THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – OCTOBER 15, 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:

“It’s just empty words without action. What’s next? We have to move to action. We are here as Salmon People, and the salmon are going extinct. What are we doing to be a good ancestor? We are writing history in this moment. Everything we do, whether on the salmon issue, or climate change, we are writing the future.”

— Alyssa Macy, citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon, and Washington Conservation Voters CEO and LCVEF board member, speaking during a gathering on Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

“All them people over there got flooded. And so all of them left.”

— Willa Billings, a resident of Fair Bluff, North Carolina, whose house and entire community was severely damaged after flooding from Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and again from Hurricane Florence in 2018 in The Daily podcast episode, “Which Towns Are Worth Saving?”

“We move for the price on the rent, how much it’s going to cost us. But we don’t think about how it’s going to hurt us or our families.”

— Columba Sainz, coordinator for Mom’s Clean Air Force (Ecomadres), speaking on impacts on her daughter’s respiratory health after moving into a community near an airport and bus parking lots in an Arizona Republic article, “New EPA report confirms what South Phoenix’s residents of color know: Climate change discriminates.”

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

The Hill: Moderates split over climate plans in Democrats’ spending package
Politico: Dems torn between wooing and badgering the Biden agenda holdouts
Ocean County Breeze: Rep. Lowenthal (D-CA-47) wants new offshore drilling bans in the Democrats’ Building Back Better Act
The Sag Harbor Express: Climate Corner: Hope (The Pessimist’s Guide)
Washington Post: Group close to McConnell to spend $10 million attacking vulnerable Democratic senators on domestic spending

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:

The Nevada Independent (NV): Extreme heat in Nevada is a daily reminder that climate change is a current threat | Opinion: Dina Titus
Patch (DC/AK): Ice Sculpture Along The Anacostia Shows Effects Of Climate Change
Seattle Times (WA): ‘We are the land’: Indigenous Peoples’ Day gathering at Lummi Nation celebrates survival
MLive (MI): Line 5 opponents criticize Canada’s treaty maneuver, ask Biden to reject move
Independent Record (MT): Ryan Zinke is a critical threat to Montana’s public lands
Earth.com (WA): Washington voters want dam removal to save salmon
Patch (CA): CA Oil Spill: Oiled Birds Die, SHIP Act, Fallout In Spill’s Wake
LA Opinion (CA): Local economy, in addition to the environment, will be affected by the oil spill that occurred in Huntington Beach
WITN (NC): Energy bill gets pushback from environmental groups
Politico (CA): Newsom assails ‘those damn platforms’ in new fight against oil drilling
Albuquerque Journal (NM): How can New Mexico pay for conservation?
Transportation Today News (MI): Biden endorses electric vehicle tax credit

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HONORING INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ DAY: Monday marked the first time a U.S. president has formerly recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a long overdue acknowledgement of communities who are continuing to fight for their lands after generations of broken treaties and promises. Leadership from Indigenous leaders and activists resulted in the recent restoration of protections to the Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument after the Trump administration scaled them back. But as we saw at this week’s demonstrations at the Department of the Interior, there is still much work to be done to restore and protect Indigenous lands. Indigenous communities are some of the most impacted by the climate crisis and pollution, and are also fierce leaders in calling for climate action. LCV state affiliate The Alaska Center, Native Peoples Action, and Indigenous activist of Cup’ik descent Sophie Swope unveiled a new video highlighting the impact of the climate crisis on Indigenous Alaskans. The video was projected on a 9,000 pound ice sculpture of a salmon jumping out of water (see more on the art activation here and in our state highlights below!👇). View the video, “Inextricably linked to this land: Our Home. Our future. Our Alaska,” HERE and see photos from the installation HERE.

ALASKA YUP’IK MEMBER TAKE: Andrea Wuya, who is from a Yup’ik community, spoke on the devastating impacts of the climate crisis on critical resources for Indigenous Alaskans, stating, “Some of these things are irreversible, and to see that the number of our salmon population decrease due to climate change is scary because you think of the generations after us, and how are they going to sustain themselves out here?”

SECRETARY HAALAND TAKE: Interior Secretary Deb Haaland ran the Boston Marathon in honor of her ancestors on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, writing, “I run because my ancestors gave me this ability…On this special day, I will run for missing and murdered Indigenous peoples and their families, the victims of Indian boarding schools, and the promise that our voices are being heard and will have a part in an equitable and just future in this new era. I will run for Tom Longboat, Tarzan Brown, and Patti Dillon because they paved a path for me.”

LATINX HERITAGE MONTH CONTINUED: This week, LCV and Chispa continue to honor Latinx Heritage Month, with Chispa closing out the month with highlights from state partners who have hosted and participated in events across the country over the last few weeks. The fight for Latinx communities continues, and Chispa will be hosting events in DC next week to bring attention to the opportunities that a transition to clean vehicles provides (see more in our Electric Vehicle Display Preview below!👇)

LATINX ORGANIZATIONS CALL FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE: On Friday, The Latino Climate Justice Framework Project, a coalition of Latinx and Hispanic organizations, that includes Chispa, called for Congress to include climate and justice priorities focused on Latinx communities in the Build Back Better Act. Latinx communities are disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis and pollution, and are too often excluded from community investment opportunities — community voices must be centered in the Build Back Better Act to ensure that resources go to the most impacted communities.

COALITION TAKE: The coalition wrote in the letter, “Latinx communities are on the frontlines of climate change. We live in geographies with high exposure to climate hazards and are overrepresented in industries that make us susceptible to their impact, such as the agricultural and construction sectors—both vulnerable to increasing incidence of extreme heat days and wildfire smoke.”

GREEN LATINOS TAKE: GreenLatinos Founding President and CEO, and LCV Board Member Mark Magaña stated, “Our communities have suffered from a history of environmental racism that has historically and purposefully placed polluting industries in our communities, and also placed [us] financially only able to get housing in areas of high risk — high risk of flooding, high risk of hurricanes, high risk of tornadoes, high risk of heat and drought.”

TO BUILD BACK BETTER, WE MUST STOP LEAVING COMMUNITIES BEHIND: ICYMI, last month, the Equitable & Just National Climate Platform, of which LCV is a founding member, released a statement calling for full inclusion of environmental justice priorities in the Build Back Better Act. Historically excluded communities, including communities of color and communities of low wealth, continue to disproportionately suffer from the impacts of the climate crisis and environmental injustice — Congress must make the investments necessary for transformative change in all of our communities. See the priorities that will help ensure that justice is given to communities who need it the most HERE.

COALITION TAKE: Signatories of the Equitable & Just National Climate Platform wrote, “Congressional leaders have a critical opportunity to join forces with President Joe Biden to turn the tide against climate change, economic inequality, and environmental injustice. Black, Latino, Indigenous and other communities in the United States have for too long been on the front lines of our nation’s most dangerous environmental and health hazards. Oil refineries, power plants, ports and waste incinerators are just a few of the many industrial facilities that pump billions of pounds of pollution into the air and water. These are disproportionately sited in communities of color, leading to higher rates of cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease, neurological issues and other life-threatening health problems for the people living there. This undermines these communities’ ability to participate equally in the economy and live safe, healthy and prosperous lives.”

OUR TAKE: LCV tweeted, “We can’t fight the climate crisis without fighting environmental injustice and racism. We can’t #BuildBackBetter without prioritizing marginalized, low-wealth, and communities of color previously left behind.”

GOODBYE, OFFSHORE DRILLING: The California oil spill is only the latest example of the dirty and dangerous impacts of fossil fuel production. The House Natural Resources Committee is highlighting the dangers and offering solutions to the risks of offshore drilling — they held a mark-up of offshore reform bills, an oversight hearing, and will hold a field hearing in Orange County this coming Monday. There is strong and growing support in Congress to seize the opportunity to address one of the issues raised from this most recent oil spill by including language in the final Build Back Better Act to block new leasing for offshore drilling off the West Coast, East Coast, and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, which the House Natural Resources Committee included in their portion of the Build Back Better Act.

HELLO, OFFSHORE WIND: This week, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland laid out a blueprint for offshore wind leasing as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. We are in our “code red for humanity” moment — we cannot wait to build the infrastructure to put our country on the path to a clean energy future, and these bold plans put us one step closer to that future. See how our state affiliates responded when the Biden-Harris administration approved the Vineyard Wind offshore wind project earlier this summer HERE.

@INTERIOR TAKE: Interior Secretary Haaland stated, “The Interior Department is laying out an ambitious roadmap as we advance the Administration’s plans to confront climate change, create good-paying jobs, and accelerate the nation’s transition to a cleaner energy future. This timetable provides two crucial ingredients for success: increased certainty and transparency. Together, we will meet our clean energy goals while addressing the needs of other ocean users and potentially impacted communities. We have big goals to achieve a clean energy economy and Interior is meeting the moment.”

ROADMAP TO BUILD A RESILIENT ECONOMY: Today, the Biden-Harris administration released a roadmap outlining the risks of the climate crisis and how to build a resilient economy. In addition, it highlights the urgent need for Congress to take action to address the climate crisis through the Build Back Better Act. Our communities, especially communities of color and communities of low wealth, are already seeing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis on their economy, with some communities at risk of disappearing altogether.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “The Biden-Harris administration is absolutely right — as we saw this summer when climate-fueled extreme weather impacted 1 in 3 people in the country, costing billions of dollars — the climate crisis is a direct threat to our communities and our economy. This roadmap builds on the whole-of-government approach necessary to protect our economy and all communities, especially communities of color and low-wealth communities that have long borne the brunt of fossil fuel pollution. We applaud these executive actions, but they must be coupled with transformational climate, jobs, and justice legislation. The Biden-Harris administration and so many Democrats in Congress are working tirelessly to make that happen. It’s past time for Congress to finalize, pass, and send the Build Back Better Act to President Biden’s desk. With international climate negotiations fast approaching, the world is watching. Let’s get this done.”

PUBLIC HEARING ON CORPORATE AVERAGE FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS: This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration held a hearing for its proposal for “Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards for Model Years 2024-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks,” where environmental justice advocates, climate activists, public health officials, and other proponents of the proposal gave testimony on how Obama-era clean car standards will help drivers save money and reduce vehicle pollution.

OUR TAKE: LCV Government Affairs Advocate Darien Davis stated, “The transportation sector is the largest source of emissions and needs bold action to accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles across all types…Ultimately, the strongest possible CAFE rule would help grow the share of new zero emission vehicles sold to approximately 60-75% of new car sales by 2030. Once again, I urge this administration to set the strongest possible fuel economy standards by finalizing Alternative 3. Simply put: these standards are practical and help to maximize the deployment of electric vehicles.”

ICYMI — INTRODUCTION OF AMERICAN ENERGY WORKER OPPORTUNITY ACT: Last week, Senators Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey, Sheldon Whitehouse, Tina Smith, Michael Bennet, Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Duckworth, and Tammy Baldwin introduced the American Energy Worker Opportunity Act, which would invest in workers in a transition to a clean energy economy. This investment would help provide essential benefits to workers, increase wages, and allow workers in polluter industries access education and training grants. We need workers to transition to a cleaner future, and the American Energy Worker Opportunity Act will help invest in and train workers already in the energy industry, in addition to investing in future workers.

BLUEGREEN ALLIANCE TAKE: BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh stated, “As our nation’s energy system transitions, it is absolutely vital that we do not leave workers and communities behind. These are the workers that have powered our nation for generations and we owe it to them to ensure that they have every opportunity to succeed in the clean economy.”

OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo stated, “The transition to a clean energy future means we cannot leave behind those workers who have played such a crucial role in powering our homes and communities for decades. These workers, their families, and their communities must be supported to take advantage of the millions of new jobs in the clean energy economy that will be created by passage of the Build Back Better Act. We believe this bill helps us achieve this, and thank Senators Brown, Casey, Whitehouse, Baldwin, Bennett, Duckworth, Smith and Warren for their leadership on this important issue.”

ICYMI — MONUMENTAL RESTORATION: ICYMI, last week, the Biden administration fulfilled its promise to restore protections to the sacred lands of Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monuments, where protections were mostly or entirely removed. Bears Ears contains cultural and natural heritage for five tribal communities who make up the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (BEITC) — the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and the Pueblo of Zuni — who have and continue to lead the protection and preservation of these sacred spaces from corporate pollution and environmental racism. See our blog from LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel on how the restoration of the Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts national monuments are a crucial next step for conserving 30% of our nation’s lands and waters by 2030.

BEITC MEMBER TAKE: Shaun Chapoose, chairman for the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee and BEITC member, stated, “President Biden did the right thing restoring the Bears Ears National Monument. For us the Monument never went away. We will always return to these lands to manage and care for our sacred sites, waters and medicines. The Monument represents a historic opportunity for the federal government to learn and incorporate our tribal land management practices.  Practices that we developed over centuries and are needed more now than ever. President Biden was right to reinforce the action taken by President Obama almost five years ago. We battled for this Monument because it matters.”

SECRETARY HAALAND TAKE: Interior Secretary Haaland stated, “It’s about this administration centering the voices of Indigenous people and affirming the shared stewardship of this landscape with tribal nations. The president’s action today writes a new chapter that embraces Indigenous knowledge, ensures tribal leadership has a seat at the table, and demonstrates that by working together we can build a brighter future for all of us.”

FREEDOM TO VOTE RELAY PREVIEW!: In advance of the Senate’s vote on the Freedom to Vote Act next week, LCV is collaborating with Public Citizen, Black Voters Matter, DC Vote, League of Women Voters, Drum Majors for Change, Declaration for American Democracy and the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda for the Freedom to Vote Relay. The relay will highlight the need to pass legislation to protect voting rights for all Americans and help make the United States a more just and representative democracy. This legislation includes the Freedom to Vote Act, the Washington, DC Admissions Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which was recently reintroduced in Congress. The relay will take place October 20th – 23rd, with participants travelling by various modes of transportation from West Virginia to DC. See Senators Amy Klobuchar, Jeff Merkley, Alex Padilla, Tim Kaine, and Raphael Warnock discuss why our democracy needs the Freedom to Vote Act HERE.

CELEBRATE WITH US IN DC!: On Friday, October 22, participants from the relay, activists, and residents will gather at the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl in DC to celebrate the final stretch of the relay before they rally at the Capitol the following day. Sign up for this event and get more information HERE!

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “A healthy environment and a healthy democracy are inextricably linked. It is no coincidence that the communities most affected by climate change and pollution are the same Black, Brown, Asian-American, Native, disabled, and immigrant communities that are targeted by voter suppression. We’re proud to join fellow conveners and marchers from West Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia to call on Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and DC Statehood, and fight for a healthy, functioning democracy where all people can participate freely and equitably.”

ELECTRIC VEHICLE DISPLAY PREVIEW!: Next week, Chispa will be hosting two electric vehicle display events to show an array of clean vehicles and to discuss the advantages of going electric. On Wednesday, October 20th, from 9am-1:30pm EST, the Electrification Coalition and Plug in America will host an Electric Vehicle Display at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and on Thursday, October 21st, from 9am-3pm EST, Chispa is partnering with the Senate Auto Caucus and other activists to host an Electric Vehicle & Charging Infrastructure Static Display. Advocates and manufacturers will be at the events, discussing the many benefits of electrifying vehicles across the country. These benefits include improved air quality, reduced transportation costs, and reduced dependence on fossil fuels. Register for the Wednesday event HERE and the Thursday event HERE!

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

INDIGENOUS ALASKANS CALL ON A FROZEN CONGRESS FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE: In advance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, LCV state affiliate The Alaska Center, Native Peoples Action, and Cup’ik Indigenous activist, Sophie Swope, unveiled a new video, “Inextricably linked to this land: Our Home. Our future. Our Alaska,” which was projected onto a 9,000 pound ice sculpture of a salmon jumping out of water to highlight how the climate crisis is impacting Indigenous Alaskan communities. This art activation sends a clear message to legislators in Washington, DC that it’s time to listen to the voices of Indigenous peoples and invest in communities so that they can continue their way of life and future generations can thrive for years to come.

ALASKAN ACTIVIST TAKE: Sophie Swope, of Cup’ik descent from Mamterilleq Bethel, Alaska stated, “Climate change is challenging the traditional ways of life and hurting my community. The numbers of fish in our rivers — specifically salmon — are declining, and hunting and harvesting trails are not freezing properly. We can’t keep compromising our climate and polluting our waters, lands, and community health…Let’s listen to those most impacted by the climate crisis and pollution who have for too long, not had a seat at the table. There is a world of opportunity here now, we just need our leaders to take bold steps forward and pass legislation that will support our future and address environmental injustice.”

THE ALASKA CENTER TAKE: The Alaska Center Communications Director Leah Moss stated, “For too long, extractive industries have polluted our communities, our climate and our economic health in Alaska. It’s time that our leaders invest in the long term health of Alaskans and invest in the vibrant future that clean energy jobs and a commitment to climate justice could make possible. We are at a pivotal moment to Build Back Better and we must act now before climate change destroys more communities in our state. We need policy makers to take bold action on climate that helps Alaskans thrive, not just survive.”

NATIVE PEOPLES ACTION TAKE: Executive Director of Native People’s Action Kendra Kloster stated, “Indigenous peoples have stewarded the lands and waters across this nation since time immemorial. Having our voices at the decision-making tables with projects that directly impact our ways of life is imperative. “There is vast opportunity and potential for economic growth in our Tribal communities and regions when our Indigenous voices are part of the processes that affect our people, lands, waters and all relations. Our ways of life are on the line – the time is now for investments toward climate justice solutions in partnership with Indigenous people.”

🏈FROM THE FIELD🏈: LCV’s organizers on the ground continue to knock on doors and build support for climate action across the country. So far, our field team has knocked on over 290,000 doors, made nearly 420,000 calls, and mobilized over 10,500 businesses across 12 states to support climate action and clean energy jobs! 💪 See people across the nation share why they want climate action now, and read stories from climate advocates across the country HERE.

PUBLIC HEARING ON REDISTRICTING IN MICHIGAN: This week, Michigan LCV Education Fund and partners hosted a virtual event to provide updates on the latest opportunities to engage with Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. Special guest experts Loida Tapia of the Michigan Nonprofit Association and Quentin Turner of Common Cause Michigan spoke with participants on making their voice heard to help ensure fair district maps for the next 10 years.

ICYMI — SCHOOL BUS WIN IN NYC!: Last week, the NYC City Council voted to transition our nation’s largest school district to 100% electric school buses by 2035. This is another example of how the country is moving away from fossil fuels towards clean, emission-free vehicles. As activists work to accelerate this transition, this is a major victory, especially for communities in NYC benefitting from decreases in air pollution.

NYLCV TAKE: At a recent rally in support of electric school buses, New York LCV President Julie Tighe said, “We need electric school buses! They are the cleanest alternative with 70% less GHG emissions and zero tailpipe emissions. Our students go to school to learn and instead we put them at risk when we send them to school in diesel buses.”

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS FOR LATINX COMMUNITIES IN NEW JERSEY: In New Jersey, climate activists are committed to addressing the barriers that make it harder for Latinx communities to be involved in the climate justice movement. New Jersey LCV Campaigns Director Patty Cronheim released an opinion piece with Atlantic Climate Justice Alliance Founder Maria Sanitago-Valentin, highlighting how trust must be built between climate activists and the Latinx community by confronting language and economic barriers in their outreach strategy. Black and brown communities are disproportionately affected by environmental issues, it is important that their voices are at the forefront of this movement.

NJLCV TAKE: In their piece, New Jersey LCV Campaigns Director Patty Cronheim and Atlantic Climate Justice Alliance Founder Maria Sanitago-Valentin wrote, “Factors that stem primarily from language and economic barriers often keep Hispanics from becoming involved with the environmental causes that impact their daily lives. If we don’t want environmental engagement to remain primarily the province of white privilege, we need to break down the barriers that make it difficult for people to get involved.”

CALLING OUT ATTACKS ON PUBLIC LANDS IN MONTANA: Montana Conservation Voters is calling out the blatant lies from former Congressman and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. Zinke is currently running ads claiming that he is supportive of protecting Montana’s public lands, while his votes and actions say otherwise. Activists are letting the public know that Zinke has sold out to oil and gas companies, putting profits above Montana’s public lands and people.

MCV TAKE: In the Helena Independent Record, Montana Conservation Voters Board Chair Jock Conyngham wrote, “The truth is that Zinke has — through his statements, actions, votes and policies — joined the assault on America’s public lands and the strong drive to transfer or sell the lands that support out hunting, fishing, and outdoor culture.”

 

COMING UP:

OCTOBER 18: House Natural Resources Committee Field Hearing in Irvine, CA on the offshore oil disaster
OCTOBER 18: 49th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act
OCTOBER 19: Climate Action New Hampshire: Road to COP26 Event
OCTOBER 20: US DOT Electric Vehicle Display
OCTOBER 21: Electric Vehicle & Charging Infrastructure Static Display
OCTOBER 22: Freedom to Vote Relay Celebration
OCTOBER 26: 30th Anniversary of the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit

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