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DNC Will Take Fossil Fuel Money After All

Politics
DNC Will Take Fossil Fuel Money After All
Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Gage Skidmore / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

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."

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An illustration depicts the extinct woolly rhino. Heinrich Harder / Wikimedia Commons

The last Ice Age eliminated some giant mammals, like the woolly rhino. Conventional thinking initially attributed their extinction to hunting. While overhunting may have contributed, a new study pinpointed a different reason for the woolly rhinos' extinction: climate change.

The last of the woolly rhinos went extinct in Siberia nearly 14,000 years ago, just when the Earth's climate began changing from its frozen conditions to something warmer, wetter and less favorable to the large land mammal. DNA tests conducted by scientists on 14 well-preserved rhinos point to rapid warming as the culprit, CNN reported.

"Humans are well known to alter their environment and so the assumption is that if it was a large animal it would have been useful to people as food and that must have caused its demise," says Edana Lord, a graduate student at the Center for Paleogenetics in Stockholm, Sweden, and co-first author of the paper, Smithsonian Magazine reported. "But our findings highlight the role of rapid climate change in the woolly rhino's extinction."

The study, published in Current Biology, notes that the rhino population stayed fairly consistent for tens of thousands of years until 18,500 years ago. That means that people and rhinos lived together in Northern Siberia for roughly 13,000 years before rhinos went extinct, Science News reported.

The findings are an ominous harbinger for large species during the current climate crisis. As EcoWatch reported, nearly 1,000 species are expected to go extinct within the next 100 years due to their inability to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. Tigers, eagles and rhinos are especially vulnerable.

The difference between now and the phenomenon 14,000 years ago is that human activity is directly responsible for the current climate crisis.

To figure out the cause of the woolly rhinos' extinction, scientists examined DNA from different rhinos across Siberia. The tissue, bone and hair samples allowed them to deduce the population size and diversity for tens of thousands of years prior to extinction, CNN reported.

Researchers spent years exploring the Siberian permafrost to find enough samples. Then they had to look for pristine genetic material, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

It turns out the wooly rhinos actually thrived as they lived alongside humans.

"It was initially thought that humans appeared in northeastern Siberia fourteen or fifteen thousand years ago, around when the woolly rhinoceros went extinct. But recently, there have been several discoveries of much older human occupation sites, the most famous of which is around thirty thousand years old," senior author Love Dalén, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Center for Paleogenetics, said in a press release.

"This paper shows that woolly rhino coexisted with people for millennia without any significant impact on their population," Grant Zazula, a paleontologist for Canada's Yukon territory and Simon Fraser University who was not involved in the research, told Smithsonian Magazine. "Then all of a sudden the climate changed and they went extinct."

A large patch of leaked oil and the vessel MV Wakashio near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of southeast Mauritius on Aug. 6, 2020. AFP via Getty Images

The environmental disaster that Mauritius is facing is starting to appear as its pristine waters turn black, its fish wash up dead, and its sea birds are unable to take flight, as they are limp under the weight of the fuel covering them. For all the damage to the centuries-old coral that surrounds the tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean, scientists are realizing that the damage could have been much worse and there are broad lessons for the shipping industry, according to Al Jazeera.

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A quality engineer examines new solar panels in a factory. alvarez / Getty Images

Transitioning to renewable energy can help reduce global warming, and Jennie Stephens of Northeastern University says it can also drive social change.

For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.

"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."

To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.

"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."

So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

The frozen meat section at a supermarket in Hong Kong, China, in February. Chukrut Budrul / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Imported frozen food in three Chinese cities has tested positive for the new coronavirus, but public health experts say you still shouldn't worry too much about catching the virus from food or packaging.

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Although heat waves rarely get the attention that hurricanes do, they kill far more people per year in the U.S. and abroad. greenaperture / Getty Images

By Jeff Berardelli

Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020

If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.

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