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Progressives lament Clinton's choice of transition chair

Submitted by Food Democracy Now on August 23, 2016 - 11:21am

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08/16/16 02:30 PM EDT

Trade critics and anti-fracking activists expressed dismay Tuesday at Hillary Clinton's choice of former Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar to chair her transition team, raising new friction with some of the liberal constituencies that had flocked around Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primaries.

Salazar’s critics noted that he has been an outspoken supporter of President Barack Obama’s proposed Asia-Pacific trade deal, which Clinton says she opposes. Records show his employer since 2013, the law and lobbying firm WilmerHale, lobbied on trade policy as recently as this spring.

Salazar, who was Interior secretary during Obama’s first term, has also defended the safety of fracking for oil and natural gas. Just last month, he joined industry supporters in criticizing anti-fracking proposals that greens want to place on Colorado’s November ballot, saying the “ill-conceived, vague” measures would “undermine businesses across the state, damage our economy and kill jobs.”

"By choosing Salazar, [Clinton] has fired a post-convention warning shot at the huge progressive base of the Democratic Party,” Norman Solomon, national coordinator of the Sanders-supporting Bernie Delegates Network, said in a statement. He added, "If Clinton wants to weasel her way through the TPP issue and set off a war with progressives inside her own party in the process, she's off to a great start."

 

Salazar’s appointment does not “automatically negate” Clinton’s strong opposition to the deal, but it is an “unnecessary misstep," said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the grassroots organization Democracy for America.

 

"To defeat Donald Trump definitively in November, it is absolutely essential that there isn't a whisper of hesitation from the Clinton campaign on the fight against passing the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Chamberlain said in a statement.

Fracking opponents, meanwhile, said Clinton’s selection of Salazar raises new doubts about whether she’s really interested in reaching out to progressives. 

"Grassroots climate advocates and landowners concerned about fracking and eminent domain are looking for clues that Secretary Clinton is taking us seriously,” said Jane Kleeb, president of the green group Bold Alliance and a leader of the campaign that killed the Keystone XL oil pipeline. “We have yet to see anyone reflected in top leadership that has our backs.”

 

Then again, climate activist Bill McKibben quipped, picking Salazar “certainly demonstrates her commitment to recycling.”

 

Some liberal groups were more positive about Salazar.

 

“The real fire that he brings in his belly, which we’re delighted to see, is a real commitment to public lands," said Melinda Pierce, legislative director for the Sierra Club. She expressed no concerns about his past support for the TPP, emphasizing that he expressed those views before he joined Clinton's campaign.

 

“His job is to support and further the Clinton policy agenda, and so I fully expect him to embrace Clinton’s opposition to the pact,” Pierce said. “I just don’t see him as a leading voice pro-trade.”

 

Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of the League of Conservation Voters, said Salazar "has been a longtime environmental ally as a senator and as Secretary of the Interior, and we are confident that he and climate champions Jennifer Granholm and Neera Tanden and others will lead a transition team that is absolutely committed to fighting climate change and protecting our air, land and water." 

 

Another progressive Democrat, who wants to see more crackdowns on Wall Street, said the list of Salazar and other transition leaders could have been worse.

 

But one long-time Clinton watcher criticized the list as "predictable" and said it "suggests she's totally out of step with the times, the moment and the politics."

 

Many liberal activists had made it plain during the primaries that they preferred Sanders, who flat-out opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a stance Clinton was slow to adopt. The Vermont senator also called for a nationwide ban on fracking, in contrast to Clinton’s pledge to impose regulations so strict that “I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place.”

 

Salazar is a longtime defender of fracking for oil and gas, telling an industry conference in 2014 that "there's not a single case where hydraulic fracking has created an environmental problem for anyone."

On the other hand, as Interior secretary he also defended the administration's push for fracking regulations on federal and tribal land.

As for the trade deal, Salazar wrote in a USA Today op-ed in November that "the TPP promotes and rewards American firms that export our clean energy ingenuity, creating good jobs at home while shaping a renewable energy future abroad." His co-author was Bruce Babbitt, who served as Interior secretary during Bill Clinton’s presidency.

 

Salazar's employer since 2013, the law firm WilmerHale, has also been an active participant in the debate on Capitol Hill over TPP and other trade policy issues. 

 

In late 2014, the firm spent at least $30,000 lobbying for renewal of "fast-track" trade promotion authority and on issues related to the TPP on behalf of the Business Roundtable, an influential group of top executives from major U.S. corporations, the congressional disclosure database shows. Between April and June of this year, it spent $50,000 lobbying on trade policy and regulatory issues more generally on behalf of the building materials company Owens Corning Corp., records show.

 

The Clinton ticket has faced criticism for bringing on supporters of both the TPP and free trade deals more generally. Clinton supported the TPP as a member of the Obama administration before saying last year that it didn't meet her standards, while her running mate Tim Kaine praised the deal as recently as July before saying it "fell short."

 

Salazar's support of trade deals stretches back to his time in Congress, where the former Colorado senator voted in favor of free trade agreements with Oman and Peru. Still, like then-Sen. Clinton, he voted against the Central America Free Trade Agreement.

 

"Current rules of international commerce stack the deck against our state, but opponents of [the TPP] have responded by turning inward, clamoring to turn back the clock, and shutter ourselves from the increasingly interconnected economy," Salazar co-wrote in December in a Denver Post op-ed with two former Colorado governors.

 

"But the TPP is about looking forward," they added. "Congress should pass the TPP."

 

Salazar did not respond to a request for comment. Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon reiterated Clinton's opposition to the TPP, saying: "As the secretary has consistently said during this campaign, she is against the TPP before the election and after the election."

 

Doug Palmer, Matthew Korade, Elana Schor and Zachary Warmbrodt contributed to this report.



Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/ken-salazar-tpp-trade-227068#ixzz4IB18YD5m 
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Originally Posted: Politico.com

 

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