Thursday, May 02, 2019

Far Far Away-- In The Northeast Corner Of California, One Can Sense Something Is Starting To Flip


We try to say it at least once a week-- and we've been doing that for over two years: Audrey Denney would make a kick-ass, effective member of Congress. It's not her fault she was born and raised and still lives in a sprawling rural district that voted for Trump by 20 points or that the PVI is a daunting R+11. That was certainly enough to make the DCCC look elsewhere. But it didn't discourage Denney. She campaigned like she could actually win. She knocked on doors and did town hall meetings and phone-banked and raised $1,088,140 (to her opponent's $1,028,857). In the end, she couldn't overcome the gigantic Republican registration advantage-- but she sliced it in half. In fact, she did better on election day than anyone remembers any Democratic congressional candidate ever doing before. Although Doug LaMalfa beat her 160,046 (54.9%) to 131,548 (45.1%), she took the the biggest county in the district, Butte, and did even better in the 3rd biggest, Nevada County.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus just sent their superstar political director, David Keith, up there to suss out the district. "She can win this time," he told me today. "She's on fire and the district knows her now. She's them; they're her. She's turned Siskiyou around and Placer is going her way. You watch in November when the votes start being reported from Shasta... They love her in Redding now." I've never heard anyone from the DCCC talk about anything like that before. I hope he tells them.

Goal ThermometerAlex Kotch wrote a powerful piece about her opponent and about the CA-01 race for Sludge. I recommend that you read the whole thing. If you like these excerpts do it-- and think about contributing to her campaign by clicking on the Blue America congressional thermometer on the right. Kotch introduced his subject by pointing out that LaMalfa is cozy with the fossil fuel and logging industries and that Denney recently announced a second campaign to oust him. "The first candidate to sign the Green New Deal Pledge, Denney, an agricultural educator, scored the first 2020 endorsement by environmental activist group Sunrise Movement on April 27."
“In 2018, 93 lives were lost in my district in the Carr and Camp Fires,” said Denney in a Sunrise Movement press release. “Wildfires exacerbated by drought, climate change, and a lack of forest management threaten the lives, homes, and livelihoods of the people who live in California’s 1st District. I’m running for Congress because we need a representative who is only beholden to their constituents, not to corporate interests and political gamesmanship.”

Denney has pledged to reject campaign contributions from corporate political action committees and is a No Fossil Fuel Money pledge signer, meaning she’ll also refuse large donations from executives of oil, gas, and coal companies. This won’t affect her campaign finances much, as she received less than $2,000 from individuals and PACs in the energy and natural resources sector in the 2018 elections.

LaMalfa, on the other hand, has benefited from support from fossil fuel companies. From 2013 through 2018, LaMalfa’s campaigns received $192,156 from PACs and individuals in the energy and natural resources sector, with 84% of that total coming from PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He has received over $103,000 from PACs and individuals in the oil and gas industry.

Denney is a foil for LaMalfa, who has denied man-made climate change, as well as its role in increasing the frequency and intensity of forest fires, which roiled his district just last year, killing dozens of people.

“The congressman’s ineffectiveness given his status on the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry goes far beyond his denial of science and speaks to his failure to serve in his most basic capacity as the voice of our rural district in Washington,” Denney told Sludge. “Under his leadership, we’ve seen increased mismanagement of our forests, policy missteps between federal and state government agencies that have limited our land management strategies, and increased cuts to federal conservation and forestry funding that have crippled our rural economies and made forest health the most urgent public health crisis facing rural Californians today.”

As deadly forest fires ravaged his California district, LaMalfa, the ranking member on the Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee, sponsored legislation to open up more federal lands to the for-profit logging industry while bypassing standard environmental assessments.

...[In 2017] LaMalfa co-sponsored the Emergency Forest Restoration Act to loosen environmental regulations on national forests. Sponsors claimed their legislation, which would open up more national forest lands to commercial logging and exempt certain areas from the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, would protect and regenerate forests.

In 2019, LaMalfa continues his effort to expand logging and derail environmental protections. He is the primary sponsor of the CARR Act, which “exempts wildfire mitigation activities [including forest thinning] conducted within 300 feet of a road from all laws governing” environmental review and endangered species protection.

Speaking about wildfire protection to a room full of government officials and representatives of the logging, forestry, and construction industries in February, LaMalfa said, “We need to advance the force of the private sector.”

LaMalfa’s campaigns have received contributions from officials at Anderson, California-based Sierra Pacific Industries, the nation’s fourth-largest lumber producer. Mark Emmerson, the chief financial officer and a member of the billionaire family that owns the company, gave the LaMalfa campaign $500 last October, while corporate affairs director Andrea Howell donated $250 on the same day.

...This year, LaMalfa’s biggest donor by far is Take Back the House PAC, a committee that supports Republican candidates and took in millions of dollars in the first quarter. On March 29, LaMalfa got $72,000 from the PAC, which had received $25,000 from Mark Emmerson [CFO of Sierra Pacific Industries, the nation’s fourth-largest lumber producer] one week earlier.

...Denney told Sludge, “We must have policies that bring diverse stakeholders to the table in order to support selective sustainable logging, to restore appropriate density to the forests, and remove excess and dead trees. A healthy and fire-safe forest requires that we support education and implementation of scientifically proven forest management strategies that provide for the diversity of species and ages of trees in the forest, reducing the chance of massive die-off from disease or pest outbreaks that exasperate our fire risks.”

The challenger said that to address forest health and climate change, solutions include “training foresters to adopt climate-friendly practices, utilizing selective sustainable logging to restore appropriate density to forest land, supporting education and implementation of proactive fire control measures, new industry utilization of woody biomass removed from public land…and increasing incentives for investments in renewable energy.”

LaMalfa is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and sits on the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, which has jurisdiction over oil and gas pipelines, and the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, which oversees oil spills and other water pollution issues.

Accordingly, from 2013 through 2018, LaMalfa’s campaigns took in significant amounts from the PACs of oil and gas companies and utilities that burn or deliver fossil fuels. For example, he has received $11,000 from the Occidental Petroleum PAC, $7,500 from Exxon Mobil’s PAC, and $6,500 from Chevron’s PAC. In addition to other petroleum trade groups such as the American Petroleum Institute and the American Gas Association, the California Independent Petroleum Association has given his campaigns $1,000.

From the PAC of California-based Pacific Gas and Electric utility, he has received over $21,000, and he’s gotten $6,000 from the PAC of California-based Edison International, a utility holding company based in California, and $3,000 from California-based Sempra Energy.

...Denney was critical of LaMalfa’s extensive corporate funding.

“The people who live in my district deserve a representative that only works for them,” she said. “I have pledged not to take money from any corporate PACs-- including fossil fuel PACs-- because I will only answer to the people in my district. How can we expect our leaders to take bold action to protect citizens when their re-election depends on checks from fossil fuel, pharmaceutical, and telecom company PACs?”

LaMalfa has displayed his interest in the oil and gas industry in other ways besides campaign fundraising. In 2017, he sent a natural resources legislative assistant on a tour of Texas oil and gas facilities sponsored by the American Exploration and Production Council and oil and gas private equity firm Enervest.

The California congressman may have a personal financial stake in climate change denial. According to his 2017 financial disclosure, LaMalfa owns partial stakes worth between $1.1 million and $5.25 million in a rice farm and a rice drying facility, LaMalfa Farms, Inc. Rice farms that are intermittently flooded can produce huge amounts of greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, while continuously flooded rice farms emit methane, another greenhouse gas.

As of December 2017, LaMalfa was the “highest earner of farm subsidies in Congress,” according to the Chico Enterprise-Recorder, a Chico, California, local paper. His spokesperson told the outlet that LaMalfa had “voted to end direct farm subsidy payments in the very first farm bill he worked on.”

“Science has proven that our changing climate is the driver behind forest fire regularity and intensity, and no one knows that better than California’s First Congressional District,” said Denney. “We must take a bold and aggressive approach to combating the effects of climate change.”

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At 6:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

after the first sentence, the rest would have been unnecessary to read.

all audra denney can possibly do is to keep a single seat warm so that Pelosi can unilaterally do whatever her donors demand.

calling the warming of a seat "kick-ass" is hyperbolic, to say the least.


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