THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – DECEMBER 03, 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:

“Being an environmentalist, it’s not just about people who love the polar bears — it’s about people getting displaced, and losing their ways of life.There are going to be a lot of candidates for local offices who don’t speak about these issues to us in our language who are going to be surprised. If you’re a candidate in Tampa and don’t have a solution for the red tide, you have a problem. If you don’t talk about hurricanes getting stronger in Orlando, you’re going to have trouble on Election Day.” 

— Maria Revelles, Chispa Florida Program Director, on the need for candidates to commit to finding solutions for the increasing number of climate-related issues at the local level in a Bloomberg article, “The Rise of the Local Climate Candidate.”

“I’m able to put faces and names with this term we call environmental justice. I’m able to look around and see a grain elevator on one side of Mr. Coleman, a refinery on the other and a railroad on the left here. This is what we’re talking about when we talk about fence-line communities, disproportionately impacted by pollution.”

— EPA Administrator Michael Regan speaking during a listening tour in “Cancer Alley,” a polluted region of Louisiana due to the high volume of industry polluters that greatly impacts the health of the community, which is predominantly Black.

“If you have the actual trail that people can go out on, and they can hike on, they can read about, they can feel pride about—that’s important.”

— Conchita Marusich, president of the Old Spanish Trail Association, speaking on the importance of preserving Indigenous trails and educating audiences on the history of the trails they are walking.

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

The Hill: Green groups spend big to promote climate policy
Breaking U.S. News: Biden Proposes Two-Decade Drilling Ban Near Indigenous Sacred Site
E&E News: Industry slams oil and gas reforms in bid to sway Manchin
WRNJ Radio: Gottheimer visits water treatment facility to highlight clean water resources in bipartisan infrastructure bill
Farms.com: Agriculture and Forestry Groups Give Thanks for House Ag Build Back Better Provisions

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:

Newtown Bee (CT): Remembering CTLCV’s Founder
The Spokesman-Review (WA): Alyssa Macy and Stephanie Solien: We don’t have time, but we do have leadership
Anchorage Daily News (AK): Returning salmon to the Eklutna River
New Hampshire Bulletin (NH): Commentary: At global climate conference, international becomes local
Baltimore Sun (MD): Maryland’s next governor must lead on climate | COMMENTARY
The Villager (NY): No more ‘environmental racism’: Schumer says infrastructure bill will remove lead pipes city’s bowels
VT Digger (VT): Four green and business groups agree: Vermont climate plan must hit targets
Colorado Sun (CO): Colorado voters typically reject tax hikes. There’s an exception when it comes to funding parks and trails.
Business Insider (NY): South Fork Wind Receives Federal Record of Decision, Setting Stage for New York’s First Offshore Wind Farm to Begin Onshore Construction in Early 2022
Carson Now (NV): Western Nevada College, greenUP! announce new green business partners
WisPolitics (WI): Wisconsin Conservation Voters: Supreme Court abandons democracy in most recent decision
The Toledo Blade (MI): Michigan Gov. Whitmer shifts her legal strategy in hopes of gaining an eventual Line 5 shutdown

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A Note: This week we remember Ahmaud Arbery. Last week’s guilty verdict in the murder trial against Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers is only one just verdict in a systemically racist justice system. Our Georgia state partners noted, “We are relieved with today’s guilty verdicts in the murder trial of Ahmaud Arbery. This result is the conclusion of 18 months of pain, grief and loss that the family of Ahmaud Arbery and the community of Brunswick, Georgia have experienced since his murder in February, 2020. As we continue our fight for a more just and equitable society, we remember those we have unjustly lost and pray for a brighter future where trials like these are relegated as relics of a darker past.” As LCV’s Chief Officer for Racial Justice and Equity Leslie Hinkson stated, “One just verdict does not erase the countless injustices that continue to pervade our criminal justice system, nor does it bring Ahmaud Arbery back to life, and back to those who loved him. Today, we hope Ahmaud’s family, his community, and communities across the country can breathe a sigh of relief and begin to heal. We also hope the verdict sends a signal across the nation that it is not open season on Black people, that it is a crime to hunt us down, and that we have the right to enjoy the outdoors without fear of violence. And we join Georgia Conservation Voters and all those who continue to call for justice and accountability.”

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INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ MONTH READING: The Natural Resources Defense Council released a story by journalist Susan Cosier, “For Thousands of Years, Indigenous Tribes Have Been Planting for the Future.” The piece highlights how generations of saving seeds and the recent rematriation of heirloom plants from seed banks and organizations, who received seeds from Indigenous peoples decades ago, can preserve Indigenous culture and expand the biodiversity of food and plants’ resilience to rapidly changing climate conditions. Read the full article HERE.

NATIVE SEEDS/SEARCH TAKE: Native Seeds/SEARCH Director Alexandra Zamecnik stated, “The average consumer doesn’t realize all the biodiversity that existed in different crops and how little there is in comparison to what there was 80 years ago.”

$50 MILLION MILESTONE FOR CLIMATE ACTION: This week, LCV and Climate Power hit a significant milestone of $50 million in paid media to tackle climate change and transition to a clean energy economy with their release of additional ads focused on the Senate and nationally. The ads — ranging from TV, to digital, to print, to billboards — highlight the once in a generation opportunities these climate investments will provide families and workers, thank individual members of Congress for their leadership, and urge Congress to finish the job as soon as possible and pass the Build Back Better Act. The climate provisions in this overwhelmingly popular bill will save families $500 per year on energy costs, create good-paying union jobs, invest in environmental justice initiatives, and put our nation on track to meet the Climate Test and cut climate pollution in half by 2030. Watch the national ads, “Win Win,” and “Once in a Lifetime,”, and see a sample of our state ad in Nevada for Senator Cortez Masto, “For Families”. 

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Campaigns Pete Maysmith stated in an interview with The Hill, “When it comes from a policy and an advocacy perspective, we’ve never done anything of this order of magnitude before and again, that’s because this moment is so urgent.”

OUR DOUBLE TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Campaigns Pete Maysmith stated, “This is our chance to deliver real savings for families, create good-paying clean energy jobs, and invest directly in communities of color who have borne the brunt of fossil fuel and other toxic pollution. That is why we are working so hard and have made this unprecedented investment to ensure Congress passes the Build Back Better Act and it’s why members and voters have responded so well to this campaign. We are seeing the impacts right now of the climate crisis on communities all across the country who are counting on Congress and President Biden to get this done. Now is the time for the Senate to finish the job, pass the Build Back Better Act quickly and send it to President Biden’s desk.” 

CLIMATE POWER TAKE: Climate Power Executive Director Lori Lodes stated, “People across the country are getting hit with the costs of rising energy prices and climate change. They are ready for Congress to act. The House listened to voters and passed the Build Back Better Act to lower costs for families, create millions of clean energy jobs and take on the climate crisis. Now the Senate must meet the moment and pass the climate test by swiftly passing this bill.”

IT’S TIME TO FINISH THE JOB + BUILD BACK BETTER: On Wednesday, LCV and Climate Power hosted a press conference with Senators Bennet, Carper, Casey, Coons,  Cortez Masto, Kaine, Stabenow, and Tester on the urgent need to pass the Build Back Better Act in December to meet the moment on the climate crisis. The overwhelmingly popular Build Back Better Act is Congress’ opportunity to save people $500 a year on their energy bills, create good-paying union jobs, invest directly in communities of color and communities with low wealth who are too often excluded, and build a healthy, more equitable clean energy future for all, while putting our nation on track to meet the Climate Test and cut climate pollution in half by 2030. Passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was step one, now the Senate must finish the job and pass the Build Back Better Act without delay. Read more highlights from members HERE and watch a recording of the event HERE.

SENATOR CORTEZ MASTO TAKE: Senator Cortez Masto stated, “Why is this important? Because it creates jobs. It will prepare us not only for the 21st century but to compete in this country, by bringing the jobs and the supply chain here. That is so important for the United States moving forward. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the Build Back Better Act are going to lead us into these opportunities that are so good for our families.”

SENATOR TESTER TAKE: Senator Jon Tester stated, “This year was our 44th harvest, and I can tell you unequivocally, this was the worst harvest we’ve ever had,” said “Everybody west of the Mississippi was affected by a drought this year that was catastrophic—that cost taxpayers billions and billions of dollars of catastrophic assistance. We need to get this done. If we don’t do something about climate change and start today with real solutions, there’s going to be a lot of hungry people in this world.”

SENATOR KAINE TAKE: Senator Kaine stated, “We’re each telling our own state’s story, but there is a common problem and a common solution – and that’s climate action now.” 

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “The Senate can and must pass the Build Back Better Act. Doing so is critical to saving people money on their energy bills and other monthly expenses, investing in the frontline and communities of color that have suffered the most from toxic pollution, and creating and sustaining millions of good-paying union jobs in the clean energy economy.”

BUILDING BACK TOGETHER: On Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris joined a virtual rally with Building Back Together and leaders of advocacy organizations, including LCV President Gene Karpinski, to celebrate the passage of the Build Back Better Act in the House, and to call for the Senate to quickly finish the job and pass this historic legislation. Speakers highlighted how the Build Back Better Act and the recently signed bipartisan Infrastructure law will make historic investments to build a clean energy economy, create good paying jobs, and address environmental injustices and the climate crisis. Read more highlights from speakers HERE.

VICE PRESIDENT TAKE: Vice President Kamala Harris stated, “This is a pivotal moment in our nation’s history. Our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is part one of two. We must lower the cost of living for working people in America, and to do that, Congress must pass our Build Back Better Act. Our Build Back Better Act will lower child care and health care costs, housing costs, prescription drug costs — all for working  families who need to be able to afford to live with dignity and cover the basic and essential needs of themselves and their families.”

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “This is our moment, this is our time. The Build Back Better legislation will create those good-paying union jobs, address environmental injustice in communities of color that are most impacted, lower energy costs for consumers across the country, and cut climate pollution in half by 2030. That’s the historic and transformative progress we need to make,” said President of League of Conservation Voters Gene Karpinski. “We need to get the job done. So we’re all in to pass this bill right now, this month. Let’s get the job done. Let’s make the historic progress we need to make.”

DEMOCRATS TOOK HISTORIC CLIMATE ACTION WHILE THE GOP STALLED: On Thursday, LCV Victory Fund Senior Vice President Pete Maysmith and Climate Power Executive Director Lori Lodes released a new memo noting how the House Majority stood together in a critical moment to make transformative investments to address the climate crisis and pass the most significant climate legislation in history. In stark contrast, the memo highlights how “Republicans are climate contortionists,” creating groups such as the Conservative Climate Caucus and voting no when it came time to take meaningful action on the climate crisis. Communities bearing the brunt of the impacts of the climate crisis, who are often communities of color and communities of low wealth, can no longer wait for climate action — the climate crisis is here and we are seeing the impacts every day. See highlights from the memo below and read the full memo HERE.

LCV + CP TAKE: LCV Victory Fund Senior Vice President Pete Maysmith and Climate Power Executive Director Lori Lodes noted, “Democrats can tell their constituents how the Build Back Better Act will create good paying jobs, cut pollution fueling climate disasters, lower energy costs for working families and begin to bring justice to communities on the frontline of climate change. 

Republicans, meanwhile, will continue to parrot greenwashing talking points from the oil & gas lobby focused on vague proclamations that something must be done, collect their campaign checks from fossil fuel companies, and actively try to halt progress. A do-nothing caucus or vague pledges won’t work for frontline Republicans. Because the climate crisis is a top concern for voters.

2021 will be remembered as the moment we realized climate change is no longer a chart or a graph, or happening in some far off future. The climate crisis is happening right now.”

DALE HO HEARD: This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Dale Ho’s nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Ahead of the hearing, LCV sent a letter urging the Senate to confirm him, noting his exceptional work as Director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project. Ho has been a critical leader in the fight for democracy against unprecedented challenges facing voters of color, low income voters, voters with disabilities, immigrants, and so many others.

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “Ho has distinguished himself as one of the nation’s most prominent litigators and democracy champions. He has practiced before the United States Supreme Court as well as Circuit and District Courts. He has testified before Congress and state legislatures. And he has done so in service of a more perfect union, not deep-pocketed corporate clients. We need judges who believe in equal justice for all, not just the wealthy and powerful, and Ho has a demonstrated track record of fighting for everyone’s rights. Finally, beyond his exemplary professional qualifications, Ho would bring much-needed demographic diversity to the bench. Hundreds of thousands of Asian Americans live in the Southern District of New York, but if confirmed, Ho would be the District’s only active Asian American judge.”

ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUS TOUR AT TWIN RIVERS: This week, members of Chispa joined school districts at Twin Rivers to learn more about how the Twin Rivers Unified School District is successfully making the switch to electric school buses to give kids a clean ride. See photos from the event HERE.

CHISPA TAKE: Chispa tweeted, “Do y’all smell that toxic diesel exhaust? Us EITHER! School districts are visiting Twin Rivers unified school district to learn about electric school buses from the most successful electric school bus fleet.”

ICYMI — HISTORIC NOMINATIONS AT OMB: In case you missed it, last week, the Biden administration announced historic nominations of Shalanda Young to be the first Black woman as Director, and Nani Coloretti to be one of the highest government officials identifying as Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Their experience and leadership in government will be a tremendous addition to the administration.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis stated, “LCV congratulates Shalanda Young and Nani Coloretti on their historic nominations to serve as Director and Deputy Director of OMB, respectively. They each bring decades of government experience and leadership that will serve the Biden-Harris administration and the public exceptionally well. Together they will be a powerful force for effectively advancing federal budgets and improvements in the regulatory review process that could improve the lives of all people. We look forward to Shalanda Young and Nani Coloretti being confirmed quickly and their continued leadership ensuring that government budgets improve all communities’ air, land, and water, advance environmental justice, safeguard our democracy, and create good family-sustaining jobs.”

ICYMI — HISTORIC CONFIRMATION AT NPS: In case you missed it, the National Park Service made history with its confirmation of the first Indigenous person to lead NPS as director. As Interior Secretary Deb Haaland stated when the White House announced the nomination of Chuck Sams to be Director of the National Park Service, “The diverse experience that Chuck brings to the National Park Service will be an incredible asset as we work to conserve and protect our national parks to make them more accessible for everyone…The outdoors are for everyone, and we have an obligation to protect them for generations to come.”

NPS DIRECTOR TAKE: After his confirmation, National Parks Service Director Chuck Sams stated, “I am deeply honored to have been confirmed by the United States Senate and in being President Biden’s appointee as the 19th Director of the National Park Service. I am also very deeply appreciative of the support, guidance and counsel of my Tribal elders and friends throughout my professional career. I look forward to carrying on the responsibility of being a good steward of our natural resources and in joining the dedicated and dynamic staff of the National Park Service.”

ICYMI OIL AND GAS LEASING REPORT: Last Friday, the Interior Department released its long-awaited report on the Federal Oil and Gas Leasing Program, confirming “significant shortcomings,” in the program that put polluters over people. The report identifies some of the necessary reforms to overhaul the oil and gas leasing program. Read the full report HERE.

INTERIOR SECRETARY TAKE: Interior Secretary Deb Haaland stated, “Our nation faces a profound climate crisis that is impacting every American. The Interior Department has an obligation to responsibly manage our public lands and waters – providing a fair return to the taxpayer and mitigating worsening climate impacts – while staying steadfast in the pursuit of environmental justice. This review outlines significant deficiencies in the federal oil and gas programs, and identifies important and urgent fiscal and programmatic reforms that will benefit the American people.”

OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel stated, “This report confirms what we have long known: the federal oil and gas program is profoundly broken and rigged in favor of oil industry CEOs. It shortchanges taxpayers, communities, outdoor enthusiasts, and wildlife. We appreciate the Interior Department highlighting these long-standing and well-documented problems with the leasing program which needs wholesale reform without delay. Toward that end, the Senate should retain the common sense reforms to the oil and gas program included in the House’s recently-passed Build Back Better Act. It is also clear this program must be aligned with our climate goals, and we look forward to working with the Biden administration to accelerate the transition of our public lands and waters into assets in the climate fight.”

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

REMEMBERING CTLCV FOUNDER JULIE BELAGA: LCV joins the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters in mourning the loss of CTLCV founder and original board chair Julie Belaga last week. A glimpse of Julie’s fierce advocacy for the environment is honored in this tribute from CTLCV Executive Director Lori Brown.

PIPELINE PERMIT DENIED: Today, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board voted to reject a permit for a proposed gas compressor station as part of the planned extension of the highly contested Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) into North Carolina. The decision was largely dictated by environmental justice concerns and the board cited both the 2020 Virginia Environmental Justice Act and a federal court ruling that overturned a previous permit granted for a compressor station in another rural and predominantly Black community. Opponents are hopeful that this marks the beginning of the end for the MVP, which has faced mounting grassroots resistance and still lacks necessary permits while being years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. The pipeline has a critical water permit decision in a few days that if denied, could seal its fate.

VALCV TAKE: Michael Town, executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, said, “Congratulations to all the activists and community leaders who have been fighting this destructive project tooth and nail! Today’s vote is great news for clean air and our climate, and shows just how far Virginia’s come on issues of environmental justice in just the past few years. With the Air Board acting today to protect citizens in the path of this project, we hope the Water Board, too, will do the right thing here in the coming days for our environment, citizens’ health and safety, and clean water.”

WASHINGTON ADOPTS CLEAN TRUCKS RULE: On Tuesday, Washington adopted rules requiring an increasing percentage of zero-emissions vehicles to be sold in the state. The Zero Emission Vehicle program applies to light-duty vehicles, and the Advanced Clean Trucks rule regulates medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Last month, Oregon became the second state to adopt the clean trucks rules, which were originally created in California. With Washington on board, the entire West Coast now has mandates for the sale of clean light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

LOCAL CLIMATE LEADERS ARE ON THE RISE: An article in Bloomberg last week highlighted the importance of climate action at the local level, where it’s more connected to the needs and experiences of the community. The piece featured the perspectives of Maria Revelles, program director of Chispa Florida, and Clare Kelly, executive director of the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund, and discussed successful candidates who ran on a platform that included climate and clean energy and legislators on both sides of the aisle advancing these issues. Investing in climate champions and action from communities up is critical to creating the change needed at a national scale.

CHISPA FL TAKE: Chispa Florida Program Director Maria Revelles said, “Being an environmentalist, it’s not just about people who love the polar bears — it’s about people getting displaced, and losing their ways of life, and this is how this conversation needs to happen,“Business as usual is dead. Candidates need to know and understand the impact of climate. They need to talk about these issues, or they’re going to lose. It’s silly to think pocketbook issues are not tied to climate.”

ELMAF TAKE: Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund executive director Clare Kelly said, “I think this issue crosses party lines and resonates with many voters. Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, you’re still experiencing the flooding, getting really hot, and you’re seeing the fires. It doesn’t matter what your party line is. All voters can appreciate there’s a crisis we need to solve, and part of the solution will help the economy.”

LESSONS LEARNED AT COP26: LCV’s New Hampshire State Director, Rob Werner released an opinion piece in the New Hampshire Bulletin reflecting on his experience as an observer at the COP26 conference. Werner describes themes, opportunities and solutions participants discussed, and argues the urgency for the US to work together with other nations to take the bold action necessary to confront the climate crisis. We know that the US government has a responsibility to show leadership, especially after rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and as a leading carbon emitter.  Passing the Build Back Better agenda is a good start.

NH STATE DIRECTOR TAKE: LCV’s New Hampshire State Director Rob Werner said, “As the world’s second largest carbon emitter, we must enact serious climate action and clean energy policies here at home to successfully claim legitimate and credible leadership. The United States is on the path to doing just that with the recent enactment of the infrastructure bill and the progress of the Build Back Better budget in Congress as both initiatives include unprecedented investments in climate action and clean energy.”

WE DON’T HAVE TIME, BUT WE DO HAVE LEADERSHIP IN WA: This week, Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters CEO Alyssa Macy, who is a citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Oregon, and Stephanie Solien, former co-chair of the Southern Resident Orca Task Force and former member of the Puget Sound Partnership Leadership Council, wrote an opinion piece on the urgency of salmon restoration. After decades of rapidly declining salmon populations, with current political leadership the region has an opportunity to reverse course and restore ecosystems, which is particularly important for the Tribal communities who rely on salmon. 

MACY + SOLIEN TAKE: Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters CEO Alyssa Macy, and Stephanie Solien, former co-chair of the Southern Resident Orca Task Force wrote, “For tribes, it is a matter of justice and trust. The dams we’ve erected stand in direct opposition to fish that were promised to tribes in treaties and other solemn commitments going back well over a century. Salmon survival is cultural survival. Just as the salmon themselves have no time to wait, Northwest tribes can no longer wait for what our nation promised so long ago.”

VERMONT ADOPTS CLIMATE ACTION PLAN: Vermont released its first ever climate action plan on Wednesday with recommendations on how the state can cut emissions in half by 2030 and reach its goal of reducing emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Last year, Vermont Conservation Voters (VCV) was appointed to sit on the Vermont Climate Council, the body created to develop and implement the plan. VCV executive director Lauren Hierl joined environmental and business leaders to write an opinion piece listing key actions in the climate plan that will benefit both the environment and the economy.

ENVIRONMENTAL + BUSINESS TAKE: In an opinion piece, leaders with Vermont Conservation Voters, Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Renewable Energy Vermont and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility wrote, “Will Vermont choose action, investment and equity, or dithering and injustice? It’s up to us. We must do our part — for our own sake, for the global community, and for future generations. With each passing year of delayed action, we are placing an increasing burden on our children and grandchildren to live with the repercussions of the mess we made. It’s time to think globally and act locally to reduce Vermont’s climate impact. If done right, the council’s climate action plan can help us move forward, as we continue to improve upon the process and engage more Vermonters.”

🏈FROM THE FIELD🏈: LCV’s visibility and mobilization field program continues to show that communities across the country want climate action now! Organizers have knocked on 390,000 doors across 12 states and D.C., talking with people about the Build Back Better Act and its critical climate provisions. Through our canvassing, we’ve recruited over 21,000 people to take action, over 16,000 households to place a sign in their yard, and over 16,000 businesses to display support. Every day we hear from community members that would like to see tangible steps taken toward mitigating climate change — over 4,500 people we’ve talked to have called their member of Congress in favor of the Build Back Better Act. 

REPRESENTATIVE BOURDEAUX TAKE: Representative Bourdeaux tweeted about LCV organizers outside of her office this week, tweeting, “What a view outside my Lawrenceville office today! I so appreciate our young people advocating for climate action and clean energy jobs. I stand with them in this fight for their future. #BBB”

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