THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – JUNE 4, 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:

“As a [LGBTQ+] community, we are on the front lines of the climate crisis — disproportionately likely to be houseless, to be without social safety nets, to be without familial or institutional safety nets — we may not feel safe around emergency or first responders. Community members who’ve experienced houselessness are threatened in the face of natural disasters.”

— Aletta Brady, co-director of Seeding Sovereignty, on LGBTQ Nation podcast episode, “Is climate change an LGBTQ issue?”

“We think of environmental justice as being about how our communities get to be in relationship with our environment. That means trees, air, and water — but also our neighborhoods, our homes, and how we get to be in relationship with each other.”

— Alvina Wong, APEN’s campaign and organizing director, in the Grist article, “From pollution to policing, this Asian-American group is expanding environmental justice in the Bay Area”.

“Seven years without clean water — that’s half my life. They are slowly fixing the pipes, except they had to postpone it due to [COVID-19]. America has a water crisis. People think, “Oh, America, a water crisis? I thought it was Flint that had a water crisis.” No, it’s not just Flint. There’s also Newark, New Jersey. They have way more lead in their water than Flint. They have way worse water.”

— Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny, Little Miss Flint, in an interview with YR Media, “Little Miss Flint’s Call to Action Against Environmental Racism

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

New York Times: Efforts to Advance Racial Equity Baked In Throughout Biden’s Budget
New York Times: Biden Suspends Drilling Leases in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Cap Times: Spencer Black: After Trump despoliation, Bears Ears on track for restoration
Politico: With GOP circling, Ossoff leans into climate change
Inside Climate News: With Trump Gone, Old Fault Lines in the Climate Movement Reopen, Complicating Biden’s Path Forward
Reuters: Environmentalists condemn Biden’s backing of Alaska oil drilling project
The Hill: Health advocates ask the FDA to ban PFAS from food packaging

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:

SC Now (SC): LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Florence County says Effingham wood pellet air permit is outside its jurisdiction
Tampa Bay Times (FL): President Biden is betting on American workers
New Hampshire Public Radio (NH): As Offshore Wind Industry Nears N.H., Potential New Workers Show Interest
E&E News (NJ): N.J. threatens to pull shore funds in parking dispute
The Sacramento Bee (CA): Recall myths + Parent group to recruit candidates + A climate change appeal to Nancy Pelosi
Maryland Matters (MD): Winds of Change: Source of Power and Struggle
Ohio Capital Journal (OH): Senate passes bill creating new hurdles for wind, solar development
BoiseDev (ID): Power up: Idaho Power preparing for increased electric vehicle usage
Colorado Newsline (CO): Climate of Resistance: The public is owed a fair share of natural resources wealth

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REINSTATING CLEAN CAR STANDARDS: This week, the EPA held a public hearing about reinstating California’s Advanced Clean Car Program — emissions standards that the Trump administration rescinded. LCV Government Affairs Advocate for Climate and Clean Energy Darien Davis delivered testimony highlighting the urgent need for these strong clean car standards, which will address the climate crisis and improve health, particularly for the communities of color and low income communities that are impacted the most by toxic pollution and the climate crisis.

OUR TAKE: LCV Government Affairs Advocate for Climate and Clean Energy Darien Davis stated, “Growing up in central New Jersey, riding in a car was always a new adventure and very much a part of the culture. I’d spend hours in the car going down to the shore each summer and visiting friends in New York and Philadelphia. I was acutely aware, however, of the fact that this same vehicle that allowed me to travel across the state with ease, that would bring me the bliss of a Country Kettle Fudge, also contributed to the harmful air pollution. This pollution disproportionately impacts low wealth communities and BIPOC communities, leading to increased rates of asthma and respiratory illness. It is clear that in order to tackle this problem, we need to support regulations to curb tailpipe pollution.

New Jersey is just one of several states that has adopted stronger pollution standards than the federal government. It did so under section 177 of the Clean Air Act, but this authority was in jeopardy when the previous administration moved to gut this critical waiver. Now, we have the opportunity to reinstate the waiver so that states like New Jersey — and more recently, Minnesota — can forge ahead with more ambitious clean vehicle regulations.”

ARCTIC REFUGE LEASING: On Tuesday, the Biden-Harris administration suspended new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge while awaiting a comprehensive environmental analysis — another step towards fulfilling the administration’s promise to permanently protect the Arctic Refuge. A coalition of Indigenous and conservation groups, including LCV, sent a letter to President Biden and Interior Secretary Haaland thanking them for their work towards preserving the Arctic Refuge while calling for stronger action to prevent unlawful leasing. While these sacred lands are protected for now, the Arctic Refuge needs strong legislative action to keep oil and gas drilling from violating Indigenous rights and exacerbating the climate crisis. 

COALITION TAKE: The coalition letter, signed by Indigenous and conservation groups, including LCV, stated, “Thank you, President Biden and Interior Secretary Haaland, for taking this step toward protecting the Arctic Refuge from oil activities. These lands are sacred to the Gwich’in and Iñupiat peoples and nursery to the Porcupine caribou, polar bears and millions of migratory birds. More work remains, however, and we look forward to working with the administration on stronger action to correct this unlawful leasing program and preserve one of our nation’s most majestic public lands. We also look to the administration and Congress to now prioritize repealing the ongoing threat posed by the statutory oil leasing mandate and restoring protections to America’s Serengeti.”

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated for the New York Times, “Suspending leases in the Arctic Refuge is a major step forward in keeping President Biden’s campaign promise and cutting carbon pollution. Going forward, we also need to ensure the administration keeps its climate commitment across the board. A ‘drill here, don’t drill there’ approach will not get the job done.”

LCV DIGITAL AD BUY: This week, LCV released creative for its previously announced $1 million digital ad campaign in support of the American Jobs Plan, taking place in 17 battleground states while members of Congress are in their home states for recess. Ads targeting key representatives and senators will run in Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Watch “Thank you, Senator Warner,” here, and see the static ad, “Tell Senator Cortez Masto,” here

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to dramatically improve people’s lives, tackle climate change, and create high quality jobs. Congress should immediately take up and pass the full American Jobs Plan upon return to DC. When it comes to the climate crisis we don’t have any more time to waste.”

STATEHOUSE TO THE WHITE HOUSE EVENT: On Thursday, LCV and the Center for American Progress hosted a virtual event to discuss lessons Congress can take from recent state-level environmental justice laws as they work to tackle major infrastructure and climate legislation. James Povijua, the policy director for the Center for New Mexico Civic Policy provided insights into New Mexico’s transition to 100% clean energy, focusing on frontline and indigenous communities. Olivia Glenn, deputy commissioner of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection highlighted New Jersey’s holistic approach to environmental justice through the state’s new Cumulative Impacts law. And, Alyssa Macy, CEO of Washington Council and Washington Conservation Voters, focused on Washington’s recently passed HEAL Act that will, for the first time, codify investments for frontline and overburdened communities into state law.

NJ DEPT OF ENVIRO PROTECTION TAKE: New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Olivia Glenn stated, “For far too long, the voices of our environmental justice communities have gone unheard and unheeded, these communities have shouldered more than their fair share of pollution and environmental hazards and often have limited access to open space and nature. I think the deep replicability of [the NJ Environmental Justice Law] is what communities have been asking for for decades, just to be heard, just to have a seat at the table and when you have concurrence between government and the citizens that we are here to serve, you can only go farther together.”

CENTER FOR NM CIVIC POLICY TAKE: Center for New Mexico Civic Policy Policy Director James Povijua stated, “What is as important as developing and passing good policies is the process and the ways in which we can build power and agency for frontline communities around the country who are disproportionately impacted by the negative effects of the extractive industry and climate change. Across the state, community members told us that they want a better future for their families, fueled by a long term transition to an economy that is regenerative — and not based on exploitation. [New Mexico’s Sustainable Economy Taskforce] ensures that disproportionately impacted communities have many seats at the table.”

WASHINGTON COUNCIL + WCV TAKE: Washington Council and Washington Conservation Voters CEO Alyssa Macy stated, “We’ve got a big responsibility to do what is morally and ethically right and that is to listen more, talk less and to make sure we are actually incorporating what communities are saying. You absolutely must engage with original stewards of the land. We are in a time in this country where we can no longer ignore the voices of overburdened communities… the weaknesses of this country, of our society, of our social safety nets have been daylighted in a way that we can never unsee.”

VICTORY IN NM: On Tuesday, LCV Action Fund-endorsed candidate Melanie Stansbury won her hard-fought special election by a nearly 25 point margin and will be headed to Congress to represent New Mexico’s 1st District. While it’s hard to attribute Stansury’s landslide victory to any one thing, we do know that Stansbury stood firm in her support for clean air, clean water, and combating climate change, despite attacks from her opponent. Prioritizing these issues is a lesson for pro-environment candidates across the country, and now we have the opportunity to do so with the American Jobs Plan.  To read more about our takeaways from this election, read LCV Senior Vice President of Campaigns Pete Maysmith’s memo here.  

OUR TAKE: In the memo, LCV Senior Vice President of Campaigns Pete Maysmith said, “Going big on combating climate change and transitioning to a clean energy economy is not just good policy, it’s good politics…By following Stansbury’s example and embracing clean energy, jobs, and justice, Democrats have a chance to not just win elections, but to make meaningful change and protect our planet.”

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

NEVADA CLEAN ENERGY WIN: This week, the Nevada Assembly passed an energy package that will close a smog loophole, invest in clean energy transmission, electric vehicle infrastructure, and energy efficiency programs with 40% of investments directed to underserved communities. The package is now headed to Governor Steve Sisolak’s desk, where it’s expected to be swiftly signed into law.    

CHISPA NV TAKE: Chispa Nevada Program Director Rudy Zamora said, “Due to a history of injustice, low-income communities and people of color in Nevada are breathing dirtier air. Our policies need to address the disparities in these communities. By doubling energy efficiency investments in low-income homes and ensuring at least 40 percent of new electric vehicle charging infrastructure is deployed in historically underserved communities, we can begin to address energy equity and climate justice, and we thank the Assembly for passing the measure.” 

NCL TAKE: Executive Director of the Nevada Conservation League Paul Selberg said, “We applaud the Nevada Assembly for moving swiftly and showing strong bipartisan support for clean energy and climate action. Expanding clean electricity, strengthening the transmission network, and transportation electrification means more jobs and cost savings to power Nevada’s economic recovery, all while advancing toward our goals of 100 percent clean power and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.” 

CLEAN ENERGY BILL FACES OBSTACLES IN ILLINOIS: This year multiple bold clean energy bills were introduced in Illinois’ legislative session but the state failed to pass any of them before the session ended on the 31st. This includes the groundbreaking Clean Energy Jobs Act which would get Illinois to 100% clean energy by 2050 with a focus on job creation and economic opportunity, prioritizing communities of color. The bill was derailed by a last-minute request to exempt the state’s largest carbon polluter – the Prairie State coal-fired power plant – on the final day of session. Now the Illinois legislature is negotiating a new clean energy bill and advocates are hopeful that strong legislation will finally pass this month. 

COALITION TAKE: On Tuesday the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition tweeted “Last night, despite broad agreement on a comprehensive climate and equity bill, a last-minute request to exempt a massive coal plant halted all progress. Legislators must pass a climate bill that doesn’t exempt the largest polluter in the state.”

LABOR + ENVIRONMENT UNITE: Since President Biden first introduced the American Jobs Plan, state labor unions and environmental organizations across the country have joined together in solidarity to support the recovery package. They have repeatedly made clear that we must lift up working families and protect our environment at the same time.  From Southern Florida (see below 👇) to Duluth, Minnesota, labor and environmental leaders have highlighted critical investments in President Biden’s infrastructure plan that will create good paying union jobs and transition the country to 100% clean energy. To see a compilation of joint labor-environmental opinion pieces, check out this round-up.

FLORIDA OP-ED: This week, an op-ed from Florida Conservation Voters Executive Director Aliki Moncrief and Florida AFL-CIO Legislative and Political Director Dr. Rich Templin was published in the Tampa Bay Times, highlighting the ways that President Biden will modernize transportation with equity in mind. The bottom line: The American Jobs Plan investments can meet the needs of working-class and low-income communities by providing better jobs and better transportation options for everyone.

FCV + FL AFL-CIO TAKE: In the op-ed, FCV Executive Director Aliki Moncrief and Florida AFL-CIO Legislative and Political Director Dr. Rich Templin wrote

“We know that when we invest in workers — and when we strategically protect both people and planet — we can achieve great things. But we need Florida’s congressional leadership to get it done. In a time of division, President Biden’s American Jobs Plan will unify and mobilize the country to meet the greatest challenges of our time, including COVID-19 and the climate crisis.”

🌟SPECIAL RECESS REPORT: While the Senate and House are in recess, lawmakers are back home in their districts where they are engaging with constituents to highlight and understand the ways local communities will benefit from prioritizing clean energy, justice, and jobs in the American Jobs Plan.

SUPPORT FOR AJP IN CO: In the Centennial State, Senator John Hickenlooper and Representative Jason Crow each joined telephone town halls hosted by Conservation Colorado, Environment Colorado, and Green Latinos. Coloradans talked with their lawmakers about the urgency of prioritizing climate change, the economy, and people in the American Jobs Plan. 

SEN. HICKENLOOPER TAKE: Senator Hickenlooper said, “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in not only Colorado’s but America’s future and to do it in a way that confronts climate change head on.”

REP. CROW TAKE: Representative Crow said, “The American Jobs Plan will allow us to build the clean energy grid and the clean energy economy.  It will help us transition to renewable energy in the way we need to in the next decade. We need support from both parties.”

SUPPORT FOR AJP IN MA: Representative Ayanna Pressley joined Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards, the Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM) President Elizabeth Henry, and GreenRoots activist Naemy Rodriguez in East Boston’s Piers Park to discuss the importance of environmental justice, jobs, and action on climate — all of which, the powerful group of women agreed, need to be at the heart of a transformational infrastructure package.  

REP. PRESSLEY TAKE: At the event, Representative Pressley said, “Our destinies are tied. Climate change is an existential threat to our right to breathe clean air, our right to drink clean water, and to live in clean and safe communities.”

COUNCILOR EDWARDS TAKE: At the event, Councilor Edwards spoke about East Boston’s Piers Park, saying, “This is not just beautiful because of the green space that we have, but because of the fighting spirit and activism that make this green space possible.” 

ELM TAKE: At the event, ELM President Elizabeth Henry said, “Our Massachusetts congressional leaders and local policy makers are all in.  They understand that this plan must match the scope and the urgency of the challenges we face.” 

GREENROOTS TAKE: Listen, in Spanish, to GreenRoots’ Naemy Rodriguez’s remarks about the challenges and opportunities for East Boston residents, here.

SUPPORT FOR AJP IN WI: Across the Badger State, members of Congress declared their support for the American Jobs Plan and investing in a clean energy future.  Representative Ron Kind joined Wisconsin Conservation Voters to tour a technical college and discuss clean energy jobs. And, Representative Gwen Moore joined Wisconsin Conservation Voters at a Milwaukee event focused on clean buses.

REP. KIND TAKE: Representative Kind said, “We’re hard at work right now trying to put together the American Jobs Plan and the infrastructure package. It’s not just roads and highways but it’s the energy system that we want to create for the 21st century.” 

REP. MOORE TAKE: Representative Moore said, “We’re here to talk about the American Rescue Plan and to talk about the proposed infrastructure plan, and the focus on not just building back the same old way, but building back better and building back green.”

SUPPORT FOR AJP IN CA: Representatives Katie Porter and Mike Levin joined California League of Conservation Voters for a virtual event to discuss how bold federal climate legislation will invest in clean energy and green job creation while addressing the climate crisis and environmental injustices.

REP. PORTER TAKE: Representative Katie Porter stated, “Climate resiliency is not a top down process. Local communities, including Indigenous communities and rural communities, need to have a voice in thinking about the ways that water, air, access to recreation spaces are hurting their health or limiting their ability to live healthy, successful lives. The goal is to set aside 40 percent of the money for clean energy and clean infrastructure investment to go to disadvantaged communities.”

REP. LEVIN TAKE: Representative Mike Levin stated, “For too long, we’ve had economic policies that are geared to help those at the very top at the expense of everyone else. When you look at the jobs that will be created by the American Jobs Plan, it is really important that we are creating jobs that have good wages, collective bargaining, health care benefits, leave — all of the things that we take for granted sometimes.”

SUPPORT FOR AJP IN NH: Representative Chris Pappas joined LCV’s Climate Action New Hampshire and members of New Hampshire’s offshore wind commission for a roundtable discussion on wind industry development in the state. Infrastructure investments must include investments in clean energy development to put our nation on the path to addressing the climate crisis.

REP. PAPPAS TAKE: Representative Chris Pappas stated, “While we do need to be talking about our roads and bridges, the conversation can’t stop there. It’s got to involve our port infrastructure … and we need to be thinking about the kind of renewable energy development that people here are hungry for. And we’ve got a solution that is just off our coastline.”

SUPPORT FOR AJP IN NC: At a virtual event hosted by North Carolina LCV and NC Interfaith Power and Light, Representative Deborah Ross highlighted how the American Jobs Plan will create good paying jobs in North Carolina while fighting the climate crisis. Clean energy transportation and offshore wind investments would create jobs in manufacturing, engineering, transportation, and construction, which will help build a stronger economy in North Carolina.

REP. ROSS TAKE: Representative Deborah Ross stated, “We in North Carolina know that clean energy not only helps the environment, but creates jobs. We’ve seen what happens when we enacted the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards — we need that extra push to get to a carbon free place. We’re going to create jobs for engineers and for the people who are going to construct things and that will be good for our economy.”

COMING UP:

ALL OF JUNE: Pride Month
ALL OF JUNE: National Immigrant Heritage Month
June 8: World Oceans Day
June 8: Anniversary of the Antiquities Act.
June 19: Juneteenth – a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States that, as Vann R. Newkirk II wrote, “celebrates liberty in America as it actually is: delayed”

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