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Buff Climate Strongmen: The Envy of EPW Senators August 2, 2009

Posted by Morgan in climate bill, strongmen.
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Last Thursday, just before news broke of the Naked Fraud committed by fossil fuel lobbyists prior to the house vote on ACES, the Climate Strongmen made the trek to Capitol Hill once again. These honest advocates are speaking on behalf of 300,000 Americans rather than on behalf of greedy oil executives, and they are speaking the truth. This time, the Climate Strongmen flexed their climate bill muscles both inside and outside of a Senate Hearing on Climate Change and National Security. In honor of the hearing theme, the strongmen wore hats with stars and stripes in order to remind Senators that passing a strong US climate bill isn’t simply about going along with the rest of the world – it is about protecting our own national interests and making America stronger. Ensuring the stability of countries most vulnerable to climate change will ultimately be a down payment on the future security of the United States. Reducing our dependence on foreign oil will mean that more American dollars will stay in the US and be invested in clean energy technologies here at home. A strong US climate bill will boster the American economy rather than support potential foreign threats.

Three climate strongmen sat inside the hearing with small signs stating the crucial role that a strong climate bill will play in ensuring the safety and security of the US. The strongmen were quite visible and despite their wit, Senator Lautenberg did not seem impressed by their humor. For the duration of the hearing, 3 additional Strongmen worked up a sweat in the hallway by a door where EPW committee members entered and exited the hearing. There the Strongmen greeted Senators and their staffers, encouraging them to adopt a rigorous climate workout routine. They had friendly exchanges with Senators from both sides of the aisle including chairwoman Boxer, and Senators Carper, Lautenberg, Cardin, Klobuchar, Whitehouse, Udall, Merkley, Inhofe, Barrasso, Bond, and Alexander.

Senators Klobuchar and Carper took particular interest in the Climate Strongmen and thanked them for their efforts. Envying the Strongmen’s burly muscles, these senators pledged to work harder to buff up the climate bill in the weeks to come in order to attempt to make it as strong and bold as the Climate Strongmen. Yet they didn’t seem to have the energy or motivation to flex their muscles in the Dirksen hallway.

Even Senator Inhofe, who has historically been unconcerned about climate change and doubtful of the risks that a weak and out-of-shape climate bill poses to America, was curious to know where the Climate Strongmen learned their brilliant workout routine and responded in a friendly manner when the Strongmen asked him to flex his climate muscles.

The Strongmen were excited to have the opportunity to show their strength and hope for a stronger climate bill to so many senators directly, and were glad to hear that many of these senators are committed to setting more ambitious CO2 fat reduction goals. Yet the Strongmen are not impressed with the stamina of the senate and really hope to see senators step up their ambition in the coming weeks. Perhaps the senate recess will give senators a chance to work out, so that they come back in September ready to make their climate bill harder, better, faster, and stronger. And only time will tell where the Climate Strongmen may show up next.

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Will Gillibrand Score a Home Run for Climate? July 15, 2009

Posted by Morgan in strongmen, tcktcktck.
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In their second public appearance on Tuesday, the Strongmen and women showed up in full force this evening at Guy Mason Field for the first ever Congressional Women’s Softball match. Why? To cheer on Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) of course!

With climate-themed ball game cheers, the Strongpeople attracted much attention and joined Gillibrand’s staff in pumping her up throughout the game. She seemed to recognize the Strongpeople, having seen them in the morning at an Environment and Public Works hearing. After the game, Gillibrand was excited to shake all of the Strongpeoples’ strong, muscular hands as they congratulated her on her excellent pitching and batting skills. The Strongpeople told her how much they are counting on her to “hit the climate bill out of the park too” and be a climate champion. They gave her a commemorative bat with information about ways to strengthen climate legislation and lead the US toward a global treaty in Copenhagen. The Senator thanked the Strongpeople for their advocacy and accepted the gifts graciously.
Senator Gillibrand is in a unique position to be a climate champion in the senate. She sits on the three committees that will probably play the largest role in piecing together a bill: Environment and Public Works, Agriculture, and Foreign Relations. To date, her statements on climate change are encouraging, including a recent indication that she “will use every bit of persuasive power” to restore the EPA’s authority to regulate pollution from old coal-fired power plants in the Senate version of the bill. This important EPA oversight is not included in the House-passed Waxman-Markey bill. Given that she sits on Foreign Relations as well as EPW, Gillibrand is also poised to help strengthen international finance provisions for adaptation and clean tech transfer. These oft-forgotten components of a US climate bill will mean a lot at international negotiations, and whether or not Gillibrand will lead in these areas as well remains to be seen.

Tonight, Senator Gillibrand played hard and even scored a run. The Strongpeople hope to see her do the same if not better in the Senate as the climate bill moves forward.

Strongmen/women want Strong Climate Bill July 14, 2009

Posted by Morgan in climate bill, strongmen.
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In this morning’s Environment and Public Works Senate committee hearing, Avaaz.org youth once again pushed for HARDER oversight of dirty coal plants, BETTER funding for international adaptation and clean tech measures, FASTER 2020 emissions reduction targets, and overall STRONGER domestic climate legislation leading up to Copenhagen. Six youth dressed in muscle suits and “HARDER, BETTER, FASTER, STRONGER” work-out tees filled a full row in the hearing room, and came face to face with Senator Boxer and other committee members.

The “strong” visual brought whispers of interest and cell-phone photos from hearing attendees and press. The strongmen/women also let out a burst of clapping after one witness’s testimony about the need to put a cap on carbon emissions. In response, Senator Boxer thanked demonstrators for their presence despite calling for order in the room. After a drawn-out debate over nuclear plants between the Chairwoman and Senator Alexander, the Avaaz strongmen/women stood in unison and slowly filed out of the room, creating a human wall of the STRONGER message.

The presence at today’s hearing follows Avaaz’s current theme: over the past week, the strongmen have visited another EPW hearing, delivered 5-pound barbells to committee member offices, created a “STRONG” aerial photo, and performed a core strengthening workout routine in the offices of primary targets. With their continued coaching, hopefully the senators will beef up and flex their legislative muscles to pass a strong climate bill. Stay tuned for another appearance of Avaaz’s strongmen and women.

STRONGMEN STORM THE CAPITOL TO PUSH FOR A STRONGER CLIMATE BILL July 7, 2009

Posted by Morgan in climate bill, strongmen, tcktcktck.
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This morning, half a dozen youth in strongmen costumes showed up to pump iron and flex their climate bill “muscles” in Dirksen 406. Why? Because the first post-ACES Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on climate legislation took place there at 10 am today.
I was surprised to see such a clever ploy espousing that Congress must pass a stronger climate bill than the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last Friday, June 26th.

During the hearing the strongmen proceeded with their “climate bill workout” to illustrate the metaphor of strengthening the bill and encouraging Senators to “flex their own legislative muscles.” These antics were not only amusing and set a very friendly and light-hearted tone to the hearing, it clearly pushed the issue of creating a “strong” bill. They are pushing to buff up the climate bill which will prove to the world that the U.S. is serious about stopping global warming–and persuade our country and others to agree to an effective and equitable global climate treaty in Copenhagen this December. As articulated by the trainer to his brawny trainees, “Now, let’s build up the muscles for our strong, global climate treaty!”

And, if the muscle suits didn’t allude to the issue enough, each muscleman wore a t-shirt with “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” on them. The popular song by Daft Punk, later remade by Kanye West, correlated with the more specific asks of harder oversight on coal plants, better renewable portfolio standard and investments in international adaptation, faster emissions reduction targets and, more generally, stronger leadership and a stronger bill.

This action was also paired up with a series of deliveries to the offices of the Environment and Public Works Committee members. Later in the afternoon, the same strongmen traveled from office to office, delivering custom designed 5lb weights all encouraging the Senators to bulk up the meat of the climate bill and “lose 40% of carbon emission fat.” The 5lb dumbbells themselves represented the 5-5-5% targets for the international provisions in the bill. The dumbbells also had best exercising practices and even recommended that Congress “consult its personal trainer, the EPA, periodically to keep on track with the science.”
The connections between a total body workout and creating a binding treaty were both humorous and clever and I personally thought it was amusing to have a play off of the American culture of desiring a fit body by eating hamburgers and drinking diet soda. This, much like our current climate bill and Congressional process, is not a way to achieve our “target weight.” It is wonderful to see the youth climate movement pushing our senators to be more aggressive right off the bat with the first hearing in a fun and witty way that turns heads and demands the real targets our national and international communities need.