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Interview with Friends of the Earth Action President Blackwelder Re Edwards Endorsement

Interview by Tom P, and cross-posted from Daily Kos with his permission.

Last week, Friends of the Earth Action (“FOE Action”) endorsed John Edwards.  This week, I interviewed Brent Blackwelder, President of Friends of the Earth and of Friends of the Earth Action, about FOE Action’s endorsement of John Edwards.

Part I of the interview is in this diary. 

Here’s a little about FOE Action for those unfamiliar with it:

Founded by David Brower in 1967, Friends of the Earth Action has established a 35-year record of not only fighting the tough battles, but winning them too. FoE Action provides extra political muscle on legislative battles here in the U.S. for to our sister organization, Friends of the Earth, which is part of a network of affiliates in over 70 nations around the world. 


FoE Action looks beyond the symptoms of environmental degredation, to the systemic causes.

FOE Action

Come around after the fold to hear a real hero of the struggle to save our planet.

Mr. Blackwelder is a long-time advocate for the planet and the people on it.  He has worked in Washington DC for over 30 years fighting for clean air, clean water, and a healthy planet.  He has testified before Congress on environmental issues more than 100 times. 

Mr. Blackwelder was founder and first chairman of the board of American Rivers, our nation’s leading river-saving organization. He also founded the Environmental Policy Institute, which merged with Friends of the Earth in 1989.  In 1994 he became president of Friends of the Earth and FOE Action. 

More on Mr. Blackwelder here: Friends of the Earth

On October 14, FOE Action became the first major environmental organization to endorse a candidate for president, and they endorsed John Edwards:

WASHINGTON, DC — Friends of the Earth Action (FOE Action), one of the longest-standing, national environmental organizations in the country, today announced its endorsement of Senator John Edwards for President, citing his leadership on real solutions to combat global warming and his unequivocal position against dangerous and expensive nuclear power.

“Friends of the Earth Action enthusiastically endorses John Edwards for President,” said Brent Blackwelder, president of FOE Action.

Friends of the Earth Action Endorses John Edwards

Mr. Blackwelder answered 10 questions that I sent him via email.  Here is Part I of the Interview.  I will publish the remaining questions and answers in Part II tomorrow.

Q:  What most differentiates John Edwards from the other Democratic presidential candidates with respect to environmental issues?

A:  Of the leading Democratic candidates for president, John Edwards is most committed, and best prepared, to halt global warming and promote a healthy, livable planet for our families and our future. Friends of the Earth Action feels John Edwards has set the paces among all of the Democratic candidates by putting forth a plan that provides real action to combat global warming. 

We encourage people to visit our web site,  www.foeaction.org . to learn more about why we endorsed Edwards and facts about his environmental record.

Q:  John Edwards has proposed a global warming plan that will reduce greenhouse pollution by 20 percent by 2020, and reduce it by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.  What in this plan do you feel will be most effective in achieving this reduction?

A:  John Edwards plans to share America’s clean energy technology with other nations in exchange for binding greenhouse reduction commitments. If necessary, he will insist that strong labor and environmental standards in our trade deals include commitments on climate change. This new deal will require global participation, promote shared responsibility, and let American workers and businesses compete on a level playing field.  In addition, Edwards’ plan will lead America to a new energy economy by investing in clean, renewable energy and creating a million new jobs. 

Q:  Polluters often attempt to present a false choice between environmental degradation and jobs.  In fact, clean, green technologies can mean more jobs for Americans, and good paying jobs.  Edwards proposes creating at least 1 million “green collar jobs” by investing in clean energy and energy efficient technologies.  Can you explain the relationship of economic growth, including good paying jobs, and using clean, green technologies?

A: Edwards really gets it: green does not have to mean fewer jobs.  If our nation makes  serious and smart investments in clean energy technologies, such as wind, solar and geothermal, we can create good-paying jobs, expand markets for the renewable energy industry and secure our country’s energy future. 

Renewables are secure and viable alternatives to dirty, fossil fuels and costly and dangerous nuclear power. They can be scaled up relatively quickly, which means jobs and economic growth for states and local communities in the U.S., particularly in rural areas that have been hardest hit by economic downturns but have the space for these technologies to be constructed and brought online.

Q:  What can FoE Action do to help John Edwards be nominated and then elected?  I understand you plan to set up an independent campaign on Edwards’ behalf in New Hampshire.  How will that work?  How can people inside and outside New Hampshire help you ?

A:  We plan to be especially active in New Hampshire, establishing an independent campaign and organization to carry the message about John Edwards’ global warming plan and his vision for a healthy environment. There is a powerful, untapped environmental constituency out there that is up for grabs in this country and we are here to lend our voice to push that constituency toward Edwards.  We believe he has the right vision and record to tap that constituency. 

In New Hampshire, there are a lot of Democratic primary voters who care deeply about the quality of their environment and cite it as a top concern when choosing a nominee for president. In particular, voters in the Granite State are looking for real action to combat global warming. We plan to spend the next 3 months letting these voters know that John Edwards is the candidate best qualified and most committed to help achieve this big and bold goal. 

Please visit the FoE Action website to find out how you can get involved in our campaign to elect John Edwards as president: www.foeaction.org.


I’d like to thank Brent Blackwelder for granting me this interview and Jenna Moran for facilitating it.  I will publish Part II of the interview tomorrow.

I also want to thank Mr. Blackwelder for his years of service to people and our planet in fighting corporate polluters and a corrupt government.

And like he says:  Please visit the FoE Action website to find out how you can get involved in our campaign to elect John Edwards as president: www.foeaction.org.