THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – JULY 16, 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:

“You might waste all your time trying to get an approval letter and still not get a loan. The package is so thick and so intimidating, it’s not something you are accustomed to doing.”

— Travis Cleaver, a Black farmer in Hodgenville, KY, one of countless Black farmers facing racist lending discrimination, in Politico article, “Black farmers seek more than debt relief.” 

“Us being in a poor area… I mean, what can we do? A company like that with money… we don’t got money to fight against it and it seems like we don’t got no one fighting for us. Not the state, no one.”

— Andrea Macklin, speaking on experiencing disrupted sleep and respiratory issues from the wood mill bordering his backyard in the predominantly Black community of Northampton County, North Carolina in CNN’s article, “How marginalized communities in the South are paying the price for ‘green energy’ in Europe.”

“[Portland State University Professor Vivek Shandas] went to the working class parts of Portland, parts of Portland where the highest concentration of people of color, historically, have been disinvested. So not a lot of sidewalk, not a lot of tree covers, a lot of it exposed to sun, and a lot of concrete that just absorbs the sun’s radiation. He found a reading of 121 degrees in the poorest neighborhoods in Portland.”

— Sergio Olmos, speaking on the disproportionately deadly impacts of extreme heat in The Daily episode, “The Heat Wave That Hit the Pacific Northwest.” 

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

LCV IN THE NEWS:

Washington Post: Democratic group pledges $10 million in ads to support Biden agenda, as outside support grows
American Trucker: Five good things that happened in trucking
The Hill: Labor, environment groups push Congress for ‘bold’ manufacturing investments
Politico: Bernie Sanders steers climate agenda from Budget perch
Bloomberg: Groups Seek $2.1 Trillion in Climate Spending in Next Bill
Politico: Morning Energy: The Biden-Brussels dilemma
Washington Post: Meet the conservatives who want to fight climate change — their way
CBS DFW: Watchdog Groups Join Democrats To Pressure Majority Leader Schumer To Act On Voting Bill
E&E: Bernie Sanders steers climate agenda from Budget perch
Longmont Leader: Hickenlooper’s bill to reduce EV costs passes Senate

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:

Downtown Devil (AZ): Nonprofit seeks more civic engagement for Phoenix Latino voices
MLive (MI): Vice President Kamala Harris talks vaccines and voting rights in first Michigan visit
Herald-Tribune (FL): Floridians would be hurt by a Florida Power & Light rate hike
Anchorage Daily News (AK): Alaska’s young people can’t wait around for change
Town News (ME): Maine lawmakers move to reduce drinking water contamination
Tampa Bay Times (FL): DeSantis action puts Pinellas in the hunt for two land preservation grants

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

INFRASTRUCTURE DEAL: This week, Senate Budget Committee Democrats announced their deal on a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package — a critical step that must serve as the floor, not the ceiling, for bold investments in clean energy, jobs, and justice. We’re seeing the impacts of the climate crisis every day, particularly in historically excluded communities, including communities of color and communities of low wealth, who are the most impacted by environmental injustices from polluters, unsafe water from outdated lead pipes, and infrastructure that is unprepared for extreme weather. Earlier this month, we witnessed a deadly heat wave in the Pacific Northwest and wildfires raging across a dozen states in the West. We can’t wait to make transformational investments to act on climate — and voters agree. See June 2021 polling from Hart Research that finds climate action, including significant clean energy and infrastructure investments, has overwhelming support from key voting blocs, including young voters and Biden turnout voters.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “This deal is a vitally important development to help ensure that Congress delivers on the president’s Build Back Better and American Jobs Plan. Kudos to President Biden, Majority Leader Schumer, Budget Committee Chair Sanders and all the Democratic members of the committee for their leadership on this deal. Given the enormity of the climate crisis, environmental injustice, and economic inequality, it’s critical that this agreement serve as the floor — not the ceiling — for transformational investments in clean energy, jobs, and justice. It is imperative that these investments cut our emissions by at least 50% by 2030 and put our nation fully on the path to 100% clean energy powering our grid, new cars and buses, and buildings by 2035.”

+ADS TO BUILD BACK BETTER: Following the Senate Budget Committee’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure announcement, new TV and digital ads were released in Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey and Wisconsin this week as part of LCV’s newly launched $10 million ad buy with Climate Power to amplify electeds in 16 states who are showing support for clean energy investments, justice, and jobs. The ads will air on national cable and in the appropriate states, all urging Congress to take immediate, bold climate action to create millions of good-paying, union jobs in the clean energy sector, prioritize environmental justice for communities of color most harmed by toxic pollution, and confront the climate crisis. Our nation has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to act on climate and invest in clean energy infrastructure while addressing environmental injustices — Congress can’t wait to act. Read more on the new $10 million Great American Build ad campaign, including a list of all of the states and districts, HERE.

VIRTUAL CLIMATE RALLY WITH NEGUSE: This week, LCV hosted a virtual rally with Representative Joe Neguse and advocates across the nation to discuss what’s at stake if we don’t make once-in-a-generation transformative investments in clean energy jobs and infrastructure that will help address the climate crisis and environmental injustices. Now more than ever, we need Congress to address the urgency of the climate crisis by investing in clean energy jobs, climate-resilient infrastructure, and prioritizing environmental justice.

NEGUSE TAKE: Representative Neguse stated, “The stakes couldn’t be higher — everyday we wake up to news of yet another extreme weather event. When is enough, enough? When will we be fed up enough with the headlines of subways flooding in New York and wildfires raging in Arizona to decide that we are going to muster the political will necessary to act on climate and to save our planet? We are on the precipice of taking significant steps to finally help save our planet and make the largest investments in climate action at the federal level in the history of our country.”

CLEAN BUS CHATS WITH CÁRDENAS: This week, LCV, Chispa, and California LCV were joined by Representative Tony Cárdenas for a virtual event to discuss the health, environmental, and community benefits of transitioning dirty diesel-fueled school buses to clean, electric buses. Cárdenas recently introduced the Clean Commute for Kids Act with Representative Jahana Hayes, Senator Alex Padilla and Senator Raphael Warnock. The bill would authorize $25 billion to rapidly transition the nation’s school bus fleet to clean, electric buses over ten years, prioritizing communities most impacted by air pollution, particularly communities of color and communities of low wealth, and including labor protections for workers.

CÁRDENAS TAKE: Representative Cárdenas stated, “Every day, millions of children in our nation breathe in toxic emissions from diesel school buses and develop health and respiratory problems as a result. The Clean Commute for Kids Act prioritizes our communities, especially those of color, by cleaning up pollution and replacing old diesel buses with new, cleaner, and zero-emission electric school buses. Now is the time to  reshape the way our kids get to school. When we invest in pollution-free school bus fleets, we invest in truly making the world better for our children, including my own grandchildren.” 

🌲RESTORING TONGASS PROTECTIONS🌲: Yesterday, the Biden-Harris administration announced a major win for forest and environmental protections by declaring its intent to end road-building, logging, and development in Alaska’s Tongass Forest — restoring critical protections for one of the last remaining intact temperate rainforests on the planet. The proposal includes $25 million for community development to help focus on economic activities such as fishing, outdoor recreation, and tourism in the area. 

AG SECRETARY TAKE: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated, “This approach will help us chart the path to long-term economic opportunities that are sustainable and reflect southeast Alaska’s rich cultural heritage and magnificent natural resources.”

OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel stated, “Restoring roadless protections to Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, one of the world’s only remaining intact temperate rainforests and a massive carbon sink, is a critical step in tackling the climate crisis. The Tongass is home to an abundance of wildlife, serves as a natural filtration system providing drinking water to many Alaskan communities and tribal communities, and drives the region’s robust tourism, fishing, and recreation economies. And after the unconscionable decision from the Trump administration to strip this land of protections, putting not only the environment but the neighboring communities and economies at risk, we are glad to see the tide turn and applaud the Biden administration for moving to reinstate these crucial protections.”

RED ROAD TO DC: This week, Indigenous activists across the nation began their two-week trek from the Pacific Northwest to Washington, DC, with a 5,000 pound totem pole carved by Indigenous artists. The artists, called the House of Tears Carvers, created the totem pole as “a reminder of the promises that were made to the first peoples of this land and waters.” The Red Road to DC will make stops in sacred and significant areas such as Snake River at the Washington-Idaho border, Bears Ears in Utah, Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, the Black Hills in South Dakota, the Missouri River in South Dakota, Standing Rock in North Dakota, Line 3 oil pipeline in Minnesota and Line 5 pipeline in Michigan before arriving in DC.

WA NHM TAKE: Over the last two months, the totem pole has journeyed along the West Coast, bringing crowds of people who have touched and prayed over it. Beka Economopoulos, director of the Natural History Museum in Washington state stated, “It’s going to carry the spirit of the land it visits and the power and prayers of the people along the way to the symbolic heart of the nation.”

NOA TAKE: Judith LeBlanc, a member of the Caddo Nation and director of the Native Organizers Alliance stated, “This is a reminder of his ancestral responsibilities to protect our right to freedom of religion.” LeBlanc further stated, “We sat nation-to-nation and signed agreements. We gave up land that mattered in order to receive health care, education and housing. Those treaty rights have been denied all through history.”

OCEAN CLIMATE SOLUTIONS: This week, the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act was passed through the House Natural Resources Committee. The bill would protect the frontline communities that are the most impacted by climate change and would utilize our oceans in creating a clean energy future, including provisions for increasing offshore renewable energy, expanding protections for habitat and fisheries, and prohibiting offshore drilling in many areas. Our oceans will play a critical role in addressing the climate crisis and this legislation puts the U.S. in a position to lead the way.

OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel stated, “The climate crisis requires bold and powerful solutions and LCV applauds Chairman Grijalva for championing opportunities to harness the power of the ocean as part of the solution. This bill provides a blueprint to reduce carbon pollution by investing in blue carbon ecosystems that naturally sequester carbon, prohibiting the expansion of offshore drilling and increasing clean energy development. It creates programs that will help protect and restore vital ocean systems and habitats, ramp up climate-smart practices and vessels in the fishing industry, and build more resilient coasts, all while prioritizing regional cooperation and environmental justice for Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. We are thrilled to see this bill pass through committee today and look forward to this legislation moving forward.”

ACT ON DEMOCRACY: Earlier this week, a coalition of progressive groups, including LCV, wrote a letter to urge Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to hold another vote on the landmark voting rights legislation, the For The People Act, before the August recess. In state legislative sessions this year, 48 states have already introduced, prefiled, or carried more than 389 bills to restrict or limit voting access. These bills were intentionally written to suppress the record numbers of Black and Brown voters who turned out in 2020. Enacting the For the People Act would supersede these suppressive state laws and modernize our voting system to ensure a consistent, accessible, and secure process for voters across the country — inaction in the Senate is not an option with the future of our democracy at stake.

COALITION TAKE: The letter from the coalition states, “We agree with your repeated promise that “failure is not an option” when it comes to voting rights. To ensure progress in the face of partisan obstruction, we, the undersigned organizations, urge you to hold another vote on voting rights legislation like the For The People Act before the August recess. Further delay risks a decade of Republican-controlled gerrymandering and Republican-controlled state voter suppression laws taking effect.”

2 YEARS OF EJNCP: Saturday marks the second anniversary of the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform, a group of environmental justice advocates and national environmental organizations, including LCV, calling for national climate action that confronts racial, economic, and environmental injustice. We cannot have a healthy environment without including communities that have long been left out of decision-making processes — which are too often communities of color and communities with low wealth who are also some of the most impacted by the climate crisis. 

EJNCP TAKE: In recognition of the EJNCP’s second year, the group issued a joint statement stating, “The Biden-Harris administration, along with some members of Congress, has acted swiftly to begin addressing environmental justice, systemic racism, and inequality. Solid progress has occurred amid multiple crises — a deadly global pandemic, a recession, and a national uprising against police violence. The trio of intersecting crises highlight the need for broad, comprehensive action that weds an equitable recovery with justice and climate action. That has begun to emerge from the administration’s moves to center equity in its government-wide climate action agenda and in the Congress-approved recovery plan that invests in environmental justice communities.

But the work is not done. Still ahead, Congress must work with the administration to make bold investments to further reduce environmental injustice. That includes advancing Justice40 to create jobs, healthier lives, and provide pollution-free energy in disadvantaged communities. It means improving equity across all federal policies. And it means working to reduce pollution and climate damages in communities that for too long have been forced to breathe dirty air, drink unsafe water, and endure health and economic hardship.”

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

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

⚡POWER OF STORYTELLING⚡: Yesterday Chispa Arizona hosted a roundtable discussion with advocates across the state as part of their environmental justice escuelita series. Speakers Vianey Olivarria, Chispa AZ co-director, and Noemí González, Chispa AZ digital organizer, discussed the power of storytelling to uplift communities and the importance of reframing and decolonizing one’s history and the stories that we tell.

CHISPA AZ TAKE: After a powerful discussion, Chispa AZ tweeted, “Our community is powerful and our stories even more so!”

FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT RATE HIKES: Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters, wrote an op-ed in the Herald-Tribune urging Floridians to submit a public comment against Florida Power & Light (FPL)’s plan to build more fossil fuel infrastructure with customers footing the bill. The proposal would raise customer’s bills by nearly 20% over the next four years. FPL is a monopoly utility and large political campaign donor, and generally benefits from favorable regulation by the politically-appointed Public Service Commission. 

FCV TAKE: Florida Conservation Voters Executive Director Aliki Moncrief wrote, “FPL should be leading the way toward a modern electrical grid and clean energy economy; instead it is doubling down on dirty fossil fuels and failing to meet the needs of vulnerable customers. FPL should be trying to lower bills; instead it seeks to raise them…It’s time for us to tell FPL and the Public Service Commission that Florida’s working families are not a piggy bank to pad shareholder dividends – and that we have had enough of rising rates and dirty fossil fuels.”

INFRASTRUCTURE & ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IN MD: State Delegate Jazz Lewis of Maryland’s 24th District wrote an op-ed in the Montgomery County Sentinel in support of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda and underscoring the importance of centering environmental injustice. Lewis cited examples of pollution and climate change impacts on communities in Maryland and explained the vital opportunities proposed by the Biden administration to address the state’s infrastructure needs. 

LEWIS TAKE: Maryland State Delegate Jazz Lewis wrote, “More than four out of five Marylanders are ready for clean energy and environmental justice investments, and we support congressional action to address climate change. We need the American Jobs Plan’s bold investments to ensure we lift up communities that have been overlooked for too long, replace crumbling infrastructure like our transportation systems, improve water quality, and repair our electric grid.”

YOUTH CLIMATE ACTIVISM IN AK: Arctic Youth Ambassador Macy Kenworthy, and Alaska Center Education Fund Youth Civic Engagement Coordinator Jasmine Carter, wrote an op-ed in the Anchorage Daily News about their meeting with Senator Lisa Murkowski to advocate for addressing climate change in Congress’ upcoming legislative packages. They detailed the urgency of climate action for Alaskans and highlighted the need for reinvestment into rural parts of the state.

ACTIVIST TAKE: Arctic Youth Ambassador, Macy Kenworthy, and Alaska Center Education Fund Youth Civic Engagement Coordinator, Jasmine Carter, wrote, “As young people in Alaska facing an uncertain future, we aren’t willing to wait around for piecemeal changes. Our future is on the line, and we are not willing to compromise on climate for jobs. Thankfully, the American Jobs Plan doesn’t require us to compromise our climate future for our economic future. Now we have to make sure our leadership doesn’t compromise our climate either.”

HOYER TOWN HALL: Maryland LCV joined Congressman Steny Hoyer to host a town hall discussing President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda and its benefits to Marylanders.

HOYER TAKE: Congressman Hoyer said, President Biden’s American Jobs Plan is about building back better and stronger so that families and small businesses can succeed to get ahead through access to opportunities but the Jobs Plan also addresses the other clear and present, global, danger, that has serious local repercussions, and that is the climate crisis. The Jobs Plan makes transformational investments in infrastructure and in helping communities respond to climate change.”

MDLCV TAKE: Executive Director of Maryland LCV Kim Coble said, ”We have a once in a lifetime opportunity for the country to make investments in climate change, creating clean energy jobs, and prioritizing justice. In Maryland we are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and this plan will help put the country onto a path toward 100% renewable energy.”

COMING UP:

July 17-25: Latino Conservation Week

Related Actions


Related Articles