THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION – May 6, 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:

There is no climate action without democracy. There is no democracy without climate action. These two things are tied so tightly together in the way we have established our system. If we don’t push for larger policies, then we’re going to see the collapse of ecosystems and governance. As we see collapse of governance and of civic institutions, it will be impossible to implement meaningful climate policy.

— Saad Amer, climate activist and co-founder of Plus 1 Vote, an organization that aims to mobilize young people and people of color to get out and vote on issues like climate change, voting rights, and social justice. In this interview with Atmos, he talks about being a Desi man, the heat wave affecting South Asia, and how the climate movement can protect his community.

“There’s a lot of history, pero like with any family, we all have a lot of backstories that we are sometimes ashamed of and that we don’t like to talk about…much of our nation’s ‘public lands’ were pilfered from First Nation and Indigenous peoples during treaty negotiations, and our public lands represent only a small portion of the land that was forcibly taken from Indigenous peoples. We are always, always on native land.”

–Cam Juarez, a Saguaro National Park Ranger who is working to empower historically-excluded communities in the outdoors. 

“We know that violence in the land is connected to violence in the body. Human trafficking numbers increase in areas near pipeline man camps. Poor data collection has resulted in the erasure of how many Indigenous peoples are victims to human trafficking.”

— Red Horn Woman, an Indigenous activist and storyteller, highlighting the intersection between gender-based violence and climate justice. A study by the Sovereign Bodies Institute which examined 411 cases representing women and girls from 41 tribal Nations found that 59% of the missing and murdered Indigenous women on reservations or rural areas showed a direct connection with pipeline man camps

Reproductive justice is also environmental justice is also climate justice. It’s also LGBTQIA+ rights, gender equity, racial justice, food justice, immigration reform, and so on. Because fighting climate change isn’t just about stopping greenhouse gas emissions. It is about changing entrenched systems and ways of doing business.  It is about changing the way policy and economic decisions are made. It is about centering people rather than profit, about recognizing and caring about how our actions affect others, and about building futures that are better than today.

— A.R Siders, core faculty with the University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center, speaking on why climate activists must fight for reproductive rights. 

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AAPI HERITAGE MONTH READING: The Natural Resources Defense Council released a story highlighting the work of Andrea Chu, a Chicago-based activist who co-founded the Chicago Asian Americans for Environmental Justice (CAAEJ) and is helping to bridge the gap between Asian American advocacy and environmental justice. In the piece, “Meeting the Moment for AAPI and the Environment,” Chu describes centering her work around dismantling harmful narratives, such as the model minority myth, which erase the environmental injustices AAPI communities face. Read her story on NRDC’s blog here.

ACTIVIST TAKE: Chicago activist Andrea Chu said, “This ‘invisibilization’…leads to a general lack of understanding about the nuanced diversity of our communities. It’s a vicious feedback loop where, in order to achieve progress, you first have to make people aware that progress needs to be made…Asian Americans have long been used as a wedge against other people of color. CAAEJ is a pan-Asian organization, and we want to motivate people to not only be politically engaged in environmental issues related to Asian Americans but to act in solidarity with other communities of color.”

TRI-CAUCUS MEMBERS LED ON CLIMATE, ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, AND DEMOCRACY LEGISLATION IN 2021: On Tuesday, LCV released a new report examining the environmental records of members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), collectively referred to as the Tri-Caucus. The report uses data from LCV’s 2021 National Environmental Scorecard, highlights members that led on key bills, and details how all of the Tri-Caucus leadership scored 100% and every member received top marks of 90% or higher on the Scorecard, laying the groundwork for action on climate and voting rights, among other top LCV priorities. 

OUR TAKE: LCV Government Affairs Advocate Darien Davis said, “Black, Indigenous, and Brown members of Congress have championed important pro-environment and democracy legislation rooted in justice and equity in 2021, paving the way for Congress and the Biden-Harris administration to act swiftly and boldly — LCV applauds their leadership and vision. During a year where the global pandemic and attacks on our democracy have persisted, it has never been more clear that the voices and needs of communities of color and low-wealth communities must be at the center of federal policymaking. We look forward to our continued partnership with Tri-Caucus members as we work to pass and enact the transformational investments communities need in climate, clean energy, environmental justice, and good jobs.” Read more about what members of Congress said HERE, and read the full report in English HERE and in Spanish HERE

COMMUNITY POWER IN NEW JERSEY’S STREETS: The Redford Center released the fourth film of the five part “2021-22 Community Power Short Film Series.” The series is a collaboration with LCV and Chispa that spotlights stories that shift perceptions on what it means to be an environmentalist and a voter. The Film, entitled Community Power New Jersey: Our Streets, illustrates how the community of Trenton channeled its collective power to advocate for everyone’s right to safe and accessible streets, clean transportation, and community resources to build a healthier, more just future for all. View the film and others in the series HERE.

IN SOLIDARITY WITH REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM GROUPS: In response to the leaked draft opinion indicating that a majority of Supreme Court justices are planning to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to ban abortion, LCV released a statement in solidarity with our allies leading the movement for reproductive freedom and justice. Support the National Network of Abortion Funds through ActBlue, which will split all donations between over 80 local abortion funds. 

OUR TAKE: President Gene Karpinski and Board Chair Carol M. Browner said, “This draft opinion is an outrageous overreach by a captured Supreme Court and by Justices who, at their confirmation hearings, denied under oath that they were planning to overturn Roe v. Wade. Neither the Constitution nor the people support this egregious abuse of power by a bare majority on our highest court. Overturning Roe would devastate communities, especially communities of color, low-income communities, and rural communities who already face significant barriers to accessing care and are the same groups most harmed by pollution, climate change and restrictions on voting rights. Access to abortion care is central to building the just and equitable democracy we seek. As of today, the right to safe abortion care remains the law of the land, and we stand with our allies leading the movement for reproductive freedom and justice and look forward to joining them on the steps of the Supreme Court and across the country tonight. At the same time, LCV and our affiliated entities will keep fighting like hell this year to elect pro-environment, pro-choice candidates who will codify Roe, confirm judges who respect our fundamental rights, and build a just and equitable clean energy future.”

ON EPA AND DOJ ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ENFORCEMENT STRATEGY: This week, the EPA and DOJ announced a new environmental justice enforcement strategy.

OUR TAKE: LCV Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote said, “We thank Administrator Regan, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, and the Biden-Harris administration for continuing to prioritize environmental justice, secure protections for communities, and enact stronger safeguards to hold polluters accountable. Communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately exposed to violations of environmental laws and experience the worst impacts of the climate crisis. These actions today should help reverse the Trump administration’s turning a blind eye to those communities in need of relief. We look forward to working with the new DOJ Office of Environmental Justice as they help fulfill the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to centering these impacted communities with their whole of government approach to tackling environmental racism. Working together, we can achieve a more just and equitable future for all communities.”

PARK RANGER CAM JUAREZ WOULD LIKE TO INVITE YOU TO RECLAIM YOUR PUBLIC LANDS: This week, LCV spotlighted Cam Juarez, a park ranger in Arizona’s Saguaro National Park, who is working to connect with historically-excluded communities in the outdoors and building community to take public lands and historical narratives back. Read his spotlight HERE

PARK RANGER TAKE: Park Ranger Cam Juarez said, “That’s part of our cultura, connecting to the land to heal ourselves. So public lands to me means much more than just Saguaro National Park, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, or Yosemite. It means getting outdoors, and it means community. It also means traditions and sharing experiences across muchas generaciones.

WHITE-NEWSOME BECOMES NEW SENIOR DIRECTOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AT CEQ: This week, LCV responded to the exciting news that Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome became the new senior director of environmental justice at CEQ.

OUR TAKE: Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “The Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to advancing environmental justice is more important than ever and we are thrilled that Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome will take on this historic role at CEQ to help deliver a more just and equitable future for all. Dr. White-Newsome brings deep experience across academia, philanthropy, and community advocacy. Her impressive impact earned her Michigan Conservation Voters’ Advocate of the Year in 2017 when they said her work, ‘should serve as a blueprint for equitable policymaking going forward.’ We look forward to working with Dr. White-Newsome to ensure the successful implementation of the Justice40 Initiative and the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, advance a full suite of improvements to the National Environmental Policy Act, and enact a whole of government approach to safeguarding communities of color and advancing environmental and climate justice.”

ENDORSEMENTS FOR CONGRESS: This week, LCV Action Fund endorsed three candidates for Congress: Tony Vargas for election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, Seth Magaziner for election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District, and Valerie Foushee for election to the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District.

LCV VICTORY FUND LAUNCHES AD CAMPAIGNS: This week, LCV Victory Fund announced its first $550,000 investment of 2022 will go to four independent expenditures supporting pro-environment, non-incumbent, women of color running for U.S. House seats in competitive primaries: Jessica Cisneros, candidate for TX-28; Donna Edwards, candidate for MD-04; Summer Lee, candidate for PA-12; and Andrea Salinas, candidate for OR-06. LCV Victory Fund has only invested in federal primary elections a handful of times before. Jessica Cisneros (TX-28th), is supported with a six figure, Spanish-language radio ad focused on high costs for working families and her willingness to fight for local communities, Summer Lee (PA-12) is supported with an ad campaign highlighting her experience organizing for working families and fighting against corporate polluters, and Andrea Salinas (OR-06), is also supported with a six  figure ad buy highlighting Salinas’ work for affordable health care, higher wages, and fighting climate change. 

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

HISTORIC SESSION FOR CLIMATE ACTION ENDS IN CONNECTICUT: Connecticut’s legislative session ended this week after multiple big wins for clean energy and climate. This year, the state passed legislation commiting to 100% clean energy, increasing access to solar power and protecting air quality by strengthening light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicle emission standards and increasing electric vehicle infrastructure and incentives. 

CTLCV TAKE: Connecticut League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Lori Brown was quoted in the CT Post and CT Public Radio, saying, “This has been a banner week for climate policy in Connecticut. Capped off with the passage of the Clean Air Act, this session will go down in history as a strong statement of our state’s values and commitment to providing a cleaner, healthier, more viable future for generations to come…It’s really game-changing for our state.”

VERMONT PASSES ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE BILL: On Wednesday, the Vermont House took a critical step forward in addressing a long history of undue environmental injustice by passing Vermont’s first statewide environmental justice legislation. The bill is now back in the Senate, which will consider changes made by the House.

VCV TAKE: Executive Director of Vermont Conservation Voters Lauren Hierl said, “Every Vermonter deserves access to a clean and healthy environment, and it’s great to see the strong House vote in support of the Environmental Justice bill. Thank you to all of the Representatives who worked hard to strengthen, support, and advance this legislation, including, among many others, Speaker Jill Krowinski, Rep. Kari Dolan, and Rep. Coach Christie, who showed important leadership on this issue.”

NJ BANS PLASTIC BAGS: This week, the nation’s strongest ban on single-use bags and containers went into effect in New Jersey. Ed Potosnak, executive director of New Jersey LCV, joined executive director of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, Jennifer M. Coffey, in an op-ed celebrating the law and highlighting the consequences of single-use plastic.  

NJLCV TAKE: Executive Director of New Jersey LCV Ed Potosnak and Executive Director of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions Jennifer M. Coffey said, “‘The newly banned plastic products in New Jersey require a cultural change and a shift away from ‘this is the way we’ve always (or at least for the past 40 years) done it.’ There’s a lot of bad information out there about the plastics ban from the oil and gas industries that don’t like the change because it will impact their profits. The facts are that the more we reuse a reusable bag, the more efficient it becomes from both a cost per use and use of resources perspective…Change can be hard, but New Jerseyans are smart, tenacious, and have risen to much more difficult challenges. We want our children and grandchildren to inherit a beautiful state clear of polluted oceans and land. Let’s all do our parts to make this happen.”

ALASKANS ARE GAINING SOLAR POWER: Major utility companies in Alaska are reporting a record increase in the number of households and small businesses producing their own solar power and selling the excess electricity to utilities. The Alaska Center, LCV’s state affiliate, is making solar installation even easier through its program Solarize Anchorage, which facilitates group installations by multiple households, allowing for better prices. Residents report cutting “annual power bills by more than half” and solar panel installers report strong demand for their services as homeowners sign up “after hearing positive reviews from neighbors with their own rooftop arrays.” 

CALLING ALASKANS TO TAKE CHARGE OF UTILITIES: Rachel Christensen, Clean Energy Organizer for The Alaska Center, published an op-ed highlighting the power Alaskans have to decide where their energy comes from. She especially highlights the importance of utility elections.

AK CENTER TAKE: Rachel Christensen, Clean Energy Organizer for The Alaska Center, said, “These elections are the most important thing that no one talks about. In a meeting where public input has been minimal, one voice can create an uproar. In an election with voter turnout rates this low, one vote can mean the difference between a coal plant and a solar farm. Utilities across the state are entering election season, and the board members elected will create our future. If you have been looking for a small step to make a massive change in your community, this is it. You have the opportunity to create a future that you want to live in; take it. Use your voice and vote. Visit your local utility cooperatives website for information on how to vote and attend board meetings.”

CA ENVIROVOTERS TEAMS UP WITH BROWN GIRL GREEN: This week CA Environmental Voters teamed up with climate activist Kristy Drutman, otherwise known as @browngirl_green, to discuss why California needs to double its climate budget. Watch her video HERE. 

LAS VEGAS FILIPINO-AMERICAN COMMUNITY CALLS FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE: Last week, the Nevada Conservation League and League of Conservation Voters unveiled a mural in Las Vegas by artist Guilherme Lemes calling for climate justice in English, Spanish and Tagalog, a language spoken in the Philippines..

NCL TAKE: Nevada Conservation League Communications Director Angelyn Tabalba said, “This mural is connected in the ways we can honor our environment and uplift the ways our community is calling for climate action and climate justice. When we think about the climate crisis, and the need for action on climate justice, we know that it affects us all, but it affects our communities differently. Underserved communities, which are particularly the low-income communities and communities of color, which include our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, they were hit first and worse by the climate crisis.”

ARTISTS TEAM UP WITH CLIMATE ACTIVISTS IN IDAHO: Conservation Voters for Idaho has teamed up with the Garden City Placemaking Fund on a new project to create a series of public art displays in Garden City that celebrate the environment in Idaho and illustrate the need for federal climate action. Today, the Garden City Climate Action Walk officially opened with a kickoff event featuring two artists painting the first of six murals which will be located across the city’s Live-Work-Create district.

CHISPA NEVADA RALLY FOR WORKERS’ RIGHTS: On Sunday, hundreds of workers and community members gathered on the Las Vegas Strip to mark International Workers’ Day with a march organized by Chispa Nevada and other local advocacy groups.. Marchers, who called for stronger protections for undocumented immigrants and workers in the United States, chanted “this is what Democracy looks like!” and “si se puede!” (yes we can).

PROTÉGETE PROGRAM DIRECTOR SPEAKS AT WORLD FORESTRY CONGRESS: Protégete Director, Beatriz Soto was a part of the US delegation at the World Forestry Congress in Seoul, South Korea this week. Soto spoke at the event about the role of rural communities in balancing land conservation with a strong recreation economy. View Protégete’s Instagram post about the event HERE

CHISPA FLORIDA IMMIGRATION REFORM RALLY: On Sunday, Chispa Florida took part in an immigration reform rally in support of a path to citizenship for undocumented families who live and work in the United States. Community leaders, immigrants and various organizations in Central Florida attended the event. . View Chispa Florida’s pictures from the rally, HERE and HERE

HALTING A CATASTROPHIC PIPELINE FOR GOOD: The Mountain Valley Pipeline has been delayed again, with developers pushing the conduit’s targeted in-service date into 2023. Last month, in an effort organized by the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, 17 state lawmakers from Virginia wrote to  Virginia federal Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner in opposition to the gas pipeline.

VALCV TAKE: “MVP is a non-viable solution for current energy concerns, and should be recognized as an environmental catastrophe with no certainty of completion.” Read the full letter HERE.

VAST MAJORITY OF MONTANANS RELY ON PUBLIC LANDS: On Tuesday, the UM Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative released its fifth biennial poll of Montanans’ opinions of public lands, wildlife and conservation. According to the poll, a vast majority of Montanans regularly visit and recreate on public lands, and four out of five polled said wildlife are an important part of their daily life. This year, residents are increasingly worried that rapid growth is degrading natural spaces.

MCV TAKE: Montana Conservation Voters Executive Director Whitney Tawney said, “This poll shows that even as political polarization increases, protecting our public lands is a core issue that rises above partisanship. In other words, voters across the political spectrum want our leaders to prioritize our public lands and find ways to use the tools available to effectively conserve our natural resources.

OLCV CONTINUES TO SUPPORT SPOTTED OWL PROTECTIONS: This week, Oregon League of Conservation Voters joined other environmental advocacy groups to condemn democratic congressional candidate, Carrick Flynn’s remarks expressing emotional sympathy for Timber Unity, a far-right group with ties to the January 6 insurrection, and his criticism of listing the northern spotted owl as endangered. His campaign tried to backtrack last week, saying Flynn had misspoken. 

OLCV TAKE: Oregon League of Conservation Voters signed a letter along with other advocacy groups, saying “As organizations who have been fighting for decades to uphold the strong environmental values held by the people of Oregon, we are stunned and deeply saddened to hear Carrick Flynn, a Democratic candidate running for Congress, make comments mocking critical environmental protections, sympathizing with a far-right group that has ties to the Jan. 6 insurrection, and referring to our state’s iconic land use system as ‘insane’.”

FIGHTING TRAFFIC VIOLENCE IN NYC: On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez launched a $4 million multi-platform, multilingual campaign to counter rising traffic violence and curb dangerous driving behaviors, both of which have increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign, titled “Speeding Ruins Lives, Slow Down,” represents the largest education effort targeted at community and ethnic media with a $1.5 million commitment to help reach a wide range of communities, including communities of color that disproportionately suffer as a result of traffic violence. 

NYLCV TAKE: Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, “We need our streets to be safe for riders and pedestrians if we’re going to reduce our reliance on cars and the harmful emissions that damage public health and our environment. The ‘Speeding Ruins Lives’ campaign is part of the critical effort toward Vision Zero and protecting every resident, rider, and pedestrian, and the New York League of Conservation Voters supports this significant investment.”

PROTECT CLIMATE GOALS WITH CRYPTOMINING MORATORIUM IN NY: The New York LCV recently announced its support for a moratorium on cryptomining and urged Governor Hochul to deny an  air permit renewal for Greenidge Generation, an environmentally disastrous Bitcoin mining operation on Seneca Lake. NYLCV emphasized that renewable energy should not be used for cryptomining to reduce energy use.

NYLCV TAKE: Julie Tighe, president of New York League of Conservation Voters, said: “Some have argued that it is possible to sustainably mine proof-of-work cryptocurrency. NYLCV does not believe that this is the case. As we scale up renewable energy infrastructure, we face a mix of grid constraints, labor constraints, and supply chain issues that together limit the pace of renewable development in New York, and already make achieving the CLCPA’s requirements that the state’s grid be 70% renewable by 2030 and 100% clean by 2040 a challenge. As we work to meet the broader goals of the CLCPA, we need to reduce the energy intensity of current energy uses like buildings and appliances, bring new renewables online at an unprecedented pace, and carefully phase in the electrification of new uses like transportation and building heating so as to not overload the grid. Adding large, new, non-essential strains on the grid make achieving the CLCPA’s goals more difficult.”

WIND ENERGY IN NORTH CAROLINA: At least five offshore wind-energy projects are now on the horizon for North Carolina as part of efforts to transition to energy independence and reach President Biden’s goal for the U.S. to generate 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.

NCLCV TAKE: Clean Energy Campaigns director at the North Carolina LCV Montravias King said, “North Carolinians know the power of the winds blowing across our beautiful coast. Those winds will soon power millions of North Carolina homes and businesses, saving us money on our utility bills, preventing the worst impacts of climate change, and creating family-sustaining careers in the home-grown clean energy supply chain.”

LOCAL PA ADVOCATES UNITE FOR EARTH DAY: Last Friday, West Chester Green Team and West Chester University organized an annual Earth Day celebration in which speakers highlighted the importance of sustainability, collaboration, and strong community organizing. 

CVP TAKE: Jess Cadorette, field director of the Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, announced that the Chester County Environmental Alliance’s Common Environment Agenda will be presented to County Commissioners this week and emphasized environmental justice: “Not everyone experiences the environment in the same way.”

VA CELEBRATES YOUNG ECO HEROES: On Monday Field Director for Virginia League of Conservation Voters Sarah Ahmed joined Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) at the Science Museum of Virginia at a reception to celebrate fifteen K-5th grade students in Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District who successfully completed his 2021-2022 Eco Heroes Program. Initially launched in 2019, the Eco Heroes Program consists of a series of environmentally-focused challenges and educational tasks that aim to increase youth’s awareness and excitement about productive, eco-friendly habits and behaviors they can begin developing and implementing in their daily lives.

CLEAN HEAT STANDARD IN VT FACES A SETBACK: On Wednesday, the Vermont Senate voted to advance the Clean Heat Standard bill for further development by the Public Utility Commission after adding a disappointing amendment that weakened the law by requiring it to be endorsed again in the 2024 Legislature. The bill is a core plank of the state’s new Climate Action Plan and is essential to meeting the state’s legal obligation to reduce climate pollution by  helping Vermonters access more affordable, cleaner energy solutions.

VCV TAKE: Executive Director of Vermont Conservation Voters Lauren Hierl said,“The biggest climate story this year will be the historic investments to help Vermonters access weatherization and clean transportation options, and to build a clean energy workforce. The Clean Heat program has become more of a case of wait-and-see – which is unfortunate at a time when we must definitively commit to addressing the climate crisis.”

COMING UP:

MAY 10: HNRC Chair Grijalva, Sen. Heinrich, and Rep. Lowenthal hold press conference on legislation to reform the 1872 Mining Law on its 150th anniversary

MAY 10: Dia De Las Madres/Mothers Day

MAY 11: Senate vote to codify Roe

MAY 12: Last Day to submit EPA comments – Clean Trucks Rule

MAY 12: HNRC subcommittee hearing on mining reform legislation

MAY 14: North Carolina Early Voting Closes

 

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