Our August grantees thank you for your support

Each month, CREDO members vote on how we distribute funding to three incredible nonprofits. Those small actions add up – with one click, you can help fund groups working for voting rights, climate justice and humanitarian aid. In August, CREDO members voted to distribute $150,000 in donations to Black Voters Matter Fund, Friends of the Earth Action and Mercy Corps.

These donations are made possible by CREDO customers and the revenue they generate by using our services. The distribution depends entirely on the votes of CREDO members like you. And for that, our July grant recipients thank you.

Black Voters Matter Fund
$46,965

“Thank you for your support! It is CREDO members like you that help us to increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities. Effective voting allows a community to determine its own destiny, and we can’t do this work without you.” – Cliff Albright, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter

To learn more, visit www.blackvotersmatterfund.org.

Friends of the Earth Action
$62,599

“Thank you for voting for Friends of the Earth Action! CREDO members like you are fueling our work for climate justice. You are empowering us to push leaders for a fair and equitable solution to the climate crisis – one that puts people over profits.” – Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth

To learn more, visit https://foeaction.org/.

Mercy Corps
$40,435

“Thank you! Together with support from CREDO members like you, Mercy Corps is helping communities forge new paths to prosperity in the face of disaster, poverty, and the impacts of climate change in more than 40 countries around the world.” – Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, Mercy Corps Chief Executive Officer

To learn more, visit mercycorps.org.

Now check out the three groups we are funding in September, and cast your vote to help distribute our donations.

CREDO members who use our products are the reason why we are able to make these donations each month. Learn more about CREDO Mobile, the carrier with a conscience.

The results are in: How prepared are you for a natural disaster?

Here at CREDO, our hearts go out to everyone affected by the recent hurricanes in the Gulf and Northeast, as well as the wildfires that continue to rage in the West.

As climate change continues to intensify natural disasters, we all must be prepared for their effects. That’s why we teamed up with our allies and recent grantees Mercy Corps for a quick and informative quiz on disaster preparedness, including which kinds of emergency kits you should have ready and how much water you should keep on hand.

Roughly 3,000 CREDO members took the quiz — and here are the results.

Last month, CREDO members helped us distribute a portion of our monthly $150,000 to help Mercy Corps respond to the world’s toughest challenges, provide immediate life-saving support to meet urgent needs of today and create opportunities to build community wellbeing for a stronger tomorrow.

Out of the 3,000 responses we received, only 13% scored a 100% — but that’s okay! Our quiz was not trying to measure knowledge and certainly wasn’t a competition; it was meant as a fun way to learn from the experts at Mercy Corps on how we can take preparations now to be ready for a disaster that might strike next. 

So without further ado, here are the answers to the quiz:

About how many natural disasters occur each year around the globe?

  • 6,800

What are the most common natural disasters around the world?

  • Floods

To be best prepared, which two types of emergency kits should you have on hand?

  • Evacuation kit
  • Sheltering in place kit

Which combination of items are essential to include in your emergency kits?

  • Water, non-perishable food, first aid supplies

What are the three best locations to store an emergency kit?

  • Home
  • Work
  • Car

Approximately how much water should you plan to store per person, per day?

  • 1 Gallon

How many days-worth of supplies should you store in your emergency kit?

  • 14 Days

Which disasters and emergencies has Mercy Corps responded to?

All of the above: 

  • Nepal earthquake in 2015
  • Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004
  • Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas in 2019
  • Hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa
  • Ebola epidemic in Liberia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
  • COVID-19 pandemic across the globe

How many people received water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance from Mercy Corps in 2020?

  • 12.3 million people

Who does Mercy Corps support in times of disaster?

  • Families who lack access to basic resources like soap and water
  • People who have been forced from their homes by violence and live in refugee camps
  • Entire communities that have been destroyed by an earthquake or flood
  • People who have been hit the hardest by disasters and need humanitarian support

We also asked which natural disasters concern our members the most, and 33% responded with “Pandemics, including COVID-19,” while 24.9% responded with “Wildfires” and 18% said “Power Failures.”

If you’d like to learn more about Mercy Corps’ critical work, please visit https://www.mercycorps.org/

And if you want to help us distribute another $150,000 to three amazing progressive nonprofit groups this September, vote today at CREDODonations.com.

CREDO Mobile named one of the Top Corporate Philanthropists in the San Francisco Bay Area

Do you put your money where your values are? CREDO customers do!

We’re excited to announce that CREDO Mobile has been named one of the Top 100 Corporate Philanthropists in the San Francisco Bay Area!

Why is this so significant? Well, we were up against huge tech companies, multinational corporations, even Wall Street and Big Oil — many who stepped up giving in the past year — so the competition was fierce.

Here at CREDO, philanthropy is our reason for staying in business. And thanks to our members who care so deeply about climate justice, civil rights and economic justice, we’ve been giving to the causes that matter to CREDO members every single month. In fact, we’ve donated more than $92 million to groups like ACLU, Fair Fight Action and Sunrise Movement since we were founded in 1985.

If you’d like to help us distribute this month’s donations to three amazing groups — Black Voters Matter, Friends of the Earth Action and Mercy Corps — please visit CREDODonations.com and cast your vote for one, two or all three groups today!

How to turn off annoying notifications on your smartphone

If you’re like us, your smartphone gets filled up with pop-up notifications daily. Many of them are not just annoying; they can be downright overwhelming, distracting and even bad for our mental health.

One study found that smartphone users who turned off notifications for 24 hours felt less distracted and more productive. In another, researchers found that certain smartphone notifications can negatively affect a user’s mood.

While many notifications can be extremely useful — say, that important text message or work email — many are not. Here are some quick tips to manage or stop those annoying notifications on your smartphone.

Manage notifications on iOS (and iPadOS)

In the current version of iOS 14, you have a few options to handle notifications — by managing how they display on your home screen, manage app by app, grouping by app, or by turning them off altogether. In the upcoming iOS 15 (available sometime this fall), Apple redesigned notification management to give you more control, so stay tuned for that update.

For now, here’s how to manage your notifications in the current iOS:

Change how notifications are displayed on your home screen

  • Go to Settings > Notifications > Show Previews
  • Choose Always, When Unlocked, or Never. (You can override this setting for individual apps.)

Manage notifications app by app

  • Go to Settings > Notifications and scroll to Notification Style to see a list of your apps
  • Choose the app you’d like to manage
  • Toggle the slider for Allow Notifications to turn notifications on or off
  • If you turn on notifications, you can manage alerts, including on your lock screen, notification center and banners, as well as sounds, badges, and previews (overwriting the setting above)

Manage notification grouping

  • Since iOS 12, you can group notifications from the same app to reduce clutter on your home screen
  • Go to Settings > Notifications and choose the app you’d like to manage
  • Scroll to Options > Notification Grouping, then choose Automatic, By App, or Off

Silence all notifications

  • Go to Go to Settings > Do Not Disturb
  • Turn on Do Not Disturb. To learn more about the settings in Do Not Disturb, read this article from Apple

Manage notifications on Android

Just like iOS, you can control your notifications on an Android device in a few different ways — app by app, snoozing, or stopping notifications altogether. You can see your notifications by swiping down from your home screen, but you can also control how they are displayed when your phone is locked. Note: Settings can vary phone by phone with Android, so check with your manufacturer.

Snooze notifications

  • Snoozing allows you to choose which apps you’d like to silence notifications.
  • To turn on snoozing, go to Settings > Notifications > select Allow notification snoozing.
  • To snooze a notification, drag it slightly left or right, and then tap Snooze. To pick a time, tap the Down arrow.

Turn off all notifications with Do Not Disturb

  • Do Not Disturb will silence your phone, including stopping all notifications, sounds and vibrations.
  • To turn Do Not Disturb on or off, swipe down from the top of your screen, then tap Do Not Disturb.

Turn off notifications app by app

  • Go to Settings > Apps & Notifications > Notifications.
  • Under Recently Sent, you will see which apps have sent notifications, and you can turn them off.
  • You may have to choose Advanced to turn off all notifications for a listed app and for additional options.

How to keep your apps from draining your phone’s battery

It’s frustrating when the battery in your phone dies unexpectedly — but there are a number of ways to keep your phone’s power from draining too fast.

One way: Find out which power-hungry apps are sucking the most juice from your smartphone and put a stop to it.

Here are some tips on how to prevent your apps from draining your phone’s battery and keep your device running longer.

Which apps use the most battery?

When it comes to battery usage, not all apps are created equally. According to UK-based USwitch, these are the top 10 power-intensive offenders:

  • Google 
  • Facebook 
  • Messenger 
  • WhatsApp Messenger 
  • Amazon Alexa 
  • Gmail 
  • Uber 
  • Waze 
  • Google Chrome 
  • YouTube Music

In addition to these, keep in mind that games and streaming apps use quite a bit of power when in use, too.

You can also find out which apps are using the most power on your phone. On both Apple and Android devices, go to Settings > Battery to see a list of which apps are hogging power on your device.

Disable app data/refresh in the background 

Some of your apps will continue to gather data in the background while you’re not using your phone, and that can drain a lot of battery life. This is a great feature for, say, a music app playing your favorite tunes, a news app to give you the freshest information the next time you load it up, or a navigation app helping you get around town, but not every app needs this feature to function properly.

  • To turn this feature off for your apps on iOS, go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. Here, you can choose whether you want this feature on or off completely, or just WiFi only. You can also toggle this on and off for individual apps.
  • On Android, go to Settings > Data Usage to see which apps are using the most data. Tap on the app you’d like to restrict and disable background data. For some apps, you may be able to turn on Battery Restriction, and be sure to turn on Battery Optimization.

Should I quit my apps when I’m done with them?

It would seem to make sense: when you’re done using an app, you should close it to save battery life. While it might sound counterintuitive, you’ll probably want to keep those apps open. Not convinced? Here’s some authoritative proof:

When Apple iOS chief Craig Federighi was asked if he himself quits apps or if quitting apps helps with battery life, he unequivocally said “no and no.” 

So what about Android? Hiroshi Lockheimer, the VP of Engineering at Android tweeted “(closing apps in the background) could very slightly worsen unless you and algorithm are ONE (you kill something, system wants it back etc).” 

And here’s a technical explanation why closing apps probably doesn’t save your battery.

Still having issues?

If your phone’s battery is still draining too quickly after these tips, check out our recent post, 8 easy ways to extend your phone’s battery life, which will give you even more advice on keeping your device running longer.

Depending on the age of your device, you might also consider upgrading your phone with us here at CREDO. We’re offering some amazing deals right now on new and refurbished phones, and you’ll feel good knowing that your phone bill is supporting incredible progressive non-profit organizations fighting for climate justice, civil rights, economic justice and more. Visit CREDOMobile.com and find a new phone and plan that’s right for you!

 

7 Great Back to School and Office Ideas for the Progressive Shopper

It’s that time of year: Back to school — and the office! For some of us, this might be the first time back in 18 months; for others, you’ve been in-person this whole time.

Now is also a great time to spruce up your wardrobe, pick up some necessities, or give a gift to that special student or worker in your life. That’s why we’ve put together a quick shopping list of progressive items you can buy or give, while giving back to the causes you care about.

Stepping up your mask game

We can’t talk about going back to school and to the office without talking about masks. While some right-wing, anti-science governors have backed themselves into a corner about masks — while threatening the health and safety of workers and students — we know that masks have been proven to be one of the best ways to reduce transmission. 

And now that masks have become a part of our daily wardrobe, it’s time to spruce them up a bit! Here are a couple suggestions if you’re looking for a new mask to show off your values:

Raygun masks. Raygun, an Iowa-based apparel company, makes ethical, union-printed, non-sweatshop USA-made masks with clever and fun slogans that many CREDO members would stand behind, like “I believe in Science,” “In Fauci we trust,” “America needs teachers,” and even a mask featuring RBG’s favorite lace collar (it’s technically not the dissent collar!). 

Most masks are made from eco-friendly recycled materials, and Raygun donates a big chunk of their net profits to groups that fight for public education, equality and the environment.

Kids’ masks. Children and parents have a lot of choices when it comes to masks, so we’ll leave it to the experts at Wirecutter who’ve tested kids’ masks for the best fit, filtration and comfort. Check out their reviews here.

ACLU Pocket Constitution & “Know Your Rights” Handbook

Everyone should have access to understand and know their rights at their fingertips. Obviously, as a mobile phone company, we’d suggest using your device to learn more about the Fourth Amendment or what to do when stopped by the police, but sometimes that’s not always feasible.

Enter two great references for everyday use: A pocket Constitution and the ACLU’s “Know Your Rights” Handbook. Armed with one of America’s most important documents and a handbook detailing how to exercise your rights and what to do if they are violated, you’ll feel a little more secure as you venture back out into the world. 

The “Know Your Rights” Handbook is available at the ACLU shop for $20, and the pocket Constitution comes in a pack of 10 for $17.87 (cleverly, the year the Constitution was written), so give out 9 extras as gifts to your friends and family.

March for Our Lives Merch 

As we all know too well, COVID-19 isn’t the only affliction overwhelming our nation; the gun violence epidemic continues to devastate families and take a toll on our communities and schools. Our allies at March for Our Lives are working tirelessly to end gun violence by harnessing the power of young people across the country to fight for sensible gun violence prevention policies that save lives.

Show your support for our partners and help put an end to gun violence by picking up some March for Our Lives student-designed merch, like a #MarchForOurLives “United We Stand” hoodie ($44.99), a “Gun Free Zone” Hat ($19.99), or a “Stop Gun Violence” Tee ($25.99).

EFF’s Sliding Laptop Camera Cover

If you or a loved one will be working from home or attending school remotely, you probably use a personal computer with a webcam to participate in all those Zoom meetings, classes and conference calls. That also means you could be susceptible to webcam hacking. 

So how can you protect yourself? In addition to installing the latest security updates running current anti-malware software, you may also want to consider covering your webcam’s camera when it’s not in use. 

Remember when Mark Zuckerberg popularized the use of tape to cover his webcam? Well, you can take your webcam covers to the next level with a sliding laptop camera cover from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a longtime CREDO partner and grantee. They’re just $8 from EFF’s online store.

Black Voters Matter Backpack

Going back to school is always a great time to get a new backpack. Our allies at Black Voters Matter offer three great options emblazoned with their simple white logo on a black bag to help you show your support for voting rights and fund their work to stop voter suppression: a one-size-fits-all black backpack ($25), a laptop carry bag ($20) or a drawstring backpack ($15) 

BONUS: You can vote to fund Black Voter Matter this month on CREDO’s donations ballot! CREDO funding will help BVM develop a community-driven agenda for expanded voting rights and progress, plan and strategize on local issues, and provide SMS access and digital support to our partners in our 11 target states. Visit CREDODonations.com to cast your vote.

Sunrise Movement Stickers (and Fanny Pack)

Sometimes it’s the small things that can have a big impact. Take the Sunrise Movement’s logo sticker. No matter where you stick it — your laptop, water bottle, phone case — you’ll be making the statement that you stand for climate justice, a Green New Deal and a fair and just transition to a clean energy economy. 

Available at the Sunrise Movement store for just $1.75. And while you’re there, pre-order the Sunrise fanny pack, coming in December.

CREDO Mobile Phone 

Speaking of phones, at CREDO, we offer the best phones on the nation’s best network. And just by using our phones and services, you can help us contribute more to great nonprofit organizations fighting for climate justice, voting rights and more at no additional cost to you. Head back to school or the office with a new CREDO phone or better yet, bring your existing phone and skip the cost of a new one. Visit our homepage at CREDOmobile.com to shop our latest offers.

With help from CREDO, Stand.earth is fighting for climate justice

From protecting ancient forests to stopping new fossil fuel infrastructure to transforming polluting industries, Stand.earth holds major corporations to account in David vs. Goliath battles that result in environmental protection on a massive scale.

As part of CREDO’s monthly donations program — funded by our customers who use our products and services every day, at no extra cost to them — Stand received a $51,846 grant in January 2021 to help the group organize to defeat North American fossil fuel projects, protect the Amazon Sacred Headwaters, build a movement Standing Against Fossil Fuel Expansion (SAFE) and spearhead a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

CREDO’s grant of support provided much-needed flexibility that enabled Stand.earth to achieve key recent victories including:

Building the Standing Against Fossil Fuel Expansion (SAFE) Movement

SAFE Cities is a rapidly expanding, coordinated movement of cities and counties that are leveraging their legal authority to regulate land use and protect public health to stop the growth of the fossil fuel industry in their communities. With the support of Stand.earth’s SAFE campaigners and activists, the movement achieved a number of wins since receiving CREDO funding. Among these wins is a historic policy that was just passed in Whatcom County, WA, which Stand.earth and their allies have been working to bring to the finish line for over four years. On July 27, 2021, Whatcom County approved the world’s first ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure in a refinery area – a groundbreaking move that will become a roadmap for other refinery communities throughout the US. 

Spearheading the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty

Our SAFE Cities movement complements the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty — a multifaceted strategy to phase-down fossil fuels and fast-track solutions to align with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C climate goal. This strategy was developed by Stand.earth’s Founder and International Program Director, Tzeporah Berman, as a result of receiving the Climate Breakthrough Project Award in 2019. This global treaty is intended to shift the narrative of fossil fuels, embody new norms, strengthen international cooperation, and rally citizens, communities, and countries to constrain the proliferation of oil, gas, and coal. 

Blocking Oil Financing in the Amazon

Stand.earth continues to spotlight attention to major banks that are complicit in funding dirty oil extraction in the Amazon Sacred Headwaters and throughout the Amazon biome. Earlier this year as a result of this campaign, French bank Natixis committed to end trade financing in Ecuadorian crude oil, joining commitments from four other banks we’ve secured to end oil trade financing in the Western Amazon. This total impact represents over $9 billion USD and more than 140 million barrels of oil traded over the last decade (primarily to the US). Then in June we released a new analysis — Banking on Amazon Destruction — revealing that 14 prominent banks remain highly exposed to the risk of funding corruption, human rights violations, environmental harms — and ultimately, climate chaos — in the Amazon. This analysis has laid the groundwork for the next phase of our campaign: securing commitments from a wide range of US and European banks to end all Amazon basin oil financing, similar to oil exclusion commitments in the Arctic.

Stopping Old-Growth Logging in British Columbia:

To help grow the people power needed to hold the British Columbia provincial government accountable on its commitments to protect BC’s iconic old-growth, Stand.earth has begun building a new collective organizing model with a range of environmental and community-based organizations. In April — marking the one-year anniversary since the BC government received a landmark analysis and series of recommendations for old-growth management reform — Stand.earth, along with Indigenous Nations and allied communities, helped organize a creative day of action, including coordinating protests, delivering clocks, writing letters, and calling for immediate bans on logging at-risk growth forests. Stand.earth supporters also recorded their own video messages to the BC government on the need for immediate action to protect the province’s old-growth. Then, in June, we recruited a star-studded cast of Indigenous leaders, celebrities, scientists, and environmental activists — from Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and David Suzuki, to Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo — to record a message of their own, launching a viral, video ad campaign that shines a global spotlight on the BC government and holds them accountable to their campaign promises to stop logging the last remaining giant trees.

If you’d like to learn more about Stand.earth’s incredible climate justice work and find out how you can get involved, visit Stand’s website, take action on one or more of their recent campaigns, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

And if you’d like to help us decide how to distribute this month’s CREDO donations to three other amazing progressive organizations, visit CREDODonations.com and cast your vote today!

A climate justice user’s guide to the Manchin energy infrastructure bill

Friends of the Earth, one of CREDO’s longtime climate justice partners and an August 2021 grantee, shared the following blog post with us, which originally appeared on their website and was written by climate campaigner Sarah Lutz. Please take a moment to read about how ExxonMobil is trying to undermine climate policy, then vote for Friends of the Earth on this month’s ballot to help us distribute a share of our $150,000 August donation.

A few weeks ago, ExxonMobil lobbyists were caught on tape bragging about their plans to undermine climate policy in coming infrastructure legislation. The strategy seems to already be paying dividends. Look no further than Senator Joe Manchin’s Energy Infrastructure Act of 2021. This bill has Exxon’s fingerprints all over it.

The legislation proposes to make $95 billion in infrastructure investments mainly concentrated in the energy sector. But a close look at exactly where the money is going to go reveals an undeniable bet on dirty energy from the 20th century over clean energy from the 21st. In fact, the bill authorizes $28.8 billion in nuclear, carbon capture and dirty hydrogen over only $410 million in direct authorizations for wind, solar, geothermal and tidal. That’s a ratio of dirty to renewables of over 70-to-1. Even when combining the renewable provisions with the bill’s meager storage and efficiency programs, Manchin still proposes spending twice as much on dirty than he does on clean. 

Here is a by the numbers guide to the worst-of-the-worst in the Exxon infrastructure bill.

$12.6 Billion: The Amount Of Money For Carbon Capture 

The White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) released a report in May rejecting the narrative that Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects should be implemented in communities under the guise of Environmental Justice (EJ). The next day, Gina McCarthy, speaking on behalf of the White House, blatantly ignored this EJ recommendation by talking up the role of CCS in Biden’s climate policy. Dismissing the WHEJAC’s recommendations further marginalizes the voices of those who would bear the burden of politicians allowing unproven technologies to embed fossil fuel infrastructure in their communities. This is just one chapter in a continual trend of politicians ignoring legitimate concerns with CCS in favor of Big Oil talking points. The result has been many high-profile projects–such as FutureGen 2.0the Kemper power plant, and the Texas Clean Energy Project–benefiting from substantial taxpayer investments only to collapse. Senator Manchin wants to continue propping up this polluter scheme by giving away billions of infrastructure investment to CCS.

Senator Manchin’s Energy Infrastructure Act pulls much of its CCS giveaways directly from Senator Coons’ SCALE Act. Notably both Senators Coons and Manchin were named as crucial allies to Big Oil in the recent video of ExxonMobil lobbyists explaining how they work with politicians to undermine climate policy.

Included in both the original SCALE Act and the Manchin bill is the new Carbon Dioxide Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation (CIFIA) program. This promises subsidized, low-interest loans for a litany of projects expanding CCS infrastructure, including CO2 pipelines. The current program is authorized $2.1 billion over the next five years. The CIFIA projects would embed sacrifice zones by targeting areas already impacted by fossil fuel infrastructure. These communities already suffer the environmental and health burdens of oil and gas infrastructure and CIFIA funding would entrench this fossil fuel infrastructure rather than retire it and remediate the harms.

Often, CCS infrastructure like pipelines are designed to capture CO2 in order to help stimulate oil production–and sometimes, this infrastructure dangerously malfunctions. This is what happened last year in Yazoo County, Mississippi – a community of majority Black residents and where 34 percent of the population lives in poverty. A pipeline carrying CO2 for enhanced oil recovery ruptured and exposed the community to high concentrations of carbon dioxide, requiring area residents to seek medical treatment. The rupture also killed significant amounts of plants and wildlife in the area.

These are some of the other prominent CCS provisions in the Manchin bill:

  • Large Scale Carbon Storage and Commercialization Program: A major new grant program to subsidize “expanded commercial large-scale carbon sequestration projects and associated carbon dioxide transport infrastructure, including funding for the feasibility, site characterization, permitting, and construction stages of project development.” | Authorization: $2.5 billion over 5 yrs (FY22-26)
  • Carbon Removal Program: funding to create four regional direct air capture hubs. The projects are to be located in a region with existing carbon intensive fuel production or industrial capacity, or such capacity that has retired or closed in the preceding 10 years. At least two of the hubs are to be built in economically distressed regions with high coal or shale gas resources. | Authorization: $3.5 billion over 5 yrs (FY22-26)
  • Carbon Capture Large-Scale Pilot Projects, originally authorized under the Energy Policy Act of ‘05, were specifically designed to prolong the use of coal as a feedstock for electricity. | Authorization: $937 million over 5 yrs (FY21-25)


$6 Billion: The Size Of The Nuclear Bailout 

The nuclear industry likes to bundle itself with renewable energy technologies, portraying failing nuclear power plants as clean. This doesn’t pass the laugh test. Nuclear power is incredibly toxic at every stage; the mining, milling and enriching of uranium are all carbon-intensive processes that generate vast amounts of radioactive and toxic wastes. The unsustainable supply and production of nuclear power are compounded by the lack of any plan or capability to safely store the 2,000 tons of irradiated nuclear fuel produced each year. Additionally, nuclear energy is a massive source of environmental injustice, as the vast majority of uranium mines, mills, production facilities, reactors and waste dumps are located in communities that are disproportionately Indigenous, Black, People of Color, rural and low-wealth.

Wind, solar, and energy efficiency measures are proven renewable technologies that can be deployed much quicker and more affordably than nuclear power. However, instead of allowing the phase-out of aging and uneconomic reactors, Senator Manchin would authorize spending $6 billion through 2026 to bail out these failing facilities. This would harm consumers by keeping expensive, uncompetitive reactors online and hurt the climate by delaying the deployment of renewables.

Modeled on the previously introduced American Nuclear Infrastructure Act, this bailout would create a new economic incentive program managed by the Department of Energy for reactors threatened with closure. In theory, priority for subsidy payments would be given to reactors whose closure would increase air pollution. But the bill is so polluter friendly that no external, third-party verification is required to evaluate claims from utilities about emissions increases. The entire program is straight from the nuclear industry playbook: claim financial distress, threaten closure and use the leverage to demand additional subsidies.

$7 Billion: The Amount Of Funding That Could Be Hijacked For Dirty Hydrogen

One of the newer Big Oil distractions has been the renewed interest in hydrogen. While hydrogen can be used for a variety of industrial and energy purposes, including as a form of energy storage, it is only as clean as the fuel source used to produce it–and 95 percent of hydrogen is produced using fracked gas. Polluters have a vested interest in maintaining this status quo, and producing hydrogen allows them to repackage fossil fuels and other dirty energies as clean. Senator Manchin is happy to oblige, as nearly all of the hydrogen provisions in the Energy Infrastructure Act make no distinctions between hydrogen produced from renewable sources and hydrogen produced from fossil fuels and nuclear. For example, the largest single hydrogen authorization in the bill is $8 billion for a series of regional hubs. Of the four hubs, only one is required to use renewable energy as a feedstock “to the maximum extent practicable,” while two others must use fossil fuels and nuclear, respectively.  Given that at least two must be sited with preference to regions with major natural gas resources, and the hubs will be directed to “use energy resources that are abundant in that region,” there is little question of Senator Manchin’s intent that this funding will be used to produce hydrogen from fossil fuels.

  • Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs, two of which must be located in economically distressed communities in the regions of the United States with the greatest natural gas resources. | Authorization: $8 billion over five years (FY22-26)
  • The Clean Hydrogen Electrolysis Program would fund research, development, demonstration, commercialization and deployment of hydrogen produced through electrolysis. The eligibility of the high-temperature electrolyzers indicates that fossil or biomass combustion or nuclear energy could be used to provide thermal energy to help produce hydrogen. | Authorization:$1 billion over five years (FY22-26)

$1.9 Billion: The Size Of The Giveaway To Logging Interests

Dirty energy and timber interests are pushing a mind-boggling narrative that cutting down our forests and burning them is somehow part of a climate solution. The logging industry hides behind terms like  “fuel reduction” or “restoration”, despite the most current and comprehensive science increasingly finding that such logging, deceptively conducted under the guise of forestry management, will in most cases make wildfires burn more intensely, not less. Over 200 top climate scientists and ecologists recently informed Congress that “thinning” and other logging substantially exacerbate climate change, urging Congress to shift away from funding these types of logging. Despite this, Manchin’s proposal includes massive new subsidies for increased commercial logging on federal public lands. Further, he directs Forest Service road and trail remediation funding to include considerations for increased timber demands and resource extraction.

Manchin proposes authorizing $1.9 billion for commercial logging on public lands. Much of this spending is through the guise of wildfire or forestry management. However, in the absence of environmental standards, benign-sounding activities such as “restoration” and “byproducts” are used to funnel money towards logging and clear-cutting on public lands. Federal land agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and BLM sell public timber to private logging companies and keep the revenue for their agency budgets, creating a perverse financial incentive to continue justifying these logging programs.

  • The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program has become heavily dominated by logging interests and U.S. Forest Service personnel, and has become little more than a vehicle for destructive commercial logging. | Authorization: $100 million over five years (FY22-26)
  • Mechanical thinning and timber harvesting subsidizes logging on public lands. The Forest Service defines “small” diameter trees so broadly that industrial logging activities could and would qualify. Moreover, the “to the extent practicable” phrase means that the small-diameter language can simply be ignored by the Forest Service. The broad discretion to define “small” and “ecologically appropriate” will result in logging that undermines the resiliency of our forests and results in wildfires burning more intensely. | Authorization: $500 million
  • Wildfire and forestry management is often used as a justification for logging, funding post-fire logging on federal public lands with taxpayer money under the guise of “restoration.” In absence of environmental standards, industrial logging and clearcutting could be spun as creating “fuelbreaks” or “removing flammable vegetation.” | Authorization: $500 million for fuelbreaks over five years (FY22-26) | Authorization: $200 million for removing vegetation to create biochar over five years (FY22-26) | Authorization: $200 million for postfire logging over five years (FY22-26)
  • ‘Byproducts of restoration projects’ is a guise for subsidizing forest biomass and wood pellets produced from private and public lands. The lack of environmental standards means that the biomass and wood pellet industries would merely need to use the phrase “ecosystem restoration” to promote their logging and clearcutting in order to receive the subsidies–regardless of the truth. | Authorization: $400 million over five years (FY22-26)


20 Percent: The Manchin Cut To The AML Coal Fee

Credit where credit’s due, the Manchin bill authorizes $11.3 billion for the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) fund. This is a program to reclaim, or restore, lands scarred by coal mining that continue to pose risks to human health and the environment. Established in 1978, the AML is designed to repair lands wrecked by mining from before the advent of modern environmental law. It covers coal exclusively, and does not fund the immense reclamation needs of either hardrock minerals or uranium.

In theory, $11.3 billion is the largest authorization of the entire Energy Infrastructure bill. Likely, this number is based on the Interior Department’s current estimate of the unfunded reclamation needs of existing sites, which stands at $10.7 billion. This far exceeds the AML’s dwindling unappropriated balance of $2.3 billion. The problem is that even this fresh injection is likely too small. An analysis from the Ohio River Valley Institute finds the number closer to $20.9 billion, likely rising to $26.9 billion by 2050 as new sites are discovered and existing sites become pricier to reclaim because of climate change.

What makes the Manchin proposal so worrying is that it pairs a bailout of the AML with a sharp cut to the AML’s only source of revenue—a fee paid by companies for every ton of coal they extract. The program exacts a different fee for surface, underground, and lignite coal, but the proposal from Manchin would cut all of the existing fees across the board by 20 percent.

The AML fee is slated to expire this September, so renewing and extending it is an urgent matter. But the fee should be raised, not cut, to ensure the long-term viability of the program. Kicking the can down the road is dangerous not just for unreclaimed lands. The United Mine Workers of America is eligible for payments into its health and pension plans from the interest earned on unappropriated AML funds.  Although these payments can be back-stopped to a degree by the Treasury Department, the long-term risk of AML insolvency puts added pressure on obligations owed to workers.

Despite the decline of the coal industry, the fee cut is not a negligible gift. For example, the Manchin bill would cut the rate for surface mining from 28 cents to 22.4 cents per ton. According to the Energy Information Administration, the US produced 438.9 million tons of surface coal in 2019. If the Manchin rate had been in effect then, coal companies would have saved a cool $24 million on surface coal fees alone.

$0: The Size Of The Increase In Bonding Requirements For Oil And Gas Wells On Public Lands 

Orphan wells are one of the many dirty legacies left behind by Big Oil. Millions of oil and gas wells across the U.S. have been abandoned by operators without any effort to clean up the operation or plug the well. These wells emit roughly 281 kilotons of methane annually, contaminate surrounding groundwater, and risk explosion. Remediating these wells is crucial, they are a constant source of dangerous pollution and the clean-up process creates jobs. The Energy Infrastructure Act includes some funds for this cleanup, including $250,000,000 for orphan wells on public lands during the period of fiscal years 2022 through 2031, as well as funds for Tribal Governments. The issue is that the “Exxon infrastructure package” proposes this funding without any bonding reform. Surety, or well-plugging, bonds are intended to guarantee that drillers plug unused wells before abandoning them. However, current bonding provisions have proven far from sufficient in ensuring polluters, not taxpayers, pay for the cleanup.

Orphan wells are not well documented, so clean-up efforts are slow and costly. Unless we increase bonding rates, taxpayers will be forced again and again in the future to bailout Big Oil’s mess. Polluters should be the ones to pay for remediation, which means that bonding reform is needed. We must increase minimum public land oil and gas bonding amounts to $150,0000 on an individual lease and $500,000 in an entire state, as is proposed by bills introduced separately by Senator BennetRepresentative Lowenthal, and Representative Ledger Fernandez. We should also require operators to pay an annual fee for idled wells on public lands. But, this is the Exxon Infrastructure package, so the lack of bonding reform is unsurprising. Big Oil benefits from a status quo that allows polluters to walk away from their mess with zero consequences.

Conclusion

In the ExxonMobil sting, Keith McCoy talked candidly about Big Oil’s favorite democrats. No one was surprised to see Senator Manchin on Exxon’s list. Mr. McCoy’s observation, that Senator Manchin is not shy about staking his claim, is clear throughout his infrastructure bill. The over 70-to-1 dirty to renewables is classic Manchin and classic Big Oil. Legislation like this puts at risk President Biden’s promise to put climate at the center of infrastructure.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research: Fighting for a Just Economy

The Center for Economic and Policy Research fights for economic justice in the US and abroad, offering progressive policy solutions that protect the most vulnerable and upend inequality. CEPR’s original research centers social and racial equity to create economic power for the people.

We are grateful to all CREDO members for your support in December 2020! CREDO funding enabled us to focus our efforts on fighting for a just recovery from the Covid 19 pandemic, both here and abroad. Here’s a sample of the work CREDO members helped us achieve in the last few months because of their support:

CEPR has taken a lead in promoting the lifting of patents and copyrights to allow mass production of effective vaccines around the globe. Co-founder and senior economist Dean Baker coauthored a New York Times op-ed making the case for supporting a waiver to the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Since then, Dean has written many more op-eds and blog posts pushing for a TRIPS waiver and for the sharing of propriety information on vaccine development so that countries around the world are able to manufacture their own vaccines. His post proposing an international vaccine summit stimulated a lot of discussion. CEPR Senior Research Fellow Jayati Ghosh has also been a leading international voice on this topic. A member of the World Health Organization’s Council on the Economics of Health for All, she has co-written a report and numerous op-eds with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and others, in addition to other writings, presentations, and events. Dean, Jayati, and other CEPR experts have done numerous interviews on Intellectual Property and vaccines since the start of the year.

CEPR has also continued to lead an international effort for a major allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) from the International Monetary Fund. SDRs are an internal currency of the IMF, but can be exchanged for hard currency by countries in need. SDRs provide one of the most efficient and quickest ways to get much-needed funds to countries facing economic hardship. In January, CEPR helped to organize a letter signed by dozens of groups representing tens of millions of people urging President Biden to support issuing two trillion in SDRs.

 In February, CEPR was at the center of successful efforts to have new legislation introduced in both houses of Congress backing an issuance of trillions in SDRs. In June, CEPR released a fact-check analysis responding to some Republican lawmakers’ misleading and erroneous claims about SDRs.

 Following news of international consensus around an issuance this summer of $650 billion worth of SDRs, CEPR issued multiple press releases pushing for a greater disbursement. Since the pandemic began, CEPR has engaged with journalists to encourage more coverage of this important global topic, and this has led to feature articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other outlets.

Moreover, CEPR has written extensively on the economic impact of the pandemic here in the U.S. We released an issue brief looking at food and housing insecurity as a result of the pandemic, finding that thirty-five percent of Black and Hispanic households reported housing insecurity compared to 14 percent of white households. We also looked at the impact on working-class mothers. Since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, women have disproportionately borne the brunt of the pandemic’s economic devastation. We documented the hard time that young people are having finding a job.  And we found that pandemic relief checks did in fact help stimulate the economy.

CEPR relies on donations from individuals and foundations to support our work – we take no corporate or government funding. The grant from CREDO was instrumental in allowing us to address the economic fallout from the pandemic in addition to all of our other research, analysis and publications. As the world struggles to recover from the devastation caused by the pandemic CEPR will continue to fight for an economy that works for everyone, not just the rich and powerful.

Mercy Corps helps meet urgent needs in times of crisis

Eman was just 10 years old when she fled from Syria to Jordan with her family. She suffered from war injuries and her right leg was amputated below the knee. Despite her challenging circumstances, Eman never lost hope. 

Through physical therapy she learned to walk with a new, artificial limb and enrolled in arts education through Mercy Corps’ inclusive education program. In addition to building community between her and the other students, the Mercy Corps art classes she takes have provided an opportunity for her to express herself and cope with stress. 

In Jordan, where a lack of educational resources for children with disabilities force many Syrian and Jordanian students to stay out of school completely, Mercy Corps’ inclusive education interventions aim to boost enrollment and educational quality by training educators, building awareness and providing customized support like equipment and rehabilitation.

In Jordan, Mercy Corps provides inclusive arts education to refugees like Eman, who lost a leg in the war in Syria before fleeing to Za’atari refugee camp.

This is just one of many programs the international humanitarian organization Mercy Corps provides. In more than 40 countries around the globe, their nearly 5,600 team members respond to the world’s toughest challenges — from the climate crisis to humanitarian disasters — to provide immediate life-saving support as opportunities and community well-being for a stronger tomorrow. 

Ganassa, 45, cuts grass on a steep hillside near her village in Ethiopia. Mercy Corps is working with people to protect their land so they have enough grass to feed their cattle and survive the dry season. As drought becomes worse, rangeland like this becomes more precious to keep cattle healthy.

Helping small-scale farmers adapt to climate change 

“Is it going to rain, or will we experience drought?” These are the questions small scale farmers are asking, with little information or resources to address these concerns. Mercy Corps’ AgriFin program helps farmer-serving organizations reach farmers more effectively and with profitability in mind so they can continue to reach farmers over the long term. From better seeds to access to banking, Mercy Corps is providing critical resources to help farmers adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and shocks like COVID-19. 

Providing urgent humanitarian assistance and recovery building in the face of disaster  

Mercy Corps has responded to almost every global natural disaster in the last 20 years, including the Nepal earthquake, the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa, the Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. Expanding upon a foundation of success fighting Ebola in places like Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mercy Corps teams are protecting the health of communities through public outreach, clean water and sanitation services in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. They’re meeting immediate needs with cash distributions that provide families with food, soap and health care. And they are working to strengthen local economies by supporting small-holder farmers and small businesses through the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Karon Pinder-Johnson gets water from a Mercy Corps water point outside the YMCA. She has been the Executive Director of the YMCA in Freeport since 1991. After Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas in 2020, Mercy Corps set up a water distribution point at the YMCA (pictured here), which not only helped reach people with badly needed water, but helped create a focal point for the community to come together.

Stopping the spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable communities 

As higher-income countries inch closer to vaccinating the majority of their populations, the catastrophic surge in COVID-19 infections in other places around the world is a sobering reminder that we are nowhere near eradicating this global threat. Mercy Corps is working in places like Uganda and Indonesia where positive COVID-19 cases are rising at an alarming rate with urgently needed relief including emergency cash, hygiene education and supplies, clean water and long-term support to families and communities. 

To learn more and get involved with Mercy Corps life-saving global humanitarian work, please visit www.mercycorps.org or follow the organization on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.