THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – OCTOBER 29, 2021

Dominic DiFiglia, ddifiglia@lcv.org

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 is unacceptable that communities of color living on the frontlines of power plants, refineries, and other industrial facilities have higher rates of cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease, neurological issues and other life-threatening health problems. The Build Back Better Framework includes vital investments to address these historic injustices.”

— Michele Roberts, national co-coordinator at the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform on a panel that discussed the climate provisions in the newly released Build Back Better Framework.  

“The ultimate goal of fighting climate change is to ensure [an environment with] viable living conditions. If we are ignoring that living conditions are already unviable for many communities due to the burden of systemic racism, then what is it that we are fighting for?”

— Olivia Aguilar, director of the Miller Worley Center for the Environment and associate professor of environmental studies at Mount Holyoke College, in the Mic article, “People of Color Contribute the Least to Climate Change and Suffer the Most. That has to Stop.

“The summer of 2021 made it clear to everyone just how dangerous laboring in high heat can be. This long overdue heat standard is critical to saving the lives of our essential workers”

— Juley Fulcher, a worker health and safety advocate at Public Citizen, in an E&E article, “OSHA Targets Heat Threats Heightened by Climate Change.”

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

The Atlantic: Democrats Need to Count Up, Not Down
E&E News: Inside the $40M campaign for Biden’s climate agenda
The Guardian: Biden plan pledges ‘largest effort to combat climate change in US history’
Bloomberg Law: Here’s How Biden Would Spend $555 Billion in Climate Funds
Yahoo News!: Record-smashing climate change spending in budget framework
Essence: After Republicans Block Voting Rights Bill, Black Women Activists Are Fighting Back
E&E News: ‘We need more people like me’: Cori Bush on EJ, coal, Manchin
Scrap Monster: Broad Coalition of Advocates, Community Leaders and Officials Praise EPA’s New Roadmap on PFAS

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:
Cronkite News (AZ): Latina moms, environmental advocates fight air pollution with electric school bus
NJ.com (NJ): Biden tells Congress ‘Let’s get it done’ on big spending plan, touts N.J. projects during visit
Hi-Line Today (MT): Martha Williams nominated To Lead U.S. Fish and Wildlife
BizNewsPost (AZ): Climate advocates who backed Sinema exasperated by blocking of Biden bill
The Hill (VA): McAuliffe, Democratic groups launch climate ad blitz in Virginia a week out from election
Virginia Mercury (VA): After years of bipartisan giving, Dominion Energy leans into Democratic control
Vermont Biz (VT): Fisher: Wetlands are a nature-based solution to climate change
Daily Kos (VA): VA-Gov: Pres. Biden Reminds Voters That Trumpism Can Come In The Form Of A Smile & A Fleece Vest

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BUILD BACK BETTER FRAMEWORK RELEASED!: On Thursday, President Biden announced the Build Back Better Framework — putting our country a significant step closer to achieving the transformative investments in climate and environmental justice that voters across the country are counting on. The framework proposes the largest investments in combating environmental injustices and the climate crisis that our country has ever made. Now, Congress must take immediate action to adopt this framework and help put the United States on the path to cutting climate pollution in half by 2030, invest directly in communities experiencing environmental injustices, and create good-paying union jobs. See LCV’s full statement on the Build Back Better Framework HERE, statements from Chispa and Chispa state partners HERE, and our memo detailing why the framework is good climate policy and good climate politics HERE.

LCV TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “It’s a historic day for people and the planet. Once passed, this framework for the Build Back Better Act will be the strongest action the United States has ever taken to combat the climate crisis. All year we have been on the ground in states across the country, on the airwaves, and in the halls of government in our biggest campaign ever. Getting to this point is a testament to the diverse coalition, including labor, environmental justice advocates, and young people, relentlessly fighting for climate action, environmental justice, and good paying jobs. Right now is the time to finalize this transformational bill and get it done. Paired with bold executive and state actions, the Build Back Better Act will ensure the U.S. equitably meets its climate goals by 2030.”

CHISPA TAKE: Chispa National Campaigns Manager Alejandra Ramirez-Zarate stated, “We commend President Biden’s leadership for taking action on climate change and for prioritizing the electrification of school buses, which will ensure cleaner air for the 25 million children who ride school buses each day and create good, family-sustaining, green jobs as we meet our climate goals. We also know that the climate crisis does not exist in a silo — environmental injustices are linked to racial, gender, reproductive, health, voting, and many more inequities. Our immigrant communities have long known the reality of this crisis and its devastating consequences. Justice for our communities is an and instead of an or. We need both a pathway to citizenship and bold investment in immediate climate action to ensure our future generations can benefit from a safer, more equitable country.”

….CLIMATE EXPERTS HOST PANEL ON WHAT’S INCLUDED: In response to the Build Back Better Framework release, LCV co-hosted a virtual briefing with leading experts from across the environmental, labor, and environmental justice movement. Panelists discussed how the transformational investments of the framework will meet the Climate Test and help communities across the country by delivering on climate action, jobs, and justice, if passed. See a recording from the event and additional statements from speakers HERE

LCV BOARD CHAIR + FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR TAKE: League of Conservation Voters Board Chair and former EPA administrator Carol M. Browner stated, “I was very proud to be part of President Obama’s commitment on climate change in the Recovery Act — this is on the order of six times that investment. And it could not come soon enough. As we think about cars, renewables, jobs, the opportunities are in front of us to create a very different future. We need Congress to act, we need them to act quickly. The world is watching.”

CAP + CLIMATE POWER TAKE: Chair of Center for American Progress and co-founder of Climate Power John Podesta stated, “We commend the White House and the leadership in the House and Senate for overcoming some real disappointments in the climate space and producing a framework that was released today … that shows that the Build Back Better Act has the most significant, historic investments in climate and environmental justice in history. We believe it will meet the climate test by putting us on a clear path to cut carbon pollution in half by 2030.”

ALL THE TAKES: The following experts all participated in the panel and you can see their takes HERE: Center for American Progress Chair and Climate Power Co-Founder John Podesta, League of Conservation Voters Board Chair and former EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner, BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh, Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform National Co-Coordinator Michele Roberts, and Evergreen Action Senior Policy Advisor and UC Santa Barbara Associate Professor Dr. Leah Stokes.

…AND WILL INCLUDE HISTORIC EJ INVESTMENTS + EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS: In advance of President Biden’s announcement of the Build Back Better Framework, we released a memo from LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis, highlighting the historic investments in the Build Back Better Act that will address environmental injustices in communities of color and communities of low wealth. These investments include equitable and pro-union tax incentives for clean energy, vehicles, and manufacturing, and so much more. As the Rhodium Group’s new analysis details, between the Build Back Better Act, executive actions, and strong state leadership, we can — and will — equitably meet our climate goals. 

MORE ON EJ: See priority investments from the Equitable and Just Climate Platform HERE and a full list of critical environmental justice investments included in the House’s Build Back Better Act HERE. 

LCV TAKE: LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis stated, “Between the robust clean energy tax package, unprecedented environmental justice investments, clean vehicle incentives, a methane fee, conservation and restoration investments that reduce emissions and store carbon, and so much more, the Build Back Better Act will result in transformational progress. With the Build Back Better Act as law, in the years ahead we’ll save $500 a year on energy bills, send our kids off to school in clean electric school buses, drive affordable electric cars, breathe clean, healthy air, worry less about health problems caused by polluted air and water, and ultimately stave off even more devastating, costly extreme weather and other catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis. And from manufacturing electric vehicles and building EV charging stations to upgrading buildings and weatherizing homes, the Build Back Better Act will create millions of new, good-paying, union jobs in the clean energy economy and provide the resources to help workers get the skills they need.”

RACE TO THE COP26: This weekend, President Biden will take to the world stage at COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland, just days after releasing the Build Back Better framework that includes historic investments in climate action. LCV hosted a Twitter Q&A with congressional climate leaders who are pushing for domestic climate action that will help our country meet our obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement and model what is possible around the globe. See tweets from members below, and find more HERE. In addition, see Rhodium group’s new report HERE analyzing the pathway to achieving the goals set by the Paris Climate Accord — without bold action, these goals will not be met. The investments world leaders will discuss over the next two weeks are critical to the future of our planet, and we must build upon them in order to sustain progress on climate issues.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE CHAIR TAKE: House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks tweeted, “I’ve seen how bottom-up pressure can yield significant progress for a clean energy transition. Creating a global climate revolution takes public pressure & involvement, starting from community-based, climate-friendly practices – at schools, businesses, and places of work.”

REPRESENTATIVE KIM TAKE: Representative Andy Kim tweeted, “This is our last best chance to meaningfully tackle climate change. This requires a whole of society strategy. We should push for big steps like electrifying our transportation sector and pushing for new technologies for energy production and storage.”

SENATOR MURPHY TAKE: Senator Chris Murphy tweeted, “Next week is huge for the future of our planet. And that’s why it’s so important to send @POTUS to Glasgow with a deal to make major climate investments here at home. U.S. leadership matters.”

FREEDOM TO VOTE NOW!: In case you missed it, last weekend, LCV joined partners for the Freedom to Vote Relay to highlight the urgent need to pass legislation protecting voting rights and representation for all: the Freedom to Vote Act, the Washington, DC Admission Act, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The relay ended with a rally at the Capitol, where LCV’s Chief Officer for Racial Justice and Equity, Leslie Hinkson, joined civil rights leaders and activists in addressing the crowd, and fighting for a more just, accessible, and equitable democracy.  

LCV TAKE:  At the rally, LCV Chief Officer for Racial Justice and Equity Leslie Hinkson said, “An inclusive democracy is the foundation from which we can create change. A healthy democracy is the foundation from which we can create a healthy environment. A healthy democracy is the foundation from which we can create a society that intentionally works for us all, and not just for a small elite while the rest of us cross our fingers and hope some of the benefits trickle down.”

+ REPARATIONS NOW!: On Wednesday, LCV participated in a virtual town hall with advocates from across the country and Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, the lead sponsor of H.R. 40, to discuss why, after generations of structural racism in this country, reparations are a necessary part of dismantling the racism embedded in our country’s governance and policies. See our blog from LCV Chief Officer for Racial Justice and Equity Leslie R. Hinkson, discussing how reparations will help build power for people and the planet HERE.

MYRNA PÉREZ CONFIRMED: On Monday, the Senate confirmed voting rights advocate Myrna Pérez to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit — making her the first Latina woman to serve on the Second Circuit since Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s historic confirmation to the Supreme Court over 12 years ago. See LCV’s letter from LCV President Gene Karpinski urging senators to vote to confirm Pérez HERE, and highlights from her career at the Brennan Center for Justice HERE.

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “Pérez has distinguished herself as one of the nation’s foremost experts on the fundamental right to vote. She has litigated dozens of cases, including matters before the United States Supreme Court and federal appellate courts. She has taught law students at both NYU and Columbia, and is a former Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Election Law Committee…In addition to her exceptional professional qualifications, Pérez would bring much-needed diversity to the bench. Although nearly 20% of the people who live in its jurisdiction are Hispanic or Latino, the Second Circuit currently has only one Latino judge. If confirmed, Pérez would be the first and only Latina woman to serve on the Second Circuit since Justice Sotomayor’s elevation to the Supreme Court over twelve years ago.”

HEARING FOR CORPORATE POLLUTER ACCOUNTABILITY: The House Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing with executives from major oil corporations, including BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Shell on Thursday, where lawmakers pressed for answers on the “misinformation and disinformation” that Big Oil has publicized and funded for decades — including denial of the devastating impacts that polluters have on the climate crisis. 

CHAIR MALONEY TAKE: Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Carolyn Maloney stated, “This is a historic hearing. For the first time, top fossil fuel executives are testifying together before Congress, under oath, about the industry’s role in causing climate change—and their efforts to cover it up. For far too long, Big Oil has escaped accountability for its central role in bringing our planet to the brink of a climate catastrophe. That ends today.”

CHAIR KHANNA TAKE: Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on the Environment Ro Khanna stated, “The choice is yours. As you make it, think of the Indigenous-led demonstrations last week, and the 5 young activists from the Sunrise Movement who have been outside the White House on a hunger strike for nine days and counting. They are putting their lives on the line because they know countless thousands will suffer and die if we continue on our current path. What will you do to end the hunger strike? What do you have to say to America’s children, born into a burning world? Tell the truth. It will be better for your companies’ future, and it will be better for humanity’s future.”

REDUCING LEAD: On Thursday, the EPA announced a draft strategy to address lead exposure, focused especially on environmental justice communities that have been disproportionately burdened with toxic lead pollution.  No amount of lead is safe, and it is beyond time for the EPA and other federal agencies to take strong action to eliminate lead exposure in our water, air, soil, and homes. While this draft strategy is a start, the EPA must strengthen the plan to include firm deadlines for their proposed actions, commit to setting health-based standards for lead in paint and aviation fuel, and release a stronger Lead and Copper Rule to eliminate lead in drinking water.  

MEANWHILE AT THE CDC: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its blood lead reference value (BLRV), lowering it to 3.5 µg/dL from 5. This will help better identify higher levels of lead in children and better protect them from harmful lead exposure sooner. DC Acting Principal Deputy Director Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H. stated, “Lead exposure at all levels is harmful to children and can be detrimental to their long-term health. Protecting the health and wellbeing of children as they grow and develop is of the utmost importance, and I am confident this update will allow us to further safeguard the health of the next generation.”

TRUMP WATER RULE DISMISSED: This week, a District Court vacated a Trump-era rule that undermined clean water protections by preventing states and tribes from safeguarding their waters against harmful projects. The restoration of this important tool chips away at Trump’s dirty legacy and re-prioritizes people over polluters.    

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

🏈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 over 325,000 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 19,000 people to take action, 15,000 households to place a sign in their yard, and 11,500 businesses to display support. Every day we hear from community members that would like to see tangible steps taken toward mitigating climate change — over 2,000 people we’ve talked to have called their member of Congress in favor of the Build Back Better Act. 

DANGEROUS DELAYS: Two years ago, Griffin Plush, who serves on the board of LCV’s state affiliate The Alaska Center, joined 15 young Alaskans who delivered oral arguments before the Alaska Supreme Court, challenging the state’s policy of promoting fossil fuels that are contributing to the climate crisis. Since then, Plush and his peers have waited for a ruling on their appeal as the climate crisis in Alaska has grown more grave. Read more in Plush’s op-ed published in the Anchorage Daily News HERE.   

AK CENTER TAKE: The Alaska Center Board Member and Organizer with Alaska Youth for Environmental Action Griffin Plush said, “I am 24, the oldest plaintiff in Sagoonick. Alaska’s energy policy throughout my life has been characterized by the stubborn promotion of fossil fuels in the face of science and in spite of the known threats to the lives, health and safety of my generation and future generations.”

ICYMI: Just before Indigenous Peoples Day, The Alaska Center unveiled a new video, “Inextricably linked to this land: Our Home. Our Future. Our Alaska.” The film features testimony from Alaska Native peoples facing the calamitous economic, health, and communal impacts of climate change — showing impacts of the state’s dangerous fossil fuel policy.     

UPGRADING IDAHO’S WASTEWATER SYSTEMS: Conservation Voters for Idaho Board Chair Mike Lanza wrote an opinion piece in the Idaho Statesman, urging Boiseans to vote “yes” for a water bond that will finance much-needed upgrades to the city’s crumbling wastewater infrastructure. 

CVI TAKE: Conservation Voters for Idaho Board Chair Mike Lanza said, “Vote yes for affordable rate increases and investing in resilient, sustainable, renewable infrastructure that will sustain Boise now and in our future.”

COMING UP:

NOVEMBER: Indigenous Peoples’ Month

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