Sunrise Movement dawns on Iowa

Charlie Mitchell reports on what the Sunrise Movement is up to in Iowa, one of only three states where the group’s deploying dedicated field teams. -promoted by Laura Belin

Sunrise Movement, the high-profile youth-led climate activist organization, has stationed six full-time organizing staff in Iowa, with the goal of galvanizing young voters to caucus for candidates who are progressive on climate.

Sunrise, which is not making an endorsement in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, is on the ground to cultivate youth political leadership and activism, engage candidates in person on climate issues, and support progressive and climate-oriented events and actions. The locus of the movement’s political change is its flagship policy, the Green New Deal. Candidates who support that policy stand to earn political support from Sunrise. (Here is a comprehensive guide to the 2020 candidates’ climate positions.)

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Are Democrats also climate deniers?

Ed Fallon is a former Iowa lawmaker who directs Bold Iowa. He is the author of Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim, a memoir about the 2014 Great March for Climate Action. -promoted by Laura Belin

“The Democrats Are Climate Deniers.” That’s the jarring headline of an article this week in Jacobin that Jon Neiderbach brought to my attention. The sub-heading reads, “If the Democrats really believed the science on climate change, they’d be offering far more radical proposals. We have to make them.”

Sad but true. It’s one thing for a politician to say, “I support the Green New Deal (GND).” But when pushed for specifics, most aren’t on board with GND’s “transition to 100 percent renewable energy within 12 years — the time frame set by the world’s leading climate scientists.”

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Steyer sinks as Iowa women rise

Ed Fallon is a former Iowa lawmaker who hosts the Fallon Forum and directs Bold Iowa. He is the author of Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim, his memoir about the 2014 Great March for Climate Action. -promoted by Laura Belin

I caught the tail end of Tom Steyer’s bait-and-switch press conference on January 9. With great flair and grandiosity, Steyer announced he wasn’t running for President. Instead, he’ll invest his time and money pounding the impeachment drum.

I’m ambivalent about whether Steyer runs for president. But if he could have picked a more poorly conceived cause than impeachment, I’m not sure what it would have been (maybe opposing continental drift?). If Democrats in the US House want to impeach President Trump, fine. But there’s not much any of us can do to impact what is largely a procedural undertaking.

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A snowless December stroll

Ed Fallon is a former Iowa legislator, longtime environmental activist, and the author of Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim, a memoir from the 2014 Great March for Climate Action. -promoted by Laura Belin

If you work the land, it’s impossible not to notice that our climate is changing dramatically. I checked out the cold frame Kathy and I planted in mid-October. Normally, the seeds sprout a little bit, then the young plants hunker down until early March. The way they’re growing this year, we’ll be eating fresh greens later this month.

That’s wonderful on one level — and deeply disturbing on another.

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IA-01: Abby Finkenauer out-raised Rod Blum

The latest fundraising numbers from Iowa’s first Congressional district confirm what was already apparent: Representative Rod Blum is among the country’s most vulnerable U.S. House incumbents, and Abby Finkenauer will be the prohibitive favorite in the June 5 Democratic primary.

Follow me after the jump for highlights from the first-quarter Federal Election Commission filings for Blum and his four challengers.

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Austin Frerick highlights another Iowa Farm Bureau conflict of interest

Congressional candidate Austin Frerick charged today that “extensive investments” in the fossil fuel extraction sector may explain why the Iowa Farm Bureau fails to acknowledge the reality of climate change, despite the well-established impacts of warming temperatures, severe weather events, and increased humidity on Iowa farmers.

The Farm Bureau’s lobbying against proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions hasn’t been as noticeable as its steps to block water quality standards and meaningful state-led or collaborative efforts to reduce soil loss and water pollution from conventional farming. But the organization has also opposed federal and state policies aimed at reducing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. The American Farm Bureau Federation and its state affiliates lobbied to weaken the 2009 American Clean Energy and Security Act before a U.S. House vote and helped kill that “cap and trade” proposal in the U.S. Senate. The Farm Bureau’s representative on the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council voted against some recommendations aimed at reducing emissions from the agricultural sector (see pages 103 to 110 of the final report released in December 2008).

In a statement enclosed in full below, Frerick argued that the century-old organization would “be advocating for steps to fight climate change” if it were true to its stated mission of standing for Iowa farmers and rural communities. Instead, the Farm Bureau’s stance tracks with major oil companies in which its for-profit insurance arm has invested.

One of six Democrats seeking the nomination in Iowa’s third Congressional district, Frerick has focused his message on issues affecting the agricultural sector, particularly economic concentration. Last month he linked Iowa Farm Bureau investments in agribusiness giants to the organization’s failure to oppose consolidation in the hybrid seed market, which raises production costs for grain farmers.

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