THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – SEPTEMBER 25, 2020

Courtnee Connon, 727-744-4163, courtnee_connon@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:

“We need to talk about the perpetual trauma Black Americans are experiencing in this country right now on so many levels. I’ve never seen so many things collide at once, creating a collective sense of loss and detrimental impact.”

— AP National Race & Ethnicity Writer Kat Stafford via Twitter

“The Supreme Court makes decisions on issues that affect millions of Americans — including health care, the economy, our fight for racial justice, climate change, and more. The voters must choose a president, and that president should nominate Justice Ginsburg’s successor.”

— Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris via Twitter.

“As a little girl, I witnessed what happens when you do not have a peaceful transfer of power.  It leads to instability, violence, and sometimes war. For the first time, I fear that could happen in this country, and it’s gonna take all of us to prevent it.”

— U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar via Twitter

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

Telemundo: “Tienen que tomar mucha conciencia en el tema ambiental,” asegura una activista sobre los candidatos

The Hill: Top Latino groups release climate change focused ad campaign

The Nation: These Races Will Shape What the US Elections Mean for Climate Progress

PRX’s Living on Earth: Black and Latinx Voters Lean Green

Politico: Ginsburg left a long environmental legacy

Quad City Times: Campaign Almanac for Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Associated Press: Senator says Trump will stop offshore drilling off of North Carolina

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel: Climate activists’ support for Collins has faded with her loyalty to Trump

Summit Daily: Letter to the editor: Vote Hickenlooper to address climate change for future of Colorado

Oswego County News: Katko, Trump bad for environment

MLive: Trump casts self as Great Lakes champion, but his policies may do lasting damage

 

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 Guardian (CA): California governor orders ban on sale of gas-only cars within 15 years

Arizona Daily Star (AZ): Conservation group’s PAC will help 8 Democrats running for Arizona Legislature
Patch (MD): Latinx ‘Promotores’ Program Leads The Way For Environmental Action In Prince George’s County

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BREAKING NEWS TRUMP SCOTUS PICK: It was just reported that President Trump will nominate Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski has this to say, “Trump and McConnell have completely failed to protect our communities from the four ongoing crises: the pandemic, the climate crisis, systemic racism, and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The president and Senate should be laser focused on protecting our health, safety and economy — not on an unprecedented rush to install a biased idealogue on the Supreme Court.”

“On top of everything else, the Supreme Court should be the people’s court. With the election already underway across the country, it is unacceptable for the Senate to consider filling the vacancy until after the inauguration. Amy Coney Barrett on the Court would not represent the majority of voters who believe climate change is real and want to see action. Barrett has made clear her disdain for federal agencies, and the public protections they issue which puts our ability to tackle climate change directly in her crosshairs. And her positions on access to justice would make it even harder for communities of color to seek justice for repeated and targeted environmental harms.”

JUSTICE FAILED: Over and over again, we are reminded that institutions, policies, and systems in our country perpetuate the racist framework that they were built upon.  Devastatingly, this means that our current justice and policing systems have failed to deliver justice for Breonna Taylor. This means that BIPOC members of our organization, families, communities, and country — especially those who identify as Black — live every day in a nation that painfully and dangerously ignores their humanity.  We must continue to dismantle racism in our environment, our democracy, our communities and our country, because Black lives are worth fighting for.        

VOTER ENGAGEMENT WEEK OF ACTION: The communities that are most affected by climate change, pollution and environmental injustice are the same communities that our country has traditionally left out of the democratic process. And, with one of the most important elections of our lifetime just weeks away, Democracy For All, a program of LCV and LCV Education Fund, orchestrated a packed week of voter engagement events and activities, which started on Tuesday, National Voter Registration Day, and will run through Monday, September 28th. Check out the full details here!

OUR TAKE: LCV’s Deputy Director of Civic Engagement Hilda Nuecete talked with Telemundo’s Vanessa Hauc about her experience as a first-time voter and climate activist, the importance of voting, the promise of a new president who will listen to science and equitably address climate-fueled disasters, and the role of young people in the climate movement.   

LATINX HERITAGE MONTH: For week two of Latinx Heritage Month, LCV’s Chispa celebrated and participated in National Voter Registration Week of Action ☝. After you register to vote, read this Hill article about the Vote Like a Madre campaign. 

OUR TAKE: In the Hill, Chispa National Director Johana Vicente says, “Voting isn’t just about a political preference; it’s about choosing a better future, a future where Black, Indigenous and children of color breathe clean air, drink clean water and can enjoy the outdoors without worrying about their safety.”  

GIVEGREEN SURPASSES $35 MILLION: LCV Victory Fund, NRDC Action Fund PAC and NextGen America have raised over $35 million for federal and state candidates through GiveGreen this election cycle — surpassing the $8.35 million raised during the 2016 cycle and $23 million raised in the 2018 cycle. As multiple crises converge to harm our communities — COVID-19, racial and economic injustice and the climate crisis — GiveGreen helps donors support candidates who will act on climate change and make lasting change in our political system. 

OUR TAKE: LCV Victory Fund President Gene Karpinski said, “As we watch the wildfires rage in the West and hurricanes crash into the Southeast, killing people and destroying communities, no one can ignore the devastating impacts of the climate crisis and yet, Donald Trump calls it a hoax. We need climate leaders who will take action, not climate deniers who ignore facts and science. Combatting the climate crisis has never been more urgent, and voters clearly understand that the best way to end the destruction caused by the Trump administration is to build power for climate action. GiveGreen lets voters know who will be ready to fight for climate action on day one, and it lets candidates know climate is a top priority.”

BIG OIL ERNST: LCV Victory Fund launched a new $2 million TV ad this week in opposition to Iowa Senator Joni Ernst’s re-election campaign. Ernst was named to LCV Victory Fund’s 2020 Dirty Dozen list of some of the worst environmental candidates last week. The ad, “Map,” is running statewide. The ad is part of LCV Victory Fund’s ongoing effort to flip the U.S. Senate to a pro-environment majority.

OUR TAKE: LCV Victory Fund National Campaigns Director Emily Crerand said, “Joni Ernst is a climate change denier who cares more about the corporate polluters who fund her campaign than Iowa’s farmers or small businesses. Iowans deserve a Senator who works for them, not someone bought and paid for by Big Oil.”

TOXIC PAUL JUNGE: LCV Victory Fund and House Majority PAC launched a new $880,000 TV ad this week in opposition to Paul Junge’s campaign against Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin. Slotkin is a champion for clean drinking water and protecting the Great Lakes. The new ad, “Signs,” is up on TV in Detroit. The ad is LCV Victory Fund and House Majority PAC’s third joint ad this cycle — the two groups launched a joint ad in SC-01 last week. 

OUR TAKE: LCV Victory Fund National Campaigns Director Megan Jacobs said, “Paul Junge’s connection to Washington insiders who have opposed efforts to clean up toxic cancer-causing PFAS chemicals across Michigan puts the health and safety of our communities at risk. We need to keep Rep. Elissa Slotkin in Washington, fighting to clean up these dangerous forever chemicals and protect our communities — especially communities of color.”

HMP TAKE: House Majority PAC executive director Abby Curran Horrell said, “Clean water is as fundamental to the health of families and children as anything else, so it’s just unacceptable that Paul Junge has placed the special interests ahead of efforts to clean up cancer-causing chemicals in Michigan. Paul Junge keeps siding with the polluters who are blocking efforts to clean up Michigan’s water, while Elissa Slotkin has worked tirelessly to get this funding and make a real difference for Michigan families. Her record of accomplishment makes it clear she deserves a second term.”

NM IS NOT THE LAND OF DEVELOPMENT: LCV Victory Fund launched a new six figure TV ad this week in opposition to Yvette Herrell’s campaign against New Mexico environmental champion Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. Herrell was named to LCV Victory Fund’s 2020 Dirty Dozen list of some of the worst environmental candidates last week. The new ad, “Development,” is running in the Albuquerque and El Paso markets. The ad is part of LCV Victory Fund’s ongoing effort to protect and expand the pro-environment-led House of Representatives.

OUR TAKE: LCV Victory Fund National Campaigns Director Megan Jacobs said, “Yvette Harrell wants to put New Mexico’s public lands in the hands of the corporate special interests that fund her campaign instead of New Mexico’s families. We need to keep Rep. Torres Small in Washington, fighting to protect New Mexico’s public lands and way of life.”

VOTE BY MAIL BLOG SERIES, YOUNG VOTERS: As we face COVID-19, changes need to be made to our election process, including ramping up voting by mail — while these changes will ultimately lead to greater access to the ballot, we need to make sure everyone is aware of the changes and can safely vote. LCV wrapped up a $6.5M nonpartisan vote-by-mail generation and education program that engages with voters who historically face barriers when it comes to accessing their ballots, including young voters and voters of color. We spoke with young and first-time voters in different parts of the country who are voting for their futures because they know what’s at stake and they deserve to have their voices heard. Read more about Djanice, Alexandra, and Marshaun and why they believe voting by mail is important.

NOT EVEN FOR THE KIDS?: The Trump EPA has, once again, undermined science — this time by contradicting its own scientists’ findings that even small amounts of the pesticide chlorpyrifos can lead to serious health problems, including stunting brain development in children. In the EPA’s newest risk assessment on chlorpyrifos, published on Monday, the administration claimed that the pesticide’s “neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved” — an ever-growing body of research disagrees. Not only does this EPA assessment put children at risk, it reduces the required protections for farmworkers and their families who are exposed to these pesticides. Once again, the Trump EPA is prioritizing polluters over people and their health.      

OUR TAKE: LCV Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote said, “This blatant disregard for the health of our children and families is absolutely disgusting. Instead of listening to scientific experts, including its own agency scientists, the EPA only has ears for the wishes of giant chemical companies and other polluters. This administration continues to sacrifice our public health, particularly the health of communities of color, on the mantle of corporate profits. This administration is sick.”

ONCE IN, NOW OUT: EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is expected to change a long-standing EPA interpretation of pollution standards — MACT standards — that apply to dangerous and cancer-causing pollutants. The EPA has required polluting facilities to meet the MACT standards for the lifetime of their operation, which was known as the “once in, always in” interpretation, yet under Wheeler’s new rule, some facilities would be allowed to opt out and avoid rigorous pollution standards. Many of the facilities that could take advantage of this new loophole are located in low-income and communities of color — communities that, too often, already experience higher rates of pollution.        

OUR TAKE: Former EPA Administrator and LCV Board Chair Carol M. Browner had this to say, “This is a standard that industry has complied with for more than a quarter century and rescinding it will provide no benefit while costing lives. Taking this action during a global pandemic that preys upon people with existing respiratory ailments further confirms that for Andrew Wheeler and the political leadership of the EPA the cruelty is the point.  The American people deserve better than to have an agency charged with protecting our health and environment from dangerous pollution of all kinds be run by industry insiders determined to create an air toxics loophole that puts corporate profits ahead of American lives.”

HOUSE ENERGY + INNOVATION PACKAGE: On Thursday, the House passed the Clean Energy and Jobs Innovation Act (H.R. 4447) 220-185. Ahead of the vote, LCV sent a letter to the hill urging House members to support the amended bill, stating that we will consider including votes on this legislation in LCV’s 2020 National Environmental Scorecard

OUR TAKE: LCV’s Legislative Director Matthew Davis had this to say ahead of the vote: “The House energy innovation package is rightly focused on increasing investments for clean energy solutions at a time when we are clearly seeing the dangerous and devastating impacts of the climate crisis. The package would make solid investments in clean energy, environmental justice, clean transportation, energy efficiency, direct air capture, industrial decarbonization, and cut emissions of super-pollutant HFCs and methane. Unfortunately, the bill contains a few investments, namely in fossil fuel carbon capture and sequestration and nuclear technologies, that could potentially exacerbate environmental racism. Congress can rebalance those detrimental investments and greatly strengthen the package by adopting a suite of more than 40 equity-centered, pro-environment amendments.” 

LIVING ON EARTH:  Last weekend, LCV Victory Fund Senior Vice President of Campaigns Pete Maysmith joined Living on Earth Host Steve Curwood to talk about climate and the environment as motivators for Black and Latinx voters. Maysmith discussed LCV Victory Fund’s efforts to mobilize and turn out young people and voters of color, as well as our efforts to engage in longer-term conversations that connect Latinx and Black voters’ commitment to the environment with the opportunity to vote for pro-environment candidates. 

OUR TAKE: During the segment, LCV Victory Fund Senior Vice President of Campaigns Pete Maysmith said, “What is happening to Black and Brown communities as a result of environmental injustice is connected to racial injustice in this country, period, full stop.”  Listen to the full interview here.

CLIMATE + PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES: Earlier this week, Chris Wallace, Fox News anchor and first presidential debate moderator, announced the topics that will be discussed during the debate on September 29 — but he forgot one important thing: climate change. In response, LCV signed onto a letter with dozens of environmental groups calling for climate to be a topic of discussion in the presidential debates. In addition, members of the House and the Senate sent letters demanding the same.

OUR TAKE: In response to the Senate letter, LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Given the disasters hitting every region of our country, it is shocking and disappointing that climate change was not named as one of the six main topics for the first presidential debate, but we certainly expect it will make it on the stage.” Read the full statement here.

LCV JOINS HAMILTON & VOTE FORWARD: This week, LCV joined the cast of Hamilton and members of The Big Send coalition to launch a week-long letter writing challenge with Vote Forward. On Monday night, we kicked off the week with a virtual event featuring performances from the Hamilton songbook, trivia, and lively discussion about the importance of voting! The goal for the week: writing 1 million letters to get us closer to the coalitions goal of writing 10 million letters to 10 million voters. Read more about the event here.

NEW SCIENCE: In a time when climate-fueled wildfires have devastated communities in the West — more than two dozen people have died in wildfires this year — researchers from Stanford have found that the pollution from wildfire smoke is having dire impacts too: over the last two months, smoke pollution is likely to have led to 1,200-3,000 deaths in California that otherwise would not have occurred.  As many crises converge — COVID-19, record-breaking heat, environmental and economic injustices — people are left more vulnerable to pollution, and, as is too often the case, low-income communities and communities of color are experiencing the most devastating impacts.  

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

WHAT’S MISSING IN NEWSOM’S CLIMATE PLEDGE (CA): Governor Gavin Newsom made a major announcement that by 2030, all new vehicles sold in California must be clean vehicles. As a global climate leader, California can show how to do this policy right. California Conservation Voters Executive Director Mary Creasman called the order an important step forward while laying out the need for a just transition for fossil fuel workers, communities of color to be included in the transition, and investments in sustainable forestry and fire resilience.

GOV. WHITMER: CARBON NEUTRAL BY 2050 (MI): In this key battleground state, environmental issues are rising as a top election issue. After massive floods and years of water quality issues, Governor Whitmer released her climate action plan for the state, working to make Michigan carbon neutral by 2050.

TILLIS LAST DITCH EFFORT ON ENVIRONMENT (NC): Ahead of last week’s North Carolina U.S. Senate debate, voters heard Senator Tillis try to erase a long record on offshore drilling. Despite recently flip-flopping to suddenly support a moratorium, he has long supported offshore oil drilling, and putting big oil profits ahead of protecting North Carolina coastal communities.

VERMONT STATE SENATE OVERRIDES GOVERNOR’S VETO OF GLOBAL WARMING SOLUTIONS ACT (VT): Governor Phil Scott previously vetoed a major climate action bill passed through the legislature, but this week, the Vermont State Senate overroad their governor and rejected his veto with a two-thirds majority. This unprecedented move allows Vermont to turn its climate goals into requirements, sets deadlines for the state to cut harmful climate pollution, and reveals how out of touch Phil Scott is with the residents of his state. 

CHALK THE VOTE (CA, CO, GA, FL, NC, NV, PA, TX, VA, WA, WI): Across the country youth organizers are using new creative tactics to get out the vote during the pandemic in safe visual ways. A collaboration between Future Coalition, OneMillionOfUs, and LCVEF’s Democracy for All teams are launching #ChalktheVote in 20 communities across the country, using chalk art to encourage voters to register to vote and vote early.

FOR FIRST TIME EVER, LIFETIME SCORES IN ILLINOIS (IL): Illinois just released their 2020 environmental scorecard, which will now include lifetime scores for legislators. This will give voters in the nation’s 5th largest state a true picture of where their representatives stand on the environment.

COMING UP:

September 15 – October 15: Latinx Heritage Month

September 25-27: Chalk the Vote

September 30: Government funding expires 

October 12: U.S. Indigenous Peoples’ Day

October 18: 48th anniversary of the Clean Water Act

November 3: Election Day

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