THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – JULY 23, 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:

“Even though for generations Latinos have continued to prove they are essential to the United States, sites that commemorate Latino heritage are disproportionately excluded when it comes to officially designated heritage and conservation sites.”

— Manuel Galaviz, anthropologist at the University of Texas at Austin who co-authored Hispanic Access report, “Place, Story, and Culture: An Inclusive Approach to Protecting Latino Heritage Sites,” showing that, “Less than eight percent of national historic landmarks represent the stories of women, Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and other underrepresented groups.”

“I did not understand the environment. I knew that plastic bags were bad for the environment. Mostly what I knew is white folks were trying to save the whales. But then I understood that it impacted just the way I’m breathing today. It became personal, and it became a fight for me.”

— Attribution WHYY article, “EPA takes up environmental justice complaint against Philly’s permit for SEPTA power plant in Nicetown.”

“The Latino community has a long history of conservation traditions and deep connections to the land. This #LatinoConservationWeek, we commit to center their voices and ensure Latino leadership continues to be vital in our work at @Interior.

— Interior Secretary Deb Haaland tweeted in honor of Latino Conservation Week.

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

Teen Vogue: The Climate Change and Infrastructure Crises Are Interconnected
School Transportation News: The Benefits of Electric School Buses, V2G for Low-Income Communities
Politico: Biden’s dueling crises: Cuba and Haiti

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:

CBS News Now (NV): Local leaders honor Rep. John Lewis with candlelight vigil on 1-year anniversary of his death
Concord Monitor (NH): Letter: Support the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act
Flagler Live (FL): DeSantis Rebuffs Calls for Red Tide State of Emergency, Accusing Environmentalists of ‘Politicizing’ Issue
Out In Jersey (NJ): Jack Ciattarelli stands by his anti-LGBTQ comments in New Jersey governor race
Indy Week (NC): This Young Environmental Activist is Vying for the Raleigh Council District A Seat
E&E News (MT): BLM nominee expected to squeak through committee vote today
Willamette Week (OR): After Oregon’s Heat Wave, State’s Leading Environmental Groups Call for Transportation Overhaul
Water Well Journal (MI): NGWA Applauds Introduction of Bipartisan Test Your Well Water Act

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LATINO CONSERVATION WEEK: Last Saturday kicked off Latino Conservation Week, a week to support and celebrate the Latino community getting outdoors and engaging in events to protect critical natural resources. Chispa participated in a virtual event with Hispanic Access Foundation today, where environmental justice advocates, including Chispa National Senior Director Johana Vicente, celebrated Madre Tierra, reflected on successes, and discussed the ongoing fight to protect our lands and waters. In addition, Chispa, along with Green 2.0, will release a blog post tomorrow from Vicente uplifting Latina leaders in the environmental movement. Latinos have been leading communities in the fight for conservation for decades — this week, we celebrate and honor their voices. See more events for Latino Conservation Week HERE.

CHISPA TAKE: Chispa National Senior Director Johana Vicente writes, “To me celebrating Latino Conservation Week also means continuing to advocate for climate justice solutions that will help to protect the environment for our communities and generations to come. As part of Chispa, our teams are working across the country to create awareness of the importance of protecting the environment and addressing climate change. With record-breaking heat waves, fires, flooding, and other natural disasters, it is imperative that we work with communities to create climate resiliency and fight for climate justice.”

GUIDANCE FOR JUSTICE40: This week, the Office of Management and Budget, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy released interim guidance for implementing the Justice40 Initiative — which would direct 40 percent of climate and clean energy investments to the communities who need it the most. For too long, communities of color and communities of low-wealth have been excluded when policies are made — the Justice40 Initiative ensures that critical resources go to communities who are disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis and excluded from access to resources.

CO-AUTHOR TAKE: The co-authors of the Equitable & Just National Climate Platform, a coalition of environmental justice and national environmental organizations, issued a joint statement, stating, “With this strong directive to federal agencies, President Biden has begun translating his vision of securing environmental and economic justice for disadvantaged communities into reality on the ground. His Justice40 Initiative has great potential to deliver public health, economic and environmental benefits to communities overburdened by pollution, racial and economic inequality. It can help unravel systemic racism by making investments that address environmental, climate, racial and economic injustices that have plagued low-income people and communities of color for decades. We look forward to seeing federal agencies fully and effectively implement the White House guidance government-wide, so millions of people across the country living on the frontlines of toxic pollution and harm from climate change can count on a healthier, safer and prosperous future.” 

OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo stated, “Thanks to President Biden for his commitment to directing 40 percent of climate and clean energy investment benefits to communities of color and low-wealth communities who are harmed the most from the legacy of toxic pollution. This is an important step toward the equitable and just implementation of the Justice40 Initiative across the federal government and would not be possible without the environmental justice leaders who have been leading in the decades-long fight to dismantle environmental racism and ensure that all communities can thrive. We are thrilled to see this historic guidance and look forward to continuing to work with this administration, Congress, and environmental justice leaders to deliver these long overdue investment benefits to advance environmental and economic justice for the most disadvantaged communities.” 

AD ALERT IN OHIO!: This week, President Biden joined CNN for a national townhall focused on his administration’s progress over his first six months. Alongside his visit, the League of Conservation Voters launched a digital ad campaign in Ohio targeting Cincinnati and surrounding communities to support a recovery package that focuses on climate, clean energy, high-quality union jobs, and environmental justice. The campaign will focus on ensuring climate action is a top priority as Congress and the White House negotiate on an infrastructure and economic recovery package.

EXTREME WEATHER: This week, LCV and Climate Power hosted an in-person event with members of Congress and experts, constituents, and advocates across the nation who are on the front lines of exacerbated extreme weather due to the climate crisis. Speakers included Senators Michael Bennet, Catherine Cortez Masto, Chris Murphy, Tina Smith, Ron Wyden, and Representatives Sean Casten and Joe Neguse. Devastating wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, and heatwaves are displacing and killing some of our most at-risk communities, including communities of color and low-wealth, people with disabilities, and seniors who too often lack access to critical resources. We are undeniably seeing some of the worst weather and largest wildfires on record in recent years, with extreme weather seasons starting earlier and ending later than before. Watch the full event HERE, and see more on speakers HERE.

BENNET TAKE: Colorado Senator Michael Bennet stated, “For anybody who thinks [the climate crisis] is all speculative or somehow far out into the future, this is having a profound effect in lost lives today in Colorado and is having a dramatic effect on our economy today and that’s why the state of Colorado is reacting to it.”

CORTEZ MASTO TAKE: Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto stated, “Scientists have long predicted a hotter planet and more extreme weather conditions and now these changes are here…There is an opportunity here really for all of us to work together but we have to recognize this extreme weather; listen to the scientists, understand what is happening and plan for it.”

MURPHY TAKE: Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy stated, “It pains me that my twelve year old has to spend time thinking and worrying about what adults are going to do to save his planet, in his mind the entire infrastructure bill should be about climate because he knows the implications for him and his generation if we do nothing.”

SMITH TAKE: Minnesota Senator Tina Smith stated, “I’m still working to take transformational steps to address our present climate crisis. We have to take action now and for me this is personal, my grandson Ari is just a little over a year old and I want him to remember snow in Minnesota. I want him to live in a world that is safe, that is healthy for everyone and where there are opportunities widely shared.”

WYDEN TAKE: Oregon Senator Ron Wyden stated, “These are not your grandfather’s fires, they are vastly more powerful, they’re weather-changing and my biggest fear is the prospect that this year in the West we will have multiple big fires all across the West at exactly the same time, challenging resources in what is really an unprecedented fashion.”

CASTEN TAKE: Representative Sean Casten, from Illinois’ Sixth District, stated, “Every single one of us in this town has a twisted arm because we pat ourselves on the back so hard for doing what politically possible — our children and our grandchildren don’t give a damn. They care that we do what is scientifically necessary and that is the challenge that we have, we have a moment to do it but make no mistake, we do not have anymore moments, we have exhausted the capacity of the atmosphere to absorb heat, the capacity of the oceans to absorb heat and we’ve exhausted all the time we’ve got on the calendar. We got one play left folks.”

NEGUSE TAKE: Representative Joe Neguse, from Colorado’s Second District, stated, “These extreme weather events for communities in my district and for communities across the country are inescapable, they are getting worse and forcing first responders, firefighters, and families to use every tool they have to respond and to survive these extreme weather events. It is time for Congress to take bold action to protect our communities, to protect our country and ultimately to protect our planet.”

STONE-MANNING TO THE FLOOR: This week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to advance the nomination for Tracy Stone-Manning, environmental advocate and executive at the National Wildlife Federation, as the director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) — drawing a stark contrast with the Trump administration’s anti-environmental acting directors who put polluters over people and rolled back critical environmental protections for our nation’s federal lands. Our nation needs an environmental champion to lead the BLM; it’s time for the Senate to confirm Stone-Manning without delay.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “LCV is thrilled that Tracy Stone-Manning’s nomination is moving forward and we hope the Senate will swiftly confirm her as BLM Director. Stone-Manning has spent her career working collaboratively to conserve and protect public lands, increase access for outdoor recreation, and ensure that local communities benefit from our public lands. She is uniquely qualified to lead the BLM, bringing important professional experience to this role after serving as the former director of Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality, a congressional staffer, and a senior policy advisor at the National Wildlife Federation. Especially after the chaos from agency leadership in the last four years, the BLM needs to restore balance to its lands stewardship and ensure these unparalleled natural resources endure for future generations. Under Stone-Manning’s leadership, the BLM will harness the power of our public lands in the fight against climate change and play a key role in implementing President Biden’s ambitious climate and conservation agendas.”

PFAS ACTION: This week, the House passed the PFAS Action Act of 2021, a bipartisan bill which will direct federal agencies to quickly regulate PFAS and begin cleanup of sites polluted by these toxic chemicals. PFAS, also known as ‘forever chemicals’, have been linked with a myriad of health problems such as weakened immune systems and cancer. Earlier this week, LCV president Gene Karpinski sent a letter urging representatives to pass this legislation and take an important step in assuring communities are no longer exposed to these dangerous chemicals.

OUR TAKE: Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote stated, “Today’s House bipartisan passage of the PFAS Action Act is a crucial step towards addressing toxic PFAS contamination and protecting the health of all communities across the country. Chemical companies have known for decades the risks that PFAS pose to our health and conspired to hide this information from the public– it is time to finally hold them accountable for the damage they have caused to our health and the environment. We applaud Representative Debbie Dingell and other champions in Congress for fighting to ensure our federal government takes the actions necessary to stop the flow of these dangerous chemicals and clean up contaminated sites. We urge the Senate to quickly pass this legislation and the Biden administration to use all its authority to address PFAS pollution so that all communities can have access to clean, safe water and a healthy environment.”

NO MORE LEAD: Representatives Paul Tonko, Jan Schakowsky, Dan Kildee, Gwen Moore and Henry Cuellar, along with over 100 other House members, signed a letter calling for congressional leadership to fund the removal of all lead service lines. Lead-contaminated water is toxic at any level, especially to children, and a new report from NRDC estimates that as many as 12 million lead pipes may be in service across the country in every state, supplying drinking water to 22 million people.

OUR TAKE: LCV Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote stated, “Too many communities, especially low-wealth communities and communities of color, have to worry if the water coming out of their tap is poisoning their families with toxic lead. Access to clean, safe drinking water should not be determined by someone’s race, zip code, or income; and with Congress poised to make significant investments in our infrastructure, now is the time to finally replace all of these dangerous lead pipes. We are incredibly grateful to Representatives Tonko, Schakowsky, Kildee, Moore, and Cuellar for their leadership and to all the members of the House who are fighting to provide the full $45 billion necessary to eliminate the more than 10 million lead service lines across the country. We urge Congress to deliver this full funding and protect our children and communities from toxic lead, once and for all.”

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

BUILDING BACK BETTER IN CA: This week, U.S. Representative Katie Porter wrote an opinion piece for Teen Vogue, “The Climate Crisis and Infrastructure Crisis are Connected,” highlighting her work with California League of Conservation Voters to hold elected officials accountable and fight for the future of our planet. Our nation can build back better with this “once in a generation opportunity” to make bold infrastructure investments and create clean energy jobs while tackling the climate crisis and environmental injustice. 

PORTER TAKE: Representative Katie Porter wrote, “When making policy, do we move toward electric vehicles or continue to rely on gasoline-powered cars? Do we invest in renewable energy or keep propping up Big Oil? Do we right the disproportionate harm of climate change on communities of color or do nothing? How we choose to modernize our infrastructure can safeguard our environment if done right, or it can harm our environment if done wrong. Too often our elected leaders do not take action when it would provide the most help: before a crisis occurs. We’ve seen this broadly with climate change, and specifically with natural disasters. There’s currently no single agency in charge of reviewing what went wrong during a disaster event and what can be done better next time.”

 

COMING UP:

July 17- July 25: Latino Conservation Week
July 28: Virtual Townhall with Senator Warnock
August 3: Virtual Townhall with Representative DelBene
August 1 – September 17: Congressional Recess
August 9 – September 10: Senate Recess

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