THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION – April 15, 2022

THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION – April 15, 2022

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, Twitter, and Instagram.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

Soaring gas prices are forcing working New Yorkers and low-income families to make difficult decisions on whether to pay bills or put food on the table. Price gouging is unfair and illegal and my office is determined to make sure it doesn’t happen in our state.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, announcing her launch of the nation’s first wide-ranging investigation into the oil industry’s engagement in gas price gouging.

“I am painfully aware of the air quality concerns within the city I call home and that the color of my skin makes me and my peers more likely to suffer from health issues like asthma.” 

–A young testifier from D.C. calls for environmental justice at the Environmental Protection Agency hearing for cleaner trucks

There is a direct connection between climate and democracy. The communities who are most in harm’s way in the climate crisis are the exact same communities targeted for disenfranchisement from the voting process. The fossil fuel industry doesn’t want these communities to be able to change policies that would impact their bottom line. Many times the fossil fuel industry’s business plan means a death sentence for these communities. They understand that policy can change that.

–Reverend Lennox Yearwood, president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus and LCV board member, in the recent article “Culture-Building as Climate Work,”  emphasizing the link between climate and democracy work. He also expressed “shock at how many large climate organizations weren’t working on democracy.” 

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AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL CHALLENGE: On Monday, the Biden-Harris administration announced the $1 billion America the Beautiful Challenge.

OUR TAKE:  LCV Senior Government Affairs Advocate Ben Alexandro said, “The America the Beautiful Challenge is an exciting step forward to accelerate the locally-led conservation and restoration of our public lands, water, and wildlife and an example of the public-private partnerships that will help us meet and exceed the goal of protecting 30% of our lands and waters by 2030 (30×30). We applaud the Biden-Harris administration for continuing to build an inclusive and resilient conservation legacy by championing locally-led initiatives to protect places with incredible cultural, historic and ecological resources before it is too late. We also applaud the local leaders, Tribal Nations, farmers and ranchers, hunters and anglers, and advocacy groups who have worked hard to develop locally-driven conservation initiatives.  This effort will help make investments for these critical locally-led, voluntary projects more accessible to states, Tribes, territories, local groups, and more as we continue to act on the urgent need to make rapid progress to meet the 30×30 challenge.”

INTRODUCING THE TIME OFF TO VOTE ACT: On Monday, Representative Matt Cartwright and other members of Congress introduced the Time Off to Vote Act, which would require employers to provide their workers with at least two hours of paid leave to vote in a federal election. LCV joined many advocacy groups in supporting the legislation. Read what they are saying HERE.

BIDEN RELEASES EQUITY ACTION PLANS: On Thursday, the Biden administration released Equity Action Plans for over 90 agencies that emphasize a whole of government approach to advancing equity and racial justice. The plans include revitalizing the environmental justice office at the EPA, reducing barriers to transportation, and investing in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. We applaud the administration’s centering of low-income communities and communities of color, who continue to be disproportionately impacted by toxic pollution and the effects of the climate crisis. We expect the Senate to swiftly enact the House-passed $555 billion in climate, jobs, and justice legislation to further advance environmental justice.

FIVE ENDORSEMENTS FOR CONGRESS: This week, the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund announced five endorsements for U.S. House: Ben Diamond (FL-13), Elaine Luria (VA-02), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), Heather Mizeur (MD-01), and Scott Peters (CA-50)

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

MAJOR WIN IN MD: On Friday, Maryland’s Climate Solutions Now Act became law, giving the state the strongest carbon emissions reduction goal in the country – 60% reduction by 2031. The Act details many concrete steps for reducing pollution and includes carefully articulated provisions to allocate resources for low-to-moderate income communities that are disproportionately harmed by the climate crisis.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Director of State Policy, Advocacy, & Network-wide Campaigns Bill Holland said: “The Climate Solutions Now Act is the most significant action on climate we have seen anywhere in the country in 2022. This is a critical moment. The consequences of the climate crisis are growing and Marylanders feel the impacts from hotter summers, rising sea levels, and stronger storms every day. We are so proud to see such powerful leadership to tackle this crisis head-on. From new electric school buses so our kids can breathe easier to stronger efficiency standards in new buildings, this new package will create a cleaner healthier future and invest in thousands of good paying clean energy jobs for Marylanders. Thanks to the tireless work of Delegate Kumar Barve, Delegate Dana Stein, Delegate CT Wilson, Senator Paul Pinsky, Senate President Bill Ferguson, and Speaker Adrienne Jones Maryland is reestablishing its climate and clean energy leadership.”

NY TO BECOME  FIRST STATE WITH ZERO-EMISSION SCHOOL BUS FLEET: Last week, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a budget agreement that includes a historic plan to fully electrify the state’s entire fleet of school buses by 2035 – the first state in the nation to set such a goal. The plan, which calls for all new school bus purchases to be electric starting in 2027, comes just months after NYC – the largest school district in the country – committed to electrify all of its school buses by 2035.

NYLCV TAKE: President of the New York League of Conservation Voters Julie Tighe told Politico and Times Union, said, “Our students go to school to learn but we put them at risk when we send them to school in diesel buses. We have to consider that asthma is the leading cause of school absences, currently impacting 1 in 10 school-aged children in New York State…This is a huge win for climate and public health of our children and communities and we are grateful for Governor Hochul, the Senate and Assembly leadership for investing $500 million in the bond act to move to a first in the nation 100% zero emission school buses starting in 2027, with all school buses statewide required to be zero emission by 2035.”

SOLAR INCENTIVES IN ALASKA: Solarize Mat-Su, a partnership between LCV’s affiliate organization, the Alaska Center and others, is bringing clean energy to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough through a program that helps homeowners navigate the process to install solar panels. The solarize program shortens the time frame for solar installation from two years to about two months and provides group discounts for neighborhoods who participate in the program together. Last year, nearly 600 homes across Alaska took advantage of the solarize campaign. Currently there’s a  federal tax credit incentive that makes solar more affordable but it is set to expire in 2024 if Congress does not move to renew it. 

CHISPA AZ VEGAN COCINA IG LIVE: This past Thursday, Chispa Arizona hosted an Instagram Live segment, “Vegan with Cocina Diana.” In this live, vegan cook Diana taught viewers how to make jackfruit torta. View Chispa Arizona’s post announcing the event HERE and the video featuring the results HERE

BOLD FEDERAL CLIMATE LEGISLATION IS OVERDUE: On Wednesday, CEO of California Environmental Voters Mary Creasman joined Lance Bass, co-chair of the Environmental Media Association board of directors in an op-ed calling on Congress to pass a strong federal climate bill that will transition our economy away from fossil fuels and invest in clean energy. 

THEIR TAKE: In the op-ed, Lance Bass and CEO of California Environmental Voters Mary Creasman said, “At a time when families are struggling financially through a pandemic and dealing with extreme heat, drought, landslides, wildfires and other disasters, passing bold climate legislation is the bare minimum our leaders must do in order to avoid worsening threats…to our leaders in Congress: Please don’t give up, and please keep pushing. This is our last, best chance to take meaningful action on the climate crisis before our time runs out.”

COLORADANS CALL FOR WATER RIGHTS REFORM: In Colorado, communities can file for rights to protect waterways for recreational use, called RICDs. However, no RICDs have been granted since 2010 until last week when a case originally filed in 2013 was finally approved. Conservation Colorado and others are calling for reform to improve the process to secure RICDs and protect waterways, which is critical to Colorado’s tourism and outdoor recreation industry. Currently, the unnecessarily long and complex legal process is the main factor deterring communities from filing for RICDs.

CC TAKE: Conservation Colorado Water Advocate Josh Kuhn said, “We need to modify the way we protect recreational flows. A lot has changed since the early 2000s with low flows and increased demand, and it’s really important we protect recreational flows in our rivers so communities can have more tools for diversifying their recreational economy.” 

ZERO-CARBON CONNECTICUT: On Friday, executive director of Connecticut League of Conservation Voters Lori Brown published an op-ed calling for passage of the Act Concerning Climate Change Mitigation  The bill would commit Connecticut to transition to a zero-carbon electricity supply by 2040 and already has strong support from Governor Lamont. 

CTLCV TAKE: Executive Director of Connecticut League of Conservation Voters Lori Brown said, “Take heart: while the challenge is daunting, we must remember that the effects of climate change are not all or nothing. This is a battle of degrees – not just in temperature, but in severity. Each barrel of oil left in the ground is an incremental step toward a healthier climate. Each new wind turbine and solar panel makes the world we’ll leave to our children and grandchildren just a little bit better. This hope is why legislators must move quickly and pass SB10 into law this session. When every bit counts, Connecticut must do its part.”

CHISPA FLORIDA TESTIMONY TO THE EPA: This past Wednesday, Chispa National and Chispa Florida leaders offered testimony to the EPA. Their testimony urged the EPA to clean our air by adopting strict standards for trucks and buses. Michelle Freeman, líder from Chispa Florida, said: “As a teenager, I take the bus to school, and all the air I breathe is not good. We need for you guys to help clean the buses and the air by getting green buses.” View Chispa Florida’s post about the testimony HERE

RALLY FOR CARE, CLIMATE, KIDS, AND WORKERS IN ME: On Wednesday, Maine Conservation Voters teamed up with multiple state organizations to host a rally for Care, Climate, Kids, & Workers in Capitol Park, Augusta. Speakers called on legislators to pass a federal climate bill that addresses the climate crisis and systemic injustice. The  event was followed by youth activists rallying for climate justice at the Maine State House for a Youth Day of Action.

MAINE SPEAKER TAKE: Speaker of Maine House of Representatives Ryan Fecteau joined the rally, saying: “Right now, we have a chance to pass federal legislation at the scale and speed that the climate crisis and systemic injustice demands.” 

MAINE CLOSES THE DOOR ON OUT-OF-STATE WASTE: On Tuesday, Environmental groups in Maine celebrated the state legislature’s approval of a bill that closes a loophole that has allowed Juniper Ridge landfill to become a dumping ground for waste brought in from surrounding states. Pollution from the landfill disproportionately impacts the Penobscot Nation. The legislation will now go to Governor Janet Mills for consideration.

MCV TAKE: Maine Conservation Voters Director of Government Affairs Beth Ahearn said, “Rapidly filling landfills require expansions and lead to increased pollution, which disproportionately impacts the Penobscot Nation, residents living near the landfill, and the Penobscot River and Bay. This bill will help protect Maine’s environment and public health.”

GAS EXPANSION DENIED IN AZ: The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) denied a proposed gas plant expansion this week due to lack of community input in the decision-making process and concerns about the impacts to nearby residents of the predominantly Black and economically underserved town. The 4-1 decision came as an exciting and somewhat surprising victory to Chispa Arizona who has been working to reform the ACC to better serve the needs of Arizona families over utility interests.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS IN MA BUDGET: Massachusetts House leadership unveiled a nearly $50 billion budget this week that would increase spending for environmental services and protections, including funding allocated specifically for environmental justice. The budget is expected to be debated at the end of the month.

ELMAF TAKE: Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund Executive Director Casey Bowers said, “This budget shows commitment to environmental agencies, and we are grateful to Chair Michlewitz and the House for continuing to provide critical funding for the understaffed agencies, particularly the newly created environmental justice line item.”

HOLDING UTILITY COMPANIES ACCOUNTABLE: State legislators in the Michigan House are pushing a package of bills to hold utility companies accountable to their customers for power outages. Last year, Michigan experienced several power outages that caused economic damage and harmed communities across the state.  

MICHIGAN LCV TAKE: Nick Dodge, communications director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters said, “The utility influence in Lansing is no secret. They have a lot of money. They have an army of lobbyists in the Legislature. They have an army of lawyers at the Michigan Public Service Commission, the state regulators, but what they don’t have is happy customers.”

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF CRUMBLING INFRASTRUCTURE IN MICHIGAN: This week, Executive Director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Lisa Wozniak met up with reporters from WMYD Detroit to discuss the health of waterways in the state and in particular, the damage caused by deteriorating dams on the Hudson River. During her visit, Wozniak emphasized the importance of addressing crumbling infrastructure – such as the obsolete Peninsular Paper Dam – as Michigan develops climate and environmental plans. Watch the segment HERE.

CALLS FOR NJ TO EMBRACE WIND ENERGY: The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is considering a proposal to build the state’s first manufacturing facility for offshore wind cables. This project is among nearly 80 proposals for offshore wind transmission development, some of which seek to repurpose sites previously used for fossil fuel plants and other polluting industrial facilities. New Jersey has already approved construction of three offshore wind farms and the cable manufacturing facility, along with the other proposed transmission projects, would bring jobs and investment, and help the state advance the Murphy administration’s goal to become a hub for the wind energy industry. 

NJLCV TAKE: New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Ed Potosnak said, “This is exactly the kind of projects we’d like to see bring renewable energy jobs to New Jersey.’’

JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF CHEMICAL POLLUTION IN VT: Last week, Vermont Conservation Voters joined other environmental groups in celebrating the passage of legislation that gives Vermonters the right to sue chemical companies for the cost of medical monitoring. This allows people to access preventative screening to catch diseases caused by exposure to chemical pollution before they experience symptoms. The bill has been considered and passed twice before but was vetoed by Governor Phil Scott. This time however, Scott intends to sign it. 

VCV TAKE: Vermont Conservation Voters Executive Director Lauren Hierl said, “It’s time for us to make it easier for victims of toxic pollution to get the help they need, and [this legislation] is an important step in the right direction.”

WI GOVERNOR DEFENDS FREEDOM TO VOTE: Last week, Wisconsin Conservation Voters expressed support for Governor Tony Evers for vetoing a series of anti-voter bills. Read about the bills here: SB 935, SB 939, SB 941, and SB 943.

WISCONSIN CV TAKE: Wisconsin Conservation Voters Executive Director Kerry Schumann said, “Gov. Evers has proven time and again that he believes democracy should be for all people, and will continue to work for fair and accessible elections that everyone can participate in. The constant attacks on our freedom to vote by many politicians in our legislature are damaging our state and undermining the voices of our residents. Wisconsin Conservation Voters applauds Gov. Evers’ veto because we know that our democracy is stronger when everyone has a voice.”

IN THE FIELD: Across the nation, communities are demanding climate action now. LCV’s field team has knocked on nearly 540,000 doors and activated 32,000 people to advocate for critical climate legislation, along with securing support from over 25,000 businesses. 

 COMING UP:

APRIL 19: Redistricting Virtual Event with North Carolina LCV and Ohio Environmental Council

APRIL 21: Chispa Nevada Launch

APRIL 21: What’s Brewin’ Offshore Event

APRIL 22: Fight for our Future Art Activation in Philadelphia with Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania

APRIL 23: Chispa Arizona Earth Day Festival 

APRIL 24: Maine Conservation Voters Presents Free Community Screening of The Story of Plastic

VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINES: 

-April 19 – Kentucky VR Deadline

-April 19 – West Virginia VR Deadline

-April 22 – Idaho VR Deadline

-April 22 – Nebraska VR Deadline

-April 22 – North Carolina VR Deadline

 

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