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Hullabaloo


Monday, March 14, 2016

 
P.G. Sittenfeld or Ted Strickland: Climate or Coal?

by Gaius Publius


Climate champion P.G. Sittenfeld is the one choice for the U.S. Senate from Ohio


I've been watching the Ohio Senate primary contest between former governor Ted Strickland and progressive P.G. Sittenfeld with interest. I keep having to remind myself that Strickland is actually a Democrat and that the race is still in the primary phase. The first is a lie (Strickland is a "Democrat" only, not a real one), and the second is an opportunity (we can replace him on the Democratic ticket).

For those keeping count, pretend-anti-TPP Sen. Rob Portman is the incumbent Senator and a Republican. You may not know, even if you live in Ohio, that Portman was a Bush-appointed U.S. Trade Representative:
Portman spent significant time out of the United States negotiating trade agreements with roughly 30 countries, visiting Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, France, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, South Korea, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.[32] During his tenure, Portman also helped to win passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.[59] Portman utilized a network of former House colleagues to get support for the treaty to lift trade barriers between the United States and Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras.
That's a lot of countries to screw over American workers with. Portman was busy. After that, he went into lawyering:
On November 8, 2007, Portman joined the law firm of Squire Sanders as part of the firms transactional and international trade practice in Cincinnati, Ohio. His longtime chief of staff, Rob Lehman, also joined the firm as a lobbyist in their Washington, D.C. office.[73][74]
Another self-serving "public" servant who make money negotiating rotten trade agreements, then made money representing corporations that benefit from them.

Portman is considered a vulnerable Republican senator this year, which is why it's so important to defeat him. Portman is also one of the reasons that neither Obama nor McConnell will bring TPP to Congress until the lame duck. If it comes up before the election, Portman, to save his seat, will have to pretend to care about Ohio and vote No. After the election, win or lose, he can vote his wallet, his history, and aggrandize his possible future as a lobbyist.

The candidate Ohioans choose to replace Portman is the question, since the seat is winnable — thus the importance of the Democratic primary between Sittenfeld and Strickland.

Sittenfeld or Strickland — Climate or Coal?

The virtues of these candidates on a number of issues have been discussed in these pages — corruption, gun violence, and so on. Each comparison shows Sittenfeld the clear winner. (If you like, you can help him here.) But a comparison that has not been well covered is coal, the environment, and the climate.

Put simply, a vote for Strickland is a vote for coal in Ohio (and frankly, for a neo-Stone Age life for your great grandchildren, not that Strickland cares). A vote for Sittenfeld, on the other hand, is a vote for a carbon-free future.

The following piece from The Hill illustrates the first point well. As you read, note the main idea — that candidate Strickland is distancing himself from Obama's "Clean Power Plan," and instead, returning to his first love, coal (my emphasis):
Strickland’s coal policies dust up possible Senate bid

Ted Strickland, Democrats’ top prospect to take on Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (R), is facing a litany of questions about his ties to the clean-energy industry that could weigh heavily on coal-country voters.

To prepare for a possible Senate bid, the former Ohio governor quietly stepped down last week from a senior role with the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank and advocacy group that has promoted a shift away from coal.

Critics are tying him to the group’s environmental policies and to Carol Browner, the former architect of President Obama’s climate policies, who is a distinguished senior fellow at CAP. “CAP has people like Carol Browner right down the hall from him in the office, and we can’t in the industry trust someone whose ties to the war on coal go that deep,” said Christian Palich, interim president of the Ohio Coal Association, a GOP-leaning group.

Strickland tried to inoculate himself from attacks shortly before leaving by touting the think tank’s new report calling for reform of coal subsidies to help Appalachian coal compete with cheaper Western coal. He argues that Western coal producers enjoy an unfair advantage because their royalty rates have not increased in 40 years.

The apparent move to rebuff the possible damage is a sign that coal politics could figure prominently in the Ohio Senate race next year. Strickland, however, said 2016 was not a motivating factor.

“I care about Ohio. I care about coal communities,” he said, according to The Associated Press, “long before there was any talk of me entering a political race of any kind.”
If you read this too quickly, you'd think that the Strickland deception was to pretend to distance himself from Obama's plan. But that deception hides this — that Strickland has a genuine and longstanding love of the carbon extraction industry, including coal mining and fracking for oil and methane ("America's natural gas").

For example, in Congress Strickland was a strong supporter of coal subsidies, and also voted multiple times to prevent increases in fuel economy standards. He voted No on amendments like these:
  • HR 2520, House Vote 337, 7/15/93 — An amendment to cut $50 million in funding for coal research and development, and to then transfer $25 million to energy conservation research and development and the other $25 million to deficit reduction.
     
  • HR 4602, House Vote 271, 6/23/94 — An amendment that called for cutting $27 million from funds earmarked from coal R&D.
     
  • HR 4, House Vote 311, 8/1/01 — An amendment to increase fuel economy standards by closing the light-truck loophole for fuel economy standards.
     
  • HR 6, House Vote 132, 4/10/03 — An amendment that would reduce the amount of oil consumed by U.S. automobiles by five percent by 2010.
And many others like them. Strickland was quite consistent. Do Ohioans want to replace Rob Portman with Ted Strickland, a reliable coal, oil and gas industry representative? Ohio can do much better.

Sittenfeld Understands — We Must Eliminate Carbon to Survive

Sittenfeld is more than just an up-and-coming face in the strong, progressive Bernie Sanders mold. He understands that the future of America, and the future of the world, does not lie with the carbon industry. If you believe that a carbon-free future is essential for your children and grandchildren, P.G. Sittenfeld is your candidate and Ted Strickland is the opposite — your enemy.

Goal Thermometer
I've reached out to the Sittenfeld campaign on this issue. Here's Sittenfeld on carbon and the climate (emphasis mine):
I have endeavored to be a leader wherever and whenever possible on climate change, including my early and unwavering opposition to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. I firmly believe we can and should do what it takes to entirely decarbonize the U.S. economy as soon as possible.
You can't get much clearer than that.

If you believe in a carbon-free future, here are two things you can do now. First, please help P.G. Sittenfeld in his fight for the U.S. Senate. Second, if you're a voter in Ohio, by all means, vote in the coming primary.

Do it for the children.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)

GP
 


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