QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“We can’t help but ask whether a landfill such as this will ever threaten a historic site associated with the history of White America? In Virginia, does Jamestown or Mount Vernon need to worry about an incoming towering heap of trash?”
— Mariah Davis, acting director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition and Queen Zakia Shabazz, coordinator of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative in Washington Post opinion article, “In Virginia, the fight for environmental justice continues.”
“Hey, I live in the Northwest. We just did temperatures 40 degrees above normal for multiple days in a row. Climate change is real. If these people want to pretend, either to get fossil-fuel contributions or to suck up to Donald Trump, to say it’s not real, it doesn’t belong in a transportation bill, the single-largest source of carbon pollution in the United States, then they can take a hike.”
— House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio in an interview with Punchbowl.
“A majority of people who live in the Texas coastal communities of Brownsville, Corpus Christi and Port Arthur are brown and Black. These communities are also locations for proposed terminals to load liquefied natural gas on tankers bound for overseas markets.”
— Dr. Robert Bullard, professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University and who is credited with being the “father of environmental justice,” in a New York Times opinion article, “I Wrote About This Environmental Injustice Decades Ago. It Hasn’t Changed.”
LCV IN THE NEWS:
School Bus Fleet: 5 Questions: Johana Vicente on Link Between Electric School Buses, Environmental Justice
The Huffington Post: Biden’s Green Allies Launch Major Campaign As Bipartisan Deal Shrinks From Climate
NPR: Why Progressive Climate Activists Are Frustrated With The Biden Administration
National Journal: Pressure Mounts on Biden to Protect Bears Ears
E&E News: LCV debuts campaign to push vulnerable Dems on climate
Sierra Magazine: As the Infrastructure Bill Moves Forward, Is a Climate Bill Next?
Penn Live: Flush with federal cash, states take this ‘godsend’ and invest it in their overcrowded parks
Mother Jones: Environmentalists Take Sharp Aim at Democrats’ Climate Compromise
Axios: White House sells infrastructure deal amid green angst
Daily Mail: House votes 285-120 to remove ALL Confederate statues from Capitol and replace bust of Chief Justice Roger Taney with first black justice Thurgood Marshall: 120 Republicans voted against ‘whitewashing history’
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:
LCV’s affiliates are hard at work protecting the environment and fi ghting climate change in the states. Here’s what people are reading across the country:
CT Post (CT): Opinion: Biden must restore protections for Northeast Canyons and Seamounts
Colorado Newsline (CO): Biden’s American Jobs Plan invests in infrastructure and workers while putting us on a path to meet our climate goals
Northeast Times (PA): Boyle holds virtual town hall about Biden’s American Jobs Plan
CBS Denver (CO): Water Quality Control Commission Votes Down Proposal To Allow More Pollution In Colorado Waterways
Wisconsin Politics (WI): Wisconsin Conservation Voters: President Biden visits Wisconsin to tout his bold American Jobs Plan
PRIDE MONTH READING: In honor of Pride Month, NRDC Senior Social Media Manager Tejal Mankad shared their experience with community organizing as a queer person of color, highlighting the need to address the LGBTQ+ communitiy when thinking about the climate crisis. With a study finding that 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ+, we know that these communities are on the front lines of the climate crisis from exposure to extreme weather, barriers to accessing disaster funds and resources, a lack of access to public health care, among other detrimental factors. Our fight for our planet must also include the fight against discrimination based on gender and sexuality, race, and systems that continue to oppress communities.
MANKAD TAKE: NRDC Senior Social Media Manager Tejal Mankad wrote, “The fights for our humanity cannot be separated from one another. And the truth is, standing up for our own diversity, reflected in ecology all around us, makes us stronger and more resilient. That is why, while the mainstream environmental movement remains predominantly white, cisgender, and heteronormative, its future is not—and I think of how much queer and trans communities have to offer as we embrace the ways our lives hold multiplicities. When we say there is no climate justice without queer liberation, it means that our struggles are intertwined and none of us are free until all of us are free. Marginalized people of color, including queer people of color in the United States and the Global South, shoulder the heaviest impacts of climate change, often finding themselves on the frontlines of ecological disaster. Poverty, discrimination, houselessness, incarceration, and chronic illness or disability—due to lack of access to health care—are often behind this injustice.”
REPRESENTATIVES COAST TO COAST URGE CLIMATE ACTION: On Thursday, Representatives Mike Levin, Sharice Davids and Andy Kim led a letter signed by 134 House members, urging President Biden to center clean energy and water infrastructure, environmental justice, and good paying clean energy jobs in infrastructure legislation. We cannot wait to take bold action to tackle the climate crisis, and we must address environmental injustices in communities of color and communities with low wealth who bear the most burdens from exposure to extreme weather and pollution. Read our recent blog post highlighting how climate champions in Congress have demanded climate action in any infrastructure package to make a once in a generation, transformational investment in clean energy jobs while addressing environmental injustices.
REPRESENTATIVES’ TAKE: The letter signed by House members stated, “We must live up to our promise to put millions back to work while rebuilding our infrastructure, expanding access to health care, and improving our nation’s environmental resiliency. In particular, our constituents would benefit economically from the ambitious and much-needed climate action envisioned under the American Jobs Plan. The proposal outlines a popular agenda that involves transforming our energy, transportation and water systems; increasing our nation’s climate resilience; retrofitting schools and buildings with clean energy and efficient technologies; providing clean water to all; and restoring and increasing access to nature. Not only will these components of the plan create jobs in our communities, but they will also at long last catapult our nation’s infrastructure into the 21st century.”
VOTING TO INVEST IN AMERICA: This week, the House voted 221-201 to pass the “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act” or the “INVEST in America Act,” which is a transformative package authorizing bold, impactful investments in transportation and water infrastructure while addressing racial inequities so that all communities have greater access to clean water, clean transportation, clean energy benefits, and green spaces.
OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo stated, “It is critical that we repair our nation’s roads and bridges while building for a more sustainable and equitable future. This surface transportation bill will improve the safety of our roads and bridges while advancing clean energy investments in public transit and EV infrastructure, reconnecting communities divided by highways, and targeting investments in low-wealth, rural, and Tribal communities.
Too many families across the country, especially in low-wealth communities and communities of color, lack access to clean, safe, affordable water, but the INVEST Act is an important step towards tackling our growing water infrastructure crisis. This critical bill will increase the Clean Water & Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, provide funds for Tribal wastewater projects, address PFAS contamination, create assistance programs to help low income families struggling to pay their water bills, help communities prepare for the impacts of climate change, and so much more. Clean water is a basic human right, and we urge Congress to move quickly to pass the transformative investments necessary to tackle the climate crisis, create family-sustaining union jobs, and ensure that everyone has access to clean water, no matter their race, zip code, or income.”
BRNOVICH V. DNC: Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in the Brnovich v. DNC ruling weakens much needed protections against the slew of barriers voters face to have a say in their communities. With states continuing to introduce legislation to suppress voter’s access to the ballot box, Congress must take action to pass S.1, the For the People Act, and HR.4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, into law to protect voters’ civil rights and prevent racist and ableist barriers to the electoral process. In advance of the Senate’s unsuccessful move to take up S.1, LCV sent a letter to the full Senate last month urging support for this crucial voting rights and democracy reform bill.
OUR TAKE: LCV Voting Rights Program Director Justin Kwasa stated, “Today’s decision is both disappointing and damaging for the future of civic participation. Weakening the protections of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 in a year when 48 states have introduced bills limiting access to the ballot in ways that disproportionately affect communities of color is stupefying. We cannot fully combat climate change and address environmental injustice until everyone has the freedom to participate in our democracy. LCV remains committed to defending our most basic right and once again calls on Congress to pass the For The People Act and revamp the John Lewis Voting Rights Act in order to ensure that all communities have their voices heard in our democracy regardless of the intent or impact of these state laws.
NEW POLL ALERT !: This week, Earthjustice and Environment America released polling in partnership with LCV in Congressional districts around the country, and it indicates strong bipartisan support for climate legislation. Registered voters were interviewed in each of the 19 congressional districts, and the results were clear: voters want Congress to take action to get millions of people back to work in new good-paying jobs in the clean energy economy while tackling climate change and environmental racism. Clean energy is the fastest-growing industry in America and provides a huge opportunity for high-quality, union jobs that help rebuild the middle class. It’s time for Congress to prioritize climate, clean energy and justice by passing comprehensive climate legislation. See the poll results showing how voters in each district strongly support climate infrastructure here.
DOUBLE POLL ALERT!: This week, LCV joined Climate Power to release a new analysis from TargetSmart showing key voting groups see climate action as a legislative priority and view climate action as necessary to motivate young voters to turnout in the 2022 midterm elections. Congress cannot afford to wait to commit to bold, transformational legislation to address the climate crisis. See the poll results on the importance of climate and clean energy in the American Jobs Plan to motivate voters in 2022 here.
MINIMIZING METHANE: This week was a big win for climate action with Congress and President Biden’s elimination of Trump-era rules that weakened regulation on methane pollution from the oil and gas industry. Passed with bipartisan support, this is a significant step towards reducing the dangers methane pollution poses people and our planet. We encourage the EPA to move quickly on setting new safeguards that will reduce methane pollution from the oil and gas industry 65% by 2025 and 90% by 2030.
PRESIDENTIAL TAKE: Before signing the bill, President Biden stated, “(President Barack Obama) in 2016 and I put in place a rule that required that companies capture methane leaks from the wells they were digging. Well, guess what, they didn’t. And so since then we’ve learned that methane is even more dangerous to the climate than we knew back then in 2016, trapping much more heat — up to 80 times more heat, methane does — than carbon dioxide in its first 20 years in the atmosphere.”
OUR TAKE: LCV Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote stated, “We’re thrilled to see this important step towards curbing dangerous methane emissions from the Biden administration that is good for workers and our communities. Today we are one step closer to protecting people and the planet from toxic methane — a potent greenhouse gas responsible for about 25 percent of the climate change we are experiencing today. Reducing methane emissions from oil and gas production will go a long way towards dismantling environmental racism and improving public health, especially for those living on the frontlines of drilling operations.”
BIDEN IN WI: This week, LCV launched ads, in advance of President Biden’s visit to Wisconsin, focused on climate, justice, and jobs, particularly how it will serve agriculture and rural communities. As extreme weather continues to put communities on the front lines of the climate crisis, Wisconsinites face the impacts of drought (but on the court, Khris Middleton is wet like water, #FearTheDeer).
WCV TAKE: Wisconsin Conservation Voters Government Affairs Director Jennifer Giegerich stated, “Wisconsin needs the American Jobs Plan, and the clean energy investments that come with it, to protect rural and agricultural livelihoods from the devastating effects of climate change. The American Jobs Plan that President Biden proposed will help to ensure we meet the scale of the crises we face with the big investments needed to build back better – all with justice and equity. We pledge to work with President Biden and our local government champions to ensure Congress supports the reconciliation package and helps Wisconsin communities meet their goals for clean energy.”
ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES + COMMUNITY HEALTH: This week, Chispa National Director Johana Vicente discussed how a bold shift to transitioning to electric school buses can help address the climate crisis, particularly in communities who are historically marginalized and at risk of negative health impacts from pollution. Currently, over 25 million children who ride the bus to school and thousands of bus drivers breathe polluted air from dirty diesel school buses. We need bold investments to transform our transportation infrastructure so that kids across the nation can breathe cleaner air.
CHISPA TAKE: Chispa National Director Johana Vicente stated, “We know that we will never be able to reach our climate goals if we don’t address transportation pollution, and we know that transportation pollution disproportionately affects low-income communities of color. With school buses being the largest form of public transportation, transitioning to electric school buses is critical to protecting our planet, health, and communities. We need to continue setting aside funding and resources specifically for the communities that most use public transportation like school buses and who are most affected by transportation pollution: Black and Brown communities, often low-income communities. We need to make sure those communities are the first to see the benefits of clean transportation.”
MCCARTHY + DUNN WEIGH IN: This week, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and Senior Advisor Anita Dunn sent a memo to the White House on the need to advance bold, transformational investments for transportation infrastructure, clean energy infrastructure, water infrastructure, as well as investments in infrastructure resiliency as we continue to face power outages and damage to critical infrastructure with increasing cases extreme weather. In addition, McCarthy and Dunn call for investments to address environmental injustices and “legacy pollution” that harms public health, particularly in communities of color and communities of low wealth.
ONE YEAR OF CLIMATE CRISIS REPORT: This week marked the one year anniversary of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis’ Action Plan, where environmental leaders, public health experts, local officials, and activists gathered with congressional members to identify potential solutions to the climate crisis. In conjunction with the anniversary, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis released a climate action tracker to map progress implementing recommendations in the Climate Crisis Action Plan. So far, 258 of 702 recommendations have been passed by the House during the 116th Congress and the 117th Congress, and 113 of 702 recommendations have been signed into law.
COMMITTEE CHAIR TAKE: Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Chair Kathy Castor stated, “One year ago today, alongside Speaker Pelosi, our Select Committee Democrats gathered outside the Capitol to unveil the Climate Crisis Action Plan, an ambitious framework to create millions of jobs building a healthy, resilient, and just America. Since then, House Democrats have worked hard to turn that plan into reality. Over the past year, more than 250 of our Climate Crisis Action Plan recommendations have been passed by the House of Representatives, and more than 100 of those recommendations have been signed into law. Congress is poised to make more progress on Solving the Climate Crisis through the infrastructure and jobs plan in the weeks ahead.”
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “What a difference a year makes! Kudos to Speaker Pelosi, Chair Castor, and the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis for their tireless leadership as we all strive to maximize progress on tackling the climate crisis and environmental injustice. The comprehensive plan they put forth a year ago today provides an excellent roadmap to make transformational climate progress that addresses environmental racism, creates high-quality, good-paying jobs, and builds a safe, healthy clean energy economy. Now Congress and the White House have a make-or-break opportunity to take the most significant federal action in history to combat the climate crisis. As a devastating heatwave grips the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest sits under water, and tropical storms batter the East Coast, we must meet the moment and get it done.”
GROUNDWORK FOR 30X30: This week, a new report by Center on Western Priorities highlights how communities across the U.S. have led local efforts to help conserve 30% of our lands and waters by 2030.
OUR TAKE: LCV tweeted, “There’s no one way to reach the #30×30 target—it will take all of us, all around America, working together.”
REMOVE RACIST RELICS: This week, the League of Conservation Voters sent an environmental group coalition letter to the full House of Representatives urging members to support H.R. 3005, which would remove all statues of individuals that celebrate the Confederacy, slavery, racism, and white supremacy from the U.S. Capitol. LCV will strongly consider scoring this vote in the 2021 National Environmental Scorecard. It’s past time that we remove relics honoring individuals who fought to uphold slavery and deep-rooted racist policies of the Confederacy.
COALITION TAKE: The environmental groups wrote, “The nationwide uprisings for racial justice in response to George Floyd’s murder have reminded us these monuments to oppression continue to occupy places meant for all. Our organizations are committed to fighting white supremacy while fostering a sense of inclusion in the outdoors and other public spaces, which are supposed to be for all people to enjoy. We cannot achieve true equity and a sense of welcome in public spaces if we continue to honor individuals who rose to prominence upholding slavery and other examples of systemic racism. A small but important step in helping to ameliorate the pain that racism has caused Black, brown, Indigenous, and other people of color over centuries is to remove celebrations of our nation’s history of oppression from public spaces–especially in the U.S. Capitol, a building that belongs to the people. This is a step in the right direction as we fight for more inclusive spaces.”
ACTION FOR VACCINATION: On Wednesday, environmental groups joined the White House to participate in a day of action to advocate for public health and to encourage 15 million people to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
OUR TAKE: LCV tweeted, “Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by #COVID19 and closing the vaccine gap is an issue of racial and environmental justice.”
ICYMI — LCV GOES BIG TO FIGHT FOR CLIMATE, JUSTICE, & JOBS: In case you missed it, last week, LCV announced its investment of a $8 million field program across 8 states and 15 congressional districts. Organizers in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are at work engaging with LCV members, local activists, and local businesses in order to pledge support for bold action for climate, justice, and clean energy jobs.
ICYMI — EPA ANNOUNCES $50M INVESTMENT FOR CLIMATE, JUSTICE, & JOBS: In case you missed it, last week, the EPA announced an investment of $50 million in funding in historically excluded communities, including communities of color and communities of low wealth who are the most impacted by the climate crisis, pollution, and the COVID-19 public health crisis.
EPA TAKE: EPA Administrator Michael Regan said, “This is the most aggressive approach to tackling environmental injustice and equity issues. And from the White House to the EPA, we are turning the words into action and we are really excited to get these resources into the hands of communities.”
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:
OREGON COMMITS TO ZERO-EMISSION ELECTRICITY BY 2040: Last weekend the Oregon state legislature passed the 100% Clean Energy for All bill with the nation’s fastest timeline to transition to emission-free electricity. The legislation was backed by the Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity campaign, led by frontline climate and environmental justice groups, and centers benefits and opportunities for communities of color and rural, coastal, and low-income communities and workers. It also bans utilities from expanding or constructing new fossil fuel power plants. While the legislature voted on the bill, Oregon reached its hottest two days in recorded history as a deathly heatwave devastates the Pacific Northwest, demonstrating the urgency of climate action.
OLCV TAKE: Doug Moore, Executive Director of Oregon League of Conservation Voters, said “Oregon shows today it is capable of being a leader in the nation once again on protecting clean air, speeding the clean energy transition, and doing it collaboratively with frontline communities at the heart of the movement. We’re not the first state to commit to a 100% clean electricity future, but with this law we’ll be among the first to get there. “This is the beginning of momentum for climate protection in Oregon that, in the coming years, must only accelerate and encompass a phase out of dirty, polluting fuels in our neighborhoods, in our homes and buildings, and cars, buses, and trucks.”
POWERING 1.5M HOMES WITH OFFSHORE WIND IN NJ: On Wednesday, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities voted unanimously to approve New Jersey’s second offshore wind operation, which is projected to produce enough energy to power 1.5 million homes, generate billions for the state economy, and create thousands of high quality jobs across the state. In addition, Ørsted Offshore North America, one of two companies taking part in the project, will allocate $8 million more to its initial trust of $15 million to ensure that female-, veteran-, minority-owned businesses have access to the offshore wind industry.
NJLCV TAKE: New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Executive Director, Ed Potosnak said, “We applaud the BPU and the Murphy administration for their continued commitment to establish New Jersey as a regional hub for offshore wind manufacturing. These projects will help address the climate crisis, create thousands of good-middle class jobs that can’t be outsourced, and power 1.15 million homes. Governor Murphy and the BPU are keeping their promise to ensure New Jersey gets to 100% clean energy by 2050.”
TIME TO RESTORE MONUMENT PROTECTIONS: After the Trump administration’s unprecedented attack on public lands, President Biden must restore protections for Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monuments, argues Connecticut LCV Executive Director Lori Brown in an op-ed for the Connecticut Post.
CLCV TAKE: Connecticut League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Lori Brown wrote, “It has been a long year, and President Biden cannot wait any longer to restore protections for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. He campaigned and won on an ambitious climate and conservation agenda. He has reversed course from the Trump era of denial and destruction and putting corporate interests first. We are back in the Paris Climate Agreement. We are committed to a national conservation goal of preserving 30 percent of our lands, waters, and ocean by 2030, based on science and local input. Now, President Biden has the chance to right another wrong and restore protections for all three monuments.”
INTERSECTIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE IN FL: Yesterday, the Orlando Sentinel published an opinion piece from Chispa Florida Director Maria Revelles, where she described how Biden’s American Jobs Plan will address the ongoing public health and climate crises while investing in workers and infrastructure. It’s clear that Florida has an urgent need for infrastructure action as we are seeing worsening extreme weather events and fatal failing infrastructure — Congress cannot wait to take action.
CHISPA FL TAKE: Chispa Florida Director Maria Revelles wrote, “We have less than a decade to make a big dent in greenhouse gas emissions. Experts on both sides of the aisle are clear that to avoid climate disaster, we must move off fossil fuels. Climate change is already impacting Orlando. Hurricane Maria drove hundreds of thousands of climate refugees to Orlando, stressing our city’s resources. As climate change pushes the hurricane season earlier and earlier, threats of displacement will only increase.”
CHISPA JOINS NEVADA EQUITY CABINET: This week, Chispa Nevada Program Director Rudy Zamora joined Congressman Steven Horsford’s newly launched Nevada Equity Cabinet. The community-based coalition aims to address oppressive legislation that perpetuates systemic racism and inequality to advance justice for all communities in Nevada. This is a step in the right direction towards including historically excluded groups in the state’s legislative process.
HORSFORD TAKE: “The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the dangers that existing inequities pose to Nevada’s working families. As Nevada works to build back better from the pandemic, I’m excited to launch the Nevada Equity Cabinet and bring together a visionary group of leaders to tackle the most challenging issues that we face. In Congress, I’m honored to lead the House Ways and Means Committee’s Racial Equity Initiative, which addresses the role of discrimination in perpetuating health and economic equalities. The formation of the Nevada Equity Cabinet creates a new and dynamic channel to bring Nevadan voices into the federal policymaking process and advance justice for all.”
SUPPORT FOR AJP IN CO: Members of the BlueGreen Alliance, co-chaired by Conservation Colorado and the Colorado AFL-CIO, wrote an opinion piece urging Colorado’s elected officials to support the American Jobs Plan to create jobs while tackling pollution and the climate crisis, and build more resilient, clean energy infrastructure.
COCO + CO AFL-CIO TAKE: Conservation Colorado Deputy Director Jessica Goad and Colorado AFL-CIO Executive Director Dennis Dougherty wrote, “We’ve been fed the falsehood time and time again that we have to choose between our economy and our environment. President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan erases this false choice. The first step to responsibly repairing the economy is to make the right investments in our workers, communities and environment. If we want to see our growing state succeed, our infrastructure needs to support our population and be built to last, especially through future extreme weather events caused by climate change. Biden’s plan will help Colorado meet that pressing need by investing hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild and strengthen our schools, hospitals, manufacturing and transportation infrastructure.”
SUPPORT 30X30 IN IL: This week, Illinois Environmental Council Agriculture and Water Programs Director, Eliot Clay, submitted a letter to the editor in the Illinois Times endorsing the Biden administration’s 30×30 plan to conserve 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030. Clay calls on Illinoisans to contact their local leaders and urge them to support bold action to conserve natural areas in the state and across the nation.
IEC TAKE: Illinois Environmental Council Eliot Agriculture and Water Programs Director, Eliot Clay wrote, “The science is clear: conserving and restoring natural areas is an effective strategy to buffer against the worst impacts of climate change. Illinois depends on the natural systems that provide our food, clean air and fresh drinking water, and are the source of our well-being and economic security. This ambitious and inclusive vision for conservation, which has gained the support of President Biden and his administration, is an opportunity for our state to address the environmental inequities of the past while laying the groundwork for a future that supports natural resource access for every citizen in Illinois.”