THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – MAY 14, 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:

“Climate change and these environmental changes in these toxic chemicals are affecting you personally — not just the polar bears, not just the insects and the birds — you.”

— Annie Hoang, a medical student at the University of California in San Francisco with a masters in public health from Harvard in an interview discussing the links between environmental and reproductive justice on a Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast episode, “Fertility & Environmental Justice: A conversation with Shanna Swan and Annie Hoang”.

“It is impossible to ignore the history of misogyny and sexualized violence that has long been part of the experience of Asian American women. COVID-19 is being weaponized as part of sexual harassment.”

— Cynthia Choi, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action in a Changing America article, “Majority of anti-Asian hate incidents reported by women”.

“Grassroots is really how you start everything. When you see the votes come in, there’s really no point to saying your vote doesn’t matter.”

— TraVonne “Von” Walker, student body president of Harris-Stowe State University and also ran the campaign for his mother, Sheila Powell-Walker, who is the president of the Ferguson-Florissant School Board during the John Lewis Day of Action votercade in St. Louis, Missouri.

“There’s old infrastructure that wasn’t working in the first place that’s even worse now. And we shouldn’t always wait until there’s a crisis, like Flint, before we do something. And a lot of people don’t think that it’s coming to their backyard because it’s not there yet. But it may very well end up in their bathtubs too.”

— Catherine Coleman Flowers, member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council in a Yale Climate Connections interview, “A conversation with White House adviser and environmental justice advocate Catherine Coleman Flowers”.

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

Crooked Media: Congress: Oppose the American Jobs Plan At Your Own Risk
NBC: Biden wants trillions for infrastructure, but a big hurdle will remain: Spending the cash
Common Dreams: Across Political Spectrum, US Public Support for Biden Clean Energy Plan Is ‘Through the Roof’
Spectrum News: Rep. Tonko goes ‘bold’ on climate change with the CLEAN Future Act
YubaNet: A Perfect Storm: When tropical storms meet toxic waste
E&E News: How a pro-coal Republican became a climate deal-maker
E&E News: GOP to replace coal-state neocon with green Trump acolyte

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:

Politico (NY): Clean fuel standard advocates meet as bill gains supporters
Concord Monitor (NH): Our Turn: New Hampshire should embrace an offshore wind future
New York Ag Connection (NY): Additional $30 Million Available for Drive Clean Rebate Program
The Day (CT): Connecticut state House passes early voting resolution
Tri-City Herald (MI): Labor, green groups come together on EVs to cut emissions, save jobs
Denver Post (CO): Colorado far from meeting emissions-reduction goals, report says
Insider NJ (NJ): Environmental advocates call on Congress to build on Pallone offshore drilling ban by passing Biden infrastructure plan
Michigan Advance (MI): Whitmer to Enbridge: Defy shutdown order at your own financial risk
Statehouse Report (SC): BIG STORY: Legislative session ends with more work to do
Bronx Times (NY): Op-ed: Play Fair Now and Restore Vital Parks Funding

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HONOR THE VOTE: Over the weekend, activists across the nation from North Carolina to Missouri to Oregon took to the streets to mark Saturday, May 8th as the John Lewis Day of Action and demand the preservation and expansion of voting rights through the passage of S1, the For the People Act, H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. We cannot have a healthy environment without a healthy democracy, and must continue to support bold action to strengthen our democracy and address barriers to the ballot box that are rooted in racist policies and governance and systemically target communities of color and communities of low wealth.

FOR THE PEOPLE: On Tuesday, S1, the For The People Act, was voted on in the  Rules Committee and will move to the Senate floor for consideration with bipartisan amendments. As state lawmakers continue to introduce restrictive anti-voter laws that disproportionately seek to create barriers to voting in communities of color and low wealth, S1 seeks to address issues at the core of a well-functioning democracy — that every eligible voter can participate equitably in our democracy, and that people’s voice, rather than outsized corporate influence, guides our elected officials. Despite the evidence that the climate crisis and environmental injustices are impacting our communities — particularly communities of color and communities of low wealth — polluter interests have flooded our elections with money, gerrymandering has divided our communities, and partisan politics have suppressed access to the ballot box. As of the end of March, 361 bills with restrictive provisions have been introduced in 47 states — passage of S1 must be a priority for all voters to access their right to participate in our democracy.

LCV TAKE: LCV Voting Rights Program Director Justin Kwasa stated, “The For The People Act is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a democracy that values the voices of all communities by expanding and protecting voting rights, getting big money out of politics, and holding elected officials accountable for corruption. We applaud Senate Democrats for opposing the strategic silencing of the voices of Black, Indigenous and other communities of color from our democracy. Now, with the redistricting process beginning and local and state elections right around the corner, the Senate must work quickly to pass this bill once and for all. Enacting this legislation into law and unrigging our political system would return power to the overwhelming majority of people in this country who want to see meaningful action on climate change and clean energy. We can’t wait any longer.”

ASTHMA AWARENESS: For Asthma Awareness Month, Chispa released a video highlighting the link between asthma and environmental injustice in one of our most impacted communities — children who live in communities of low wealth and in communities of color who rely on public transportation for school. A bold transition to clean buses will impact over 25 million children and hundreds of thousands of bus drivers who currently breathe polluted air from dirty diesel school buses. See the video here and see Chispa’s petition urging the Biden-Harris administration and Congress to invest in the switch to electric school buses for the health and safety of our children and our communities here.

CHISPA TAKE: Chispa tweeted, along with the video, “Niños shouldn’t have to breathe in dirty, polluted air just to catch a ride to school. Sign our petition today to tell @POTUS to prioritize electric school buses as we #BuildBackBetter! BusHigh voltage sign → http://bit.ly/ChispaESB #CleanAir4Kids

NEW POLL: This week, LCV and Data for Progress released new modeled state and congressional district level data showing overwhelming bipartisan support across the country for the investments the American Jobs Plan would make in climate, clean energy, good-paying union jobs and justice. The groups conducted a joint poll to assess the attitudes of likely voters towards the American Jobs Plan, specifically the key provisions that address climate change, advance clean energy deployment, innovation, and domestic manufacturing, support clean water, and advance equity by focusing 40% of the benefits of climate and clean energy infrastructure investments into low-income communities, communities of color and other disadvantaged communities. The Data for Progress team used advanced modeling techniques to estimate support at the congressional district and state level. More on methodology can be found here.

FINDINGS: In a poll analysis from Pete Maysmith, LCV SVP of Campaigns and Sean McElwee, Data for Progress Executive Director in Crooked Media, they found that across 11 swing congressional districts (AZ-01, ME-02, MI-08, MI-11, NJ-03, NV-03, NV-04, PA-08, VA-02, VA-07, WI-03), average support for the American Jobs Plan is 78%, and in the swing Senate states of Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, an average of 80% of registered voters support the government making investments to create good-paying jobs in clean energy. See more highlights from their analysis here.

SCHUMER TAKE: In response to the new poll, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted, “The climate crisis requires big, bold action. This Senate will work with @POTUS to pass the #AmericanJobsPlan—a big, bold bill that will create jobs, invest in infrastructure, and help combat climate change.”

STEELWORKERS TAKE: United Steelworkers Vice President at Large Roxanne Brown stated, “The American Jobs Plan offers a number of common-sense and widely popular opportunities to put Americans back to work and ensure that their jobs provide competitive wages and good benefits. From building out our nation’s supply chains to making robust infrastructure investments, it’s clear that Americans share the administration’s priorities of rebuilding our nation and securing the jobs of the future.”

WHEJAC TAKE: Founder of the ReGenesis Community Development Corporation, member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and former South Carolina State Representative Harold Mitchell stated, “Congress must listen to the majority of voters and ensure that the American Jobs Plan builds healthy communities that are free of toxic pollution, and have access to affordable clean energy and good-paying union jobs. To help achieve these goals, it is imperative that at least 40% of the benefits of our climate and clean energy investments go to the communities of color and low income communities most impacted by toxic pollution and environmental injustices while ensuring the remaining investments do not cause further harm.”

DATA FOR PROGRESS TAKE: Data for Progress Executive Director Sean McElwee stated, “Voters have made it overwhelmingly clear that they support the investments of the American Jobs Plan in climate, clean energy jobs, and justice. Our polling finds bipartisan support for the climate and clean energy pieces of the proposal, even amongst voters in swing states.”

LCV TAKE: LCV SVP of Campaigns Pete Maysmith stated, “Standing in the way of progress on climate, clean energy, and environmental justice is simply not an option for any elected official who cares what their constituents think. From NY-14 to GA-14, the majority of voters from across the political spectrum support investing at least $2 trillion dollars to create good-paying jobs in the clean energy economy while tackling climate change and environmental racism because it is the right thing to do for people and the planet.”

OFFSHORE WIND GREENLIT: This week, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced the final approval of the Vineyard Wind project off the coast of  Massachusetts — the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm. The project is expected to begin supplying power to 400,000 homes and businesses on the East Coast late next year. This approval is a major step in the transition towards building accessible clean energy infrastructure and will create over 3 thousand  jobs while tackling the climate crisis. The New England for Offshore Wind coalition has been a powerful force advocating for offshore wind in the region, led by LCV state affiliate, the Environmental League of Massachusetts. Read additional statements from some of our partners here.

@INTERIOR TAKE: Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland stated, “A clean energy future is within our grasp in the United States. The approval of this project is an important step toward advancing the Administration’s goals to create good-paying union jobs while combating climate change and powering our nation. Today is one of many actions we are determined to take to open the doors of economic opportunity to more Americans.”

@COMMERCE TAKE: Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo stated, “Today’s offshore wind project announcement demonstrates that we can fight the climate crisis, while creating high-paying jobs and strengthening our competitiveness at home and abroad. This project is an example of the investments we need to achieve the Biden-Harris administration’s ambitious climate goals, and I’m proud to be part of the team leading the charge on offshore wind.” 

COALITION TAKE: Environmental League of Massachusetts Clean Energy Coalition Director and New England for Offshore Wind Regional Lead Susannah Hatch stated, “We applaud BOEM for issuing its final approval to Vineyard Wind. This move paves the way for a thriving offshore wind industry in the United States, and ensures that New England will be a hub for this game-changing clean energy industry. With strong, consistent winds off our shores and high energy demand on the coast, responsibly developed offshore wind will be the workhorse of our decarbonization efforts in our region – and it holds enormous potential to grow the economy, meet our energy needs, and create equitable economic benefits for decades to come.”

LCV TAKE: LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis stated, “We are thrilled to see the Biden-Harris administration approve the Vineyard Wind offshore wind project, continue to undo the former administration’s harmful environmental moves, and move along the construction of this overwhelmingly popular source of clean energy in New England. It is critical that the long-overdue Vineyard Wind project and all of this administration’s climate and clean energy proposals sustain and create good-paying union jobs in diverse communities across the country as we transition to a just and equitable clean energy future.”

LCV DOUBLE TAKE: League of Conservation Voters NH State Director and New England for Offshore Wind NH State Committee Chair Rob Werner stated, “The League of Conservation Voters strongly supports the efforts of the Biden-Harris Administration to develop the offshore wind industry as a key climate action strategy for LCV. The final approval of the Vineyard Wind project is an important milestone and we look forward to the development of additional offshore wind projects in the years ahead.”

5 TABLES LETTER TO WHITE HOUSE: This week, a diverse set of partners, including LCV, sent the White House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer a letter calling on them to “swiftly pass legislation that invests at least $4 trillion throughout the economy over this presidential term, bound by high-road labor, equity, and climate standards.” The letter makes clear the urgent need for bold action to rebuild the economy, confront growing economic inequity, dismantle systemic racism, curb pollution and support labor rights — stipulations that must not be diluted, delayed, or compromised by “small-minded” measures. Now is the time for transformative policies!

RENEWABLE ENERGY INVESTMENT ACT: This week, Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Mike Levin introduced legislation, the Renewable Energy Investment Act, which would provide the option to receive direct payments for new clean energy projects, rather than receiving a tax credit. The pandemic has significantly impacted financing and construction of renewable energy projects, and as the White House and Congress work together to rebuild a cleaner economy and infrastructure, this legislation complements those efforts by encouraging investments that will create clean energy jobs.   

BLUMENAUER TAKE: Representative Earl Blumenauer stated, “This small but impactful change in renewable energy tax incentives will support wind, solar, and other energy projects at a critical moment for the industry and our country as we work to build our economy back better in a way that supports decarbonization. We were able to pass this important legislation last session in the House, and now, in partnership with the new administration and Democratic majority in the Senate, I am confident that we will be able to get this over the finish line.”

LEVIN TAKE: Representative Andy Levin stated, “As we continue to grow our economy and recover from this pandemic, it’s critical that we create the clean energy jobs of the future that also help us protect our planet. Solar, wind, and other forms of renewable power are the future, and we can either create good-paying clean energy jobs right here in America, or we can let other countries take the lead and reap the economic rewards. My bill with Congressman Blumenauer to strengthen clean energy tax credits will allow California and the rest of the country to lead the world in the deployment of these technologies even as we deal with the economic consequences of the pandemic.”

LCV TAKE: LCV tweeted, “The Renewable Energy Investment Act will support the development and deployment of renewable energy across the country. With a small change in the tax code, @repblumenauer and @RepMikeLevin can make a big shift in our #CleanEnergy future.” 

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

TOOMEY’S HOMETOWN SPEAKS UP FOR THE PEOPLE: This week, civil rights advocates in Allentown, Pennsylvania delivered a letter from community leaders and business owners urging Senator Toomey, who is from Allentown, to support the For the People Act. As anti-voting bills continue to be introduced in states across the nation, we must stand up and protect our democracy. Read the full letter here.

ALLENTOWN COMMUNITY TAKE: Community members, leaders, and business owners in Allentown wrote to Senator Toomey, “Our values demand transparency from our elected officials, secure and accurate elections, and the right of every eligible American to participate in our democracy. The For the People Act achieves those goals. It reduces the power of special interests and puts control in the hands of voters. It secures our elections. It helps us vote. The time to act is now — we cannot delay these protections any longer.”

DEMOCRACY ACTION IN NORTH CAROLINA: This week, Climate Action NC was joined by Democracy NC and Rep. David Price for a virtual event to discuss how to  support the For the People Act so that every voter can participate in our democracy. Voters in North Carolina, particularly in communities of color and low-income communities, continue to face barriers to the electoral process — from restrictive and blatantly racist voter ID laws to attempts to block mail-in votes from being counted in the 2020 presidential election.Voters must have fair and equitable access to the ballot box without anti-democratic laws that seek to undermine one of our most fundamental rights.

 

COMING UP:
All of May: Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
All of May: Asthma Awareness Month

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