Public Comments 2019 (191-

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 191: January 2019 – Oregon Dept. State Lands-Stop Jordan Cove LNG
  • Public Comment 192: January 2019 – NY Governor – Election Reform
  • Public Comment 193: January 2019 – DOE - Hanford Nuclear Clean Up
  • Public Comment 194: January 2019 – Reopen Government
  • Public Comment 195: January 2019 – US Senate-Reopen Government
  • Public Comment 196: February 2019 - Washington state Environmental Laws
  • Public Comment 197: February 2019 - US HOR - HR1 free SEC
  • Public Comment 198: February 2019 - Congress fund CDC
  • Public Comment 199: March 2019 - Needed Changes for HR1
  • Public Comment 200: March 2019 - US HOR - 3 Poison Pill Riders
  • Public Comment 201: March 2019 - SEC - Greater Disclosure
  • Public Comment 202: March 2019 - US HOR - Oppose 3 bad riders
  • Public Comment 203: March 2019 - Congress Oppose Bad Policy Riders
  • Public Comment 204: April 2019 - Congressional Leadership - Cut Funds ICE & CBP
  • Public Comment 205: April 2019  - Congress control FERC

 

Public Comment 191: January 2019 – Oregon Dept. State Lands-Stop Jordan Cove LNG

January 2, 2019

email  jordancove@dsl.state.or.us

Department of State Lands
775 Summer St. NE, Suite 100
Salem, OR 97301-1279

Subj: Jordan Cove LNG DSL Fill and Removal Permit Application APP0060697

            The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  urges you to oppose the  Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline and the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal. Not only will this be the largest source of climate pollution in Oregon, the bad effects extend far beyond the borders of Oregon.

The Jordan Cove LNG would transport fracked gas from the Canadian and US Rockies to the southern Oregon Coast, requiring the 229-mile Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline across private and public land. This would require taking private land through eminent domain. It would also necessitate a 95-foot wide clear-cut through southwest Oregon’s forests and farms.

The highly explosive export facility at the Port of Coos Bay would be located in a tsunami hazard zone, subjecting thousands of people to hazardous burns in the case of an accident. This project would pollute nearly 500 waterways, harm salmon habitat, impact hundreds of landowners, threaten tribal territories and burial grounds, raise energy prices, and become the largest source of climate pollution in Oregon. This would impact more than 485 rivers and streams, including the Klamath, Rogue, Umpqua, Coos, and Coquille Rivers. At each place where the 36-inch pipeline crosses waterways, the construction will harm habitat for fish and pollute clean water. The project would also require dredging out and fundamentally re-shaping the Coos Bay estuary.

Specific Adverse Effects:

-Cutting down streamside trees, resulting in warmer stream temperatures that harm fish;

-Disturbing and re-suspending toxic materials in and around waterways;

-Permanently destroying wetlands;

-Potentially releasing drilling chemicals and other contaminants into rivers and streams;

-Crossing the rivers and streams that are the drinking water source for 12 public drinking water systems and more than 116,000 Oregonians;

-Fundamentally altering the Coos Bay estuary, increasing murkiness and degrading habitat for salmon and shellfish, like oysters and clams;

-Modifying the navigation channel at Coos Bay that would interfere with the ability of the public to access these areas for fishing and recreation; and

-Increasing ship traffic in the navigation channel that could increase invasive species released through ballast or engine cooling water.

The answer 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 Presidents Obama and Trump, 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, 1724, 1731, 1783-1787, 1937-1957, 2133-2139, 2249, 2317, 2421-2436, 2558-2564, 2598, 2667, 2747, 2776-2787, 2980-2982, 3168, 3170, 3171, 3187, 3222-3236, 3347, 3494-3496, 3507, 3853-3860, 3920, 4022, 4029, 4101, 4102, 4173 of this reference: http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty

For the reasons stated in this letter the New Progressive Alliance respectfully requests the Oregon Department of State Lands deny the removal-fill permit and to oppose the  Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline and the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal.

 

Public Comment 192: January 2019 – NY Governor – Election Reform

January 4, 2019

Dear Governor Cuomo:

New York has an unprecedented opportunity to lead the nation -- quite literally -- on campaign finance reform, with a small donor matching system. We write to request your help.

As you know, Speaker Pelosi and key leaders in Congress are spearheading an effort to make democracy reforms the first bill in the 116th Congress. In a November 25 oped in the Washington Post, entitled,  “The Democratic Majority Will Restore Democracy,” Pelosi and Representative Sarbanes wrote: “Americans went to the polls and sent a powerful message: The election not only was a resounding verdict against Republicans' assault on Americans' health care and wages, but also it was a vote to rescue our broken democracy.

First among the democracy-rescuing reforms they described was campaign finance reform:

We must also empower hard-working Americans in our democracy by building a 21st-century campaign-finance system - combining small-donor incentives and matching support to increase and multiply the power of small donors. Wealthy special interests shouldn't be able to buy more influence than the workers, consumers, and families who should be our priority in Washington.

We know you are aware of voter hunger for reform, and we know you believe in amplifying the power of small donors to limit the power of big money in our politics. You've called for it every year you've been in office.

With Democrats taking over the U.S. House of Representatives, the nation is heading down  the track that New York is already on. The destination is a new era of democracy reforms such as small donor public financing, automatic voter registration, and early voting. New York, under your leadership, can get there first, and in so doing provide a boost to the broader national effort.

That is precisely why we write. Show the nation how it can be done. Inspire Congress and give something to candidates to point to in 2020. We'll work hard to pass a federal bill in the U.S. House this month. We then hope to look to New York as a model for the nation.

Luckily, you are not alone. You have two legislative leaders who have sponsored small donor matching system bills. You also have us, and many others hoping to see this happen.

Please let us know how we can help you help the rest of the country.

 

Sincerely,

 

African American Ministers in Action

American Family Voices

Arab American Institute

Ben & Jerry’s

Brennan

Center for Justice

Campaign for America’s Future

Center for Popular Democracy

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Cleanup Carl

Clean Water Action

Color of Change

Common Cause

Concerned Citizens For Change

CREDO Action

Daily Kos

Democracy Initiative

Democracy Matters

Democracy 21

Demos

End Citizens United –Fight for Reform

Equal Citizens

Every Voice

Food & Water Watch

Franciscan Action Network

Free Speech For People

Friends of the Earth

Greenpeace

Indivisible

Left Action

Main Street Alliance

MapLight

MAYDAY America

MoveOn 3

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

National Council of Jewish Women

National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

New Progressive Alliance

Our Revolution

People Demanding Action

People For the American Way

People’s Action

Presente.org

Progressive Change Campaign Committee

Progressive Turnout Project

Public Citizen

SEIU

Sierra Club

Stand Up America

Sunrise Movement

Transformative Justice Coalition

Unitarian Universalist Association

Voter Rights Action

 

Public Comment 193: January 2019 – DOE - Hanford Nuclear Clean Up

January 8, 2019

Department of Energy

HLWnotice@em.doe.gov

Subj: Clean Up Hanford Nuclear

The New Progressive Alliance at http://newprogs.org/  joins Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson in urging you to reject a new plan to reclassify nuclear waste. It would allow the federal government to walk away from its obligation to clean up millions of gallons of toxic, radioactive waste at the Hanford, Washington Nuclear Facility.

We in Washington state did not shrink from our patriotic duty and supported the making of our country’s nuclear arsenal. Hanford’s underground tank waste is the deadly legacy of a half-century of plutonium production for the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Hanford tanks hold 60 percent of the nation’s most dangerous nuclear waste.

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. Changing it from high level to low level waste is unfair to tribal leaders, Hanford workers, public safety officials, and surrounding communities.

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. 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, 1823-1834, 1964-1970, 2140-2147, 2235-2241, 2258, 2440-2455, 2508, 2565-2571, 2788-2817, 3081, 3237-3271, 3344-3346, 3509-3515, 3521, 3567, 3862-3871, 4030-4033, 4103-4105, 4174 of the article “The Environment” at http://www.newprogs.org/the_environment_under_the_democratic_republican_uniparty

Please do the right thing and keep the government promise that has been made for decades to clean up Hanford.

 

Public Comment 194: January 2019 – Reopen Government

The New Progressive Alliance with over 280 other organizations wrote the President and Congress about the adverse health impacts of the government shutdown.

 

January 17, 2019

 

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

 

United States House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

 

With the partial government shutdown nearing the four-week point, the undersigned organizations call on Congress and the President to immediately reopen the government to minimize any further impact on the public’s health and wellbeing. Several agencies’ ability to provide critical services, ranging from food and environmental risk inspections to health services, have already been drastically reduced or are threatened if the shutdown continues.

We fear a prolonged shutdown will cause needless suffering and have long-lasting health consequences. Basic health protections could be endangered by an ongoing shutdown. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is suspending its routine food inspections except at “high-risk facilities,” and its ability to enforce food safety rules may be sharply impaired as 40 percent of its workforce is furloughed. The FDA oversees 80 percent of the food supply, and regular inspections and enforcement help stop foodborne illness before people get sick. The FDA also will not be able to assess new drug and device applications if the shutdown continues, meaning life-saving innovations will take longer to come to market.

There are also increased environmental risks to the health of the public. The Environmental Protection Agency has suspended its inspections of chemical factories, power plants and water treatment operations while the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is no longer investigating and assessing environmental health threats.

The shutdown is having cascading impacts on the public’s health through loss of income and potential cuts to programs that families rely on for health and economic stability. Access to nutrition and food assistance, breastfeeding support and infant nutrition through U.S. Department of Agriculture programs is critical to maintaining health and performance in school and work. Programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) are at serious risk of benefit cuts if the shutdown continues. And 800,000 Americans are furloughed or working without paychecks, which puts their ability to pay rent and utilities, access medicines, and put food on the table in jeopardy. Residents simply cannot maintain their health without stable housing, food and medical care. Indian Country has been disproportionately impacted by the shutdown, which is curtailing health care and programs for American Indian communities. The Indian Health Service (IHS) receives its funding through the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, so tribal governments are cutting other services and scraping together scarce dollars to keep health clinics operational in the short term. Many HIS employees working without pay are already reportedly looking for other jobs, which would be a huge blow to an agency that has great difficulty recruiting and retaining medical professionals in rural and remote 2 areas. The shutdown is destabilizing Native health delivery and health care provider access, as well as destabilizing tribal governments, families, children and individuals. Services will be cut and serious consequences to health and safety will be the result if the shut down is not ended soon.

A prolonged shutdown will continue to put the health and safety of the nation’s residents at risk. It is vital that Congress and the President work to reopen the government as soon as possible to minimize the effects of the impasse.

 

Sincerely,

 

1,000 Days

100 Million Healthier Lives

Advocates for Better Children's Diets

AIDS Foundation of Chicago

AJ Rosen & Associates LLC

Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Association for Dental Research

American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine

American College Health Association (ACHA)

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American College of Physicians

American College of Preventive Medicine

American Diabetes Association

American Lung Association

American Medical Student Association (AMSA)

American Medical Women's Association

American Muslim Health Professionals

American Psychological Association

American Public Health Association

American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation

American Society for Nutrition

American Thoracic Society

Arlington Food Assistance Center

Asian Health Coalition

Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Asian Pacific Liver Center

Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL)

Asian Services In Action, Inc. (ASIA, Inc.)

Association for Accredited Public Health Programs

Association for Clinical and Translational Science

Association for Psychological Science

Association of American Medical Colleges

Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations

Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs

Association of Public Health Laboratories

Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health

Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)

Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses

Autism Society of America

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

A World Fit For Kids!

Bailey House, Inc.

Benzie Leelanau District Health Department

Berean Wellness & Community Support Center

Big Cities Health Coalition

Blue Hills Community Health Network Alliance (CHNA 20)

Boulder County Public Health

Bronx Health REACH

Brookline Public Health and Human Services

Brooklyn Coalition for Health Equity for Women and Families

CA4Health

California Food Policy Advocates

California Immunization Coalition

California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

California Public Health Association

North Cause Engagement Associates

Center for Health and Learning

Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

Center for Policy Analysis

Center for Population Health at Xavier University

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Ceres Community Project

Change Lab Solutions

Chicagol and Equity Network

Children's Environmental Health Network (CEHN)

Children's Health Fund

Children’s Mental Health Network

City-County Health District

Claremont Healthy Village Initiative

CLASP

CLEAR Corps Detroit

Climate for Health (ecoAmerica)

Clinical Immunology Society

Clinical Research Forum

Coalition for Clinical and Translational Science

Coalition for Disability Health Equity

Coalition for Health Funding

Coalition for National Health Education Organizations

Coalition on Human Needs

Colorado Children's Campaign

Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service

Community Benefit Consulting

Community Healthworx

County Welfare Directors Association of California

Cuyahoga County Board of Health

Delaware Academy of Medicine / Delaware Public Health Association

District Health Department No. 2

District Health Department No. 4

Doctors for America

Dorchester County Health Department

Element Health, Inc.

Equality California

Evanston Health Advisory Council

Family Solutions

Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)

Georgia Society for Public Health Education

GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality

Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice

Government Accountability Project

Grand Traverse County Health Department

Greater Philadelphia Business Coalition on Health

Harm Reduction Coalition

Hawai‘i Health & Harm Reduction Center

Hawaii Public Health Institute

Health Care for America Now

Health Connect One

Health Department of Northwest Michigan

Health, Education and Legal Assistance Project: A Medical-Legal Partnership

Health Education Partners

Health Foundation of South Florida

Health Reimagined

Health Resources in Action

Healthy Communities Wyandotte

Healthy Kinder International

Healthy Schools Campaign

Hepatitis B Foundation

Hepatitis Education Project

Hep B United

Hep Free Hawai‘i

Hispanic Health Initiatives, Inc.

HIV Medicine Association

Hope Whispers Community Organization Inc.

Human Impact Partners

Human Rights Campaign

iHealth

Immunization Action Coalition

Immunize Nevada Impetus -Let's Get Started LLC

Improving Kids’ Environments

Indigescuela

Infectious Diseases Society of America

Innovative Solutions for Disadvantage and Disability, Inc.

Iowa Hunger Coalition

Iowa Public Health Association

Jefferson County (Colorado) Health Department

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Johnson County Public Health

Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation

Just God Academy

Justice in Aging

Lanai Community Health Center

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

-Liver Health Initiative

Louisiana Public Health Association

Louisiana Public Health Institute

Lung Cancer Alliance

Maine Public Health Association

March of Dimes

Mary Catherine Jones Consulting, LLC

Maryland Partnership for Prevention, Inc.

Mendocino County AIDS/Viral Hepatitis Network

Mental Health America of Kentucky

Metro St. Louis Coalition for Inclusion and Equity (M-SLICE)

Minority Outreach Coalition

MomsRising

Monona County Public Health

Mount Moriah Baptist Church –Omaha

MPHI

NAACP

NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals

National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Association for Health and Fitness

National Association of Community Health Centers

National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities

National Association of County and City Health Officials

(NACCHO)

National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

National Association of School Nurses

National Association of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD)

National Black Justice Coalition

National Black Nurses Association

National Center for Healthy Housing

National Coalition of STD Directors

National Collaborative for Health Equity

National Consumers League

National Council of Jewish Women

National Environmental Health Association

National Health Foundation

National Health Law Program

National Hispanic Medical Association

National Institute for Children's Health Quality (NICHQ)

National League for Nursing

National Medical Association

National Nurse-Led Care Consortium

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Physicians Alliance

National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives

National REACH Coalition

National Recreation and Park Association

National WIC Association

National Women's Health Network

National Women's Law Center

National Working Positive Coalition

Native American Connections

Nebraska Action Coalition

Future of Nursing

Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility of United Church of Christ

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

New Jersey Association of County & City Health Officials

New Jersey Public Health Association

New Jersey Society for Public Health Education (NJ SOPHE)

New Mexico Department of Health, State of New Mexico

New Progressive Alliance

New York City Health + Hospitals

NM Pediatric Society

North Bergen Health Department

North Carolina Community Health Center Association

North Montgomery Communities for Prosperity (M-CUP)

Nurse-Family Partnership

Obesity Action

Coalition

Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage Coalition

Ohio Public Health Association

OpenBiome, Inc.

Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

PFLAG National

Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Physicians for Social Responsibility, AZ Chapter

Physicians for Social Responsibility, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Prevention Institute

Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC)

Public Citizen

Public Health Consultancy

Public Health Foundation

Public Health Institute

Public Justice Center

Rachel Carson Council

Religious Institute

Respiratory Health Association

River Stone Health

Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition

Safe States Alliance

School Social Work Association of America

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS)

Shoals Community Clinic

Society for Prevention Research

Society for Public Health Education

Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education

Somos Familia Valle

South Central Family Health Center

St. Mary's Center

Street Level Health Project

-Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at George Washington

University

-Suncoast Health Council, Inc.

Team HBV Collegiate Chapters

Tennessee Health Care Campaign

Tennessee Justice Center

Texas Physicians for Social Responsibility

The Arizona Partnership for Immunization

The Center for Health Innovation

The Consortium

The Immunization Partnership

The Los Angeles Trust for Children's Health

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Disease

The Praxis Project

The Prevent Cancer Foundation

The Pride Center at Equality Park

The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America

Three Peas in a Pod

Thrive At Life: Working Solutions

TimeBanks USA

Training Resources Network, Inc.

Treatment Action Group (TAG)

Tri-County Health Department

Trust for America’s Health

United States Breastfeeding Committee

Vaccinate Your Family

Valley AIDS Council

Washington County Public Health

Washington State Department of Health

-Wayne State University Center for Health and Community   Impact

-Weight Watchers of Las Vegas

Wellco

West Valley Neighborhoods Coalition

WISE Health

Within Our Reach

Worry Free Community

Zero to Three

 

Public Comment 195: January 2019 – US Senate-Reopen Government

The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Jan. 23, 2019

Dear Majority Leader McConnell,

We, the undersigned organizations, ask that you bring to the U.S. Senate floor legislation that immediately reopens the federal government, extends funding for all agencies closed or partially closed during the government shutdown and excludes any of the extraneous requests demanded by President Donald Trump on immigration or funding for his proposed southern border wall.

We also urge you and members of your caucus to vote in favor of such legislation to end the partial shutdown that has disrupted the lives and livelihoods of 800,000 federal workers and contract workers around the country, their families and their communities – and inflicted tens of billions of dollars of damage on our environment and economy.

Furthermore, we urge you, your Republican colleagues and President Trump to abandon the strategy of taking legislative hostages that harm ordinary people in our country to achieve policy goals opposed by a large majority of voters. This is extortion, plain and simple. It is outrageously undemocratic and a betrayal of the American people.

Sincerely,

Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation
Alaska Wilderness League
Allied Progress
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
American Federation of Teachers
Center for American Progress
Center for Popular Democracy
Center for Progressive Reform
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Clean Water Action
Coalition of Labor Union Women
Communications Workers of America
Consumer Federation of America
Defenders of Wildlife
Demos
Earthjustice
Earthworks
Economic Policy Institute
Endangered Species Coalition
Environmental Working Group
First Person Politics
Food & Water Watch
Friends of the Earth
Greenpeace
Health Justice Innovations
Healthy Babies Healthy Families
Herd on the Hill
Hispanic Federation
Interfaith Worker Justice
Labor of Love Safety Training and Consulting
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
League of Conservation Voters
Los Padres ForestWatch
Main Street Alliance
Maine AFL-CIO
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Association of Consumer Advocates
National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low income clients)
National Consumers League
National Council of Jewish Women
National Employment Law Project
National Fair Housing Alliance
National Immigration Law Center
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Women's Law Center
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
New Jersey Association on Correction
New Progressive Alliance
Oxfam America
PAI
Partnership for Policy Integrity
Partnership for the Public Good
People For the American Way
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Pride Center of Staten Island, Inc.
Public Citizen
Public Justice Center
Rachel Carson Council
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United
Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health
SafeWork Washington
Sciencecorps
Service Employees International Union
Service Employees International Union, Local 32BJ
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS)
Sierra Club
Southern Border Communities Coalition
Truman National Security Project
UndocuBlack Network
United Steelworkers
United We Dream
Voices for Progress
The Wilderness Society
The Worker Institute at Cornell University’s ILR School
Workplace Fairness

 

Public Comment 196: February 2019 - Washington state Environmental Laws

February 1, 2019

The state of Washington is moving ahead in many environmental legislative actions. Carbon Washington is a longtime ally of the New Progressive Alliance (see Allies  http://www.newprogs.org/allies) and is pushing these laws.

  • 100% Clean Electricity SB5116 and HB1211
  • Low Carbon Fuel Standard HB1110
  • Advancing Electric Transportation SB5336
  • Increasing buildings energy efficiency SB5293
  • Appliance Efficiency Standards HB1444
  • Increases state targets for emission reductions to match Paris Accords HB1113
  • Phases in bans on hydrofluorocarbons, a serious source of greenhouse gas HB112 SB5426

Details about supporting these laws can be found at the Carbon Washington website.  https://carbonwa.org/

 

Public Comment 197: February 2019 - US HOR - HR1 free SEC

February 8, 2019

 

Members of the 116th Congress     

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Member,

Today, our democracy is out of balance, and that makes it harder to solve the big problems facing our country and our communities. Our current system allows powerful corporate and wealthy interests to regularly defy the foundational principles of fairness, equity, ethics, accountability, and respect for the rule of law, with the unfortunate result being a government that is more responsive and accountable to wealthy political donors than to the public. The great news is that right now we have a real opportunity to move solutions that work.

 

We, the undersigned organizations, support the efforts by Members of Congress to restore balance to our democracy through the sweeping new reform package, the For the People Act, or H.R. 1. 

 

We are writing now to call your attention to the provisions in the For the People Act that would shine light on the out-of-control secret corporate influence in our democracy, which has become so pervasive since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. When this detrimental decision came down in 2010, it opened up the floodgates for corporations to spend unlimited undisclosed amounts of money to influence American elections and in turn affect policy outcomes. Noting the danger of “dark money” for both American democracy and the shareholders of the companies that are spending in secret, a strong coalition of diverse allies has been working together since the decision to bring corporate spending in politics into the light. 

 

The Supreme Court’s decision to give corporations the right under the First Amendment to spend unlimited funds from their corporate treasuries to support or attack candidates is troubling and investors concerned about the value of their investments and citizens concerned about the future of American democracy have looked to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to take action and require disclosure of public companies’ political spending.

Without direction from the SEC, there are no rules or procedures established in the United States to ensure that shareholders – those who actually own the wealth of corporations – are informed of, or have the right to approve, decisions on spending their money on politics. Investors want more disclosure in order to make sound investment decisions. That is why 1.2 million comments- the most in the agency’s history- have come into the SEC on the corporate political spending disclosure rulemaking petition from diverse stakeholders including the late founder of Vanguard, John Bogle, five state treasurers, a bipartisan group of former SEC chairs and commissioners, and investment professionals representing $690 billion in assets. 

 

Currently, the SEC is barred from finalizing the corporate political spending disclosure rulemaking due to a poison pill policy rider inappropriately included in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. We, the undersigned organizations, believe the SEC should be allowed to and encouraged to move forward with the rulemaking that would require public companies to disclose to their shareholders and the public how they spend money in politics. This information is material to investors- the constituency the SEC is responsible for protecting. Among its many critical reforms, the For the People Act strikes this harmful policy rider from the Appropriations bill. It also includes other important disclosure provisions such as closing loopholes that allow foreign money to disrupt our elections and shining a light on who is funding digital political ads. 

 

Our organizations support this sweeping reform package, as it works to make it easier, not harder to vote, end the dominance of big money in our politics, and ensure that public officials truly work for the public. We encourage Members of Congress to support this legislation. Our democracy cannot wait any longer.

 

Sincerely, 

 

Boston Common Asset Management 

Campaign for Accountability

Common Cause

Democracy 21

Domini Impact Investments LLC

End Citizens United Action Fund

Franciscan Action Network

Greenpeace

Harrington Investments, Inc.

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

International Corporate Accountability Roundtable

League of Women Voters of the United States

Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate JPIC Office

MomsRising

National Association of Social Workers 

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

New Progressive Alliance

NorthStar Asset Management, Inc.

Patriotic Millionaires People Demanding Action

People for the American Way 

Poligon Education Fund

Pride at Work

Progressive Turnout

Project Public Citizen

Union of Concerned Scientists

Unitarian Universalist Association

Voices for Progress

Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press

 

Public Comment 198: February 2019 - Congress fund CDC

Despite increasing health problems such as the Flint water crisis and an outbreak of measles in Washington state, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is being steadily decreased. The New Progressive Alliance with the below organizations asks that CDC be adequately funded.

 

February 12, 2019

American life expectancy has declined, largely due to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, suicides, and drug overdoses. CDC funds state and local public health efforts to prevent these diseases—and more, not less, is needed. Federal investment in public health has not kept pace with inflation nor the considerable challenges posed by infectious disease outbreaks, extreme weather events, and other emergencies, such as the Flint water crisis.

According to a 2017 report by the Trust for America’s Health, of the $3.5trillion spent annually on healthcare, only three percent of all health spending is directed to public health, which includes federal, state, and local resources. That equates to an average of $280 per person. By contrast, total healthcare spending is $10,739 per person.

Reductions in the public health workforce strain the ability of state and local public health departments to protect and promote population health. From 2012-2016, the estimated number of full-time health agency employees decreased by three percent. By 2020, the percentage of health agency employees who are eligible for retirement will reach 25 percent.

 

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Academy Health

Adult Congenital Heart Association

Advocates for Better Children's Diets

American Academy of Family Physicians

American Association for Dental Research

American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

American Association of Poison Control Centers

American College of Preventive Medicine

American Diabetes Association

American Heart Association

American Lung Association

American Public Health Association

American School Health Association

American Sexual Health Association

American Society for Microbiology

American Society of Hematology

Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses

Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology

Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs

Association of Public Health Laboratories

Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors

Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)

Big Cities Health Coalition

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Children's Hospital Colorado

Clear Way Minnesota

Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials

Cooley's Anemia Foundation

Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists

Counter Tools

Epilepsy Foundation

GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare

Health Resources in Action

Healthy Schools Network

Hogg Foundation for Mental Health

Immunize Nevada

Impetus -Let's Get Started LLC

Intermountain Public Health Consulting, LLC

Infectious Diseases Society of America

Jeffrey Modell Foundation

Kymm Ballard Consulting & Asst. Professor at Campbell University

LIVESTRONG

March of Dimes

Maryland Public Health Association

NACDD

NAPHSIS

NASTAD

National Association of County and City Health Officials

National Association of Epilepsy Centers

National Association of School Nurses

National Coalition of STD Directors

National Hemophilia Foundation

New Progressive Alliance

North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR)

Pitkin County Public Health

Prevent Blindness

Prevention Institute

Public Health Institute

Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness

Sage Transformations

SAS

Society for Public Health Education

Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education

Stewards of Change

The AIDS Institute

The Ayuda Foundation/Island Girl Power GUAM

The Institute for Family Health/Bronx Health REACH

The National REACH Coalition

Tobacco Control Network

Triage Cancer

Trust for America's Health

Women Heart

YMCA of the US

 

Public Comment 199: March 2019 - Needed Changes for HR1

Green Party Presidential Candidate Sedinam Curry today called on Congress to make significant changes in House Democrats' legislative centerpiece HR1, the "For The People 2019 Act", particularly in the portions of the Act having to do with campaign matching funds.

"While there is a great deal of good in this legislation, making voting more accessible and more secure; laying the groundwork to overturn the horrible Citizens United v. FEC decision; strengthening our system of public financing of elections; and more, there are a couple of very serious problems with the bill," Moyowasiza-Curry explained, "and I urge members of the House of Representatives who really do care about making our political system more democratic to fix those flaws before voting on this legislation."

Foremost among the problems are significant increases to the fundraising thresholds for candidates to qualify for Federal matching funds. "Increasing the threshold for qualifying for Federal matching funds for Presidential candidates from $5000 per state to $25,000 per state in a minimum of 20 states will throw a huge barrier in the way of political parties other than the 'major' parties, who don't even participate in the funding system anymore. The public has shown so many times that they want more options, and legislation to make our system more democratic should not at the same time make us less democratic," Moyowasiza-Curry noted.

Moyowasiza-Curry applauded the bill's extension of the Federal matching fund system to races for the US House of Representatives, but noted that this, too, is flawed. "At the same time that the bill tries to make more of our political system free from the influence of money, it puts financial barriers in the way." HR 1 would open Federal matching funds to House candidates who raise at least $50,000 from at least 1000 different donors. "Candidates running outside the 'big 2' are the ones who need this assistance the most, but many of them have a hard time raising even a fraction of that limit. This is not the way to bring more voices into our political conversation."

A few very simple fixes to the bill would make the playing field much more level for third party and independent candidates at both the House and Presidential level, said Moyowasiza-Curry campaign adviser Eric Siegel, a political scientist and pollster based in Oak Park, Michigan. "Keeping the Presidential threshold at $5,000 each in at least 20 states would ensure that campaigns get the boost they need to organize and get their message out, without putting an undue burden on them. And a $5,000 floor for House candidates would maintain the requirement that they show a breadth of support without putting yet another artificial barrier in the way of candidates from outside the traditionally dominant parties. Political science research tells us that more candidate choice leads to higher turnout, and this bill is mostly designed to encourage people to join the process. Why undermine that mission by restricting voters' options?"

Sedinam Moyowasiza-Curry is a declared candidate for the nomination for President of the Green Party of the United States. She ran for the GPUS Presidential nomination in 2016, and for the Vice-Presidential nomination in 2008. She is a longtime Green, and was a co-founder of the Green Party's Black Caucus. To find out more about her 2020 Presidential campaign, visit Sedinam2020.

 

Public Comment 200: March 2019 -US HOR - 3 Poison Pill Riders

March 2019

 

Majority Members

Committee on Appropriations

U.S. House of Representatives

H-307 The Capitol

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chair Lowey and Majority Members of the Committee:

We the undersigned 28 groups write to urge you to ensure three troubling anti- democracy riders from the 2019 spending package do not make it into the 2020 spending bill.

These three poison pill policy riders that protect a democratic system rigged in favor of wealthy special interests are all expressly removed from any future Appropriations bills by H.R. 1, the For the People Act. Following the resounding passage of H.R. 1 by all Democrats in the House there is now a clear mandate for the removal of these riders from the FY2020 Appropriations bill.

Today, our democracy is out of balance, and that makes it harder to solve the big problems facing our country and our communities. Our current system allows powerful corporate and wealthy interests to regularly defy the foundational principles of fairness, equity, ethics, accountability, and respect for the rule of law, with the unfortunate result being a government that is more responsive and accountable to wealthy political donors than to the public. In order to restore balance to our democracy we need to use all of the tools at our disposal. That is why we are writing to draw your attention to three poison pill policy riders that have been snuck into the appropriations process that stymie this progress.

The first rider prevents the Treasury department and the IRS from enacting a sensible definition of political activity that would reduce abuse by those willing to manipulate the system to spend secret money in elections. The second would tie the hands of the Securities and Exchange Commission from finalizing rules that would reveal how big donors and corporations are spending in our elections. The third prohibits federal contractors from being required to disclose their political spending.

The riders, discussed in more detail below, help entrench a political system rigged in favor of wealthy special interests by blocking common-sense transparency rules and maintaining avenues for special interests to secretly influence elections.

  • Sec. 124 – Preventing the IRS and Treasury from making better rules for 501(c)(4) political activity

This rider prevents the Treasury department from adequately defining what

nonprofits can and can’t do in elections. Without clear guidance, groups wanting

to spend in elections without disclosing their donors can abuse the system free of

consequences.

  • Sec. 629 – Preventing the SEC from making a rule requiring corporations to disclose political spending

This rider stops the SEC from finalizing a rule requiring public companies to

disclose their political spending. In his decision in Citizens United, the Supreme

Court decision that opened the flood gates for unlimited corporate spending in our

elections, Justice Anthony Kennedy assumed that prompt internet disclosures

would be the norm. However, this rider stops the type of critical disclosure regime

Justice Kennedy envisioned from being implemented and deprives investors and

the public of critical information on corporate political activity.

  • Sec. 735 – Preventing disclosure of political spending by government contractors

The American people have a right to know whether the companies doing their

business are being awarded contracts simply because they give big campaign

donations.

 

We appreciate your attention to this important matter, and look forward to your proposal of a funding package free from these damaging measures.

 

Sincerely,

 

20/20 Vision

American Atheists

American Family Voices

Boston Common Asset Management

California Clean Money Action Fund

Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Media and Democracy

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Clean Elections Texas

Coalition to Preserve, Protect & Defend

Common Cause

Democracy 21

End Citizens United Action Fund

Franciscan Action Network

Harrington Investments

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

League of Women Voters of the United States

MAYDAY America

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics

New Progressive Alliance

Open the Government

Patriotic Millionaires

People For the American Way

Progressive Leadership Initiative

Public Citizen

Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, US Province

Voices for Progress

 

Public Comment 201: March 2019 - SEC - Greater Disclosure

March 20, 2019

Chair Jay Clayton

Commissioners Securities and Exchange Commission

c/o Brent J. Fields
Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street NE
Washington, D.C. 20549- -1090 

Via electronic mail (rule-comments@sec.gov)

Re: Quarterly Reports, File No. 33-10588

Re: Comments for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) November 15, 2018 Roundtable on the Proxy Process - File Number 4-725

 

Dear Officers,

The signatories below welcome the opportunity to comment in response to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) request for comment on “earnings releases and quarterly reports.” In summary, we urge the SEC to heed the many investor calls for greater disclosure, including political spending, and general environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters.

The SEC’s current exercise follows a comment from President Trump who questioned the value of quarterly reporting. Trump referenced Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, who lamented the focus on short-term results.[1]

Generally, we are concerned with a recurring effort at the SEC to reduce disclosure. The only voices supporting such a reduction are corporations. Investors, by contrast, continue to seek greater disclosure. For example, shareholders filed resolutions at 80 companies in 2018 calling for greater disclosure of political spending. More than 1.2 million citizens have signed a petition calling on the SEC to require political spending disclosure. More than 26,500 individuals submitted comments in response to its 2016 Concept Release on Business and Financial Disclosure Required by Regulation S-K and the overwhelming majority supported more and better disclosure in general.[2] Finally, investors representing more than $5 trillion in assets under management filed a new petition in October 2018 for greater disclosure regarding the environment, social and governance issues.  (File Number 4-730), generating more than 3,300 comments to date. [3] Again, the investing public seeks greater disclosure, not less.

We recognize the problem of short-termism, of “quarterly capitalism,” of the failure by managers to adopt a long-term perspective needed to grow the economy sustainably. We believe this problem stems not from the frequency of reporting, but from the structure of compensation. Consider what happened to the added income generated by the Trump corporate tax cut measure. Instead of resulting in greater investment or better wages for employees, the most conspicuous expenditures came through buybacks. In turn, these buybacks benefitted managers whose compensation turned on the value of stock options. Compensation pegged to short term stock prices is determined by boards of directors. Should a company wish to adopt a long-term perspective, these boards should structure compensation accordingly.

 

Sincerely,

 

Allied Progress

Boston Common Asset Management

Jantz Management LLC

New Progressive Alliance

Public Citizen

Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press

 

[1] Owusu, Tony. Outgoing PepsiCo CEO Clarifies Position on Frequency of Financial Reports. TheStreet

(Aug. 17, 2018.) https://www.thestreet.com/politics/outgoing-pepsico-ceo-clarifies-position-on-frequency-of-earnings-reports-14686696

 

[2] Tyler Gellasch, Toward a Sustainable Economy, AFL-CIO, Public Citizen and others (September 2016) https://static1.squarespace.com/static/583f3fca725e25fcd45aa446/t/5866d3c0725e25a97292ae03/1483133890503/Sustainable-Economy-report-final.pd

[3] Letter to SEC from petitioners, Securities and Exchange Commission (October 1, 2018) https://www.sec.gov/rules/petitions/2018/petn4-730.pdf

 

Public Comment 202: March 2019 - US HOR - Oppose 3 bad riders

Majority Members

Committee on Appropriations

U.S. House of Representatives

H-307 The Capitol

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chair Lowey and Majority Members of the Committee:

We the undersigned 28 groups write to urge you to ensure three troubling anti- democracy riders from the 2019 spending package do not make it into the 2020 spending bill. These three poison pill policy riders that protect a democratic system rigged in favor of wealthy special interests are all expressly removed from any future Appropriations bills by H.R. 1, the For the People Act. Following the resounding passage of H.R. 1 by all Democrats in the House there is now a clear mandate for the removal of these riders from the FY2020 Appropriations bill.

Today, our democracy is out of balance, and that makes it harder to solve the big problems facing our country and our communities. Our current system allows powerful corporate and wealthy interests to regularly defy the foundational principles of fairness, equity, ethics, accountability, and respect for the rule of law, with the unfortunate result being a government that is more responsive and accountable to wealthy political donors than to the public. In order to restore balance to our democracy we need to use all of the tools at our disposal. That is why we are writing to draw your attention to three poison pill policy riders that have been snuck into the appropriations process that stymie this progress.

The first rider prevents the Treasury department and the IRS from enacting a sensible definition of political activity that would reduce abuse by those willing to manipulate the system to spend secret money in elections.

The second would tie the hands of the Securities and Exchange Commission from finalizing rules that would reveal how big donors and corporations are spending in our elections.

The third prohibits federal contractors from being required to disclose their political spending.

The riders, discussed in more detail below, help entrench a political system rigged in favor of wealthy special interests by blocking common-sense transparency rules and maintaining avenues for special interests to secretly influence elections.

  • Sec. 124 – Preventing the IRS and Treasury from making better rules for 501(c)(4) political activity. This rider prevents the Treasury department from adequately defining what nonprofits can and can’t do in elections. Without clear guidance, groups wanting to spend in elections without disclosing their donors can abuse the system free of consequences.
  • Sec. 629 – Preventing the SEC from making a rule requiring corporations to disclose political spending.This rider stops the SEC from finalizing a rule requiring public companies to disclose their political spending. In his decision in Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that opened the flood gates for unlimited corporate spending in our elections, Justice Anthony Kennedy assumed that prompt internet disclosures would be the norm. However, this rider stops the type of critical disclosure regime Justice Kennedy envisioned from being implemented and deprives investors and the public of critical information on corporate political activity.
  • Sec. 735 – Preventing disclosure of political spending by government contractors. The American people have a right to know whether the companies doing their business are being awarded contracts simply because they give big campaign donations.

We appreciate your attention to this important matter, and look forward to your proposal of a funding package free from these damaging measures.

Sincerely,

20/20 Vision

American Atheists

American Family Voices

Boston Common Asset Management

California Clean Money Action Fund

Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Media and Democracy

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Clean Elections Texas

Coalition to Preserve, Protect & Defend

Common Cause

Democracy 21

End Citizens United Action Fund

Franciscan Action Network

Harrington Investments

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

League of Women Voters of the United States

MAYDAY America

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics

New Progressive Alliance

Open the Government

Patriotic Millionaires

People For the American Way

Progressive Leadership Initiative

Public Citizen

Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, US Province

Voices for Progress

 

Public Comment 203: March 2019 - Congress Oppose Bad Policy Riders

March 29, 2019

Dear Member of Congress,

The Clean Budget Coalition, an alliance of labor, scientific, consumer, research, good government, faith, civil rights, community, health, environmental, and public interest groups, writes you to urge FY20 appropriations bills that are free from poison pill policy riders that harm the public.

No appropriations titles, package of bills, or continuing resolutions (should that be deemed the appropriate path to continue funding the government) should move forward if they contain poison pill policy riders that go against the public interest.

Unfortunately, such poison pill riders have existed as favors to corporate and special interests in previous appropriations cycles, and therefore a set of “legacy poison pills” must be removed from the FY20 appropriations bills.  We ask that you take that stance as Congress processes the FY20 appropriations bills—keeping out new poison pills that harm the public and removing those that have become embedded.

Poison pill riders are unpopular and dangerous, and the public opposes the abuse of the budget process to roll back public protections. The budget should be funding the things that Americans care about, not undoing essential safeguards. The American people support policies to:  

  • Ensure safe and healthy food and products;
  • Restrain Wall Street abuses;
  • Secure our air, land, water and wildlife;
  • Safeguard fair and safe workplaces;
  • Guard against consumer rip-offs and corporate wrongdoing;
  • Defend our campaign finance and election systems;
  • Promote economic fairness in banking, housing and business;
  • Provide access to justice and fair housing;
  • Protect human and civil rights, including the rights of immigrants; and
  • Guarantee continued access to vital health care services including comprehensive reproductive health care, among other things.

The public does not support slipping damaging poison pills into must-pass appropriations bills that would undo any of these protections as a means to win approval.

We urge Members of Congress to fully fund important programs and to reject any flawed bills that fail to remove poison pill policy riders that would undo essential public safeguards.

 

Sincerely,

 

20/20 Vision

AFL-CIO

AFSCME

Alaska Wilderness Action

American Association for Justice

American Bird Conservatory

Americans for Financial Reform

Animal Wellness Action

Austistic Self Advocacy Network

Bend the Arc Jewish Action

Center for American Progress

Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Reproductive Rights

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Coalition on Human Needs

Coalition for Health Funding

Common Cause

Communications Workers of America

Consumer Federation of America

Defenders of Wildlife

Democracy 21

Earthjustice

Endangered Species Coalition

GreenLatinos

Greenpeace USA

Harrington Investments, Inc.

Humane Society Legislative Fund

Impact Fund

Innovative Green Builders

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

International Fund for Animal Welfare

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

League of Conservation Voters

Main Street Alliance

NARAL Pro-Choice America

National Association for College Admission Counseling

National Association of Consumer Advocates

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Coalition for the Homeless

National Community Reinvestment Coalition

National Council of Jewish Women

National Employment Law Project

National Employment Lawyers Association

National Fair Housing Alliance

National Low Income Housing Coalition

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Women’s Law Center

Natural Resources Defense Council

New Jersey Association on Correction

New Progressive Alliance

Ocean Conservancy

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

People for the American Way

People’s Action

Public Citizen

Public Knowledge

Rachel Carson Council

Safe Climate Campaign

SEIU

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States

Sierra Club

Union of Concerned Scientists

The United State of Women

U.S. PIRG

Voices for Progress

The Wilderness Society

Woodstock Institute

 

Public Comment 204: April 2019 - Congressional Leadership - Cut Funds ICE & CBP

 

The Honorable Mike Enzi                                          The Honorable John Yarmuth

Chair, Senate Budget Committee                               Chair, House Budget Committee

379 Russell Senate Office Building                           402 Cannon House Office Building

Washington, DC 20510                                              Washington, DC 20515

 

The Honorable Bernie Sanders                                  The Honorable Steve Womack

Ranking Member, Senate Budget Committee            Ranking Member, House Budget Committee

332 Dirksen Senate Office Building                          2412 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20510                                              Washington, DC 20515                                             

 

Dear Chairman Enzi, Ranking Member Sanders, Chairman Yarmuth, and Ranking Member Womack:

 

We the undersigned national, state, and local organizations support significant cuts in funding to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the agencies behind President Trump’s harmful detention, deportation and border militarization regime.

We are disappointed by the funding increases in the Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations Bill and call upon Congress to commit to reducing funding for this administration’s white nationalist border militarization and immigration enforcement policies. Taxpayer dollars should be spent on critical programs that make our communities strong and vibrant such as education, healthcare, green infrastructure, and housing rather than fueling abusive agencies that terrorize communities and separate families.

The Trump Administration showed the depths of its cruelty toward immigrant communities in fiscal year 2018. Just at our southern border, Border Patrol agents have forcibly separated thousands of families, tear-gassed asylum seekers including toddlers, and regularly flouted international law by denying the right to seek asylum at the border. This abuse is happening despite the fact  that the total number of border apprehensions are at the lowest point in decades and each Border Patrol agent apprehends, on average, fewer than 2 people a month. Deplorable conditions and inadequate medical care in border facilities also contributed to the tragic deaths of two young children, Jakelin Caal Maquin and Felipe Alonzo-Gomez. The border wall has a devastating toll on border communities, wildlife and the environment.  President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency shows the administration’s dedication to fear mongering around a manufactured crisis that is built on racist lies and disregard for U.S. and international law.  

ICE has continued to grow its vast network of over 200 detention centers, perfecting the agency’s multi-year tactic of overspending its appropriated funds and then repeatedly demanding that Congress bail it out with  increased funding for the next year. This gradual ramp up resulted in a  historic high in mid-February, of over 49,000 individuals jailed by ICE each day. As ICE expands, more people are dying in ICE custody because of medical neglect, abuse, and a total lack of concern for the value of immigrant lives. ICE also continues to target parents of unaccompanied children, ramp up workplace raids, collude with USCIS to detain people attending biometrics appointments, and arrest people at courthouses all in an attempt to terrorize communities and force them into the shadows.

We are deeply disappointed with the passing of the 2019 Consolidated Appropriations Act because it increases funding to both ICE and CBP, including a 12% increase for immigration detention and $1.375 billion for more border wall, and fails to rein in the agencies’ ability to overspend and siphon money from other accounts. This increase in funding is wholly undeserved due to both agencies’ track records of harmful policies, abuse, and mismanagement.  As such, this increase in funding is tacit approval of this administration’s attacks on immigrant communities across the country and those newly arriving at our borders and ports of entry.

As we look forward to fiscal year 2020, we urge Members of Congress to view the budget as a moral document that reflects our priorities and values as a nation. Congress must invest in programs and agencies that uphold our shared values of dignity and justice and divest from programs and agencies that flout those values at every opportunity.  It is unacceptable to claim support for immigrant communities while continuing to grow the already inflated budgets for ICE and CBP.

We, the undersigned organizations, call on you to demonstrate bold leadership and commit to reducing funds to ICE and CBP for fiscal year 2020.

 

cc:  Majority Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Chairman Shelby, Vice Chairman Leahy, Chairwoman Lowey, and Ranking Member Granger

 

Signed,

 

National Organizations:

 

Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus

Alianza Americas

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) A

sian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO

Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Center for Popular Democracy

Christian Community Development Association

Church World Service 

Conference of Superiors of Men (Catholic)

Congregation of Our Lady of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces

Detention Watch Network

Daily Kos

Densho

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)

Dominicans of Sinsinawa

Earth Justice

EqualVoteLocal

Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM)

Faith in Action

Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement 

Free Migration Project

Freedom for Immigrants

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Fuerza Mundial Global

GreenLatinos

Habonim Dror North America

Health Care for America Now (HCAN)

Health Justice Innovations, LLC

Hope Border Institute/Instituto Fronterizo Esperanza

Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Immigration Hub 

Indivisible 

Jobs With Justice

Justice Strategies

Latin America Working Group

LATINOJUSTICE PRLDEF

MomsRising

MoveOn

Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC)

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF)

National Center for Lesbian Rights 

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Immigrant Justice Center

National Immigration Law Center

National Justice for Our Neighbors

National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) National Network for Arab American Communities 

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

NETWORK Lobby

New Progressive Alliance

New Sanctuary Coalition

Provincial Council Clerics of St. Viator

Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association

Service Employees International Union

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS)

Shut Tornillo Down Coalition

Sierra Club

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas - Institute Justice Team

Sisters of Mercy South Central Community

Socialist Alternative

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

South East Asian Faith Initiative

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

Southern Border Communities Coalition

Southern Poverty Law Center

T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Workmen's Circle

Trans empowerment project

UltraViolet

UndocuBlack Network  

Unitarian Universalist Association

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

United We Dream

Uri L'tzedek

Woodstock Institute

Workplace Fairness

Yemeni American Merchants Association – YAMA

 

State and Local Organizations:

 

NW Philadelphia Immigrant Action and Mobilization 

Adelante Alabama Worker Center

Adhikaar

Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention in the Chihuahuan Desert

AFSC Colorado

Alianza Sacramento 

Amend Law LLC

American Gateways

Arab American Association of New York

Arizona Jews for Justice 

Asian American Organizing Project

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago

Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta

Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA

Asian Counseling and Referral Service

Asian Pacific Community in Action

AVIDCD

Border Patrol Victims Network

Buddhist Cohort-Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice

Cabrini Immigrant Services of NYC, Inc.

Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) DC

Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America -CRLN

Children's Defense Fund - Texas

Church of Our Saviour/La Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador

Church Women United in New York State

Cleveland Jobs with Justice

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)

Comunidades Unidas en una Voz

Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee

DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network

Don't Separate Families

DRUM: Desis Rising Up and Moving

Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance Immigration Justice Action Team

El Refugio

Eleven 11 Consulting

End Domestic Abuse WI

End Family Separation and Detention 

Faith in action Bay Area

Faith in Indiana 

Faith in New York

Faith in Texas 

First Friends of NJ & NY

Florence Area Democratic Club

Friends of Broward Detainees

Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees

Georgia Detention Watch

Granite State Organizing Project 

H-CAN Immigration and Refugee action group

HANA Center

HIAS Pennsylvania

Hilton Head for Peace

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Immigrant Justice Action Group, First Unitarian Portland

Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project

Immigration Committee, Congregation Hakafa

Indivisible for Immigration

Indivisible Vashon

Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice 

Institute of Chicanx Psychology

Inter-faith Coalition on Immigration

Interfaith Welcome Coalition

ISAIAH

Japanese American Citizens League - Seattle 

Jews for Racial & Economic Justice

Kids for College 

La Union Hace La Fuerza

Laredo Immigrant Alliance 

Latinos Unidos Siempre 

Legal Services for Children

Lents Strong Housing

Mainers for Accountable Leadership

Make the Road NY

Make the Road PA

Massachusetts Communities Action Network

Migrant Center for Human Rights

Migrant Justice / Justicia Migrante

MinKwon Center for Community Action

Mission Presbytery Immigration Task Force-Texas

Missouri Faith Voices, A Faith in Action Federation

Multnomah Friends Meeting (Quakers)

Network Against Racism and Islamophobia-Portland

New Mexico Immigrant Law Center

New York Immigration Coalition

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

NM CAFe

North West Philly Immigration and Mobilization

Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights

OneAmerica

Orange County Congregation Community Organization

Pangea Legal Services

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition

Pittsburgh LCLAA

Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC)

Portland Jobs With Justice

Public Counsel

Queens Neighborhoods United

Quixote Center, Inc. 

RAICES

Reformed Church of Highland Park

Rouser 

Rural and Migrant Ministry 

Rural Organizing Project 

Sacramento Area Congregations Together 

Shut Down Etowah

South Asian Workers' Center

South Texas Human Rights Center

St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA)

STEP UP! Sacramento

Suneater

Together Colorado 

Trinity Episcopal Church

United Valley Interfaith Project

UnLocal

Vashon - Maury SURJ ~ Showing Up for Racial Justice

VELA

Vermont Interfaith Action

Voz Workers' Rights Education Project 

Washington Defender Association's Immigration Project

Wayne Action for Racial Equality 

 

Public Comment 205 - April 2019 - Congress control FERC

Dear members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate,

It is with increasing frequency and growing magnitude, that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) is abusing its authority and the law in alarming ways. After three decades of FERC’s unaccountable and irresponsible approach to energy development, the trust of the American people has been strained beyond the breaking point. And, to be honest, our trust that Congress wants to fix the problem is withering. We are hopeful that you will prove us wrong and become a champion for the kind of meaningful reform that is truly needed.

We are urging you to lead a call for Congressional hearings into the abuses of power and law being inflicted by FERC, infringing on property rights, statesright, peoples’ rights, and environmental protection. We have assembled a dossier to document FERC’s abuses and brought representatives of beleaguered communities from across the nation to share their experiences in a Peoples Hearing held in Washington DC. Our findings demonstrate that Congressional hearings and investigation are needed.

We are urging you to be a lead voice opposing legislative rollbacks when it comes to review and/or approval of natural gas infrastructure. And we are asking you to champion meaningful reforms that will prevent ongoing and future abuses of power and law by FERC. As it currently stands, the language of the Natural Gas Act (NGA) is being misused by FERC to deny people their legal and constitutional rights, to strip and undermine the legal authority of states, to undermine the authority of other federal agencies, to ignore the mandates of the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, to trample private property rights, to take from communities the protection

of public parks, forests and conserved lands that they have invested heavily in protecting, to take jobs and destroy small businesses, to inflict on our communities health, safety and environmental harms, all for the benefit of a single industry seeking to advance its own corporate profits and business edge over its competitors.

With this letter, we are identifying for you the meaningful reforms that are needed. Recent pronouncements of soft ball legislative proposals will not remedy the abuses communities are suffering. Legislative proposals that are only focused on the public participation process of FERC and not the taking of the judicial, legal, state, property, or environmental rights we have been highlighting are simply not good enough. Soft ball legislative reforms that don’t go to the root of the problems we have been alerting you to will not receive our praise or support. A legislative proposal that is not a true legislative fix is an anathema to us.

 

These are among the reforms we need:

 

First and foremost, we need to remove the authority for review and approval of pipelines and other natural gas infrastructure from FERC. With this remedy many of the fixes listed below become no longer necessary.

 

FERC has demonstrated its bias toward the natural gas infrastructure industry. The abuses and problems are so ingrained reform will be difficult if possible. The most effective approach would be to remove the power of pipeline and LNG approval from FERC and place it in the hands of another agency, one that has clean energy, community and environmental protection goals as its priority mandate, and will do the cumulative and holistic review and decision-making, including prioritizing the clean energy options that are needed to protect communities, protect the environment, and minimize climate changing emissions.

 

If FERC retains authority over natural gas infrastructure including pipelines and LNG exports, then all of the below fixes are necessary because of the highly biased and abusive way FERC implements current laws including the Natural Gas Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act and others.

 

Remove the Power of Eminent Domain from FERC authority.  

The ability of FERC to give the power of eminent domain to private pipeline companies must be removed.  There is no shortage of power in this nation now or in the foreseeable future.  In addition, we have viable and growing clean energy pathways to follow, pipeline projects are routinely advanced to support corporate interests and goals rather than public benefit or need, and an increasing number of pipeline infrastructure projects are to serve the export of gas to overseas nations.  Given all of these facts, the Commission has no business allowing a private company to use eminent domain for a self-serving project at the expense of American property rights.  If a project is not good enough to curry the favor of landowners then it should not be powerful enough to take their property rights.  

 

Remove language that results in preemption of state or local laws or authority for FERC regulated infrastructure projects.  

A fundamental underpinning of our nation is respect for the rights of states to govern within their boundaries and to ensure the protection of the health, safety and welfare of their people.  States’ rights are carefully honored throughout our nation’s laws and history.  Stripping states and municipalities of their legal authority, particularly given the tremendous health, safety and economic harms pipelines inflict on communities is not justified.  In addition, there is no reason that natural gas pipeline projects should not be subject to the same laws that all other industries are subject to, and that other arms of the energy industry must comply with.  To exempt interstate natural gas infrastructure from the state and local laws that apply to every other industry gives them an inappropriate competitive advantage.  This respect for the rights of states to take leadership in the protection of their citizens is carefully recognized and provided for in the area of environmental protection, particularly the implementation of the Clean Water Act. 

 

Clarify the law to make clear that there is no time limit on the state review and approval process regarding FERC regulated infrastructure, including in the context of Clean Water Act 401 Certifications.  

Another important change necessary to ensure full and fair respect of states’ rights and authority when it comes to protecting the residents and environments within their state boundaries is ensuring states are given all the time they need to ensure that state water quality standards will be protected if a pipeline is approved for construction within their state boundaries.  The Natural Gas Act needs to be clear that states are entitled to all of the time they deem necessary to engage in full review and decision-making on FERC regulated pipeline and infrastructure projects, particularly in the context of implementing Clean Water Act authorities (which for most states is the 401 Water Quality Certification and for states like New Jersey also includes 404 wetlands determinations).  The law needs to be clear that state authority is only waived when the state renders an affirmative decision that they are waiving their authority.

 

Prohibit FERC from approving a pipeline infrastructure project and/or allowing it to proceed with any element of construction until all state and federal reviews/permit processes have been finalized and approvals/permits granted.  

Currently, FERC approves pipelines and allows them to proceed through phases of construction and eminent domain regardless of whether or not they have received all necessary reviews and approvals from impacted states who have a legal decision-making role and other federal agencies.  Consequently, pipelines have proceeded with the power of eminent domain and significant construction that inflicts irreparable harm on property, economic and environmental interests.  The law needs to make clear that FERC cannot approve a project and allow it to proceed with any element of eminent domain or construction until all state and federal reviews/permit processes have been finalized and approvals/permits granted. 

 

If you are unwilling to put in place this comment sense reform then other approaches for addressing the concern could include:

 

-Clarify the law to make clear that State Section 401 Clean Water Act approvals have primacy in the FERC review and approval process.  Section 401 of the Clean Water Act specifically reads: “no [federal] license or permit shall be granted until the certification required by this section has been granted or waived.” 33 U.S.C. § 1341(a)(1).  Requiring Section 401 certification from the states prior to federal action ensures that states’ rights are honored, that state standards are met, and that public and private resources are not unnecessarily lost. It also ensures that the federal government is held accountable to the same standards as private entities, an important point of equity. FERC routinely issues Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity prior to state decision-making on 401 Certifications for FERC pipeline and infrastructure projects.  The result is to undermine state authority, and in some instances, has resulted in the taking of property rights, and damage to business, jobs and the environment for construction of a pipeline that a state ultimate rejected.   401 primacy prevents such an irreversibly harmful outcome.  If the mandate that 401 Certification must be received prior to FERC providing NGA Certification is not enacted/clarified within the language of the NGA, then it must be clear that FERC cannot approve any element of eminent domain or construction until all state reviews/permit processes have been finalized and approvals/permits granted, including but not limited to 401 Certification.

 

-Ensure Full Applicability of all Federal Laws.  Currently, FERC approves pipelines and allows them to proceed through phases of construction and eminent domain regardless of whether or not they have received all necessary reviews and approvals from other agencies, such as wetland permits from the US Army Corps or completed endangered species review from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  The law needs to make clear that FERC cannot approve a project and allow it to proceed with any element of eminent domain or construction until all state and federal reviews/permit processes have been finalized and approvals/permits granted.

 

The law should be reformed to require a genuine demonstration of need for a natural gas pipeline infrastructure project.

FERC routinely accepts false or inappropriate claims/demonstrations of need for pipeline infrastructure proposals. As a result, the law needs to be reformed to ensure that a full, fair and legitimate need, one that cannot be fulfilled by clean energy technologies, is demonstrated before a pipeline can even be considered for FERC Certification.

 

Currently, 

-Pipeline companies routinely assert “need” for a project because it will lower costs, improve profits or enhance the ability to compete with others in the gas and/or pipeline industry.  These assertions demonstrate corporate goals and desires.  None of these scenarios demonstrate public needs that warrant the economic, environmental or property rights harms inflicted by a project and so should be explicitly prohibited.

-Pipeline companies routinely assert need by presenting contracts for pipeline capacity that are from related corporate entities, as such they use their own connected operations to put forth an unverified claim of genuine need. Pipeline companies should be prohibited from engaging in self-dealing in need demonstration no contractual indealing should be allowed for manufacturing need, i.e. company cannot claim it needs a new pipeline for a gas source that is itself or some subsidiary self or related company that is, in fact, just another form of itself.

-Pipeline companies routinely assert need so the company can tap into an alternative source of gas, regardless that there is no threat to the source for their business use, it is simply a preferred business option. Preferred business operations of this kind should not be allowed for asserting need.

-Pipeline company claims that end of pipeline communities “need” their gas are often debunked by experts in the field who are quickly ignored by FERC in their reviews. Expert reports challenging company claims of need should be given primacy in the review process, rather than being disregarded if in conflict with pipeline claims.

-Need considerations uniformly focus on the end goal of securing gas, rather than focusing on the end goal of securing energy. This means that clean energy or other viable alternatives are ignored in the FERC review and approval process. Consideration of need must focus on “energy” needs of the end users and require full and fair consideration of whether clean energy alternatives could fulfill the need for energy identified. Proof of need should include a mandated demonstration that renewable strategy cannot be used to fulfill energy goal being asserted.

- Demonstration of need must be based on more than assertion that a pipeline or export facility has customers, it needs to demonstrate a genuine end-use need that cannot be fulfilled by renewable options;

 

Revisions of law are needed to address all of these scenarios as none of them demonstrate public needs that warrant the economic, environmental or property rights harms inflicted by a project and so should be explicitly prohibited.

 

The law needs to be reformed to ensure legitimate, and independently verified

demonstrations of need are provided for FERC review and consideration. Pipeline

companies must be required to demonstrate a genuine end-use need that cannot be fulfilled by renewable options.

 

The use of Tolling Orders by FERC to undermine individual, community and states’ rights should be prohibited.

Under federal law, a private party is not allowed to legally challenge FERC approval of a

pipeline project until they have first submitted a rehearing request to FERC, and FERC has affirmatively granted or denied that request. Rather than do one or the other, FERC’s practice is to issue a “tolling order” in response to such requests, which temporarily grants the request but only “for further consideration”. As a result, the public’s ability to challenge the FERC decision is put into legal limbo until such time as FERC renders and issues its final decision regarding the rehearing request. It is common for FERC to place people in this legal limbo for up to a year or more, while allowing the pipeline company to advance its project, take property, and begin construction.

Much to the shock of legislators, states and communities, tolling orders are routinely used by FERC to place people in legal limbo, unable to challenge a FERC approval of a natural gas infrastructure project even when the Commission has allowed the company to use the power of eminent domain to take property rights and is approving construction and operation of project sections.  Tolling orders are demonstrably unfair and simply wrong, and deprive people, communities and states of their legal right to challenge FERC regulated infrastructure projects before they take property rights by eminent domain or inflict irreparable harm on communities and the environment.  

 

As a result:

-Tolling orders should be prohibited.  Quite simply the NGA should be reformed to mandate that FERC must respond to rehearing requests within 30 days and if they fail to do so the rehearing request is deemed denied.  

 

If tolling orders are not prohibited then the other most legally equitable mechanism for addressing the problem is to:

 

-Prohibit projects from advancing in any way, shape or form, including eminent domain and/or construction, if there is an outstanding rehearing request/tolling order;

 

Mandate Meaningful Consideration of Climate Change in Pipeline Review and Decision-making.

As FERC Commissioner Glick has stated several times:

“Climate change poses an existential threat to our security, economy, environment, and, ultimately, the health of individual citizens. Unlike many of the challenges that our society faces, we know with certainty what causes climate change: It is the result of GHG emissions, including carbon dioxide and methane, which can be released in large quantities through the production and consumption of natural gas. Congress determined under the NGA that no entity may transport natural gas interstate, or construct or expand interstate natural gas facilities, without the Commission first determining the activity is in the public interest. This requires the Commission to find, on balance, that a project’s benefits outweigh the harms, including the environmental impacts from climate change that result from authorizing additional transportation. Accordingly, it is critical that, as an agency of the federal government, the Commission comply with its statutory responsibility to document and consider how its authorization of a natural gas pipeline facility will lead to the emission of GHGs, contributing to the existential threat of climate change.”1

Despite this well stated position of Commissioner Richard Glick, and despite the fact that federal courts have ordered FERC to consider the climate changing impacts of pipelines and associated infrastructure, FERC has taken the position that it does not need to undertake meaningful climate change reviews or take climate change impacts into consideration in their decision-making.  

As a result, it is vitally important that the law be reformed to make clear that FERC’s “public interest” duty pursuant to the Natural Gas Act does in fact mandate consideration of the climate change impacts of pipeline infrastructure.  In order to fully and properly implement this reform, legislative reforms must mandate, and include, all of the following, that:

 

-FERC conduct a full accounting of the climate changing impacts of any proposed pipeline infrastructure, and

                                                    

 1 Statement of Commissioner Richard Glick on Texas Eastern Transmission, LP, FERC Docket No. CP18-10, July 19, 2018.

-that this analysis must include a full and robust Social Cost of Carbon analysis, and

-that this analysis must include both the downstream end uses of the gas to be carried through the pipeline as well as the climate change contributions of the upstream extraction operations necessary to secure the gas that would flow through the proposed pipeline and/or infrastructure under review (including associated drilling and fracking operations, tree removal, associated trucking and industrial operations), and 

-that if it is demonstrated that there is a significant climate change impact that will result, FERC “must”/”shall” deny FERC Certification for the project.

 

Instill Mandatory penalties and stop work orders for violations during construction, operation, and maintenance that are commensurate with the level of harm inflicted.   Violations by pipeline companies during construction, operation and maintenance are routine, with hundreds documented for a single project.  Also documented is FERC’s failure to ever (never) issue a civil penalty or stop work order to address the violations.  As a result, it is more cost beneficial for a pipeline company to ignore environmental protection laws than to comply with them. In addition, violations are reviewed by FERC in terms of company response, rather than magnitude of the severity of the incident.  The law mandating penalties needs the level of penalty assessed to be based upon the severity of the environmental and community harm inflicted.

 

There should be a ban put in place on Liquefied Natural Gas Exports.  

If the goal of drilling and fracking is truly energy independence, that end goal is not served through exports.  In addition, the level of community harm and sacrifice is too great for an energy supply that is then shipped overseas to support foreign nations, industries and users.

 

Mandate full and fair application of NEPA and prevent any rollback of this important and iconic information and review legislation. Among the clarifying and confirming provisions required:

-Clarity on prohibition against segmentation and provide an expansive definition of that term; 

-Express obligation to ensure cumulative impact reviews and give that term an expansive definition; 

-Ensure review includes consideration of the fracking/drilling/shale gas extraction that a project induces and/or supports and the end uses of the gas whether it be a new power plant, export, industrial, residential; 

-Ensure consideration of alternatives not limited to alternate routes but includes alternative ways to create the energy that is asserted as needed; 

-Mandate robust health and safety impact analyses and prohibit projects that will adversely impact health and/or safety of a community/region. 

-Heightened scrutiny of affiliate relationships, wherein regulated utilities are the pipeline customers while their affiliates are investing as pipeline developers. Here's recent Congressional testimony on this particular issue: tinyurl.com/Peress-6-14-16 

 

Provisions need to be placed in the law that ensure an appropriate level of accountability and oversight of the agency to both Congress and the people of the United States. 

Provisions should include:

-Prohibit FERC’s use of third party consultants with actual or potential bias.

-Change structure of FERC commissioners – add a public representative Commissioner position.  

-Mandate removal of Commissioners that are demonstrated to engage in any degree of conflict in their decision-making.

-Prohibit Commissioners or other agency staff from working for the pipeline, oil or gas industry, or any of their legal, messaging, lobbying or other related representatives, for a period of 5 years prior to, and a period of 5 years post, their employment with the agency. -Require a public advocate be appointed for each pipeline that is representative of environmental resources, property owners, public land interests that will be impacted by the project.

-Put in place stronger requirements for information disclosure and timelines by which info has to be released.

-Mandate Commissioners provide public hearing opportunities before them, as a body, before final decision-making;

-Mandate FERC use latest science in analysis and decision-making;

-Prohibit waivers, variations and/or changes to a project after its application been submitted for review by FERC; if changes are proposed mandate the new proposal be subject to the full agency and public review and approval process.  

-Add an environmental justice standard, including community involvement, for pipeline projects that are within a 10 mile proximity of an environmental justice community.

-Prohibit self interest in FERC staff and Commissioners:

-Prohibit investments in companies regulating, 

- Prohibit Commissioners or staff from being involved in decisions that benefit directly or indirectly the staff, Commissioner, their families or professional colleagues.  ---Mandate public hearings during NEPA process that are within 20 miles of any community that will be impacted by a proposed project;

-Mandate minimum 120 days to comment on any FERC NEPA documents or proposed project approvals.

 

Require leadership from FERC for renewables: 

-change FERC’s mission to include priority obligation to advance renewables; 

-seek a way to mandate/incorporate approval of the renewable energy option if it can be demonstrated to fulfill the claimed energy need being advanced by the pipeline company. -mandate FERC carry out a robust climate change analysis and if approval of a project demonstrates it will contribute climate change emissions and cannot demonstrate (when considering cradle to grave impacts of the source and/or end use of the gas) it will improve climate change conditions then FERC is mandated to reject the project.  

 

For thirty years FERC has served as a rubber stamp agency for pipeline and LNG infrastructure.  It has misused its authority and the law at every turn in order to advance these projects.  Meaningful and substantive reforms are needed. Ideally Congress will hold Congressional hearings to expose the abuses and help identify and shape the reforms needed.  But given that legislators are increasingly putting forth window dressing fixes rather than the strong substantive reforms needed, we provide this robust list of fixes that need to be pursued firmly, quickly and without compromise.

 

Respectfully,

 

Maya K. van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, Delaware Riverkeeper Network

Chris Tuley, President, Keep Southeast Nashville Healthy

Tammy Daly, Executive Member, PTA- Green Local School District

Tammy Daly, Recreational Director, Green Soccer Association

Tammy Daly, President, Green Meadows Home Owners Association

Jeremy Brueck, President, Green Lacrosse Club

Greg Mazzagatti, President, Green Youth Football

Joe Bologa, Treasurer, Green Little League/Softball Federation

Yvonne Taylor, Vice President, Gas Free Seneca

Joseph Campbell, President, Seneca Lake Guardian, A Waterkeeper Affiliate

Claire B.W. Miller, Lead Community Organizer, Toxics Action Center

Robert A Armstrong, Jr, FCCPR, Franklin Co Continuing the Political Revolution

Kate McLaughlin, President, Prince William Soundkeeper

Wendy M. Graca, Co-Founder & Secretary, South Coast Neighbors United

Mary Gutierrez, Executive Director, Earth Action, Inc.

Ron Prosek, President, Board of Directors, FaCT-Faith Communities Together for a  Sustainable Future

Tracy Manzella, Executive Director, CARCS (Citizens Against the Rehoboth Compressor Station) 

Donny Williams, Organizer, We Are Cove Point

Jim Vogt, President, Aquashicola/Pohopoco Watershed Conservancy

Amy Rosmarin, Co-Founder, Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE)

Nancy Hazard , Member, Greening Greenfield

John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc.

Sharon Felton , Communications, Concerned Citizens for a Safe Environment (CCSE) Lore Rosenthal, Program Coordinator, Greenbelt Climate Action Network

Patricia Wood, Executive Director, Grassroots Environmental Education

Bri McAlevey, President, No Sharon Gas Pipeline/Clean Energy Now

Rebecca Roter, Chairperson, Breathe Easy Susquehanna County

Marion E. Kanour, Founder, Free Nelson

John Weisheit , Conservation Director, Living Rivers & Colorado Riverkeeper

Nancy Jeffries , Board Member, Conestoga Community Group

Paul Ferrazzi, Executive Director, Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community

Diane L Wexler, Founder, Northjersey Pipeline Walkers

Lynn Ellen Marsh, President, Advocates for Cherry Valley

Tom Burkett, Director, River Healers

Leah Zerbe, Co-Founder, Schuylkill Pipeline Awareness

Kimi Wei, CEO, The Wei

Agnes Marsala, President, People Over Pipelines

Eleanor Amidon, Networker, Pipeline Education Group

Cara Schildtknecht, Riverkeeper, Waccamaw Riverkeeper

April O'Leary, Program Officer, Winyah Rivers Foundation

Ann Marshall, Organizer, Durham CCAP

Tina Venini, Co-Founder, PEACE Youth

Paul L Gierosky, Coalition to Reroute Nexus (CoRN)

Mark Schlosberg, Co-Organizing Director, Food & Water Watch

Stephanie Scherr, Director, ECHO Action NH & NH Pipeline Resistance

Wayne R Stinson, Action Committee Leader, Peacemakers of Schoharie County

James O. Michel, Co-Founder, Resist the Pipeline

Ernie Reed, President, Friends of Nelson

Todd Larsen, Executive Co-Director, Green America

Karen Feridun, Founder, Berks Gas Truth

Richard Averitt, Manager/Member, Rockfish Valley Investments, LLC

Doug O'Malley, Director, Environment New Jersey

Clarence B. Givens, Chairman, Preserve Newport Historic Properties

Lorenz M. Worden, President, Albany Bicycle Coalition

Audrey Schulman, President, Home Energy Efficiency Team

Deni Elliott, Representative, SAYMA Earthcare Action Network

Linda Reik, Board Member, Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development

Joselyn Fenstermacher, Board Vice President, Big Bend Conservation Alliance

Faith Zerbe, Chair, The Campaign for Clean Water Exceptional Value Team

Susan Bouldin, Representative to POWHR (Protect Our Water Heritage Rights), Summers County Residents Against the Pipeline (SCRAP)

Debbie Bradley, The Delaware Township Citizens Against the Pipeline (DTCAP)

Sara Steele, Steeleworks

Vivian Stockman, Vice Director, OVEC-Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Cathy Kristofferson, Co-Founder, Stop NED

Andrea Miller, Executive Director, People Demanding Action

Diana Wright, Facilitator, PAUSE - People of Albany United for Safe Energy

Claude P. Bowie, Jr., Fair Compensation for Underground Natural Gas Storage Rosemary Wessel, Founder/Program Director, No Fracked Gas in Mass

Roberta M. Bondurant, Preserve Roanoke/Bent Mountain

Roberta M. Bondurant, Protect Our Water, Heritage Rights

Natalie Cronin, Chief Play Artist, Tinker Tree Play/Care

Howard C. Lopshire, PLS., PP., Carroll Engineering Corporation

Lakshmi Fjord, Friends of Buckingham

Michael J. Roth, Treasurer, Our Santa Fe River, Inc.

Stuart Anderson, Community Organizer, Concerned Citizens of Otego NY

Judith Kay McClintock, Arden Enterprises

Richard Shingles, Coordinator, Preserve Giles County 

Sharon Furlong, Bucks Environmental Action

Sharon Furlong, Bucks Sierra Club

Martha Neuringer, Oregon Citizens Against the Pipelines

Cheryl Nenn, Riverkeeper, Milwaukee Riverkeeper

Frances Dowdy Collins and Paul B. Collins, Preserve Newport Historic Properties

Leslie Cagan, Coordinator, Peoples Climate Movement NY

Ted Glick, Beyond Extreme Energy

Walt and Danuta Lange, Lange Tree Farm

Ed Griffith, Liason, New Progressive Alliance

Robert Cross, Responsible Drilling Alliance

Joelle Novey, Director, Interfaith Power & Light

Lisa Coedy, Co-Leader, 350 Cape Cod

Patty Cronheim, Hopewell Township NJ Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline

Judy Detrano, City of Lambertville NJ Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline

Marty Wissig, Delaware Township NJ Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline

Maureen Syrnick and Debra Kratzer, Kingwood Township NJ Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline

Jacqueline Freedman, Alexandria Township NJ Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline

Lorraine Crown, Holland Township NJ Citizens Against the Penn East Pipeline

Kathie Jones, Organizer, Sustainable Medina County

David Pringle, NJ Campaign Director, Clean Water Action

Phillip Johnson, Executive Director, Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition

Jerome Wagner, President, 350 New Jersey-Rockland County

Helen Davis Chaitman, Linda Christman, Vince DiBianca, Jacqueline Evans, Christiana Foglio, Michael Heffler, Ann Marshall, Maureen Syrnick & Rosalind Westlake, Board of Trustees, HALT- PennEast

Tara Sumner, Vice President, Advocates for Springfield, NY

Nancy Wilson, Member, Steering Committee, Stop the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline (SWRL)

Tom Burkett, Spokesperson, Virginia River Healers

John J. Walkup III, President , Greenbrier River Watershed Association

Elaine Cimino, Director, Common Ground Country Trust, Stop Fracking the Rio Grande Valley & Common Ground Rising

 

 

 

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