THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – MAY 28, 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:

“A lot of people call me a hero even though I don’t see myself as one. I was just in the right place at the right time. I’m a girl trying to heal from something I am reminded of every day. 

— Darnella Frazier, who witnessed and recorded video of George Floyd’s murder, wrote a Facebook post on the anniversary of his death. 

“This second generation is coming of political age and especially during this moment of COVID and the increase in anti-Asian racism and hate incidents, you are seeing a kind of political consciousness that’s forming that will likely last a generation.”

— Karthick Ramakrishnan, a professor at the University of California, Riverside and director of AAPI data NPR article, “The Growing Power Of The AAPI Vote, By The Numbers”.

“Given this ongoing spate of anti-Asian violence, the accessibility of absentee voting has taken on particular importance for the AAPI community.”

— Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta lawsuit in CNN article, “Asian Americans emerged as an important voting bloc in 2020. Activists fear new voting restrictions could silence them”.

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

PopSci: A Maryland school district switched to electric buses to save kids’ lungs. Can others follow?
Politico: Biden mocks Republicans for promoting recovery plan they voted against
CNN: Key progressive initiatives stall in Congress as some on the left urge Biden to go bold, and go alone
Politico: Morning Energy: Nord Stream 2’s tricky sanctions
E&E News: Climate spending preserved in Biden’s revamped $1.7T package

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:

Colorado Public Radio (CO): Colorado Is Committed To Solving Environmental Injustices. But First, We Have To Agree On What Those Are Exactly
Missoula Current (MT): Opinion: Voting reform will wake us from ‘sleeping over a volcano’
The Hill (VT): Vermont governor signs restrictions on PFAS ‘forever chemicals’
E&E News (NJ): FERC grants embattled pipeline developer’s bid for more time
CBS 17 (NC): Environmental groups want transparency with NC energy legislation
Urban Milwaukee (WI): Conservation voters urge expansion of clean water protections
Blue Ridge Public Radio (NC): Dueling Ad Campaigns Focus On Legislation Affecting Duke Energy
The Cap Times (WI): Editorial: Take a moment to tell legislators to protect our rivers, ponds and lakes … and healthy, safe drinking water
Press and Guide (MI): Biden’s American Jobs Plan builds back better for Michigan
New York Post (NY): Adams, Yang gun for each other — and Garcia — as mayor’s race tightens

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REMEMBERING GEORGE FLOYD: Tuesday marked one year since George Floyd was murdered under the knee of a police officer, the raw video shaking the nation and the world to speak out and take action against racist police brutality last summer. While  the jury in the case against Derek Chauvin found him guilty on all three charges for the murder of Floyd, there must be change in the racist system that continues to allow these injustices to occur. There cannot be environmental justice without racial justice — this work means nothing if Black communities are not safe in the very environment we’re fighting for.

MICHELLE OBAMA’S TAKE: On Tuesday, Michelle Obama tweeted a video of Floyd’s daughter Gianna along with the words, “All of us have a role to play to hold our leaders accountable and speak out about injustice. Let’s make sure that ‘Daddy changed the world’ isn’t a fleeting moment online, but a lasting change across the country.” 

PRESIDENTIAL TAKE: After meeting with Floyd’s family, President Joe Biden released a statement stating, “To deliver real change, we must have accountability when law enforcement officers violate their oaths, and we need to build lasting trust between the vast majority of the men and women who wear the badge honorably and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect. We can and must have both accountability and trust and in our justice system. We have to act. We face an inflection point. The battle for the soul of America has been a constant push and pull between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart.”

AAPI HERITAGE MONTH: This week, LCV’s Tiffany Hsieh and Casey Lowe highlighted in an email to members that, despite AAPI communities being poorly represented in mainstream environmental narratives, they have always been strong leaders serving alongside other communities of color to advocate for cleaner air, safer drinking water, and healthier communities. LCV also worked with Representative Kai Kahele from Hawaii to uplift the need to localize federal initiatives such as America the Beautiful and the American Jobs Plan, and to integrate Native Hawaiian and Indigenous knowledge and voices into these plans. Watch the video from Kahele here

AAPI HERITAGE MONTH PART II: This week, Lumi Youm, online advocacy and community coordinator at EDF, shared her experience as a AAPI environmental activist, and how her upbringing, like many others in the AAPI community, was rooted in environmentalism. Youm highlights how, despite the 80% of Asian Americans that consider the environment to be a very or extremely important political issue and the 77% who support stronger federal legislation to address the climate crisis, AAPI are left out of the environmental movement due to underrepresentation in data, language barriers, and the myth of the “model minority”. Addressing environmental injustices in impacted frontline communities includes addressing injustices in AAPI communities, where AAPI disproportionately suffer negative health impacts from exposure to carcinogenic hazardous air pollutants, lead in soil, and pollutants from refineries, oil spills and landfills.

AUTHOR TAKE:  EDF Online Advocacy and Community Coordinator Lumi Youm wrote, “When we expand the conversation to include the U.S. territories of the Pacific Islands, you don’t need studies to see the impacts of environmental injustice. Having survived colonization and military occupation, islands such as Guam are now at the forefront of the climate crisis and face a real existential threat in rising sea levels. In the environmental movement, our increasing focus on equity and environmental justice has given me hope. Now, it’s time to open our eyes to the tens of millions of AAPIs like me, who have been taught to appreciate and live in harmony with nature, who believe it’s urgent that we take action on the climate crisis now to build a better future.”

LCV’S $10 MILLION INVESTMENT FOR AJP: On Thursday, LCV announced the organization’s investment of over $10 million in key states and congressional districts to help pass the American Jobs Plan with climate, clean energy, high-quality jobs, and justice at the center. The investment will go to various advocacy campaigns including an art activation and ads on digital billboards and mass transit kiosks throughout Cleveland, OH Thursday and a $1 million ad buy launching in 17 key states. This launch coincides with LCV affiliates and volunteers across the country participating in a Day of Action, placing over 5,000 calls into the offices of members of Congress across the nation to emphasize the strong public support for the American Jobs Plan’s commitment addressing the climate, clean energy, jobs and environmental justice.

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “This summer is our best chance in history to enact transformational economic recovery and climate legislation into law. It’s time for Congress to pass the full American Jobs Plan — the plan that centers climate, clean energy, high-quality jobs, and justice and has the backing of labor unions, environmental justice leaders, businesses, local leaders from across the country, and the vast majority of voters on both sides of the aisle. Any other smaller plan that fails to center clean energy, climate, or environmental justice should be dead on arrival.”

ART AND ADS FOR THE AJP: On Thursday, during President Biden’s visit to Cleveland’s Cuyahoga Community College, LCV launched an ad campaign in and around the city, as well as an art activation in Bicentennial Park. Local artist Lori Hughes created a chalk art mural supporting the president’s American Jobs Plan, and the ad campaign included 14 billboards, 23 mass transit kiosks, and digital ads highlighting the plan’s benefits to Ohioans and driving support for a package that focuses on climate, clean energy, high-quality union jobs, and environmental justice.

PRESIDENTIAL TAKE: In his speech in Cleveland, Biden stated, “Now is the time to build the foundation that we’ve laid, to make bold investments in our families, in our communities, in our nation. We know from history that these kinds of investments raise both the floor and the ceiling of an economy for everybody.”

OUR STATE AFFILIATE TAKE: Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund President Heather Taylor-Miesle said, “From clean energy to clean water, there are many critical infrastructure choices facing communities across the Buckeye State. Ohioans overwhelmingly support congressional action on climate change as well as sustainable investments that create jobs. President Biden’s American Jobs Plan will bolster our economy, protect our environment, and fight for climate justice—all while supporting healthier and more resilient communities. We’re thrilled to welcome President Biden to Cleveland and urge Ohio’s congressional delegation to take action to advance the plan.”

BIDEN BUDGET: Today, President Biden proposed a $6 trillion budget, the “highest sustained levels of federal spending since World War II,” which would include an increase of more than $36 billion to address the climate crisis. We need a robust budget with climate action and environmental justice at the center in order to meet the scale of the interwoven crises we face.

OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo stated, “It’s a good week for our communities when the oil companies are giving up on fossil fuels and the president’s budget includes more than $36 billion to fight the climate crisis. Thank you, President Biden, for responding to the overwhelming majority of people across the country who support climate action, clean energy, high-quality union jobs and environmental justice. The importance of this administration’s proposal to make the largest-ever investment in communities of color and low-income communities who have been subjected to environmental racism for decades cannot be overstated. Congress should work quickly to pass this budget, enact the American Jobs Plan, and meet the scale of the crises we face with the big investments needed to build back better with justice and equity.”

GOP ROAD TO NOWHERE CONTINUES: The GOP infrastructure proposal continues to fail to address the climate crisis and environmental injustice, and to make critical investments in a clean energy future. 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 the full American Jobs Plan, including investing $2.3 trillion to create good-paying jobs in the clean energy economy while tackling climate change and environmental racism. This failed “compromise” further shows how Republicans in Congress are more interested in fighting for Trump-era taxpayer giveaways to billionaires and corporations than making the transformational investments in infrastructure required to propel our nation forward.

OUR TAKE: Last week, LCV SVP of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “The GOP’s infrastructure proposal continues to fall unacceptably and dangerously short of what voters are calling for — big investments to create good-paying jobs in the clean energy economy while tackling the climate crisis and environmental injustice. It’s clear that Congressional Republicans aren’t willing to act at the scale required to confront the crises we face, and we simply cannot waste any more time. The American Jobs Plan is overwhelmingly popular and has the backing of labor unions, environmental justice leaders, businesses, and local leaders from across the country. Congress should pass it now.”

OUR DOUBLE TAKE: After the GOP infrastructure package was unveiled, LCV SVP of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld tweeted, “This is MISSING transformational investments in:

* climate solutions
* environmental justice
* clean energy
* good-paying union jobs 

It’s time for Congress to move on and pass the #AmericanJobsPlan ASAP!”

CLARKE & GUPTA CONFIRMED: The Harris-Biden administration continues to grow its cabinet of experts with this week’s historic Senate vote finalizing the confirmation of Kristen Clarke as the first woman and the first Black woman to serve as assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division on the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, and last month’s confirmation of Vanita Gupta, the first woman of color to serve as associate attorney general. We cannot have a healthy environment without a healthy democracy, and the confirmation of leaders such as Clarke and Gupta will help our nation move towards a more just and equitable democracy.

OUR TAKE: LCV Voting Rights Program Director Justin Kwasa stated, “History has been made today and the United States is in exceptional hands with two phenomenal women of color and civil rights champions in key leadership positions at the Department of Justice. LCV congratulates Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke on their respective confirmations to Associate Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. The need for robust enforcement of our environmental and civil rights laws — including voting rights and environmental justice — could not be more urgent. Gupta and Clarke’s leadership at premiere civic rights organizations have made them more than qualified for the positions they will undertake. We look forward to seeing Gupta, Clarke and Attorney General Garland continue to restore independence and integrity to the Justice Department following four long years of corruption.”

CONFIRM TODD KIM: This week, LCV launched digital ads urging the Senate to confirm Todd Kim as the Department of Justice’s assistant attorney general in the environment and natural resources division, a role critical in enforcing our country’s environmental laws. Kim brings a sterling record of public service at the Department and as Solicitor General for Washington, D.C., deep respect among the environmental community, understanding of the role of science in policy, and recognition of the need to confront environmental racism.  

OUR TAKE: In the ad, LCV highlights the importance of confirming Kim: “Todd Kim’s deep experience with environmental law positions him to champion and enforce the laws to protect the people from dangerous polluters, pollution and the climate crisis.” 

ELECTRIC BUSES: This week, Chispa was featured in a PopSci article highlighting how Maryland has become a model for a successful, bold transition to clean buses. While Montgomery County, Maryland just made the largest electric school bus purchase in the nation, there are still 480,000 dirty diesel school buses on the road in the U.S. That means there are over 25 million children and hundreds of thousands of bus drivers who currently breathe polluted air from dirty diesel school buses daily. Polluted air worsens lung health in children, impacting educational opportunities as asthma attacks are a leading cause of school absences — particularly for communities of color and low-income communities.

CHISPA TAKE: Chispa National Communications and Creative Strategies Director Pita Juarez stated, “Thinking of this generation of asthmatics that we are—that really fired up some of the moms that wanted clean and healthy air for their children to play outside and not feel like they have to cough up a storm. So that created this beautiful movement of all these moms coming together, writing letters, testifying, creating digital media with us, telling their stories so that we can really showcase what this environmental racism looks like for communities of color.”

ASTHMA AWARENESS: For Asthma Awareness Month, Chispa released its second video in a series, 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: Along with the video and linking to their petition calling for President Biden and Congress to prioritize clean and healthy buses for children, Chispa tweeted, “*For #BIPOC communities, breathing is a health risk.* Our communities have the right to be protected from air pollution, and we can start by ⚡️electrifying our school buses! Our niños deserve cleaner, safer and healthier spaces to learn, grow, & live!”

CALL TO PROTECT BEARS EARS: This week, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition launched a six-figure ad campaign in the Washington Post and Salt Lake Tribune urging President Biden to take immediate action to restore and expand Bears Ears National Monument. After four years of the Trump administration’s efforts to diminish protected lands and waters–including Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monuments–the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to restoring protections for “America’s natural treasures” must be fulfilled.

BEITC TAKE: The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition wrote, “Bears Ears — the region we call Honmuru, Shash Jáa, Kwiyagatu Nukavachi, Ansh An Lashokdiwe — is our homeland. It always has been and still is. The culture is everywhere. The canyons and forests hold many of our stories. Family gatherings, dances, and ceremonies are held at special places within Bears Ears. People go to Bear Ears to gather roots, berries, firewood, piñon nuts, weaving materials, and medicines. We go for healing. Our ancestors are buried there, and we can hear their songs in every mesa and in every canyon. We are grateful for your Administration’s sincere commitment to honoring our cultures, acknowledging our original place in this country that is now our shared home, as well as to preserving the environment and seeking justice.”

OUR TAKE: Last month, during Secretary Haaland’s visit to Utah, LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel stated, “Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante were first designated to preserve majestic landscapes containing important sacred sites and outdoor recreation opportunities that power local economies dependent on outdoor recreation businesses and tourism–industries which have thrived since they were first protected.  No one should be fooled by Republican officials in Utah who are insisting in bad faith that they can craft a legislative compromise on Bears Ears after failing for years to engage and deliver one. In the face of threats to the area’s resources from looting and vandalism as a result of lack of protective management, we stand in solidarity with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition in their calls to restore protections for Bears Ears now.”

CLEAN ENERGY FOR AMERICA: Under Chairman Ron Wyden’s leadership, the Senate Finance Committee advanced the Clean Energy for America Act, which will help slash power sector emissions, double clean electricity deployment, and speed the transition to electric vehicles.These important tax incentives are a critical part of the American Jobs Plan, which, when passed in full, will deliver on transformational climate, clean energy jobs and justice for our communities.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis said, “We applaud Chairman Wyden for leading this visionary legislation that will accelerate our transition to clean electricity, transportation, and buildings. Improving overwhelmingly popular clean energy tax credits will spur investments in clean energy that are a vital part of achieving the science-based carbon reduction goals needed to stave off the most severe impacts of climate change — and are a key pillar of the American Jobs Plan. We were thrilled to see the committee work closely with labor and environmental justice allies to ensure the bill will create and maintain good-paying clean energy jobs here in the U.S. as well as ensure that clean renewable energy projects are incentivized to locate in low-income communities and communities transitioning from fossil fuel dependent economies.”

SURFACE TRANSPO: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed a surface transportation bill out of committee this week — and while it makes some necessary investments, it doesn’t achieve the transformational change outlined in the American Jobs Plan. Our transportation investments must tackle climate change and address racial and economic justice by quickly and equitably transitioning to zero emission transportation, robustly funding programs to make public transit more accessible, building electric vehicle infrastructure and training workers to operate and maintain these systems.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfleld said, “We need to invest in our nation’s infrastructure to create high-quality jobs, fight climate change and build back better. The Surface Transportation bill that passed out of the Environment & Public Works Committee today makes some necessary investments, but what we really need is for Congress to pass the full American Jobs Plan ASAP… We have concerns with provisions in the underlying bill that undermine the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and communities’ ability to have a voice in major construction projects in their own backyards — especially low-income and communities of color that are often targeted by the fossil fuel industry and other polluters. It’s time for Congress to pass the full American Jobs Plan — the plan that centers climate, clean energy, jobs, and justice and has the backing of labor unions, environmental justice leaders, businesses, and local leaders from across the country. We must seize this opportunity to make once in a generation progress.”  

$1B IN DISASTER MITIGATION: The Biden-Harris administration announced on Monday that it will make $1 billion available to prepare for extreme weather and other disasters, which have been exacerbated by the climate crisis. With the 2021 NOAA forecast predicting a 60% chance of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season and our communities facing greater devastation and lasting impacts from extreme weather, this investment is a step towards preparing the most impacted communities and strengthening resilience proactively — not just when disaster strikes.

PRESIDENTIAL TAKE: During a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters, President Biden stated, “We all know that the storms are coming and we’re going to be prepared. We have to be ready. It’s not about red states and blue states. You all know that. It’s about having people’s backs in the toughest moments that they face, ready with food, water, blankets, shelters and more.”

OUR TAKE: LCV Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote stated, “We commend the Biden-Harris administration for doubling the amount of funding for resiliency through FEMA to help mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. On the heels of their Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk last week, this administration is once again demonstrating its whole of government approach to climate solutions and its commitment to put communities first — especially communities of color most impacted by climate-fueled extreme weather events. Now it’s time for Congress to build on the administration’s important executive actions on climate by enacting the American Jobs Plan into law in order to transition to a just and equitable clean energy future once and for all.”

PROGRESS OFFSHORE: The White House announced that, for the first time, it would be opening up a part of the Pacific coast in northern and central California to offshore clean energy projects — another step toward creating good-paying jobs and reaching the administration’s day one commitment to doubling renewable energy from offshore wind by 2030. One step at a time, the administration is making good on its promises. Next, we need the transformational step; the White House and Congress need to pass the American Jobs Plan with strong clean energy, jobs and justice provisions.

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

NEVADA ON 30X30: Last week, Nevada’s State Legislature passed Assembly Joint Resolution 3, which would conserve 30 percent of Nevada’s lands and waters by the year 2030 in response to the climate crisis, the first state to pass legislation for 30×30. As the Biden-Harris administration advances recommendations to the National Climate Task Force, Nevada’s commitment towards protecting 30 percent of the state’s lands and waters is a significant step towards tackling the climate crisis and protecting the lands and waters that our communities depend on.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN TAKE: During a Natural Resources Committee hearing in March, District 16 Assemblywoman Cecelia González, who sponsored AJR 3, stated, “The conservation community, climate policy experts, and environmental scientists have long called for ambitious conservation goals to address both climate change and the extinction of endangered species. That’s why I’m proud to sponsor legislation that heeds this call with a state-wide commitment to conserving 30 percent of Nevada’s lands and waters by 2030. AJR 3 is a brilliant opportunity to help reverse the destruction of wildlife and confront the climate crisis that we face in Nevada. Further, this resolution allows us to rebuild our conservation legacy in a manner that urges federal, state, and local agencies to work alongside native communities, private landowners, businesses, ranchers, and all Nevadans in conserving our lands and waters that have great significance to our communities.”

NCL TAKE: “AJR 3 represents Nevada’s strong commitment to safeguarding our natural heritage,” said Paul Selberg, Executive Director for Nevada Conservation League. “By working with local communities to conserve 30 percent of our lands and waters in the next decade, we can confront biodiversity loss facing our wildlife while heeding Nevadans’ call for meaningful conservation and climate action. Our state is home to an abundance of historical and cultural lands, including Avi Kwa Ame spirit mountain that allows Nevada to make an invaluable contribution to a national goal. We are proud to lead the way in this nationwide conservation effort and hope to see our neighboring states follow with bold collective action.” 

OUR TAKE: “We are thrilled to see Nevada be the first state to pass 30×30 legislation,” said Alex Taurel, Conservation Program Director for League of Conservation Voters. “This victory represents a wave of legislation filed in state legislatures across blue and red states to meet the goal of protecting 30% of America’s lands and waters and affirms local support for conservation and the America the Beautiful campaign. Nevada’s commitment to creating more parks and open space and boosting the outdoor recreation economy can help combat climate change, the disappearance of nature, and inequitable access to the outdoors.”

LCV + CAP EVENT: LCV and the Center for American Progress will be hosting a roundtable on June 6th at 2:00 PM EST 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 will provide 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 will highlight 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 will focus on Washington’s recently passed HEAL Act that will, for the first time, codify investments for frontline and overburdened communities into state law.

CUTTING ENERGY EMISSIONS IN OREGON: Oregon’s House Bill 2021 is on track to pass the Legislature this year, which would make Oregon the latest state to commit to 100% clean energy and set one of the nation’s most ambitious timetables for eliminating carbon dioxide emissions from its power grid. This move will spur greater renewable energy growth in the state while also establishing standards for  living-wage jobs, workforce equity and requiring power companies to consult with low-income ratepayers, environmental justice communities, and federally recognized tribes when designing carbon reduction strategies.

 

COMING UP:

May 31 – June 4: Congressional recess. See LCV state affiliate events here.

June 6: Starting at 2:00 PM EST, LCV and CAP will be hosting an event about lessons that Congress can take from recent state level environmental justice laws as they work to tackle major infrastructure and climate legislation. RSVP here.

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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