We can fight environmental rollbacks

While Congress has had trouble getting major legislation passed, Trump’s agencies have been successful at weakening protections on our environment. What can we do about that, when we don’t vote for the people who run these agencies? Trump’s agencies can rewrite regulations without Congress signing off, to let polluters off the hook and add big loopholes. And that’s exactly what they are doing.

First, a quick explainer: Congress makes the laws, but many of them require agencies to figure out how to meet the law. Agencies define the rules and who needs to follow them, and package this into a regulation. The agencies are also responsible for keeping their regulations updated against new threats (ex: taking into account a new pollution source like fracking).

The good news is that Trump’s regulations can be reversed by a future administration, as long as Congress doesn’t change the laws themselves. This is one place we come in. We need to make sure Congress doesn’t weaken environmental laws under Trump’s watch.

While some terrible environmental bills have passed the House, we expect most future environmental attacks in Congress will be hidden. They’ll lurk in spending bills, as riders on unrelated bills, and even in the upcoming infrastructure proposal. And then there’s Trump’s budget wishlist which slashes EPA funding by 1/3, eliminates over 50 EPA programs and does other terrible things outlined here.

We will be calling our Members of Congress at various critical points in time and reminding them: ZERO policy riders that weaken environmental laws in an infrastructure bill or other must-pass legislation like the budget.

We can also defend the environment by submitting comments to the agencies as they try to water down the protections that keep our air and water clean. Learn key tips on how to do that.

Mark your calendars for our August all-group meeting!
Sunday Aug 20th
Noe Valley Library
Register now!

Stand Up SF actions:

  • Call Senators Feinstein and Harris and urge them to reject S.951, the Regulatory Accountability Act, which changes long-standing rules on how federal agencies regulate everything from food safety to toxic chemicals to equipment failure at nuclear power plants—things that keep us all safe. Among a host of other terrible things, this bill would require agencies across the board to adopt regulations that are cheapest for corporations, rather than ones that maximize benefits to the American public. (more background & scripts)
  • Research has linked chlorpyrifos to nervous system damage, autism, ADHD, and lower IQs in young children whose mothers were exposed during pregnancy. S.1624, the Protect Children, Farmers, and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act of 2017 would BAN chlorpyrifos, overriding EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to cancel the scheduled ban of the toxic pesticide. Call Sen Feinstein and ask her to support this bill.
  • The House is pushing a bill that would give greater control of California’s water to the Trump administration. The bill would prevent California from using new scientific data to manage our water supply, and would set us back decades, rolling back our progress in solving our water issues. It would bypass California’s water laws, flout the Endangered Species Act, and disregard some of our most critical environmental reviews. Sign Sen Feinstein’s petition to stop this bill.

Actions with other groups:

  • Mon 8/14, 6:30-8:30pm: Showing Up for Racial Justice SF general meeting. SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. Learn more and sign up.
  • Tue 8/15, noon: MoveOn is hosting a Resistance Recess Speak-Out at Sen. Feinstein’s office, with invited Senate staff. Open mic to share your personal stories, questions, demands and concerns. Bring cards and letters to
    Senator Feinstein that will be hand-delivered to staff. Get creative with signs. Musicians are encouraged to come. This is part of a National Action! Sign up.

How to submit comments to Trump’s agencies

Trump has been successfully undermining our environmental protections. He has been doing that not by passing new laws (although, as outlined in this post, we are getting ready for that), but by watering down the regulations that require businesses to meet the laws.

One way we can defend the environment is by submitting comments to the agencies that are modifying the regulations that keep our air and water clean.

By law, the agency has to consider public comments. I always wondered what effect comments have, and now I have found out, thanks to a group of former EPA employees who’ve banded together, called Save EPA. They wrote a resistance manual, A Practical Guide For Resisting The Trump De-regulatory Agenda, with practical tips on how to submit comments, and what happens with those comments.

I was encouraged by what they have to tell us, and wanted to pass on these key points:

  • The comments gathered form an “administrative record” that can be used by a court to overturn an agency’s decision to roll back or weaken a rule. This alone is good reason to submit a comment.
  • Public comments can show that the regulation under attack has strong public support. Trump appointees may not care much about public opinion, but members of Congress do.
  • If a hearing to roll back a regulation is being held near us, we should use it as a rallying point and to get press and public attention.
  • The more of us that comment, the more we make clear that there are political consequences for taking away our protections.
  • Agencies don’t have a free hand in making or rolling back regulations. They must comply with the laws authorizing the regulation and governing the rulemaking process.
  • Federal law requires an agency to collect and analyze scientific, technical, economic and other information relevant to the rule, and make decisions that make sense in light of that info. If they don’t do this, their decisions can be overturned by a court.
  • The agency must consider all the public comments it receives in making final decisions about a rule, and respond to all significant comments in issuing its final rule. Significant comments are those that make substantive points, such as providing new information, making arguments for how and why the proposal should be changed, or pointing out flawed decision-making.
  • If the agency fails to respond to a good point you’ve made — a well-supported argument— the final rule may be vulnerable to a lawsuit, likely from a public interest group.
  • We may be able to add political heft to our comments by asking our Members of Congress to comment and/or make a public statement along the same lines.

Save EPA now alerts us when comment periods open on rule changes, so we’ll know when we need to take action.

We are the Americans who saved health insurance

I hope you saw the NYT article, The Americans Who Saved Health Insurance. It gives credit to the citizens (us!), the organizers (IndivisibleGuide! Stand Up SF!), and the experts who fought for our healthcare.

If you’re like me, you’ve needed a breather since the TrumpCare battle. We all need to re-charge. And re-charge we did at Caryn’s party last Saturday! Many thanks to Caryn for opening her home and making us a beautiful spread of home-made salsas and a gorgeous assortment of enchiladas and other yummy treats. It was so good to have a chance to connect with everyone. I hope you all left feeling invigorated like I did.

Yesterday we had a promising development on healthcare, with the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions announcing they will introduce a bill to stabilize and strengthen the individual health insurance market. As the NYTimes puts it, “it’s good to see politicians actually doing their jobs.”

And speaking of politicians who do their jobs, wasn’t it heartwarming to see the reception that GOP Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski received when they returned home after standing strong against all the various bills to take away our healthcare? Sen. Collins said of her enthusiastic reception at the airport, “I’ve never had that happen in the 20 years that I’ve been privileged to serve in the Senate. It was very encouraging and affirming, especially arriving back home after a very difficult time.”

In other promising news:

Mark your calendars for our August all-hands meeting!

Sunday Aug 20th, 2-4pm
Noe Valley Library, San Francisco

Stand Up SF actions:

  • Thank Senators Harris and Feinstein for standing up for the ACA. You can say something like “Thank you for fighting for healthcare for all Americans! You’ve saved health care for tens of millions of us. Now please do everything you can to ensure Trump does not destabilize the insurance markets.”
  • Call both Senators and tell them to oppose H.R. 806, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017. It weakens the Clean Air Act without a single improvement, and delays life-saving health standards already years
  • The Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 (S.1460), would greatly expand fracking and natural gas infrastructure. It expedites review of fracked gas export terminals, instructs the BLM to create a pilot program for expediting drilling and fracking permits, authorizes $3 billion in “clean coal” subsidies, and more. Call Senators and tell them we don’t need more fracking and drilling, and to reject Senate bill 1460.

Schumer: We’re ready for single payer

Just a few hours ago, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that single payer health care is “on the table”, along with other options like making Medicare available to people over 55. This is huge news: we said we wanted single payer, and Senate Democrats are listening. As Paul Hessinger quoted at our meeting yesterday, “If the people lead, the leaders will follow.”

While Schumer is optimistic that the GOP’s latest disaster of a healthcare bill (repeal everything, replace with nothing) will not pass, Sen. Mitch McConnell is not going to stop. Even if you’ve already spoken up on this issue, make sure you check off all six items on Phyllis’ to-do list to stop TrumpCare.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will testify at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee this Wednesday, as the Russian collusion case continues to heat up. Unfortunately, the Trump camp has made a bargain with the committee to hold that hearing in private, so we are not likely to learn what is unveiled there anytime soon. Senator Feinstein sits on the Judiciary Committee, so we’ll be continuing to monitor the case and encouraging her to protect our democracy by ensuring that all wrongdoing is ultimately brought to light.

Two weeks ago, I asked you to make calls to reform our predatory and unjust bail system here in California. This week, Senator Harris has unveiled a bipartisan bill (co-authored with Senator Rand Paul) that seeks to reform or replace the practice of money bail nationwide. The Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017 creates incentives for states to overhaul or throw out their money bail systems, aiming to ensure that all people, rich or poor, who are accused of a crime receive fair treatment under the law. The bill has been endorsed by the Center for American Progress, the NAACP, the ACLU, and many other organizations working to repair our broken criminal justice system. It’s great to see I’ll be asking you to make some calls about this legislation this week.

Following a spirited and inspiring general meeting yesterday, our members enjoyed beer and munchables on Phyllis’ sunny back deck. We’re grateful to those of you who came out, shared your passion, and raised a glass with us. Special thanks to Suzanne, who stood up at our meeting to share a very personal story about how she came to dedicate her life to improving people’s health, and how that fuels her activism today. We’re grateful also to our guest speaker Susan from Democracy Action, who provided some great ideas about using technology to motivate voters in other districts, and told a great story about registering new citizens to vote in Oakland (see Actions with other groups for how you can get involved. Thanks also to Patrick, who led our action to Sen. Harris’ office last week.

This week’s Stand Up SF actions

Actions with other groups

  • Tue 7/25: part of Litquake, SF’s literary festival: “A Bunch of Bad Hombres: Immigrant Writers Respond to Trump” RSVP
  • Thu 7/27: Join NARAL Pro-Choice America for a webinar on activism for reproductive freedom. Sign up.
  • Thu 8/3: Join Democracy Action to phone bank for Democratic candidates in two key states. Get details and sign up.

Learning opportunity

At our meeting yesterday, Gordon shared information about The People’s Revolution, a coalition of grassroots organizers and activists who have created a progressive platform to ensure racial, climate, and economic justice, democracy, and health care for all. They’re recommending we ask our MoCs to pass eight pieces of legislation aimed at these goals. Stand Up SF leadership will be evaluating the bills, but you can get a head start here. Interested in the People’s Platform? Tell us what you think!

You’re the best.

Things are not looking good for the Trump administration right now. Between the ongoing discoveries of their collusion with Russia to influence the election, the delayed vote on TrumpCare, and Trump’s approval ratings the lowest in history, they are not able to get much done. Today’s biggest news is that TrumpCare is just 1 GOP defection away from defeat.

All of this is because of YOU. You yelled about the need for the Russian investigation. You demanded a “no” vote on TrumpCare and sent in your personal stories in support of the ACA. And you have told your representatives to block this administration’s agenda, to keep Americans safe from Trump’s excesses — and those of his cronies. Across the country, people just like you are making the same demands, and it’s working.

Paul, Phyllis, and Laura, Stand Up SF leaders, hold signs that say 'We Rock!', 'It's working - thank you!' and 'You're the Best!''THANK YOU!

You should know:
Tomorrow, California lawmakers will vote on a bill to extend California’s most important climate law. AB 398 is meant to be an extention of the state’s Cap and Trade legislation, but environmental activists are very divided on whether our representatives should vote yea or nay. We in leadership are not prepared to tell you how to act on this one, but if the issue is important to you, we urge you to do some reading, make your decision, and call Assemblymembers Ting and Chiu with your request.

Meanwhile, there’s still plenty to do to protect our community and our country.

This week’s Stand Up SF actions:

  • Stop mass deportations: SB 54, The California Values Act, prevents state and local funds from being used for deportations. Call Assemblymembers Ting and Chiu and ask them to vote yes on SB 54. You can say “I urge you to support SB 54, the California Values Act, which protects the safety of all Californians by ensuring that state and local resources are not used to fuel mass deportations and separate California families.”
  • Get face-to-face with Kamala Harris: Senator Harris has not yet held a town hall in the Bay Area! Call her office and ask that she hold a San Francisco town hall during the August recess. (script)
  • Fix our housing crisis: Senator Weiner’s SB 35, up for a vote this week, streamlines the development of new housing, including affordable housing. Don’t let it get held up by unworkable and unnecessary amendments! Call State Assemblymembers Ting and Chiu and tell them to vote for SB 35. You can say “I’m concerned about the number of homeless and displaced people in my community. Please vote for SB 35 to ensure that cities comply with existing requirements to build more housing, and more affordable housing.”

Actions with other groups

  • Tue 7/18: #KillTheBill! Join local Indivisible groups in the Bay Area for a Die-In at Senator Feinstein’s office to protest TrumpCare. This is part of a nationwide Indivisible campaign that is sure to get news coverage, so please sign up if you can make it!
  • Tue 7/18: Join our friends at Sister District for their CA-12 Mission Hub meeting and help flip Virginia blue! RSVP

Learning opportunity

Wed 7/19: Learn more about how you can protect the free and open Internet. Join FreePress.net and other activists on a strategy call. Sign up.