THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – APRIL 2, 2021

Mika Hyer, mhyer@lcv.org, 940-783-2230

Your weekly resource to learn what the environmental movement is saying about the news of the day and the political fight of our generation. Be sure to follow LCV on Facebook and Twitter.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

“…these communities aren’t just sitting on the sidelines. They are building power and enacting some of the most cost-effective and creative solutions to address the consequences of the climate crisis. They are implementing climate solutions in an effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions, while creating good jobs and addressing other community needs in the process. These are exactly the “disadvantaged communities” where the Justice40 Initiative’s benefits should flow.”

— Gloria Walton, president and CEO of The Solutions Project, a national nonprofit promoting climate justice through grantmaking and amplifying the stories of frontline community leaders in the media in The Hill op-ed, “Front-line communities are vital for Biden’s 40 percent climate justice pledge”

“Plastic pollution is a social justice issue. Current efforts, limited to managing and decreasing plastic pollution, are inadequate to address the whole scope of problems plastic creates, especially the disparate impacts on communities affected by the harmful effects of plastic at every point from production to waste.”

— Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš, Founder and Executive Director of Azul, and co-author of a new report released by United Nations Environment Programme and Azul, “Neglected: Environmental Justice Impacts of Plastic Pollution”.

“Because working conditions in Maine are sub-par for skilled construction workers and tradespeople, Maine has a depleted workforce necessary to build the kind of affordable housing we need. By raising the wages and benefits of these highly-skilled jobs and growing the pipeline of skilled workers, we can ease Maine’s affordable housing shortage today while making progress toward meeting Maine’s long-term and growing need for good jobs with fair pay and great benefits and helping build Maine’s future skilled workforce. All while taking steps to address the climate crisis.”

— Maine state Rep. Rebecca Millett (D-Cape Elizabeth) in a virtual press conference calling on President Biden to pass the THRIVE Agenda, the blueprint that calls for bold investments to tackle the climate crisis while addressing the most impacted communities

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

E&E: LCV names new board members, adds union voice
Politico: Climate activists on Biden infrastructure plan: Go bigger
Washington Post: Auto negotiations test Biden’s vow to create a climate-friendly future
CSPAN: Press Briefing with Jen Psaki
NOLA: Environmental justice gains notice in Louisiana race to succeed Cedric Richmond
Orleans Hub: Gillibrand announces plan to combat growing plastic pollution problem

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

LCV’s affiliates are hard at work protecting the environment and fighting climate change in the states. Here’s what people are reading across the country:

Courier Express (PA): In Pennsylvania visit, Biden proposes $16 billion for plugging abandoned oil and gas wells
NJ.com (NJ): Biden proposes $2 trillion infrastructure plan that’s a ‘huge game changer’ for N.J.
The State (SC): Stuck at home during COVID, some SC residents struggle to keep the lights on
ROI-NJ (NJ): Biden announces massive offshore wind initiative — which is great for N.J.
Florida Phoenix (FL): Carmakers’ new designs make electric vehicles green and sexy as Biden pushes for EV infrastructure
Santa Fe New Mexican (NM): Don’t blame Biden for oil and gas decline
Inovateli (NY): Biden’s Offshore Wind Plan Shines Bright On Long Island
Denver Post (CO): New bill aims to add specific signposts to Colorado’s roadmap for curbing greenhouse gases
Daily Magazine (SC): Gold mine expansion could produce $2.5 billion. But environmental problems linger.

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BIDEN IN PITTSBURGH: On Wednesday, President Biden held a press conference in Pittsburgh to discuss the American Jobs Plan — a commitment from the Biden-Harris administration to make transformative investments in the creation of clean energy jobs and to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. The importance of this administration calling for historic investments to tackle historic crises cannot be overstated — particularly with a commitment for 40 percent of the benefits of climate and clean infrastructure investments to go to the most at-risk communities, including communities of color and low-income communities. See why centering clean energy, justice, and jobs is good policy and good politics here, check out our factsheet debunking polluter allies’ opposition here, and see additional statements from our state partners here

PRESIDENTIAL TAKE: President Biden stated, “My American Jobs Plan will put hundreds of thousands of people to work… line workers, electricians, and laborers — laying thousands of miles of transmission line; building a modern, resilient, and fully clean grid; and capping hundreds of thousands of, literally, orphan oil and gas wells that need to be cleaned up because they’re abandoned — paying the same exact rate that a union man or woman would get having dug that well in the first place. We’ll build, upgrade, and weatherize affordable, energy-efficient housing and commercial buildings for millions of Americans.”

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “Investments in clean energy deployment and expanded domestic manufacturing to achieve 100% clean power by 2035 are central to the American Jobs Plan and must create new, good-paying union jobs here in the U.S. Additionally, the American Jobs Plan’s Justice40 commitment to ensure that 40 percent of all investment benefits are directed to frontline communities and communities of color are a critical component of ensuring our nation’s recovery rebuilds a more equitable society. We are also encouraged to see the president’s large scale commitment to electric vehicle infrastructure, including a solid start with a ‘Clean Buses for Kids Program’ at the EPA — our children, especially in low-income communities and communities of color who are exposed to the most air pollution, have a basic right to breathe healthy, clean air and deserve prioritization. And the president’s front and center commitment to providing clean, safe, affordable water to everyone, no matter their zip code, race, or income, is critical to creating healthy and thriving communities.”

CHISPA TAKE: Chispa tweeted, “We are proud to see @POTUS include an investment in the electrification of school buses. Our Chispa state teams have been working hard to prioritize #CleanRides4Kids, and the American Jobs Plan is an important starting point to ensure all niños have access to clean buses! We look forward to working with the Administration for even bolder investments in electric school buses! 🚌”

MILCV TAKE: Executive Director Michigan League of Conservation Voters Lisa Wozniak stated, “President Biden’s Build Back Better plan represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild our infrastructure, cleaning up our water and taking action on climate change. Our Michigan Congressional leaders will play a critical role in passing this exciting plan to put Michiganders to work in dramatic fashion — tearing up and replacing old roads and bridges, getting rid of lead water pipes and aging sewers, weatherizing homes and neighborhoods, and making Michigan the epicenter of electric vehicle manufacturing.”

PITTSBURGH ARTIVISM: Ahead of President Biden’s speech in Pennsylvania announcing the American Jobs Plan, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania collaborated with artist Erica Anderson-Lubera to launch a chalk art activation overlooking downtown Pittsburgh to highlight the Biden administration’s plan to prioritize clean energy, racial justice, and good-paying jobs. See photos of the mural here and LCV’s statement on the American Jobs Plan here. See more art from Erica on Instagram @manifest_creative_studio.

ARTIST TAKE: Artist Erica Anderson-Lubera stated, “The idea is to try and encourage government and congress to really take the environment, diversity, and energy seriously and go big.”

CVPA TAKE: Conservation Voters PA tweeted, “With the right investments in new #cleanenergy infrastructure & rebuilding American manufacturing, we can put people to work and build big things in America again. It’s time to #BuildBackBetter – check out this incredible art in #PGH for #climatejustice & jobs!”

VOTES HAVE IMPACTS: Last Friday, Blavity published an article from LCV Legislative Representative Darien Davis entitled, “Why I’m Counting On Our Diverse 117th Congress To Continue Prioritizing Climate Change,” which discussed the importance of  LCV’s report released last month examining the environmental records of members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), collectively referred to as the Tri-Caucus. Using data from LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard, the report details how members of the Tri-Caucus were champions of strong policies that addressed environmental injustice, helped chair a record number of hearings about climate change, and led on many of the critical pro-environmental bills during the 116th Congress. Read the article here and see the “These Votes Have Impacts Report” here.

OUR TAKE: LCV Legislative Representative Darien Davis said, “Our government has historically ignored and excluded communities of color, locking us out of the policy-making process. Increased representation in Congress means we’re chipping away at long-standing norms and barriers to entry. It means people of color can self-identify with decision-makers. It means our communities — and the issues that deeply affect us — are being represented and heard in our governance. It means we are shaping solutions. People of color are often characterized as mere victims of climate change, as we are disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis — but Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) have been leading the fight for climate and environmental justice for decades.

When we all have a seat at the table and a resounding voice in the process, we can work together for solutions that represent our unique experiences and needs. Reflecting on the contributions of BIPOC Members in the 116th Congress makes me hopeful for what is to come. As the 117th Congress and our country focus on relief, restoration and healing, I’m confident that the most diverse Congress in history will prioritize our communities in desperate need of environmental justice and climate action.”

EJ ADVISORY COUNCIL: This week, members of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) were named. The WHEJAC will advise and provide recommendations to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council on how to address current and historic environmental injustices, including recommendations for updating Biden’s executive order to tackle the climate crisis and prioritize environmental justice. We commend the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to addressing environmental justice as we work towards economic recovery.

VP TAKE: Vice President Harris stated, “We know that we cannot achieve health justice, economic justice, racial justice, or educational justice without environmental justice. That is why President Biden and I are committed to addressing environmental injustice. This historic White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council will ensure that our administration’s work is informed by the insights, expertise, and lived experience of environmental justice leaders from across the nation.”

COUNCIL MEMBER TAKE: Beverly Wright, one of the newly appointed members of the Environmental Justice Advisory Council and founder and executive director of the New Orleans-based Deep South Center for Environmental Justice stated, “The elevation of this body to the Office of the President demonstrates the importance of environmental justice to this administration. I pledge to do all that is within my power to raise issues of concern to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast Region and to work tirelessly … to improve the health and wellness, including economic conditions, in communities disproportionately exposed to toxic pollution and climate-induced disasters.”

COUNCIL MEMBER DOUBLE TAKE: Vi Waghiyi, another newly appointed member of the council and Environmental Health and Justice Director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics stated, “This position is not only a voice for our Sivuqaq Yupik people or the communities in the Norton Sound region. It will be a voice for Alaska and Arctic and Indigenous people. We are generally never at the table when decisions are made for us miles and miles away. We don’t want more promises. We want real actions to achieve environmental justice, enforcement, and to hold industry and military polluters accountable.”

WH ON OFFSHORE WIND: On Monday, the White House announced a bold initiative to boost offshore wind energy, which will create good-paying jobs while combating the climate crisis. President Biden’s whole-of-government approach will help lead our nation to a clean energy future while strengthening our economy and creating the jobs to get us there.

NYLCV TAKE: New York LCV President Julie Tighe stated, “With the new goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, creating 80,000 jobs, and a multi-agency program to support the timely, environmentally-sound development of this emerging industry, the Biden-Harris Administration is showing that combating climate change and creating jobs go hand-in-hand. Critical investments in port infrastructure and advancing new Wind Energy Areas in the NY Bight will help New York meet its goal of attaining 9 gigawatts of power from offshore wind, make more space available for offshore wind, and cultivate the supply chain in the U.S.  Wind energy can power millions of homes, contribute to our economic recovery, create green jobs, support our communities and slash pollution. NYLCV applauds the Administration for making wind energy and green jobs a top priority and we will continue working with stakeholders as more projects come online.  We look forward to seeing the Administration continue to prioritize a comprehensive climate agenda that incorporates renewable energy and invests in our communities.”

ENVIRONMENTAL LEAGUE OF MA TAKE: ELM President Elizabeth Henry stated, “The Environmental League of MA celebrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s offshore wind announcements. It takes an integrated, long-term approach to responsibly develop offshore wind. This Administration has just pledged the talents and resources from across many Agencies to harness this abundant, clean wind power. This is a great day for Massachusetts, New England, and the planet.”

THANK YOU, SENATORS: On Monday, LCV launched digital ads in Arizona and Georgia thanking Arizona Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema and Georgia Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock for supporting S. 1, the For the People Act. The For the People Act would supersede restrictive voter suppression laws like the sweeping ‘Jim Crow 2.0’ elections bill enacted in Georgia last week — the latest example of hundreds of blatant attacks on Black voters who overcame barriers to vote in the 2020 election. The ads are part of a larger coalition effort with End Citizens United / Let America Vote Action Fund (ECU) in support of the For the People Act. Watch the Georgia ad, “Washington is Broken,” here.

OUR TAKE: LCV Voting Rights Program Director Justin Kwasa stated, Passing the For the People Act and reforming our democracy would supersede blatantly racist state voter suppression laws like Georgia’s and return power to the overwhelming majority of people in this country who want to see meaningful action on climate change. Thanks to Senators Kelly, Sinema, Ossoff, and Warnock we are one step closer to being a country where every eligible voter can participate equitably in our democracy, and where the people’s voice carries more weight than polluter CEOs’.”

JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS: On Tuesday, LCV joined a coalition of civil rights advocates to sign on to a letter led by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to commend the Biden-Harris administration for their nominations to the federal courts. Our courts should reflect and represent the diverse communities they serve, and the Biden-Harris administration is taking critical steps to address the need for representation with these nominees — many who would be groundbreaking when confirmed. 

COALITION TAKE: The letter stated, “Our federal courts and judges make decisions every day that impact all aspects of our lives, including access to health care, economic justice, voting rights, immigrant justice, disability rights, reproductive freedom, the rights of working people, environmental protections, separation of church and state, and so much more. We need judges who will protect and recognize the rights of all people. These initial nominations are a crucial first step. It is imperative that the administration continue to make judicial nominations a priority, and that the Senate take swift action to show people that their rights will be protected — no matter who they are or where they come from.”

CELEBRATING WOMEN IN THE ENVIRONMENT: Chipsa wrapped their Poderosa Series honoring leaders this week by featuring Chispa AZ Executive Director Laura Dent, Chispa NV Promotora Maria De Los Angeles Sanchez Ramos, Chispa MD Promotora Salvadora Guzman, and Chispa FL Promotora Griselda Rodriguez for their commitment fighting for clean buses for children. The American Jobs Plan announced yesterday committed to electrifying at least 20% of diesel school buses. The work from leaders like Laura, Maria, Salvadora, and Griselda to help transition to clean buses will impact over 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers who currently breathe polluted air from dirty diesel school buses. See more statements from Chispa’s Poderosa series on their Instagram page.

CHISPA AZ TAKE: Chispa Arizona Executive Director Laura Dent stated, “Fighting to protect our environment is about caring for our families, our communities, our health, and our future. Our neighborhoods are our environment just as much as the open spaces that we must protect. I am committed to this work because for generations the mainstream green movement has left too many people behind — Latinxs, BIPOC, young people, and folks of all backgrounds and experiences. We can and must do more to combat environmental racism, grow our political power, hold corporate polluters accountable, and ensure clean, healthy, and just outcomes for all.” 

CHISPA FL TAKE: Chispa Florida Promotora Griselda Rodriguez stated, “I have been a teacher for 30 years, as an ESOL teacher it is very important that kids show up every day, healthy and ready to learn. When kids lose school days due to asthma attacks or other illnesses they suffer, the damage is even worse for Latinx kids learning english as a second language…clean buses mean healthy ninos and that means more opportunities for all kids to thrive.”

@ENERGY EVENT PREVIEW!: On Tuesday, April 6th at 2:30pm ET, join LCV for a virtual event featuring newly confirmed Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, LCV board member and former U.S. Representative Donna Edwards (MD-04), founder of the ReGenesis Community Development Corporation, member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and former South Carolina State Representative Harold Mitchell, Director of Regulatory and State Policy at United Steelworkers Anna Fendley, and LCV Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo. Speakers will discuss the strategy for advancing bold economic recovery legislation that dramatically scales clean energy, invests in solutions that benefit environmental justice communities, and create and sustain millions of family-supporting, high quality union jobs. Register for the event here.

$$ IN POLITICS EVENT PREVIEW!: On Wednesday, April  7th at 7pm ET, join environmental groups Greenpeace, League of Conservation Voters, and Sierra Club as they highlight the influence of money in politics, its negative impact on elections and environmental policy, and how the For the People Act levels the playing field for more equitable representation of impacted communities. This event is a part of a larger nationwide For The People Week of Action, featuring dozens of teach-ins and local actions in support of S1, register for the event here.

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

AK TO WI, STATES ON AMERICAN JOBS PLAN: Following President Biden’s rollout of the American Jobs Plan, state environmental organizations across the country released statements calling out the need for massive investment in clean air and water infrastructure, well-paying clean energy jobs, and a focus on low-income communities and communities of color who are hardest hit by pollution and climate change. 

MICHIGAN RECESS: On Tuesday, Michigan LCV held a Facebook live event with Representative Rashida Tlaib talking about Biden’s infrastructure plan, clean water, and what these planned investments would mean for Michiganders. Watch the full event here.

MILCV TAKE: Michigan League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Lisa Wozniak stated, “President Biden’s Build Back Better plan represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild our infrastructure, cleaning up our water and taking action on climate change,” said, for the. “Our Michigan Congressional leaders will play a critical role in passing this exciting plan to put Michiganders to work in dramatic fashion — tearing up and replacing old roads and bridges, getting rid of lead water pipes and aging sewers, weatherizing homes and neighborhoods, and making Michigan the epicenter of electric vehicle manufacturing.”  

COLORADO RECESS: Conservation Colorado co-hosted an event with Sierra Club and Green Latinos on César E. Chávez Day (3/31) to discuss social and racial justice, climate migration, and farmworkers. They discussed how The American Rescue Plan affects all Coloradans and why real investments in disadvantaged communities is critical to address the intersectional  crises they face.

CLEAN BUSES FOR MD: Ramon Palencia-Calvo, the Deputy Director of Maryland LCV and Director of Chispa Maryland wrote an op-ed last week on the importance of school bus electrification. In Maryland, over 650,000 children ride to school on diesel school buses, and approximately one in ten Maryland children suffer from asthma — with children in communities of color experiencing higher rates. Palencia-Calvo describes how two Maryland counties have recently taken bold steps to transition their school bus fleets to electric buses, and how lawmakers need to pass laws to increase accessibility for electric school buses — such as The Electric School Bus Pilot Program bill, which is currently moving through Maryland’s General Assembly.

CHISPA MD TAKE: Ramon Palencia-Calvo wrote, “The Electric School Bus Pilot Program…would deploy electric school buses with “vehicle-to-grid” technology, allowing electric buses to put their stored energy back to the grid. This technology has the potential to generate revenue for school districts in the future by monetizing the energy stored in the electric bus batteries. The program would also produce actionable data for school districts, bus contractors, and utilities about ways to finance the higher up-front cost of electric school buses, eliminating the need to put a charge on ratepayers in the future.”

 

COMING UP:

NEXT WEEK — For the People Act Week of Action
NEXT WEEK — Congressional Recess
April 6 — Conversation with Secretary Granholm Event
April 14 — The House Oversight Committee will vote on H.R. 51, D.C. Statehood
April 22 — Earth Day & World Leaders Summit on Climate Change
April 24 — Louisiana 2nd Congressional District Runoff Election

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