Activists to Call for a Clean Energy Future at the DNC

July 22, 2016

Food and Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter says the people need to tell the Democratic establishment that it's too late for incremental changes to address the climate crisis

Food and Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter says the people need to tell the Democratic establishment that it's too late for incremental changes to address the climate crisis



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Story Transcript

SHARMINI PERIES, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, TRNN: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.

The Democratic National Convention starts on Monday, July 25. And on the eve of the convention, on the 24th, there will be a rally for action on climate change, with thousands of people expected to attend.

With us to discuss the event and the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s platform on the environment and climate change is the author of Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment, Wenonah Hauter. Wenonah, thank you so much for joining us.

WENONAH HAUTER: I’m so glad to be here.

PERIES: Wenonah, you’re also founder and executive director of Food & Water Watch, and you are obviously going to be on the ground there organizing this event. Tell us what you expect to gain from it.

HAUTER: Well, we are so thrilled that this event has been now endorsed by 900 groups from all 50 states. What we really hope to achieve is to continue building the political power of the movement to ban fracking, and to stop all of the bad practices by the oil and gas industry. We are very happy to be in Philadelphia to declare our independence from fossil fuels, and to show the Democratic establishment this movement is not going away. It’s going to expand and continue growing and electing people who are doing the right thing for our communities and for our global climate. We need to make a very swift transition to renewable energy and the use of energy efficiency technologies.

PERIES: Now, let’s take a look at a clip from Hillary Clinton during the debate with Bernie Sanders on the issue of fracking.

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PERIES: Now, Wenonah, Hillary Clinton was very carefully crafting her answer about this issue of fracking. But you know, a lot of environmental organizations have endorsed Hillary, and they’re saying that she’s running on the most environmentally-friendly platform in history. She’s committing to half a billion solar panels by the end of the first term, and also to set a 10-year goal for generating enough renewable energy to power every home in America, she says. And this all sounds good, but what are your thoughts on all of this?

HAUTER: Well, my thoughts are that Hillary Clinton, if elected, will only be as good as our organizing. That’s how we achieved the victories that we have: banning fracking in New York, stopping fracking in Maryland, banning it in Vermont, more than 500 communities passing some kind of measure against fracking. And this huge movement that’s grown up.

We’re going to have our work cut out for us no matter who is in the office. And it’s really our job to keep the organizing up, and to organize for the 2018 elections. This is a long-term battle that we’re engaged in, and it’s going to take holding our elected officials accountable, congressional district by congressional district, state by state, and building the power so that ultimately we can actually elect a presidential candidate who does what most Americans want, and that is to transition into a clean energy future.

And it’s worth noting that one of the things that our movement has achieved is that now more Americans are against fracking than for it. And I think that that’s a real tribute to the grassroots organizing that’s been going on around the country. And we just have to keep that up.

PERIES: And the RNC this week is discussing disbanding the EPA, pulling out from the Paris agreement, and killing Obama’s Clean Power Plan. There’s a lot at stake. And if Hillary Clinton wins there’s going to be enormous pressure in pushing her further on these issues, since we’re not going to have Bernie Sanders, who just opposed fracking altogether. What kind of challenges are ahead at the DNC, and then tell us what kind of pressure you’ll be bringing about if Hillary Clinton is the president.

HAUTER: Well, I think this march for a clean energy future is symbolic of the pressure that’s going to continue to build on elected officials. And we know that we are really in a battle for the future of our climate, and that natural gas is not the answer because of methane, and because it’s such a potent greenhouse gas.

So I think there’s really no answer except to keep organizing, and we have to do it community by community.

PERIES: And will you be–Wenonah, will you be advocating for, if Hillary Clinton is elected, for example, will you be advocating for her to rescind from some of the agreements that have been signed, like the Keystone XL pipeline, and so on?

HAUTER: Well, if Hillary Clinton is elected we will be doing everything that we can to push her in the direction for a clean energy future. And that means not signing on to trade agreements that trade away our ability to have the strongest environmental regulations as possible. We’ll be organizing to try to make the Environmental Protection Agency actually do its job, which has not happened during the Obama administration. We will continue to organize in states where we are trying to put pressure on governors to make decisions that really protect the communities where oil and gas drilling is going on.

And you know, this is a, this is a long battle that we will take piece by piece. But it’s too late for really tiny, incremental changes. And what we’ve found in our organizing at Food & Water Watch and working with many, many grassroots groups around the country, is people are ready to fight for the kind of world they want. They don’t want to have half-baked answers and these schemes like cap and trade, for instance. They really want to have the ability to go out and organize. And I think we’re really going to need to do something about policies around renewable energy.

One of the reasons that I wrote Frackopoly is just looking at the statistics for where renewable energy has gone, in 2015, only just over 5 percent of our national electricity, these are government statistics, little over 5 percent came from solar, wind, and geothermal. We are not moving quickly enough, and we need to stop saying that the market is going to do it. And we need to organize to put in place the policies that are going to require us to move into this renewable energy future and to stop fracking.

And that’s what we’re doing in Philadelphia. And that’s the power that we’re showing at the Democratic Convention. It’s people power. It is to show the Democratic establishment that their base means business. We are going to make this transition. We’re going to do everything we can to stop, to prevent, further climate chaos. I mean, it’s a matter of life and death for future generations.

PERIES: Wenonah Hauter, I thank you so much for joining us today, and I just also want to say that the Real News Network will be there at the DNC next week, and we’ll definitely be following the demonstration on the eve of the 24th. And we’ll be looking for you, Wenonah. So thank you for joining us.

HAUTER: Thank you so much. I’ll be looking for you, too.

PERIES: Thank you for joining us on the Real News Network, and stay tuned for the Real News DNC coverage next week starting Monday.

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