THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – OCTOBER 2, 2020

THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – OCTOBER 2, 2020

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:

“I’m tired of fighting for the same rights and privileges that a lot of affluent neighborhoods enjoy without a second thought.”

— Illinois Environmental Council’s Tonyisha Harris in a new video about the Illinois Clean Jobs Act, a transformative clean energy policy that was created from the ground up by local activists and community members

“Yo soy ambientalista porque quiero un mejor futuro para mi familia y mi comunidad, el barrio donde vivimos no determina si vamos a tener problemas de salud por la contaminación, o más carreteras y fábricas. Porque queremos vivir en un ambiente sano ahora y en el futuro.”

— Chispa Maryland Promotora Maria Guardado in the newly launched Chispa Storybook, a collection of stories from the Chispa family

“Enough talk about ‘dog whistles.’ This was a bullhorn siren to white-supremacist terrorists, unleashing voter intimidation at the very least.”

— Rolling Stone’s Tessa Stuart, Ryan Bort and Jamil Smith responding to Trump’s call for the Proud Boys to stand by

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

Bloomberg: Barrett Stirs Sharp Reaction Ahead of Trump Court Announcement
CNN: Small-dollar donors gave more than $300 million after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death
The Guardian: Project remake America: could a Biden win usher in major democratic reforms?
Mic: How might Amy Coney Barrett rule on environmental issues?
The Hill: Green groups launch ‘Green Wave 2020’ initiative to boost competitive Democratic campaigns
Axios: Oil lobby launches swing-state ad push in final stretch to Election Day
E&E News: Greens join forces for presidential, congressional races 
Politico Pro: Green groups team up to back Democrats in late push

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:

Tampa Bay Times (FL): Legislators tell Florida utility regulators to “step up” on shutoffs moratorium
Maine Beacon (ME): First absentee ballots head to Maine voters
Missoula Current (MT): Letters: Endorsing Monica Tranel for Public Service Commission
VT Digger (VT): Vermont Conservation voters endorses TJ Donovan for attorney general
NBC 26 (WI): Wisconsin still needs poll workers ahead of November election

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CORONAVIRUS: We wish everyone infected with the coronavirus, which now includes the president and first lady, a speedy and full recovery. As this pandemic continues to upend lives across the country, each and every diagnosis — including the 46,459 people who also tested positive yesterday — means people are in harm’s way, a largely preventable fate that no one ought to face. This public health crisis — as well as other converging crises like climate change, racial injustice, and economic inequity — deserves a serious, comprehensive, and swift response. Our lives are worth fighting for.

HOUSE HEROES: Speaker Pelosi’s House continues to respond to the urgent crises our country faces, passing a $2.2 trillion updated COVID-19 relief package, while McConnell, after dithering for four months in the Senate, single-mindedly insists on forcing Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination through his chamber in a last-ditch political power grab before the elections. It’s way past time for the Senate to pass a COVID relief package, and the updated Heroes legislation is the current answer. Among much important support for communities across the country, it includes funding for public transit, the upcoming elections, the U.S. Postal Service, state and local governments, and would assist those who are facing utility shut offs and need help paying their water and heating bills.

ALARMING CROSSTALK: With Donald Trump’s incessant crosstalk and chilling validation of the white supremacist Proud Boys, he turned the first presidential debate into what Senator Mitt Romney called an “embarrassment” and Senator Murkowski called “awful.” It is, however, worth noting that, despite climate change not appearing in the original debate topics, Chris Wallace ultimately asked climate questions, which LCV had urged him to do.  Also of note, the climate portion of the debate was the most cordial of the night, and Emily Atkin’s theory on that is smart: “Trump didn’t interrupt because he didn’t know what to say…Climate is Trump’s biggest weakness. Tonight proved it.”         

OUR TAKE: In response to the debate, LCV Victory Fund Senior Vice President of Campaigns Pete Maysmith said, “Vice President Biden proved what we’ve known since the start of this race: He will listen to scientists and experts, act to protect the country from the threats we face, make the largest-ever investment to combat climate change, address environmental injustice, and create 10 million good-paying jobs — that’s the leadership our country needs. Trump tried to bully and lie his way out of his disastrous record on racial justice, climate change and democracy. He’s failed the country on coronavirus, just like he’s failing us on climate. The cost of his refusal to listen to experts and science is only surpassed by his refusal to condemn white supremacists. The end of Trump’s racist, disastrous presidency cannot come soon enough.”

CHISPA STORIES FOR LATINX HERITAGE MONTH: For this week of Latinx Heritage Month, Chispa celebrated cultura by sharing their newly released Chispa Storybook.  This collection of moving, important stories about what it means to be Latinx in the fight for environmental justice includes perspectives from all across the country. From Abigail Herrera, a college freshman in Nevada, to Nicole Morales, a DACAmented organizer in Arizona, to Maria Ibarra, a mother of twins in Colorado, each member of the Chispa family is ensuring that their community’s political power is seen, heard, and felt by decision makers across the nation.

OUR TAKE: In the storybook, Chispa Arizona Civic Engagement Director Nicole Morales says, “I’m fighting for a fair and representative democracy.  Although I’ve lived in Arizona my entire life as a DACAmented Latina, I can’t vote. Yet I’m still organizing my community to have the tools they need to make their voices heard in the voting booth and beyond.  Protecting our democracy is critical in the fight to protect our Madre Tierra.”

GREENWAVE🌊👋: LCV has joined forces with EDF Action, NRDC Action Fund, NWF Action Fund, and Sierra Club to launch Green Wave 2020. Through Green Wave we are mobilizing our members to help elect environmental champions to the White House and Congress. Together we have prioritized over 30 federal races in 15 states across the country. In coordination with campaigns, our organizers will provide remote phone- and text-banking opportunities for our members in an effort to reach hundreds of thousands of voters ahead of Election Day.

OUR TAKE: Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “As wildfires rage across the West and hurricanes slam into the Southeast fueled by climate change, it’s never been more important that we work together to elect leaders who will build back better for a cleaner and healthier future for all. We were already in the fight of our lives, and now with the devastating passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there is even more at stake. LCV and our members are proud to be a part of the Green Wave that is working to elect environmental champions who support just and equitable solutions to the climate crisis.”

LCV VICTORY FUND ROUNDUP: We are roughly a month away from an election that will mark an epoch in U.S. history. People are already voting — nearly one million have cast ballots so far. LCV Victory Fund and affiliated entities have committed to investing at least $100 million this cycle to defeat Trump and elect climate and environmental justice champions up and down the ballot because our rights to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live in safe and healthy communities are at risk. Check out LCV Victory Fund’s new weekly roundup to get a snapshot of what we are doing in states across the country.

FILTHY FREITAS: LCV Victory Fund and NRDC Action Votes launched a joint $750,000 television advertising campaign targeting Republican Nick Freitas for taking money from polluters and voting to allow chemicals linked to cancer in our drinking water. The joint outside spending campaign is one of the largest of its kind in a congressional race by environmental advocates, demonstrating the importance of Virginia’s seventh congressional district and the danger of electing Freitas. Watch the new ad here.

OUR TAKE: LCV Victory Fund National Campaigns Director Emily Crerand said, “For Nick Freitas, special interest money is more important than our health. Virginians deserve representatives in Congress who will stand up for them, not corporate polluters. We need to keep Abigail Spanberger in Congress, fighting for tough standards that reduce toxic chemicals in our drinking water.”

NRDC TAKE: NRDC Action Fund Votes Director Jossie Steinberg said, “Nick Freitas is blatantly lying about his record. The voters of Virginia want representatives who will stand up and protect our water from cancer-causing chemicals, but Nick Freitas is standing with his polluter pals. The choice in this election is clear, which is why we have made it a top priority.

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE FOR ALL: For more than a year, House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl Grijalva and Representative Donald McEachin researched, listened, and worked with the public to put together the Environmental Justice for All Act. The House Natural Resources Committee recently criss-crossed the nation on their environmental justice tour, listening to communities often left out of the policymaking conversation, and this week the committee hosted a historic hearing on the comprehensive environmental justice legislation. Dr. Mildred McClain testified, saying, “This bill was developed from the ground up, with impacted communities leading and driving the development of the legislation. To address environmental injustice, the process matters.”

OUR TAKE: LCV, Chispa, and Chispa Arizona sent a letter to Chairman Grijalva and Ranking Member Bishop that said, “For decades, environmental justice leaders have been fighting against environmental racism and for the basic rights of their communities to have healthy places to live, work, play, and pray.  Historically, national environmental groups and members of Congress have far too often overlooked the plight of and structural racism affecting these communities, and this bill marks an important turning point.”

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE PART DEUX: The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing to discuss improving equity and access to clean energy.  Representative Nanette Barragán weighed in, saying, “Whether it’s costs, pollution, or jobs, communities like mine know that burning fossil fuels isn’t working for communities of color.  Moving to a clean energy economy offers a chance to do better.”

PENDLEY PLUMMETS: Late last Friday, the U.S. Court for the District of Montana concluded that William Perry Pendley was illegally acting as the Bureau of Land Management’s director for over a year because he was never confirmed by the Senate. Earlier this year, the White House withdrew its formal nomination of Pendley for BLM director after advocates — including LCV, Montana Conservation Voters, and Conservation Colorado — raised deep concerns, especially over Pendley’s history of making racist, anti-Black, homophobic and transphobic comments. Pendley remained acting director of BLM until he was demoted by court order.

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

THE CLEAN ENERGY JOBS ACT (IL): LCV and Illinois Environmental Council (IEC), our state affiliate, shared a new Clean Energy for All video, highlighting the progress that is possible when climate solutions are built by and for communities. As part of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition — a robust coalition of organizations connected to hundreds of communities across the state — IEC helped orchestrate the Listen, Lead, Share campaign, which gathered input from every Senate District in the state. These listening sessions informed the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), a bold policy vision that puts racial and economic justice at the center of the state’s transformation to 100% clean energy. The Illinois legislature is expected to take up CEJA in a November or December veto session, so stay tuned for more. Watch the video here.

OHIO ENERGY SCANDAL STILL HAS NO TIMELINE (OH): Lawmakers left Wednesday’s hearing of the Ohio House Committee with no projected timeline of repealing or replacing the bailout legislation that passed last year in a process federal prosecutors called the ‘largest bribery, money-laundering scheme’ in state. Time is running out for legislators to make a decision on repealing the “worst energy bill in the country” before ratepayers see increased costs to bail out the state’s largest nuclear plant. It has now become a campaign liability for those who have supported HB6, with several legislative races in key districts making the bill and $60 million bribery scandal a top issue.

GOVERNOR POLIS DRAWS CLEAR PATH FOR CLIMATE ACTION (CO): Earlier this week Governor Jared Polis released his draft plan to drastically cut greenhouse gas pollution in Colorado calling for an accelerated move to electric vehicles and buses, deep reductions of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry and at least an 80% drop in emissions from electricity generation. Conservation Colorado called Governor Polis’ Roadmap release a “critical moment” for Colorado.

CVM TAKE: Conservation Colorado Executive Director Kelly Nordini said, “The governor ran and won on a platform of bold climate action. There are some good ideas here with real opportunities, but for Governor Polis’ climate roadmap to have his ‘boldly forward’ stamp, verifiable pollution cuts need to come together with specific and equitable policies and deadlines — as we’ve seen from other governors. The science and the urgency are clear on what it will take to leave a legacy for our children.”

NEW $500 MILLION WATER INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN (MI) Yesterday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a $500 million plan Thursday to upgrade drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in Michigan that includes funding for replacing lead service lines and removing chemical pollutants. The initiative, dubbed MI Clean Water, calls for creating a pot of money from which local governments could apply for grants or loans to improve their water treatment systems. This continues a campaign promise made by Gov. Whitmer to tackle the state’s highly publicized lead pipe and drinking water crisis.

COMING UP:

September 15 – October 15: Latinx Heritage Month
October 12: U.S. Indigenous Peoples’ Day
October 18: 48th anniversary of the Clean Water Act
November 3: Election Day
December 11: Government funding expires

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