QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“This bill makes it happen for us in terms of preserving the planet. It’s a health issue: clean air, clean water for our children. It’s a jobs issue: making America pre-eminent in good-paying green jobs. It’s also a national security issue, because competition for habitat and, and resources resulting from drought and, you know, all of the challenges of natural disasters springing from the climate crisis.”
— Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on the passage of the Build Back Better Act.
“My concern is that tribal nations, citizens and our members are going to end up becoming climate change refugees. This will result in the loss of entire cultures and people if we all have to move to urban areas — there is going to be a significant part of the nation’s cultural knowledge and wealth that would be lost.”
— Melanie Bahnke, Kawerak, Inc. president and CEO from Kawerak, a tribal consortium of 20 federally recognized tribes in the Bering Straits of Alaska, speaking on a climate change panel at the Tribal Nations Summit with Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory and White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy.
“This land is not your land — we are this land. What we do to our environment, we do to us. And we are paying for it.”
— Taylor Patterson, executive director of Native Voters Alliance Nevada in an opinion piece in the Las Vegas Sun, “Listen to tribal voices, act now to solve the climate crisis.”
“This concept of mutual aid is not just between humans. If we protect the land and waters, they will protect us.”
— Ida Aronson, a member of the United Houma Nation, speaking on the impacts of extreme weather and hurricanes on Indigenous communities in Louisiana, who are often left with limited resources to rebuild after their homes are devastated year after year.
LCV IN THE NEWS:
Time: U.S. School Buses May Never Be The Same Thanks to Biden’s Infrastructure Plan
Grist: Biden proposes 20-year drilling ban near sacred Indigenous site
The Hill: Schumer: Emissions reductions ‘not sufficient’ without meeting White House environmental justice standard
Washington Post: As Democrats await CBO score, experts argue it may not account for climate change
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:
Pagosa Daily Post (CO): Colorado to Receive Billions from Infrastructure Bill for Climate-Resiliency Projects
Spectrum News (NY): Con Edison commits to net-zero emissions and 100% clean energy by 2040
The News & Observer (NC): New gerrymandering lawsuit targets NC maps, and proposes some of its own
A Note: Today we remember Kenosha. The verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial is a tragic recurrence in a systemically racist justice system. LCV joins Wisconsin Conservation Voters in calling for healing and accountability in Kenosha. Our Wisconsin state partners noted, “Tragically, Rittenhouse’s trial isn’t an outlier in our justice system or our country. It’s connected by the same thread that runs through Charlottesville, Tree of Life, and beyond. It’s also the same thread that runs through so many of our worst environmental problems.” And this thread, as LCV’s Chief Officer for Racial Justice and Equity, Leslie Hinkson said, “is further proof that while none of us are safe, some of us are afforded a greater right to and expectation of safety than others. This verdict devalues human life in the service of White supremacy.”
HISTORIC CLIMATE BILL PASSES THE HOUSE: After a late night, the House voted to pass the historic Build Back Better Act this morning, moving the legislation one step closer to becoming law. Once passed by the Senate and signed into law, the Build Back Better Act will be the strongest action the United States has ever taken to combat the climate crisis, and will put the U.S. on track to save people hundreds of dollars on energy bills, cut climate pollution in half by 2030, invest directly in communities of color too often left behind, and create good-paying union jobs. Studies have shown that the Build Back Better Act will save American families $500 per month on energy costs and deliver $9 billion a year in savings for utilities and their customers. See our memo highlighting climate priorities in the Build Back Better Act HERE.
SPEAKER TAKE: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “”This bill is monumental. It is historic. It is transformative. It is bigger than anything we have ever done.”
NATURAL RESOURCES CHAIR TAKE: House Natural Resource Committee Chair Raul Grijalva stated, “The Build Back Better Act lays a foundation for the future we want to build for our children and grandchildren. It is a robust, transformative investment for working and middle-class families that we need. It is the desperately needed first step to address the existential threat of climate change. The legislation directly responds to the real life needs of my constituents by lowering prescription drug costs, providing paid family and medical leave, expanding tax benefits for lower- and middle-income families, providing workforce development programs, affordable housing, universal pre-K and more. The bill will reduce racial disparities and move us towards a more equitable and competitive future. A future that works for everyone, not just the very wealthy.”
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “Following the enactment of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, House passage of the Build Back Better Act caps off a historic and transformational week for climate, jobs and justice. Under Speaker Pelosi’s tireless leadership, the House just passed the strongest climate bill in U.S. history to put our country on the path to cut climate pollution in half by 2030, the goal set by President Biden and that science and justice require. The Build Back Better Act meets our climate goals while saving people money on their energy bills and other monthly expenses, investing in the frontline and communities of color that have suffered the most from toxic pollution, and creating and sustaining millions of good-paying union jobs in the clean energy economy.Getting to this point is a testament to the diverse coalition, including labor, environmental justice advocates, and young people, relentlessly organizing and advocating for a more sustainable, just, and equitable future. LCV is all in to ensure the Senate quickly seizes this historic opportunity to make life better for people and the planet by passing the Build Back Better Act and sending it to President Biden’s desk.”
…IT’S TIME TO FINISH THE JOB!: This week, ahead of the House vote on the Build Back Better Act, LCV and Climate Power hosted an event with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and members of Congress to highlight the urgent need to pass the Build Back Better Act, which would make historic investments in climate, clean energy, justice, and jobs that will lower costs and build a healthier future. Speakers included Senator Ed Markey, Senator Tina Smith, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Hakeem Jeffries, and Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Veronica Escobar, Josh Gottheimer, Mike Levin, Joe Neguse, and Steven Horsford, who discussed how the overwhelmingly popular Build Back Better Act means lower prices, good-paying jobs, and a healthier, more equitable clean energy future. Now is the time to get this bill through Congress and on to President Biden’s desk. See more highlights from members of Congress HERE and watch a recording of the event HERE.
SPEAKER TAKE: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “This bill makes it happen for us in terms of preserving the planet, and doing so by lowering costs for families, by cutting pollution in half by 2030, by creating good-paying, union jobs, and doing so with equity, with fairness to build back better.”
MAJORITY LEADER TAKE: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “In the days, weeks, and months ahead, the American people will see the benefit of this bill in their daily lives.” He also noted that just, “addressing our emissions reduction is not sufficient, we need to ensure that at least 40% of the benefits are flowing to disadvantaged communities and that people living in communities dependent on fossil fuels are given the support they need so no one is left behind during the transition.”
HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIR TAKE: Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Hakeem Jeffries said, “Investing in dealing with the climate crisis means investing the creation of millions of good-paying jobs, it means investing in dealing with the crisis in a decisive manner that meets the moment, it means lowering energy costs for everyday Americans, and it means meeting the promises that President Biden indicated he would undertake to deal with the climate crisis that we confront. We’re going to get climate action done, we’re going to get the Build Back Better Act done, we’re going to do it together.”
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said passing the Build Back Better Act, “could not be more important to saving consumers money on their energy bills and other monthly expenses, to investing in the frontline communities and communities of color that have suffered the most from toxic pollution, and creating and sustaining millions of good-paying, union jobs in the clean-energy economy.”
TRIBAL NATIONS SUMMIT RETURNS: This week, the White House hosted the Tribal Nations Summit for the first time since Trump took office. Tribal leaders gathered in person and virtually to voice concerns and engage directly with the Biden administration on policy for Indigenous communities across the nation. Biden spoke at the summit, announcing new commitments to address issues in Indigenous communities and protect tribal lands, and he reinforced the administration’s current commitments to address overdue infrastructure issues and climate injustices. The implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will include about $11 billion in investments to build and update outdated infrastructure in Indigenous communities that are experiencing some of the most devastating impacts of climate change and pollution firsthand. Tribal leaders must have a seat at the table to tackle the climate crisis in Indigenous communities — resuming the Tribal Nations Summit is a step in the right direction. See the White House factsheet on “Building a New Era of Nation-to-Nation Engagement” with Tribal nations HERE.
NAVAJO NATION PRESIDENT TAKE: Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez stated, “A modern-day monster known as COVID-19 entered our communities —impacting the lives of many of our elders, our children, frontline warriors, and many others throughout the world. The onset of COVID-19 forced us to close our schools, government offices, and it magnified the lack of basic infrastructure on the Navajo Nation and all tribal communities.”
INTERIOR SECRETARY TAKE: Interior Secretary Deb Haaland stated, “Since time immemorial, the Earth’s lands and waters have been central to the social, cultural, spiritual, mental, and physical wellbeing of Indigenous peoples. It is essential that we do everything we can to honor sites that hold historical, spiritual or ceremonial significance.”
PRESIDENTIAL TAKE: President Joe Biden stated, “My administration will be the first to work with the Tribes to comprehensively incorporate Tribal — Tribal ecological knowledge into the federal government’s scientific approach, helping us fight climate change.”
A BIF LAW IS SIGNED!: This week, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law, which will make critical investments to replace outdated and toxic water lines, in electric school buses and electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to modernize our electric grid, clean technology research and development, and more needed infrastructure. The Senate must now act swiftly to pass the Build Back Better Act to advance the transformational climate and justice investments our communities need. As we saw from the COP26 climate summit, the climate crisis is here, and it is visibly devastating every corner of our planet — we cannot wait to act.
OUR TAKE: Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “We applaud the Biden-Harris administration and the bipartisan group of members of Congress for enacting the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law and ensuring badly needed investments in electric vehicle charging stations and electric school buses, replacement of harmful lead service lines, clean technology research and development, grid modernization, and more. This is an important step forward, and now Congress must finish the job by passing the Build Back Better Act and getting it to President Biden’s desk in the coming weeks. Congress can and must pass the Build Back Better Act to meet the climate test of cutting climate pollution in half by 2030, the goal set by President Biden and that science and environmental and racial justice require. Doing so is critical to creating and sustaining millions of good-paying union jobs in the clean energy economy and investing in the frontline and communities of color that have suffered the most from toxic pollution, and it will save people money on their energy bills and other monthly expenses. The time to build on today’s progress and Build Back Better once and for all is right now.”
…INCLUDING HISTORIC FUNDING FOR ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES: The Alliance for Electric School Buses, a coalition including Chispa, responded to President Biden signing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law, which includes a $2.5 billion investment for a transition to electric school buses (ESBs) and another $2.5 billion for those zero emissions ESBs and other “clean buses” which still could be fossil-fueled. Currently, over 25 million children breathe polluted air from dirty diesel school buses, disproportionately impacting communities of color and communities with low wealth. Investments in cleaner buses will help children in all communities breathe cleaner air. See the coalition’s full statement HERE.
CHISPA TAKE: Chispa National Senior Director Johana Vicente spoke with Time, pointing out how, “the burden of those health problems falls heaviest on low-income communities of color…School buses were not necessarily part of the conversation at all. It was a very new topic that we were talking about.”
COALITION TAKE: The Alliance for Electric School Buses released a statement which read in part, “It is time to address this public health emergency, which is felt most acutely by low-income Black, Indigenous and people of color who are disproportionately burdened by air pollution, are more likely to use public transportation and school buses, and are already suffering from elevated asthma and COVID-19 rates.The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act also allocates another $2.5 billion towards “clean” school buses, which can include electric school buses. We call on the administration to dedicate this amount towards electric school buses, which offer the greatest pollution reductions and best protect the health of our children and the communities these buses travel through.”
BIDEN ON THE ROAD TO BUILD BACK BETTER: This week, President Biden visited a 82-year-old bridge in need of repair in New Hampshire and the grand opening of GM’s Factory Zero, which is reopening as a new facility for electric vehicles and trucks in Detroit, Michigan, to highlight investments that will be made through the infrastructure bill he signed Monday. He spoke on the first piece of the President’s agenda: major investments in the country’s shipping, transportation, public transit, clean water, and electric vehicle infrastructure. Alongside his visit, LCV ran a digital ad campaign in the surrounding communities in New Hampshire and Michigan, urging the President and Congress to finish the job and pass the Build Back Better Act. This is Congress’ chance to pass bold climate action by investing in clean energy, high-quality union jobs, and environmental justice — let’s finish the job! See our ad in New Hampshire HERE and in Michigan HERE.
LETTER TO TOYOTA: This week, environmental, health, and consumer rights advocacy organizations, including LCV, sent a letter to Toyota to urge them to immediately stop lobbying efforts that prevent the U.S. from tackling the climate crisis, including incentives for electric vehicles in the Build Back Better Act. Last week, organizations including LCV launched a new website, Pollutamotor.com, highlighting how Toyota’s greenwashing has limited progress for a transition to electric vehicles. Toyota is helping to fuel the climate crisis and pollution instead of finding solutions for a clean-energy future. See the facts HERE.
COALITION TAKE: The coalition wrote, “Toyota has greenwashed its image with the American public by touting its gas-only hybrid vehicles and relying on marketing to hide its true actions…Toyota’s concerted efforts to attack the current structure of the plug-in vehicle tax credit in the Build Back Better Act have been extensive and unacceptable,” the letter reads. “Transitioning to an all-electric future is essential to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and the full electric vehicle incentives in the Build Back Better Act, with their strong support for good, family-sustaining jobs and domestic manufacturing, are crucial to that transition. Toyota must step up and produce the plug-in electric vehicles that are needed for a safe future and stop trying to sabotage leaders who are taking action toward a safer climate and sustainable future.”
RECAPPING COP26: While a final agreement from COP26 was reached after progress and stall-outs over the two weeks of the conference, it fell short of tackling the climate crisis at the scale we need. We were encouraged by the commitments the U.S. did make, including leading the Global Methane Pledge and committing to ending deforestation, and Climate Envoy Kerry’s support of ending fossil fuel subsidies abroad and doubling U.S. climate finance funding by 2025. We also saw a joint statement with China pledging greater collaboration, and Speaker Pelosi and other members of the congressional delegation reiterating their commitment to passing the Build Back Better Act to help the US keep the promises made at the COP. However, we were disappointed to see the US not joining the cars pledge, of phasing out fossil fuel vehicles by 2040, the coal pledge, of ending all new investment domestically and abroad, or the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, which is committed to keeping warming below 1.5℃. While many have said the 1.5℃ goal remains on “life support,” we know the U.S. must drastically cut its own pollution and reestablish itself as a global leader if we have any hope of keeping this goal alive. This starts with finishing the job and passing the Build Back Better Act, which will set us on the course of cutting carbon pollution in half by 2030.
51 FOR 51: This week, 51 for 51 and over 100 Michigan-based and national advocacy groups, including Michigan LCV, sent a letter calling on Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Gary Peters to hold a Senate markup and pass Washington, D.C. Admission Act, which would make Washington, DC the 51st state in the nation. DC residents of color are disproportionately impacted by toxic pollution and the climate crisis, and it’s past time for equal representation in our federal government and the fundamental right to self-govern for the more than 700,000 residents of our nation’s capital.
MILCV TAKE: Michigan League of Conservation Voters Federal Government Affairs Director Bentley Johnson stated,”We cannot sit idly by while 700,000 of our fellow Americans lack a vote in Congress — we must use our privilege of representation as residents of Michigan to call for D.C. statehood and democracy for all. The fights for D.C. statehood and environmental justice are deeply interconnected. Low-income and Black communities have historically suffered the consequences of environmental racism, and D.C., as a majority Black and Brown community, has faced this for generations while being denied foundational representation in Congress. As Michiganders, we thank Senator Peters for holding a hearing on this issue and now urge him to hold a markup and pass D.C. statehood to correct this injustice and continue being a champion for voting rights and the health of our planet.”
PROTECTING OUR DEMOCRACY: This week, LCV sent a letter to the House of Representativesurging members to vote for the Protecting Our Democracy Act, which would help defend against corruption and abuse of power, strengthen Congressional checks on the executive branch, protect whistleblowers and inspectors general, prevent foreign interference in elections, require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns to the Federal Election Commission, and take other vital measures to secure the integrity of our constitutional system. We can’t build a clean energy future when the fossil fuel industry continues to line the pockets of lawmakers and influence policies that prevent action on the climate crisis.
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski wrote in the letter, “History has shown time and time again that the fossil fuel industry’s influence pollutes the people’s government as much as our environment. A robust democracy is critical to all of our rights, but especially members of marginalized groups who have few other ways to protect their interests. Low-income communities and communities of color have consistently and systematically been excluded from the political process, resulting in decades of environmental racism and a shameful lack of accountability for politicians and polluting corporations. By shoring up the rule of law and the integrity of our institutions, H.R. 5314 would go a long way toward ensuring American democracy works for the people, not the polluters.”
PROTECTIONS FOR CHACO CANYON ADVANCED!: This week, the Biden administration announced that it is initiating a process to consider barring new federal oil and gas leasing for 20 years within a 10-mile radius around Chaco Culture National Historical Park, in addition to undertaking a broader assessment of the Greater Chaco cultural landscape to ensure that public land management better reflects the sacred sites, stories, and cultural resources in the region. Chaco Canyon is just one of many sacred sites around the country that needs protections from extractive and destructive industries that pollute local communities.
INTERIOR SECRETARY TAKE: Interior Secretary Deb Haaland stated, “Chaco Canyon is a sacred place that holds deep meaning for the Indigenous peoples whose ancestors lived, worked, and thrived in that high desert community. Now is the time to consider more enduring protections for the living landscape that is Chaco, so that we can pass on this rich cultural legacy to future generations. I value and appreciate the many Tribal leaders, elected officials, and stakeholders who have persisted in their work to conserve this special area.”
OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel stated, “It’s wonderful to see the Biden administration announce these steps toward protecting the sacred landscape of Chaco Canyon. We are thrilled that the Biden administration is heeding the calls of Indigenous communities that have been fighting for hundreds of years to protect their ancestral lands from further desecration, and we hope this process results in long-term protections for the Chaco Canyon area. Embracing this and other examples of tribally-led conservation efforts can help the United States fight climate change and advance equity at a time when we must act boldly on both fronts.”
RESUMING OIL & GAS LEASING IN THE GULF: This week, the Biden Administration auctioned off millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico to the disappointment of LCV and other pro-environment groups. Recent oil spills devastated California, harming wildlife, shutting down beaches, and negatively impacting the environment. In order to prevent disasters like this, it is critical that the Biden Administration change course and align the management of our public lands and waters with our climate goals.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Government Affairs Advocate Ben Alexandro stated, “It is disappointing that the Biden administration is moving forward with a major oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico. This region has experienced the lasting impacts of offshore drilling spills on their communities, the environment, and the local economy for years. The decisions the administration makes now can prevent future offshore drilling disasters and align the management of our public lands and waters with our climate goals. It is time for a course correction.”
TONGASS PROTECTIONS: This week, the Biden administration proposed reinstating protections that ban logging and road building on much of Tongass National Forest in Alaska. This is the largest temperate rainforest in North America and these protections are supported by Alaska Indigineous leaders, environmentalists, and tour operators who point to the ecological importance of the area as well as the economic benefit for preserving the forest as is.
AGRICULTURE SECRETARY TAKE: In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “Restoring the Tongass’ roadless protections supports the advancement of economic, ecologic and cultural sustainability in Southeast Alaska in a manner that is guided by local voices.”
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:
CLEAN TRUCKS IN OREGON: On Wednesday, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission approved regulations requiring medium- and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers to sell an increasing percentage of zero-emissions electric vehicles in the state each year, starting in 2025. Oregon is the second state to approve the “Clean Trucks Rules,” which were first created and adopted in California. This win comes after the state passed legislation committing to 100% clean energy earlier this year and will help address the state’s highest source of greenhouse gas emissions, transportation.
CLEAN WATER IN MICHIGAN: This week, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer proposed a $300 million expansion to the MI Clean Water Plan to replace lead pipes across the state. The plan was developed last year to utilize federal investments from the American Rescue Plan for critical water infrastructure upgrades in the state notorious for the Flint water crisis. Whitmer’s administration has already heavily invested in water infrastructure and has begun awarding grants to jurisdictions through the clean water plan to ensure safe and clean drinking water for Michiganders.
GOVERNOR WHITMER TAKE: Governor Gretchen Whitmer stated, “Every Michigander in every community deserves access to safe drinking water, and we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity right now to use the federal dollars we have to put Michiganders first and make lasting investments in our water infrastructure. Together, we can utilize the resources we have to create thousands of good-paying jobs, deliver safe water to every home and kid in school, and shore up our water infrastructure to make it more resilient to extreme weather. I look forward to the $1.3 billion in federal funding specifically for water that we will get, among billions more, from the bipartisan federal infrastructure plan.”
MLCV TAKE: Michigan League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Lisa Wozniak stated, “For too long, a lack of investment in our water has left us with crumbling infrastructure, unaffordable rates, lead pipes and toxic contamination. The time to fund our water is now. We can’t wait any longer. The investments proposed by Governor Whitmer are a step toward re-establishing Michigan as a national leader in protecting our water and our health, and we call on lawmakers to join together at this pivotal moment to invest now for future generations to come.”
🏈FROM THE FIELD🏈: LCV’s visibility and mobilization field program continues to show that communities across the country want climate action now! Organizers have knocked on nearly 375,000 doors across 12 states and D.C., talking with people about the Build Back Better Act and its critical climate provisions. Through our canvassing, we’ve recruited over 21,000 people to take action, over 16,000 households to place a sign in their yard, and over 14,500 businesses to display support. Every day we hear from community members that would like to see tangible steps taken toward mitigating climate change — over 3,700 people we’ve talked to have called their member of Congress in favor of the Build Back Better Act.
CLEAN CARS IN NEVADA AND BEYOND: Nevada Conservation League Policy and Advocacy Director Christi Cabrera co-authored an opinion piece with state Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui in the Las Vegas Sun this week arguing for federal action to reduce transportation pollution and advance clean transportation. Cabrera and Jauregui describe the impacts of air pollution in Nevada and present opportunities to address it, calling for a national clean cars standard and passage of Build Back Better to increase access to safer and cleaner transit.
CABRERA AND JAUREGUI TAKE: Nevada Conservation League Policy and Advocacy Director, Christi Cabrera, and Nevada state Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui wrote, “every community in Nevada deserves breathable air, drinkable water and a livable climate. We finally have a golden opportunity to make this a reality. Strong clean car standards and the Build Back Better Act are historic opportunities to create a healthy, sustainable, clean transportation future for our nation. It’s time to get this done.”
MAKING THE CASE FOR RGGI: A volunteer with Climate Action Pennsylvania wrote a letter to the editor in support of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Richard Cole highlights benefits of the program and the necessity of immediate climate action in The Mercury. Conservation Voters PA continue to participate heavily in the state’s process to consider joining RGGI, and it is one of their main policy priorities.
COLE TAKE: Climate Action PA volunteer Richard Cole said, “we need to address the climate crisis with a sense of urgency. RGGI represents a tremendous opportunity to deliver real results and help preserve a world our future generations deserve.”
NOVEMBER: Indigenous Peoples’ Month