THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION – MAY 13, 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, Twitter, and Instagram.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

The Senate must meet the moment and pass a transformational climate and jobs reconciliation bill that boosts clean energy manufacturing, lowers energy costs, creates good-paying jobs, and advances environmental justice. We don’t have time to waste. Families are counting on it, the health of our communities depends on it, and this moment demands it.” 

U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood, speaking alongside Senator Tina Smith, House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Chair Kathy Castor and Conservation Voter Movement advocates who came together this week to demand climate action. 

“This is my home. As a mom, it’s why I stand up. We have a responsibility to protect our planet – it needs to begin in communities like ours that have been impacted with environmental racism and injustices.”

–Lucy Molina, community activist with Moms Clean Air Force in Colorado, in the recent video “No more sacrifice zones: Stopping pollution from Suncor refinery.” On Wednesday, the Colorado legislature passed a handful of bills to improve air quality in Colorado and Governor Polis emphasized that achieving 100% renewable electricity for Colorado by 2040 and a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions statewide by 2030 are in the state’s top priorities. 

“The Red Hill Facility has already poisoned our water supply with jet fuel, depriving nearly 100,000 residents of safe drinking water in their homes for months, and the contamination remains in our aquifer, reducing the island’s water supply and raising the specter of water rationing as we head toward summer. We can’t afford another human and environmental catastrophe. We need to get the fuel out of Red Hill’s corroded, aging fuel tanks as quickly as possible.”

–Hawaii Deputy Director for Environmental Health Kathy Ho, who is working to hold the Navy accountable for environmental injustice in Hawaii. At this time last year, 19,000 gallons of fuel spilled from the Navy’s Red Hill fuel facility into the drinking water supply of over 93,000 water customers in and around Pearl Harbor, sickening and displaying thousands from their homes. 

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SENATE FAILS TO CODIFY ABORTION RIGHTS: The failed Senate vote to start debate on the Women’s Health Protection Act further undermined the fundamental right to reproductive health care.  

OUR TAKE: SVP of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Senate Republicans’ refusal to even start debate on protecting the right to access reproductive health care in this country is outrageous, especially at a time when conservative justices on the Supreme Court appear determined to undermine our rights and reverse legal precedent that has been in place for nearly 50 years. The millions of people who would be impacted the most by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade already face extraordinary barriers to care. These are the same communities who bear the most burden from the climate crisis, environmental injustices, and voter suppression – communities of color, communities with low wealth, and rural communities. We cannot turn back the clock on reproductive rights in this country. LCV will do everything we can to elect pro-environment, pro-democracy, and pro-choice federal, state, and local officials who will pass transformative legislation to build a just and equitable clean energy future, confirm judges who protect our fundamental rights, and codify Roe.”

ICYMI, CONGRESS MEMBERS AND ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATES CALLED FOR ACTION ON CLIMATE, JOBS, AND JUSTICE RECONCILIATION BILL BY MEMORIAL DAY: On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Tina Smith, U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood, House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Chair Kathy Castor, and advocates from LCV’s state partners in Minnesota, Illinois, and Florida hosted a press conference at the House Triangle to reinforce the urgent need to pass the critical $555 billion investments in climate, clean energy, justice, and jobs.

OUR TAKE: LCV’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Now is the time for the Senate to pass a Reconciliation bill that will put us firmly on the path to cut climate pollution in half by 2030, the goal that President Biden set and that climate and racial justice and science all require. This reconciliation bill will also save families money and will help us double down on renewable energy so that we are no longer dependent on petrostate autocrats.  It will create good-paying jobs and it will rebuild our economy in a way that is healthier, more equitable, and more just for all of our communities. Democrats ran and won on the promise to act on climate, and now it is time for Senate Democrats to get the job done.” See what others said HERE

BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION CANCELS OFFSHORE DRILLING LEASE SALES: Citing lack of industry interest and contrary court rulings, respectively, the Biden-Harris administration has canceled offshore oil lease sales in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

OUR TAKE:  LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel said, “Offshore drilling is a dirty and dangerous business that threatens coastal communities, economies and marine life. Selling new offshore leases that won’t produce oil for years is not a solution to today’s gas prices, but it would lock in new infrastructure that is incompatible with our moral responsibility to leave a habitable planet for our kids. That’s why we’re excited to see the Biden-Harris administration’s decision to cancel these lease sales. Our future must be powered by clean energy, not more offshore drilling.”

CLIMATE ACTION NOW IN PERSON: Staff of 27 of LCV’s state affiliates came to DC this week to make the case face to face, with their members of Congress and members of the Biden-Harris administration, that they must urgently advance action on climate and environmental justice through major legislative investments and administrative actions. Because of the pandemic, this was the first “fly-in” in over two years, and comes at a critical time in Senate negotiations to advance the $555 billion climate, jobs and justice investments that has passed the House through budget reconciliation. See photos from the meetings HERE

LCV ENDORSES JUDICIAL ETHICS AND ANTI-CORRUPTION ACT: This week, LCV endorsed the newly introduced Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act, which would reform the judicial ethics system by overhauling the judicial recusal process, imposing a binding code of conduct on the Supreme Court for the first time, and banning federal judges from owning individual stock, improve transparency, and more. Introduced by Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the legislation aims to overhaul the nation’s judicial ethics laws and restore public faith in the court system. Read more HERE

CHISPA NATIONAL’S CHISPEANDO WITH ECOMADRES: This past Wednesday, Chispa hosted a #Chispeando event with the group Eco Madres. Together, Chispa and Eco Madres talked about the EPA Clean Truck standards and how our communities can take action. Watch a recording of the event HERE

ENDORSEMENTS FOR CONGRESS: This week, LCV Action Fund endorsed three candidates: Betty McCollum for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota’s 4th Congressional District, Greg Casar for election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas’ 35th Congressional District, and Kathy Manning for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District. 

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

BILINGUAL VOTING RESOURCE FOR IDAHO: Last week, Conservation Voters for Idaho launched Contamos, a new bilingual voter resource that aims to empower Idaho’s Latinx community to exercise their voting rights ahead of the May 17 primary election. To access the website, click HERE.

OUR TAKE: Antonio Hernandez, civic engagement coordinator of Conservation Voters for Idaho, told Idaho News 6 and CBS 2, “An informed voter is a powerful and strong voter. That means a strong and powerful democracy…We want to make sure all Idahoans have the resources they need to vote. Our bilingual voter guide includes important voting deadlines, frequently asked questions and links to the IdahoVotes.gov website. Spanish-speaking voters often tell us that they need basic information in order to vote – it’s often one of the first barriers they encounter. We hope this website helps make voting more accessible for this often-overlooked community.” 

CLEAN ENERGY VETO IN VERMONT: Last week, Republican Governor Phil Scott vetoed the Clean Heat Standard bill, which would have given the Public Utility Commission the authority to set policies and charges to fund measures to reduce greenhouse gasses. The bill, which passed both the House (88-37) and the Senate (23-7), is critical to cutting toxic pollution and leading Vermont through a clean energy transition. Advocates are now pushing to override Scott’s veto.

OUR TAKE: Executive Director of Vermont Conservation Voters Lauren Hierl said, “Meeting our state’s climate pollution reduction targets will require leadership from our elected officials. Governor Scott has abdicated his responsibility to act on climate by vetoing the Clean Heat Standard, and offering no alternatives to cut pollution as required to meet our legal and moral obligation to Vermonters. We thank the Legislature in advance for overriding this short-sighted veto and doing the hard work necessary to help Vermonters access more clean and affordable heating options – instead of keeping them tethered to volatile, polluting, and expensive fossil fuels.”

VERMONT UNITES AROUND BIODIVERSITY AND CLIMATE RESILIENCE LEGISLATION: The Vermont Senate has passed legislation to protect biodiversity and improve climate resilience on a unanimous vote. The bill was a recommendation of the state’s Climate Action Plan, adopted in December 2021, and is a top priority for Vermont Conservation Voters and multiple other environmental organizations. The bill now heads to Governor Phil Scott for his signature.

OUR TAKE: Executive Director of Vermont Conservation Voters Lauren Hierl said, “We appreciate the Legislature’s important work to protect Vermont’s wildlife and irreplaceable natural areas, and call on Governor Scott to sign this bill into law.”

OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY CORRUPTS PA ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS: In Pennsylvania, the oil and gas industry is jeopardizing federal funding to clean up the state’s thousands of abandoned and leaking wells. According to an analysis of Senate and House journal records and political donation data by the Pennsylvania League of Conservation Voters, the oil and gas industry gave thousands of dollars in campaign contributions while Act 13, legislation deemed “woefully inadequate” by current Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnel, was being debated.

ELECTRIC BUSES FOR FLORIDA SCHOOLS: On Monday, Director of Chispa Florida Maria Revelles published an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times highlighting how crucial transitioning to electric school buses is for the health of millions of students, parents, and educators that are currently forced to breathe in toxic diesel fumes every day. The Spanish-language piece also details how cost-effective and efficient electric school buses are and urges both federal action and community engagement in the transition to clean energy for school buses. 

GRASSROOTS EFFORTS FOR FL SOLAR: Governor Ron DeSantis surprised many in Florida’s environmental community when he vetoed Florida Power & Light’s priority bill, which would have negatively impacted clean energy efforts in Florida by reducing rooftop solar expansion. The veto was in large part thanks to grassroots efforts led by community members in the Florida Panhandle’s reliably Republican community who have been revolting against Florida’s largest electric utility and who are fighting to establish their own municipally run utility.

OUR TAKE: Deputy Director of Florida Conservation Voters Jonathan Webber said, “I have not seen an uproar like this against a utility company in Florida. The anger over there is real. People are upset at FPL and that is real. So how could it not be a factor in the governor’s calculations?”

FIGHTING FOR WETLAND PROTECTIONS IN FL: Florida Conservation Voters and other environmental groups are calling out the utility company Florida Power & Light for contributing $3.3 million to legislators and political committees for the 2022 election cycle in an effort to fast-track legislation that, if signed into law, will further hasten the demise of Florida’s wetlands. The legislation, which will speed up an already streamlined process that has drawn warnings from federal regulators and a lawsuit from environmentalists, comes as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection continues to adhere to a Trump-era rule that scaled back federal protection of millions of acres of wetlands, marshes, and streams. Florida Conservation Voters has sent a letter asking DeSantis to veto the bill when it finally gets to his desk, saying “wetlands destruction could become pay to play with expedited permitting for those able to pay additional fees.This will result in a fast track of wetland destruction. By entering into contracts with public entities, this may also make a 120-day challenge more difficult or impossible for a third party.”

FLCV TAKE: Land Policy Director at Florida Conservation Voters Lindsay Cross said, “When FPL wants something they get it. Investor-owned utilities have incredible power to get laws passed at the expenses of the environment and community members.” 

STATE LEADERS MEET CHAIR OF THE WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY: This past Tuesday, Chispa Florida Program Director Maria Revelles, as well as environmental leaders in Maryland, California, Nevada, and Maine met with Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Brenda Mallory. They met as a part of LCV Lobby Day, during which over fifty advocates from 30 states are advocating for climate justice in Washington D.C. View a picture from the meeting HERE

TIME IS RUNNING OUT ON ‘MUST PASS’ AIR POLLUTION BILL: This week, Conservation Colorado joined a coalition of environmental and community groups to urge Colorado lawmakers to back a “must pass” air pollution bill. The bill, which would impose new rules on polluters and establish a new state program to address the emission of “air toxics,” a class of pollutants that advocates say are under-regulated at the federal level, faces challenges from powerful corporate interests that have been quietly mobilized against it.

OUR TAKE: Conservation Colorado CEO Kelly Nordini said, “Coloradans are concerned about the sad state of our air quality and expect legislative action to clean it up. A key step is passing a bill that requires monitoring air toxics, develops health-based standards, and then requires companies to use technology to cut pollution and it’s Conservation Colorado’s top priority.”

ARTISTS TEAM UP WITH CLIMATE ACTIVISTS IN IDAHO: Conservation Voters for Idaho has teamed up with the Garden City Placemaking Fund on a new project to create a series of public art displays in Garden City that celebrate the environment in Idaho and illustrate the need for federal climate action. Today, the Garden City Climate Action Walk officially opened with a kickoff event featuring two artists painting the first of six murals which will be located across the city’s Live-Work-Create district.

MONTANANS WANT MORE PROTECTED PUBLIC LANDS: The Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund has been working to raise support for the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act, a measure that would protect more of Montana’s forest land and add nearly 80,000 acres of public land to the state. A new survey reports strong support for conservation and public lands, with 85% of Montanans saying the loss of ranches and open spaces to new development is a serious problem and 83% supporting the legislation.  

OUR TAKE: Program Director of the Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund Kristin Cordingley said, “It’s a really collaborative effort. I mean, we’ve included timber mill workers. We got ranchers, outfitters, conservationists, mountain bike riders, business owners. The list kind of goes on and on and it essentially protects the Blackfoot River and some of its most important tributaries…As we get closer to the election and there’s so many other things on the docket, we are nervous and we want to see it move before the end of the year, for sure. Folks have been working a really long time on it. This coalition that pulled together this piece of legislation has been working on it over a decade.”

PASSING EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY IN NY: The New York League of Conservation Voters is encouraging the State Legislature to pass extended producer responsibility legislation introduced by Senator Kaminsky and Assemblyman Englebright this legislative session. The bill will boost recycling, curb waste and save tax dollars by shifting the end-of-life responsibility for packaging and paper products from local governments to corporate producers. If passed and signed into law, New York would be the first state to implement such a program for packaging and paper products.

NYLCV TAKE: Policy Director at the New York League of Conservation Voters Patrick McClellan said, “Our recycling markets are in crisis and county and municipal sanitation services are straining to responsibly manage the waste stream. Extended producer responsibility legislation for packaging materials would help to address a significant environmental and budgetary burden placed on local governments. That’s why this legislation is one of NYLCV’s top priorities for the 2022 session. We look forward to working with Senator Kaminsky to enact this bill quickly.” Read NYLCV President Julie Tighe’s op-ed on passing extended producer responsibility legislation HERE.

VOLUNTEERS COLLECT AND DOCUMENT TRASH CRISIS IN ME: On Earth Day, about 30 people attended a beach clean-up event hosted by Maine Conservation Voters. Volunteers documented the quantity and make up of collected trash, data which will provide valuable information for combatting the ocean debris problem.   

OUR TAKE: Abbie Bradford, outreach manager for Maine Conservation Voters, said, “We’re not just cleaning Old Orchard Beach, we’re also gathering data that will help scientists and advocates quantify and categorize the ocean debris problem to help inspire and inform solutions.

NC EMBRACES WIND POWER: The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced Wednesday that Duke Energy and TotalEnergies were the winning bidders of its Carolina Long Bay Auction, paving the way for more wind turbines off the coast. When fully developed, the sites together could power half a million homes with clean energy.

NCLCV TAKE: Montravias King, clean energy director for the NC League of Conservation Voters, said: “We look forward to [Duke] including significant wind resources in their proposed carbon plan Monday and ensuring that clean, renewable power comes to North Carolina ratepayers, especially those who have been disproportionately the victim of their coal and gas pollution—namely, communities of color.”

CA PUSHES FOR LARGER CLIMATE BUDGET: With the May revision of Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget due at the end of this week, California Environmental Voters joined other advocacy groups to call for a “Climate Courage Budget” that allocates at least 5% of state spending over five years to combatting the climate crisis. Advocates want the state to commit roughly $75 billion, about twice what Newsom proposed at the beginning of the year.

OUR TAKE: Advocacy Coordinator for California Environmental Voters Samuel Sukaton said, “Historic is not the same thing as adequate. $37.6 billion over five years is about 2% of the state’s budget per year. But two cents on the dollar is not really enough…Without grid adjustments to export that capacity from Humboldt all the way to the rest of the state, we’re not actually getting that energy to people that need it.”

WI TAKES LOCAL ACTION ON CLIMATE: Wisconsin Conservation Voters and its 40,000-plus members and supporters are applauding the City of Appleton for hiring a project and resilience manager under its Climate Action Plan. Residents of Appleton are encouraged to become directly involved in implementing the Climate Action Plan and building Appleton’s clean energy future through multiple community actions.

OUR TAKE: Fox Valley-based Climate Organizer with Wisconsin Conservation Voters Gregory J. Gauthier Jr. said: “Climate change is felt locally, so it needs to be addressed locally. Appleton’s actions on climate prove that local communities can be climate leaders and take substantive measures to mitigate climate change’s harm. We thank Mayor Woodford, the Task Force on Resiliency, Climate Mitigation and Adaptation, and leading Alderpersons Alfheim and Fenton for their work on climate. These local leaders are essential for building a clean energy future and for a healthier, safer Appleton.”

COMING UP:

ALL OF MAY: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

MAY 14: Chispa Florida Pride Event 

WEEK OF MAY 16: House of Representatives will take up gas price gouging legislation 

MAY 17: Pennsylvania Primary Election

MAY 24: Georgia Primary Election

 

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