Here's the short version: Money Flint, MI, badly needs to fix its broken water system has been attached to a dirty energy bill that promotes fracked gas, dirty coal and worse. The bill is too dirty and dangerous to move, but Flint's future is stuck with it. Click here to donate $5 or more to help us separate the bills, and deliver justice for Flint and our climate with no compromises.
Here's the update on the Senate Energy Bill. Well-meaning but tragically un-strategic Senators attached an amendment to a seriously dirty energy bill that would appropriate about $600 million to replace Flint's polluted water system.1
Well meaning because fixing Flint's broken water system is the ONLY just and long-term solution to the crisis. As Michael Moore2 and a lot of other smart people have pointed out, we simply can't ship the city bottled water on national guard helicopters forever. For one thing, it's already generating a mountain of plastic waste. For another, it doesn't really solve Flint's problems -- you still can't bathe in the water, brush your teeth, or even wash your car.3 Filters and new fixtures can help, but not enough in all cases, and still need to be replaced and monitored all the time.4 So the basic idea here -- raising the money for a massive public works project that will make the water safe for everyone -- is the right one (thousands of us have signed petitions to this effect5). And the fact that Michigan's Senators are trying to do it in this way show's they understand the urgency of the problem.
But it's tragically un-strategic because: The Flint money is an 'attachment' meaning it can't get approved unless the underlying bill it's attached to is approved too. And in this case, that underlying bill is unacceptably dirty6 -- it's like making the thing we want (Flint money) the caboose on a really long train that's hauling fracked gas, dirty coal and explosive oil. The train is too dirty and dangerous to let out of the station, but our caboose is cooked as long as it stays put.
None of which helps justify the decision by petulant politicians on both sides of the political aisle to just shut down the whole debate and go home for the weekend. If we want the Senate to move its caboose and help Flint next week, without cooking our climate, we're going to have to get out and push. And that's why I'm asking you to 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 $600 million in federal matching funds to help replace lead pipes in Flint, Mich.6
And the bill is getting worse, not better as more amendments are adopted.7 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.8 Accomplishments that we're just getting the Presidential Candidates to agree to uphold,9 by the way, meaning that the Senate Energy Bill puts not just our current political climate, but the next 4+ years of climate action at risk if it moves forward.
We can't let that happen. We've helped over 1,500 people make a toll-free call to the Senate already. But so far, our efforts have only delayed, not derailed the bill. This is a big undertaking we couldn't have foreseen or budgeted for a few months ago -- and almost none of the other big "green groups" are fighting hard like we are. 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. Coral Davenport, Senate Democrats Block Energy Bill in Dispute Over Aid for Flint, New York Times, Feb. 4, 2016.
2. Michael Moore, Don't Send Bottled Water, Feb. 2, 2016
3. Erica Hellerstein, The Forgotten Victims Of The Flint Water Crisis, THink Progress, Jan. 28, 2016
4. Tracy Samilton, Plumbers Converge On Flint To Help Get Lead Out Of Its Drinking Water, NPR, February 2, 2016
5. Anthony Rogers-Wright, Flint, MI Needs Pipes, Not Plastic Bottles, Environmental Action, January 20, 2016
6. Drew Hudson, Flint and the climate moderate, Environmental Action Blog, January 29, 2016
7. Alejandro Davila Fragoso, Can Burning Forests To Power The Grid Be Carbon Neutral? The Senate Just Said ‘Yes’, Climate Progress, Feb 5, 2016
8. White, Chris. New Energy Bill to Include Amendment Reversing Obama's Coal Lease Block. The Daily Caller. January 21, 2016
9. Miles Goodrich, Clinton Calls Ban on Future Extraction on Public Lands a “Done Deal”, 250 Action, Feb. 5, 2016