THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION – September 09, 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:

We have not gone a month without having a ‘boil water’ notice or low to no water pressure in the last two years. Unfortunately, that is something we have gotten used to as American citizens – nobody should be adapting to that type of quality of life.”

Jackson Councilman Aaron Banks, who has lived in Jackson for most of his life and now represents a district that is more than 90% Black. He says he thinks a devastating combination of aging infrastructure and climate change ultimately led to the latest collapse of Jackson’s water supply.

“Ten of the Yuman-speaking tribes who trace their creation story and ancestry to Avi Kwa Ame place a tremendous importance on preserving the history and natural beauty of this land. Enhanced federal protection for Avi Kwa Ame would devote additional federal resources to safeguarding cultural sites, maintaining plant and wildlife habitats and migration corridors, and balancing responsible outdoor recreation activities with land conservation.”

— Taylor Patterson, Executive Director of Native Voters Alliance Nevada said in a statement responding to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s visit to Avi Kwa Ame (Spirit Mountain), a proposed national monument site in Nevada.

“I am from the Great Smoky Mountains full of flora and fauna. The Mountain Valley Pipeline would go through the Appalachian Mountains. The water is not flowing anymore. The grass is not growing anymore. It’s time to take the land back.”

– Mary Crow of the Indigenous Environmental Network said to a crowd of over 500 who gathered in Washington D.C. on Thursday to protest the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

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HOW WILL THE IRA AFFECT ME?: On Sunday, LCV, Climate Power, and Future Forward USA Action released the latest ad in their $10 million national ad campaign educating people on the benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act. Titled “For You,” the ad is up on TV and digital streaming platforms nationwide and highlights how the Inflation Reduction Act will lower the costs of energy bills and prescription drugs. Watch the ad here.

LCVVF WEEKLY MEMO: LCV Victory Fund released the first installment of its 2022 weekly field organizing and paid media updates on Tuesday. On the ground, field organizers are part of a $12.8 million effort to knock at least 1.17 million doors in key states. Through late September, organizers will engage voters around their top concerns, persuade them to vote for pro-climate candidates, and get voters to sign commit to vote cards. So far, the field program has knocked on over 230,000 doors and made over 30,000 successful contacts. Read this week’s full LCVVF weekly memo here.

JOHN PODESTA AND ALI ZAIDI LEAD: LCV commended Friday’s White House announcement that John Podesta will serve as Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation and Ali Zaidi will serve as the next White House National Climate Advisor, taking over the position after Gina McCarthy’s departure.

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “John brings deep experience, tenacity, and a great sense of humor to this critically important new role. We couldn’t be more excited for him to join the administration at this crucial time and look forward to working with him, Ali, and the entire Biden-Harris administration to implement the historic Inflation Reduction Act and build a more just, equitable clean energy future.

“We are so grateful for Gina’s tireless leadership and wish her all the best. Starting on day one of the Biden-Harris administration, she and Ali have led the historic all-of-government approach that has resulted in so much progress. We are delighted that Ali is succeeding Gina and have high expectations for more progress to come.”

AVI KWA ME VISIT SIGNALS PROGRESS FOR NATIONAL MONUMENT DESIGNATION: In response to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s visit to the proposed national monument site in southern Nevada known as Avi Kwa Ame (Ah-VEE kwa-meh, a.k.a. Spirit Mountain) on Wednesday, LCV and Nevada Conservation League (NCL) joined other Avi Kwa Ame coalition members in calling on Secretary Haaland to advise President Biden and the administration to designate Avi Kwa Ame as a national monument.

OUR TAKE: Conservation Program Direct Alex Taurel said, “Secretary Haaland’s visit to Avi Kwa Ame builds on the momentum from tribal governments and local advocates working to make the landscape Nevada’s next national monument. LCV is proud to support their efforts to protect the cultural, recreational and ecological resources, and we urge the administration to quickly designate Avi Kwa Ame national monument to ensure the area is protected for future generations.”

NCL TAKE: Nevada Conservation League Avi Kwa Ame Campaign Manager Craig Bakerjian said, “Establishing the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument will honor tribes, preserve ecological resources, and strengthen our outdoor recreation economy while heeding Nevadans’ call for meaningful conservation and climate action. The Secretary’s presence at the proposed monument site and walking alongside members of our coalition gives her the incredible experience to understand this locally-led conservation effort being backed by a diverse group of stakeholders.” Read the full coalition statement here.

EXPAND TRIBAL CO-MANAGEMENT: Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and 42 members of Congress sent a letter to President Biden on Wednesday urging him to expand tribal co-management of U.S. public lands, waters and resources. Chair Grijalva also sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office asking them to examine current efforts to implement tribal co-management practices. Tribal co-management would recognize the value of traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge that has been developed by the nations that have lived on the land since time immemorial. A hearing is set to take place on Sep. 14 on various bills touching on tribal co-management.

LETTER TAKE: The letter from Chair Grivalja and 42 members of Congress reads, “Since time immemorial, Indigenous communities have managed the lands and waters that now comprise the United States. As the original stewards of these resources, Indigenous peoples developed a deep knowledge of and connection to these resources that persists even after centuries of colonization, forced relocation, and violence. Indigenous communities in the United States maintain cultural, historical, and religious connections to their ancestral homelands that were developed in many cases over thousands of years. These lands and waters remain essential to Indigenous lifeways, and many tribal governments exert rights over off-reservation lands – including federal lands – to hunt, fish, and gather. In turn, numerous tribal governments seek expanded opportunities to engage with the federal government to manage tribal and federal lands and waters through requests for consultation and efforts to co-manage resources on distinct parcels of federal land.”

BACKING PAT RYAN: LCV Action Fund and the New York League of Conservation Voters endorsed Pat Ryan’s run to represent New York’s 18th Congressional District on Wednesday. In August, Ryan won a special election to represent New York’s 19th Congressional District and is now running for a full term in his home district, NY-18. Since 2019, Ryan has served as County Executive for Ulster County and helped make the county a leader on climate action by committing to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 and buying the county’s first electric buses.

OUR TAKE: LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Representative Pat Ryan is a strong advocate for bold climate action and as Ulster County Executive fought for efforts that are critical to our transition to a clean energy future. Communities across the Hudson Valley know the devastating consequences of inaction on climate change all too well. Representative Pat Ryan is committed to investing in electrifying our public transportation and job training in green careers – and he stands up to corporate polluters so that all communities in New York can have a healthy environment. We are excited to support his campaign and we look forward to working with him to create a resilient climate for all communities.”

NYLCV TAKE: President of the New York League of Conservation Voters Julie Tighe said, “Representative Pat Ryan is a proven leader in the environmental policy arena. As Ulster County Executive, Pat demonstrated that climate action on the local level is not only possible—it works; while his support for the Environmental Bond Act shows he understands the importance of providing our elected leaders the tools they need to preserve the environment and stem the tide of climate change. For these reasons and more, the NYLCV is thrilled to endorse Pat Ryan for congress.”

ENDORSING EVAN MCMCULLIN: On Tuesday, LCV Action Fund endorsed Evan McMullin for election to the U.S. Senate as an independent representing Utah. As an independent, he is building a cross-partisan coalition of supporters committed to protecting our air and water.  

OUR TAKE: LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Evan McMullin is the independent voice Utahns can count on in the U.S. Senate to fight for a strong democracy and for all communities to have clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. Communities in Utah feel the impact of our changing climate every single day – bad air quality, drought, brutal wildfire seasons, and more 100+ degree days. Evan McMullin understands the challenges facing Utahns, and he will always put what is right for the Beehive State’s communities and environment ahead of politics.” 

BIDEN’S SOUL OF THE NATION: LCV reaffirmed its commitment to protecting our democracy and defending voting rights against MAGA Republicans in a statement responding to President Biden’s Sep. 1 “Continued Battle for the Soul of the Nation” speech in Pennsylvania.

OUR TAKE: LCV Advocacy Director for Judiciary and Democracy Doug Lindner said, “President Biden isn’t mincing words when it comes to the systematic assault on our democracy by Republicans, MAGA extremists, white nationalists, and their far-right allies. With voting rights under attack by Republican legislators and judges, January 6th conspirators continuing to scheme to subvert our elections, and corporations continuing to funnel millions of dollars towards rampant disinformation and proponents of the Big Lie, we greatly appreciate President Biden standing up for the fundamental right of the people to govern ourselves. We can’t have a healthy environment without a healthy democracy. So now it is more important than ever to combat election sabotage, disinformation, and blatant voter suppression efforts intended to further exclude the communities who face the most devastation from the climate crisis and environmental injustice, who are time and time again communities of color.”

CVP TAKE: Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania Executive Director Molly Parzen said, “At a time when our democracy is under attack by extremists seeking to undermine our elections, restrict access to the ballot box and attack truth itself, it is essential that we recommit ourselves to the rule of law on which our nation is based. Policies that conserve our environment, combat climate change and protect the health of our families are only possible in a thriving democracy when the people – not violent extremists – are in charge.”

TAKING DOWN PRO-POLLUTERS IN CT AND NM: LCV Victory Fund released two TV ads on Tuesday opposing House CT-05 candidate George Logan and incumbent Rep. Yvette Herrell in NM-02. The ad against Logan, titled “Behind,” targets the utility company executive for opposing clean energy policies. And, in “Dump,” Rep. Herrel is criticized for voting to allow poisonous chemicals like mercury to pollute New Mexico’s land and water. The ads are part of LCVVF’s $2 million effort to support House climate champions in key battleground states.

OUR TAKE: LCV Victory Fund Regional Campaigns Director Eva Estrada said, “We must elect environmental champions this fall like Rep. Jahana Hayes and Gabe Vasquez who supported the strongest climate action in U.S. history, the Inflation Reduction Act, which will lower costs for families and create millions of jobs. There is no place in Congress for pro-polluter candidates like George Logan and Yvette Herrell who are completely out of step with the vast majority of voters in this country who support the Inflation Reduction Act.”

JOE O’DEA IS WRONG FOR COLORADO: LCV Action Fund released a statement on Tuesday criticizing Colorado Senate candidate Joe O’Dea for favoring “prudent” climate action and siding with fossil fuel companies. In Colorado, wildfires, droughts, extreme snow and heat waves have shown that climate action is urgently needed. Colorodans know this, too, with 74% agreeing that leaders are not currently doing enough to reverse the effects of climate change. Read the full statement here.

OUR TAKE: LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Joe O’Dea’s position is anything but moderate and Coloradans will not be fooled by this cynical attempt at greenwashing his climate denial. The science is clear that the climate crisis is here and Coloradans know this too, dealing with record droughts and wildfires fueled by climate change. Coloradans are demanding action and O’Dea is dangerously out of step. The vast majority of Coloradans want their elected leaders to do more to fight the climate crisis and know that treating climate change as anything but an emergency is as bad as denying it is even happening. The idea that we should allow the same giant corporations that have created this crisis, polluted communities and knowingly misled the public on their climate impacts for decades to write the laws that protect our air, lands and water is outrageous. Luckily, Coloradans already have a climate and environmental justice champion in Michael Bennet representing them in the U.S. Senate and LCV Action Fund is all-in to help him win this November.”

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

BIG WINS FOR CLIMATE IN CA:  In the final days of the legislative session, California passed a sweeping number of climate proposals, turning things around after LCV affiliate California Environmental Voters gave the state its first ever “D” rating for last year’s session. Notably, the state codified former Governor Jerry Brown’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2045, mandated an 85% reduction in carbon emissions by 2045 and accelerated its interim clean energy targets to achieve 90% carbon-free electricity by 2035 and 95% by 2040 to reach its existing goal of 100% by 2045. These policies come at a time when California is facing an increasingly urgent energy crisis as a historic, climate change-exacerbated heat wave threatens blackouts. Building a more resilient clean energy grid and taking action to curb climate emissions is critical as our outdated, fossil-fuel power system can’t meet growing challenges. Federal investments offer important opportunities for states such as California to modernize transmission infrastructure and develop clean energy resources.

Read more about the outcomes of California’s legislative session here.

CEV TAKE: Mary Creasman, CEO of California Environmental Voters, said, “This is a breakthrough year on climate action. California has proven we can still make big changes on climate and defeat the power of corporate polluters. After years of inaction, 2022 is an unprecedented year of climate leadership. If California can sustain this climate courage in future years, we can truly create the global roadmap to solving the climate crisis and advancing justice. Californians’ health, lives, and livelihoods are on the line from record heat waves, drought, pollution, and extreme wildfires. Finally, California will start investing in solutions at the scale required to turn the tide before time runs out at the end of this decade.””

INFLATION REDUCTION ACT IN ARIZONA: On Thursday, the Chispa Arizona team gathered at a roundtable discussion where Federal Climate Organizer @deeh_jai met with Congressman Ruben Gallego and community leaders. DJ led the conversation on how Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and people of color in Arizona will be affected by the Inflation Reduction Act. Check out the meeting here.

REGIONAL PLANNING FOR OFFSHORE WIND IN NEW ENGLAND: Last week, the five coastal New England states released a request for information to inform joint efforts to update transmission infrastructure and prepare to bring increased offshore wind and other clean energy onto the regional electric grid. As part of the Regional Transmission Initiative, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island also opened up public comment on a draft Modular Offshore Wind Integration Plan. Comments on both will be accepted until October 14. 

In response to the Regional Transmission Initiative announcement, New England for Offshore Wind (NE4OSW) – a coalition consisting of LCV state affiliate organizations and a diverse array of partners – released a set of shared principles and goals to guide regional transmission planning. The Transmission Principles aim to ensure that the buildout of New England’s clean energy system centers environmental justice, includes meaningful stakeholder and community engagement, minimizes environmental impact and creates good-paying local jobs and workforce development. 

Read NE4OSW’s statement on the Regional Transmission Initiative here and read the Transmission Principles here.

ELM TAKE: Environmental League of Massachusetts Director of Clean Energy Policy and New England for Offshore Wind Regional Lead Susannah Hatch said, “Expanding [New England’s] electric transmission system will be critical to our ability to unlock the full potential of offshore wind and combat climate change. These principles demonstrate a vision for transmission development reached by a broad base of organizations that government and developers can adopt to ensure successful and beneficial outcomes. We are proud to demonstrate this consensus on these key principles, particularly in a region where transmission has very recently been a contentious issue. We are thrilled that the states have moved forward with a joint request for information for transmission and urge them to ensure these principles guide the solicitation process as it unfolds.” 

PROCESS BEGINS FOR MORE OFFSHORE WIND IN RI: On Wednesday, Rhode Island opened a public comment period on a draft offshore wind request for proposals (RFP). Earlier this year, the state committed to transition to 100% clean energy by 2033 – the fastest timeline in the country – and passed legislation requiring Rhode Island Energy to release the RFP by October for 600-1,000 megawatts of offshore wind. This was a priority of the New England for Offshore Wind Coalition who was critical to the bill’s success. Rhode Island has the US’s first offshore wind farm, Block Island, which became operational in 2016.

VA SENATE CHAMPIONS STAND UP TO GOVERNOR’S ATTACKS ON CLIMATE: 61 Virginia Democrats sent a letter to the state Air Pollution Control Board this week in opposition to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s plan to try and remove Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) by the end of next year. RGGI is the oldest cap-and-trade program in the country, incrementally reducing greenhouse gas emissions caps since 2009. After years of advocacy, Virginia passed legislation in 2020 to become the first southern state in RGGI, joining all East Coast states to the north. Youngkin plans to use the Administrative Process Act to bypass the legislature and take the matter to the Air Board – a regulatory body whose members are appointed by the Governor – for a vote. The letter, signed by over a third of the General Assembly, declares that only the legislature has the power to determine Virginia’s participation in RGGI. If Youngkin moves ahead with his proposal, the issue will likely go to court.

VALCV TAKE: Mike Town, Executive Director of Virginia LCV said, “Glenn Youngkin appears to care more about playing politics and raising his national profile in conservative circles than doing the right thing for Virginia communities. If Youngkin succeeds in taking us out of [RGGI] he will be robbing our state of hundreds of millions of dollars that help protect our communities from flooding and lower electric bills – all while letting big polluters off the hook. Virginia LCV will continue to work with our allies in the State Senate to defend this vital climate action program, hold this Administration accountable, and elect the next Conservation Majority in 2023 to block the extreme Youngkin agenda.”

NATIONAL CLEAN ENERGY WEEK: Eleven state governors have signed proclamations recognizing 2022 National Clean Energy Week (NCEW), September 26-30, and many more are expected to join them in the coming weeks. NCEW launched in 2017 as a bipartisan forum in support of clean energy and more than half of the states in the country formally recognized it last year. The first five states to issue statements this year demonstrate that people across the country and across the aisle recognize the importance and immense opportunity of clean energy in the US. Read the first five proclamations here: Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico and Ohio, and see all of the state proclamations as they’re announced here.

CVI TAKE: Ryan McGoldrick, Conservation Voters for Idaho Program Manager, said: “CVI thanks Governor Little for his continued support of clean energy. After more than a dozen commitments from Idaho’s cities, counties, school districts, and utilities, three out of four Idahoans live in a community committed to clean energy. We look forward to celebrating this joint progress with the Governor during National Clean Energy Week.”

THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE: On Thursday, Chispa Arizona led community members in a rally for fair elections in November. Community members brought out 475 thousand signatures in support of a ballot initiative campaign to protect the freedom to vote and ensure people – not money – decide what happens in their communities. Watch a video about the rally and learn more here. 

JOURNALISTS FOR THE PLANET: Chispa Florida Community Organizer José Javier offered a course on Environmental Justice at the OET’s La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica, where he shared a case study on Chispa Florida’s experience with Latino communities in Central Florida.The OET is a leading organization in tropical research that brings together researchers from fifty universities around the world. Check out Chispa Florida’s post here.

COMING UP:

SEPTEMBER 11- 17: Truck Driver Appreciation Week

SEPTEMBER 13: Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island Primary Elections

SEPTEMBER 15 – OCTOBER 15: Hispanic Heritage Month

SEPTEMBER 20: National Voter Registration Day

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 20: Civic Engagement Week of Action

SEPTEMBER 22: Alliance for Electric School Buses Getting on Board Webinar series

SEPTEMBER 22: Climate Week NYC: Redford Center webinar with Chispa LCV

SEPTEMBER 24: National Public Lands Day

NOVEMBER 8: Election Day

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