The Dernogalizer

December 17, 2008

Piece in Sierra Club Chesapeake Newsletter

Filed under: Dernoga,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 4:51 pm
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So I wanted to share an article I wrote for the Maryland Sierra Club’s seasonal newsletter The Chesapeake.  I worked as a summer intern(and helped into the fall) on a Congressional election in the 1st Distrct of Maryland.  The race was between Frank Kratovil and Andy Harris.  I wrote this shortly after my guy Kratovil was declared the winner after the absentee ballot count.  Check it out Here, and I’m also posting what I wrote below.

Hey Sierra Club members, as some of you may know, there was a very close contest in the 1st Congressional District of Maryland. The Sierra Club endorsed Frank Kratovil in his face off against long time environmental foe State Senator Andy Harris. At the beginning of the year and into the summer Frank Kratovil was trailing Andy Harris by double digits in the polls. The Harris campaign had lots of special interest money and resources. All of the political pundits that rank races by competitiveness all around the country labeled the seat as “safe” for Andy Harris’s taking. At one point I read that Andy Harris had said that the 1st district was one that a conservative could win every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Frank Kratovil has just been declared by the AP to be the winner after an absentee ballot count added significantly to his narrow vote lead. As Kratovil said when addressing supporters Tuesday night “this might not be a Sunday”.

What’s fantastic about this race being so close, is that I watched the Sierra Club make a difference. I oversaw, and coordinated many of our efforts over the summer, working as an intern from our College Park office. Without getting too deep into the tax code and how my number one priority was to not violate it and earn us a day in court with IRS, lets just say doing outreach was interesting. Our rules had it to where I couldn’t talk to anyone about voting for Frank besides our members and my mother. Okay I couldn’t talk to my mother either. Every action and breath I took had to be run through our national compliance office to make sure the rules were followed. I don’t like rules, but I liked the Sierra Club so I played along. I gained from this an infinite amount of respect for our Sierra Club organizers and leaders who have to do so much with so many rules, and such little money. They could teach Wall Street a thing or two.

We did a pretty good job at contacting our members and getting them involved. Throughout the summer myself and volunteers made thousands of phone calls to our members in the 1st District. We asked people a few simple things. One was whether or not they knew about the race, and who we had endorsed. The other was whether or not they would vote for Kratovil, wanted a sign in their yard, or wanted to write a letter to the editor supporting him. My reasoning behind this was that if we could get people involved on a small level, aware of the race, thinking about the race, talking about the race, following the race in the news…we could get them more involved later on when they were really needed. In the later months when the race was tight and canvassing and phone banking opportunities were everywhere, we’d know who to call. Of course, when we found very enthusiastic people, we’d try and plug them into Kratovil campaign activities(and boy were there a lot of them) right away!
I was inexperienced at a lot of this when it came to outreach for an election. I made a lot of the strategy up as I went along, and probably made some mistakes. But the key part of our strategy I was counting on came to fruition in the end. The race tightened, people got enthusiastic and pumped up, and the Sierra Club had a nice list of people to call and tap into. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’d estimate we collectively made over 1,000 phone calls and canvassed over 1,000 doors just in the last two months. It paid off.

But the real heroine in the last couple months has been the Sierra Club’s Conservation Coordinator Alana Wase. Thanks to an anonymous donor(I know who you are, thanks!), we could afford to set Alana loose right at the same time I had to go back to school, so I got to just become another volunteer assisting her. She’s really responsible for our most productive moments, and deserves far more credit than me. I’d also like to give special thanks to Janet Schollenberger for all the work she did with outreach to Baltimore County group. David Prosten for helping with Anne Arundel, and tolerating the phone scripts I gave him and his group. Betsy Johnson for making phone calls, and telling me I was doing a good job even when that may not have been entirely true. Laurel Imlay for showing me how to do things competently, and for lending me her mother for a phone banking session(best phone banker ever).

And of course, to everyone else I don’t have the space or memory to name. Those who agreed to canvass, make calls, give your time, your money, and your vote, thanks a million. We just helped Frank Kratovil pull off one of the biggest upsets in this election cycle in the country. We taught Andy Harris that if you vote against the environment, there will be consequences. It goes to show that nothing it set in stone. Nothing is a done deal. All it takes is for a group of people to believe, roll up their sleeves, and go to work. That’s what the Sierra Club is all about.

December 14, 2008

Kill Endangered Species!

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:58 pm
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Might as well put them outta their misery, right? Or that’s what a final parting shot by the Bush Administration is doing here by making it unnecessary for independent scientific reviews on the impacts of proposed development projects. Read the whole story below, and lets hope that Obama overturns this when he gets into office…

December 11, 2008

Obama Picks Energy+Environmental Posts

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 2:44 am
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So Obama has selected people for the top positions dealing with energy+environment. All that’s left is Interior Dept. You can find the link about who Obama has selected here, but I wanted to specifically shine a light upon the new energy secretary Dr. Steve Chu. Not only is this guy a Nobel Prize winner for work in Physics, but he’s been working on the frontlines of research into new technological breakthroughs when it comes to energy. This is in my opinion Obama’s finest pick. Here is a video of Chu, which gives a very good idea of how much you should be looking forward to this administration when it comes to renewable energy and fighting climate change.

December 8, 2008

I Just Got Served—> Kool-aid

My most recent comment about me getting served made me think I was finally getting that long-overdue restraining order, or lemonade…but instead it was a joyful response to one of my columns. Here’s the link to it, and my response to the dude.

column that doesn’t like me

my response is below

Hey Stephen, I just read your response to my column, I just wanted to give you my input here

#1. I actually did use sources, in fact the fact check people at the Diamondback are very rigorous about preventing the columnists from using poor facts and unfounded information, they actually have in the past e-mailed and/or called me to double check what I put, and the sources I cite.

#2. The sources and facts that you use are straight from the PR website of the company building the lines. They're just there to feed you flowers and sunshine.

#3. As I stated in my column, I'm not necessarily opposed to power lines feeding Maryland power, my oppostion is importing coal electricity. I think it's disingenuous for our Governor to talk big about cutting emissions and "going green" and then do that. If we're going to import coal power, then we should be more forthright about the direction we're taking the state. You and I probably have a disagreement about coal power that we can't resolve, but I am not opposed to powerlines importing renewable energy.

#4. There isn't time to add any additional energy sources by the time we're expected to face rolling blackouts, the only way is to employ conservation measures. Unfortunately I only have a limited word count in my column, but I did want to point out that the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant is expected to be done by 2015, so quick deployment of energy efficiency in the short term until that plant comes online in my opinion makes it unnecessary to import coal power. We may have a disagreement over that, but it's certainly not because I'm twisting facts in the wind.

#5. As far as my claim about people being brushed to the side. The reason I ended up having my attention drawn to this issue was because people who lived in West Virginia were e-mailing me and telling me that the public forums you cited were a joke to make it look like they were receptive to public opinion. I actually double checked it as best I could by finding numerous other complaints online from people in WV who had found the way by which they were being ignored troubling. In fact, after I wrote the column last week, I had numerous people from WV e-mail me and tell me I was spot on about this.

#6. You should learn to be more respectful when you respond to something someone else wrote. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bothered by it, when you're as loud and annoying as myself,I put myself out there for that stuff. Still, you should be able to disagree with me without insulting me in the opening paragraph.

Good luck with finals and the rest of the semester, and to countering my columns in the future.


December 7, 2008

Economic Stimulus into Green Tech.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matt Dernoga @ 3:08 am
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There was a good article in the NY Times a few days ago about how the economic stimulus package Obama is considering will largely be tied to investment in green technologies. Sounds good to me.

December 2, 2008

Column on PATH

Filed under: Dernoga,Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:36 pm
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So my column is out today. It’s about a project called PATH, where coal power is going to be imported into our state through environmentally destructive powerlines. Enjoy!

November 30, 2008

Time Magazine Article

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:56 am
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Here’s a good article I just came across. It was put out early in the month, and outlines the main misteps President Bush made when it came to the environment, and what Barack Obama must do to right the ship.,8599,1855819,00.html?xid=rss-health

November 25, 2008

John Dingell Ousted!

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 2:19 am
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I’m a couple days behind the news on this one, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. Here’s an interesting article in case you want more background

For anyone who doesn’t know, Democrat John Dingell of Michigan has been one of the most powerful members of Congress, and held his seat for well over half a century. He used to be the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Dingell is one of the main reasons why environmental and climate legislation has been so difficult to pass in the House. He “protected” the auto industries fro decades from improved CAFE standards, and emissions standards. Ironically enough, he’s probably one of the main reasons why the auto industry has been driven into the ground. Dingell’s chairmanship was challenged by Henry Waxman of California, a Congressman who has been much more proactive on energy and environmental legislation. Just having Democrats in control of Congress isn’t enough. We need to have the right Democrats in charge of the right committees. I’m looking forward to seeing how things change in 2009 with Henry Waxman as the new chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

It’s about time John Dingell got what he deserved.

November 12, 2008

Couple of Columns

I have a couple of columns to bring attention to. One was written today by me, the link for that is right here:

That one is about urban sprawl, and an inportant issue regarding transfer development rights in Prince George’s County.

This one is about the ICC, a friend of mine wrote it, it’s insightful:

November 1, 2008

Vote for Andrew Rice

I wanted to take a moment to write a post to encourage all those who live in Oklahoma to vote for Andrew Rice as your US Senator. This is a race I have been monitoring quite intently. Andrew Rice is a terrific person, he graduated with a religious studies degree, and a masters in theologic studies. In the 1990’s, he traveled to Asia to do missionary work. Over there, he worked on constructing schools, as an AIDS hospice, and substance abuse treatment homes.

However, his brother was killed in the 9/11 attacks, and this was a game-changer for him. He decided to focus on public service to try to better his country. Andrew has been a State Senator since 2006, and has already amassed a fantastic resume, particularly in expanding health insurance for children, pushing to pass a tremendous bill called stephanie’s law, and he has a solid environmental record of pushing for energy conservation, efficiency, and cleaner burning fuels into vehicles.

I’ve paid a lot of attention to the rhetoric coming from Andrew Rice, because he is running in one of the most conservative states in the country. I wanted to see how his positions when it came to energy/environmental issues would change as the days wore on. To my pleasant surprise, he hasn’t backed down a bit. Andrew constantly talks about how climate change is a real serious, urgent problem that we must confront. He refers to the future of his children as a reason he’s running for office- so that he can work to ensure they don’t have live with the effects. He gets it when it comes to green jobs and clean energy. He understands that investing in clean alternatives isn’t only good for the economy, but creates an economic boom with millions of new good paying green jobs. The kinds of jobs that are going to put America’s economy back into contention with the rest of the world. Andrew Rice also recognizes the severe limitations that come with offshore drilling and how little it can address our energy crisis.

This is not to say Andrew and I agree on everything. Coming from a conservative states, he has staked out some moderate to right-leaning positions which you can read about on his website. Additionally, even when it comes to energy he is a strong proponent of natural gas. While I recognize natural gas is cleaner than coal and oil, to me it’s still a dirty fuel, and economically is not our best option. But I can live with that disagreement.

What makes this race even more important is the opponent Rice is facing. James Inhofe, the man who is infamously known for saying on television “global warming is the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people” back in 2003. Up until 2006 when the Democrats took over the Senate, Inhofe towered over the Senate’s Environment Committee, doing everything in his power to block any kind of legislation that would serve positively towards the environment, moving away from dirty fuels, or fight climate change. He has a 0% score from the League of Conservation Voters.

If you would like to read an interview with Andrew Rice conducted earlier in the year, go here

I am a realist, Rice is trying to defeat what has been considered a seemingly invincible opponent. The closest poll I’ve seen from this race is Inhofe leading Rice by 9% points. But there was ever a year for it to happen, this is it. Republicans are extremely unpopular, Inhofe has pretty much been lock step with Bush, and people are hungry for a change. There’s also the Obama Factor, as I call it, where it’s likely there will be a massive surge in youth and African American turnout all around the country which will affect races all down the ticket.

Regardless of the outcome, I sense Rice will be a star in American politics in the years to come. But if you live in Oklahoma, vote him into the Senate.

By the way, I just tracked down Inhofe’s contributions from Big Oil and Big Coal over the years. Sicccck

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)

Accepted $607,406 from the oil and gas industry since 2000. $300,548 of those dollars were from industry PACS. Supported the industry in 100% of selected votes.

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)

Accepted $321,000 from the coal industry since 2000. $253,750 of those dollars were from industry PACS.

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