There's nothing simple about the situation developing in the U.S. Senate this week. We’ve all watched in horror as the Flint water crisis played out. Now we’re faced with a really gut-wrenching choice: Whether or not to back an amendment to a truly dirty Senate Energy bill that does a truly virtuous thing by fixing Flint’s pipes.1
I've written a longer piece on our blog about why I’m forced to decide that in this time of climate chaos, this is not a fair choice.2 But right now we have a bigger problem: the votes on the Flint amendment are could come within days, and a final bill later this week. We weren't expecting this confluence of hard choices, and so we need your help to track the amendments, set up a free hot line to the Senate for everyone and generally manage a week of tough choices and tougher votes.
I know it's last minute, and not everyone can donate -- but with the vote days away, I have to ask: Will you chip in $5 or more to help us deliver justice for Flint and our climate with no compromises?
For the second time in as many months, Senate Democrats are negotiating to legalize and expedite exports of fossil fuels in exchange for an unrelated good idea. Last December they made a trade to legalize exports of crude oil for the first time in 40 years in exchange for an extension of wind and solar tax credits. This time, they want to expedite exports of fracked gas in exchange for a permanent extension of the land and water conservation fund and up to $400 million in federal matching funds to help replace lead pipes in Flint, Mich.2
The Flint amendment, if adopted, could present us with an impossible choice. But the truth is we're expecting all kinds of amendments to help the fossil fuel industry as well.3 Some senators, like John Barrasso (R-WY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have boasted about their plans to use the bill to repeal most of President Obama's environmental accomplishments -- including the Clean Power Plan and the recently announced moratorium on coal leases for federal lands.4
Now that we know Senators are using this seriously dirty energy bill as a vehicle to clean up Flint's water (a project we strongly support, and which thousands of us have signed petitions calling for5) we know the fight will be hard and complicated. We can't just tell senators to kill a bill that helps rebuild Flint's water pipes. But we also can't allow climate moderates in the Senate trade our collective future to hostage-takers in the fossil fuel industry again.
Our only ethical option is to mount a major rapid response campaign this week so that everyone in America can contact their Senators and persuade them to save Flint, without sacrificing our climate. But this is a big undertaking we couldn't have foreseen or budgeted for a few months ago -- so I'm asking for your help: Can you chip in $5, $50 or more to help us deliver justice for Flint and our climate?
Drew and the climate chaos abolitionists at Environmental Action.
1. Jennifer Steinhauer, Senate Democrats Seeking Federal Aid for Flint Crisis, The New York Times, January 28, 2016
2. Drew Hudson, Flint and the climate moderate, Environmental Action Blog, January 29, 2016
3. Cama, Timothy. Senators Prepare Amendments for Energy Bill Free-for-All. The Hill. January 21, 2016.
4. White, Chris. New Energy Bill to Include Amendment Reversing Obama's Coal Lease Block. The Daily Caller. January 21, 2016
5. Anthony Rogers-Wright, Flint, MI Needs Pipes, Not Plastic Bottles, Environmental Action, January 20, 2016