THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION (!) – FEBRUARY 12, 2021

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:

“Black Americans deserve better. Their struggle over the centuries helped create essentially all of the measures that we now associate with suffrage — the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments; the Twenty-Fourth Amendment; the Voting Rights Act; the ‘one person, one vote’ principle; and the Nineteenth Amendment, which Black women fought to secure. Black Americans should be counted above the Athenians as progenitors of democracy.”

— Senior Editor Vann R. Newkirk II in the Atlantic article, “American Democracy Is Only 55 Years Old — And Hanging by a Thread”

“It is no secret that wealthier and white Americans — given their access to banks, lands, and political power for generations — are more likely to live in areas with less air pollution than predominantly Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities.”

— Co-founder of EVHybridNoire Dr. Shelley Francis and Chispa National Director Johana Vicente in an Energy News Network op-ed, “Clean transportation can help prevent pollution that damages our health and heightens COVID risk”

“In this moment of American Nightmare, our generation has the opportunity to blow this ember into a flame and light the path forward for our country. We have the opportunity to reclaim the American Dream and replace it with a dream fit for all and the 21st century: environmental justice.”

— Nikayla Jefferson, Sunrise Movement Writer, UC Santa Barbara political science PhD student, and a public voices fellow with the OpEd Project and Yale Program on Climate Communication in The Nation.

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

Energy News Network: Commentary: Clean transportation can help prevent pollution that damages our health and heightens COVID risk
The Washington Post: Trump left behind a damaged government. Here’s what Biden faces as he rebuilds it.
Solar Power World: Solar and environmental justice orgs team up for new ’30 million solar homes’ campaign
Greenwire: Biden dumps Trump’s LWCF changes, revives urban grants

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:

Reflector (NC): Regan’s N.C. climate success is blueprint for Biden
KULR-NBC (MT): Conservation expert believes more Montana jobs could be kept long term without Keystone XL pipeline
Washington Post (MT): GOP Opposition to Haaland as Interior Secretary grows
Next-Gen Transportation (CT): State’s First Electric School Bus Goes Into Service
WEMU-NPR (MI): Issues Of The Environment: ‘Green Door Initiative’ Working For Racial And Environmental Justice

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LCV 2020 SCORECARD LAUNCH: On Thursday, February 18 at noon EST, join LCV for a virtual discussion with Senator Cory Booker and Representative Kathy Castor, Chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, about LCV’s 2020 National Environmental Scorecard and opportunities for transformational progress in 2021. This Scorecard reflects how the diverse, pro-environment majority in the House of Representatives prioritized environmental progress and relief for the communities of color and low-income communities on the front lines of the four interwoven crises of the coronavirus pandemic, economic inequality, racial injustice, and climate change, while the Republican-controlled Senate blocked progress at almost every turn. You can RSVP for the event here.

REGAN TO THE FLOOR: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted Tuesday to approve Michael Regan’s nomination for EPA administrator. If the Senate votes to confirm Regan, he will become the first Black man to serve as EPA administrator, making history during Black History Month. In Regan’s testimony last week, he emphasized that the EPA, under his leadership, would listen and work with stakeholders “where they live, work and serve,” and he told a moving anecdote from his time leading North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality: “I will never forget looking into the eyes of Amy Brown, the mother of two boys, as she told me she could not let her sons play in the bathtub or the pool in the backyard for years because they were required to live on bottled water after the Dan River coal ash spill. That night as I gave my son Matthew his bath with fresh tap water, I vowed this story would have a happier ending for Amy and her two sons.”

OUR TAKE: In a letter urging Senators to support Regan’s nomination as EPA administrator, LCV President Gene Karpinski had this to say, “During his confirmation hearing, Regan committed to be guided by science and the law in leading the agency’s role to address the climate, racial justice, economic and public health crises. Regan has received bipartisan praise for his record of engaging stakeholders to build consensus and fighting for environmental justice for North Carolina communities exposed to toxic pollution.”

CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH: We know that personnel is policy, and this Black History Month — and every month — LCV is celebrating the Black leaders who are at the forefront of advancing environmental and climate justice in the Biden-Harris administration. Check our new blog profiling barrier-breaking nominees and appointments — EPA Administrator Michael Regan, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke, and OSTP Deputy Director for Science and Society Dr. Alondra Nelson — who bring a wealth of experience to the administration. They’re leading the push for transformative environmental, democracy and climate policies that center equity, invest in Black and Brown communities that are historically overburdened by pollution, and deliver cleaner air and water for all.

IMPEACHMENT: This week, the Senate held a historic second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. While House impeachment managers made the personal and often emotional case that our 45th president’s repeated and unfounded degradation of election results and calls to “stop the steal”  incited an insurrection on January 6th, far too many Senate Republicans appear willing to disregard their role as impartial jurors and show their continued  loyalty to the ex-president by acquitting him of the charges. This attitude is similar to what Osita Nwanevu recently pointed out in The New Republic, “The Republican Party is controlled by intelligent, college-educated, and affluent elites who concoct dangerous nonsense to paper over a bigoted, plutocratic agenda and to justify attacks on the democratic process.”

OUR TAKE: LCV and a coalition of environmental organizations sent a letter to Senators, urging them to convict former President Trump for inciting an insurrection. The letter said, “Former President Trump broke the centuries-long precedent of peaceful transfer of power in our nation, encouraging and inciting the deadly mob on January 6 and perpetuating the unfounded and harmful claims about the 2020 election that inspired their actions…Holding elected officials accountable for the entirety of their term and ensuring our elections remain free and fair are essential for the preservation of our democracy. And the health of our democracy and environment are inextricably linked.”

RESTORING LWCF INTEGRITY: In the final days of the Trump administration, then-Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt put policies in place that would undermine the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) by shifting money away from grants for nature-deprived communities and allowing governors and local governments to veto land acquisitions. This week, the Biden-Harris administration reversed Bernhardt’s order — ensuring that one of our greatest conservation programs can prioritize creating more equitable access to our nation’s outdoors.

OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel said, “Thank you to President Biden and his administration for reversing these harmful Trump policies and getting us back on a path to realizing the full potential of America’s best parks program. We were extraordinarily proud to play a role in the enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act, and we were disappointed but not shocked that former Secretary Bernhardt in the final days of his disastrous tenure moved to gut the implementation of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, including decimating the component that funds parks in nature-deprived communities.  LWCF is a critical tool for making access to nature more equitable, fighting climate change, and reaching our national goal of protecting 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030. We’re thrilled that this program can get back to work as intended to help achieve this administration’s bold and inclusive nature conservation agenda.”

CLEAN BUSES: The Biden-Harris Department of Transportation has announced that $180 million of grants for purchasing low- or zero emission buses will be among the first grants the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will make available. And, the FTA said it will “prioritize applications with an environmental justice component.”  As Dr. Shelley Francis and Chispa National Director Johana Vicente wrote in an op-ed this week, “If there was ever a time to double down on clean transportation, this is it. Our communities and our futures depend on it.”

HOUSE BACK IN ACTION: This week, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change held a hearing, “Back in Action: Restoring Federal Climate Leadership. Members of the committee and witnesses discussed the ways the new administration and Congress can work together on a climate agenda — and, for Congress, that certainly includes a bold legislative agenda that ensures workers and communities are poised to benefit from the transition to clean energy. Representative Barragán summed up the urgency of the moment we’re in, saying, “It’s almost impossible to be too bold on climate or justice.”

POLLUTION THREATS RE-VERIFIED: A new Harvard study found that more than 8 million people died in 2018 from fossil fuel pollution. That translates to 1 in 5 deaths world wide, caused by burning fossil fuels like coal and diesel — it’s time for 100% clean energy. Fortunately, voters mandated action on climate last November, sending Biden and Harris to the White house, where they’ve already nominated a climate dream team and signed troves of climate and environmental justice focused executive actions. And, now that we have narrow majorities in the House and Senate, LCV looks forward to achieving a whole host of policy priorities that you can read about here.

CAMPAIGN LESSONS: This week, in a webinar, some of LCV’s best and brightest shared their lessons learned from campaigning during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Data Whizzes Dawn Cohea and Renata Thornton, Campaigns team members Tiffany Hsieh, Erin Phillips, and Jennessa Agnew, and Democracy For All team member Jalisa Giles shared what they did differently, what worked and what didn’t, and what they’ll take forward into future campaigns.

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

GOVERNOR NEGOTIATING AFTER VETOING CLIMATE BILL (MA): After Governor Baker vetoed a major climate bill, legislators almost immediately sent the bill back to his desk, unchanged. With the bill again in his court, the governor has now restarted negotiations. A coalition of 200 state organizations is demanding bold action and to keep the bill intact.

COMING UP:

ALL OF FEBRUARY— Black History Month

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18 — Release of LCV’s 2020 National Environmental Scorecard

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