THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – NOVEMBER 5, 2021

Dominic DiFiglia, ddifiglia@lcv.org

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:

“If countries don’t get on board with us, leaving out the people who steward a lot of the lands, it’s not just a moral issue anymore. It will have a devastating effect on the speed at which the rest of the world will get to sustainability.”

— Kyle Whyte, environmental justice professor at the University of Michigan and member of the Potawatomi Nation serving on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC), in an NBC article, “At U.N.’s COP26 climate summit, Indigenous voices are calling for more than lip service”

“You’re disconnecting their umbilical cord — their tie to the land, and to the elders, who most likely will not be moving with them to these urban locations.”

— Nikki Cooley, co-manager of the Tribes & Climate Change Program at Northern Arizona University, speaking on how forced relocation has left Indigenous communities with few options as they face extreme temperatures in a New York Times article, “Forced Relocation Left Native Americans More Exposed to Climate Threats, Data Show”

“Climate change doesn’t recognize territorial or political boundaries. It’s a global problem that requires a global effort to address it.”

— Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaking at COP26

———————————————————————————————————————

LCV IN THE NEWS:

AP: New framework bolsters Biden’s hand as climate summit begins
NBC: Biden’s credibility on climate in the balance at UN summit in Glasgow
Washington Post: Democrats not only have to pass their social spending package. They also have to sell it

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:

Rutland Herald (VT): Weekly Planet: What Building Back Better could mean for Vermont
Cal Matters (CA): California must act urgently on climate
The Colorado Sun (CO): Biden’s climate plan aims to reduce methane emissions
Phys.org (NY): NY state approves constitutional right to clean environment
Gothamist (NY): Canadian Renewable Hydropower Is Heading To New York City
VT Digger (VT): Bennington voters reject Spinelli Complex proposal, including synthetic turf field
The Colorado Sun (CO): Oil and gas regulators dial back rules that keep industry from sticking Colorado with bill for orphan wells

———————————————————————————————————————

NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH: For Native American Heritage Month, LCV honors the leadership and stewardship of Indigenous communities, who have long protected and cared for our lands and waters. Last week, a new study published in part by Kyle Whyte, environmental justice professor at the University of Michigan and member of the Potawatomi Nation serving on the WHEJAC, backs what we have long known — the forced relocation of Indigenous communities is a racial injustice that has put them on the frontlines of the climate crisis. 

INTERIOR SECRETARY TAKE ON NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH: Interior Secretary Deb Haaland tweeted, “Native American history is American history. This month we honor the gifts of our ancestors as we celebrate Indigenous knowledge, traditions, language and culture.” 

CLIMATE CAN’T WAIT: On the heels of this week’s elections, dozens of leading climate and environmental justice groups, including LCV, sent a letter to President Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and every Democrat in the Congress telling them to immediately pass both the Build Back Better Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The groups urged the congressional majority to stick with the commitment to pass both bills this week, and finish the job so our country can truly meet the Climate Test by putting us on a path to cut pollution in half by 2030.

COALITION TAKE: The coalition letter read, “If enacted, the Build Back Better Act will be the most significant climate and environmental justice action in history. It will meet the Climate Test by putting us on a path to cutting emissions in half by 2030 while creating millions of good-paying jobs, making historic investments in environmental justice, saving families at least $500 a year on their energy bills, and putting our clean energy economy into hyperdrive. Congress needs to get this done and failure is not an option. We cannot miss this moment.”

IT’S TIME TO BUILD BACK BETTER: This week, LCV released a memo highlighting some of the top climate priorities in the Build Back Better Framework, including investments that will put our country on the path to meeting the climate test, and address deep-rooted environmental injustices in communities facing the greatest impacts of the climate crisis. In addition, LCV sent a letter to Congress, urging the House to quickly pass the Build Back Better Act — reminding them that LCV will only consider endorsements for members who support this critical legislation and stating that this vote WILL be scored in the 2021 National Environmental Scorecard. Lastly, check out LCV’s updated checklist of priorities included in the House Rules Committee-approved Build Back Better Act HERE.

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski wrote, “As our nation and the world are already experiencing the deadly and devastating impacts of the climate crisis, and as we reckon with longstanding environmental and racial injustice and economic inequality, it’s never been more important or more urgent for Congress to make transformational progress. The Build Back Better Act passes the climate test and puts the United States on the path to cutting our climate pollution in half by 2030 while investing directly into communities of color too often left behind and creating good-paying union jobs. As a result, following our September 7 letter, for only the second time in our history, the League of Conservation Voters’ connected political committee, LCV Action Fund, will only consider endorsements for members of Congress in the 2022 election cycle or their next election who support the Build Back Better Act.”

ARTISTS CALL FOR CLIMATE ACTION!: LCV released a new video this week, highlighting local artists who are organizing community art in conjunction with activists — together, they are emphasizing the urgent need for climate action, justice, and clean energy jobs to address the climate crisis. Art pieces have included chalk and window murals, wood carvings, an ice sculpture, and even a sculpture made from vegan butter! Advocates and business owners across the country have made it clear — the climate crisis is here and Congress can’t wait to take action to invest in the clean energy infrastructure we need to pass the Climate Test. It is time to put our country on a clear path to cutting in half planet-warming pollution by 2030. 

PROPOSAL TO REDUCE METHANE: This week, the Biden administration proposed a rule to reduce methane pollution from new and existing sources in the oil and gas industry, which is a much needed step towards tackling the climate crisis — cutting the equivalent of over 920 million metric tons of CO2 — and minimizing the impacts of harmful air pollution in communities near these sites, often communities of color and communities of low-wealth.

EPA TAKE: EPA Administrator Michael Regan stated, “As global leaders convene at this pivotal moment in Glasgow for COP26, it is now abundantly clear that America is back and leading by example in confronting the climate crisis with bold ambition. With this historic action, EPA is addressing existing sources from the oil and natural gas industry nationwide, in addition to updating rules for new sources, to ensure robust and lasting cuts in pollution across the country. By building on existing technologies and encouraging innovative new solutions, we are committed to a durable final rule that is anchored in science and the law, that protects communities living near oil and natural gas facilities, and that advances our nation’s climate goals under the Paris Agreement.”

OUR TAKE: LCV Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote stated, “The EPA’s proposed rules are an important first step towards safeguarding communities, especially those living next to oil and gas drilling who are often low wealth and communities of color, from dangerous methane pollution that jeopardizes our health and worsens the climate crisis. With the world convening for COP26 in Glasgow, the case for climate action has never been more urgent, and we must quickly and significantly reduce methane pollution worldwide. As the process moves forward, we urge the Biden administration to strengthen these rules to cover all sources of dangerous methane pollution to help drive the emissions reductions we need, protect communities, and hold the oil and gas industry accountable for their contributions to climate change.” 

REPUBLICANS CONTINUE TO BLOCK VOTING PROTECTIONS: On Wednesday, the 49 Senate Republican used the outdated filibuster to block debate on the bipartisan John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the critical voter protections from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and prevent further voting barriers in communities who have been intentionally and historically excluded — especially communities of color and communities with low wealth. We know we cannot have a healthy environment without a healthy democracy. In advance of the vote on Wednesday, LCV sent a letter to Congress urging Senators to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. 

OUR TAKE: LCV Voting Rights Program Director Justin Kwasa stated, “It is past time for the Senate to eliminate the arcane and undemocratic filibuster rule in order to enact overwhelmingly popular voting rights legislation. Despite bipartisan support from the majority of senators, Republican senators denied the will of the people and majority in Congress today by using the filibuster to block the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act from passing the Senate. 

With 19 states passing election laws that will make it harder to vote, passing S. 4 would be a vital step forward from Congress to protect the voice of voters, especially the communities of color and other low-income communities that have been continuously targeted. Critically, the Senate version of S. 4 includes the Native American Voting Rights Act, which addresses some unique obstacles to voting that Native voters and tribal governments often face. To honor the late Representative John Lewis’ legacy, we must do everything we can to ensure racial, environmental, and electoral justice for all — starting with eliminating the filibuster and passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the Freedom to Vote Act, and D.C. Statehood.”

OUR DOUBLE TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski wrote, “Environmental justice, racial justice, and a representative democracy are inextricably linked. Low-income communities and communities of color have consistently and systematically been excluded from the political process, resulting in decades of environmental racism and a shameful lack of accountability for politicians and polluting corporations. S. 4 is a vital step toward ensuring that communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis across the country have their access to the ballot box protected by the rule of law. The late Representative John Lewis was a champion for civil rights and environmental justice. To honor his legacy, we must do everything we can to ensure racial, environmental, and electoral justice for all.”

———————————————————————————————————————

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

ELECTION DAY: Although the losses in Virginia were disappointing, environmental champions won in key races across the country. While LCV affiliate endorsed candidates did not win every race, young, Black, Brown, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, and Arab American candidates put climate action and environmental justice front and center in their elections and won up and down the ticket. Much of our progress on climate and clean energy has come from state and local leaders who have tackled the climate crisis head-on. As a result of their leadership, 1 in 3 people in this country now live in a place committed to 100% clean energy. These races are also vital to meet our national climate goals and will be important to implement federal climate action through the Build Back Better Act. See highlights from state wins below and statements from our state partners and winning candidates HERE.

IN BOSTON: Mayor-elect Michelle Wu will be the first woman of color elected to lead Boston and second to lead the city behind acting Mayor Kim Janey. Wu has committed to citywide carbon neutrality by 2040 – 10 years before the state’s own target and declared in her victory speech that “Boston is ready to become a Green New Deal city.”

IN IDAHO: Conservation Voters for Idaho endorsed candidates won 12 races across the state including two seats on the Boise City Council. These are key races to help build new clean energy projects, healthy, sustainable communities, and protect Idaho’s outdoor heritage for future generations. They also saw overwhelming support for the Boise Water Bond giving the city the flexibility to pursue thoughtful water policy such as reuse and aquifer recharge, spreads the costs fairly across all users of the system and will be a major win to address the state’s drought and water crisis. See full results and our state affiliate’s investment in the race HERE.

IN OHIO: Conservation Ohio secured major victories in municipal elections in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Lima. Conservation Ohio supported a bold, young, and diverse slate of candidates who were unapologetically ambitious on climate action. Victories included electing Cleveland Mayor-Elect Justin Bibb, Lima Mayor-Elect Sharetta Smith, Cincinnati Mayor-Elect Aftab Pureval, and a pro-environment Cincinnati Council majority.

IN MICHIGAN: State Representative and Mayor-Elect Abdullah Hammoud will take office as Dearborn’s first Arab-American mayor. Throughout his time in the state Legislature, Hammoud has been a staunch advocate for cleaning up Michigan’s drinking water and air, and protecting access to the ballot for all. Hammoud is a former board member of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.  

IN MONTANA: Conservation candidates won 19 of 21 races across city elections. This includes Missoula, Bozeman, and Helena, which all elected mayors committed to addressing climate change and leading protection of open space in their communities. Whitefish, Missoula, Helena, Bozeman, Livingston, and Billings all protected or expanded the conservation majorities on their municipal councils and commissions. You can see full results and MCV PAC investment in Montana races HERE.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS IN NY CONSTITUTION: In another big election day win, New Yorkers voted overwhelmingly to pass Prop 2, which amends the state constitution to include the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. 

NYLCV TAKE: New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe  said, “We cannot take clean water and air for granted. For too long, our most vulnerable communities have been harmed by high levels of air pollution and water contamination.”

OREGON STORIES: The Owyhee Canyonlands are a wild, intact area connecting Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada. Indigenous leaders and people from across the region are telling their stories about what these lands mean to them. They are calling for these lands to be federally protected, citing its cultural and recreational importance as well as the economic benefits of having such an incredible, untouched natural site in the region.

TRIBAL COUNCIL TAKE:  Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Tribal Councilmember Wilson Wewa said, “We need to save these lands for the future generations so that they can have what our past people had: a sense of identity with the land.” 

NO RATE HIKES FOR MICHIGAN: Michigan League of Conservation Voters (MLCV) called for a moratorium on new electricity rate hikes until an independent investigation can tackle why utility company DTE Energy’s prices have skyrocketed. MLCV also called for the state legislature to pass a law giving customers more choice about where their energy comes from and demanded more utility competition. Read more in Detroit News here.

WIND ENERGY IN NEW JERSEY: New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities recently approved three new offshore wind energy projects and is considering other proposals. Together, the approved projects aim to provide enough electricity to power over 1.6 million homes. This will help New Jersey reach its goal of generating 100% of its energy from clean sources by 2050. Polling shows that a majority of New Jerseyans support offshore wind, including 64% that believe these projects will create good-paying jobs, and 58% that said they would benefit the state’s environment.

NJLCV TAKE: NJLCV Executive Director Ed Potosnak said, “We have an opportunity to lead the nation in creating good local jobs in the 21st century clean energy economy, and we look forward to working with the governor, legislative leaders and local communities in fulfilling New Jersey’s clean energy goals and in positioning our state as a leader in this fast-growing industry”.

GRID OPERATOR KILLS KILLINGLY GAS PLANT: On Thursday, ISO-New England — the region’s electric grid operator — sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asking to end its contract with a proposed natural gas-fired power plant in eastern Connecticut. The Killingly Energy Center was planned to become operational mid-next year but has yet to begin construction due to permitting delays. Without ISO-New England’s commitment to use its power, the plant is less viable which is welcome news for the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV), who have been fighting to prevent the project for years. 

NET ZERO NEW MEXICO: At the 2021 New Mexico Climate Summit last week, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she intends to push legislation in the upcoming session to codify the state’s commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Lujan Grisham signed an executive order establishing the goal in 2019.

GOVERNOR TAKE: Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said, “For a small state with some pretty interesting challenges, we are in fact leading the country in any number of environmental strategies, policies and statutory frameworks at reducing our emissions and increasing our reliance on renewable energy. My money is on the scientists, the advocates and the champions in this state. This should be indicative of the work we’re going to do to preserve future generations.”

REGIONAL COLLABORATION FOR OFFSHORE WIND: Maine Governor Janet Mills asked the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to reconvene the Gulf of Maine Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force, which consists of Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, and was created to facilitate coordination between all levels of governments regarding the offshore wind energy leasing process. New Hampshire and Massachusetts previously asked BOEM to reconvene the task force, which only met once in December 2019. Mills made the request following the Department of the Interior’s announcement to develop a roadmap for offshore wind leasing on the East Coast. LCV affiliate, the Environmental League of Massachusetts leads a strong coalition, New England for Offshore Wind, which advocates for regional collaboration between the states, such as the task force, to put New England at the forefront of offshore wind development.

GOVERNOR TAKE: Governor Janet Mills said, “With the [Biden] Administration’s announcement, the timing is right to hold further discussions to ensure a level playing field among states, and to explore joint investment and mitigation opportunities stemming from commercial leasing in the Gulf.”

🏈FROM THE FIELD🏈: LCV’s visibility and mobilization field program continues to show that communities across the country want climate action now! Organizers have knocked on nearly 340,000 doors across 12 states and D.C., talking with people about the Build Back Better Act and its critical climate provisions. Through our canvassing, we’ve recruited over 20,000 people to take action, over 15,000 households to place a sign in their yard, and over 12,000 businesses to display support. Every day we hear from community members that would like to see tangible steps taken toward mitigating climate change — over 2,500 people we’ve talked to have called their member of Congress in favor of the Build Back Better Act. 

COMING UP:

NOVEMBER: Indigenous Peoples’ Month

Related Actions


Related Articles