Aaron Regunberg Wants To Fight Exxon And Chevron So You Won’t Have To

When progressive champion David Cicilline resigned from Congress a few weeks ago, it triggered a special election in eastern Rhode Island to fill his seat. The district is safely blue— with a D+32 partisan lean.

Biden won the district against Trump 63.8% to 34.7%. The September 5 primary is all but certain to determine who the next member of Congress will be. Something like 15 Democrats have jumped in, mostly corporate hacks like Nick Autiello, Sabina Matos, John Conclaves, Marvin Abney, Sandra Cano, Gabe Amo, Donald Carlson and Stephen Casey… with another corporate hack, the conservative Speaker of the state House, Joe Shekarchi, likely to get in this week.

Blue America has endorsed the progressive in the race, former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg and we’d like to ask you to consider contributing to his campaign here. (He has also been endorsed by the Working Families Party, Our Revolution, all the environmental and climate groups active in Rhode Island and the only union to jump into the fray, CWA.)

Another Climate Disaster, Brought to You Exxon, Chevron, and Shell
-by Aaron Regunberg
Candidate for Congress, RI-01

Last week, over 90 million Americans were subjected to dangerously low air quality. All across the East Coast, school recess was canceled, seniors checked into hospitals, pregnant women huddled indoors. 

The immediate cause of this health disaster was a vast plume of smoke from Canada, where unprecedented wildfires have been raging following record-setting heat waves. The smog that swept over our state from these fires brought vast amounts of small particulate matter– tiny bits of soot, burned debris, chemicals, and other noxious materials that bury themselves deep in the lungs upon inhalation. As one Stanford professor described the effects of last week’s haze, “I expect we will see an uptick in respiratory hospitalization, pre-term births, and, sadly, mortalities.”

It breaks my heart that millions of people– millions of children– had to breathe in that air.

But it doesn’t just make me sad. It makes me angry. Because the historically bad wildfire season that produced last week’s dangerous air quality was not an accident or an act of nature. It was sparked, and greatly exacerbated by, global warming– warming that was knowingly caused by fossil fuel CEOs.

These Big Oil executives have known for decades that pouring greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere would create dangerous disasters like the one we experienced last week. They knew back in 1968, when a report from the American Petroleum Institute (API)– the trade group for Big Oil– determined that “[s]ignificant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000” and that “there seems to be no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe.” They knew in 1978, when Exxon’s senior scientist warned the company that “man has a time window of five to 10 years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.” They knew in 1986, when Shell concluded in an internal report that global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels would cause the greatest environmental changes “in recorded history,” including “destructive floods” and the abandonment of entire countries.

With this knowledge, fossil fuel executives had the chance to avert a catastrophic worldwide crisis. Instead, starting in the 1980s, these corporate giants organized a global campaign of deception and fraud aimed at disputing climate science and blocking attempts to transition to clean energy. They knowingly chose to condemn you and me, your kids and mine, to a profoundly dangerous future, just to keep their profits flowing.

It’s the greatest crime in human history– one that was committed by specific people, specific CEOs, specific companies. Exxon, Shell, BP, Total, Chevron, ConocoPhillips. We should say their names as our children choke on smoky air, as our homes flood, as our elders sweat through dangerous heat waves, as our families brace for incoming hurricanes.

This week we got a window into what our future might look like. If we stay on our current path, this is the world my son, and all of our children and grandchildren, will grow up in. But that path isn’t yet determined.

A better world is possible. We can build a green economy with cleaner air, millions of good paying union jobs, and cheaper and more stable energy costs. But we are running out of time.

That’s why I’m running for Congress. Because at a moment like this, we can’t afford to elect a go-along-to-get-along politician who isn’t willing to actually name the causes of the problems we face. We need leaders who will take the fight to the fossil fuel companies that created this crisis, and the elected officials they pay off. 

I know this work is possible because I’ve helped do it here in Rhode Island. I’ve been a part of bringing neighbors, businesses, environmentalists, and workers together to expand solar and wind throughout our state and block the development of dangerous new fossil fuel infrastructure. But state action isn’t enough; to secure a livable future, we need to win change at the national level, too.

And we can! Going up against the likes of Exxon and Chevron may seem like a David and Goliath matchup. But if we stand up, get organized, and elect climate champions, I know we have the power to take on Goliath and win. So let’s go slay a giant.

We hope you can spare some donor love for Aaron and the fight he’s willing to make against Big Oil. No donation is too small, they all combine to make a BIG difference. This is a Special Election happening in September! NOW is the time!

Thanks for always doing what you can to help make this a better world,

Howie, for the entire Blue America team


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