DNC says “no” to Big Oil, then backtracks

Dear Friends,

A trait I share with other activists is my propensity to take on too much. This trait is amplified badly when daily life includes marching 10-15 miles.

During the eight-day First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March, the daily blog I’d planned to write fell casualty to other priorities — marching, fundraising, staying dry, and a slew of other survival-mode work. So belatedly, expect eight blogs from the March in your inbox over the next two weeks.

About fundraising . . . we still need your help to close out the books on this powerful action. Click here to donate.

Click here to see some of the excellent media coverage the March received, with a couple national stories still in the works. (Photo at right from a September 8 article in the Fort Dodge Messenger.)

Finally, help us pack the Iowa Supreme Court chamber tomorrow, Wednesday, September 12, from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Landowners and the Iowa Sierra Club finally have their day in court, with oral arguments in a lawsuit against the Iowa Utilities Board for allowing Energy Transfer Partners to use eminent domain to build the Dakota Access Pipeline. If you can’t attend, watch our livestream here.

In other news, like many observers, I was impressed in June when the executive council of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) voted unanimously to no longer accept donations from fossil-fuel companies. For a couple sweet months, I thought, “Hmm. Maybe the Democratic Party has finally found a path away from being the other party of Corporate America.”

Well, it took only two months for the DNC to bring me back to Earth. On August 14, the DNC’s executive council voted — again, almost unanimously — to rescind its ban on accepting contributions from oil, coal, and gas companies. If Democrats could have come up with a more effective strategy to alienate voters, I’m not sure what it could have been.

After the vote, author Naomi Klein tweeted, “Honestly, these people {the DNC} are bound and determined to deflate and demobilize their base — and then blame the Russians when they lose.”

To be clear, some Democratic leaders have stood strong against fossil-fuel money. Senators Cory Booker (NJ), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Kamala Harris (CA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) all swore off donations from oil, coal, and gas interests.

Climate Hawks Vote‘s R.L. Miller played a key role in passing the resolution banning fossil-fuel money. “We never tried to ban contributions from individual workers,” Miller told me. “Our intent was to ban corporate money from the fossil-fuel industry. Christine Pelosi {Nancy Pelosi’s daughter} has been trying to get the DNC to not take PAC money at all — and the DNC didn’t during the Obama years.”

The push to rescind the anti-fossil-fuel resolution was pushed quietly by Labor and came as a surprise to Miller and others. A mere four hours before the DNC was scheduled to meet on August 14, DNC Chair Tom Perez sprung the proposal on the executive council.

Maybe there’s yet some good that can come out of this travesty. Despite polls showing Democrats are poised to win seats at both the federal and state levels this fall, for lots of reasons, Democrats are likely to remain America’s minority party. One of those reasons is the painfully deep division between Labor and Environment. We certainly saw this in Iowa with the Dakota Access Pipeline — although more recently, Labor and Bold Iowa collaborated in opposing legislation supported by Energy Transfer Partners that criminalized peaceful, non-violent protest. More of that, please.

I asked Miller about the Labor-Enviro divide. “There’s talk of a Green New Deal, with tremendous opportunities for growth in a lot of emerging industries,” she said. “Right now, very few jobs in wind and solar are union jobs. That should change. If a company is big enough to be publicly traded, it’s big enough to be unionized. Yes, I’m looking at you, Elon Musk.”

Environmentalists need to stand with Labor and demand union jobs in the renewable energy industry. For its part, Labor needs to stand with farmers, landowners, environmentalists, and Indigenous communities against further expansion of fossil-fuel infrastructure. If we’re successful, we could the see the cornerstone of a new foundation of a politicalliy unbeatable coalition. Let’s get on it.

Ed Fallon


Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 96.5 FM and 1260 AM (central Iowa). Add your voice to the conversation by calling (515) 528-8122.

On this week’s Fallon Forum, Charles Goldman joins us to discuss:
(01:13) First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March a success
(13:42) Feckless DNC votes to accept fossil-fuel money
(25:47) Brett Kavanaugh’s past coming back to bite him
(49:18) Can the NFL get over its anthem problem?

– Listen on other local affiliates:
– KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA)
– KICI.LP 105.3 FM (Iowa City, IA)
– WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)