Friday, March 04, 2016

Clean Power Plan stay spurs enviros into action

by Elizabeth Shogren

It’s hard to overstate the high that environmentalists were feeling as this year began. President Obama had finally rejected the Keystone XL pipeline that they had fought against for years. New Environmental Protection Agency rules for reining in greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants had helped Obama lead the world to a new international climate change agreement in Paris in December. As icing on the cake, the Interior Department in January surprised environmentalists and announced a moratorium on leasing federal coal. “We had come off of the best six months ever,” says Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president for government affairs of the League of Conservation Voters.

Then last month, the Supreme Court delivered the movement an unexpected defeat by staying the Clean Power Plan. The blow showed environmentalists just how fragile their victories are, but it also re-energized their efforts to influence the coming elections. “When you contrast the incredible progress we’ve had and the stay, it does underscore that the stakes couldn’t be higher,” Sittenfeld adds.

The group’s rank-and-file supporters apparently understand those stakes. Online donations to the League of Conservation Voters started pouring in the evening the stay was announced. Within 24 hours, the organization had received $100,000 – making it one of the largest days for online contributions in the group’s history, Sittenfeld says.

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