Omar, Sanders Lead Bill to End Destructive Taxpayer Subsidies for Fossil Fuels
By Eoin Higgins
Progressive Democrats led by Rep. Ilhan Omar and Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday introduced a bill to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and other industry giveaways, calling taxpayer support of the climate-killing business — a counterproductive and dangerous use of federal funds as the climate crisis worsens and Americans suffer through an economic downturn sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's past time we end the billions of taxpayer subsidies to fossil-fuel companies," said Omar, a Minnesota Democrat. "Our focus right now needs to be on getting the American people through this difficult, unprecedented time, not providing giveaways to polluters."
It’s past time we end the billions of taxpayer subsidies to fossil-fuel companies. Today, @SenSanders,… https://t.co/kdafv03WE4— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Rep. Ilhan Omar)1595602352.0
"Taxpayers provide $15 billion in direct federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry every year," she added. "That ends with this bill."
Omar and Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, were joined in leading the End Polluter Welfare Act by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) as well as Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.).
"At a time when we are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and an economic decline, it is absurd to provide billions of taxpayer subsidies that pad fossil-fuel companies' already-enormous profits," said Sanders.
"We need more safe, healthy, good paying jobs," he added, "not more corporate polluter giveaways."
Fossil fuels are destroying our planet — yet the federal government gives oil, gas and coal companies nearly $15 BI… https://t.co/MoRpsw9U3h— Friends of the Earth (@Friends of the Earth)1595610919.0
The bill would close tax loopholes, end taxpayer-funded subsidies, and bar the use of federal lands for resource extraction and federal funding for fossil fuel research.
"It is ridiculous that the federal government continues to hand out massive giveaways to antiquated fossil fuel industries that are not only financially risky, but are also destroying our planet," said Merkley.
President Donald Trump's administration has prioritized giveaways to the fossil fuel industry throughout his presidency, including as the pandemic wreaks havoc on the country.
The legislation is co-sponsored in the House by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Jesús "Chuy" Garcia (D-Ill.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.).
The legislation aims to cut off oil, gas and coal companies reaping billions from federal COVID-19 relief and annua… https://t.co/tvHL0Trx2w— Climate Desk (@Climate Desk)1595603535.0
According to a press release from Omar's office, the bill:
would also guarantee the continued solvency of the Black Lung Disability Fund to ensure continued medical care for tens of thousands of working-class Americans who worked hard for decades to provide energy for the nation. Fossil fuel drilling and transportation also disproportionately impact indigenous communities and communities of color, who have long opposed extraction on their land.
Activists and climate advocates like Greenpeace USA climate campaigner Charlie Jiang welcomed the legislation.
"It is outrageous that the federal government has exploited a pandemic to throw even more public money at the industry that created and profited from the climate crisis," said Jiang. "A bill to end giveaways for the fossil fuel industry—which is saddled with debt and recklessly polluting Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities—is long overdue. It's time to shift our investments to protect people on the frontlines of the climate crisis and support fossil fuel workers in the transition to a world beyond fossil fuels."
While the bill faces an uphill battle, it was nonetheless seen as a good sign by Earth Island Institute's International Marine Mammal Project, executive director Mark Palmer said in a statement.
"The fossil fuels industry must change to avoid the worst effects of global warming, which is already upon us," Palmer said. "This legislation is a giant step towards reining in the pollution from oil and gas development, and we wholeheartedly endorse it."
As the country reels from the coronavirus pandemic, said Oil Change International senior campaigner Collin Rees, the bill represents an important readjustment of priorities.
"The End Polluter Welfare Act is critically needed legislation at a pivotal moment," said Rees. "We must stop propping up oil, gas, and coal with public money and invest in the people and communities most impacted by systemic oppression, Covid-19, and the climate crisis."
Markey, who was also a lead sponsor of bicameral Green New Deal legislation along with Ocasio-Cortez, sounded a similar note in comments about the new bill.
"We should be providing support for workers and those affected by Trump's criminally-negligent response to the pandemic — not bailing out the fossil fuel industry and propping up its profit margins," said Markey. "Trump is only trying to add to these decades-long payouts for polluters, when we should be directing our resources to keeping people safe."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Daisy Simmons
1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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