THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – SEPTEMBER 10, 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:

“The urgent issue is not just that there are environmental perils coming, but rather that the climate crisis was built off of generations of inequity. If people don’t recognize that it’s a crisis of justice, as well as a crisis of the environment, then they’re going to continue to propose these problematic solutions.”

— Kyle Whyte, environmental justice professor at the University of Michigan and member of the Potawatomi Nation serving on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, in a Grist interview, “To solve the climate crisis, we must first repair our relationships.”

“Green space is life, and working BIPOC people on the front lines of the climate change crisis in the city have been living with pollution and [the] ramifications of this on their bodies for too long.”

— Alicia Grullon, organizer with the North Bronx Collective and a lifelong resident of New York City, in a Vox article, “What does sustainability mean in the Bronx?”

“I hope this storm is a reminder to all our elected officials: this is what climate change looks like.”

— Ed Potosnak, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Executive Director, speaking on the need for significant investments in infrastructure to tackle the climate crisis.

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

The Washington Post: Leading climate group says it won’t support Democrats who don’t support budget bill
E&E News: LCV imposes litmus test for Dems on infrastructure
CNN: Environmental groups ask Congress to fund billions of dollars in climate measures in reconciliation
Politico: Progressives demand polluter climate fund in reconciliation
Yahoo: Climate change disasters hammer home importance of infrastructure plans, Biden says
McClatchy: ‘We’re out of time’: Biden, Democrats under pressure to deliver on liberal priorities
The Concord Monitor: Maybe the climate emergency has gotten so bad we’ll start to do something about it
The Hill: Democrats on key panel offer bill on solar tax incentive
Bloomberg: Progressives Push for Fossil Fuel Firms to Pay into Climate Fund

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 Atlanta Voice (GA): Georgia Conservation Voters and New Georgia Project Organized Mural Unveiling in East Point calling for Energy Justice Now
Post X News (NY): Op-Ed | We need the Build Back Better agenda to combat climate change and bring jobs to New York | amNewYork
The Berlin Sun (NJ): Rob Werner: Why Congress’s infrastructure deal will help New Hampshire state lead a new clean energy economy
The Guardian (NJ): Biden to visit New York and New Jersey reeling from deadly storms
Idaho Statesman (ID): For Western cities like Boise, effects of climate change show inaction is not an option
PBS Newshour (NJ): Ida damage shows need for infrastructure upgrades, lawmakers say
Politico (CA): Former state Senate leader urges senators to oppose California climate bill
New Jersey Monitor (NJ): Extreme heat could cost N.J.’s outdoor workers $2.2B in lost earnings, researchers warn
On the Moody Market (MI): State to invest $20 million to replace lead service lines in BH

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CLIMATE TEST: On Tuesday, a coalition of 20 environmental, environmental justice, faith, and public health organizations, including LCV, sent a letter to Congress calling on members to pass the “Climate Test,” by putting the country on a clear path to cutting in half planet-warming pollution by 2030. The recent devastation our country has seen from extreme weather and wildfires, which are exacerbated by the climate crisis, shows that we cannot wait to act on climate. Congress has a once in a generation opportunity to pass the Climate Test and make transformational investments in our nation’s infrastructure with the Build Back Better Act by creating new clean energy tax incentives, transforming our power sector to achieve 100% clean electricity and investing in communities of color and communities of low wealth who are too often on the front lines of the climate crisis. Read the full letter HERE and see the full press release HERE.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated in a recent interview with CNN, “Failure is not an option to get this done. We’re doing everything we possibly can. We’re having conversations regularly with all Senate offices, all members of Congress.”

ENDORSEMENTS ONLY WITH CLIMATE ACTION IN BBB: This week — for only the second time in LCV history — LCV sent a letter to members of Congress stating that its connected political committee, LCV Action Fund, will only consider endorsements for members of Congress in the 2022 election cycle (or their next election) who support the necessary provisions and a final reconciliation package that enable the U.S. to cut its carbon pollution in half by 2030. This speaks to the once in a generation opportunity before Congress right now for historic progress on climate, clean energy, justice, and jobs. Our communities are seeing the impacts of climate change first hand with deadly extreme weather across the country and devastating wildfires and smoke in the west — Congress cannot wait to address our nation’s crumbling infrastructure while tackling the climate crisis head on. Read the full letter HERE.

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “As our nation is rocked by devastating storms, floods, heat, fires, and droughts, long-standing environmental and racial injustice, and economic inequality, you have a once in a generation opportunity to act on climate at the scale that science and justice require by passing the Build Back Better Act in the coming weeks…Given the severity of the climate crisis and the urgency of addressing it, it is imperative that Congress pass a Build Back Better Act that includes the policies and investments that enable the United States to cut its carbon pollution in half by 2030.”

BUILD BACK BETTER MARKUP IN HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE: This week, the House Natural Resources Committee completed their markup of their portion of the Build Back Better Act. The process of developing the Build Back Better Act has kicked off with robust investments that will strengthen our economy and create jobs by leveraging our public lands and waters as assets in the climate fight and making access to nature more equitable. It’s past time to make polluters pay their fair share and to invest in clean energy and our public lands to address the climate crisis. Hurricane Ida’s devastation, resulting in over a million people without power, and deaths throughout the nation is a somber reminder that we cannot wait to take action on the climate crisis — especially for those most vulnerable to extreme weather events. 

OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel stated, “As communities across the country are traumatized by the horrifying impacts of climate-fueled extreme weather, it has never been more critical that Congress pass a historic investment in climate, clean energy, justice, and jobs at the scale that science demands. We’re thrilled that Chair Grijalva and committee Democrats are advancing their portion of the Build Back Better Act by making robust investments that will strengthen our economy and create jobs by leveraging our public lands and waters into assets in the climate fight and making access to nature more equitable. These crucial investments will restore our public lands and coasts, encourage clean energy, prohibit big polluters from plundering our public lands and waters, and make sure oil, gas and mining companies pay their fair share. We urge Congress to retain these and other essential investments in the House Natural Resources Committee’s bill as the Build Back Better Act is assembled and finalized.”

BBB MARKUP IN HOUSE ENERGY & COMMERCE COMMITTEE: Last night, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released the text for its portion of the Build Back Better Act including historic investments in clean energy, vehicles, buildings, manufacturing, and appliances, good paying jobs, and racial and environmental justice. Many of LCV’s priorities that will help us meet the moment science and justice requires to cut pollution in half by 2030 are included in the text.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis said,“With climate-fueled extreme weather causing devastation across the country and unhealthy drinking water and toxic waste sites threatening the health of communities of color and low wealth, there has never been a more important time to act on climate and address environmental injustice. The leadership and members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are tackling these dual crises head on by making historic investments in clean energy, vehicles, buildings, manufacturing, and appliances, creating good-paying jobs, and addressing racial and environmental injustice. This suite of investments are crucial to ensuring that the Build Back Better Act meets the “Climate Test” and we will work with champions in Congress to ensure these investments make it across the finish line.”

PATH TO CITIZENSHIP IN RECONCILIATION AND EXTENDING PROTECTIONS FOR TPS HOLDERS: On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up their text of the Build Back Better Act, which Democrats have said will include a path to legal residency for a number of immigrants across the nation, including Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status holders, and long-term agricultural workers. This would be a major step towards citizenship for millions of immigrants who have already lived here for decades, working and investing in our nation’s economies in some of the most low-paying and dangerous jobs critical to our nation’s food chains and manufacturing, in addition to a range of other industries. In the meantime, the Biden-Harris administration extended Temporary Protected Status to immigrants here from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti, Nepal and Sudan, countries most of which have suffered climate change-fueled disasters driving immigration to the U.S.

NEW ENDORSEMENT ALERT!: This week, LCV Action Fund, which works to elect pro-environment candidates, announced the endorsement of two congressional candidates in the upcoming Ohio special elections: Allison Russo (OH-15) and Shontel Brown (OH-11). Ohio is experiencing the impacts of the climate with significantly hotter temperatures and flash flooding. The science is clear — our planet cannot wait for climate action, and we need strong environmental champions who will prioritize people over polluters and help put us on the path to cut half of our nation’s carbon pollution by 2030. 

CANDIDATE RUSSO TAKE: Current Ohio State Representative Allison Russo stated, “It is critical that we protect Ohioans’ water, land, and air. I am proud to have earned the endorsement of LCV Action Fund, who are on the frontlines of ensuring we have a safe and clean environment–now and in the future for our kids and grandkids. This special election is a chance for voters in Ohio’s 15th Congressional District to elect someone on their side. In Congress, I will fight for policies to create good-paying jobs for Ohioans in our clean energy economy and ensure corporations don’t pollute the land and water we all rely on.”

CANDIDATE BROWN TAKE: Current Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown stated, “I am honored to receive the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund’s endorsement for Congress.  Americans deserve leaders in Washington who will put people and the environment before politics. We must hold corporate polluters accountable when they lead to higher illness rates, hospitalizations, and deaths. In Congress, I will work with LCV and others to deliver environmental justice and a clean energy future for Northeast Ohio.”

OUR TAKE: LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “Ohioans are already experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis from dangerous heat waves to flooding. We are thrilled to support proven champions Shontel Brown and Allison Russo for Congress. The stakes have never been higher and we know these leaders will listen to the science, prioritize the health and well-being of communities over polluter profits, and deliver on transformational climate, clean energy, jobs and justice legislation for all communities.”

NEW AD ALERT!: As climate-fueled storms, floods, fires, and droughts pummel the United States, House committees are finalizing the details of the Build Back Better Act while other members of Congress meet with constituents back home. LCV and Climate Power are unleashing $6 million in new ads thanking lawmakers who support climate action because, as one ad says, “our window to act is closing, and once it does, it may never open again.” Watch sample state TV ad: “For Our Families” (Sen. Cortez Masto – running statewide in NV) and sample state digital ad: “Build Back Better or Bust” (Rep. Underwood – running in IL-14).

OUR TAKE: LCV SVP of Campaigns Pete Maysmith stated, “Communities in every corner of the country are suffering from the devastating impacts of the climate crisis and Congress has the opportunity right now with the Build Back Better Act to course correct and put us on the path to a cleaner, safer, healthier future. It is imperative that the Build Back Better Act passes in the next few weeks and puts the nation firmly on track to cut carbon emissions 50 percent by 2030 — the goal that President Biden set and science and justice require.”

CLIMATE POWER TAKE: Climate Power Executive Director Lori Lodes stated, “As President Biden said this week, this is a ‘code red’ moment for our planet. Congress is on the verge of making history by passing a Build Back Better Act with climate investments that will create good-paying jobs, reduce costs for families, and slash pollution to create a more equitable future. It’s time Congress finishes the job so America can get to work building our clean energy economy.”

🏈FROM THE FIELD🏈: This week, LCV’s organizers on the ground hit another major milestone, knocking on over 170,000 doors, making over 260,000 calls, and mobilizing nearly 6,000 businesses to support climate action and clean energy jobs across 11 states! 💪 See our video highlighting 150k doors knocked HERE, and our first half of August recap HERE.

RESTORING PROTECTIONS TO THE BRISTOL BAY PEBBLE MINE: On Thursday, the EPA announced that the agency will restore protections for Alaska’s Bristol Bay and block construction of the Pebble Mine — which is devastating to the local ecology, water systems, and salmon populations. This announcement is a significant step towards protecting Bristol Bay for the people and wildlife who depend on it, especially for the Indigenous communities who have been fighting for these critical protections for decades.

UNITED TRIBES OF BRISTOL BAY TAKE: Executive Director of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay Alannah Hurley stated, “Those protections are something that our tribes have been fighting for for literally almost two decades now. [We felt we were] screaming underwater, with nobody hearing us. When the average person hears about putting a mega-mine in the spawning grounds and headwaters of the world’s last great sockeye salmon fishery, it doesn’t add up economically or ethically.”

OUR TAKE: Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote stated, “This is a massive victory for Alaska communities, including over 30 Alaska Native communities, whose way of life for generations has depended on the Bristol Bay watershed. The waters of Bristol Bay contain the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery and most prolific king salmon run in the world. Today’s move is a step towards long overdue protections for Bristol Bay’s robust and sustainable economy and everyone, including the wildlife, that depend on this critical ecosystem. We look forward to the disastrous Pebble Mine being stopped once and for all.”

RESTORE NATIONAL MONUMENT PROTECTIONS NOW: This week, LCV joined a coalition of nearly sixty national, regional, and local conservation groups in sending a letter to President Biden urging him to fulfill his promise to restore of national monument protections to Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monuments. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland completed a review and provided recommendations to address the previous administration’s rollbacks of critical protections for national monuments over two months ago — it’s past time for the Biden administration to fully restore protections to these sacred national landmarks against toxic uranium mining and oil and gas leasing on public lands. Read the letter HERE.

COALITION TAKE: The letter from a coalition of nearly 60 national, regional, and local conservation organizations stated, “Every day that passes, the threat of irreversible damage to these special places increases. For Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in particular, the threats from oil and gas leasing and toxic uranium mining have been heightened in recent days with troubling steps that your own Administration has taken to both incentivize uranium mining and resume oil and gas leasing on public lands…The decisions to consider subsidizing toxic uranium mining and production and resume oil and gas leasing on public lands, particularly absent needed reforms, are both problematic on their own and underscore the need to immediately follow through on your promise to restore protections to these national monuments.”

ADVANCING SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL: This week, the Biden administration announced steps to advance the development and use of sustainable aviation fuels, which will help the aviation industry decrease their emissions by 20% by 2030. U.S. airlines are supportive of this move, pledging to work to meet these commitments. We must address the climate crisis from every avenue possible — the latest climate report from the IPCC makes it clear that we must curb emissions to combat climate change.

CAPITOL RALLY FOR CLIMATE ACTION: Next Monday at 5:45 p.m., LCV, Climate Power, and Climate Action Campaign will hold a rally outside the U.S. Capitol with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and congressional Democrats to highlight the urgent need to pass the Build Back Better Act with ambitious investments in America’s clean energy future. After a summer of extreme weather events that have impacted the majority of people in this country, President Biden toured New Jersey and New York communities devastated by Hurricane Ida and declared the climate crisis is now “code red.” His remarks reinforced the critical need to tackle the climate crisis by passing the Build Back Better Act which will create millions of jobs, slash pollution, deliver environmental justice, and reduce costs for families. RSVP with LCV Press Secretary Emily Samsel, esamsel@lcv.org.

FINISH THE JOB: FOR THE PEOPLE RALLY PREVIEW: Next Tuesday at 12 p.m., as senators return to DC, civil rights activists and organizations will join together near the Senate office buildings for a “Finish the Job: For the People” Rally to call on the Senate to fulfil Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s commitment to make the For the People Act the first legislative priority upon their return. Speakers will include U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley, Amy Klobuchar, Chris Van Hollen, and Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Representatives John Sarbanes, Texas state Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, Martin Luther King III, Arndrea King, Reverend Al Sharpton, and President of American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten. This year, at least 18 states have enacted 30 laws that implement barriers for voters, particularly Black voters and voters of color, who voted in record numbers in key battleground states last election — the Senate must act to protect access to the ballot box for voters in all communities. RSVP here!

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

CLIMATE & EQUITABLE JOBS ACT IN IL: On Thursday night, the Illinois House passed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act after years of advocacy. The legislation was originally put forward in the early spring, but last minute requests derailed its passing and led to long negotiations to develop this final version. The House vote is a major step towards passing this ambitious and nation-leading legislation, which would commit Illinois to carbon-free power by 2045 and includes important equity and economic justice provisions.

IEC TAKE: Illinois Environmental Council Executive Director Jen Walling stated, “We are closer than ever before to passing the nation’s most comprehensive, equitable climate bill. The passage of SB2408 today in the House of Representatives was an enormous victory that was only possible because environmental champion state representatives stood strong and sided with their constituents over the polluting fossil fuel interests who have called the shots in Springfield for too long…The climate won’t wait. Let’s get this done!”

TRUCK RULE IN NY: On Wednesday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation requiring that all new passenger trucks and cars sold in New York be zero emissions by 2035. Hochul also announced a directive for the Department of Environmental Conservation to propose a new regulation that would significantly reduce toxic emissions from trucks and accelerate zero-emission truck sales.

GOV. HOCHUL TAKE: New York Governor Kathy Hochul stated, “New York is implementing the nation’s most aggressive plan to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions affecting our climate and to reach our ambitious goals, we must reduce emissions from the transportation sector, currently the largest source of the state’s climate pollution. The new law and regulation mark a critical milestone in our efforts and will further advance the transition to clean electric vehicles, while helping to reduce emissions in communities that have been overburdened by pollution from cars and trucks for decades.” 

STUDENTS RALLY AGAINST COAL IN NC: Today, students at UNC Chapel Hill gathered in-person and virtually with No Coal UNC and climate advocates to rally against coal and to urge the school administration to end the use of coal on campus. UNC Chapel Hill currently operates its own coal plant despite promising to divest from coal in 2010.

📢VOICES AROUND THE NATION📢: This week, across the country, environmental advocates, community members and elected officials wrote opinion pieces weighing in on how the Build Back Better Act can help fight environmental injustice, mitigate increasingly extreme weather, and address impacts of the climate crisis on communities.

IN GEORGIA: Georgia Conservation Voters Executive Director Brionté McCorkle and Partnership for Southern Equity Just Energy Manager Alicia Scott wrote an opinion piece, “Congress’s infrastructure plan should give Black Georgians hope” about the opportunities for community restoration in the Build Back Better Act. McCorkle and Scott detail examples of clear environmental racism in Georgia and argue that the investments included in the bill provide an important chance to repair some of the damage by making necessary improvements to infrastructure, saving communities money and protecting their health and the environment. 

IN NEW YORK: New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe and Climate Jobs NY Executive Director Jeff Vockrodt wrote an opinion piece highlighting the urgency of the climate crisis for New Yorkers, who just last week saw the devastating impacts from Hurricane Ida on the city’s infrastructure — flooding transportation systems, leaving thousands without power, and trapping people in basements. New Yorkers can no longer wait for the critical investments needed for clean energy infrastructure and climate mitigation.

IN PENNSYLVANIA: In the wake of recent severe flooding and the shutdown of a section of a Pennsylvania parkway known as “the bathtub,” state Representative Emily Kinkead and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania Interim Executive Director Molly Parzen wrote an opinion piece on the critical need for infrastructure and improvements for increasingly excessive stormwater.

🎨ART ACTIVATIONS: Across the country, communities are joining with local artists to demand climate action, justice and clean energy jobs at the scale that science requires. With the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report declaring  a “code red for humanity” and the opportunity provided by the Build Back Better Act, this is our now or never moment. 

IN MARYLAND: Maryland LCV hosted a press conference and art reveal with local artist Michael Kirby in front of the National Aquarium. 

IN MINNESOTA: Last weekend, Minnesota Conservation Voters sent a message to “Build Back Butter” by unveiling a sculpture of the earth made of vegan butter near the Minnesota State Fair, which famously features butter sculptures. The display sought to call attention to the extreme temperatures we’re seeing across the globe as a call for climate action. There is no denying that the climate crisis is here, and there’s no butter visual representation than a melting planet.

IN NEW YORK: Just days after Hurricane Ida devastated the north east, NY LCV worked with local artist Kara Hoblin to create a chalk art installation in front of the Brooklyn Public Library, urging leaders to strengthen New York’s infrastructure and tackle the climate crisis head on. 

POWER UP FOR RECESS!: This week, we continued LCV and Climate Power’s Climate Action Now: Great American Build nationwide August recess tour. In coordination with LCV’s state affiliates and partners, we held events and town halls in key states and Congressional Districts, demanding that Congress tackle the climate crisis and invest in a dual-track package for clean energy, justice, and jobs. See our mid-recess recap HERE.

IN MAINE: Maine Conservation Voters partnered with the Climate Action Campaign to host a press event with legislators, educators, and climate and public health advocates to support the Build Back Better Act. Speakers cited extreme weather and the health of Maine’s coastal waters — which are warming at one of the fastest rates in the ocean — as critical indications of the climate crisis and urgent calls to action.

MCDONALD TAKE: State Representative Genevieve McDonald stated, “It’s an opportunity right now for the federal government to really give states an infusion of resources that they need. We can’t continue work on this piecemeal, as one of my colleagues said and greenhouse gases are not familiar with state borders and neither are lobsters. So, we really need this infusion for the federal government to partner up with us and help support the work that individual states are doing.”

IN NEW JERSEY: New Jersey LCV hosted a digital town hall with Representative Tom Malinowski, who discussed working with environmental and civil rights advocates to pass the Build Back Better Act and invest $3.5 trillion in creating millions of well-paying union jobs focused on clean energy, electric vehicles, water quality, and remediation of contaminated industrial sites.

IN WISCONSIN:  Last week, Wisconsin LCV hosted a press event with Representative Gwen Moore, Walnut Way — a local clean energy and lead abatement job training program — and Blue Green Alliance, focused on clean energy jobs in the state. Moore spoke of her own personal experiences and asserted that climate change is one of the biggest threats to humankind.

MOORE TAKE: Representative Moore tweeted, “We don’t have time to waste. It’s on us to be good stewards of Mother Earth and fight the climate crisis now. That means crafting bold policies that are centered on equity and meet the moment. Thank you to @WIConservation for having me speak on this urgent issue.”

COMING UP:

SEPT 13: Finish the Job: For the People Rally
SEPT 14: Capitol Rally for Climate Action Now
SEPT 15- OCT 15: Latina Heritage Month
SEPT 25 – OCT 3: National Drive Electric Week
SEPTEMBER 28: National Voter Registration Day
SEPTEMBER 30: Government funding expires

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