Yesterday, as part of the For the People Act Week of Action, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) co-hosted a virtual event with the Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD). Speakers included LCV Voting Rights Program Director Justin Kwasa, Greenpeace Executive Director Annie Leonard, True North Research Executive Director Lisa Graves, Common Cause Senior Counsel Stephen Spaulding, and Georgia Sierra Club Conservation Organizer Angela Jiang. The event focused on the negative influence of polluter money on elections and environmental policy, and how S. 1, the For the People Act, levels the playing field for more equitable representation — including in the communities most impacted by toxic pollution and climate change, particularly communities of color and low-wealth communities.
This year, 43 states have already introduced, prefiled, or carried over more than 250 bills to restrict or limit voting access — intentionally written to suppress the record numbers of Black and Brown voters who overcame barriers to vote last year. The restrictive voting law passed in Georgia last month is only the latest example, with potentially more on the way. The For the People Act would supersede these suppressive state laws that disproportionately silence people of color, young people, and people with disabilities and modernize our voting system to ensure a consistent and accessible process for voters across the country — especially for communities devastated by polluter interests.
“S. 1 is the most ambitious shot at improving our democracy that we’ve seen in recent memory,” stated LCV Voting Rights Program Director Justin Kwasa. “The millions of dollars of polluter money in our politics drowns out the voices of communities most impacted by toxic pollution and climate change and negatively influences the priorities of our lawmakers. ”
“Making our democracy work, making it inclusive and accountable and fair is the single most important thing that we can do to advance solutions on climate,” said Greenpeace Executive Director Annie Leonard. “Like so many other kinds of harm, the impacts from burning fossil fuels and from climate change disproportionately impact Black, brown, Indigenous, and low-wealth communities … the same oil and gas corporations and corrupt fossil fuel billionaires which are polluting our air, our waters, and our communities are also polluting our politics. By spending millions to push their toxic agendas, elect their allies … and keep the voters who may disagree blocked from the polls.”
“If we have any chance of saving our planet, and saving our future, we have to save our democracy — it’s essential,” said True North Research Executive Director Lisa Graves. “S. 1 is the most important bill that Congress could pass in our lifetimes to protect the right to vote, to restore voting rights, to protect our right to have clean elections … to have members who are responsive to us, who represent us, and who will do the work of the American people to protect American democracy and protect our planet.”
“The same legislators who passed some of the worst anti-voting bills here in our state since Reconstruction also provide the constant green light for Georgia Power and other corporations to continue business as usual — rather than standing up for the health and economic needs of their constituents,” said Georgia Sierra Club Conservation Organizer Angela Jiang.
“S. 1 has … robust transparency and disclosure provisions so that voters know who is behind political campaign spending. Those two policies are about shifting power from big money interests that currently fund our system — sometimes in secret, sometimes through other groups — and shifting it back to the people based on solutions that work.” said Common Cause Senior Counsel Stephen Spaulding.
The For the People Act limits polluter influence by increasing donor transparency, exposing corporate corruption and expanding voting rights to ensure communities most impacted by pollution have a voice. According to campaign finance data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, the oil and gas industry gave $138,823,146 in federal campaign contributions and outside campaign spending in federal elections in the 2020 cycle. LCV and the environmental movement are dedicated to creating a more equitable system because we know that a healthy environment and healthy democracy are inextricably linked.