President Bush plans to play the part of the hero by visiting California, now ravaged by fire. But on this issue he’s the villain — it’s two years after Hurricane Katrina and the only progress he’s made is actually acknowledging that global warming exists. If we’re going to avoid tragedies like this in the future, we must take the long-term view. On this point, the science is clear: global warming has already led to increased wildfire activity in the U.S., and if we don’t dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the near future, the problem is going to get much worse. 

Friends of the Earth

More than ever, we need a president committed to making real and deep change in how we treat the planet. 


“After 7 years of George Bush – the worst, most destructive environmental president in modern history – it is definitely time for change, and that change starts by electing John Edwards as President.” 

Come around after the fold with me for Part II of my interview with Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth and Friends of the Earth Action.

This week, I interviewed Brent Blackwelder, President of Friends of the Earth and FOE Action, via email about the FoE Action endorsement of John Edwards. 

FOE Action provides political muscle on legislative battles in the U.S. for its sister organization, Friends of the Earth, which is part of a network of affiliates in over 70 nations around the world.  On October 14, FOE Action became the first major environmental organization to endorse a candidate for president, and they endorsed John Edwards:

“Friends of the Earth Action enthusiastically endorses John Edwards for President,” said Brent Blackwelder, president of FOE Action.

Friends of the Earth Action Endorses John Edwards

FoE Action well understands that you cannot sit down at the table with the corporate polluters and their lobbyists, and then expect them to treat the planet right.  As John Edwards has said, if you sit down at the table with them, they’ll eat your lunch.  You’ve got to beat them:

Q:  You have been President of Friends of the Earth and Friends of the Earth Action since 1994.  In that time, you have witnessed the buying of the American government by corporate power and their lobbyists.  How important is John Edwards’ willingness to take on these entrenched interests to you in making your endorsement?

A:  This played a big part in our decision. John Edwards has taken a stand against the lobbyists and special interests that have so driven environmental policies in the Bush Administration. Only when candidates refuse to take money from the lobbyists for big oil and big coal can they pursue the kind of environmental polices that protect health and safety of our families. Of all the leading candidates running, we believe John Edwards has the greatest potential to stand up to corporate special interests in the White House.

We also talked about John Edwards’ plan to address global warming:

Q:  At present, part of the costs of global warming are externalized on all of us. Does Edwards favor measures to auction polluter permits to, at least in part, ensure that part of the cost of global warming goes back to where it belongs – on the actual product?

A:  Yes, polluter permits are an important component of Edwards’ plan. He would require polluters to pay for their global warming pollution, a portion of which will raise $10 billion a year for a New Energy Economy Fund to jumpstart clean, renewable, and efficient energy technologies and create 1 million jobs.  

Q:  What is Edwards’ position on the annual taxpayer funded subsidies that currently exist for oil companies?

A:  Edwards calls for eliminating $3 billion in annual government subsidies to oil companies. He even says he is “very open to the possibility of an excess profits tax” on oil companies. We feel this is a crucial first step in getting our country back on the right track with its energy policy. 

I don’t know about you, but I agree with Brent Blackwelder and John Edwards about building new nuclear power plants: don’t do it!  This is a clear distinction between John Edwards and the other two major candidates, Clinton and Obama.

Q.  Senators Clinton and Obama have joined one of the top Republicans in the race, Senator McCain of Arizona, to sponsor the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007. The measure includes more than $3.6 billion in funding and loan guarantees for the planning and construction of nuclear plants using new reactor designs.  Does FOE Action oppose the use of taxpayer money to subsidize the nuclear power industry?  What is your position on this bill?

A.  Friends of the Earth wholeheartedly opposes the construction and development of nuclear power in the United States. Edwards is on the same page, here. He believes nuclear power is too costly, too dangerous, and too vulnerable to attack by our nation’s enemies. New Hampshire, where FOE Action announced its endorsement of Edwards, has the unfortunate distinction of being home to the last-constructed nuclear power plant in the country, Seabrook Station nuclear power plant. The plant places great environmental and health risks on the areas around it, and if constructing a nuclear power was a bad idea 30 years ago, it’s an even worse idea now, particularly given the new realities we face in terms of national security. Nuclear power simply isn’t worth it’s risks, when accidents can have environmental implications that last for generations.  And John Edwards is the only candidate to unambiguously say no to nuclear power. 

And what about Coal to Liquid?  I’m with Edwards and FoE Action on this.

Q:  What is your position on Coal to Liquid technology?  One Democratic presidential candidate cosponsored a bill to provide taxpayer subsidies for this technology.  Edwards opposes CtL.  What does using, let alone subsidizing, CtL really mean for our environment?

A:  Liquid coal is a bad idea for our country and planet. It contributes twice the amount of carbon emissions to our atmosphere that petroleum does, consuming an inordinate amount of water per unit of fuel, and requiring the expansion of ecologically and socially disastrous mining practices. Unlike Clinton and Obama, Edwards is the only leading candidate to oppose coal-to-liquid technology.

That’s right: “Liquid coal is a bad idea for our country and planet.” 

We need a green president now, if we are to survive:

Q:  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a President that actually enforced the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and other environmental laws?

A:  After 7 years of George Bush – the worst, most destructive environmental president in modern history – it is definitely time for change, and that change starts by electing John Edwards as President. 

A final word from FoE Action President, Brent Blackwelder regarding what they and we can do to help elect a green president:

We plan to be especially active in New Hampshire, establishing an independent campaign and organization to carry the message about John Edwards’ global warming plan and his vision for a healthy environment. There is a powerful, untapped environmental constituency out there that is up for grabs in this country and we are here to lend our voice to push that constituency toward Edwards.  We believe he has the right vision and record to tap that constituency. 

In New Hampshire, there are a lot of Democratic primary voters who care deeply about the quality of their environment and cite it as a top concern when choosing a nominee for president. In particular, voters in the Granite State are looking for real action to combat global warming. We plan to spend the next 3 months letting these voters know that John Edwards is the candidate best qualified and most committed to help achieve this big and bold goal. 

Please visit the FoE Action website to find out how you can get involved in our campaign to elect John Edwards as president: FoE Action  (

Help FoE Action to elect our first green president: John Edwards.

Friends of the Earth Action endorse John Edwards’ candidacy for President on October 14, 2007, in New Hampshire:

Crossposted at Blue Hampshire and many other places.