THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – DECEMBER 17, 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:

“President Biden has made it clear that delivering environmental justice is a top priority for this Administration, especially in communities most gravely impacted by the pandemic and health outcome disparities from pollution. Thanks to the President and Congress, today’s environmental justice grants funded by the American Rescue Plan will provide critical support to our most overburdened and vulnerable communities.”

— EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, speaking on the EPA’s announcement this week to fund environmental justice efforts in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

“Literally, I am riding on sunshine. That’s why making these electric charging stations everywhere across the country is so critical. We need to make sure these electric vehicles are accessible to everyone. The future is electric.”

— Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, speaking at an electrical vehicle facility in Maryland for this week’s announcement from the Biden-Harris administration on the Electric Vehicle Charging Action Plan.

“We know we’re going to be in storms that are more frequent and more intense. We’re using traditional ecological knowledge and wisdom from our own people, so we can rebuild better…Our whole focus is resiliency, adaptation, and sustainability.” 

— Chief Shirell Parfait-Dardar, leader of the Grand Caillou/Dulac tribe in Louisiana, who has organized relief efforts for her community members that need immediate help after extreme weather along the Gulf Coast in Al Jazeera article, “The Louisiana Indigenous community fighting for hurricane justice.”

———————————————————————————————————————

LCV IN THE NEWS:

E&E News: Greens offer warnings, pressure on reconciliation inaction
Cleveland.com: Cleveland gets $5 million to abate lead paint as part of broader fight against lead contamination
Arizona Daily Star: Arizona seeks dismissal of voting list lawsuit
Concord Monitor: Letter: Climate Action now

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:

Inside Climate News (OH + NC): Climate Activists and Environmental Justice Advocates Join the Gerrymandering Fight in Ohio and North Carolina
Las Vegas Sun (NV): Build Back Better Act is a big win for Nevada
News Miner (AK): PRO Act, Build Back Better will help build Alaska’s future
The Washington Post (VA): Hypocrisy emerges in Gov.-elect Youngkin’s vow to withdraw from the regional climate compact
Public News Service (CA): Redistricting Commission Urged to Consider Environmental Justice
WTVB (MI): Even as the power comes back on, Consumers Energy and DTE face further criticism
Patch (NJ): Will NJ Towns, Counties Set Up Stormwater Utilities After Ida?
Morning Sentinel (ME): The oyster savers: The mollusks filter water, protect against storms and taste amazing. Restoring their habitat is a no-brainer
The Colorado Sun (CO): Advocacy groups force Colorado water quality commission to consider upgrades for urban streams
Patch (MD): Senate Envisions Comprehensive Climate Bill; House To Tackle Provisions In Chunks
Energy News Network (CT): Study: Business lobbying a major barrier to clean energy legislation in Connecticut
Augusta Free Press (VA): Environmental groups decry state board vote approving Mountain Valley Pipeline project

———————————————————————————————————————

WE MUST ACT ON CLIMATE + DEMOCRACY: We know that we can’t wait to take action on climate — as former U.S. Representative and current LCV Board Member Donna Edwards stated earlier this week, “The fact is the clock is running out on dealing with climate change.” Our country must make the bold investments to transition to a clean energy future, address environmental injustices, and create good-paying jobs. The overwhelmingly popular Build Back Better Act will save families $500 a year on their energy bills, replace lead pipes, make electric vehicles more affordable and charging stations more accessible, create more opportunities for clean energy manufacturing jobs in the U.S., and so much more. We also know that we can’t have a healthy environment without a healthy democracy. With this week’s announcement that the Senate will continue to work to pass the Build Back Better Act parallel to voting rights legislation over the next few weeks, we continue to call on the Senate to quickly pass legislation that will protect both our planet and our democracy.

PRESIDENTIAL TAKE: President Joe Biden stated, “Build Back Better is urgently needed to lower the cost of prescription drugs, health care, child care, and elder care. Notwithstanding the unrelenting Republican obstruction – not a single Republican is willing to move forward on the bill – I am determined to see this bill enacted into law, to give America’s families the breathing room they deserve. We also need urgent action on climate change and other priorities in the Build Back Better plan. We will – we must – get Build Back Better passed, even in the face of Republican opposition. At the same time, we must also press forward on voting rights legislation, and make progress on this as quickly as possible.”

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “As the President and Leader Schumer have made clear time and again, failure to pass the Build Back Better Act is not an option. The Senate can and must pass the Build Back Better Act quickly. This overwhelmingly popular bill will save people money on their energy bills and other monthly expenses, create good-paying union jobs, and build a healthier, more equitable clean energy future for all of our communities. We remain confident that the Senate will act in the next few weeks to pass the strongest legislation in U.S. history to combat the climate crisis. Climate catastrophes are devastating our communities right now and further delay is unacceptable. Our climate and our democracy are inextricably linked, and we also urge the Senate to do what it takes to swiftly pass meaningful voting rights legislation.” 

CLIMATE + ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE PROVISIONS WILL IMPROVE LIVES: Today, LCV released a new memo from LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis highlighting the benefits of the climate and environmental justice provisions in the Build Back Better Act for communities across the country. As political developments continue to unfold in the days and weeks to come, we encourage reporters and other experts to also cover the real and meaningful impacts families and communities would feel quickly upon bill passage. Read more how the climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act will improve lives and cut costs for the average person below and HERE.

THE BUILD BACK BETTER ACT WILL:

    • Save families an average of $500 a year on their energy bills
    • Make electric vehicles more affordable and charging stations more accessible
    • Create more opportunities for clean manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
    • Improve public transit options including more accessible, cleaner, more frequent public buses and metro lines
    • Provide 3 million kids with clean rides to school by converting 60,000 diesel school buses to clean electric school buses
    • Replace lead pipes in homes and schools across the country
    • Communities on the frontlines of legacy environmental and health hazards will receive major grants to reduce pollution and climate threats

AND SO MUCH MORE!

‘TIS THE SEASON TO BUILD BRICK BETTER: What’s a better representation of building back better than building LEGOs that take the shape of windmills, electric school buses, clean water flowing through lead-free pipes, and thriving wildlife? Through this Sunday, the League of Conservation Voters is hosting a one-of-a-kind LEGO advent calendar created by artists Adam Ward and Jef Caine in Union Market in Washington, D.C. Come see this family-friendly, interactive installation using LEGOS to highlight some of the nearly 130 provisions included in the Build Back Better Act that will make transformative investments in climate action, clean energy jobs, and environmental justice. See the benefits of the Build Back Better Act highlighted in the LEGO advent calendar HERE.

WE MUST BUILD BACK BETTER FOR ALL…: For too long, our country’s immigration system has been broken without comprehensive legislation to address its inequities. On Thursday night, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that immigration provisions in the Build Back Better Act, including deportation relief and work permits, could not be included. Immigrants are the backbone of this country and are often in jobs and communities that put them on the frontlines of the climate crisis — the same systemic inequities and institutionalized discrimination that fuels environmental racism also oppress the immigrant community. 

…INCLUDING CHILDREN AND FAMILIES: Earlier this week, advocacy organizations, including LCV, sent a letter to senators urging them to pass the Build Back Better Act immediately so that the Child Tax Credit’s payments for January go to families in time as the last authorized payment takes place on December 15th. Delays in funding for families who rely on this relief for their children puts them at risk of poverty, especially as the Omicron COVID-19 variant surges throughout the country. 

COALITION TAKE: The coalition letter reads, “We risk throwing nearly 10 million children back below the poverty line or deeper into poverty in 2022. Overall, 65 million children will lose out unless Congress acts with urgency. Passing the Build Back Better Act provides a historic opportunity to reduce childhood poverty and continued support to the most vulnerable children, particularly in Black and Latino families. This legislation also makes the most significant investments in climate and environmental justice in history and makes transformative improvements in our nation’s care infrastructure.

LCV PRESIDENT WEIGHS IN: This week, LCV President Gene Karpinski wrote an opinion piece for Story Partners, addressing the urgency for the Senate to pass the Build Back Better Act to tackle the climate crisis at the scale that science and justice require and highlighting the provisions in the transformative legislation that will help working families save money on their energy bills, create good-paying clean energy jobs, and invest in a clean energy future. 

LCV PRESIDENT TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “We cannot afford not to pass this bill. The U.S. incurred $104 billion in damages from extreme weather disasters in the first eight months of 2021 alone. The cost of investing in climate action is minimal compared to the cost of inaction. We also know there is a political cost for those opposed to Build Back Better — people across the nation overwhelmingly support climate action, and they will hold members of Congress who side with fossil fuel CEOs over their communities accountable at the ballot box. This legislation is about lowering costs for families and creating good-paying jobs. Period. There is nothing more bipartisan than that and the stakes could not be higher.”

PLAN FOR ACTION ON ELECTRIC VEHICLES: On Monday, the Biden-Harris administration released the Electric Vehicle Charging Action Plan, which highlights the actions federal agencies are taking to support the development and deployment of electric vehicle charging stations across the country. In addition, LCV, Chispa, and Maryland LCV joined an event with Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy at a Maryland electrical vehicle facility to discuss how electric vehicles can power a clean energy future and good-paying jobs. 

VP TAKE: Vice President Kamala Harris stated, “To combat this crisis, our administration has joined other nations in setting yes, an ambitious but achievable goal. By 2050, at the latest, we will achieve net-zero emissions. And one important way we achieve net-zero emissions is by investing in zero emissions vehicles.“

CHISPA TAKE: Chispa posted a video from the event with the caption, “The Biden-Harris administration is making the largest effort investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and technology in our nation’s history. This is only the beginning to ensure the health of our communities, strengthen our economy, and sustainability of our planet 🌎”

MDLCV TAKE: Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble stated, “The Biden Administration’s Build Back Better plan will include more than $60 million for Maryland for electric vehicle charging stations. The future is electric, but we need to make these technologies accessible to everyone. Build Back Better will do that. At Maryland LCV, we are particularly committed to advancing the transition to electric school buses to protect the health of our children and to reduce greenhouse gas emission. Electric school buses mean cleaner air and healthier children and communities. We can all get behind that.”

OUR TAKE: Senior Vice President of Government of Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “We applaud the Biden-Harris administration’s launch of the Electric Vehicle Charging Action Plan to advance the movement for climate, jobs, and justice. We also thank Vice President Kamala Harris for her powerful words today envisioning a clean vehicle future, and for her longtime leadership to make that vision a reality. Specifically, this effort will help to create good-paying jobs at every step of the process, including the workers needed to manufacture, install, and maintain electric vehicle supply equipment. Once executed, the Biden-Harris administration’s comprehensive plan will increase access to electric vehicle charging stations across the country. Expanding accessibility to electric vehicle charging stations and jobs is just the beginning to building back better. The time for the Senate to pass the Build Back Better Act with investments that make it easier for working families to purchase and manufacture electric vehicles is right now.”

PLAN FOR ACTION AGAINST LEAD PIPES AND PAINT: This week, the Biden-Harris administration announced their Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, which outlines the administration’s plan to work with federal, state, and local levels of government to deliver clean drinking water, replace lead pipes, and remediate lead paint across the country — with a focus on historically excluded communities. Children in communities of color and communities with low wealth have disproportionately suffered from the devastating health impacts that lead pipes and paint pose. No level of lead is safe, and this action plan will work to accelerate the removal of lead from our homes and schools while prioritizing the communities that are some of the most impacted.

VP TAKE: Vice President Harris stated, “Over the years, I have traveled around the country and I have met many parents to talk about this very issue – so many parents – parents who are worried that every time they turned on the faucet to get their child a glass of water, that they may be filling that glass with poison; parents who worry, as they make breakfast in the morning or in the evening help their children to brush their teeth, that they are exposing their children to something that could harm them…So, the bottom line is that there is no reason in the 21st century for why people are still exposed to this substance that was poisoning people back in the 18th century.  There is no good reason.”

OUR TAKE: LCV Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote stated, “We applaud the Biden-Harris administration on the launch of their Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan and commitment to reducing lead exposure within a decade. Too many families across the country have to worry if the water from their tap or the paint on their walls is poisoning their children. This whole-of-government approach, and especially the centering of low-wealth communities and communities of color who have been disproportionately burdened by lead pollution, is a huge step forward in protecting our health and reducing environmental injustice while creating good union jobs. With this new plan, the investments in lead pipe replacement from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the additional funding Congress will soon pass in the Build Back Better Act, we will make historic progress in removing toxic lead from our lives once and for all.”

CONTINUING THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY FOR THE PEOPLE: This week, the family of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, along with advocacy organizations fighting for voting rights, including LCV, announced plans to urge Congress to pass critical voting rights legislation in the days leading up to Dr. King’s birthday on January 17th. The Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would help protect, expand, restore voting rights for voters and potential voters so that their voices can be heard at the ballot box. Just this year, 19 states have passed 33 laws that restrict voting access. A healthy environment and a healthy democracy are inextricably linked — Congress must take swift action to protect both.

MLK III TAKE: Martin Luther King III stated, “President Biden and Congress used their political muscle to deliver a vital infrastructure deal, and now we are calling on them to do the same to restore the very voting rights protections my father and countless other civil rights leaders bled to secure. Like those who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday, we will not accept empty promises in pursuit of my father’s dream for a more equal and just America.”

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “A healthy environment and a healthy democracy are inextricably linked. It is not a coincidence that communities of color, immigrant, and low-income communities that suffer the most from environmental injustice are the same communities that have been historically targeted with voter suppression tactics. In a year where over 400 voter suppression bills were introduced in state legislatures, we are proud to join with the King family and our democracy partners in calling for the swift passage of the Freedom to Vote Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Washington, D.C. Admission Act.”

———————————————————————————————————————

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

🎉HUGE WIN🎉: REDUCING EMISSIONS IN OREGON: This week, a new plan developed by the Department of Environmental Quality was adopted and will take effect on January 1, which will require fossil fuel suppliers to cut emissions by half by 2035 and by 90 percent by 2050. The Climate Protection Program will aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while focusing on environmental justice communities by also working to reduce other air contaminants and pollutants that negatively impact public health. Oregon’s action is a key one to reduce emissions that are fueling the climate crisis. The state has already seen the devastating impacts of climate change including this summer’s deadly heatwaves, wildfires, and drought.  

OLCV TAKE: Oregon League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Doug Moore stated, “Oregonians have long demanded this kind of bold action to reduce climate pollution and make a transition to a clean energy economy. Many of us do our part already, and the Climate Protection Program will now hold some of the states largest polluters to the same level of responsibility. Governor Brown has overseen an unprecedented era of climate protection progress in the legislature and through her executive action. Recognizing there’s still a lot of progress to make, today we see the results of electing climate and environmental justice champions.”

FROM THE FIELD: In case you missed it, LCV’s visibility and mobilization field program hit a major milestone, knocking on over 425,000 doors across 12 states and D.C. Our organizers continue to show that communities across the country want climate action now, as they talk with people across the country about the Build Back Better Act and its critical climate provisions! Through our canvassing, we’ve recruited over 25,000 people to take action, over 17,400 households have a sign in their yard, and over 18,000 businesses are displaying support. Every day we hear from community members who would like to see tangible steps taken toward mitigating climate change — over 5,600 people we’ve talked to have called their member of Congress in favor of the Build Back Better Act.

REDISTRICTING BATTLES IN OHIO AND NORTH CAROLINA: This week, the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) filed an amicus brief on gerrymandered congressional districts in the state with the Ohio Supreme Court — highlighting the impacts that partisan gerrymandering has on environmental injustices in communities historically excluded from the electoral process. Read the OEC’s full amicus brief HERE. In addition, in case you missed it, the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters filed a lawsuit earlier this month, claiming that “unconstitutional partisan and racial gerrymandering” across North Carolina violates the state constitution and arguing that the House and Senate maps in North Carolina make deliberate grouping choices and excessively cross counties in order to leverage outcomes. Last week, North Carolina’s state Supreme Court postponed the March primary amidst multiple lawsuits regarding North Carolina’s remapping of districts.

OEC TAKE: Ohio Environmental Council staff attorney Chris Tavenor stated, “We do not have a democracy that is responding to the needs of Ohioans, whether it’s people who are fighting for health care, or workers rights or fighting for a healthy environment. The reason why we joined this lawsuit is because we fundamentally believe that in order for us to achieve change here in Ohio, we need a democracy that is actually functioning…Their communities are diluted and divided in ways that don’t give them a representative that is from their community. Sometimes it’s difficult to even know what issue that particular community would want to be prioritized because they don’t have a district that is theirs.”

NCLCV TAKE: North Carolina LCV spokesperson Dustin Ingalls stated, “The same voters that are most impacted by gerrymandering and other forms of voter suppression are also most impacted by climate change and environmental injustice.”

BUILD BACK BETTER IS A BIG WIN ACROSS THE COUNTRY: This week, the Las Vegas Sun published an opinion piece from Nevada Conservation League Deputy Director Verna Mandez highlighting how the Build Back Better Act will benefit Nevadans who are seeing the impacts of the climate crisis first hand with record-breaking temperatures and devastating wildfires by cutting pollution and investing in clean energy. In addition, the Alaska Center Executive Director Polly Carr and Alaska AFL-CIO President Joelle Hall wrote an opinion piece in the Daily News-Miner highlighting how investments in the Build Back Better Act is a once in a generation opportunity to create jobs for a sustainable economy while addressing climate justice. We know that inaction on climate is not an option — the Build Back Better Act will make the investments needed to meet the moment on the climate crisis.

WE CAN’T WALK BACK ON CLIMATE IN VIRGINIA: Yesterday, the Washington Post published an opinion piece from Virginia League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Michael Town on Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s announcement that he would use his executive power to remove Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Since 2009, the program has generated “at least $5.7 billion of health savings through reductions in harmful emissions, especially particulate matter.” As Virginia continues to see the impacts of the climate crisis, now is not the time to walk back on efforts to curb emissions from the power sector. See the facts on the RGGI HERE.

 

COMING UP:

December 16-19: Advent Calendar Art Activation in Union Market

Related Articles