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That was fast. Just two months after the Democratic National Committee (DNC) unanimously prohibited donations from fossil fuel companies, the DNC voted 30-2 on Friday on a resolution that critics say effectively reverses the ban, The Huffington Post reported.
The resolution, introduced by DNC Chair Tom Perez, allows the committee to accept donations from "workers, including those in energy and related industries, who organize and donate to Democratic candidates individually or through their unions' or employers' political action committees" or PACs.
It conflicts with the original resolution that called on the committee to "reject corporate PAC contributions from the fossil fuel industry that conflict with our DNC Platform."
In a conference call after the vote, Perez said that members of the labor community considered the original resolution passed in June "an attack on the working people in these industries," per The Hill.
He insisted that the DNC is still committed to the Democratic Party platform, "which states unequivocally our support for combating climate change."
DNC executive committee member Christine Pelosi, co-author of the original resolution and the daughter of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, tweeted Friday that the committee "NEVER consulted me on language to reverse my resolution banning corporate fossil fuel PAC money."
Pelosi proposed an amendment Friday that would remove the words "employers' political action committees" but the motion failed 4-28.
A DNC spokeswoman disputed accusations that the committee is backtracking on its earlier resolution, telling HuffPo it's "not a reversal" and that "any review of our current donations reflects" the Democrats' "commitment" to no longer take money from the fossil fuel industry. The spokeswoman offered no further comment.
Jerald Lentini, deputy director of the Democratic fundraising group It Starts Today, explained to HuffPo that the new proposal may only apply to Democratic campaigns, meaning it does not fully annul the first resolution. However, as Lentini noted, it would still "repudiate the spirit" of it.
Environmentalists and progressive Democrats decried the DNC's move.
"Why in the age of Trump, wildfires, and eminent domain for private gain are we using land gauge and stances of the GOP? Many of us will fight this at DNC meeting in August," Bold Nebraska founder and Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Fleming Kleeb tweeted.
New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, who has sworn off any corporate donations and has joined hundreds of politicians that have signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, had a similar sentiment: "You can't do right when you're getting donations from companies that do wrong."
"Honestly, these people are bound and determined to deflate and demobilize their base," tweeted author and activist Naomi Klein.
What's more, the text of the new resolution embraces an "all-of-the-above energy economy" that includes clean and low-emissions energy technology, "from renewables to carbon capture and storage to advanced nuclear technology."
350.org co-founder Bill McKibben criticized the measure and noted that the "new DNC proposal would support an 'all of the above' energy policy which the last party platform explicitly rejects. This is a bad idea, on both scientific and political grounds."
In 2016, the Democratic National Committee axed its support for an "all-of-the-above" energy policy and calls for having the nation run "entirely on clean energy by midcentury."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.