THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – JANUARY 21, 2022

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:

“In our quest for voting rights, we are not just fighting to be heard, we’re fighting for our lives…When states are allowed to limit who can participate in choosing our elected officials, they are perpetuating the inequities that have left communities of color and low-income communities at significantly higher risk of devastating health conditions.”

— Mustafa Santiago Ali, vice president for Environmental Justice, Climate and Community Revitalization at the National Wildlife Federation, in a Bloomberg opinion piece on the inextricable link between a healthy democracy and a healthy environment.

“Our creation story places us directly in the center of this area. Our efforts are to protect these places of significance and sacredness while maintaining their integrity as a place of home and worship.”

— Shan Lewis, Vice-Chairman of the Fort Mojave Tribe, speaking during a press conference with Representative Dina Titus to call for protecting Avi Kwa Ame, the sacred area south of Las Vegas. 

“We all talk about how we’re for the working people, but we’re gonna make working people take off half a day from work to go register to vote?”

— Senator Jon Tester said during Wednesday’s floor speech on the Freedom to Vote: John Lewis Act.

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

Time: The Ubiquitous Yellow School Bus Can Be Turned Into a Force for Climate Change Good
The Atlantic: Democrats Moved the Filibuster Overton Window
Politico: Top donors threaten to cut off funding to Sinema
Sierra: It’s Do or Die Time for Build Back Better

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:

Orlando Sentinel (FL): Political climate, housing costs outpace environmental concerns among Hispanics, study says
Buffalo News (NY): Another Voice: New infrastructure legislation delivers for Western New York
JD Supra (NC): North Carolina General Assembly Update – January 2022
Florida Phoenix (FL): FL Senate stiffs DeSantis on congressional reapportionment, sets vote on new maps
WSHU (NY): With more Long Island waters up for grabs, New York selects second offshore wind farm
Los Angeles Times (CA): Newsom’s latest housing fix: More Californians living downtown
The Orange County Register (FL): Ballot proposal would raise billions for electric cars, charging stations

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HONORING DR. KING: Over the weekend and Monday, LCV and Chispa joined voting rights advocates and leaders across the country to march for critical voting rights legislation, including the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. See photos from the peace walk in D.C. HERE, see photos from our traffic signs along the DC march HERE, and see photos from our mural in Arizona by artist Francisco Garcia to encourage Senator Kyrsten Sinema to help pass voting legislation HERE

MLK III TAKE: Martin Luther King III called on Congress to deliver on voting rights legislation, stating, “If you can deliver an infrastructure bill for bridges, you can deliver voting rights for Americans. If you do not, there is no bridge in this nation that can hold the weight of that failure.”

OUR TAKE: LCV Voting Rights Program Director Justin Kwasa stated, “Today we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 93rd birthday with his family in the most fitting way to continue his legacy: advocating for the equitable treatment of all people in our democracy. This week the Senate will have the chance to continue Dr. King’s legacy by passing the Freedom To Vote: John R Lewis Act. We know that the communities targeted by voter suppression today and throughout our nation’s history — people of color, young people, those who have a disability, and indigenous people — are the same communities who face the burden of environmental harms that threaten our air, water, and climate. Now, we’re calling on the Senate to prioritize protecting our democracy and deliver on voting rights by swiftly passing the Freedom to Vote: John R Lewis Act and defending the voice of all communities in our democracy. There is no time to wait.”

FREEDOM TO VOTE: JOHN LEWIS ACT: We know that we cannot have a healthy environment without a healthy democracy — and our fight for voting rights and democracy reform is stronger than ever, especially after this week’s failed votes in the senate. Last week, LCV and major advocacy groups made an unprecedented joint announcement Thursday that the groups will only consider endorsements for senators in their next election who take all necessary measures to pass the key voting rights and pro-democracy measures currently being debated in the Senate. In addition, LCV led this letter from environmental organizations urging all senators to support H.R. 5746, the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, and all procedural measures necessary to its immediate passage. 

OUR TAKE ON THIS WEEK’S FAILED VOTES: In response to the failed votes on the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act and Senate rules reform, LCV Voting Rights Program Director Justin Kwasa stated, “Senate Republicans have once again blocked crucial legislation to protect the right to vote. Voters across the country are calling for protections during these dark times for our democracy and we’re counting on Congress to deliver. Since Senate Republicans have made clear that they support the voter suppression, election subversion, and partisan gerrymandering happening across the country and will oppose any bill to defend the freedom to vote, it is now up to Senate Democrats to do whatever it takes to pass this democracy-protecting legislation. We continue to urge the Senate to immediately pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act and send it to President Biden’s desk and we’ll keep fighting to protect our democracy. There is so much at stake.”

PROGRESS REPORT FOR BIDEN’S FIRST YEAR IN OFFICE: On Wednesday, LCV released a progress report of President Biden and Vice President Harris’ first year in office. LCV has provided a grade for each presidential administration’s first year since President Clinton was in office as an early assessment of how well each new president is protecting our environment. In case you missed it, President Trump received an “F.” This year, with key progress on climate, jobs, and justice still hanging in the balance, we’re granting the Biden-Harris administration an extension until the Build Back Better Act is enacted into law. Read the full report, which includes an evaluation of the progress made on each of the top priorities LCV issued ahead of this administration’s first day in office HERE

OUR TAKE: LCV determined, “During the Biden-Harris administration’s first year in office, they reoriented the executive branch to prioritize the interwoven crises of the pandemic, economic inequity, racial injustice, and climate change. This administration made considerable progress, but it is clear that far more is needed given the scale of the crises we face. Traditionally, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has provided a grade for each administration’s first year in office. However, we are giving the Biden-Harris administration an extension until Build Back Better is enacted into law because this climate, jobs, and justice legislation is the centerpiece of their agenda. We believe the success of this administration’s first year in office cannot be fully evaluated and assigned a grade until Build Back Better passes the Senate and is signed into law by President Biden.”

BIDEN WEIGHS IN ON CLIMATE AND BUILD BACK BETTER: On Wednesday, President Biden held a press conference expressing confidence in the climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act. President Biden stated, “my Build Back Better plan will address the biggest costs that working families face every day.  No other plan will do more to lower the costs for American families.”

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “As we continue to push for Senate passage of Build Back Better, the deadly, devastating and staggering costs of inaction on the climate crisis make clear that we’re out of time to act on it. We’re encouraged by President Biden’s confidence in enacting the climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act into law. We fervently hope and expect the Senate to take swift action on the most comprehensive version of the bill that can pass in the coming weeks. Doing so will result in millions of good-paying jobs, a healthier, more equitable and just clean energy future for all, and lower energy bills and other monthly expenses for people across the country. It’s time to meet the climate test of cutting climate pollution in half by 2030, the goal set by President Biden and that science and environmental and racial justice require. Let’s get it done.”

CONGRESS MUST APPROVE A BUDGET: This week, environmental organizations sent a letter to Congress, urging them to swiftly approve appropriations for Fiscal Year 2022 as delays to funding may have negative impacts on the programs and agencies that “protect our health, lands, wildlife, air, water, oceans, and climate while advancing environmental justice.”

COALITION TAKE: The coalition wrote, “In lieu of regular appropriations, a full-year continuing resolution would do irreparable harm to our health and environment. Funding for environmental agencies has stagnated or even declined over the past decade under the draconian spending caps of the Budget Control Act, with many programs struggling to even keep pace with inflation despite increasingly dire circumstances of the worsening climate and biodiversity crises. A yearlong stopgap bill would perpetuate these shortfalls and extend damaging policy provisions at a moment when we cannot afford to wait. Such a bill would fail to address the momentous issues we face with the urgency they demand. We must dramatically scale up federal investments to meet this pivotal moment.”

WE MUST PROTECT AGAINST FOSSIL FUELS GLOBALLY: This week, leading environmental advocacy organizations sent a letter to the Biden-Harris administration, urging for action against proposed policy decisions from Mexico that would inhibit the global fight for climate action.

COALITION TAKE: The coalition wrote, “The impact of Mexico’s actions would be felt far beyond the country’s borders, including in the context of our own emission reduction efforts. The deep integration of U.S. and Mexican supply chains means such policies would undermine the clean energy transition of key productive sectors in the North American economy, such as vehicle manufacturing. If renewable energy production in Mexico is constrained, U.S. and other global companies operating in Mexico will be unable to meet their voluntary clean energy and climate mitigation targets.”  

ICYMI, WE MUST PROTECT AVI KWA AME: In case you missed it, last week, U.S. Representatives Dina Titus and Susie Lee, both from Nevada, urged the Biden administration to protect Avi Kwa Ame as a new national monument. The proposed monument features dramatic peaks, scenic canyons, sloping bajadas covered with ancient Joshua tree forests, unique grasslands, and a rich history of rock art and other cultural sites. Watch last week’s press conference with Representative Titus and Indigenous leaders HERE.

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

FROM THE FIELD: Across the nation, LCV’s field team continues to hear that communities across the country want climate action now – we’ve knocked on over 478,000 doors, and have talked with people about the Build Back Better Act and its critical climate provisions! Every day we hear from community members who would like to see tangible steps taken toward mitigating climate change — in fact, over 21,000 businesses are displaying their support for climate action.

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