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Developing A Strategy To Move A Climate And Green Jobs Agenda

The larger Trenton based NJ environmental groups who do political work (endorsements, etc) have well over 100,000 members, tons of money, significant press capabilities, experienced lobbyists, and dozens of professional staff and field campaign organizers.

There is widespread public support in NJ for strong environmental protections. There are scores of local grassroots groups and activists – from watershed organizations to pipeline and bomb train and anti-frackers!

Yet, despite these political strengths, in the age of Christie and corporate & machine dominated Democrats (like Senate President Sweeney), we not only fail to make progress, but are losing ground and suffering rollbacks to existing programs.

Governor Christie will soon be gone, so now is the time to begin planning for short term and intermediate actions to block more rollbacks in the pipeline (pun intended) and to begin to develop a strategy and united front to frame the issues agenda for the already engaged Governor’s race.

So here’s my current revised strategic advice, as the climate catastrophe escalates and direct non-violent civil disobedience actions proliferate around the country (the latest example is the Dakota Access Pipeline battle, which is coming to a place near you! – PennEast to Pinelands):

1. Form A United Front

Form a united front with progressive labor unions, with the centerpiece a green jobs agenda to phase out fossil fuels and build a statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy economy.

With the current TTF layoffs, attacks on NJEA, public employee pension sellout, and a $15 minimum wage likely to be on the ballot in 2017, the politics are engaged and aligning to make this a realistic opportunity. Environmentalists must not be left out of the progressive coalition that will win these battles. A united front would dampen your primary opposition to progress and exponentially boost your political power.

2. Focus on Climate and Green Energy Jobs

The key program demands on the agenda should be:

  • implementation of the Global Warming Response Act via regulatory means (not subsidies, market based tools, or voluntary measures, all of which have failed)
  • a permanent moratorium on all new fossil infrastructure – no permits issued by State government
  • Passage of legislation mandating 25% energy efficiency and 100% renewables by 2030
  • BPU Energy Master Plan and regulatory powers to enforce GWRA emissions reductions and 100% renewable energy goals

Here’ an example of how that would actually work on the ground, politically, programmatically, and financially. The Linden NJ victory was huge, and it represents a missed opportunity to consolidate and institutionalize the kind of change required.

3. Target Gubernatorial Candidates and Do It Now!

Begin to target prospective candidates for next Gov. and begin to take actions right now!

Guadagno is a likely Republican candidate and is from Monmouth County. There is a lot of enviro support there and post Sandy experienced shore residents are very familiar with the tremendous powers of the NJ Governor.

But people and the media are completely unaware of the power of the Gov. to block pipeline projects using effective veto powers under the federal Clean Water Act and Coastal Zone Management Act.

There is a long history of Governors Рresponding to grassroots pressure Рbolding using executive powers, a regional moratorium now in effect, and well known recent precedent a campaign could use as an illustration.

In perhaps his only positive environmental accomplishment, Gov. Christie killed an off-shore LNG proposal using his veto power under federal law.

If we brought 100 people to Guadagno’s house on a Sunday protest, demanding that she speak out in opposition to Gov. Christie’s horrific record on climate and renewable energy and define her own vision, that would make the news.

We could make similar argument demanding that Guadagno and all prospective candidates for Gov. support a ban on new fossil infrastructure, like pipelines, and use Clean Water Act to do it (like Conn. and NY State did!).

Fulup might be willing to jump on that kind of bandwagon, if we can put the issue on the political and media radar (it would be a great contrast with Sweeney, who is in the tank for pipelines and fracked gas plants).

4. Ramp Up Tactics – Direct Action, Non-Violent Civil Disobedience

Ramp up the tactics – Begin to sign up people to pledge to take direct action.

Where is this kind of conversation and strategic planning taking place?

[End note – the odds of this happening approach zero. The current groups, to be kind, do not work well together and the corporate foundations would never fund the work. So, the thought of even a coordinated campaign, never mind a United Front, is unthinkable right now.

The only way this dysfunction changes is either for the members of these groups or their funders to demand that their professional staff change, or for an alternative bottom up new grassroots organization emerge and bypass the dysfunction.

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