Calls to Action

Dear Friends,

Before I tell you about last week’s meetings with White House officials and Iowa’s congressional delegation, I’ve gotta remind you about next Saturday’s “Democracy for the Common Good” event. The sub-text is, “A Call to Action.” It’s in Des Moines at First United Methodist Church, 1001 Pleasant from 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. John Nichols (Washington Correspondent with “The Nation”) will be there among a host of thoughtful, provocative thinkers and doers. The focus is on how private corporations are influencing public policy and what people can do about it. My kind of event.

Ok, so I didn’t expect a lot from my meetings with Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst. But at least they took the time to meet (Rep. Steve King didn’t). The meetings were short, and both Senators seemed to be delivering their talking points from the same Koch-financed playbook:

(1) Climate change is happening, sure, but it’s always happening. Senator Ernst made reference to the Middle Ages. Really? So, 97% of climate scientists are wrong? Sigh.

(2) We can’t make big reductions in fossil-fuel usage unless India, China, Brazil, Indonesia and others do the same. This argument reminds me of that made by nuclear hawks in the 1980s in response to efforts to reduce our nuclear arsenal to, oh, say, something smaller than the capacity to blow up the world twelve times over. For Iowa’s U.S. senators, the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction remains intact, it seems, but has shifted from death by nuke to death by fossil-fuel.

Marcher Miriam Kashia of Iowa City and I also met with Congressmen David Young and Dave Loebsack. I’ll share details about those meetings in next week’s update.

Our meetings with White House and EPA staffers were much more productive. Complete notes from those meetings are posted here and here. For me, the major take-aways were:

1. President Obama absolutely “gets” climate change, and while he may not be willing to go as far as we climate activists would like, he’s our (and our Planet’s) best friend in Washington, DC right now. It remains to be seen after 2016 whether the next White House occupant will be climate friend or foe. We should work as hard as possible while we still have a friend (relatively speaking) in that office.

2. To the best of my ability to read between the necessary political lines, the President is firmly against the Keystone Pipeline. It is clear that he will veto the legislation recently passed, and very likely that he will not authorize its construction through executive order.

3. Staffers and the President recognize that climate marchers earned a unique brand of street cred, that we come from all across the country, and that we developed a network of supporters who are eager to continue to move the climate conversation forward. They want our help to push the Clean Power Plan. For sure, we can get on board with that.

We didn’t agree on all issues, the Trans Pacific Partnership being one example. But I felt encouraged. I am certain that the access we gained will be useful moving forward, and that the conversation and engagement with federal officials will continue.

Tune-in Monday, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm CST on KDLF 1260 AM or online. Join the conversation by calling (515) 528-8122. You also can hear the Fallon Forum on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 5:00 pm on Wednesday and on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 pm on Wednesday. Thanks!

Ed Fallon