The Terrifying Threat of New Cold Wars

No New Cold Wars Campaign Statement

  • With the Obama/Biden Administration’s “Asia Pivot” against China, its preoccupation with regime-change in Syria, and its support for a coup in Ukraine
  • with the Trump/Pence Administration’s racist anti-Chinese trade war, its blatant and illegal intervention in Syria, and its fierce antagonism toward multiple Russian allies on several continents,

  • and with both major U.S. parties trading inflammatory rhetoric and stunningly implausible conspiracy theories about both China and Russia, 

the United States is well embarked upon two devastatingly wasteful and profoundly dangerous new Cold Wars.  

  • With climate change promising untold economic and military chaos, 
  • with a rising global eruption of fascism and protofascism unseen since the 1930s, and 
  • with the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals drastically reducing the species’ margin for doomsday error through unprecedented hypersonic missile technology,

humanity cannot afford any new Cold Wars and should not expect to survive the existing/current ones for long.  

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists rightly puts their famed “Doomsday Clock” at twenty seconds past 11:58pm: nearer to nuclear midnight than humanity has ever come.  General Lee Butler, commander of America’s nukes as the last Cold War ended, reports that “we escaped the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of skill, luck and divine intervention—probably the latter in greatest proportion…. Because skill and luck certainly don’t account for it.” 

Chicago Area Peace Action’s “No New Cold Wars” campaign will educate the public and its legislators concerning the betrayal of America’s and the world’s future implicit in  letting superpower rivalry and demagogic domestic politics distract humankind from collectively solving our gravest existential problems.  Climate change, WMDs, and a fanatic backlash to global inequality are problems desperately requiring the mutual cooperation of a multipolar world – a world that is through with empire.  Our campaign will seek concrete steps to arrest America’s slide through Cold War II into World War III.  

Take Action!

Our campaign is just beginning.  In the middle of COVID lockdown, much of our immediate presence will be online.  

  • We’ve assembled our first draft of a U.S.-China Cold Wars Resource List to include background articles and video arranged by topic, links to news sites informatively covering U.S.-China and U.S.-Russia relations, contact lists for allied national and global organizations leading on this issue, and information on pending webinars and Chicago-area street actions. 
  • An ongoing calendar of dates and events requiring letters to the editor will provide talking points from our resource list to our growing team of dedicated op-ed writers, ready to barrage Chicagoland media with our concerns regarding the apocalyptic peril of renewed superpower rivalry.  
  • We have endorsed – and will immediately focus on supporting – the Roots Action organization’s call for public resistance to the apparently imminent appointment of failed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as the U.S. ambassador either to China or to Japan.  Rahm and diplomacy are words impossible to credibly link, and his manifest contempt for ordinary citizens of any country must keep him from involvement in the growing risk of U.S.-China confrontation.   
  • We are planning a series of online video and panel discussion events, the first of them showcasing famed reporter and author John Pilger’s film, The Coming War on China.

Join the No New New Cold Wars Campaign by emailing Sean Reynolds at joveismad@juno.com or call him at (773) 865-6042

Now is the Time for Nuclear Abolition!

We believe an important space in the Nuclear abolition discourse has been opened by the coming into force of the landmark Treaty for The Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on January 22, 2021. The opening has been further widened by the evident increase in risk from the egregious behavior of the Trump administration with respect to all things nuclear weapons related, beginning with then candidate Trump’s question to a foreign policy advisor in 2016, “If we have these weapons, why can’t we use them?”

This was rapidly followed by his callous disregard for the importance of the Iran nuclear deal, (JCPOA), his complete lack of negotiating savvy in addressing the North Korean nuclear arsenal – and finally in his administration’s complete disregard for the INF, Open Skies and New Start treaties. These actions have enhanced the public’s recognition globally that, whether by design, miscalculation or accident, the probability of a nuclear weapon’s being detonated is no longer a statistical question of whether, but only of when. The presence of the nuclear arsenals, and the severely damaged treaty limits, mean that even with a more savvy president, unless major changes in the international, and especially the US, dialog occur immediately, such an event becomes inevitable. Contributing to reducing that risk is a responsibility we have accepted.

Our first and continuing goal in this campaign is to make that point evident to a public that is able, now, perhaps for the first time since the middle 1980s, to hear this message. The last time we had such an open public ear to the issue, we witnessed the largest nuclear arms reductions in the history of the nuclear age – led in part by one of the staunchest cold war presidents in history – Ronald Reagan.

We believe a moment has arrived that is even more ripe.

We begin with the recognition that our ultimate goal is for the U.S to become a signatory and then a State Party to the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons (TPNW treaty). Realistically, we know that will not, cannot occur in the present political environment. We will need to move public opinion significantly before we can gain that political diplomatic win.

We choose to begin the campaign with what we judge to be the most achievable public policy:  a congressional resolution coupled with a presidential statement that the United States will never be a “First Strike” or First Use country.

On the campaign trail, President Biden stated on more than one occasion that he would be the first president in US history to make that policy statement. And there is more than one bill in Congress addressing this. So, this seems a very real possibility in the near term.

Once that piece of policy is established, we believe it is essential to quickly pivot our attention to the land based (Inter-continental Ballistic Missile) ICBM program, one leg of the US nuclear “triad”. The current ICBM Minuteman III is scheduled to be upgraded over the next 9 years at a near term cost of $100 Billion with a 50 year price tag of $264 Billion over the life of the new weapon,  currently referred to as the GBSD (Ground Based Strategic Deterrent). This upgrading is part of a 30 year $1.7 trillion US nuclear weapon escalation program currently referred to as “modernization”. Our work to disavow the necessity of this one program (GBSD) is the leading edge of a more comprehensive campaign to stop the entire $1.7 trillion program. 

The ICBMs in missile silos do not have a defensive role; they will be the first targets in a nuclear exchange and thus are forced into the extremely destabilizing position of needing to be Launched On Warning (LOW), truly a first use strike force. Once the US has an avowed policy of No First Use, ICBMs become superfluous, and no money or international trust should be wasted on their so-called “modernization.”

As we pursue these two important policies objectives, we will continue to frame our work in an overarching narrative that nuclear weapons do not make us safer – indeed they make us more vulnerable to catastrophe on a global scale. Therefore, the US should revisit its 50-year-old unfulfilled commitment under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which entered into force on 3/5/1970 and is still in effect:  “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”. We further mean to make the case that signing and ratifying the TPNW is the next logical treaty step – but this time the US must back up a signature with real action toward complete global nuclear disarmament.  Our campaign will be working to ever increase public participation in pushing the US government in this direction, working on every step until nuclear weapons are eliminated.

THERE IS NO VACCINE FOR A PLANET WARMING CATASTROPHE

THE U.N. CLIMATE SCIENTISTS PREDICT CATASTROPHIC IMPACTS AS EARLY AS 2040

Last year effectively tied 2016 as the hottest year on record, U.S. and European climate researchers recently announced, as global temperatures continued their relentless rise brought on by the emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. These record warm temperatures fueled deadly heat waves, droughts, intense wildfires and other environmental disasters here in the United States and around the world. This occurred last year despite the development in the second half of the year of La Niña, a global climate phenomenon marked by surface cooling across much of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. According to the European Union report, the global average temperature in 2020 wasabout 2.25 degrees Fahrenheit (1.25 degrees Celsius) warmer than the preindustrial average. 

Scientists Warn us to Take Urgent Action as Planet Warms at an Alarming Rate

Two years ago the climate scientists warned us in a Special Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at current rate, the atmosphere will warm by up to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) by 2040, resulting in catastrophic impacts like inundated coastlines causing massive population relocations, intensified droughts that worsen food shortages, and mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040. Unfortunately, global emissions have continued unabated, rising at 1.4% per year for the past several years. Now, according to a 2019 UN Emissions Gap Report we must reduce global emissions by 7.6 percent per year for the next ten years. In the 2018 IPCC Report, scientists concluded that leaders must reduce global emissions to net-zero emissions by 2050 to stand any chanceof avoiding the most severe impacts of this climate crisis. They also concluded that even faster reductions in global emission to reach net-zero emissions in 2040 would result in a higher probability of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius than reaching that target in 2050.

In the weeks and months ahead, we have our best opportunity for significant progress in controlling the climate crisis. President-elect Biden has selected key cabinet and staff people who have an established records in working on the transition to renewable sources of energy. During his campaign, Biden proposed a strong climate plan; we support its focus on transportation, electricity, building efficiency, creation of millions of good paying jobs, and its prioritization of climate justice. But it will not get us to the aggressive emission reduction targets above in time to avoid catastrophic impacts. Our purpose is not to critique the plan but to recommend six additional actions to enhance the plans’ ability to meet the aggressive timelines required to protect the health, safety and livelihoods of people across the planet.

Our Recommendations for Biden’s Climate Action Plan are as follows:

Accelerate the Timeline:  During the campaign, President-elect Biden pledged to ensure that the U.S. achieve a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050. Within its first 100 days, the Biden Administration must create an ambitious national climate action plan that achieves the net-zero emissions goal as fast as possible, and ideally by 2040 to reduce the probability of catastrophic climate change. 

Support Carbon Fee and Dividend: As a single action, placing a fee on carbon at its source and returning the funds to families on a monthly basis as in the congressional bill “Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act”, HR 763, would have the most efficient impact in decreasing fossil fuel use and carbon emissions.

Stop Subsidizing Fossil Fuels: The Federal Government must remove subsidies from the fossil fuel industries. The most conservative estimate in direct subsidies is $20 billion annually, but this does not include discounted cost for fossil fuel extraction on federal lands or indirect tax breaks. These funds need to be itemized and diverted to support the implementation of the National Climate Plan and the new solar and wind infrastructure needed in all 50 states. During his campaign, Biden pledged to work with G20 countries to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and to lead by example at home by cutting U.S. fossil fuel subsides in his first year and to re-direct those resources to invest in clean energy. We strongly support this pledge and urge the President to include it in his Climate Action Plan.

Incentivize the Power Sector to Transition to Renewable Energy: Reducing and eliminating coal burning power plants is among the most impactful actions the Biden Administration can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the recent past, we have idled 145 coal burning units. As a result, coal burning emissions are down from 31% in 2017 to 20% today.  There are plans to idle another 71 coal units within the next two years. But, as utility companies close down these coal units, they are replacing the majority with gas-fired stations with operating-life expectancies of 30 to 40 years. The Biden team must work with Congress to incentivize utility companies to replace coal with renewable energy, rather than continuing to rely on polluting fossil fuels, like natural gas, which contributes to climate change. Biden can do this by taking immediate action to implement his campaign pledge to reform and extend tax incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy and establish a clean energy standard for utilities and grid operators.

Eliminate any Non-essential Plastics: Eleven million tons of petroleum resourced plastics enter the oceans each year (the equivalent of dumping a full garbage truck of plastic in the ocean every minute of every day for one year). This figure is predicted to triple over the next 20 years. Tiny plastic particles are now pervasive in the air we breathe and in our waterways. They account for 4.2 million premature deaths globally each year. The fossil fuel industry is increasing plastic production to offset the loss of revenues they are experiencing. Uncontrolled plastic contamination and pollution is a violation of both the Clean Air Act and The Clean Water Act and the EPA has ignored this serious issue for the past four years. Today, nearly 8% of annual global oil consumption is associated with plastics, according to the World Economic Forum. If this reliance on plastics persists, plastics will account for 20% of all oil consumption by 2050. (Brooke Bauman, How Plastics Contribute to Climate Change,).

Declare a Climate Emergency: This would allow the President to work directly with organizations and corporations with specific expertise to quickly develop technologies and capabilities not presently available to more readily transition to renewable energy. The following are specific areas of need:

  • Home Heating. Presently 90% plus of private homes or apartments are heated by either natural gas or oil. We need a reliable carbon free alternative like electric heating pumps that can easily be installed on boilers and hot water tanks and enable utility companies to replace fossil fuel service to many qualifying customers.
  • Carbon Capture Capability. Present carbon capture capabilities proposed by the petroleum industry will not reduce carbon emissions. Oil companies propose transporting captured carbon back to drilling locations to produce more natural gas or oil. This proposed process will only produce more methane or carbon emissions.  We must not divert scarce financial resources to support this misguided approach. We need a major initiative to explore natural carbon capture such as regenerative farming methods and enhanced development of our natural resources.
  • Fast Rail, Air travel and Large Trucks. The U.S. is behind other industrial countries in fast rail options. Large truck transport is a major source of CO2 emissions and subsidies should be available for further development and production of electric truck transport. During his campaign, Biden committed to ensure that the U.S. “has the cleanest, safest, and fastest rail system in the world – for both passengers and freight.” We urge President Biden to include in his Climate Action Plan immediate actions to achieve this goal. Also, incentives should be available for further research and development of the use of electric energy for air transport, which is showing some feasibility.
  • Military Impact on Carbon Emissions. The U.S. military is the largest single user of petroleum products, with over 900 bases and a vast amount of heavy equipment. To their credit they have worked on reducing their carbon emissions but an independent commission must review what is needed and make recommendations to achieve substantially more emissions reductions, including downsizing.

Summary

Every year we are still pumping 40 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere globally. Climate scientists now give us ten years to make significant progress in reducing carbon emissions and until mid-century or sooner to reach net-zero carbon emissions to avoid unstoppable catastrophic impacts. These six recommendations would strengthen Biden’s climate plan to help achieve these goals. The Biden team and our Illinois congressional representatives must lead by improving public education on climate science, emphasizing the urgent need for action by all levels of government, companies and citizens to respond to this climate crisis.

Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson, host of the November Climate meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, has already increased the UK commitment to reducing climate emissions by 69% by 2030.  His plan and leadership are based on science and on the understanding of urgency needed to change the emission commitments made by governments and corporations. 

Local environmental and climate working groups must meet with our bipartisan lawmakers from Illinois to stress the urgent need for climate legislation to protect communities in the U.S. and around world and our planet from ruin. There will be no vaccine to protect us when the global temperatures exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius and threaten lives, livelihoods and ecosystems around the globe.

Written and Submitted by:

Jack Kelly, co-chair of the CAPA Climate Group
Catherine Buntin, co-chair of the CAPA Climate Group

The Climate Crisis: A Plea and a Path Forward

An Open Letter to Governor J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Lawmakers

See it published by The Chicago Tribune

A growing number of states are adopting sweeping new climate legislation that will result in eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by or before 2050. These states are California, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington and New York. Political leaders in these states realize that because of the devastating impacts of climate change they must transform their entire economies to pollution-free renewable energy as soon as possible. 

Unfortunately, Illinois lags behind with only 8% of our electric energy coming from renewable sources and a goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025. As our new Governor, we know you understand that this is a major shortfall in prior political leadership in Illinois. The most recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC Special Report states that we have just 10 years to reduce our carbon emissions by 45% to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global climate change. Recently, climate scien- tists announced that we must reduce our global carbon emissions by 7.6% every year for the next ten years to achieve the necessary reduced emissions targets. 

Given the magnitude of the problem, piecemeal efforts will not achieve the critical goals. We therefore ask for your leadership in developing an ambitious, holistic, and comprehensive plan for Illinois to reduce our carbon emissions while transitioning to renewable energy. 

The following summarizes the key components of such a holistic plan: 

Pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA). This legislation will put Illinois on a path to electrifying the transportation sector, reducing our energy consumption, and will be an important first step in enabling our state to be powered with 100% renewable energy by 2050. It will also create thousands of new, well-paying jobs, particularly in disadvantaged communities. With your help, this legislation must be passed in this session of the legislature. We now have an added incentive to do so as a result of President Trump’s recent decision to increase renewable energy pricing on the Federal grid and provide a financial bailout to fossil fuels. As you know, CEJA contains a provision that allows Illinois to establish its own grid; this will enable Illinois to bypass these punitive price increases on renewable energy and nuclear power. 

Stop all further development of oil/gas pipelines in Illinois. Energy Transfer Partners has recently requested that the Illinois Commerce Commission, ICC, approve two new pumping stations that would allow double the volume of oil transported through existing pipelines. This means more risk of spills across Illinois land and waterways while promoting the sale of more fossil fuels that must be kept in the ground. We need policy to make clear that Illinois is not supportive of any further fossil fuel development. 

Divest fossil fuel holdings from our Illinois State Pension Plans. 350.org asserts that it is “a moral imperative” to divest from the dirty energy that is significantly degrading the climate, and to reinvest in climate solutions. Further, fossil fuel divestment is good investment strategy. Funds will benefit by switching from assets that will inevitably remain locked underground for new, state-of-the-art industries and technologies. 

De-carbonize using Illinois natural resources. We can ensure funding for our struggling forest preserves in Illinois which represent significant carbon sinks. According to the 2018 Illinois Forest Action Plan, Illinois forests sequester 343 million tons of carbon. Here in Cook County alone, we have 356 locations totaling 70 thousand acres of forest and wetland preserves that play an important role in decarbonization. And there are 16 such county preserves in Illinois. Investments in regenerative farming to ensure we take advantage of our vast agriculture acreage in Illinois is a great opportunity for us. The 2018 IPCC report states that our natural resources well managed can sequester 15 to 20% of our annual emissions. 

Establish a timetable to transition Illinois off nuclear power. We presently have 11 nuclear reactors operating in Illinois providing 52% of our electric energy. These reactors initially had a 40-year life expectancy. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NRC, increased that life expectancy by 20 years. Half of these reactors are now in the expanded life expectancy stage. Maintenance costs continue to increase every year — a major reason why nuclear power is no longer cost competitive with renewable sources of energy. These aging reactors have also become more prone to serious failures as they get older, while at the same time they create more nuclear waste. The cost to replace these reactors is exorbitant (about $10 billion each) and it requires 12 to 15 years to bring one to market. Existing nuclear plants will of necessity be used to provide energy as we increase the renewable energy infrastructure. But we should not spend one more public dollar to maintain these plants for Exelon. The public deserves a logical timetable to phase them out one by one as they become less safe and as we have the renewable sources made available for Illinois. 

Pass the referendum for a Fair Tax in 2020. We are grateful for your leadership on moving the Fair Tax initiative and strongly support you in making this a top priority for Illinois. It takes substantial financial resources to implement and sustain a comprehensive renewable energy strategy. Passage of this Fair Tax Initiative will bring $3.4 billion dollars annually to Illinois, which will help fund our energy transformation. 

These collective actions would accelerate our transition to renewable sources of energy and reduce our annual emissions sooner rather than later. Piecemeal actions will not protect current and future generations from an increasingly storm-ridden, flood-and fire-prone world. With political will, Illinois can become a leader in addressing our climate crisis, a model for other states, and demonstrate accountable governing. We are all in this together, and look forward to working with you to make it happen. Thank you for your leadership. 

Sincerely,

Climate Update: The Opposition We Face and Recommendations on The Path Forward

CAPA Climate Logo long

Last year the growing impacts of climate change hit the United States hard. Wildfires scorched California and storms pounded the East Coast. The South saw record heat and the Midwest unprecedented flooding.

2019 was the second warmest year on record and the last five years were the warmest five years ever recorded.

2020 is starting off even worse particularly for Australia. Australians are experiencing a humanitarian catastrophic. Wild fires have already scorched nineteen million acres, killed over one billion of their native animals, destroyed over 5,000 homes and killed 30 people.

This should be the moment when governments finally begin urgent efforts to stave off the climate crisis. Unfortunately, that is not the rational response we are getting. In fact, the Australian anti-environmental government seems utterly unmoved, as environmental nightmares become reality.

In the United States we are seeing a similar reality. Instead of President Trump declaring a global climate emergency and calling on Congress to work together to establish an effective national climate strategy to address this crisis, he has continued his destructive actions to weaken our environment regulations. In the past 90 days there are three more shameful examples of these actions:  

  • On November 4th 2019, President Trump notified the international community that the United States will officially withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. This move will leave the country that is world’s second largest overall emitter of greenhouse gasses abandoning global efforts to combat climate change instead of taking a leadership role to address this global climate crisis.
  • On January 9th 2020, President Trump announced his most brazen action yet to reduce environmental regulations on clean air, water and the environment by revising the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act. The proposed revisions to this landmark legislation will impact nearly every major project that receives federal funding: pipelines, power plants, bridges and highways. The new rules would narrow the range of projects that require assessment and impose strict, new and shorter deadlines for completing these studies.

It is important to recall why this legislation was signed into law just over 50 years ago. Demands for greater oversight occurred when an oil tanker spilled three million gallons of crude oil off the coast of Santa Barbara California in 1969. We do not want to turn back the clock to pre-Santa Barbara.

  • On New Year’s eve, December 31st 2019 (a day when few people followed the news), President Trump directed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to introduce place a new rule that will require renewable energy (solar, wind) and nuclear power to be priced higher in the wholesale electricity market and to be removed from the grid.  This decision will ensure that highly polluting energy sources such as coal and natural gas that can bid at a lower price will replace carbon free energy.

This decision will undermine state initiatives to increase renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind as well as nuclear power.  It will also result in a consumer rate increase of $2.4 billion dollars per year nationally and cost the utility customers of Illinois a 60% increase in their utility rates.

These actions to weaken environmental regulations, divert accessibility of renewables, and increase pricing on clean renewable energy are just the latest in nearly 100 environmental rollbacks that Trump has announced in the past three years. Some of these include weakening protection for endangered species, lowering limits on the release of the highly potent methane greenhouse gas, loosening offshore drilling safety rules and canceling the automobile emissions standards that were put in place by the Obama administration. Unfortunately, there are many others.

Let’s be honest, prospects for a clean energy future are not looking good currently. However, giving up is not an option. So, what must we do?  We must find a path forward. 

The Path Forward

As environmentally concerned citizens, we cannot realistically expect to meet the United Nations IPCC targets to reduce carbon emissions by a minimum of 45% by 2030 to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change as long as Donald Trump is president.  In November, we must elect a president who is a national and global champion of the environment to address this climate crisis. We must do whatever we can to achieve this objective.

  • While Trump has introduced over one hundred actions that would weaken our environmental regulations, it is important to note that 70 of these actions have been challenged with lawsuits in the courts. So far, the Trump Administration has won only four of them. 
    We fully expect a court challenge on Trump’s announcement to weaken regulations on the National Environmental Policy.  We must provide financial assistance whenever possible to the organizations or state agencies that are establishing these lawsuits. Some of these organizations include: Earth Justice, The Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and League of Conservation Voters (LCV).
  • We have some good news for the people of Illinois on the Trump Administration’s decision to remove renewable energy and nuclear power from the federal grid and by so doing significantly increase renewable energy and nuclear power pricing. We expect the Legislature in Springfield to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act in the first quarter of this year. It contains a provision that allows Illinois to establish its own energy grid that will be run by the Illinois IPA. We will no longer be using the federal energy grid and will not be subject to the punitive price increases imposed by Trump on renewable energy and nuclear power.  We will not be increasing our energy costs by 60%. We will be reviewing plans to pass this legislation with our elected representatives in the weeks ahead.
  • We must continue to stay engaged in monitoring the actions of our national political leaders on environmental actions. We must encourage the development and support of a comprehensive national environmental strategy like “The Green New Deal”.

We also need to challenge our political leaders when they have failed to stand up to the bullying tactics of President Trump, Mitch McConnell and Senator Inhofe who recently rejected the efforts of democratic leaders to include two significant renewable energy initiatives in the National Budget/ Defense Authorization Act for 2020.

  • Our primary focus during the coming months will be to get a comprehensive energy strategy passed in Springfield Illinois. We must then work to implement this strategy in the North Suburban communities of Chicago. We have outlined the details of this holistic state environmental strategy in the attached open letter to Governor Pritzker. We will give you more detailed information on how we can all work together in the weeks ahead to make Illinois one of the leading states in making the transformation to clean renewable energy.
  • Lawrence D. Fink, founder and chief executive of Black Rock, a $7 trillion investment firm, recently stated that his firm would make investment decisions solely with environmental sustainability as a core goal. In our divestment discussions with large financial banks, such as J. P. Morgan Chase, we will emphasize this important directive from Mr. Fink, as we encourage Chase and other financial institutions to divest from fossil fuels.

If you are interested in becoming more active in working with the CAPA Climate Group on these issues please email Catherine Buntin (mbuntin@yahoo.com) or Jack Kelly (kellyjack@comcast.net) Thank you.     

CAPA Climate Group
Catherine Buntin and Jack Kelly
Co-chairs

TAKE ACTION – SOME ACTUAL, SANE LEGISLATION

From Peace Action National | By Jon Rainwater  Posted November 7, 2019 In CongressNuclear Weapons

Trump has plans to spend nearly $2 TRILLION over the next 30 years on unneeded and unnecessary nuclear weapons and delivery systems. This makes no sense. This is insane.

That’s nearly $100 million wasted every day for thirty years on weapons we are supposed to be getting rid of. To put that amount in perspective, you could instead spend that money to send nearly nine million people to a four-year university or hire 18 million teachers for a year!

Will you write Congress today? Ask them to stop this crazy spending on nuclear weapons.

Ask your members of Congress to support the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act from Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). The SANE Act is a bill that would save taxpayers approximately $100 billion over ten years by scaling down, delaying, or canceling a variety of obsolete nuclear weapons programs. By helping to focus our resources on the real threats of the 21st century instead of on Cold War relics, the SANE Act would help bolster our economic and national security.

Some of the targeted cuts include:

  • Cut the current fleet of nuclear submarines from 12 operational at sea to eight operational at sea ($3 billion savings)
  • Delay the purchase of new nuclear submarines ($17 billion savings)
  • Reduce the number of ICBMs ($6 billion savings)
  • End the nuclear missions of air bombers (up to $17 billion savings)
  • Delay the new bomber program ($18 billion savings)
  • Cancel new, wasteful nuclear weapons facilities ($15 billion savings)

Peace Action formed 62 years ago originally as The Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy. The SANE Act’s name is a nod to all those years working for a world free from the scourge of nuclear weapons – and now we need to keep it going.

Please contact your members of Congress today to cosponsor the SANE Act.

The SANE Act has been introduced at a critical time for the nuclear budget issue in Congress. As the government struggles to balance the national budget, the necessity of Cold War-era nuclear programs needs to come into question. Just think what we could do with the $100 billion we could cut from nuclear weapons. Our communities desperately need those resources to invest in jobs, infrastructure, and education.

Help us take the next step on the road to a safer, saner future. Please write to your members of Congress today and urge them to support the SANE Act.

Join the Fight for a Green New Deal!

By: Jacopo De Marinis, CAPA Climate Fellow, Summer 2019

You might have heard about the 2018 report on climate change released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It found that, if we do not keep warming of global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees celsius above pre industrial temperatures, the worst effects of climate change will not be averted. This will cause a massive loss of human life, severely damage the biodiversity of our ecosystems, and damage vital economic infrastructure, costing the United States and other countries trillions of dollars annually.

These disastrous events induced by climate change will spark humanitarian disasters, forcing the dislocation of millions who will live in constant fear of the next climatic disaster. Undoubtedly, the upheaval caused by the impending climate crisis will generate immense social and political unrest as existing patterns of social and economic inequality are exacerbated by the devastating environmental changes that will grip the world. This future will soon be irreversible. 

But we must not lose hope. 

In February of 2019, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey introduced a resolution, an idea, that has the power to change everything. An idea that would even the playing field for millions of people by enhancing economic and social equality while ensuring that Earth will still sustain life for our children and grandchildren. An idea that would strengthen democracy and freedom for all citizens of the United States, no long held down by the wealthy elite and corrupt politicians. An idea that is exactly what we need: a Green New Deal (GND). And yes, it is a bold vision of a better world. Bold, but not unrealizable… 

The GND consists of three parts: 1) Ending the United States’ economy’s reliance on fossil fuel based energy sources, 2) transitioning to a renewable energy source based economy by 2050, and 3) using this transformational shift as an opportunity to enhance social and economic equality for everyone, especially the poor, people of color, and indigenous communities to ensure a just transition, led by those most affected. It is a bold vision, but many citizens of the United States have already stepped to spearhead the fight, including me. 

In Summer 2019, I participated in an advocacy internship program organized by Chicago Area Peace Action (CAPA). CAPA’s main goals are centered on foreign policy (such as ending the endless wars in the Middle East and throughout the world) and climate justice. This particular summer, the CAPA climate justice team was focused on promoting the GND. We, like many, were alarmed by the doomsday predictions put forth by the IPCC and were determined to do something about it. 

So, we drafted a letter to the Illinois Congressional Delegation urging our representatives to support the GND. And, to illustrate the strong societal support behind the GND, we started building a coalition of concerned organizations that had a stake in the GND. These organizations ranged from places of faith to refugee organizations to environmental advocacy groups… a diverse group reflective of the intersectional nature of this progressive, transformative initiative. 

While we recruited the majority of these organizations via computer, building a coalition for what might turn out to be the most significant push for a long-awaited change wasn’t as easy as just pushing a button and hoping for a signature; it required active campaigning. We went to networking events, attended by business owners, climate scientists, politicians, and social activists, always with a petition in hand, urging congressional leaders like Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi and Representative Sean Casten to cosponsor the GND. We made constituents aware of their representatives’ lack of support of the GND at town hall meetings, growing more knowledgeable about the urgent need for a GND. We met with experts and coalitions working for the same goal, and as a united front, attended forums on climate change. Leaders like Tom Skilling and Dick Durbin were there, but their support was still omitted for the comprehensive Green New Deal resolution. 

I would say that the most exciting event was a forum for Economic Development held in a local pizzeria. Aside from eating amazing Italian food, I was excited to get Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Commissioner for District 12 Bridget Degnen’s signatures in support of the Green New Deal! 

But it wasn’t easy. Some politicians, yes, even Democrats, were reluctant to lend their support to the GND due to concerns about the cost, as well as hesitancy to support such a “radical” resolution. And telling them that we DO have the money to finance a GND (after diverting some funds currently flowing into the pockets of defense contractors and the US’s oversized war machine) didn’t seem to make much a difference. One politician, Rodney Davis, representative of Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, still hasn’t responded to me about setting up a meeting, even with my having repeatedly contacted his office. 

Despite some disappointments, our perseverance bore fruit; we successfully compiled a list of 50 progressive organizations eager to sign onto our coalition letter which we will present to our Illinois Congressional Delegation. 

But there is still much to be done. 

The urgency of the problem is apparent in Greta Thunberg’s voice as she begs world leaders at the past UN Conference on Climate Change to treat the impending climate crisis as it is: a catastrophe. The world admires her boldness and courage for several days, and then it’s back to business as usual. While her determination helps motivate protests for environmental reform, nobody realizes how important it is that we all fight as Greta Thunberg is for environmental justice. She cannot bear the burden of saving the planet alone, and we all must find that inner courage to sacrifice for the common good as Greta has. 

All of us must take an active stance to force radical, but vital, climate reform, in any way possible. I believe that the GND is one of the best proposals yet put forth to combat climate change as its comprehensive goals tackle the underlying cause of climate change: the divisive, profit driven nature of the current economic system that has left so many behind. But in any way we choose to fight, we must fight like our lives depend on it. Because they do.

14 Group Coalition Letter Urging Congress Prevent War with Iran

Thanks to the 14 advocacy groups that signed this letter urging Congress prevent unauthorized war with Iran! It was delivered to Sens Durbin and Duckworth on June 24th, 2019.

Help us spread the word by doing the following:

  1. Download the letter and send it to your Rep and two Senators
  2. Call your to Rep and two Senators and urge they cosponsor S1039 and HR 2354 to prevent war with Iran
  3. Share this page on social media and your local paper
  4. If you are interested in leading a local sign on letter to your Rep and Senators, please email me directly at hassan@chipeaceaction.org

Thank you for helping us create a more sane foreign policy.

Hassan El-Tayyab, Policy and Organizing Director at Chicago Area Peace Action

June 24th, 2019

Dear Members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation,  

We write to request your support for S.1039/H.R.2354, the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act of 2019, introduced by Senator Udall and Representative Eshoo. These resolutions would prevent funding from being appropriated in the event of an unauthorized U.S. military intervention in Iran.

Congressional opposition to U.S. military intervention in Iran could not come at a more urgent time. The Trump administration has moved the U.S. into a war posture with Iran through increased hostile rhetoric, crippling economic sanctions, and by using the routine deployment of a battleship in the region to threaten “unrelenting force”. Recently, National Security Advisor John Bolton was reported to be overseeing the revision of war plans to send upwards of 120,000 troops and 120 additional warships to the Middle East with the intention of provoking war with Iran.

Congress must not be idle witnesses in a repetition of the playbook for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Trump Administration must be reminded that it is constrained by a lack of Congressional authorization for war, and the fact that the 2001 AUMF can’t be twisted to give a green light for launching military action against Iran.

As tensions continue to rise, it is vital that Congress preemptively assert its constitutional war authority and stop the Administration from launching a disastrous war against Iran. We urge you to cosponsor S.1039 and H.R.2354 before it’s too late.

Sincerely,

Addie Wyatt Center for Nonviolence Training

Anti War and Racism Effort

American Friends Service Committee – Chicago

CAPA DePaul

CAPA Loyola

Chicago Area Peace Action

Chicago Committee Against War and Racism (CCAWR)

Just Foreign Policy

Neighbors for Peace

RootsAction

The Poor Peoples Campaign

Veterans Against the War & Iraq Veterans Against the War

Voices for Creative Non-Violence

World Beyond War


15 Group Coalition letter Urging Congress to Prevent War With Venezuela

Thanks to the 15 advocacy groups that signed this letter urging Congress prevent unauthorized war with Venezuela! It was delivered to Sens Durbin and Duckworth on June 24th, 2019.

Help us spread the word by doing the following:

  1. Download the letter and send it to your Rep and two Senators
  2. Call your to Rep and two Senators and urge they cosponsor SJRes11 and HR1004 to prevent war with Venezuela
  3. Share this page on social media and your local paper
  4. If you are interested in leading a local sign on letter to your Rep and Senators, please email me directly at hassan@chipeaceaction.org

Thank you for helping us create a more sane foreign policy.

Hassan El-Tayyab, Policy and Organizing Director at Chicago Area Peace Action

June 24, 2019

Dear Members of the Illinois Delegation,

We write to request your support for S.J.Res.11 and H.R.1004 – Prohibiting Unauthorized Military Action in Venezuela Resolution of 2019 – introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Representative Cicilline of Rhode Island.

Congress’s adoption of S.JRes.11 and H.R.1004 could not come at a more urgent time. U.S. officials in charge of policy toward Venezuela, such as Elliott Abrams, have pursued a strategy provocation and confrontation. In violation of the Charter of the Organization of the American States, and the Charter of the United Nations, and therefore treaty obligations of the United States, President Trump has publicly declared that all options, including U.S. military force, are on the table. Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe recounted that in 2017 President Trump privately argued that Venezuela is the “country we should be going to war with. They have all that oil and they’re right on our back door.”

National Security Advisor John Bolton has publicly stated that “in this administration, we’re not afraid to use the word Monroe Doctrine,” has clutched documents referring to a proposal to deploy “5,000 troops to Colombia,” and has argued that “it will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.” Meanwhile, Secretary Pompeo explicitly endorsed U.S. military action recently stating: “Military action is possible.  If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do” in Venezuela.

We applaud Congress for voting to reassert its sole authority over war and peace under Article I of the Constitution and working to bring an end to the unauthorized U.S.-Saudi military campaign in Yemen with the historic passage of the Yemen War Powers Resolution. S.J.Res.11 and H.R.1004 both invoke the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

We call on you to again ensure that Congressional war powers be exercised in the case of Venezuela through Congress’s adoption of S.J.Res.11 and H.R.1004. Administration officials and members of Congress who seek to involve the United States military in a regime change effort in Venezuela have a constitutional obligation to present their case to both chambers of Congress and have the people’s duly elected representatives carefully debate and vote on whether to authorize any such proposal.

Sincerely,

About Face: Veterans Against the War & Iraq Veterans Against the War (Chicago)

Addie Wyatt Center for Nonviolence Training

American Friends Service Committee – Chicago

AWARE of Champaign Urbana

CAPA DePaul

CAPA Loyola

Chicago Committee Against War and Racism

Chicago Committee for Justice in Ayotzinapa

Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America – CRLN

Clean Count Cook County

Just Foreign Policy

Neighbors For Peace, Evanston/Chicago

Students for Justice in Palestine

Veterans For Peace – Chicago Chapter

Voices for Creative Nonviolence

Congress Can End the Yemen War This Summer, Despite Trump

By Hassan El-Tayyab, Policy and Organizing Director at Chicago Area Peace Action

Published in Truthout June 8th, 2019

On April 16, President Trump vetoed one of the most historically significant pieces of legislation to emerge from Congress during his presidency: S.J.Res.7, the Yemen War Powers Resolution. This bill would end U.S. military involvement in the Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) disastrous war on Yemen. A veto override vote in the Senate a few weeks later passed with a simple majority of 53-45, but did not achieve the 67 vote supermajority needed to overturn the veto. Though the effort failed, we learned something important in the process: We now know in unequivocal terms that a bipartisan majority in Congress wants to end the U.S. military role in a war that has already claimed the lives of 85,000 children under the age of five due to hunger and disease.

Congress has another chance to end the war this summer during consideration of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and Defense Appropriations bills. These annual military spending bills offer Congress one of the quickest and most straightforward ways to defund the war and condemn this military campaign.

Through the NDAA and Defense Appropriations, Congress can prohibit intelligence sharing and logistics support activities for the war in Yemen; suspend direct commercial sales licenses for the maintenance and sustainment of fighter aircraft used in Saudi-UAE offensive operations in Yemen; and even stop domestic training of Saudi and UAE fighter jet mechanics. Importantly, they could suspend the transfer and sale of weapons ― something many experts believe could be the best chance for creating the leverage needed for lasting peace in Yemen.

Scott Paul, Oxfam America’s humanitarian policy lead stated, “The people of Yemen and the parties to the conflict are watching closely and the messages US leaders send have the power to save lives… Congress must act to keep up the pressure, and not let President Trump’s cynical, transactional and heartless brand of politics define America’s role in the world. Now Congress must act to end arms sales to all parties fighting in this brutal conflict.”

Consideration of our national defense budget comes at a critical time for Yemen. In its fifth year, the war has helped create the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with roughly 14 million people at risk of famine. Aid agencies have described Yemen as the worst place in the world to be a child; a child under the age of five dies every 12 minutes as a result of the conflict. More than one million people in Yemen have been infected with cholera, with an alarming 10,000 new cases each week. Why is this? The Saudi-UAE coalition has imposed a de facto blockade on Yemen, impeding the flow of food, fuel and medicine, pushing the prices of essential goods out of reach for millions. An estimated 230,000 people will die as a result of the war if conditions don’t change by the end of 2019.

There is precedent for Congress successfully using the NDAA and Defense Appropriations bills to defund and end wars. During the Vietnam War, members of Congress expressed their dissent through several defunding bills, including the 1971 Congress Cooper-Church Amendment, which prohibited the use of funds to send troops into Cambodia and the 1973 Case-Church Amendment on a State Department appropriations bill, which prevented funds from being used in Southeast Asia.

Last year, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) introduced an amendment to the 2019 Defense Appropriations bill that would have cut off military aid for the Saudi-UAE coalition. Unfortunately, it never came up for a vote, but a majority may support a similar effort this time around after several successful bipartisan votes in 2018 and 2019 on Yemen war powers resolutions that would have achieved similar policy objectives.   

The Trump administration recently announced plans to use emergency powers embedded in the Arms Export Control Act to push through an $8.1 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia without congressional authorization. This move suggests Trump fears a lack of votes necessary to approve these transfers.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he would “pursue all appropriate legislative and other means to nullify these and any planned ongoing sales should the administration move forward in this manner.”

Yemen-born activist and In These Times contributor Shireen Al-Adeimi commented, “Trump has shown a complete disregard for the Constitution by vetoing Congress’ bill to end the war and now attempting to bypass Congress for additional weapons sales. He has continued to prioritize profit over human lives and US laws, and Congress has the responsibility and the legal authority to take control.”

Despite what Trump thinks, Congress has the power to end U.S. participation in the Yemen war in the coming weeks. Through consideration of NDAA and Defense Appropriations, and even legal action, Congress can end our complicity in war crimes and send a clear signal to the executive branch that unconstitutional U.S. participation in the Saudi-UAE coalition’s military campaign in Yemen must end. The question is, will they?