Sierra Club Archives - Shopfloor

Questions for AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka at the Press Club

By | Energy, Labor Unions | One Comment

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka speaks at a National Press Club luncheon on Friday, an appearance billed thusly:

Trumka will speak out on recent efforts to curb collective bargaining rights in several states, including Wisconsin and Ohio. He also will discuss the political outlook for the 2012 elections, and the impact of austerity budgets on local, state and federal workers.

All good topics. Here are a few others that the reporters could raise during the Q&A period that traditionally follows Press Club remarks.

  • In a January 2010 National Press Club appearance you said: “I think you will see the Employee Free Choice Act pass in the first quarter of 2010.” And …”The president fully supports the Employee Free Choice Act, the Vice President fully supports the Employee Free Choice Act, a vast majority of the members of the House support the Employee Free Choice Act, a vast majority of the people of the Senate support the Employee Free Choice Act. And I think we are going to have the Employee Free Choice Act despite the determined efforts of the Republican Party.” So were you shining us on, deceiving your membership for tactical reasons, or are you just a lousy prognosticator? Did the failure of card check reflect organized labor’s lack of political influence? Your own lack of influence?

  • AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka addresses anti-coal crowd at April rally. (Photo: Energy Action Coalition)

  • You began your career as a coal miner and served as President of the United Mine Workers before being elected to head the AFL-CIO. Yet at an April “Power Shift” rally in front of the White House, you joined environmental activists in demanding “clean energy” policies in which coal has no role. Demonstrators held signs declaring “Coal is Over” and “No More Coal!” (More photos here and here.) How can you, as a union president, make common cause with activists who want to shut down the coal industry?

  • AFL-CIO affiliated unions are members of the Blue-Green Alliance, which includes such organizations as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Many people regard these groups as hostile to the industrial base of this nation’s economy. How do you reconcile union support for this alliance? According to a Department of Commerce study, green products and services account for at most 2 percent of private sector activity. How you can justify spending member dues on groups who have such a narrow focus and whose policies would eliminate unionized jobs in the energy and manufacturing sectors?

  • Do you believe nuclear power has a role in America’s future energy production? Because AFL-CIO member unions are sending member dues to a group that includes the Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the major opponents of nuclear energy.

  • Should a company that currently has unionized operations in a state ever be allowed to locate new operations in a right-to-work state?

EPA Roundelay

By | Economy, Energy, Global Warming, Regulations | One Comment

Manufacturers are awaiting the final rule from the Environmental Protection Agency on emissions from industrial boilers, aka the Boiler MACT rule. Monday was the deadline for EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to sign it.

Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) cited the Boiler MACT rule in an op-ed she wrote for The Wetumpka Herald, recalling her arguments on the House floor:

As a member of the Agriculture Committee, I specifically discussed the Environmental Protection Agency’s Boiler MACT ruling, which places an unreasonable requirement on companies to upgrade their boilers and will likely lead to the loss of thousands of jobs across a wide range of industries.

This ruling is only one in a long line of troubling rule-making decisions by the EPA and other federal agencies.

Inconsistent and overly burdensome regulations that impede particular industries, discourage innovation, and eliminate jobs and businesses should be reversed, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to root out examples of this sort of government intrusion in the market.

EPA Administrator Jackson is in Ethiopia today, having earlier visited Kenya for multilateral and bilateral meetings. You know what could really help Ethiopia’s economy and people? More industrial boilers.

Last week’s House debate on H.R. 1 continued well into the early morning of Saturday, and we missed highlighting the big EPA-related news: The Housed voted 249–177 to block EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Also, as Industrial Info Resources reports: “The House budget bill would cut about $3 billion from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) operating budget, about 29% of the agency’s overall budget. The bill would prevent the EPA from implementing, administering or enforcing the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) on the Portland cement industry.”

Unable to distinguish between regulators and the subject of regulation, environmentalists are protesting the “assault on the environment.” From New America Media — not to be confused with The New American — an interview, “Sierra Club Head Warns: “Biggest Assault on the EPA in U.S. History.

It’s an interview with Carl Pope. Funny, we thought the head of the Sierra Club was Michael Brune. Brune sure seems to be keeping a low profile. The rest of the leadership probably thinks he’s too radical, even for the Sierra Club.

A Conclave of the Cadre of the Cabal of the Constitution

By | General | No Comments

Environmental groups have the ear of the White House, or maybe it’s vice versa. As Greenwire at The New York Times reported last week.

Rahm Emanuel met for about 30 minutes with a group that included League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski, Sierra Club Chairman Carl Pope, Center for American Progress President John Podesta, Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp, Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke, National Wildlife Federation President Larry Schweiger and Sheila O’Connell of Unity ’09, a Democratic umbrella group.

Now, in a similar situation, with business groups in the place of the environmentalists, there would be vitriolic accusations of undue influence and special access.

But to us this looks as if the people were meeting with White House officials to petition the government and exercise their First Amendment rights. More power to them…metaphorically that is.

Although we can’t imagine business groups attending a White House meeting with a member of Republican umbrella organization at the same time. Now THAT would invite vitriol. So far, we’ve spotted nothing of that acidic nature over this meeting.

Unity ’09 is clearly not an environmental activist group; it’s a partisan political operation. Expressing opinions and petitioning the government for redress of grievances are one thing, coordinating political strategy with a leader of a party-political organization is another.

Firing Up or Powering Down?

By | Energy, Global Warming | No Comments

The Sacramento Bee profiles the new executive director of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune, who comes on board the country’s largest environmental organization on March 15. Citing Brune’s prior leadership at the radical, fond-of-disruption Rain Forest Action Network, the Bee’s story is headlined, “New leader looks to fire up Sierra Club.”

By powering down the United States.

At the heart of that struggle, Brune says, lies America’s continued dependence on coal-fired electricity plants – plants which currently provide an estimated 45 percent of the nation’s energy but which are a major sources of greenhouse gas emissions…[snip]

“We must replace dirty coal in this country,” Brune said. “We must continue this fight until we convince our political and industry leaders that there are more economic benefits to be had by transitioning to wind power and other forms of clean energy.”

It’s fantasy to argue that “wind power and other forms of clean energy” can supplant coal, especially when Brune — as reported in this NewJerseyNews.com profile — opposes nuclear power.

Here’s what the Energy Information Administration had to say in its annual energy outlook about coal’s future role in the U.S. economy through 2035:

Total coal consumption increases from 22.4 quadrillion Btu (1,122 million short tons) in 2008 to 25.6 quadrillion Btu (1,319 million short tons) in 2035 in the AEO2010 reference case. Coal consumption, mostly for electric power generation, grows gradually throughout the projection period, as existing plants are used more intensively, and new plants, which are already under construction, are completed and enter service.

Brune’s leadership involves getting arrested in flashy protest actions with the usual suspects like Darryl Hannah and James Hansen.

Funny, too, that Brune rises to power advocating extreme action even as the anti-energy climate activists are in retreat scientifically and politically. When even The Washington Post has to acknowledge the seriously flawed “evidence”* being used to push a global economic restructuring — page one Monday, “Series of missteps by climate scientists threatens climate-change agenda” — then the movement is losing steam. Can a radical program of civil disobedience fire up the more mainstream Sierra Club or just cost it members?

A New Path for the Sierra Club: Environmental Agitation

By | Energy, Global Warming | 3 Comments

The new head of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune, intends to bring a more aggressive, anti-business activism to the nation’s largest environmental organization.

Yes, if there’s one thing America doesn’t have enough of, it’s radical environmental groups campaigning against economic activity and jobs.

Grist, an activist web/newsite, interviews Michael Brune in a  report, “New Sierra Club chief brings confrontational style to the job.” Staff writer Jonathan Hiskes provides the context:

The Sierra Club’s new leader will come to the job with a record of “environmental agitation” against big industrial polluters.  The group announced on Wednesday that Michael Brune, 38, currently head of Rainforest Action Network (RAN), will replace Carl Pope as executive director as of March 15. Brunehoned RAN’s strategy of negotiating politely with corporate heavyweights such as Bank of America, Citigroup, and General Motors—and then, if they don’t clean up their acts, campaigning mercilessly against them. The two-pronged approach earned results that belie RAN’s modest size—it helped convince Home Depot to stop selling wood from endangered forests, for example.

Brune spoke to me about his plans to bring similar ferocity to the comparatively mild Sierra Club, the nation’s largest environmental group, which claims 1.3 million members. With its self-governing regional chapters, its way-outside-the-beltway headquarters in San Francisco, and a smaller D.C. policy shop than other Big Green groups, the Sierra Club has always relied more on grassroots advocacy than direct work with Congress.

 And from the subsequent Q&A:

Q: What habits and ways of thinking—perhaps acquired in the ‘60s—does the movement need to shed?

A: I’m reluctant to criticize folks on whose shoulders we’re standing. The work that was done in the ‘60s and ‘70s might be a little outdated, perhaps, but the results have improved the lives of millions of people.

That said, there is important work to be done in the near term, such as isolating the corporations and public institutions that are most resistant to change, that are most aggressively fighting to maintain a failing status quo.

The name Saul Alinsky has been thrown around a lot over the past few years, as left-wing activists like  — and more recently, some conservative activists — draw inspiration from the dead labor/community organizer’s “Rules for Radicals.” And while there are many radical traditions, Brune’s comments and use of words like “isolating” smack of Alinsky’s strategy and tactics, such as his ’60s campaign against Eastman-Kodak in Rochester, N.Y.

We assert that most Americans aren’t radical, dislike the demonization of American employers, and reject the full-scale social transformation promoted by the more extreme environmental groups. The Sierra Club could find itself marginalized, or at least a smaller organization, under the new leadership. But no doubt the organization’s board of directors thought this through and made a choice.

UPDATE (11:35 a.m.): Sierra Club’s news release, soft-sell bio and Q&A.

Justice on the Side of Power, Power on the Side of Justice

By | Economy, Energy, Global Warming, Health Care, Human Resources, Labor Unions | 4 Comments

Needed electricity? Good jobs? Economic growth in a struggling area of Virginia?

Old Dominion Electric Cooperative’s proposed Cypress Creek Power Station in Dendron, Va., would accomplish all those good things. According to ODEC’s thorough website for the project, www.cypresscreekpowerstation.com (and fact sheet), the project entails constructing a one- or two-unit base load electric generation facility yielding 750 MW to 1,500 MW of power by 2016. Peak construction would put more than 2,000 people to work, and permanent operations would require 200 full-time employees, with potentially 160 being local hires.

The plant would be fueled by coal and biomass, i.e., wood waste. Of course, coal invites reactive opposition — but mostly from outside the immediate region. (Driving through that part of Southeastern Virginia last weekend, we saw many more signs supporting the plant than opposing.)

The Smithfield Times covered the Surry County Planning Commission’s five-hour hearing Monday, leading the week’s paper with the story, “Marathon hearing on coal plant“:

Many of the plant’s outspoken opponents were from outside Surry County. A sizeable number were students at The College of William and Mary and environmentalists with groups such as the Sierra Club.

Some plant supporters complained about the high number of non-Surry residents at the meeting.

“I’m sick and tired of outsiders coming in here and telling us what to do,” Surry resident Barbara Seward said.

She and other supporters said that the environmental and health risks were being exaggerated, that they trusted ODEC to be a good corporate citizen, and that the community in a time of economic hardship.

Of course, you don’t have to be a local resident to exercise your First Amendment rights, but the outside opposition still seems arrogant and elitist. Critics show no sensitivity to important “environmental justice” issues.

You know, “environmental justice?” It’s usually the rallying cry of those who claim businesses construct operations in poor or minority communities to exploit the communities’ powerlessness. It’s divisive class warfare, often part of a shakedown for government largess, and unfortunately given a federal imprimatur going back to the George H.W. Bush Administration in 1992 and most lately reaffirmed by President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency. But since the slogan is what counts for argumentation these days …

  • It’s a just cause to support jobs, strong communities and the supply of reliable baseload electricity.
  • OEDC is not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative, meeting the public’s demand for power.
  • We know the Sierra Club’s goal is a world with no coal, making electricity more expensive and hurting low-income ratepayers.
  • But who in the hell do the pampered kids at William and Mary think they are?

The conclusion is clear: It’s the supporters of the Cypress Creek Power Station who have “environmental justice” on their side.

Global Warming Controls = No New Single-Residence Homes

By | Briefly Legal, Energy, Regulations | No Comments

Sure seems like the goal, at least in California. And since California’s policies are setting the model for the entire United States…

From The Chico Enterprise Record, “Global warming, housing density hot topics at Friday seminar“:

RED BLUFF — North state officials remain concerned about the relationship between sprawl and California’s global warming laws after a presentation Friday.

Dan Zack, downtown development coordinator for Redwood City, told the group that combined with insulation that saves on energy costs, urban, multi-family homes are responsible for about half as many greenhouse gas emissions as suburban homes.


But high-density planning is not a safeguard against lawsuits citing environmental impacts. In May, Cottonwood resident Gary Catlin enlisted the support of the Sierra Club in a lawsuit accusing Tehama County of failing to take into account the effects of the areas, which could lead to increased development near his 5-acre Country Hills property.

From The Wall Street Journal, 2008, an op-ed by Joel Kotkin, a presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University, “Jerry Brown’s War on California Suburbs.”

Card Check: Unions and Greens, Divvying the Spoils

By | Economy, Energy, General, Labor Unions | No Comments

It always seemed strange that organized labor has solicited the support of the environmental left in pushing for passage of the undemocratic Employee Free Choice Act. (See earlier posts.) Why make common cause with groups that oppose the kind of human activities that keeps union members employed — construction, transportation, mining and manufacturing? Especially when history tells you the environmental groups will agree on a consensus, a compromise, or a modus vivendi on an issue and then a month later file a lawsuit in federal court. (Think Northwest timber harvests.

Perhaps the tactics themselves unite these groups. Developments in California suggest as much, as recounted in Walter Olson’s post at Point of Law, “California unions’ environmental extortion“:

Today’s Times:

As California moves to license dozens of huge solar power plants to meet the state’s renewable energy goals, some developers contend they are being pressured to sign agreements pledging to use union labor. If they refuse, they say, they can count on the union group to demand costly environmental studies and deliver hostile testimony at public hearings.

If they commit at the outset to use union labor, they say, the environmental objections never materialize.

“This does stress the limits of credibility to some extent,” the California energy commissioner, Jeffrey Byron, said at one contentious hearing, “when an attorney representing a labor union is so focused on the potential impact of a solar power plant on birds.”

It seems Bob Balgenorth, chairman of the labor group accused of exploiting the environmental laws this way, “has cultivated strong ties with conservation groups”. I wonder whether there’s a tie-in with the Sierra Club’s and NRDC’s endorsement of EFCA?

So jobs or the environmenta are not at issue, just the raw use of power to accrue more power.

Eventually, of course, one side will betray the other. It’s in their nature.


Card Check: We Are the World, We Are the Scolding

By | Labor Unions | One Comment

From The Los Angeles times, with link to the video, “Hollywood unions come together — for a change“:

As debate in Washington heats up over the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, unions representing actors, writers, directors and crew members collaborated with umbrella organization AFL-CIO to produce a video in support of the legislation, designed to lift roadblocks to unionization.

The three-minute online video features testimonials from 47 performers and actors, including F. Murray Abraham, actor-comedian Jerry Stiller and Amy Brenneman, star of the TV series “Private Practice.”

Then there’s new PR from left-wing religious groups, “Interfaith Justice Group To Congress: Employee Free Choice Act Is Consistent With Biblical Morality.” Don’t forget the rabbis, “Rabbis Tell Specter: Join Us in Supporting Employee Free Choice.

And the Sierra Club and other environmentalists are joining in the hands across economic growth campaign: “The Sierra Club is among many environmental groups to support the Employee Free Choice Act. At the closing ceremony, workers and religious and community leaders offered a blessing and called on Feinstein to support the Employee Free Choice Act.”

Good grief. Aren’t these the same people that used to be in the nuclear freeze movement? Guess once you’ve developed all those skills at organizing vigils, you hate to put them aside.

Candles and method acting notwithstanding, there’s still no getting around the goals sought by these activists and actors: The elimination of secret-ballot elections in the workplace so unions can force their organization (and union dues) on unwilling employees, as well as imposition of binding arbitration that would destroy the free choice of contract terms for employees and employers alike.

It’s a raw, naked power grab by organized labor hiding behind kumbayaism. Light a candle. Sing a song. Destroy a job.

Card Check: Oh, Really? No, Oh Rally!

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

The many infiltrators we placed at the Capitol Hill rally this afternoon report back that organized labor had a good turnout, especially given the chilly weather — 600, said one; maybe 1,000 said another.

Here’s the AFL-CIO inflationary account, “1.5 Million Sign on to Support Employee Free Choice; Thousands Rally on Hill

We infer from lack of any reference that Rep. George Miller and Sen. Tom Harkin did NOT introduce the Employee Free Choice Act today. The stimulus legislation, passage of CHIPS-II, anti-executive compensation and Presidential schreinerei all take PR precedence.

Our favorite claim:

Allison Chin, president of the Sierra Club, said the Employee Free Choice Act could help protect the environment:

The right to organize will lead to protections for workers and for the environment. We stand with you to deflect attacks on the most basic of rights for workers.

And the blind to see…

UPDATE (4:05 p.m.): More on the bill introduction from Tapped, the blog of the lefty American Prospect:

Politically, it looks like both the House and Senate versions of the EFCA bill, which will not have substantially changed since the last attempt to pass it in 2007, will be introduced in the coming weeks, according to Senator Tom Harkin, who has been tasked by Senate Health Education and Labor Committee Chair Ted Kennedy with managing the bill, and Representative George Miller, the lead House sponsor. Walking to a Senate Democratic lunch with President Barack Obama, Harkin suggested the delay on introducing the legislation was related to Al Franken’s continuing legal battle over Minnesota’s senate election. The senator also expects the nomination of Hilda Solis for Secretary of Labor will clear the Senate before the Easter recess.

Easter recess starts April 6. That’s a long time away, a very long time for key Senator to be speculating about. Maybe he knows something…