THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION – SEPTEMBER 16, 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:

“A través de la historia, la cultura y la influencia de nuestras generaciones pasadas han marcado un desarrollo significativo en nuestra comunidad, por la diversidad…Cabe destacar que dentro de esta fecha se conmemoran eventos históricos importantes para nuestra comunidad: la independencia de cinco países Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala), la Independencia de México y de Chile, el Día de la Raza, entre otras.”

Throughout history, the culture and influence of our past generations has marked a significant development in our community for diversity….It should be noted that within these dates, important historical events for our community are commemorated: the independence of five countries (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala), the independence of Mexico and Chile, Dia de la Raza, and others.”

— The Chispa Florida team said about the start of Hispanic Heritage Month.

“Within the media, fostered in many respects by Latino leaders themselves, there’s been this vision of what a Latino looks like and thus whose history matters. Who are the representatives that matter? And that vision of Latinos is of a white-appearing individual. Afro-Latinos are not part of the narrative.”

— Tanya K. Hernández, professor of law at Fordham University, said in an article by Time highlighting the importance of recognizing Afro-Latino History during Hispanic Heritage Month.

“Environmental activists, students and young people, advocates for senior citizens and families. This is what it looks like when the American government works for the people.”

— President Joe Biden said during a speech at the White House on Tuesday celebrating the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

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HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH READING: The LA Times published a story on Thursday, the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month, to highlight how Latinxs are disproportionately facing the impacts of the climate crisis. The article is a part of the Times’ newsletter, titled “The Latinx Files,” which aims to uplift Latinx stories that often go unreported. The article finds that 71% of Latinxs in the U.S. said that climate change is affecting their community (for example: 37% of people living in areas with risk of wildfire are Latinx). Read the full story here.

LA TIMES TAKE: “On Monday, on the heels of a record-breaking heat wave that cooked Southern California for more than a week, The Times published a story by transportation and mobility reporter Rachel Uranga about how the overwhelming majority of the 12,200 bus stops served by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority lack shade or rain protection.”

“Uranga reports that “only a quarter have some kind of shade or rain shelter, and only half have a seat for those waiting.”

“The people most affected by this? Poor Latinxs.”

TRUCK DRIVER APPRECIATION WEEK: This week, the grit and determination of truck drivers was honored through National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. In July, LCV Government Affairs Fellow Erin Keleske shared testimony in front of the EPA about her story as the granddaughter of a lifelong truck driver. In her testimony, Keleske recalled her grandfather’s pride in being a truck driver and drew attention to their essential work to keep our nation running. Yet, drivers risk their health with each new year on the job. Read Keleske’s full testimony here and learn about how we can protect truck drivers from dangerous exposure to diesel exhaust by strengthening truck emissions standards. 

SAYING NO TO API WATERMARKED PERMITTING ROLLBACK: On Monday, LCV, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Climate Power sent a letter to Congress expressing opposition to the leaked American Petroleum Institute (API) watermarked permitting rollback.The legislation poses unacceptable risks to communities of color and low wealth communities by limiting environmental review, community input, and judicial oversight and redress for major infrastructure projects and government actions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a key tool for communities fighting environmental racism. We have a different vision for improving permitting that deepens public engagement and so the letter instead encourages Congress to advance the Environmental Justice for All Act, which was developed over more than two years with robust community consultation and feedback and has already been approved by the House Natural Resources Committee and pieces have been approved by the House. Read the full letter here.

OUR COLLECTIVE TAKE: In the letter, LCV President Gene Karpinski and leaders from the NRDC and Climate Power wrote, “To build on the success of adequate funding for NEPA review and public engagement in the project evaluation process, we would instead encourage Congress to advance the Environmental Justice for All Act. Its approach to permitting would help ensure fulsome public engagement early in the development process and clarify how agencies must evaluate potential cumulative health and climate impacts. Clarity and certainty of direction will make for more consistent reviews, and may help community members make better informed suggestions for project improvements, contributing to less community opposition. Numerous studies point to robust public engagement leading to reduced opposition and delay, and fewer harms and more benefits for nearby communities – a win for both the people in the communities and the project sponsors. The EJ for All Act was developed over more than two years with robust community consultation and feedback. This legislation has had a number of hearings, was successfully marked up, and pieces of the bill have passed the House. Congress should pass the entire bill and send it to President Biden for his signature.”

WHITE HOUSE EVENT CELEBRATES CLIMATE LEADERS: President Biden held an event at the White House on Tuesday to celebrate the tireless work of the activists and congressional champions who helped pass the historic Inflation Reduction Act. LCV staff attended the event to thank the president, vice president, congressional members, and coalition of activists for their dedication. View photos from the event here and here, and read the full LCV statement here.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “The Inflation Reduction Act demonstrates what is possible when our leaders come together to take historic action, and we will keep up the fight for a resilient clean energy future by advocating against more drilling, leasing, and pipelines that perpetuate environmental racism and the climate crisis.”

INFLATION REDUCTION ACT IMPLEMENTATION BEGINS: On Thursday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, General Services Administrator Robin Carnahan, and Deputy National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi announced that the government will begin its “Buy Clean” program to prioritize the purchase of low carbon construction materials, such as steel and cement. This all-of-government approach to addressing the climate crisis and advancing cleaner U.S. manufacturing is crucial to meeting Biden’s emission reduction commitments and is an early, strong implementation of critical funding in the Inflation Reduction Act. 

OUR TAKE: LCV Government Affairs Advocate Sara Fontes said, “The actions announced today will not only leverage the massive purchasing power of the federal government by prioritizing the purchase of key low-carbon construction materials accounting for 98% of materials purchased by the federal government, but will also expand the use of these materials in federally-funded projects, particularly in the transportation sector. We’re thrilled that the administration also announced its intention to work with states to expand Buy Clean initiatives, to increase supply chain transparency, and to launch pilot programs across the country – all supported by investments included in the Inflation Reduction Act.

“Together, these important initiatives will help expand and secure the market for clean materials, reduce emissions from hard to decarbonize industrial sectors, and deliver on President Biden’s promise to revitalize American manufacturing while creating good-paying union jobs.”

EDUCATING VOTERS ABOUT THE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT: On Friday, Climate Power announced that it is ramping up its campaign to educate voters about the Inflation Reduction Act’s climate benefits in partnership with the League of Conservation Voters, Black Progressive Action Coalition, Somos Votantes, and the NRDC Action Fund. The groups are kicking off a 12 week $10 million advertising campaign targeting youth and communities of color in key states to demonstrate how the IRA will make a difference in their lives. Watch the first three ads launching Monday, titled Swipe, Solve It and The Facts.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Campaigns Pete Maysmith said, “The Inflation Reduction Act is a historic, popular law that will directly improve the lives of children and families across the U.S. – but the truth is that most people don’t know what it is yet. As influential advocacy organizations, we have an obligation to help educate the public about this cost-saving, job-creating, climate change-addressing law and help folks understand how they personally stand to benefit.”

LCVVF WEEKLY MEMO: This week, LCV Victory Fund continues engaging voters through field organizing and paid media campaigns in partnership with the $100 million Climate Votes Project. Officially two months away from Election Day, LCVVF’s field program is engaging voters in key states early to sign commit-to-vote cards, register to vote by mail and persuade them to support pro-climate candidates. Using the “Vote Tripling” method, organizers are maximizing LCVVF’s impact by asking voters to remind three close friends or family members to vote in November. Organizers are already nearing 300,000 doors knocked and now have made over 40,000 successful contacts with targeted voters. LCVVF also launched two paid media ads in PA-07 and CA-49 this week to support pro-climate candidates and target fossil fuel allies. Read the full weekly memo here, including anecdotes from people’s doors across the country!

ENDORSING JILL TOKUDA: On Wednesday, LCV Action Fund announced its endorsement of Jill Tokuda for election to the U.S. House representing Hawaii’s Second Congressional District. A Honolulu native, Tokuda has served in the Hawai’i State Senate for 12 years, consistently voting for 100% renewable energy and land conservation. She is running for Congress on a platform of making Hawai’i a leader in clean energy, investing in climate solutions, and supporting President Biden’s Justice40 initiatives. 

OUR TAKE: LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Jill Tokuda has been a leader on clean energy and equitable sustainability as a Hawaii State Senator and we know she will continue to fight for environmental justice in Congress. We are thrilled to support Jill Tokuda’s campaign for Congress so that Hawaii’s 2nd district will continue to be represented by someone who will listen to voters and deliver action on climate, jobs, and justice for all families and communities.”

BECCA BALINT HAS OUR BALLOT: LCV Action Fund also endorsed Becca Balint this week for election to the U.S. House representing Vermont. Balint has received perfect scores on the Vermont Conservation Voters’ Scorecard for her leadership on landmark climate and environmental justice legislation in the Vermont State Senate. If elected, she would also be the first woman and openly LGBTQ+ person to represent Vermont in Congress.

OUR TAKE: LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs said, “Senate President Becca Balint has always fought hard for the people of Vermont, to protect our precious environment and take on the climate crisis. We are thrilled to support her campaign for Congress because we know she will continue to lead efforts for environmental justice to make all our communities healthy and safe, grow our clean energy economy, and make our democracy more equitable and accessible to all. We need more leaders in Congress like Becca Balint who will hold big polluters accountable and advocate tirelessly for everyone to have access to a healthy environment.”

TIFFANY SMILEY IS WRONG FOR WASHINGTON: Washington Republican Senate nominee Tiffany Smiley said in a recent statement that, “We need to fight climate change, I believe that is best solved at the local level with folks who are closest to the issue on that,” yet her previous stances against the Inflation Reduction Act have proven that she is not a leader on climate action. Instead, Washington needs a leader like LCV Action Fund-endorsed candidate U.S. Senator Patty Murray who understands that a state that is experiencing sea level rise, drought and longer fire seasons needs someone who will advocate for bold relief in Congress. Read the full LCV Action Fund memo here.

OUR TAKE: LCV Action Fund Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo said, “Tiffany Smiley has shown once again she is out-of-touch with the issues that Washingtonians care about and is unqualified to represent the Evergreen State in the U.S. Senate. We all know that climate change is the greatest existential crisis facing our country and our world, and we need elected leaders who will fight like hell to bring the full weight of both the public and private sectors to address it. We must act, and we must act now, at the local, national and international levels to achieve climate justice for all communities. Thankfully, Washington State already has a climate and environmental justice champion who understands this in Senator Patty Murray and LCV Action Fund is all-in to help her win this November.”

NEW LCVVF ADS FEATURE SOLAR WORKER: To support Mike Levin’s run for reelection in California’s 49th Congressional District, LCV Victory Fund and EDF Action Votes launched a new TV ad on Tuesday featuring a solar entrepreneur. In the ad, titled “Solar,” the solar worker highlights Levin’s successful fight for a plan that supports the solar industry, creates jobs, and lowers inflation. The ads will run in the San Diego media market on broadcast and cable television for two weeks. Watch the full video here.

OUR TAKE: LCV Victory Fund Regional Campaigns Director Joann Saridakis said, “Congressman Levin just led the charge to deliver historic cost-saving, job-creating, climate and clean energy legislation for Californians – and he’s only just getting started. Southern California families have a proven champion in Rep. Levin, unlike Brian Maryott who praised a plan that raised taxes on middle class Californians.”

WINS IN NH AND RI: LCV endorsed candidates celebrated primary victories in New Hampshire and Rhode Island this week, putting them on the ballot for Election Day in November. In New Hampshire, LCV congratulated U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan and Representatives Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas on their victories. LCV also congratulated clean energy champion Seth Magaziner for his win in Rhode Island.

OUR TAKE: On the New Hampshire primary, LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “All three are climate champions in Congress and we are proud to work with them in the fight for a clean energy future. Maggie Hassan, Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas tirelessly advocate for all communities and have voted for bold action on climate so that everyone can have clean drinking water and live free from toxic pollution in a healthy environment. They are the leaders we need who will stand up for people, not corporate polluters and their special interests. We look forward to victory in November.”

On Rhode Island, Sittenfeld said, “We need clean energy leaders like Seth Magaziner in Congress who consistently fight for climate resilience in innovative ways. As Rhode Island’s State Treasurer, he has taken bold action on climate – his local energy efficiency programs have resulted in thousands of jobs, helped small businesses save money, and pushed Rhode Island to clean energy independence. We look forward to working with Treasurer Magaziner to bring his leadership and expertise to represent the Ocean State in Congress.”

GROUPS BACK CAMP HALE NATIONAL MONUMENT: Since last month’s push by Colorado leaders urging President Biden to designate Camp Hale a national monument, many conservation advocates, including LCV, have joined the call. Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, Representative Joe Neguse, and Colorado Governor Jared Polis led the initial effort, with Bennet meeting with Biden on Tuesday night about protecting Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range.

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “LCV joins advocates and officials in Colorado in calling to protect Camp Hale, the Tenmile Range, and the Thompson Divide. Thank you to Senator Bennet for his leadership in pushing to protect these magnificent places. We look forward to working with him, Senator Hickenlooper, Congressman Neguse, Governor Polis and the Biden-Harris administration to preserve these historical and ecological resources and support the ever-growing outdoor recreation economy.”

THE FUTURE OF BIDEN’S FIVE YEAR OFFSHORE LEASING PROGRAM: On Monday night, officials from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management heard from environmental activists and members of the public about the Biden administration’s five-year offshore leasing program. The draft plan currently leaves room for anywhere from zero to 11 auctions over the next five years in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet. Over 150 people testified, with the majority of testimony expressing how more leasing would cause environmental damage and crude oil spills. 

OUR TAKE: Senior Government Affairs Advocate Ben Alexandro said, “In order to avert the worst effects of climate change, we need to transition away from dirty fossil fuels as quickly as possible.”

SOLUTIONS FOR POLLUTION LAUNCH: Over 160 organizations, including LCV, signed onto the Climate Action Campaign’s Solutions for Pollution campaign that launched nationally on Monday. The campaign calls on President Biden to drive up climate ambition and meet his commitment to reduce pollution by 50-52% by 2030. Collectively, the coalition will work to advance rules to protect public health, cut climate pollution, and advance environmental justice. 

EXPOSING BIL OIL’S DECEIT, CLIMATE DENIAL, AND DEMOCRATIC OBSTRUCTION: This week, Congress hosted a series of three hearings aimed at exposing Big Oil’s years of deceit, climate denial and democratic obstruction. Hosted by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, the first hearing kicked off on Sept.14 and assessed the role of public relations companies in greenwashing and deceiving the public on climate change. Wednesday’s second hearing, held by the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, focused on how the fossil fuel industry used SLAPP laws to stifle the free speech of climate activists. The final hearing, held on Thursday, examined the record-breaking profits of Exxon, BP, Chevron and Shell in contrast to the experiences of severe-weather survivors who suffered at the hands of climate change exacerbated by the fossil fuel industry.

GRIJALVA PUBLIC LAND AND WATERS CLIMATE BILL: Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) introduced the Public Lands and Waters Climate Leadership Act on Tuesday, aiming to align the nation’s public lands and waters management with the Biden administration’s climate goals. The bill’s major provisions include limiting new fossil fuel leasing and permitting, emissions reduction strategies and publishing greenhouse gas emissions online, among other things. Read the full bill text here.

OUR TAKE: LCV’s Federal Campaigns Advocacy Director Leah Donahey’s quote lauding the bill and Chair Grijalva’s leadership was featured in the House Natural Resources Committee’s statement on the introduction: “LCV commends the leadership of Chair Raúl Grijalva for introducing the Public Lands and Waters Climate Leadership Act of 2022. Just weeks after President Biden and Congress delivered the strongest climate legislation in history, we’re thrilled to see this legislation with a path that upholds President Biden’s commitments to stop future fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters and ensure prioritization of nature-based solutions to combat the climate crisis, including implementing a climate test screening policy for all future leasing and drilling decisions. We urge the Biden administration to move swiftly to align climate goals with future fossil fuel leasing and development, including rejecting the Willow project in America’s Arctic. We must build on recent climate legislation by transitioning away from fossil fuels to a reliable, affordable, renewable energy future.” 

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

MN GOVERNOR TAKES CLIMATE ACTION: Earlier today, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced his Climate Action Framework to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and carbon-free energy by 2040, and reduce state greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 in line with the Biden Administration’s climate goals. The plan also commits to invest at least 40% of state climate funding in disadvantaged communities – following the federal  Justice 40 initiative – secure workforce development programs in low-income communities and communities of color, invest in coal community transition, and prioritize tribal consultation in environmental decision making.

“VOTE LIKE A MADRE” LAUNCH: The Latino Victory Project launched their “Vote Like a Madre” program this week, investing $5 million into mobilizing Latinas to vote around issues regarding the climate crisis. This Chispa Arizona team, along with many influential Latina celebrities, joined the project to turn out this influential group of voters, as nearly 60% of Latinas say that they would support pro-climate candidates.

CHISPA AZ TAKE: Chispa Arizona State Director Vianey Olivarría said, “At Chispa Arizona, we envision communities that enjoy clean air and water, open spaces and parks and the security of knowing that our planet can sustain us today and for future generations. We also envision a democracy that is accessible, through which all people have the opportunity to represent them. Just as Madre Tierra cares for us, madres and madre figures care for others, and are an essential part of materializing our vision. We look forward to showing their power in this election.”

TRACKING CLIMATE PROGRESS IN NM: Today, Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM) launched their ClimateActionNowNM website which highlights the state’s action on climate to date and outlines next steps to reach zero climate pollution by 2050. CVNM also created a pledge asking elected leaders to commit to bold climate action and on the website, the public can check which legislators have signed on and email their representatives in support. 

CVNM TAKE: Conservation Voters New Mexico Executive Director Demis Foster said, “We are past the point where we can just talk about the problem; New Mexicans want and need climate action now. While we applaud the state for its significant progress over the past three years, we now need to bring New Mexicans together to build a zero-climate pollution future by 2050. We hope ClimateActionNowNM will be a place where New Mexicans can track state progress in real time, and let their legislators know they want meaningful climate action to fully and swiftly meet the moment we are in. We are at a climate tipping point in New Mexico. Together we can build a better future for all New Mexicans.”

PROTEGETE UNITES FOR CLIMATE: Protegete is proud to work with their partners at Voces Unidas de las Montañas and Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights on this year’s Colorado Latino Policy Agenda. This historic report showed strong support from Latino voters across Colorado for policies that address the climate crisis, environmental justice and access to clean water. Learn more at www.coloradolatinopolicyagenda.org and check out Protegete’s post here!

CHISPA MARYLAND IN THE WHITE HOUSE: Ramon Palencia-Calvo, Deputy Executive Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters & Chispa Maryland Director joined Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland LCV at the White House to celebrate the Inflation Reduction Act.

COMING UP:

SEPTEMBER 15 – OCTOBER 15: Hispanic Heritage Month

SEPTEMBER 20: National Voter Registration Day

SEPTEMBER 20 – SEPTEMBER 26: 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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