5 Ways U.S. Companies, From Ride Shares to Dating Apps, Are Helping Americans Vote
Tomorrow, America heads to the polls for the midterm elections, and, as EcoWatch has pointed out, these are very important elections for the environment, giving voters a chance to fight back against the Trump administration's agenda of ignoring climate change and opening public lands to drilling and mining.
This election is so important, in fact, that eco-friendly outdoor brand Patagonia has endorsed two candidates, becoming likely the first U.S. company to ever do so. Patagonia endorsed Democratic Senate candidate Jon Tester in Montana and Democratic Senate candidate Jacky Rosen in Nevada because of their commitments to protecting public lands, but it is also working to encourage voting everywhere. The company is giving its employees the day off, and closing its retail stores.
"[V]oting is more important than shopping," Patagonia Director of Global Communications and Public Relations Corley Kenna told CBS. "Business has an important responsibility to help uphold democracy. The least we can do is make sure the employees of our company have that opportunity to exercise that right."
Patagonia isn't the only private company stepping up this election to help the American public make its voice heard. Here are five major ways that some of your favorite brands are helping to get out the vote tomorrow.
1. Voting Time
Patagonia is one of the many companies that have signed on to the Time to Vote campaign, which is an initiative that was launched by American CEOs in September to raise awareness about things employers can do to make it easier for their employees to vote. Those actions include offering paid time off, making Election Day meeting-free or spreading info about mail-in or early voting. Participants include The Gap, PayPal and Walmart.
Another group of more than 300 companies, including Spotify, Salon and Survey Monkey, has spearheaded a similar initiative called Take Off Election Day, promising to give their employees time off to vote.
300+ companies (comprising an estimated 50,000+ employees) are now taking off election day. What's your excuse? https://t.co/Xhx5K4c06b— Take Off ElectionDay (@Take Off ElectionDay)1476655725.0
2. The Ride to Vote
Rideshare company Lyft launched a campaign this summer called the "Ride to Vote." It explained its motivation in a blog post announcing its efforts:
It is estimated that over 15 million people were registered but didn't vote in 2016 because of transportation issues. That's why we're committed to providing 50% off rides across the country, and free rides to underserved communities that face significant obstacles to transportation.
Not to be outdone, in October Uber announced the steps it would take to help Americans vote, including adding a tool to the app to help voters find and book a ride to their polling place, offering free rides and providing Uber users with voter registration resources.
You drive the vote, we’ll get you to the polls. Learn more about how we’re helping people show up on Election Day. https://t.co/ftLaWCEhZ7— Uber (@Uber)1538673906.0
3. Election Dates
The dating app Bumble came up with a unique way to encourage people to vote. The app, which has 41 million users worldwide, allows users to display their intention to vote on their profile. If anyone is looking for a civic-minded partner, Bumble just made that easier. The app will also send notifications reminding users to follow-through on their commitment.
"We have a real opportunity around election season to really be an advocate for voter registration," Bumble Chief Operating Officer Sarah Jones Simmer told CBS.
We’ve added a new badge option to your Bumble profile, allowing you to show your pride in civic engagement. Regardl… https://t.co/0fbW7QITHW— Bumble (@Bumble)1538936848.0
4. Registration Applications
Bumble isn't the only app encouraging its users to vote. Fellow dating app Tinder teamed up with Rock the Vote to encourage voter turnout, Snapchat registered more than 400,000 users and music app Pandora shared an ad on National Registration Day in which the artist Common encouraged users to register and find their polling place.
"It's your chance to make sure your voice is heard," Common said in the ad, according to CBS. "Tap the link on your screen now to make sure these midterms are on your terms."
Swipe the Vote | Tinder www.youtube.com
5. Fighting Voter Suppression
Twitter and Facebook are in hot water following the 2016 election. There are concerns that the spread of false news on the popular social media platforms might have influenced the results, as Vox explained.
That is likely why they are eager to redeem themselves this time around as they attempt to delete false or misleading posts discouraging people from voting. As of Friday, Twitter had deleted more than 10,000 automatic accounts designed to keep people away from the polls. Both services are getting rid of posts that spread misinformation about how to mail in a ballot, alter pictures to make lines at polling places look longer than they are and say that it is possible to vote online, among other lies.
One rumor Twitter removed said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would patrol polling sites checking for citizenship, a clear attempt to discourage immigrants who can vote from showing up. ICE eventually clarified on Twitter that it did not patrol polling places.
ICE does not patrol or conduct enforcement operations at polling locations. Any flyers or advertisements claiming o… https://t.co/wAQuAp9pYN— ICE (@ICE)1540384248.0
By Simon Montlake
For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.
All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.
Moderates Feeling the Heat<p>If elected, Mr. Biden has vowed to stop new drilling for oil and gas on federal land and in federal waters and to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump gave notice of quitting. He would reinstate Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, the largest component of natural gas.</p><p>The Biden climate platform also states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, though not those that already have federal approval. </p><p>Climate change activists who pushed for that language say much depends on who would have oversight of federal agencies that regulate the industry. Some are wary of Biden's reliance on advice from Obama-era officials, including former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is now on the board of Southern Company, a utility, and a former Obama environmental aide, Heather Zichal, who has served on the board of Cheniere Energy, an LNG exporter. </p>
The Push for U.S. Fuel Exports<p>As vice president, Biden was part of an administration that pushed hard for global climate action while also promoting U.S. oil and gas exports to its allies and trading partners. As fracking boomed, Obama ended a 40-year ban on crude oil exports. In Europe, LNG was touted both as an alternative to coal and as strategic competition with Russian pipelines.</p><p>That much, at least, continued with President Trump. Under Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the agency referred to liquified U.S. hydrocarbons as "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/us/freedom-gas-energy-department.html" target="_blank">freedom gas</a>."</p><p>Mr. Trump has also championed the interests of coal, oil, and gas while denigrating the findings of government climate scientists. He rejected the Paris accord as unfair to the U.S. and detrimental to its economy, but has offered no alternative path to emissions cuts. </p><p>Still, Trump's foreign policy has not always served the LNG industry: Tariffs on foreign steel drove up pipeline costs, and a trade war with China stayed the hand of Chinese LNG importers wary of reliance on U.S. suppliers. </p><p>Even his regulatory rollbacks could be a double-edged sword. By relaxing curbs last month on methane leaks, the U.S. has ceded ground to European regulators who are drafting emissions standards that LNG producers are watching closely. "That's a precursor of fights that will be fought in all the rest of the developed world," says Mr. Hutchison. </p><p>Indeed, some oil-and-gas exporters had urged the Trump administration not to abandon the tougher rules, since they undercut their claim to offer a cleaner-burning way of producing heat and electricity. "U.S. LNG is not going to be able to compete in a world that's focused on methane emissions and intensity," says Erin Blanton, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. </p>
Stepping on the Gas<p>In July, the Department of Energy issued an export license to Jordan Cove's developer, Canada's Pembina Pipeline Corp. In a statement, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the project would provide "reliable, affordable, and cleaner-burning natural gas to our allies around the world."</p><p>As a West Coast terminal, Jordan Cove offers a faster route to Asia where its capacity of 7.8 million tons of LNG a year could serve to heat more than 15 million homes. At its peak, its construction would also create 6,000 jobs, the company says, in a stagnant corner of Oregon.</p><p>But the project still lacks multiple local and state permits, and its biggest asset – a Pacific port – has become its biggest handicap, says Ms. Blanton. "They are putting infrastructure in a state where there's no political support for the pipeline or the terminal, unlike in Louisiana or Texas," she says. </p><p>Ms. Brown, the environmental lawyer, says she wants to see Jordan Cove buried, not just mothballed until natural gas prices recover. But she knows that it's only one among many LNG projects and that others will likely get built, even if Biden is elected in November, despite growing evidence of the harm caused by methane emissions. </p>
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