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Biden and the future of clean energy politics | Greenbiz – GreenBiz

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Have you heard about the clean energy triangle? 

The theory goes that in order to rapidly deploy clean energy, you need three elements: technology; policy; and finance. When these components are integrated, we’re able to thoughtfully accelerate the speed and scale of clean technologies. The technology is there and is getting better. The finance is following as investors see there’s money to be made. The only missing piece, before this week, has been policy. 

The inauguration of Joe Biden as president is the dawn of a new political era; for the first time, the stars are aligning for the clean energy sector to unleash its full potential. 

Biden’s position on clean energy is as diametrically opposed to his predecessor as this analyst can fathom. On his first day, the new president signed executive orders killing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and recommitting the United States to the Paris climate accord. As a candidate, Biden called for 100 percent clean energy in the U.S. by 2035. He’s integrating climate experts across all departments in “the largest team ever assembled inside the White House to tackle global warming.”

The political sea change is larger than the whims of a single politician. It’s a reflection of the growing, influential force of the clean energy sector itself that will be difficult for serious politicians to ignore forevermore. 

How clean energy pros helped POTUS land his new job

Biden didn’t always make clean energy his issue. He responded to the public’s growing concerns about climate change and listened to experts about its immense economic potential. 

That didn’t happen by accident. The clean energy sector has been growing and maturing for years, and in this election cycle, it helped Biden land his dream job thanks in part to the all-volunteer organization Clean Energy for Biden (CE4B)

“I’m not just hopeful, I’m pretty convinced [clean energy professionals were politically influential],” Dan Reicher, CE4B co-chair and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy, told me in a phone conversation. “They’ve shown themselves to be very capable in President Biden’s victory and made a real difference.”

CE4B brought together more than 13,000 individuals in all 50 states, including 40 regional affinity groups in key locations across the county. It raised $3.2 million through more than 100 fundraisers and held hundreds of phone banks to get out the vote. The effort brought together impressive, diverse and passionate professionals  excited about leaders who understand clean energy. (Full disclosure: I’m a volunteer for CE4B.)

The success of the CE4B’s organizing and campaign efforts inspired organizers to spin out a newly formed nonprofit, Clean Energy for America, which will support candidates and policies that will accelerate the clean energy transition at the state and national levels. 

“Clean Energy for America is a recognition that the transformation that we need to address our clean energy challenges and opportunities needs to happen up and down the ballot,” Reicher said. “It’s not enough to work on a presidential campaign and then close up shop. We’ve got to continue on a variety of races on the national level, but we have to get really focused on state and local races as well.”

It’s also a recognition that clean energy professionals are realizing their power and are here to stay. As clean energy continues to disrupt dirty energy incumbents, the sector will grow in numbers and power. It also means those in power today will decide the policy levers that shape our energy future; who benefits and in what way. 

Clean Energy for America is continuing with the key tenets of CE4B, organizing around the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion to ensure that the clean energy transition is a just transition for all.

The long road to Clean Energy for America 

Before Clean Energy for Biden, there was CleanTech for Hillary. Before that, there was CleanTech for Obama. 

The evolution of the name — from cleantech to clean energy — is a reflection of the industry itself. 

“We treated it as a technology play, not ready for prime time,” said Reicher, who was involved in each organization. “We now call it clean energy. We had decided we had become mainstream; we were no longer a large tech sector backed by venture capital communities. It is a large, mainstream energy sector backed by large investment firms around the U.S. and world.”

Today, millions work in clean energy (about 3.4 million before the start of the pandemic), and those numbers translated into a larger network. 

“We still marvel today at how fast [CE4B] grew to 13,000 people,” Reicher said. “We never saw that level of growth in the other organizations.”

With the birth of Clean Energy for America, the group is poised to continue to mobilize in races quickly. That, combined with the virtuous cycle that promises millions more Americans will be employed by clean energy in the coming decades, plants a clean energy flag in the sand. 

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Politics and the public good – Gazette

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The ongoing provincial election is unusual in more ways than one.

But faculty members from the Department of Political Science at Memorial are helping voters make sense of the situation through public engagement.

Dr. Kelly Blidook, an associate professor in the department, made a video explainer to help people understand Newfoundland and Labrador’s current political circumstances.

A question from anti-poverty advocate Dan Meades prompted Dr. Blidook to make the video, he says.

“There wasn’t anything out there that kind of captured the whole thing,” he said, adding that interviews with media can be piecemeal because they are usually reactionary and focused.

With the video, he hopes to provide a beginners’ overview of the situation.

“I tried to think of it as a regular lecture for an introductory level class, or even for a high school class,” Dr. Blidook said. “It was meant to bring together a lot of different ideas and try to figure out what the best path is.”

Watch the video below.

[embedded content]

Sharing expertise

The video is one of several ways that he is contributing to public discourse about the election, which moved to mail-in ballots only when the province went into another pandemic-related shutdown in mid-February.

Dr. Blidook is also a regular commentator for CBC. He also does interviews with other media outlets and contributes to conversations online via Twitter.

“Academics, in Canada at least, are significantly funded by the public,” Dr. Blidook said.

Writing books and articles is one way he and his colleagues provide a public good, he says, but most people won’t read them. Social media and media interviews are a way to share knowledge and spur conversation in real time.

Department-wide contributions

Dr. Blidook is one of several instructors and faculty members in the department who are sharing their political science expertise with the public.

Dr. Amanda Bittner also does regular media interviews and appearances, and shares insights and expertise on social media.

Dr. Amanda Bittner is a professor in the Department of Political Science.

“This election is tough to navigate — both as a “regular” citizen and an expert on elections and voting,” Dr. Bittner said.

She says she values the behind-the-scenes conversations she has with colleagues as they try to make sense of both the election and what it means for the province.

Some of those Political Science colleagues are having conversations with the public, too. Dr. Russell Williams uses social media to engage on the election and also does regular media interviews.

And along with lawyer Lyle Skinner, his colleague Dr. Alex Marland helped with Dr. Blidook’s video content.

“I’m grateful to my colleagues for sharing their expertise on social media and in traditional media interviews,” Dr. Bittner said.

A positive response

Dr. Blidook says the response to his video, which he uploaded to YouTube a week ago, has been largely positive so far.

The 22-minute video has almost 600 views and sparked discussion on Twitter. In the meantime, Political Science faculty and instructors continue to do media interviews as the election continues.

Amid the ongoing discussion, Dr. Bittner says that nobody has a crystal ball for the province’s future. But she hopes the importance of planning and preparation is one takeaway from the “pandemic” election.

“We have much to learn from this. It is my hope that on a go-forward basis, we take political processes more seriously in the province.”

Terri Coles is a communications advisor with the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. She can be reached at tcoles@mun.ca.

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'He's just checked out of politics': Kushner disappears from Trump's inner circle – CTV News

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As Donald Trump plotted his Conservative Political Action Conference appearance last week, and a broader, more-robust plan to return to politics as an omnipresent disruptor, one person was conspicuously absent from the confab.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, was notably not on the list of advisers assisting the former president. Kushner, who previously served as chief adviser-cum-micromanager with far-reaching responsibilities and had virtual carte blanche, has tapped out, say several people who worked closely with Kushner at the White House or are familiar with his thinking and told CNN on background in order to maintain relationships.

“Right now, he’s just checked out of politics,” says one person, echoing the mindset of Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, who is so over the political bubble she has told friends and colleagues of late to not utter anything to do with Washington.

Given Trump’s election loss and current out-of-power position, Kushner’s absence from the aftermath follows a pattern critics have previously pointed out: being present for the wins and MIA from the losses. A person with close ties to Kushner told CNN that Trump’s son-in-law is enjoying “some much needed time with his family,” and his retreat is unrelated to the ebb and flow of the former president’s popularity.

During the administration, Kushner was more than happy to speak on behalf of the moments that turned out well for the White House — but also conveniently skip the parts embroiled in turmoil.

As far back as 2017, when Trump’s health care plan floundered and failed, Kushner and his family were on the slopes of Aspen, Colorado. In 2018, they were vacationing in Florida amid the government shutdown, even though the White House insisted Kushner was actively leading negotiations. And in 2019, when Trump was under fire for multiple issues, from background checks to comments about Jews and Democrats, the couple was having downtime in Wyoming, something even Trump noted with a tweet of a photo of them on vacation: “Two incredible people. I can’t believe they’re not working (few work harder)!”

A Trump spokeswoman did not provide an on the record response to CNN’s request for comment.

It’s not clear, however, who is instigating this — at least for now — breakup. Some who have been in contact with Kushner place it at the feet of being done with his father-in-law’s antics. Sources closer to Trump say he’s angry with his son-in-law over the election loss.

TRUMP’S REGULARS, MINUS ONE

That Kushner has now developed anathema to his father-in-law’s political appetite is questionable in its timing, an indicator that Kushner again is putting space between his image and Trump’s, in the wake of the delusional flow of falsehoods after Election Day and the deadly Trump-incited insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Yet several people told CNN that Kushner is truly — this time — effectively done with Trump’s rhetoric.

Kushner and Ivanka Trump got out of their posh Washington rental home soon after Jan. 20, the last moving trucks rolling towards their new high-rise, beachside Miami rental departing within 24 hours of President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Another person familiar with Kushner’s new chapter, says he wants closure and a fresh start, one that doesn’t include advising his father-in-law on a daily basis.

Yet two other people who spoke with CNN indicated the schism was instigated by Trump, who has been telling those in his inner circle he is angry with Kushner.

Late last week, when Trump convened what he believes is his strongest political brain trust for a meeting to discuss his political future he did not include Kushner. The group looked at the 2022 midterms and, more and more likely, say people who have spoken to Trump of late, a presidential run in 2024.

Ensconced in Trump’s private quarters at Mar-a-Lago, his club/post-White House headquarters/home in Palm Beach, the advisers consisted in part of former campaign manager Bill Stepien, adviser Jason Miller, former White House social media director Dan Scavino, Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and another former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, who Kushner fired at Trump’s request last summer and replaced with Stepien.

On the table was a push to create a super PAC to raise money, as well as a broader discussion of who would do what as Trump determined where and when and to whom to dole his outsized influence within a fractured Republican Party.

For Kushner not to be present at a strategic roundtable struck many who know his deep involvement in every aspect of Trump’s political messaging as odd.

“That’s about as 180 a turn as he could ever make,” said a third person, who worked inside the Trump White House with Kushner. “This was a guy who for four years did everything on behalf of President Trump. He lived that job.”

Another former White House colleague expressed surprise at Kushner’s decision to walk away, adding there was nothing in the administration’s portfolio that Kushner didn’t “meddle” in, according to this person.

From domestic policy, foreign policy, staffing, speechwriting, national security, criminal justice reform, budget, COVID-19, Kushner had a hand in it all.

“He was an ‘expert’ in everything,” said the former colleague, who noted Kushner’s flitting from one topic to the next was often the bane of some senior West Wing staff’s existence.

DISTANCED RELATIONSHIP

But Kushner’s — and similarly Ivanka Trump’s — ability to manoeuvre in and out of topics, day-in and day-out, was due in part to being family.

“It’s not like Trump could fire his son-in-law, or give him a nickname and attack him on Twitter,” said the person who worked inside the Trump White House.

As such, Kushner was able to be a chief strategist and an influential voice for the then-president.

Not so much now.

Two of the people who spoke to CNN say Kushner’s relationship with Trump, son-in-law or no, has been fractured since Trump’s re-election loss.

Trump, they say, has at times in the last several weeks expressed to those close to him that he faults Kushner for losing.

A person who speaks with Kushner frequently strongly denied any contention between the two men, noting Kushner and Trump met for lunch Wednesday in Florida at Trump’s Doral property.

Kushner, however, would be a plausible surrogate, seeing it was he who orchestrated much of the administration’s response to, essentially, most things, from the economy to immigration reform and ultimately coronavirus — and who can forget Kushner’s pledge last April during an interview that the United States would be “really rocking again” by July?

“We know the boss isn’t going to blame himself” (for losing the election), said one source speaking to the nature of their relationship, highlighting Trump’s habitual avoidance of personal responsibility.

However, if it is Trump who is keeping Kushner at arm’s length, or vice versa, one thing is clear to those who have talked to Kushner in recent weeks: “He wants a break,” said a person familiar with his thinking. But the source predicted that after a cooling-off period, and if and when Trump decides to launch a 2024 campaign, Kushner would likely come back into the fold as an adviser.

For now, however, Kushner is more than willing to see Trump Jr. or even Parscale assume the role of Trump whisperer and loyal first lieutenant, though Kushner’s close associate said he keeps tabs on Stepien, Parscale and Miller, and speaks with them frequently.

Several of the people who spoke to CNN noted Kushner’s peripheral interests still include an ongoing focus on the Middle East, brokering peace deals and helping ensure they take hold.

He would also like to be part of advancing criminal justice reform, such as reviving parole in the federal prison system, something that was eliminated in 1984 and Kushner feels deserves reexamination.

“He is trying to be someone you would go to on the Republican side to put a deal together,” said the person familiar with Kushner’s potential career path.

Yet for the foreseeable future, don’t expect to spot Kushner among the former presidential advisers eagerly volunteering for a second tour.

“The drama of politics wore him down. Eventually, Trump wears everyone down,” the person said.

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'Leave the politics to the politicians,' Crown lawyer urges judge in Meng case – North Shore News

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VANCOUVER — A Crown lawyer is urging a B.C. Supreme Court judge to ignore the “geopolitical winds swirling around” Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case and focus instead on the legal context. 

Robert Frater told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes that Meng’s legal team is trying to bring the elephant into the room by introducing arguments centred on comments made by former U.S. president Donald Trump about the case. 

“With respect, we urge you to focus on the facts and the law and leave the politics to the politicians,” Frater said Thursday.

He made the comments in response to claims from Meng’s legal team that Trump’s words 10 days after her arrest at Vancouver’s airport in December 2018 represented a threat and poisoned the Canadian proceedings.

Trump was asked by media if he would intervene in the case to get a better deal in trade talks with China, and he responded that he would “certainly intervene” if he thought it was necessary. 

Meng is wanted in the United States on fraud charges that both she and Huawei deny.

Her lawyers allege Trump’s comments constitute an abuse of process and they are asking for a stay of proceedings.

It is the first of four branches of abuse of process arguments that the court will hear ahead of the actual extradition or committal hearing in May.

“Everyone in this courtroom knows that the elephant in the room in this case has always been the geopolitical winds that swirl around it,” Frater told the judge.

“We’re confident that when you look at the facts and apply the law, you will dismiss this motion.”

On Wednesday, Meng’s team sought to tie her case to a long-brewing technological race between the United States and China.

Huawei’s success in establishing 5G wireless technology worldwide represents an “existential threat” to the United States and Meng’s case is unfolding amid an effort by the U.S. government to “debilitate, if not destroy, Huawei,” her lawyer Richard Peck said. 

Peck noted that in February 2020, then-U. S. attorney general William Barr said the stakes could not be higher and likened the race to the Cold War. 

Democrat Nancy Pelosi has warned against doing business with Huawei and White House press secretary Jen Psaki has described Huawei as a “threat to the security of the U.S.,” Peck said. 

“This campaign is bipartisan and continues in full vigour today,” he said. 

Frater, representing Canada’s attorney general, sought to redirect the judge’s attention Thursday. 

There is a rigorous test to meet the threshold of an abuse of process claim that warrants a stay of proceedings and Meng’s argument doesn’t pass it, he said. 

The threshold outlined by the Supreme Court of Canada says there must be prejudice to the accused’s right to a fair trial or to the integrity of the justice system and there must be no alternative remedy. Where there is still uncertainty, the court must balance the interests of the accused and the societal interest in having the case heard, Frater said. 

In the balancing act, he argued the court should consider that the fraud charges are serious and Meng, the chief financial officer of one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, isn’t a “powerless” person. 

Someone with “the resources to hire a battalion of lawyers, who has the full backing of a powerful state, is in a different position factually than an indigent or vulnerable individual,” Frater said. 

Another lawyer for Meng, Eric Gottardi, countered that Meng’s celebrity makes her a “higher value target” for interference, adding that a person’s resources shouldn’t affect how they are treated by the court. 

Frater told the court that comments by politicians about the case have not approached the level of threat required to compromise the legal process. And Trump’s failure to win re-election has only weakened the argument, he said. 

“This application, in our submission, was based on the thinnest of evidence. That evidence only got worse over time, there’s been material changes in circumstance that have removed the basis for it,” Frater said. 

The political commentary has in no way affected the proceedings, he said. 

“They’ve had a hearing which has observed and continues to observe the highest standards of fairness.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

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