November 23, 2020
President-Elect Joe Biden’s choice to name Janet Yellen as his Treasury Secretary represents a tremendous opportunity to take executive action on the issues most pressing to all Americans. Here are just some meaningful actions the next Treasury Secretary could take without having to go through Congress.
November 13, 2020
On Wednesday, The New York Times exposed that a network of seemingly-grassroots campaigns to promote the use of fossil fuels was actually organized by FTI Consulting, a dystopic corporate consulting firm working on behalf of oil and gas behemoths like ExxonMobil. The Times also implicates an FTI subsidiary, Compass Lexecon, in producing academic reports to support these astroturfed campaigns’ talking points. Compass Lexecon employees wrote reports criticizing activist shareholders and university divestment campaigns, tactics often used by the environmental activists FTI was paid to undermine.
October 14, 2020
The fossil fuel industry depends on financial institutions to survive. And banks, for their part, pull in big profits from underwriting climate disaster. That’s why, if Joe Biden wins in November, his pick for Treasury Secretary must be an aggressive advocate for climate action. The Treasury Department has untapped capacity to push financial institutions and insurance companies to take the risks of the climate crisis seriously. While his legislative proposals elicit proper close scrutiny, his choice of Treasury Secretary is arguably among Biden’s most important climate policy decisions.
September 24, 2020 | The American Prospect
The wildfires and hurricanes plaguing the United States in the last month reflect the massive societal implications of climate change. Understanding the importance of this moment, Vice President Joe Biden has proposed a $2 trillion climate plan designed to transition the economy away from greenhouse gas emissions. The plan calls for an emission-free power sector by 2030, as well as an environmental justice component to address how climate policies have failed communities of color. Parts of Biden’s plan will require new legislation and others will deputize numerous federal agencies. But a major share of responsibility for success will fall on the Environmental Protection Agency.
August 19, 2020
Incalculable, world-historic pain and suffering are already happening as a result of the climate crisis. Yet the forces of big business responsible — most especially the fossil fuel industry, but also Big Ag, the military-industrial complex, and others — continue to spend tens of millions every year blackmailing American leaders into softballing or even ignoring the literal end of the world as we know it.
August 07, 2020 | The Intercept
Several of Biden’s informal advisers and confidants on energy policy are veterans of the Obama administration’s “all of the above” strategy, which embraced fossil fuel development and technologies like fracking while publicly trumpeting clean energy commitments.
April 15, 2020
This crisis has shattered any illusions that our post-financial crisis framework is resilient enough to withstand the challenges of the future. Coronavirus has, in particular, uncovered one of our most fundamental, persistent weaknesses: our continued inability to anticipate and prepare for new financial risks. For this ill-preparedness, we have powerful actors like BlackRock, the asset management giant and political titan, to thank. In an effort to avoid more stringent regulation, BlackRock and others not only evaded scrutiny for their own contributions to systemic risk, but virtually destroyed the mechanisms designed to examine such risk across the wider economy.
September 25, 2019 | The American Prospect
The next Democratic president will, like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama before them, inherit an executive branch that in critical respects was shaped by Ronald Reagan. The administrative procedures and bottlenecks are designed to frustrate effective action. Most important, the next president will immediately face a seemingly uneventful decision whose earth-shattering significance is only apparent to corporate lobbyists. Previous generations of progressive activists have tragically ignored it. That decision is: Who should run the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)?
March 20, 2019
With just under $6 trillion in assets under management (as of year-end 2018) BlackRock is the largest money manager in the world. Virtually unheard of only a decade ago, it has now grown into one of the most powerful forces in financial markets and politics alike. Central to this ascendance was its risk management software, Aladdin. Aladdin — an acronym for Asset Liability and Debt and Derivative Investment Network — has become the “industry’s dominant platform for keeping track of portfolios.” It counts among its clients approximately 200 financial firms who use the software to manage approximately $18 trillion in assets.
February 26, 2019 | The American Prospect
Fake environmentalism is an especially rampant and worrisome form of corporate propaganda—indeed, there is even a specific term for it. Scientific American defined the “essence” of “greenwashing” as efforts “falsely conveying to consumers that a given product, service, company or institution factors environmental responsibility into its offerings and/or operations.” If you want an idea of how empty these promises tend to be, consider that Donald Trump once signed a “Business Leaders” letter in The New York Times urging then-President Obama to aggressively push for climate action at the 2009 Copenhagen talks.