state SW Clean Air Agency on proposed Methanol Refinery
  • Public Comment 113: January 2017 - WA state Cowlitz County deny local land use permits to Northwest Innovation Works’ Kalama proposed methanol refinery
  • Public Comment 114: February 2017 - BLM on Spring Creek Coal EIS
  • Public Comment 115: February 2017 - Senate Banking Committee on SEC Nominee Walter Clayton
  • Public Comment 116: February 2017 -  Beyond Extreme Energy FERC Appointments
  • Public Comment 117: March 2017 - HOR FERC Appointments
  • Public Comment 118: March 2017 - U.S. Senate on Supreme Court Nominee
  • Public Comment 119: March 2017 - Postal Concerns
  • Public Comment 120: May 2017 - Open Call for NGOs to help United Nations
  • Public Comment 121: May 2017 - NPA Welcomes ACT NOW
  • Public Comment 122: May 2017 - Rover Pipeline FERC
  • Public Comment 123: June 2017 - CA Disclose ACT (AB14)
  • Public Comment 124: June 2017 -  U.S. Withdrawal from United Nations COP 21
  • Public Comment 125: June 2017 - Political Intelligence Transparency Act
  • Public Comment 126: June 2017 - Congress oppose ideological irrelevant riders

 

Public Comment 112: January 2017 - WA state SW Clean Air Agency on proposed Methanol Refinery

January 4, 2017

Washington state

SW Clean Air Agency

Subj: Air Discharge Permit 16-3204

The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  urge you to deny Northwest Innovation Works’ Air Discharge Permit for the proposed methanol refinery in Kalama, Washington.

The primary reason to deny Air Discharge Permit 16-3204 is the pollution it would cause. Other reasons are utility costs for both electricity and natural gas would increase and it is a bad business plan.

1.      Increased Pollution

Documentation for the below comes from the following sources.

In December 2014, Columbia Riverkeeper and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center submitted 319 pages of comments to the FERC and the state EIS scoping processes at Kalama, urging “the Port to prepare an EIS that fully and accurately discloses the wide reaching impacts of the proposed methanol export facility.”

In April 2016 the New Progressive Alliance urged the Washington state Draft Environmental Impact Statement to be updated to address the Kalama Natural Gas to Methanol Refinery increased dangers and pollution from fracking and natural gas, would use a lot of power which would be reflected in higher electricity rates, water use and contamination, and is founded on a bad business plan.

  • This would be the largest methanol refinery in the world.
  •  It would dump up to 53 tons of toxic and hazardous pollutants into the air annually and emit over a million tons of carbon dioxide a year.
  • Methanol is flammable in liquid and gas states, and it is considered highly toxic to humans and animals. Just one gallon of spilled methanol depletes the oxygen from 198,000 gallons in the Columbia River. 
  • A Methanol Plant also produces waste that includes heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, various air pollutants, nickel, copper, and zinc oxide from the catalysts used in the refining process.
  • Air pollution that includes carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and fine particulate matter.
  • They will burn 30 percent of the huge amount of natural gas used, adding to local pollution.
  • The Kalama methanol refinery will emit over a million tons of carbon dioxide a year.
  • Kalama methanol refinery’s air pollution risk is massive. They propose to emit up to 53 tons (106,000 pounds) of toxic and hazardous pollutants into the air annually. By comparison, Emerald Kalama Chemical released six tons of toxic and hazardous pollution in 2015, according to the EPA.
  • The plant also could emit up to 62 tons (104,000 pounds) of very fine particulate matter — dust and soot particles — annually. Fine particulate matter can enter into the respiratory system and cause long term health impacts. 
  • The plant would buy gas extracted by fracking. Specifically this plant would use at least 300,000 dekatherms of fracked gas per day (270,000 as raw material plus at least 30,000 for power generation) – one third as much gas as the entire state of Washington. Fracking, a dangerous technique for getting natural gas out of shale, has been linked to serious health risks, groundwater contamination, and other environmental impacts. Fracking 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. For more documentation on Fracking see “The Environment,” #5, at http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty
  • The Kalama Refinery would be fed by a new 3.1-mile, 24-inch diameter natural gas pipeline that will divert natural gas from the existing Northwest Pipeline. The New Progressive Alliance in the below documentation shows the danger of transporting fossil fuel, especially by pipes. For documentation on transporting fossil fuels by pipes and other means  see “The Environment,” #12, at http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty
  • For pollution the Methanol Refinery discharges 200 gallons of wastewater per minute. The Methanol Refinery would also make a huge demand on water resources, using more than 2,500 gallons of water per minute or about 4 million gallons a day for cooling and gas forming, 90 percent of which is consumed during the process or lost as vapor to the atmosphere. It makes no sense that Kalama sell off millions of gallons of its fresh water every day when farmers and fishermen operated under emergency drought restrictions last summer. For more documentation on the dangers to fresh water   see “The Environment,” #14, at http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty

 

2.      Higher Utility Costs for Electricity and Natural Gas

The Kalama Natural Gas to Methanol Refinery would use a lot of power which would be reflected in higher electricity rates, increased dangers and pollution from fracking and natural gas, water use and contamination, and is a bad business plan.

Methanol refining requires a lot of electricity. The plant would use 200 megawatts of electricity daily - equal to the amount of electricity used by ALL Cowlitz County residents. The plant would also use 1/3 as much gas as the entire state of Washington. These demands would most likely increase gas and power costs for Washington residents and businesses.

 

3.      The Kalama Natural Gas to Methanol Refinery is a bad business plan.

Northwest Innovation Works, owned by the Chinese Government and British Petroleum, wants to build this Methanol Refinery even though it has never built or run a methanol refinery. Indeed, the proposed technology has never been used to make methanol commercially.

The plan uses America for cheap energy and to dump pollutants, ships methanol for thousands of miles overseas to China, and then China uses it to make plastics which are then shipped back across the ocean to the United States.

The United States signed the United Nations Agreement COP 21 in 2015. The agreement states “Each party shall…provide…a national inventory report of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals…of greenhouse gases…” (Article 13, paragraph 7)  This means reporting so we will be compared with other countries. Therefor the United States will be in a poorer position for future bargaining just because of this one Methanol Refinery.

As China’s economy cools, it remains to be seen whether the huge profits that analysts envision for Northwest methanol exports are sustainable. In fact, the world methanol market has been oversupplied as recently as 2008, when many plants were just starting up. While the new proposed refineries would meet a near-term demand for cheap methanol in China, it remains to be seen what the Pacific Northwest will have gained after the gold rush fever abates. What it will have lost because of pollution, water depletion, and electricity usage is clear.

 

Conclusion:

Please consider the total pollution, the higher electricity rates, and this bad business plan and reject Air Discharge Permit 16-3204.

 

Public Comment 113: January 2017 WA state Cowlitz County deny local land use permits to Northwest Innovation Works’ Kalama proposed methanol refinery

January 16, 2017

 

Hearing Examiner The Honorable Scheibmeir

The Honorable Ron Melin

Cowlitz County

MelinR@cowlitz.wa.US

The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  urges you to not issue local land use permits to Northwest Innovation Works’ Kalama methanol refinery because of increased pollution, higher utility costs, it would support a bad business plan, and it will hurt U.S. interests because of United Nations commitments.

1.      Increased Pollution

Documentation for the below comes from the following sources.

In December 2014, Columbia Riverkeeper and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center submitted 319 pages of comments to the FERC and the state EIS scoping processes at Kalama, urging “the Port to prepare an EIS that fully and accurately discloses the wide reaching impacts of the proposed methanol export facility.”

In April 2016 the New Progressive Alliance urged the Washington state Draft Environmental Impact Statement to be updated to address the Kalama Natural Gas to Methanol Refinery increased dangers and pollution from fracking and natural gas, would use a lot of power which would be reflected in higher electricity rates, water use and contamination, and is founded on a bad business plan.

  • This would be the largest methanol refinery in the world.
  •  It would dump up to 53 tons of toxic and hazardous pollutants into the air annually and emit over a million tons of carbon dioxide a year.
  • Methanol is flammable in liquid and gas states, and it is considered highly toxic to humans and animals. Just one gallon of spilled methanol depletes the oxygen from 198,000 gallons in the Columbia River. 
  • A Methanol Plant also produces waste that includes heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, various air pollutants, nickel, copper, and zinc oxide from the catalysts used in the refining process.
  • Air pollution that includes carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and fine particulate matter.
  • They will burn 30 percent of the huge amount of natural gas used, adding to local pollution.
  • Kalama methanol refinery’s air pollution risk is massive. They propose to emit up to 53 tons (106,000 pounds) of toxic and hazardous pollutants into the air annually. By comparison, Emerald Kalama Chemical released six tons of toxic and hazardous pollution in 2015, according to the EPA.
  • The plant also could emit up to 62 tons (104,000 pounds) of very fine particulate matter — dust and soot particles — annually. Fine particulate matter can enter into the respiratory system and cause long term health impacts. 
  • The plant would buy gas extracted by fracking. Specifically this plant would use at least 300,000 dekatherms of fracked gas per day (270,000 as raw material plus at least 30,000 for power generation) – one third as much gas as the entire state of Washington. Fracking, a dangerous technique for getting natural gas out of shale, has been linked to serious health risks, groundwater contamination, and other environmental impacts. Fracking 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. For more documentation on Fracking see “The Environment,” #5, at http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty
    • The Kalama Refinery would be fed by a new 3.1-mile, 24-inch diameter natural gas pipeline that will divert natural gas from the existing Northwest Pipeline. The New Progressive Alliance in the below documentation shows the danger of transporting fossil fuel, especially by pipes. For documentation on transporting fossil fuels by pipes and other means  see “The Environment,” #12, at http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty
    • For pollution the Methanol Refinery discharges 200 gallons of wastewater per minute. The Methanol Refinery would also make a huge demand on water resources, using more than 2,500 gallons of water per minute or about 4 million gallons a day for cooling and gas forming, 90 percent of which is consumed during the process or lost as vapor to the atmosphere. It makes no sense that Kalama sell off millions of gallons of its fresh water every day when farmers and fishermen operated under emergency drought restrictions last summer. For more documentation on the dangers to fresh water   see “The Environment,” #14, at http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty
  • The acute health and air impacts from high-concentration short-term exposure to pollutants through refinery flaring, are not worth the risk to our communities. The EIS estimates flare operations will involve six shutdowns (requiring 2 hours of flaring each), six start-ups (requiring 12 hours of flaring each), and four process upsets (requiring 4 hours of flaring each) per year. In addition, the facility plans to flare between 48 to 60 hours while the catalysts are prepared for initial use and every few years thereafter. Flaring can cause acute impacts (e.g. respiratory and eye ear and nose irritation) when people are exposed to very high levels of pollutants over a short period of time (a few minutes or hours).
  • The methanol refinery would emit over a million tons of greenhouse gases each year.  NWIW admits that the technology exists to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 86%, but NWIW does not want to spend the money.

 

  • 2.      Higher Utility Costs for Electricity and Natural Gas

            The Kalama Natural Gas to Methanol Refinery would use a lot of power which would be reflected in higher electricity rates, increased dangers and pollution from fracking and natural gas, water use and contamination, and is a bad business plan.

Methanol refining requires a lot of electricity. The plant would use 200 megawatts of electricity daily - equal to the amount of electricity used by ALL Cowlitz County residents. The plant would also use 1/3 as much gas as the entire state of Washington. These demands would most likely increase gas and power costs for Washington residents and businesses.

 

3.      The Kalama Natural Gas to Methanol Refinery is a bad business plan.

Northwest Innovation Works, owned by the Chinese Government and British Petroleum, wants to build this Methanol Refinery even though it has never built or run a methanol refinery. Indeed, the proposed technology has never been used to make methanol commercially.

  • The plan uses America for cheap energy and to dump pollutants, ships methanol for thousands of miles overseas to China, and then China uses it to make plastics which are then shipped back across the ocean to the United States. Foreign corporations and government shouldn’t be allowed to take over private land, pollute our air, and exploit our water and natural resources.
  • Northwest Innovation Works has never built or run a methanol refinery and the proposed technology has never been used to make methanol commercially, yet NWIW proposes to build the largest methanol refinery in the world.

As China’s economy cools, it remains to be seen whether the huge profits that analysts envision for Northwest methanol exports are sustainable. In fact, the world methanol market has been oversupplied as recently as 2008, when many plants were just starting up. While the new proposed refineries would meet a near-term demand for cheap methanol in China, it remains to be seen what the Pacific Northwest will have gained after the gold rush fever abates. What it will have lost because of pollution, water depletion, and electricity usage is clear.

 

4.      This will hurt United States interests because of the 2015 United Nations Agreement COP21.

 

The United States signed the United Nations Agreement COP 21 in 2015. The agreement states “Each party shall…provide…a national inventory report of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals…of greenhouse gases…” (Article 13, paragraph 7)  Transporting methanol thousands of miles to China will increase the project’s annual greenhouse gases substantially. This means reporting so we will be compared with other countries. Therefor the United States will be in a poorer position for future bargaining just because of this one Methanol Refinery.

 

Conclusion:

Please do not  issue local land use permits to Northwest Innovation Works’ Kalama methanol refinery because of increased pollution, higher utility costs, it would support a bad business plan, and it will hurt U.S. interests because of United Nations commitments.

 

 Public Comment 114: February 2017 - BLM on Spring Creek Coal EIS

February 13, 2017

 

The Honorable Irma Nansal

Bureau of Land Management

            The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  urges you to reconsider the Spring Creek Coal Environmental Impact Statement.

Coal and fracking companies do not deserve a continuing series of good deals at the expense of the American taxpayers. The New Progressive Alliance has written the BLM in June 2012, May 2013, August 2013, June 2015, and August 2016 on this matter and now we are writing again.

Last month, a new report from the Bureau of Land Management found major problems with the federal coal leasing program, including massive taxpayer losses through sweetheart deals for coal companies. The report also showed how coal companies have failed in their legal duty to reclaim mined farms, ranches, and public lands; and how federal coal management has failed to account for the climate impacts of coal leasing.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said at the time: “We have a responsibility to ensure the public – including state governments – get a fair return from the sale of America's coal, operate the program efficiently and in a way that meets the needs of our neighbors in coal communities, and minimize the impact coal production has on the planet that our children and grandchildren will inherit. The only responsible next step is to undertake further review and implement these commonsense measures.”

But at the same time that the BLM pointed out these major problems and called for taking a step back to institute reforms, the bureau was moving forward with leasing an additional 205 million tons of coal to Cloud Peak Energy’s Spring Creek Mine for export to Asia. Cloud Peak does not even need this coal right now—it already has more than 13 years of stockpiled coal reserves. Cloud Peak Energy currently has years of leased reserves at Spring Creek. And though they've been operating for decades, they've fully reclaimed less than 10% of mined lands. The BLM has no business giving coal to a company that doesn’t need it any time soon—especially under a system everyone knows is broken.

In addition to environmental concerns, coal makes less and less sense economically. China is cancelling coal orders and building new coal plants. More than 15 independent and governmental reviews of federal coal leasing have found massive taxpayer losses due to the undervaluing of publicly-owned coal. This problem was significant enough to warrant a full-scale national review, which to date has also found issues with reclamation and the way coal leasing is dealing with climate change.

BLM should factor these things into its consideration, and shouldn't lease more coal at Spring Creek until the broken coal leasing system is fixed and Spring Creek steps up reclamation efforts.

Thank you for your consideration.

 

Public Comment 115: February 2017 - Senate Banking Committee on SEC Nominee Walter Clayton

February 15, 2017

To: Members of the Senate Banking Committee

 

Dear Senators:

 

You face crucial issues in your consideration of the nominee for Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Walter “Jay” Clayton. As the primary agency regulating U.S. securities trading markets, the SEC’s actions have far-reaching implications for Main Street Americans who deserve strong investor protection and a growing real economy supported by stable and reliable markets.  

Mr. Clayton’s background is as a Wall Street corporate lawyer and dealmaker representing many of the largest financial institutions in our society. Such a corporate background is not unique among past SEC chairs and commissioners, and the wisdom of a seasoned practitioner could be useful in the position. But Mr. Clayton’s decades of service to Wall Street raises serious questions about his ability to lead an agency dedicated to investor protection and the public interest. Accordingly, it is particularly urgent that you thoroughly question Mr. Clayton as to whether his background may bias him toward the interests of Wall Street insiders such as those he has worked with for many years. These interests often conflict with those of ordinary investors, and indeed, all those who depend on fair and well-functioning capital markets (including our state and local governments).

 

Our economy is still recovering from the devastating effects of the 2008 financial crisis. The inadequate oversight of SEC-regulated institutions and markets was a major contributor to that crisis. While the SEC has made progress to reform and re-vitalize itself, it still has not fully addressed the serious issues revealed in the crisis. New challenges are also emerging as financial markets continue to evolve toward more complex investment products and trading technologies.

 

The response of the new Administration to this unfinished business has been to call on regulatory agencies to tear down even those improvements that have been made since 2008. As the head of an independent regulatory agency, Mr. Clayton will still have the freedom to act to protect the public when the evidence shows that uncontrolled Wall Street practices endanger economic security, capital formation, and the savings of ordinary investors. But it is crucial that you thoroughly question and examine him to find out whether he will be willing to do so.

 

Such questioning should be guided by the mission of the SEC, which is to “protect investors; maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets; and facilitate capital formation,” as well as to promote a market environment that is worthy of the public's trust.”[1] Based on this directive, the American public and its representatives in Congress justifiably expect the SEC and its leadership to hold corporations accountable, to ensure those financial services under the jurisdiction of the SEC operate under fair and robust rules, and afford no special treatment to any entity or person.

 

The SEC is also charged with ensuring that shareholders have access to timely and complete disclosure of not only financial information but also a company’s policies and activities. The underlying premise of the agency is that markets function better as investor confidence improves and that part of that confidence is built on providing investors with information that they, and not just industry, deem material. Additionally, shareholders are increasingly calling for more information on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues like climate change, human rights, tax, political spending and lobbying activity, CEO pay, and workforce matters. The SEC Chair must be responsive to these demands and utilize increased technological capabilities to make this information readily available to shareholders and to the public.

 

Disclosure is far from the only pressing challenge facing the SEC. Critical rules responding to the weaknesses in oversight revealed in the financial crisis remain unwritten or unimplemented. Unfinished rules should be prioritized and those rules that have been put in place should not be rolled back unless there is broad consensus on a better way to manage the risks they are intended to address. In addition, there is an important regulatory agenda to improve investor protections in a variety of areas marked by rapid growth and technological change.

 

While rulemaking is central to the agency’s mandate, rules are only effective insofar as they are enforced. It is essential that the Chair of the SEC be willing to take all steps necessary to enforce the law and the rules regardless of how wealthy, powerful or well-connected a firm or person might be. While using all of the Commission’s powers to enforce the law civilly, the Chair of the SEC must also be willing to refer lawbreakers to the Justice Department whenever appropriate for criminal prosecution. This is how a fair, serious, and ardent regulator sends the critically important message that no one is above the law.

 

Among other issues, you should press Mr. Clayton on whether:

 

1)      He will implement and enforce the law as currently written including systemic risk provisions such as the Volcker Rule and derivatives regulation, reporting of “CEO to worker pay ratios,” whistleblower protections and rewards programs, risk-retention requirements, and reforms to proxy access rules.

2)      He will continue and build on the examinations of private funds that revealed significant fraud and expand the Commission’s registration and oversight of those funds to protect investors as required by current law.

3)      He will defend the rights of investors and asset owners through the shareholder resolution process laid out by Rule 14a-8.

4)      He will uphold the definition of materiality as information that investors find relevant, rather than the management of the issuers.

5)      He will take action in cases where new financial products and activities pose risks to investors and the broader financial system.

6)      He will maintain the long SEC tradition of prioritizing strong and effective disclosure for investors.

 

In questioning Mr. Clayton, you must critically assess his capacity for impartial dedication to and prioritization of the public interest given his long history as a Wall Street lawyer whose sole duty was to act as a zealous advocate for his clients’ narrow, private sector interests. In particular, Mr. Clayton has spent a significant portion of his career representing the nation’s biggest banks as a lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell - the law firm The New York Times referred to as Goldman Sachs “go-to law firm for more than a century.”[2]

His resume includes:

  • Advising Goldman Sachs on the $5 billion investment it received from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway during the financial crisis.[3]
  • Advising Bear Stearns during its sale to JPMorgan Chase.[4]
  • Advising Barclays Capital in buying up assets left by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy during the financial crisis.[5]
  • Representing Ally Financial[6] in connection with the $25 billion settlement related to robo-signing and other foreclosure abuses with the federal government and state attorneys general.[7]
  • Advising the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group on its $25 billion initial public offering, the largest ever IPO.[8]

While this experience has the potential to inform a regulator’s perspective, it can also embed a belief that what is best for Wall Street is best for America. The 2008 financial crash proved this belief to be objectively false. Congress needs and the American people deserve a Chair of the SEC who advocates for the needs of Main Street over the interests of Wall Street.

Moreover, Mr. Clayton’s long list of former clients opens up the possibility of significant conflicts of interest if he becomes Chair of the SEC. He will almost certainly need to recuse himself from significant decision-making processes at the agency. His wife’s ties to Goldman Sachs further complicate the matter. As a result, Mr. Clayton needs to demonstrate beyond any doubt that he will be able to be objective, fair, and willing to hold Wall Street accountable (including his former clients), and not favor policies that allow anyone to profit at the expense of the American people.

We hope and expect you will press Mr. Clayton concerning his willingness to support tough rules and enforcement for Wall Street giants when such action is necessary to protect the broader public. The shortest path to economic growth and job creation is to put Main Street investors’ interests first and ensure that rule of law on Wall Street is enforced and strengthened.

 

Sincerely,

 

AFL- CIO


American Family Voices

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

Americans for Financial Reform


Better Markets

Center for Popular Democracy

Clean Yield Asset Management

Communication Workers of America

Democracy Matters

Harrington Investments, Inc.

Money Out Voters In (MOVI)


New Progressive Alliance


Public Citizen

WV Citizen Action Group

Zevin Asset Management, LLC

 

 

[1] https://www.sec.gov/about.shtml

2 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/04/business/dealbook/donald-trump-sec-jay-clayton.html?_r=0

3 http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB122220798359168765

4 http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/04/business/dealbook/donald-trump-sec-jay-clayton.html

5 http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/04/business/dealbook/donald-trump-sec-jay-clayton.html

6 https://www.sullcrom.com/lawyers/Jay-Clayton

7 https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/federal-government-and-state-attorneys-general-reach-25-billion-agreement-five-largest

8 http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/04/business/dealbook/donald-trump-sec-jay-clayton.html

 



 

Public Comment 116: February 2017 -  Beyond Extreme Energy FERC Appointments

 

February 17, 2017

Beyond Extreme Energy is proposing to transform the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with the following nine steps.

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.

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.

 

To achieve this, Beyond Extreme Energy is banding together with the New Progressive Alliance and other organizations around the country to fight Trump's upcoming appointments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

 

Right now, FERC is down to two commissioners and can no longer approve fossil fuel infrastructure.

FERC has traditionally  ignored and dismissed community and climate concerns when reviewing industry permits for fracked-gas pipelines and other infrastructure. Research indicates that the agency has rejected ONLY ONE such application, in 2016, in 30 years. FERC is in essence a rubber-stamp agency for the fracked-gas industry.
 
Donald Trump will be able to nominate three Republican commissioners and one other commissioner to the five-member panel over the next six months, one of whom will be a new chair. There are now three vacancies, given the resignation of former chair Norman Bay in the last week of January, and one sitting commissioner’s term expires in June.
 
Within just weeks, FERC could be controlled by Trump. All FERC-sponsored, open community meetings on proposed fracked-gas infrastructure projects could become one-person-at-a-time, behind-closed-door meetings, as has happened already under the current regime in Ohio, New York, New Jersey and Virginia. FERC could institute rigid, compressed timelines for action on permit applications. Landowners fighting eminent domain abuse could face greater pressure from pipeline companies anxious to take their land. FERC staff could be ordered to do even worse jobs on Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements that deal with threats to community health, safety and climate. The FERC public relations department could actively attempt to portray communities that oppose proposed pipelines in the most negative light. The FERC building security in DC could become more repressive against those who protest there.
 
Trump’s nominations need to be approved by the full Senate. We call upon members of the Senate, especially those on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee which has to review those nominations, to speak out about the myriad problems with FERC and press Trump’s nominees about its rubber-stamp history for gas industry expansion.
 
We pledge that when Trump makes his first FERC nomination we will work actively against it and the other nominations, as best and as much as we can, in collaboration with other organizations doing the same.
 
Signed,
 
Advocates for Springfield, NY
Allegheny Defense Project
American Medical Student Association
The AMP Creeks Council
Athens County [Ohio] Fracking Action Network
Aquashicola/ Pohopoco Watershed Conservancy
Berks Gas Truth
Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT)
Beyond Extreme Energy
Buckeye Environmental Network
Catskill Citizens For Safe Energy
Catskill Mountainkeeper
The Center And Library for the Bible and Social Justice
Center for Biological Diversity
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Citizen Coalition for Wildlife and Environment
Citizens Against the Rehoboth Compressor Station (CARCS)
Citizens For Water
Clean Air Council
Climate 911
CODEPINK for Peace
Columbus Community Bill of Rights
Compressor Free Franklin
Concerned Citizens of Otego, NY
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
Damascus Citizens for Sustainability
Earth Action, Inc.
ECHO Action NH: #FossilFree603
Exact Solar
The FANG Collective
Food and Water Watch
Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station (FRRACS)
Fossil Free Rhode Island
FreshWater Accountability Project
Friends for Environmental Justice
Friends of the Harmed
Gas Free Seneca
Glenville Environmental Organization
glofernartstudio.org
Greenbelt Climate Action Network
Guernsey County Citizens Support on Drilling Issues
Green America
Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate
Howard County (MD) Climate Action
Keeper of the Mountains Foundation
Lancaster Against Pipelines
LEPOCO Peace Center (Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern)
Marcellus Outreach Butler
Milford Doers/Residents of Crumhorn Mtn
Milwaukee Riverkeeper
Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance
NC WARN
New Haven Leon Sister City Project
New Progressive Alliance
North Jersey Pipeline Walkers
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
NYH2o
OgreOgress Productions
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC)
Otsego 2000, Inc.
Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air
Pennsylvania Earth Guardians
People Over Pipelines
Plymouth Friends of Clean Water
Popular Resistance
Preserve Giles County
Preserve Montgomery County, VA
Preserve Roanoke/Bent Mountain
Protectors of the Planet
Renewable Energy Long Island
Resist the Pipeline
ROAR Against Fracking
Rockfish Valley Investments LLC
Rogue Climate
Roseland Against Compressor Station (RACS)
Safe Energy Rights Group (SEnRG)
Sane Energy Project
SEED
Seneca Lake Guardian, a Waterkeeper Affiliate
Sierra Club Niagara Group
South Coast Neighbors United, Inc.
Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expanson
Stop the Pipeline
Students for a Just and Stable Future
Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development
Sullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy Development (SACRED)
Sullivan County Residents Against Millennium (SCRAM)
Sunflower Alliance
Sustainable Loudoun
Sustainable Medina County
SustainUS
Underground Scholar Association
Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun, Green Team
Valley Watch, Inc
Waterkeepers Chesapeake
We Are Cove Point
Western New York Peace Center
West Roxbury Saves Energy
West Virginia Highlands Conservancy
Williams Township Concerned Citizens Against the Pipeline
Winyah Rivers Foundation
WV Environmental Council
350 CT
350 Eugene
350 Loudoun
350 Massachusetts Berkshire Node
350 Salem, OR

 

Public Comment 117: March 2017 - HOR FERC Appointments

 

March 1, 2017

 

Fourteen Democrats in the House wrote to Trump calling on him to make FERC operational again by putting forward nominees for the open commissioner spots. These representatives don’t understand FERC. (See Public Comment 116.) They think making this rubber stamping agency operational again will be helpful. We know otherwise and wrote these 14 democrats.

Dear Congressional Representatives,

On behalf of communities across the nation who are being abused by the misuse of power and law by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), we were deeply disturbed by your February 22, 2017 letter urging swift nomination and approval of new FERC Commissioners.

Rather than advocating for the installation of new FERC Commissioners, you should be doing all you can to forestall the nomination and approval process. Without a quorum FERC cannot issue Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity to natural gas infrastructure projects using its abusive, biased and conflicted review and approval process for which the approval is a foregone conclusion and not the result of objective consideration of facts, impacts and need.

Communities across the nation are being harmed by the indiscriminate, ill-informed and misguided approvals rolling out of FERC for natural gas infrastructure projects. FERC has proven itself to be an agency with unparalleled bias – approving every natural gas interstate transmission line brought before its Commissioners for approval. In 30 years FERC’s Commissioners have said “no” to only one, just one, gas pipeline project brought before it for approval. Not only are communities being harmed by the pipelines themselves, but they are being mistreated by FERC throughout the review process.

Until Congress has investigated the abuses of power and law by FERC, including the biased and self-serving decisionmaking advanced by its Commissioners and staff, and put in place needed reforms you should oppose restoration of a quorum of FERC Commissioners. Among the many reforms that must be undertaken before a quorum is restored are: the removal of eminent domain power; a prohibition on the use of tolling orders that prevent legal challenges to FERC approvals before pipelines go into construction; a prohibition on the stripping and undermining of state legal authority by FERC; a mandatory public participation process that provides for meaningful access and input; a mandatory determination that there is a genuine need for a project that genuinely serves the public interest (as opposed to corporate greed and goals); a prohibition on the use of consultants that have conflicts of interest and/or work for the industry; a prohibition on self-dealing by the pipeline companies in their claims of need; an end to the employee revolving door between FERC staff and the industry; a clear and enforced prohibition on conflicts of interest by FERC Commissioners …. just to name a few.

In order to genuinely serve the public interest you must take a strong stand against approval of any new Commissioners to FERC until such time as the House and Senate have held hearings investigating the bias and misuse of authority demonstrated by FERC, its employees and Commissioners and needed reforms have been identified, proposed and passed.

Signed,

(See list from Public Comment 116)

 

 

Public Comment 118: March 2017 - U.S. Senate on Supreme Court Nominee

On March 3, 2017 The New Progressive Alliance joined with many other organizations to express concerns to the United States Senate about Judge Neil Gorsuch nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.

The full letter can be found here:

https://doc-0c-8c-apps-viewer.googleusercontent.com/viewer/secure/pdf/s395dp07c6l5tn1v8keo204fmnaho743/rdhfh4962rilkr00d3v63hggksqebcg3/1494900300000/lantern/15694384274789180582/ACFrOgCV18EtiySQaXqAWjqHEI7JXIhenBCE3liJNCyjsxsVBVzsrAzwnflbSS-m6RJ5iwUD9LVYgH5PjlZygUYE6b2osLymMMPWC6PhXtxW55isovt8c6M3XaKc9nA=?print=true&nonce=2ukcrej5v4bqg&user=15694384274789180582&hash=vl3an3v8298pi8vb0mn3o1km52kh6p3b

In addition to the New Progressive Alliance, below is a partial list of other organizations that signed the letter.

 

Act.tv

AFSCME

Alliance for Democracy

American Federation of Teachers

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

Americans for Democratic Action

American Postal Workers Union

Asian Americans Advancing Justice

Berkshire Environmental Action Team

Beyond Nuclear

Brave New Films

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good

Center for Media and Democracy

Center for Popular Democracy

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Church Women United in New York State

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

Class Action

Clean Elections Texas

Coalition for Disability Health Equity

Coalition to Restore Democracy

CODEPINK

Coffee Party Savannah

Common Cause

Concerned Citizens for Change

Communications Workers of America

DC Latino Caucus

Democracy 21

Democracy Initiative

Democracy Matters

Democracy Spring

Demos

Don't Waste Michigan

End Citizens United

EPI Policy Center

Every Voice

Fix Democracy

Free Speech for People

Friends of the Earth

Greenpeace USA

Hightower Lowdown

Indivisible

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

Jobs with Justice

Just Foreign Policy

Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare

League of Conservation Voters

Maplight

MayDay PAC

NAACP

National Council of Jewish Women

National Education Association

National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund

National Partnership for Women and Families

National Priorities Project

Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance

Occupy.com

Occupy Bergen County

Organize Florida

Our Revolution

Participatory Politics Foundation

Patriotic Millionaires

People Demanding Action

People for the American Way

PeopleNOW.org

People's Action

Power Shift Network

Pride at Work

Represent.US

ReThink Media

RootsAction.org

SEIU

Sierra Club

Sierra Student Coalition

Small Planet Institute

Stamp Stampede

Student Debt Crisis

The Rootstrikers Project of Demand Progress

The Workmen's Circle

Union For Reform Judaism

Voices for Progress

West Virginia Citizen Action Group

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

 

Public Comment 119: March 2017 - Postal Concerns

 

March 17, 2017

 

Before the Postal Regulatory Commission

901 New York Avenue NW, Suite 200

Washington, DC 20268-0001

Statutory Review of the System

For Regulating Rates and Classes

For Market Dominant Products

Docket No. RM 2017-3

 

COMMENTS OF THE ALLIANCE FOR RETIRED AMERICANS; CATHOLICS IN ALLIANCE FOR THE COMMON GOOD; CENTER FOR COMMUNITY CHANGE ACTION; CENTER FOR MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY’S PR WATCH; CENTER FOR STUDY OF RESPONSIVE LAW; CONSUMER ACTION; FARM AID; IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST; HIGHTOWER LOWDOWN; NATIONAL COALITION ON BLACK CIVIC PARTICIPATION; NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN; NEW PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE; PEOPLE DEMANDING ACTION; VOTE VETS ACTION FUND

 

Dear Commissioners:

This letter is in response to the Postal Regulatory Commission’s (PRC) request for public comment on whether or not the current system for regulating rates and classes for market dominant products is achieving the objectives of the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). We, the undersigned, believe in a strong, public Postal Service that collects revenue adequate to provide affordable, universal mail service to all. The Postal Service’s shortage in revenue over the last 10 years has led directly to cuts in service and the threat of privatization.

Under the current system the Postal Service has not had adequate revenues to meet all of its operational and statutory obligations. Tying postal rate increases to the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), while not allowing the Postal Service to expand services and requiring the Postal Service to pre-fund decades of future retiree health benefits, has put the Postal Service into an impossible bind.

The Postal Service has responded to the constraints listed above by slowing mail service, closing community-based Post Offices and mail processing facilities, slashing hours of operations, trying to end six-day service as well as door-to-door delivery, and eliminating hundreds of thousands of living wage jobs. Over the last few years nearly all of Postal Service management’s focus has been on ways to cut more costs, rather than a balanced business approach of improved service, expanded products and services, including basic financial services, and cost efficiency. Should financial pressure from CPI-based rates continue, the Postal Service could be at risk of further service erosion. If service and usage decline significantly, the Postal Service could then become a target for privatization. Under a privatization of the Postal Service, mail users of all types can be sure that shareholders would demand much higher postal prices.

The Postal Service binds the nation together. It provides universal service to people from all walks of life – rich and poor, rural and urban, without regard to age, gender, race or nationality. The current status quo of a pre-funding mandate, restrictions on new products and services, and a lack of flexibility in setting rates puts the Postal Service at risk. In this proceeding, we believe the PRC has the ability to make an important change in the rate setting process in order to support a strong, public Postal Service.

Sincerely,

Katherine E. Isaac on behalf of

Alliance for Retired Americans

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good

Center for Community Change Action

Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch

Center for Study of Responsive Law

Consumer Action

Farm Aid

In the Public Interest

Hightower Lowdown

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

National Organization for Women

New Progressive Alliance

People Demanding Action

Vote Vets Action Fund


Public Comment 120: May 2017 - Open Call for NGOs to help United Nations
 

The New Progressive Alliance is proud to be an NGO in consultative status with the United Nations. NGOs interested in applying for ECOSOC consultative status should submit their application and required documents on or before 1 June 2017 in order to be considered by the 2018 NGO Committee. If you submit after that then it will eventually be considered, but not until after 2018.


This link provides background information, some of the benefits, and the instructions how to apply: http://csonet.org/index.php…


If you would like to participate in United Nations activities through the New Progressive Alliance see So You Want to Volunteer for the United Nations - http://www.newprogs.org/so_you_want_to_volunteer_for_the_un…

 

Public Comment 121: May 2017 - NPA Welcomes ACT NOW

May, 2017

The New Progressive Alliance is proud to welcome ACT NOW as an ally. The ACT NOW coalition supports a price on carbon in Washington state. Taxing polluters could promote renewable energy, help keep our air and water clean, provide tax relief, and fund healthy forests and vital state services.

Climate Change is a moral and economic threat to Washington State. One of the most efficient and effective policies to reduce carbon emissions is a price on carbon pollution. We urge the Washington State legislature to enact a price on pollution as a measure to uphold our obligation to future generations.

Pricing carbon pollution can and must be bipartisan including input from Republicans, Democrats, business leaders, social justice leaders, climate policy experts, and the public.

A price on carbon pollution will generate revenue that could be used to provide tax relief for citizens, in particular, low-income communities, funding for healthy forests and clean water, acceleration of the clean energy economy and vital state services.

The ACT NOW coalition supports the passage of a broad-based price on carbon pollution that efficiently and equitably meets our obligation to reduce pollution and fulfill Washington’s core responsibility to protect our environment and our kids, now and in the future.

ACT NOW (Advocates for a Carbon Tax NOW) is a grassroots non-partisan coalition.

 

Public Comment 122: May 2017 - Rover Pipeline FERC

May, 2017

 

TO: Cheryl A. LaFleur, FERC Acting Chair
Colette D. Honorable, FERC Commissioner

CC: Sherrod C. Brown, Senator from OH
Rob J. Portman, Senator from OH
John R. Kasich, Governor of OH

Dear Commissioners,

We write to express our deep concern regarding the extensive environmental harm caused by Energy Transfer Partners in their construction of the Rover gas pipeline, and to demand immediate action to eliminate the ongoing risk posed by this and future gas pipeline construction. This letter has been signed by  organizations from across the country including along the pipeline route in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

The spilling of 2 million gallons of drilling waste into wetlands as a result of reckless horizontal drilling activities clearly demonstrates ETP’s poor planning, neglect, and disregard for communities and the environment along the pipeline route. Already, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has fined the company over $400,000 in response to numerous incidents during Rover Pipeline construction.

While we welcome the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) recent action to halt new horizontal directional drilling on the project, it is clear that this limited action is not sufficient to ensure the safety of communities along the pipeline route.

Therefore, we write to demand that FERC halt all construction of the Rover Pipeline in order to ensure the safety of communities and ecosystems along the pipeline route. The permit case and environmental impact statement (EIS) should be reopened and supplemented so that horizontal directional drilling plans and procedures can be reviewed and improved. Further construction should be limited to only those actions needed to ensure the safety and stability of the vicinity until such a review is satisfactorily completed. A Supplemental EIS would allow for a more thorough analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts of the project, which were lacking in the original EIS and Certificate Order.

Further, FERC should initiate an immediate review of horizontal directional drilling plans and procedures on all open pipeline dockets. FERC should put the safety of communities and ecosystems first by halting the permitting for all new pipeline projects while conducting this comprehensive safety review.

FERC has a responsibility to ensure projects it approves do not imperil the public. Immediate action is needed to live up to that standard with respect to the Rover pipeline and all other gas pipelines currently in the FERC docket.

Signed,

Ohio River Citizens’ Alliance (OH)
Friends for Environmental Justice (OH)
FreshWater Accountability Project (OH)
Radioactive Waste Alert (OH)
Sustainable Medina County (OH)
Athens County Fracking Action Network (OH)
Licking County Concerned Citizens for Public Health and Environment (OH)
Cleveland Environmental Action Network (OH)

New Progressive Alliance
Delaware Riverkeeper Network (PA)
Camp White Pine (PA)
Berks Gas Truth (PA)
Lancaster Against Pipelines (PA)
Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (PA)
LNG Opposition Team (PA)
West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (WV)
Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (WV)
Mountain Lakes Preservation (WV)
Laurel Mountain Preservation Association (WV)
MelRose Ministries (WV)
Friends of Buckingham (VA)
Delaware Action Group (NY)
Concerned Burlington Neighbors (NY)
Citizens For Water (NY)
Advocates for Cherry Valley (NY)
NYH2O (NY)
Otsego 2000 (NY)
People Over Pipelines (NY)
Advocates for Springfield, NY (NY)
Deep Green Resistance New York City (NY)
Roseland Against Compressor Station (NJ)
SouthEast Communities Against Pollution (MD)
South Coast Neighbors United (MA)
Citizens Against the Rehoboth Compressor Station (MA)
Atchafalaya Basinkeeper (LA)
350 Louisiana – New Orleans (LA)
Idle No More SF Bay (CA)
Oil Change International
Earthworks
Beyond Extreme Energy
Center for Earth Ethics
Great March for Climate Action
Green America

 

Public Comment 123: June 2017 - CA Disclose ACT (AB14)

 

June, 2017

 

The Honorable Marc Berman

Chair, Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee

State Capitol, Room 5135

Sacramento, CA 95814

Cc: The Honorable Jimmy Gomez and Marc Levine and Members of the Assembly Elections and Redistricting

Committee

RE: AB 14 (Gomez, Quirk-Silva, and Levine) – Support

 

Dear Assemblymember Low:

The below listed organizations are pleased to support AB 14, the California DISCLOSE Act. A message is rightly evaluated based in part on the identity of the messenger. Just as a lobbyist looking for your vote on a bill would never mislead you about the identity of their client, neither should the voters be misled as to who is asking for our votes, whether we are voting for candidates or when we are, like you, being asked to vote on

proposed legislation on the ballot.

 

Campaign spending on ballot measures has reached unprecedented levels. Nearly $1 billion was spent in California on ballot measures from 2012 to 2016, almost all of it by donors whose true identities were obscured on ads by misleading names buried in fine print. Hundreds of millions more was spent on independent expenditures supporting or attacking candidates. Although it is essential for individuals and organizations to be

able to communicate effectively with voters, it’s equally important that voters not be deceived about who paid for the ads they see and therefore who is asking for their vote.

 

AB 14 requires the true, three largest funders of ads about ballot measures or independent expenditures in support or opposition of candidates to be shown clearly and unambiguously on the ad. It applies with appropriate nuances to all major forms of political advertising (radio, television, electronic, print). Even more importantly, AB 14 includes new earmarking rules for contributions meant for specifically identified

committees or ballot measures or for independent expenditures supporting or opposing specifically identified candidates. These new earmarking rules are completely separate from existing earmarking rules regarding contributions to candidates, but will, for the first time, reveal true funders on ballot measure and independent expenditure ads when the funders attempt to hide behind one or more layers of misleading front groups.

AB 14 would thus stop voters from being routinely and legally misled about funders of political ads. Achieving this goal is essential in the era of Citizens United in which billionaires and special interests can kill any legislation you pass with a simple – and, for them, inexpensive-- referendum, all the while keeping their identities and, hence, the specially interested motivation behind the referenda, hidden.

 

A March 2013 poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 84% of California voters favored “Increasing public disclosure of funding sources for signature gathering and initiative campaigns”. This support was across the board with at least 80% of voters from each political party in favor, a rare example of near unanimity in an otherwise divided electorate. Indeed, underscoring the vast and bi-partisan support for disclosure, Justices of the Supreme Court no less than five times have touted the kind of disclosure in AB 14, the most famous of which is this, from Justice Scalia:

“There are laws against threats and intimidation; and harsh criticism, short of unlawful action, is a price our people have traditionally been willing to pay for self-governance. Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed. For my part, I do not look forward to a society which, thanks to the Supreme Court, campaigns anonymously and even exercises the direct democracy of initiative and referendum hidden from public scrutiny and protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave.”

 

Chief Justice Roberts agrees:

“[D]isclosure of contributions minimizes the potential for abuse of the campaign finance

system.…With modern technology, disclosure now offers a particularly effective means of arming the voting public with information.

 

So, too, does Justice Kennedy:

“[D]isclosure requirements offer a powerful, speech-enhancing method of deterring corruption — one that does not impose limits on how and when people can speak.”

 

Californians are crying out for the specific disclosures of the California DISCLOSE Act, with more than 31,000 signing petitions urging the legislature to pass AB 14. We therefore respectfully ask for your support of AB 14. Just as you would never tolerate a lobbyist who hid the identity of his or her client so, too, should your constituents be afforded the same transparency when they are asked for their votes.

 

For these reasons, the organizations listed below respectfully SUPPORT AB 14 and request your AYE vote.

FROM: California Clean Money Campaign (Sponsor)

California Alliance for Retired Americans

California Church IMPACT

California Common Cause

Californians for Disability Rights

California League of Conservation Voters

California Physicians Alliance

California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG)

Coalition for Clean Air

Consumer Watchdog

CounterPAC

Courage Campaign

CREDO

Daily Kos

Democracy for America

Endangered Habitats League

Free Speech for People

Friends of the Earth

LegitAction

Lutheran Office of Public Policy

Maplight

Money Out People In

Money Out Voters In

New Progressive Alliance

People for the American Way

People Demanding Action

Public Citizen

Represent.Us

Social Security Works

Voices For Progress Education Fund

Bob Stern, Principal co-author of the Political Reform Act of 1974

 

 

Public Comment 124: June 2017 -  U.S. Withdrawal from United Nations COP 21

It is unfortunate that so many believe following the United Nations Agreement will result in economic deprivation. Already states and cities in the United States have resolved to follow it even as President Trump tries to withdraw.

Climate facts are not enough - http://below2c.org/2017/05/climate-facts-not-enough/#comment-6519

Make Your Case with the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 - http://www.newprogs.org/make_your_case_with_the_2015_united_nations_climate_change_conference

Our Responsibility After Trump's Climate Withdrawal - https://popularresistance.org/newsletter-understanding-trumps-climate-withdrawal-our-responsibility/

Thank You For Dropping Out of Paris Agreement and Good Riddance  - http://below2c.org/2017/06/thank-you-for-dropping-out-of-paris-agreement-and-good-riddance/

 

 Public Comment 125: June 2017 - Political Intelligence Transparency Act

 

The New Progressive Alliance joined with other organizations in supporting the Political Intelligence Transparency Act.

 

June, 2017

Groups Urge Congress to Bring Secret Industry that Taps Congressional Sources for Stock Trading Tips into the Sunlight

Reps. Slaughter, Duncan Introduce Bipartisan

“Political Intelligence Transparency Act”

            We applaud Reps. Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-N.Y.), John Duncan, Jr. (R-Tenn.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.) for resuming the legislative drive to shine a light on the secret activities of Wall Street consultants and lobbyists who lurk on Capitol Hill seeking valuable information they can use to cash in on the stock market. We urge all of Congress to join in this effort to open the books on the stock market cottage industry known as the “political intelligence industry.”

 

            Our organizations and scholars supporting this transparency legislation include: Center for Media and Democracy, Common Cause, Every Voice, James A. Thurber, New Progressive Alliance, Public Citizen, WV Citizen Action Group,

 

The political intelligence industry operates largely in secret. It is estimated that there are some 2,000 political intelligence consultants roaming the halls of Congress soaking up trading information for paying clients to the tune of anywhere between $100 million to $400 million in annual profits. But no one knows for sure, since political intelligence activities are not disclosed either to the public or to Congress. Some of this activity could well involve insider trading.

 

The “Political Intelligence Transparency Act” does not prohibit such activity as long as it is done legally and above board. The legislation would require political intelligence consultants to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) and disclose their clients, income and activities. This bill is a straightforward transparency measure that would enable the public to monitor whether any illegal insider trading is taking place.

 

This is commonsense transparency legislation. We strongly urge Congress to support the bipartisan ‘Political Intelligence Transparency Act’ with the same enthusiasm in which Congress embraced the STOCK Act.

 

Public Comment 126: June 2017 - Congress oppose ideological irrelevant riders

 

 

 

 

 

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