Greenpeacers Helped Stop the Dirty Deal — Thank You!

by Tefere Gebre

October 5, 2022

We just had a major victory in our fight to stop Senator Joe Manchin’s dirty deal to gut environmental protections like the Clean Water Act.

We just had a major victory in our fight to stop Senator Joe Manchin’s dirty deal to gut environmental protections like the Clean Water Act.

I’ve spent my life as an organizer and activist, and I’ll tell you, this victory feels different. It could represent a sea of change in our fight for people and the planet. It feels as if for the first time, the environmental movement is united under one strong voice.

But how did we get here and why do I feel this way?

My name is Tefere Gebre and I am an activist. I am a champion for worker’s rights. I am the Chief Program Officer at Greenpeace USA. And the best job I have: I am a father. I fled my home country of Ethiopia after years of brutal conflict in 1982. For nearly 95 days I walked miles across the desert to a refugee camp in Sudan. Alone, I embarked on an uncertain path for a better life that led me to the United States where I dedicated my life to activism and organizing.

As the former Executive Vice President in the AFL-CIO, many of you have seen me spend my days and nights fighting injustice and organizing workers to build power to protect and expand union jobs. I have seen with my own eyes how communities are disproportionately impacted by both economic transition and toxic pollution. We have a responsibility to listen to and partner with immigrants and communities of color to ensure a livable future for all. Because there are no jobs – and no way to prosper – on a dead planet.

With the first defeat of the dirty deal, that solidarity is starting to pay off. In no small part thanks to Greenpeacers like you.

About two months ago, Greenpeace USA declared an all hands on deck moment to defeat Sen. Schumer’s and Manchin’s “Dirty Deal”. This deal was and still is, the ultimate betrayal of all the people of color that stood in line for hours and hours, electing leaders that were supposed to protect them. If not for Black voters who showed up in force despite all the voting rules rigged against them in places like Georgia, Sen. Schumer would have never had the opportunity to be a majority leader of the US Senate. It’s mind boggling that this same majority never had a handshake deal to pass the Voting Rights Act, a pathway to citizenship for millions of hard working Americans who just lack a social security number, or investments in what’s needed to save our planet.

I hope our leaders now know that we will never concede our hard won right to breathe clean air or drink clean water to a backroom deal with an oil baron pretending to be a lawmaker.

But in order to celebrate, we must recognize the people that made this happen.

When it became clear that Senator Schumer planned to attach the dirty deal to must-pass legislation, we asked all Greenpeacers — staff, volunteers, our online community — to set aside almost everything they were doing to throw down as one mighty Greenpeace team. They did just that.

Together, we created unrelenting pressure to show that the dirty permitting deal was an affront to environmental justice and not in-line with our climate goals.

We worked in solidarity with allies, partners, and coalition members to draw attention to this dirty deal and amplified strong congressional and frontline opposition. We put ads in major traditional and digital media outlets so that everywhere they looked, Congress saw that we will not stand for passage of the #DirtyDeal.

Greenpeacers like you sent more than 100,000 messages to Congress. You organized phone banks and made thousands of calls, and got the word out on social media. Volunteers visited their Congress person’s offices while Greenpeace staff backed them up by speaking at the DNC and with our surround sound ad campaign.

We sent a very clear message to leaders: Do NOT allow the deal to pass in any way as part of the Senate budget bill. And in a powerful act of nonviolent direct action and resistance, one of our fearless leaders, our co-Executive Director Ebony Twilley Martin, got arrested at the senate for peacefully protesting the #DirtyDeal alongside 10 other environmental leaders. We were everywhere.

Now, we all celebrate the fact that we played our part in ensuring that this deal was not part of the must-pass Continuing Resolution (CR). We are now celebrating this small but very important victory because this is how leaders step-up. I know, when we come together, strategize together and fight together, we WIN! This was a fight we had to win because the alternative would be devastation to our planet and especially to frontline communities that would have been sacrificed on the altar of big oil. At Greenpeace USA, we fight for justice in places where injustice is the greatest. We oppose polluters who are causing climate devastation through the creation of legislation that is meant mostly to line their pockets. Let’s celebrate this one.

But while we KNOW we made a huge difference, our fight is far from over. Stopping bad legislation is just the start. By continuing to cast our ballots we can elect a congress that delivers the green and just future that we all deserve. The oil and gas industry threatens our health and our democracy. These are some of the only ways our communities can make our voices heard when coal, oil, and gas projects threaten our health, lands, and waters.

So we move full steam ahead, TOGETHER. Because that is the only way we win.

Tefere Gebre, Chief Program Officer

Tefere Gebre

By Tefere Gebre

As Chief Program Officer, Tefere oversees the long-term strategy for Greenpeace's strategic campaign areas, including Climate, Democracy, Oceans, and Forests and his work amplifies the organization’s standing as one of the world’s most influential environmental groups. He guides our peaceful, non-violent actions, and deep, meaningful research that ultimately exposes global environmental problems and promotes essential solutions to a green and peaceful future.

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