As an organization that builds political power for people and the planet, LCV and the work we do today is both deeply indebted to and entwined with the environmental justice movement. Environmental justice is an ideology and intersectional movement that promotes fair and equitable environmental conditions for marginalized communities, primarily those with large populations of people of color and low-income individuals.
In honor of Black History Month, LCV shared with our members some reflections on how the environmental justice movement came to life and recognized some of the Black Americans who birthed and continued to lead this powerful movement, from 1968 to the present.
While both the modern conservation movement and the environmental justice movement have roots in events of the 1960s, it is the latter — defined and shaped by Black leaders who fought against environmental racism (decisions by governments and corporations to place toxic pollution in communities of color) — that picked up the banner of the era’s civil rights movement and carried it forward. Today, environmental justice is at the center of President Joe Biden’s and the national environmental agenda, thanks to their work.
And now, here are your LCV Top 5 items in the ongoing fight for climate and environmental justice for the month of February:
1. LCV Statement on Nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to Supreme Court
On February 25, President Joe Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Once confirmed, Judge Jackson will be the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Shortly after, LCV released a statement of support for this historic nomination:
“The historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the nation’s highest Court is a milestone in the fight for racial justice and equity. We applaud President Biden for fulfilling his campaign promise to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, showing that elections have consequences, and for selecting a fair-minded jurist who will uphold the promise of equal justice under law. This next Justice will impact our climate, environment, and voting rights for decades to come. We are confident that Judge Jackson will add a critical perspective and unique voice on the Court, and that her distinguished service on the D.C. Circuit and D.C. District Courts, as well as the U.S. Sentencing Commission, makes her exceptionally well-qualified. We look forward to the Senate swiftly confirming Jackson while simultaneously addressing massive challenges and transformational opportunities for our environment, democracy, and lower courts.”
Judge Jackson currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, to which she was confirmed with bipartisan support in 2021. She has been nominated to fill the seat of Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced his retirement in late January. To learn more about Judge Jackson, click here.
LCV, along with our affiliates in 30+ states, supports voting rights and democracy reforms because we cannot have a healthy environment without a healthy democracy. This month, we celebrated a victory in the fight to ensure that all voters have an equal voice in their government when the North Carolina Supreme Court tossed out partisan redistricting maps and ordered new maps drawn.
On February 4, North Carolina’s Supreme Court decided in favor of the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters and its co-plaintiffs to overturn partisan redistricting maps that legislators approved last year, citing voting rights violations and racial gerrymandering. After requiring the legislature to revise its map-drawing process, the court accepted new, more equitable maps on February 23.
LCV Voting Program Manager Diana Youssef Faraj said, “LCV is thrilled that the North Carolina Supreme Court made the just and fair decision to overturn partisan maps that misrepresent communities and dilute the voices of voters. The vast majority of communities and voters across the aisle in both urban and rural communities support environmental protections and care about the state of their land, air, and water. Voters should be choosing their elected officials, not the other way around.”
It is critical that we have leaders at all levels of government who are working to defend and strengthen democracy and equitably address the climate crisis. This month, LCV’s affiliated political action committee, LCV Action Fund, announced its first round of incumbent endorsements in the 2022 election cycle for the U.S. House, including 28 pro-environment House incumbents representing key districts, caucuses and committees across the country. Read more about the backgrounds and impact of this diverse group of congressional climate champions here.
LCV Action Fund also announced its first round of non-incumbent endorsements in 2022 for the U.S. Senate. These include six pro-climate action, pro-democracy candidates: Cheri Beasley (D-NC), Charles Booker (D-KY), Val Demings (D-FL), Abby Finkenauer (D-IA), Lucas Kunce (D-MO), and Peter Welch (D-VT). Read more about the endorsements here, and keep up to date with an evolving list of all LCV Action Fund endorsements for Congress here.
This month, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the Environmental Justice for All Act (H.R. 2021), which would create equitable policies for communities of color and low-income communities disproportionately impacted by environmental and public health risks. The legislation would help reduce pollution in these communities by requiring consideration of cumulative impacts in permitting decisions under the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, seeking community and tribal involvement in key federal decisions, funding research grants, supporting access to parks and recreational activities, and more.
The Equitable and Just National Climate Platform, co-authored in 2019 by a coalition of environmental justice and national environmental groups, including LCV, voiced strong support for the legislation and called on House Natural Resources Committee members to advance it. The Platform — which offers a vision for addressing the climate crisis and cutting pollution while confronting racial, economic, and environmental injustice — has been the basis of LCV’s federal climate work for the last three years. Read more about the coalition here.
Related: LCV continues to demonstrate grassroots support for Congress to act on climate change and for the Senate to pass the strong climate investments in the Build Back Better agenda already passed by the House. This month, our field organizers hit a critical milestone by knocking on more than 500,000 doors in key states and congressional districts. Watch our video celebrating 500,000 doors knocked here!
This month, Vice President Kamala Harris, EPA Administrator Michael Regan, and Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox visited Newark, New Jersey, to highlight the replacement of lead service lines, which currently put millions of people in the United States at risk of lead exposure through their drinking water.
LCV took the opportunity to applaud the city of Newark for modeling the quick and full removal and replacement of lead service lines for all city residents, and to call on the Biden-Harris administration and states to continue to prioritize the fast, full replacement of lead service lines, especially in low-income communities and communities of color across the country. We also launched a new digital campaign calling on Congress to pass the additional investments in the Build Back Better Act to reduce lead exposure and act on the climate crisis — now.