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Oil and gas executives and other powerful corporate interests want to keep us home by spreading misinformation and contributing to politicians supporting voter suppression efforts. In fact, new data shows that the oil and gas industry has spent an estimated average of $4.3 million per Senate seat and $490,000 per House seat supporting their back-pocket candidates.
In response to the 2022 midterm elections Ebony Twilley Martin, Greenpeace USA Co-Executive Director, said:
"Today is a turning point for our country, and the urgency of the climate crisis demands that all of us make our voice heard. In 2020, climate voters turned out in record numbers to help protect our families, our democracy, and ensure a livable future. Today, we must do the same.
"Whatever our color, background, or zip code, we must show up to vote for leaders who will be champions for freedom, justice, and a livable future. We need leaders who will protect our right to vote and ensure our voices are heard, especially when the American people are so clearly demanding climate action. What happens at the polls will determine our ability to protect each other and our planet for years to come.
"Oil and gas executives and other powerful corporate interests want to keep us home by spreading misinformation and contributing to politicians supporting voter suppression efforts. In fact, new data shows that the oil and gas industry has spent on estimated average of $4.3 million for key Senate and $490,000 for key House seats supporting their back-pocket candidates. This election is set to be the most expensive midterms ever. We must stay the course against unprecedented millionaire money funding extremist candidates, election overthrowers, and rampant disinformation.
"We need champions in Congress who will fight for us. We cannot achieve the necessary victories for our communities, our children, our air, water, lands, wildlife, and climate without a healthy, functioning democracy. Expanding the number of climate champions in the U.S. House and Senate would be a major step towards protecting our freedoms and securing a future where we all thrive.
"This election puts us at a critical crossroads: one path sends us towards climate catastrophe, the weakening of our democracy, and more injustice. The other path, which I am calling on us to take today, is a chance to improve our lives and protect our planet together."
"Too often, fairly or unfairly, the questions of 'Can this person win?' and 'Does this person have what it takes?' come up," Barnes said. "Sometimes those questions aren't always asked in good faith."
To challenge establishment Democratic leaders who focus on the so-called "electability" of candidates and, in many cases, withhold funding that could be the deciding factor in whether they win or lose, former U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes on Tuesday announced the launch of a new political action committee aimed at helping supposedly long-shot contenders.
The Long Run PAC will invest in the campaigns of "women, people of color, LGBTQ, and working-class candidates across the country" and in Barnes' home state of Wisconsin, where he came within 26,000 votes of beating two-term Republican Sen. Ron Johnson last year.
The former lieutenant governor of Wisconsin said that "changemaking candidates" in the Democratic Party are increasingly "redefining what a winning candidate looks like and where they come from," but they continue to face naysayers within their own party—and struggle to secure the funding needed to ensure their campaigns reach the finish line successfully.
\u201cA little bit of *personal news*.... Today I'm launching the @LongRunPAC \ud83c\udfc3\ud83c\udffe\u200d\u2642\ufe0f\n\nRunning taught me that winning a race isn\u2019t just about race day\u2014it\u2019s about how you train and prepare.\n\nRunning for office is the same. It takes time, patience, and people believing in you from the outset.\u201d— Mandela Barnes (@Mandela Barnes) 1675778455
"Every single one of them is being asked the same question: 'Can you win?'" said Barnes in a statement. "The Long Run PAC is my way of making sure the answer to that question is a resounding, 'yes.' Because winning a race isn't just about what you put in on race day, it's about the support, training, and resources you put in from day one."
The PAC plans to announce an initial slate of candidates it is supporting this summer.
During his own campaign last year, Barnes refused to take money from corporate PACs, and raised more than $40 million from grassroots supporters, breaking fundraising records in Wisconsin. Barnes is a supporter of Medicare for All and focused heavily on workers' rights and strengthening unions during his Senate campaign.
In recent years corporate Democrats have shown hostility toward progressive candidates and lawmakers, warning that pushing for government-run healthcare will harm the party despite the proposal's popularity with Democratic voters. Political pundits have also claimed that support for progressive policies will hurt Democratic candidates' chances at the ballot box.
"Too often, fairly or unfairly, the questions of 'Can this person win?' and 'Does this person have what it takes?' come up,” Barnes toldAxios on Tuesday. "Sometimes those questions aren't always asked in good faith."
Hand-wringing over "electability," he added, ensures that "there are a lot of 'different' candidates out there who don't get the attention they should be getting or the initial investments that they should be getting."
In recent elections, progressive candidates including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Greg Casar (D-Texas), and Summer Lee (D-Pa.) have won while campaigning on progressive policy proposals, after receiving early grassroots support from left-wing PAC Justice Democrats.
"We're going to make sure these candidates have support through their run, ensuring their final sprint is a sprint to win," said Barnes on Tuesday. "The leaders who are 'different' are the ones who will make a difference—and winning a race depends on what you put in from the start."
The administration is "absolutely right," said one advocacy group. "The TRUST Act is a ploy to gut Social Security and Medicare behind closed doors."
The Biden White House made clear on Monday that it opposes the creation of commissions to devise changes—and possible cuts—to Social Security and other U.S. trust funds, rejecting an idea embraced by Republicans and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin amid a dangerous standoff over the nation's debt ceiling.
In a statement to Bloomberg Government, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates called the proposed commissions a "death panel for Medicare and Social Security," repurposing a term that GOP lawmakers used frequently in their attacks on the Affordable Care Act.
Bates said the GOP's renewed push for Social Security and Medicare commissions represents the "latest in a long line of ultimatums about how they'll act to kill jobs, businesses, and retirement accounts if they can't cut Medicare and Social Security benefits."
The commissions in question are central to legislation known as the TRUST Act, which Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Manchin (D-W.Va.), and other lawmakers reintroduced in 2021 and have frequently touted as a potential path to a bipartisan compromise on Social Security and Medicare.
But advocates warn that the commissions—modeled after the infamous Obama-era Bowles-Simpson initiative—are an attempt to fast-track cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Under the TRUST Act, bipartisan panels of lawmakers would be established with a mandate to craft "legislation that restores solvency and otherwise improves" the programs—a vague and highly subjective standard.
The legislation would then receive expedited consideration in Congress, with no amendments permitted.
"We need to expand Social Security's modest benefits, never cut them."
As recently as last month, Manchin floated the TRUST Act as a possible way to reach a deal with the House GOP to avert a debt ceiling disaster. Republicans have demanded steep cuts and changes to Social Security, Medicare, and discretionary spending—which includes education, healthcare, and climate outlays—as part of any deal to raise the federal government's borrowing limit.
Bloomberg Lawreported Monday that House Republican committee and caucus chairs have gotten behind the idea of forming Social Security and Medicare commissions in recent days.
"I don't believe we’re going to do what is necessary and right, which is save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, without having a bipartisan mechanism," Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), chair of the House Budget Committee and a co-sponsor of the TRUST Act, told the outlet.
Social Security Works, a progressive advocacy group that has been a vocal opponent of the TRUST Act, applauded the White House's stated opposition to the TRUST Act.
"They are absolutely right—the TRUST Act is a ploy to gut Social Security and Medicare behind closed doors," the group tweeted late Monday. "We need to expand Social Security's modest benefits, never cut them."
"Just when we need to be rolling back oil and gas production, BP is rolling back its climate commitments."
BP, a London-based oil giant that has attempted to style itself as a leader of the renewable energy transition, announced Tuesday that it is slashing its emission-reduction goals and planning more fossil fuel output than previously expected after reporting a record $28 billion in profits for 2022—more than double what it made the year before.
Compared to its earlier plan to curtail fossil fuel production by 40% below 2019 levels, the company said it now intends to cut output by just 25% by 2030.
"BP correspondingly now aims for a fall of 20% to 30% in emissions from the carbon in its oil and gas production in 2030 compared to a 2019 baseline, lower than the previous aim of 35-40%," the company said in a press release.
The oil giant also said it plans to pour just as much money—up to $8 billion—into its fossil fuel businesses as its so-called "transition growth engines," which include renewables, by 2030.
BP's announcement came a day after the head of the United Nations said fossil fuel companies that can't establish credible plans to sharply reduce carbon emissions "should not be in business."
"We need a renewables revolution, not a self-destructive fossil fuel resurgence," said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.
BP's decision to scale down its climate goals drew the ire of campaigners and scientists, who stressed that growing fossil fuel production is imperiling global hopes of staving off even more catastrophic warming.
"Just when we need to be rolling back oil and gas production, BP is rolling back its climate commitments," said Doug Parr, Greenpeace U.K.'s chief scientist. "Don't let the spin disguise it. This looks like BP edging back to being a traditional oil company."
Climate scientist Bill McGuire argued BP's announcement further demonstrates that fossil fuel companies can't be trusted to voluntarily cut production and potentially sacrifice short-term profits for the sake of the climate, no matter how splashy their pledges and rebrands.
"BP cuts its emissions pledge and plans a greater production of oil and gas over the next seven years compared with previous targets," McGuire tweeted. "This is criminal. [Fossil fuel] corps must be forced to stop drilling. It is our only chance now."
"These companies are not serious about climate action or transitioning away from oil and gas."
BP is the latest oil and gas behemoth to report record-shattering profits for 2022, a banner year for fossil fuel companies thanks in large part to the ongoing energy market impacts of Russia's war on Ukraine.
In its fourth quarter earnings announcement, BP said it would boost its dividend and buy back an additional $2.75 billion worth of its own shares. The company repurchased $11.25 billion of its stock last year.
"Importantly, we are delivering for our shareholders—with buybacks and a growing dividend," BP CEO Bernard Looney said in a statement. "This is exactly what we said we would do and will continue to do—performing while transforming."
Freya Aitchison, oil and gas campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, called BP's profits "sickening" and said fossil fuel giants "are being allowed to bank billions in profits whilst millions of ordinary people struggle to pay their bills."
"Bosses and shareholders at these big polluters are being allowed to get even richer by profiteering from one of our most basic needs. The harm caused by the fossil fuel energy system couldn't be clearer," Aitchison added. "These companies are not serious about climate action or transitioning away from oil and gas. The evidence shows they are spending just a tiny fraction of their profits into truly green projects."