THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – SEPTEMBER 17, 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 the idea that disabled lives are unimportant and disabled lives are invisible. It doesn’t matter if where we live makes us even more unhealthy.”

— Daphne Frias, a Latina activist and organizer for youth with disabilities in a GreenBiz article, “Why environmental justice research needs to include disability.”

“If our environmental movement, and our clean energy sector are not diverse, we risk the strength, durability, and effectiveness of the movement. We need everyone’s valuable perspective and talents because there’s no moving forward if we leave anyone behind.”

— U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández, speaking during the “Indigenous Leaders on Justice and Transforming the Environmental Movement” event this week.

“We should be expanding voting rights. We travel the world talking about democracy but here at home we are suppressing it.”

— Martin Luther King III, speaking at the Finish the Job: For the People Rally, calling on the Senate to protect our Freedom to Vote.

“I am so excited we have this once-in-a-generation opportunity with the American Rescue Plan dollars the city has received, with the efforts the Senate and the House are doing around Build Back Better. We will be able to make investments in climate resilience.”

— Boise Mayor Lauren McLean, speaking on her recent meeting with President Biden during his trip to Idaho to discuss wildfires in the state and actions Boise is taking to combat climate change.

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

C-SPAN: Heather Reams and Sara Chieffo on Climate Change and Democrats’ Spending Bills
National Journal: Wednesday Q+A with Tiernan Sittenfeld
Politico: ‘We will have a really long, long memory’: Greens calling businesses’ bluff on climate change
Politico: Schumer vows Dems will deliver aggressive climate provisions
E&E News: Climate, energy groups spending $33M to boost reconciliation plan
Houston Chronicle: With Democrats and oil companies joining forces, has carbon capture’s moment arrived?
Yahoo News: Student coalition blasts Chamber of Commerce over climate change, opposition to Biden’s budget bill
NPR: Congress Is Debating Its Biggest Climate Change Bill Ever. Here’s What’s At Stake
Politico: Biden’s fork in the Alaskan road
E&E News: Reconciliation bill would slash emissions. But by how much?

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:

Miami Herald (FL): Last time, Florida lawmakers didn’t play fair in redistricting. Can they do better now? | Opinion
12News (AZ): As Biden administration pushes for more solar, SRP votes to expand gas plant
Syracuse (NY): Hochul signs bill mandating zero-emission cars by 2035
Idaho Statesman (ID): ‘Serious global warming problem’: President Biden visits Boise as wildfires ravage West
Morristown Green (NJ): Morristown church launches climate ministry with butterflies and chalk
Governing (NJ): Biden’s Infrastructure Bill Is a Boon for Labor Unions
RealVail (CO): In Colorado, Biden pitches infrastructure spending to combat climate change
NJ Spotlight News (NJ): Will Ida’s death count be a warning?
The Detroit News (MI): State wants to end mediation with Enbridge over future of Line 5

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LATINX HERITAGE MONTH: This week, Chispa kicked off Latinx Heritage Month by launching their website. Additionally, Chispa National Communications & Creative Strategies Director Pita Juarez spoke at an event with Chispa Maryland, Sierra Club, and Eco Moms to celebrate Latinx leaders and discuss how environmental injustices disproportionately impact Latinx communities. Chispa will also feature Chispa state affiliates in a weekly series throughout the month, see the calendar HERE and stay tuned with updates on Chispa’s Twitter page.

FREEDOM TO VOTE FOR THE PEOPLE: On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senators Raphael Warnock, Amy Klobuchar, and Joe Manchin introduced the Freedom to Vote Act, which will hold up major pillars of the For the People Act. Our nation cannot wait to pass legislation to protect voting rights for ALL voters. Just 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 swiftly to pass this critical legislation to protect access to the ballot box for voters in all communities. Watch the livestream from the Finish The Job: For the People rally, where advocates and elected officials discuss the newly released Freedom to Vote Act HERE.

CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER TAKE: Frank Smith, an organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s wrote in an opinion piece, “Activists throughout the country have done their jobs. We showed up for our most sacred right: to vote. Now, it’s up to the Democratic Congress we elected to do the rest. Eliminating the filibuster is the only way to get this done.”

OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President of Civic Engagement Matt Davis stated, “The Freedom to Vote Act is a critical step forward to ensuring free and fair elections in the United States following months of delay and obstruction by Republican Senators utilizing the archaic filibuster rule. The communities targeted by voter suppression — people of color, young people, those who have a disability, and indigenous people — also face the burden of environmental harms that threaten our air, water, and climate. The Senate must prioritize protecting our democracy by swiftly taking up and passing the Freedom to Vote Act and returning power to the overwhelming majority of people in this country who want to see meaningful action on climate and clean energy.”

TALKING BUILD BACK BETTER WITH MEMBERS + SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: On Monday, LCV, Climate Power, and Climate Action Campaign hosted a rally for climate action in front of the Capitol where the sky was hazy from wildfires in the West. Speakers included Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senators Ben Ray Luján, Tim Kaine, Tina Smith, Martin Heinrich, Tammy Baldwin, Sheldon Whitehouse and Representatives Peter DeFazio and Sean Casten, and was moderated by LCV’s Tiernan Sittenfeld. The speakers highlighted the urgent need to pass the Build Back Better Act with ambitious investments in America’s clean energy future. Their message was clear: Congress must invest in climate, clean energy, justice, and jobs at the scale that science demands before it’s too late. Watch the full event HERE.

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER TAKE: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated, “We can’t let this moment pass by. It’s our time to act.”

MARK-UP WRAP-UP: With the House committees’ successful conclusion of mark-ups for the Build Back Better Act on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Wednesday deadline, and ahead of the expected House Budget Committee final mark-up, LCV created a wrapped up this step in the process highlighting the advancement of our priorities from each committee. The impacts of the climate crisis make it clear — our communities need Congress to pass the Climate Test and make the transformational investments for our nation to Build Back Better — now is the time and failure is not an option.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “We applaud Democratic committee chairs, members, and leadership for prioritizing the transformational legislation we need for climate, clean energy, justice, and jobs during the committee mark-up process. We are thrilled to see so many climate, conservation, and environmental justice provisions included that are critical to  cutting climate pollution in half by 2030. We urge Congress to pass the Climate Test and swiftly finalize, pass, and send the Build Back Better Act to President Biden,  which will create a more clean, just, and equitable future for all. Communities across the country are experiencing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, and this is our once in a generation opportunity to address it in a way that also addresses racial and economic inequity in this country and rewards work not wealth. Failure is not an option.”

TALKING BUILD BACK BETTER WITH LCV SVP: On Wednesday, the National Journal released their interview with LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld, where she discussed LCV and Climate Power’s $20 million climate action campaign in key states across the nation.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “The needs are so great but so are the opportunities to rebuild our economy in a way that is more fair and more equitable and more just and that works for regular people across this country, rather than catering to big corporations and especially to corporate polluters…For us, this package really needs to meet the climate test that we and many other organizations have laid out, which is putting our nation firmly on the path to cutting climate pollution in half by 2030. And we have to transition to a 100 percent clean energy economy once and for all.”

NEW AD ALERT!: LCV released new six-figure digital ads this week in the home states and districts of key Senate and House committee chairs who are instrumental to ensuring the investments in the Build Back Better Act meet the Climate Test, advance innovation in the clean energy sector and put the U.S. on track to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 — the goal that President Biden set and science and justice require. Watch sample digital ad: “Innovation” (House Rules Committee Chairman Representative Jim McGovern — MA-02).

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis stated, “Past successes tell us that investing in new clean energy technologies is one of the best things we can do to create good jobs for regular people right now while reaping long-term benefits and a healthier planet for decades to come. We are grateful to these Senate and House committee chairs for doing the critically important work of drafting and advancing federal climate and clean technology investments in the Build Back Better Act so that we can use the power of American ingenuity to create the clean technology jobs of today and tomorrow.”

PATH TO CITIZENSHIP IN RECONCILIATION AND EXTENDING PROTECTIONS FOR TPS HOLDERS: On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee favorably passed language in their markup of their Build Back Better Act provisions that would provide a pathway to permanent residency for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status holders, farmworkers and essential workers. A new report from the Center for American Progress estimates, state-by-state, the immigrants who would qualify for an earned path to citizenship under the Build Back Better Act, a major step 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. The Center for American Progress and the University of California, Davis’ Global Migration Center have previously estimated that providing citizenship to these groups would add $1.5 trillion to U.S. GDP, create 400,000 new jobs, and raise the annual wages of all Americans by an average $600 over the next decade.

NEW REPORT! PLASTICS DRIVE CLIMATE CHANGE: This week, GreenPeace released a new report, “The Climate Emergency Unpacked: How Consumer Goods Companies are Fueling Big Oil’s Plastic Expansion,” which highlights how major global companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé are driving Big Oil’s expansion of plastic production, threatening climate and communities across the planet. We can’t wait to act on plastics — environmental champion Senator Sheldon Whitehouse introduced a bill last month to set a $0.20 per pound fee on virgin plastics to help reduce the climate impacts and devastating environmental contamination and harm from plastics and make recycled plastics more price-competitive.

WHITEHOUSE TAKE: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse stated, “Plastic pollution chokes our oceans, hastens climate change, and threatens people’s well-being. On its own, the plastics industry has done far too little to address the damage its products cause, so this bill gives the market a stronger incentive toward less plastic waste and more recycled plastic.”

🏈FROM THE FIELD🏈: LCV’s organizers on the ground continue to knock on doors and build support for climate action across the country.  doors! So far this recess, our field team has knocked on over 193,000 doors, made over 310,000 calls, and mobilized over 7,000 businesses to support climate action and clean energy jobs across 11 states! 💪 See our video highlighting 150k doors knocked HERE, and our mid-recess re-cap HERE.

CLIMATE ACTION SPOTLIGHT: LCV Youth Digital Organizer Aida Amirul wrote a blog series highlighting LCV Climate Action volunteers who are helping lead the next generation to take action — read about Maddy, an all-star youth activist with LCV who finds passion at the intersection of public health and climate justice for Climate Action New Hampshire.

OPEN LETTER TO CEOS: Yesterday, LCV, in addition to over 30 environmental advocacy, faith, and environmental justice organizations, released an open letter to CEOs of businesses who have signed onto “Still in” pledges and publicly announced commitments for climate action. The letter calls on these CEOs to distance themselves from efforts to sabotage and gut the critical climate investments in the Build Back Better Act — this country’s once in a generation opportunity to pass the Climate Test and make the transformational investments needed to tackle the climate crisis and environmental injustices while creating clean energy jobs for a clean energy future.

COALITION TAKE: The coalition of environmental advocacy and environmental justice organizations, including LCV, wrote, “Shoulder to shoulder with other local and institutional leaders, you signed a pledge to ‘support these policies at the national and local level, and place climate considerations at the core of our own institutions: how we do business, how we invest, how we govern, how we educate, how we serve.’ Now, we are writing to you at a defining moment for our country and the planet. We have a question for you, and you have a choice to make: Are you still in?“

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

CLIMATE & EQUITABLE JOBS ACT PASSES IN ILLINOIS: On Wednesday, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act into law, 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 the final version. This ambitious and nation-leading legislation will 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 said, “This is a story about the power of people and the environmental movement in Illinois standing up to big fossil fuel and utility companies–and winning. The passage of this bill is proof that years of education, advocacy and movement building have secured a strong climate action majority in the Illinois General Assembly. 

VICTORY IN CALIFORNIA: California Governor Gavin Newsom remains in office after Tuesday’s failed recall election. Californians responded strongly in favor of Newsom, sending a strong message to state Republicans who were behind the recall effort. 

CLCV TAKE: CLCV CEO Mary Creasman stated, “This is a victory for California, our values, and our future, and we are grateful that the progressive community came together to defeat the Republican recall. It is an incredible relief that California’s environmental policies and climate actions are safe for the time being, but this recall has been a distraction that has only taken resources and attention away from solving the climate crisis. California is still suffering through escalating wildfires, historic drought, extreme heat, and more. None of that has gone away, and our state is still in a climate emergency. Voters across the state and party lines want their leaders to prioritize the climate crisis, and this sentiment was further echoed by the clear rejection of this recall. Now it’s time to get to work; our state is still in crisis.”

BOISE GOES BOLD ON CLEAN ENERGY: Mayor Laren McLean announced Thursday that Boise will achieve it’s 100% clean energy goal by 2023 — seven years ahead of schedule. In 2019 the city adopted a plan to transition entirely to clean energy by 2030.

CVI TAKE: Conservation Voters for Idaho Program Coordinator Ryan McGoldrick said, “The City’s announcement that they will achieve their 100% clean electricity goal seven years earlier than their original commitment date demonstrates how workable clean energy is for Idaho communities. Three out of four Idahoans are now living in communities that benefit from city, county, or utility clean energy commitments.”

📢VOICES AROUND THE NATION📢: Over the past several weeks, community members and environmental advocates across the country 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 FLORIDA: This week, Florida Conservation Voters Civic Engagement Director Jalisa Giles wrote an opinion piece for the Miami Herald about the redistricting process in Florida. She emphasizes the importance of a fair redistricting process that keeps communities with shared culture and values in the same districts so that their policy desires and needs — especially in regards to climate action — are represented by their legislators. 

FCV TAKE: With Republicans in charge of the redistricting process, they have an opportunity to split communities up for their own electoral gain. Florida Conservation Voters Civic Engagement Director Jalisa Giles hopes this is not the case and writes, Our state legislators should comply with the Fair Districts provisions in our state constitution, which were approved by 63% of Florida voters. These laws prohibit the Legislature from drawing districts to favor themselves or their parties. The amendments also ensure that lawmakers cannot draw districts to diminish the rights of minority voters.”

IN IDAHO: This week, Rialin Flores, the Executive Director of Conservation Voters for Idaho, wrote an opinion piece for the Idaho Statesman about the devastating effects climate change is having on Western cities. The increase in droughts, wildfires, and diminishing air quality make it clear — immediate climate action is needed.

CVI TAKE: Despite the ongoing crisis, Conservation Voters for Idaho Executive Director Rialin Flores says there is a lot to be optimistic about when it comes to climate policy. “Local leaders across the West are already advancing policy solutions for a clean energy future — creating bold climate action policies, investing in clean energy infrastructure, and ensuring no communities get left behind.” She goes on to say we must urge Congress to also take bold action, starting with passing the Build Back Better Act.

IN MAINE: Citizens’ Climate Lobby Portland Chapter’s Volunteer Co-chair Peter Dugas and Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University Michael E. Mann teamed up to write an opinion piece in the Portland Press Herald. Their piece looks at possible solutions to decrease carbon emissions and calls on Maine’s U.S. senators to take action. They discuss one of these possible solutions, carbon pricing, from a global perspective. “The U.S. is one of only two industrialized nations without carbon pricing (and Australia, which had it, is much further along). The pressure to join the carbon pricing world will only increase as businesses look to remain competitive in an increasingly carbon-priced world. Starting in 2023, the EU, the U.K. and perhaps Canada will impose border carbon tariffs on imports from countries without carbon pricing.”

🎨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 MONTANA: Montana Conservation Voters teamed up with local artist Terri Porta at three local businesses in Montana this week. Additionally, they held a press conference with Helena Mayor Wilmont Collins, highlighting the impacts of climate change in Montana, ranging from devastating wildfires and smoke, to extreme heat and drought, in addition to Yellowstone National Park’s significant snowfall decline in recent decades.

IN NEW JERSEY: Local chalk artist Anthony Cappetto worked with New Jersey League of Conservation Voters to create chalk art installations highlighting the urgent need for climate action in New Jersey, as we most recently saw with the devastation of Hurricane Ida resulting in tornados, flash flooding, and widespread power outages in New Jersey. 

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 wrap-up HERE.

IN GEORGIA: Georgia Conservation Voters hosted a round table with solar industry members across 11 different companies and Representative Carolyn Bourdeaux. Participants discussed opportunities to support and boost the solar industry at both the federal and local level to put our country on the path to clean energy and Building Back Better.

IN ILLINOIS: Illinois Environmental Council hosted a digital town hall with Representative Lauren Underwood, focused on the bold investments necessary to build a clean energy future with clean energy jobs while taking action on the climate crisis and environmental injustices in our most impacted communities.

UNDERWOOD TAKE: Representative Underwood stated, “The most important thing we can do right now to create good clean energy jobs is to pass these bills.”

IN MICHIGAN: Michigan LCV hosted a press event with SEIU, Michigan United, and Detroit Action to highlight new Data for Progress poll results in Michigan. Speakers included Representatives Dan Kildee, Debbie Dingell, and Brenda Lawrence, in addition to Climate Power National Political Director Donavan McKinney and Michigan’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice.

IN MICHIGAN AGAIN: Michigan LCV joined a digital panel with labor partners and Representative Andy Levin on the intersection between labor and the environment.  

LEVIN TAKE: Representative Andy Levin tweeted, “When we say clean energy, we really do mean clean. No gas. No oil. No coal. But that also means supporting our workers and communities who have relied on these industries for centuries.”

IN NEVADA: Nevada Conservation League and CAC hosted a press conference with Representative Dina Titus, Nevada Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, and Nevada Assemblyman Howard Watts, calling on Congress to address the increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events plaguing Nevada by supporting the ambitious climate and clean energy investments included in the Build Back Better Act

TITUS TAKE: Representative Titus stated, “I’m fighting in Washington for the Build Back Better Act to meet the urgency of this moment. I am hopeful that all of my colleagues in Congress will join me in fighting for a budget that both protects Nevada’s future growth and lays the foundation for new clean energy jobs in Las Vegas.”

IN OREGON: Oregon LCV hosted a Youth Town Hall with Senator Ron Wyden this week, with over 90 youth participating. Wyden discussed some of the impacts the state and the nation are seeing, making it clear that “climate change is a wrecking ball.”

COMING UP:

SEPT 15- OCT 15: Latina Heritage Month
SEPTEMBER 19: Anniversary of Hurricane Maria
SEPT 25 – OCT 3: National Drive Electric Week
SEPTEMBER 25: Public Lands Day
SEPTEMBER 28: National Voter Registration Day
SEPTEMBER 30: Government funding expires

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