THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – JULY 30, 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:

“What justice looks like in the long term, however, results from not any one decision, but from continued attention, work and commitment to addressing violence and discrimination. And the work we continue to do together is what truly transformative justice looks like.”

— Georgia Senator Dr. Michelle Au, speaking on the absence of hate crime charges in sentencing the shooter who murdered 6 Asian women in Atlanta.

“The fact that we are all here is not insignificant. When our nation’s capital was established, its policies were intended to exclude us, to assimilate us. Laws and policies were written without considering Indigenous communities’ challenges or their strengths, and we are working hard to undo so many consequences of these actions.”

— Interior Secretary Deb Haaland stated at a ceremony in the final stop for the Red Road to DC, recognizing sacred Indigenous lands across the nation. 

“This is our lunch counter moment. The climate crisis is just not a theoretical concept. It is about real people and the impacts that are happening inside of their communities.  

We can flip the script and make sure that we are helping to strengthen those communities, to build a foundation under those communities to make real change happen. We have got to pass the For the People Act — we have to make sure that people’s votes are protected so we can continue to push to make sure that the right policies are in place and to make sure that investments are going to the spaces and places who are often unheard.”

— National Wildlife Federation Vice President of Environmental Justice Mustafa Santiago Ali stated during LCV’s press conference on Capitol Hill with Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer this week on bold investments needed to address the climate crisis and environmental injustices.

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

The Hill: Overnight Energy: Bipartisan framework remains mostly consistent on climate | Pelosi, Schumer vow climate action: ‘It is an imperative’
Bloomberg: White House Will ‘Re-Energize’ Ocean Restoration, CEQ Head Says
E&E News: Questions emerge on reconciliation as infrastructure moves ahead
Politico: Green anxiety mounts over potential cuts to clean transit funds in infrastructure deal
E&E News: Infrastructure deal whittles down climate spending
E&E Daily: What’s in the $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure deal
WMUR 9: NH Primary Source: LCV, Priorities USA launch $250k digital ad buy supporting Biden climate policies

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:

Daily News (NY): Infrastructure upgrades to fight climate change
Grist (FL): A Florida city wanted to move away from fossil fuels. The state just made sure it couldn’t.
The City (NY): Extreme Heat Sends New Yorkers to Emergency Rooms as Climate Toll Grows
Tampa Bay Times (FL): Florida is buying $300 million in land. It’s for the environment — and developers.
Inside Climate News (WA): An Oil Industry Hub in Washington State Bans New Fossil Fuel Development

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WRAPPING LATINO CONSERVATION WEEK: To close out Latino Conservation Week, Chispa Senior National Director Johana Vicente interviewed with Green 2.0 to share her experience as an immigrant and a woman of color fighting for climate justice and equity in communities who have been historically excluded, and building power in Latino communities to be a strong voice in the environmental movement. Latinos have been leading communities in the fight for conservation for decades, and we continue to celebrate their stories and their voices in this movement.

CHISPA TAKE: Chispa Senior National Director Johana Vicente stated, “The environment is everything around us — it is the air we breathe, the water that we drink, and the land around us. And that so many families of color just like mine continue to live in the most polluted areas in this country and around the world and that it is all deeply rooted in racism and white supremacy just like our broken immigration system or our education systems. More so that, I realized that transformative, bold solutions to the climate crisis will not come from the top. They have to be centered and led by the communities most impacted. And that is why I do this work, to ensure that people who look like me have a seat at the table.”

TALKING CLIMATE INFRASTRUCTURE WITH PELOSI + SCHUMER: This week, LCV and Climate Power hosted a press conference on Capitol Hill with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Ben Ray Luján,  Representatives Kathy Castor, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Mike Levin, and Melanie Stansbury, as well as National Wildlife Federation Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization and Climate Power National Advisory Board Member Mustafa Santiago Ali and LCV’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld. As Congress is closer to moving a bipartisan deal on infrastructure and a more ambitious budget reconciliation forward, and we continue to see the devastating impacts of extreme weather and crumbling infrastructure in our communities, we need swift action on the full Build Back Better agenda. This is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle the climate crisis and environmental injustices while creating good-paying jobs. WATCH the recording of the press conference.

SPEAKER TAKE: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stated, “It is imperative we get this job done and we fully intend to do it — for the children, for the planet, for the future.”

MAJORITY LEADER TAKE: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated, “What we can do in the next few months in terms of big, bold action is like nothing this nation has ever seen before. I will not pass an infrastructure package that does not reduce carbon pollution at a scale commensurate with the climate crisis we face.”

TWO TRACKS DEAL NOW!: This week, President Biden and the bipartisan group of lawmakers struck a deal to invest $550 billion in America’s infrastructure, which falls well short of the bold investments needed to address the climate crisis and support the frontline communities who carry the most burden from climate change and pollution, including communities of color and communities of low wealth. It is critical that Congress concurrently moves a reconciliation package that matches the scale of the climate and environmental justice crises we face. As recently released modeled data from LCV and Data for Progress reiterated, voters in every single state and congressional district — deep red to blue — overwhelmingly support a full infrastructure package to build back better, including investing $2.3 trillion to create good-paying jobs in the clean energy economy while tackling climate change and environmental racism.

OUR TAKE: Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “From devastating heat, fires, droughts, storms and floods to long-standing environmental and racial injustice and economic inequality, it’s never been more urgent or more important to act on climate at the scale that science and justice require. While the bipartisan infrastructure package makes some necessary investments, it also has some concerning provisions we will work to improve as the process moves forward. And it is clear that the deal does not meet the moment on climate or justice. That’s why Congress must move swiftly on a dual track process to deliver on President Biden’s full Build Back Better agenda, including the transformative investments in climate, jobs and justice. It is imperative that the reconciliation package includes investments to cut carbon pollution by at least half by 2030 and put our nation on the path to 100% carbon-free energy powering our electricity grid and new cars, buses, and buildings by 2035 while delivering at least 40% of investment benefits to communities of color and low income communities that have borne the brunt of fossil fuel pollution.”

BUYING AMERICAN: This week, President Biden travelled to Lehigh Valley, PA to emphasize the bold investments needed in an infrastructure package, introduce the administration’s commitment to increase the amount of American-made products purchased through the federal government, and highlight how workers will help America Build Back Better. Currently, the federal government is only required to purchase 55% of components built domestically — Biden’s proposal will increase that amount to 75% over time, which can help spur manufacturing in the U.S. and the creation of new jobs. As our nation grapples with the climate crisis, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build domestically while making bold investments to transition to a clean energy future. 

CVPA TAKE: Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania tweeted, “Thank you for coming to #LehighValley, @POTUS. Now more than ever, it is imperative that we pass meaningful climate legislation before it’s too late. It’s time to #BuildBackBetter with #ClimateActionNow!”

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL REPORT: This week, LCV was joined by White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Brenda Mallory, Florida State Representative Ben Diamond, Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod, and Boise Mayor Lauren McLean to discuss the administration’s America the Beautiful initiative and a special report from LCV highlighting recent state and local conservation leadership toward protecting 30% of U.S. land, water, and ocean by 2030 (30×30). Now more than ever, we must protect our nation’s precious resources, and mayors and local officials across the country agree. READ LCV’s new report, Momentum to Protect America the Beautiful: Community Leadership to Protect 30% of America’s Lands and Waters by 2030, and WATCH the recording from our event. See more quotes from our speakers HERE

CEQ CHAIR TAKE: CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory stated, “President Biden’s decision to set a national conservation goal for the next decade is historic and his call to action to confront the nature and climate crises is urgently needed. America the Beautiful is offering a much-needed chance to summon our nation’s shared love for our common home, do more to safeguard the places we love, support local economies, and leave our country stronger and healthier for generations to come. We are eager to build on the progress of state and local leaders to meet our national goal in America the Beautiful, and expand nature’s reach in a just and equitable way for all.”

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “America is rapidly losing its natural lands to harmful development and now more than ever we need bold action to preserve these spaces for future generations, mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, and make access to nature more equitable. Thanks to the state and local leaders across the country who are leading the way in these efforts. We must build on this state and local foundation and are counting on the Biden-Harris administration to play a key role in protecting America the Beautiful — it’s going to take all of us.”

RED ROAD TO DC: This week, Indigenous activists across the nation completed their two-week trek from the Pacific Northwest to Washington, DC, with a ceremony that featured Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and honored the 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 made 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. WATCH coverage from the event. 

NEZ PERCÉ TAKE: Shannon Wheeler, vice chairman of the Nez Percé tribe in Idaho stated, “Carrying a totem pole from Indian Country with a message is an ancient practice and considered a way to raise awareness of what’s important to us. [Native Americans are] not history. We’re not pre-1900s and we’re not just old black-and-white photos you find on the Internet. We’re still living, breathing and exercising our way of life that we’ve practiced for hundreds of years … We’re still here, and we don’t intend to go anywhere.”

@INTERIOR TAKE: Interior Secretary Deb Haaland tweeted, “This totem carries the hopes of everyone who has laid hands on it. It is a heavy load to carry because we know that all of our actions inform our future. I have hope for the future because it’s ingrained in who we are as people.”

APPROPRIATIONS FOR ENVIRONMENT: This week, the House passed funding for important environmental programs as part of the FY22 appropriations bills on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, and Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies. Adequately funding these agencies without delay is critical amidst the climate crisis, especially as our nation has faced decades of cuts to federal services and government shutdowns in recent years when funding has lapsed. 

CHAIRWOMAN TAKE: House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro stated, “After decades of disinvestment and the devastation of the pandemic, the time is now to reinvest in the American people.”

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis stated, “Thank you to House Democrats for leading on this historic package of investments in healthy communities, public lands, and climate action. These appropriations bills make critical investments creating good-paying jobs deploying clean energy technologies, funding the Environmental Protection Agency at the highest level in its history, establishing a Civilian Climate Corps, providing billions for grant programs to improve drinking water and sewer systems, and investing in renewable energy and weatherization programs. Pro-environment House committee chairs and leadership are once again showing that fighting the climate crisis, creating good-paying jobs, and addressing environmental injustice are a top priority for the caucus. We look forward to working with them and their Senate counterparts to get these bills to President Biden’s desk.”

STONE MANNING TO THE FLOOR: This week, the Senate voted to advance to a final vote on the confirmation of Tracy Stone-Manning, an environmental advocate and executive at the National Wildlife Federation who is being considered for director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Her nomination will be 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 someone with a track record of working collaboratively to conserve, restore, and steward our public lands to lead the BLM; it’s time for the Senate to confirm Stone-Manning without further delay.

OUR TAKE: Upon the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee vote to advance the nomination for Tracy Stone-Manning, 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.”

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

CLEAN CARS IN MN: This week, Minnesota became the first state in the Midwest to adopt clean car standards, an initiative that would set emissions standards for all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the state and increase accessibility of electric vehicles to consumers. This win for Minnesota positions them alongside 14 other states and the District of Columbia that have committed to stronger clean car standards. 

MN TAKE: Paul Austin, Executive Director of Conservation Minnesota said, “Today is an important day in our state’s journey to reduce climate change-causing emissions and protect the quality of our air. Clean Cars Minnesota gives consumers the freedom to choose cleaner trucks, cars, and SUVs when they’re ready. The Walz Administration’s commitment to finalize the rule shows its dedication to keeping our climate healthy and protecting our air and water.”

CLEAN ENERGY IN OR: This week, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a bold clean energy bill to set one of the most ambitious timelines in the nation to transition the state to 100% clean energy by 2040. The legislation requires the state’s two largest power companies to create plans to reduce their emissions over the next 20 years and bans new construction of fossil fuel-powered power plants. The legislation also includes $50 million in grants for community-based energy projects to help build the state’s clean energy economy from the ground up.

BANNING FOSSIL FUELS IN WA: This week, Whatcom County in Washington became the first county in the nation to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure. Whatcom is a hub of oil industry in the northwest US and after a lengthy battle from concerned citizens, local government officials, and environmental groups, the county council unanimously passed a measure to update  land-use policies to prohibit new fossil fuel projects. The legislation also includes stricter rules for the review process for any future upgrades to existing fossil fuel facilities.

WCV TAKE: Washington Conservation Voters tweeted, “Whatcom County Council made history as the first county in the US to permanently ban new fossil fuel projects. We owe this victory to Lummi Nation’s leadership and years of community organizing to honor the land and reject dirty fossil fuel projects.This historic vote is a testament to the role local governments must play to safeguard public health and safety and move communities toward climate action. #EvergreenFuture”

CHISPA NEVADA: This week, southern Nevada municipalities solicited suggestions for  how to spend federal pandemic relief funds as they near an August 30th deadline to decide where to allocate the money. Chispa Nevada Organizer Alexa Aispuro pitched the need to address and reduce smog pollutants from vehicles in the state, especially as communities of color and low-income communities are experiencing disproportionately devastating impacts from COVID-19 that are compounded by higher risk of respiratory disease.

CHISPA TAKE: Alexa Aispuro stated, “COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that has hit communities of color harder, because of the air pollution where we live and the lack of access to capital.”  

REBUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE IN NY: This week, NYLCV President, Julie Tighe, and New York Roadway and Infrastructure Coalition President, Marc Herbst, wrote an op-ed highlighting critical infrastructure needs in the state, pointing to a recent example that gained national attention – extreme flooding in NYC subway stations. Tighe and Herbst stress the urgency of passing major Build Back Better recovery legislation. 

TIGHE & HERBST TAKE: NYLCV President, Julie Tighe, and New York Roadway and Infrastructure Coalition President, Marc Herbst, wrote, “As climate change continues to rage and the weather becomes more erratic, a critical investment in our climate infrastructure is needed more than ever for the safety of families across New York. No one should have to worry about a flash flood causing them to wade through water to get home from work, damage their property, or worse. Taken together, this package is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take sweeping measures to invest in New York and build and protect the infrastructure we deserve. We need Congress to pass a Build Back Better climate recovery plan at the scale needed to avert a crisis and put our city, state and country on a green economic recovery path.”

COMING UP:

August 3: Virtual Townhall with Representative DelBene
August 1 – September 17: Congressional Recess
August 9 – September 10: Senate Recess

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