THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – AUGUST 6, 2021

Mika Hyer, mhyer@lcv.org, 940-783-2230

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:

“Here we are in 2021 and they’re trying to nullify our votes, after our votes are cast all across this country. We know what this is, this is the Delta variant of Jim Crow voting laws. And the only vaccination is federal legislation.”

— Senator Raphael Warnock stated during the Declaration for American Democracy’s Tuesday rally outside of the Capitol to demand that the Senate pass the For the People Act before recess.

“In the low-income communities of color where I have worked for 30 years, we’ve never had the luxury of focusing on one thing at once. Everything is an emergency. People are dying from rare cancers linked to the toxic soup of chemicals in our water and air. Our health issues — including COVID-19 — are compounded by the lack of access to decent medical care. Climate change brings historic floods and deadly heatwaves. These problems are inseparable from racism”

— Dr. Beverly Wright, founder and executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council in a Hill opinion piece, “Good jobs — the unfinished work of environmental justice.”

“The environment is where you live, it’s where you work, it’s where you go to school, it’s where you recreate, it’s where you worship. The environment is not something you have to go see in the wilderness. It’s not something you have to go see [at] the water’s edge or in the atmosphere. The environment is everything.”

— Vernice Miller-Travis, co-founder of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a Harlem-based nonprofit, in a Inside Climate News article, “The Biden Administration’s Embrace of Environmental Justice Has Made Wary Activists Willing to Believe.”

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

Washington Post: Power Up: Climate groups to launch multi-state tour in push for major climate legislation
Huffington Post: Biden’s Green Allies Launch Major Campaign As Bipartisan Deal Shrinks From Climate
Politico: Greens launch August tour to promote climate action
AP: Bipartisan bill leaves out key climate, clean energy steps
CNN: Environment groups plan pro-climate pressure campaign during August recess
Daily Kos: Progressives, activists look to infrastructure reconciliation bill to save, well, everything
Bloomberg: Infrastructure Deal Includes Billions to Fight Climate Change
Roll Call: Let down by infrastructure bill, climate hawks eye reconciliation
EcoWatch: ‘This Looks Like the Exxon Infrastructure Bill’: Bipartisan Deal Omits Key Climate Protections
Framingham Source: Sen. Markey Files Legislation To Combat Health Risks of Extreme Heat

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:

New Jersey Globe (NJ): Groups promoting clean energy jobs running TV ads boosting Andy Kim in NJ-3
New Times (CA): Conserve for the future: To address the climate crisis, we must protect our public lands and rivers
Florida Politics (FL): Lori Berman, Anna Eskamani urge Congress to pass ‘game-changer’ infrastructure package
The Laurel Outlook (MT): Tribes, conservation groups to challenge Montana’s failure to enforce “Bad Actor” law

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POWER UP FOR RECESS!⚡: This week, LCV and Climate Power announced our Climate Action Now: Great American Build nationwide tour, which will take place throughout the August congressional recess and feature events ranging from rallies, to clean energy facility visits, to art activations, to block parties and community gatherings that highlight the opportunity to take climate action now! In coordination with LCV’s state affiliates and partners, we will hold at least 31 events, many of which will include members of Congress in key states and Congressional districts across the country. As we’ve seen from deadly heat waves and devastating fires over the summer, we cannot wait to tackle the climate crisis and invest in clean energy, justice, and jobs.

OUR TAKE:  LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “From devastating heat, fires, droughts, storms and floods to long-standing environmental and racial injustice and economic inequality, it’s never been more urgent or more important to act on climate at the scale that science and justice require. We are out of time, and LCV is all in to help ensure that Congress moves swiftly on a dual track to deliver transformative investments in climate, justice, and jobs. We know this is widely supported by voters across the country, so August is about mobilizing that support and building momentum for this once in a generation opportunity.” 

CLIMATE POWER TAKE: Climate Power Executive Director Lori Lodes stated, “The climate crisis is real, it’s here, and we have the workforce to fix it. In every corner of America people are ready to build a nation powered by clean energy and fix the damage that’s been done by fossil fuel companies in neighborhoods for decades. We can make our homes more affordable through energy efficiency, use innovation to make batteries for a new generation of cars cheaper, and repair lands gutted by oil, gas, and coal communities by turning them into parks, schools, and businesses. Throughout the next month we will bring Americans together to discuss, rally, and call for elected officials to take climate action. Immediately. This is the moment to build the momentum for Congress to get serious by putting resources behind the American worker and frontline communities so we can overcome the climate crisis and have a stronger nation because of it.”

NEW AD ALERT!: In coordination with LCV and Climate Power’s national Climate Action Now: Great American Build tour, 13 new ads were released over the last week in nine key states and congressional districts — including AZ, IA, NJ, MN, MI, VA, NV, GA, and NH — as part of LCV and Climate Power’s $10 million ad campaign. The ads thank representatives for fighting for climate action and clean energy jobs, and encourage them to finish the job.

CLIMATE ACTION SUMMER: This week’s announcement builds on a historic summer of action across the country and in D.C. This comes on top of the $10 million paid media campaign the organizations announced in early July. LCV alone has held 40 state events with members of Congress since May. In June, LCV launched an $8 million field organizing effort with 15 new offices across 8 states (AZ, GA, MI, NV, NH, NJ, PA, VA) to build support for Congressional action on climate. And last week in D.C., Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer joined LCV, Climate Power and other environmental champions outside the Capitol to reiterate their commitment to act on climate at the scale that science and justice require.

🏈FROM THE FIELD🏈: See how our team is at work on the ground building power with climate advocates who are also business owners, community leaders, students, and those who are seeing the everyday impacts of the climate crisis working towards a clean energy future. This week, organizers also hosted 29 honk and wave events across priority House districts and continued to canvass Members’ neighborhoods and local businesses. SEE photos from the event.

ACTION FOR THE PEOPLE!: This week, voting rights advocates and leaders across the country demanded the Senate pass critical voting rights legislation during the “Recess Can Wait” week of action. Currently, the For the People Act is stuck in the Senate due to Republicans holding it in a filibuster while 48 states have already introduced, prefiled, or carried more than 389 bills to restrict or limit voting access in state legislative sessions this year. These bills were intentionally written to suppress the record numbers of Black and Brown voters who turned out in 2020. The Senate must not wait to pass the For the People Act, which would supersede these suppressive state laws and modernize our voting system to ensure a consistent, accessible, and secure process for voters across the country. Recess can wait, but our democracy — and our voters — can’t. 

MICHELLE OBAMA TAKE: Michelle Obama called upon voters to take action in a video with Stacey Abrams stating, “In 2020, during a global pandemic, you showed up. From protests to the polls, together, we showed the world our power. Right now dangerous legislation is being proposed across the country that limits the freedom to vote, cast our ballots, and have our votes counted. They’re counting on us to stop paying attention — they’re counting on us to be quiet.”

ABRAMS TAKE: Stacey Abrams, founder of Fair Fight stated, “Our democracy and our vote — the very foundation of this nation and the most powerful tools we have as citizens are under attack. Many of these proposals would disproportionately impact Black, brown, young, and working class voters — and voters with disabilities. [This fight] is about our families, our neighborhoods, our schools, and our communities. It’s about our freedom to vote, and our ability to make our voices heard.”

CUTTING CAR POLLUTION!: On Thursday, the Biden administration announced new clean car standards that will help put our nation on the path towards reducing 60% of car emissions by 2030 and requiring all new vehicles to be zero emission by 2035. While progress has been made by reinstating California’s right to set stricter emission standards, this kind of bold action is critical to meet the moment and address the climate crisis and environmental injustices, especially in communities of color and communities with low wealth who already face disproportionately greater respiratory illness from vehicle pollution. Over the weekend, LCV Board Chair and former EPA Administrator Carol Browner wrote an opinion piece in The Hill urging the Biden administration to swiftly take action to set clean car standards. 

BROWNER TAKE: LCV Board Chair and former EPA administrator, Carol M. Browner stated, “With today’s actions, President Biden is making needed progress to cut carbon pollution from cars and trucks. His commitment to a 50 percent reduction in carbon pollution from new cars by 2030, coupled with urgently needed action by Congress in both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and budget process to ensure adequate investments in electric vehicles and clean energy, will cut the pollution that drives climate change, save families money at the pump and deliver clean air for all. LCV looks forward to actively engaging in the public process to make certain these and future standards are even stronger and developed to ensure that all new cars sold are zero emission vehicles by 2035. Now is the time to set the strongest possible clean car standards to meet the climate ambition goals that science and justice require.”

BROWNER DOUBLE TAKE: Carol Browner wrote, “Climate change is not some distant disaster; it is already affecting our daily lives. Families and small businesses across the country are facing rising sea levels, flooding and wildfires while others face devastating drought and record heat. Extreme weather swings wildly from heat domes to polar vortexes. Over 40 percent of Americans are exposed to unhealthy air every day and communities of color are 61 percent more likely to live in an area with polluted air. June 2021 was the hottest June on record in North America and heat-related deaths skyrocketed.”

⚡POWERING THE ECONOMY AND WORKERS⚡: LCV President Gene Karpinski and United Steelworkers Union International President Tom Conway wrote an opinion piece in Cleveland.com on how making bold investments in a clean energy economy is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to power the economy and workers in our country, especially for manufacturing plants hit hard like Sharon Tube in Ohio. 

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski and United Steelworkers Union International President Tom Conway wrote, “Lavorata and his colleagues, members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1375-08, make top-quality precision mechanical tubing for solar energy producers and other industries, yet they’ve worried about the facility’s future at times because too many prospective buyers opt for cheap, low-quality, foreign-made materials, instead. Congress has an unprecedented opportunity right now to curb this destructive trend, invest in dedicated American workers like those at Sharon Tube and make renewable energy projects a linchpin of the nation’s post-pandemic recovery.”

MAKE POLLUTERS PAY: This week, Senators Chris Van Hollen, Ed Markey, Sheldon Whitehouse, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation that would “Make Polluters Pay” a fee associated with their past pollution. For too long, big oil and gas polluters have gotten away with knowingly harming our environment and communities, especially communities of color and low wealth — who already face disproportionate amounts of pollution — without being held accountable for their actions. During a climate crisis, we can no longer wait for polluters to be responsible while they continue to harm our planet.

OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo stated,  “Polluters should pay their fair share for the damage they cause, period. This is especially true when it comes to the catastrophic costs of the climate crisis — from extreme heat, fires, droughts, storms and floods to long-standing environmental injustice, the actions of polluters are having devastating impacts. We commend Senators Van Hollen, Markey and Sanders for the Polluter Pays Climate Fund – an important addition to the debate going on right now in Congress.”

@ENERGY IN MI: This week, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm visited GM’s Factory Zero in Detroit, Oakland University, and the Magna Electronics facility in Holly to build support for the president’s Build Back Better plan and federal infrastructure investment. Alongside her visit, LCV launched a digital ad campaign in Michigan targeting Detroit, Oakland, Holly, and surrounding communities to support a recovery package that focuses on climate, clean energy, high-quality union jobs, and environmental justice.

@ENERGY TAKE: Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm tweeted, “MI’s story tells us how to seize the biggest opportunity of the 21st century: the $23T+ global market for clean energy & carbon-reducing tech. @POTUS’ #BuildBackBetter Agenda is all about making more investments in our people and our competitiveness and making sure these investments are directed to communities in a way that plays to their strengths while addressing their needs.”

SLOTKIN TAKE: Representative Slotkin tweeted, “Make. It. In. Michigan. Great to welcome @SecGranholm to Holly for a tour of @MagnaInt to talk semiconductor supply chains, @POTUS’ plan for EV production, and how Michigan’s manufacturing backbone is key to addressing climate change.”

SEE THE FACTS: A recent Data for Progress survey found 67% support overall among Michigan voters for the American Jobs Plan, including 70% of independents. At the end of April, 50 Michigan state and local elected officials, including Governor Whitmer, signed a letter calling on Congress to support President Biden’s plan and ensure our federal infrastructure plan invests in a clean energy future and environmental justice. They joined over 1200 leaders from all 50 states and DC urging Congress to seize “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help our communities recover by creating and sustaining millions of good paying jobs, putting us on the path to 100% clean energy and building a more equitable and just society.”

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

🚨CLIMATE ACTION NOW TOUR🚨: In states across the country, members of congress, local officials, and organizations are joining LCV state affiliates to host events including town halls, rallies, clean energy facility visits, art activations, block parties, and community gatherings calling for immediate climate action and highlighting the opportunity to invest in clean energy jobs. Read below how communities across the nation are demanding federal support to replace lead pipes, overhaul critical  infrastructure, invest in resiliency against increasingly devastating extreme weather events, fund cleaner transportation for cleaner air and healthier communities, address environmental injustices, and bolster economies through clean energy job creation. 

IN FLORIDA: Yesterday, Florida Conservation Voters (FCV) hosted a roundtable with Florida State Senator Lori Berman, Florida House Representative Anna Eskamani, and Frances Colón of the Center for American Progress to discuss Florida’s clean energy future. Floridians have seen firsthand the impacts of extreme weather intensified by the climate crisis, and are currently experiencing Red Tide, an overgrowth of harmful algae that turns the ocean surface red. This phenomenon is worsened by pollution and habitat degradation. WATCH the round table, and READ FCV’s blog on how “Red Tide Robs Restoration Efforts.”

BERMAN TAKE: Florida State Senator Lori Berman stated, “The President’s plan touches countless families in Florida, and particularly in my district, that are struggling with housing and finding good jobs. This is a jobs plan. We are going to create tons of new jobs by having this infrastructure program, and they are going to help people in my district get back to work.”

FCV TAKE:  Florida Conservation Voters Executive Director Aliki Moncrief stated, “We are the third most populated state in the country and growing. We use a lot of energy. We are over-reliant, if not completely addicted to dirty fossil fuels. And if we don’t do anything about that right away, it’s only going to get worse over the next decade.”

IN GEORGIA: Last week, Georgia Conservation Voters, Partnership for Southern Equity, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy hosted a webinar with Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock and local clean energy business leaders to discuss renewable energy and jobs in Georgia. WATCH the webinar.

SENATOR WARNOCK TAKE: Senator Warnock stated, “Let’s be clear, we are at a dangerous tipping point, and we have to get serious about the fact that climate change is not coming, climate change is here. We’re in the crisis right now — and we don’t have a lot of time. At the same time, we work to move beyond this once in a century pandemic. We have an opportunity to build our communities and our economy better than they were before.”

IN PENNSYLVANIA: This week, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania hosted an event with elected officials from local and state government, along with environmental and labor advocates at Millvale Food + Energy Hub to underscore the benefits of the Build Back Better agenda for Western Pennsylvanians. The event called on Congress to listen to 78% of Pennsylvania voters who support the Biden Administration’s vision.

CVPA TAKE: Conservation Voters of PA Political Director Katie Blume stated, “Our nation is long overdue for the investment necessary to create safer and healthier communities. It’s time that we ensure environmental justice for Western Pennsylvanians who have dealt with the harmful impacts of pollution for generations. The Build Back Better agenda is the best way to deliver the opportunities of a rapidly growing clean energy economy to Pennsylvanians as soon as possible, and we urge our congressional delegation to support the plan and pass it swiftly.”

IN WASHINGTON: This week, LCV and Washington Conservation Voters hosted a town hall with Representative Suzan DelBene to discuss how bold federal investments can help make our communities healthier and economies stronger.

DELBENE TAKE: Washington Conservation Voters tweeted, “@RepDelBene on how we can hold extractive industries accountable: economics! Make sure clean renewable energy has the ability to be competitive – provide incentives and tax credits that support these industries and our vision for a clean energy future. 

On the inequities further revealed by the recent heat dome – we can make infrastructure investments in the form of equitably-distributed grants that target the most in-need communities first. We must prioritize projects that address climate change and racial equity.”

📢VOICES AROUND THE NATION📢: Across the country, environmental advocates, community members and elected officials, wrote opinion pieces weighing in on environmental injustice, extreme weather, the impacts of the climate crisis on communities.

IN ALASKA: In recognition of the devastating and growing number of Indigenous children whose remains have been found on the grounds of Canada’s residential schools — schools which the United States also established as a tactic to forcibly assimilate and colonize Indigenous communities —  a group of allies wrote an opinion piece in Anchorage Daily News confronting the racist history of colonization.  

COALITION TAKE: Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition Founding Director Jessica Girard, The Alaska Center Communications Director Leah Moss, Alaska Public Interest Research Group Executive Director Veri di Suvero, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council Climate Organizer Matt Jackson, and Cook Inletkeeper Communications Director Taylor Kendal wrote, “If this is news to you, you haven’t been listening. You haven’t heard what Native communities have been telling us for centuries about their experiences of white settlers’ colonization — and not just hundreds of years ago, but through to the very day you are reading these words. At last, some of our highest institutions of power are scratching the surface of their stories, already finding horror and heartbreak beyond comprehension. What they as leaders, and what we as citizens, will do with this knowledge, remains to be seen. Will we shut down in denial or guilt? Or might we proactively learn these truths — about boarding schools, forced removals, calculated massacres, and so many other tactics of colonization — and move through the acknowledgment, apology and grief that will compel us to action?”

IN CALIFORNIA: California LCV CEO Mary Creaseman wrote an op-ed about the importance of land conservation in California, especially in fulfilling President Biden and Governor Gavin Newsom commitments to preserve 30% of public lands by 2030. Additionally, as part of this effort, Senator Alex Padilla has introduced the PUBLIC Lands Act, which would protect over a million acres of land in California and increase public access. Public lands will be key to mitigating climate impacts such as droughts and wildfires.

CLCV TAKE: California LCV CEO Mary Creaseman wrote, “Protecting public lands and rivers on the Central Coast is critical to our state and our nation’s efforts to address the climate crisis. Both President Biden and Governor Newsom have committed to protect 30 percent of our public lands and waters by 2030. Why is this so important in the fight against climate change? Protected public lands capture and store carbon out of the atmosphere. These places also help us adapt to and mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis that are already taking place. Investments in public lands are an essential and urgent piece of the puzzle to prepare for climate impacts like drought and wildfires, while preventing the worst of climate catastrophe. The PUBLIC Lands Act is a down payment toward our 2030 conservation goal.”

IN COLORADO: Former Colorado Governor and current Director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University Bill Ritter wrote an opinion piece urging Colorado’s U.S. senators and representatives to pass an infrastructure bill and budget reconciliation bill that center transitioning to a clean energy economy and tackling the climate crisis. Following the Great Recession, Ritter emphasized rebuilding Colorado’s infrastructure with investments in clean and renewable energy, a model the entire country should follow in the wake of the pandemic.

FORMER GOVERNOR’S TAKE: Former Colorado Governor and current Director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University Bill Ritter said, “Colorado’s commitment to electric vehicles, building electrification, renewable energy jobs and decarbonization remains a model for other states. This summer and fall, our members of Congress should prioritize the development of a 100% clean-energy standard in the electricity sector; the manufacture and sale of zero-emitting cars, buses and buildings by 2035; justice and equity for low-income communities and communities of color by ensuring at least 40% of investment benefits go to these communities; and creating good paying, family-sustaining, unionized jobs. The beauty of these proposals is that they take on myriad challenges at once — the climate crisis, economic opportunity for all, the need to strengthen the middle class, a long overdue overhaul of our infrastructure, and the need to position America for global leadership once again.”

IN ILLINOIS: This week, the Chicago Sun Times editorial board published a piece, “Stop the stall. Enact a strong pro-climate energy bill for Illinois,” calling on state Senate President Don Harmon and House Speaker Chris Welch to pass a comprehensive energy bill that will put Illinois on a path to combat the climate crisis. 

CST EDITORIAL BOARD TAKE: The Chicago Sun Times editorial board wrote, “Here’s a sign of how far things have gone off the rails: Illinois has already set aside more than $300 million — money collected from power utility customers — to boost the solar installation industry in the state. But if the money is not appropriated by the end of August, it must be returned. Yet, the Legislature has been unable to agree to free up the money immediately, separately from the larger energy bill discussions, which should be a no-brainer.”

IN NEW MEXICO: In New Mexico, Conservation Voters New Mexico Deputy Director of Programs Molly Taylor and Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters New Mexico Business Representative Rosendo Najar wrote an opinion piece highlighting the opportunities for clean energy jobs in New Mexico. The state has both the opportunity to utilize the untapped solar potential of Albuquerque’s 310 days of sunshine each year and strong possibilities for generating wind power. 

CVNM + CARPENTERS TAKE: Conservation Voters New Mexico Deputy Director of Programs Molly Taylor and Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters New Mexico Business Representative Rosendo Najar wrote, “The transition to clean energy creates tremendous economic opportunities for New Mexico and the people working to power our energy future. As President Joe Biden and Congress craft infrastructure deals … they must prioritize clean energy and the workforce development programs that will ensure our communities benefit for generations to come.”

IN OREGON: In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times on the devastating wildfires that are raging throughout the West. As we’re seeing hotter temperatures for longer, and droughts have turned forests into fuel for fire, communities who are already at risk from the impacts of the climate crisis are disproportionately facing the greatest losses from extreme weather, wildfires, and flooding.

GOVERNOR’S TAKE: Governor Kate Brown wrote, “As is the case with the Covid-19 pandemic, our most vulnerable communities are hardest hit by these disasters: rural and low-income ones and communities of color that are already disproportionately affected by longstanding disparities and systemic racism. Because of that, our Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander residents face a disproportionate burden of the economic, health and safety impacts of climate change.

CLIMATE ACTION IN NEVADA: This week, Nevada’s Climate Action Team hosted a virtual meeting with local non-profits, the Solidarity Fridge and the Care Complex, to discuss how the climate crisis in Las Vegas impacts some of the city’s most at-risk — those who are houseless and exposed to increasingly deadly extreme weather.

CLIMATE ACTION IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: This week, LCV hosted an Electric Vehicle Rally in the Granite State! Congress has a once in a generation lifetime opportunity to make bold investments in climate, clean energy jobs and environmental justice. Transforming our transportation system and electrifying vehicles like school buses will help lessen pollution in communities already burdened by the impacts of pollution and heightened risk of respiratory illness.

 

COMING UP:

August 19: Lake Tahoe Summit featuring Interior Secretary Haaland

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