THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – SEPTEMBER 24, 2021

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:

“La tierra nos habla / Mother nature is talking to us / Her forests are angry with burning flames / her rivers that used to form an orchestra with strong currents are now silent / volcanoes have awakened / we are only guests in this space.”

— GetLit’s Vanessa Tahay performing her poem Bridges at LCV’s Climate Watch Party on Wednesday. 

“Central Florida showed that we were not prepared…At that time, 100,000 [Puerto Ricans] arrived — we do not clearly know today how many have stayed, but there are many, many more than the official numbers sometimes say. They have this awareness that ‘we are climate change refugees’ and things could have been done differently.”

— María Revelles, director of Chispa Florida, speaking on the devastating impacts Puerto Ricans are still experiencing four years after Hurricane Maria.

“We know that there are certain communities that are disproportionately impacted. It’s more than a feeling. It’s data that points to and demonstrates how this is impacting low income communities. But unfortunately you don’t have to read the science to know that climate change is real, too many people are seeing and feeling it and living it as a real experience.

— EPA Administrator Michael Regan, speaking with Axios on “Hard Truths: Environmental Justice and the U.S. Government.”

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

New York Times: This Powerful Democrat Linked to Fossil Fuels Will Craft the U.S. Climate Plan

Bloomberg: Ad Blitz Promoting Budget Package to Target Returning Democrats

Bloomberg Law: ‘Big Deal’ Rule Slashing Climate Pollutants FInalized by EPA

 

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:

Energy Central (New York): N.Y. Gov. Hochul Announces Major Green Energy Infrastructure Projects to Power New York City

MLive (Michigan):Michigan 2022 budget deal includes millions for water infrastructure

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REMEMBERING REPRESENTATIVE BOEHLERT: LCV mourns the passing of former Representative and LCV Board Member Sherwood Boehlert, a committed environmental champion who spent decades of his career fighting to protect our lands and waters, putting people and science over politics time and time again. See more from Boehlert’s career in the Observer-Dispatch here.

OUR TAKE: LCV Board Chair Carol M. Browner and LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “The world needs more leaders like Sherry Boehlert. He was a true environmental leader and a champion for climate action, for protecting national forests and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and for public health for decades. As the Republican Chair of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, he followed the science — not politics — in deciding policy. After he retired from Congress, Sherry was an important and valued member of our board, including serving as Vice Chair, and we will deeply miss him. Our thoughts are with the Boehlert family as we all mourn this loss.”

MISTREATMENT OF HAITIAN IMMIGRANTS: Across the globe, political violence and climate change-fueled extreme weather are leaving people no choice but to abandon the places that they call home. This week, our nation has watched thousands of Haitians, desperate to find relief in the United States, sleep under a bridge at the Texas border. And, in these moments of desperation, we watched Border Patrol agents meet refugees not with the compassion and care they deserve, but with painful disrespect and appalling violence. In the near term, the administration can care for these people by providing asylum and ending expulsions through Title 42. And in the long term, tackling the climate crisis — an underlying cause of this displacement — is our moral obligation. 

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “The inhumane treatment of Haitian people seeking refuge from political violence and natural disasters — both made worse by climate change — is simply unacceptable and must end now. These horrific actions must be investigated and those responsible held accountable. Climate change will only continue to fuel these crises, particularly for regions with high rates of poverty, altered climate conditions, food, water and housing instability, and a high risk of further disaster. Our government should be offering protection to Black refugees and asylum-seekers, not contributing to their further oppression. As an immediate step, we are calling for the Biden administration to secure these people’s wellbeing by providing asylum, and immediately ending expulsions through the use of Title 42.” 

LATINX HERITAGE MONTH CONTINUES: Chispa continues to honor Latinx Heritage Month — on Monday Chispa highlighted that Puerto Ricans are still suffering from the impacts of Hurricane Maria, four years after the deadly storm. Puerto Ricans continue to experience power outages almost daily and thousands of homes are covered in tarps — leaving communities vulnerable in the event of another extreme weather event. Additionally, in case you missed it, Chispa National Communications & Creative Strategies Director Pita Juarez spoke at an event with Chispa Maryland, Sierra Club, and Eco Moms last week to celebrate Latinx leaders and discuss how environmental injustices disproportionately impact Latinx communities. Watch the event HERE (password: 0KKr6Z*@). Chispa will also feature Chispa state affiliates in a weekly series throughout the month, see the calendar HERE and stay tuned with updates on Chispa’s Twitter page.

CHISPA TAKE: During last week’s event, Chispa National Communications & Creative Strategies Director Pita Juarez stated, “[Mothers] are worried about the environment because they know it is the air their children breath everyday, especially when we talk about buses, if you can’t take your children to school buses are the only way to get them there”

LCV PRIORITIES IN THE BBBA: Today, LCV shared a checklist detailing which of our priorities are currently included in the House’s draft of the Build Back Better Act. It is crucial that we set our nation firmly on the path to cut climate pollution in half by 2030 in a just and equitable way so that we can avoid the worst effects of climate change — and as the checklist reveals, the Build Back Better Act is the climate legislation we need. If the Budget Committee approves this legislation tomorrow, we will be one step closer to a more clean, just, and equitable future for all. Read the full checklist HERE.

THE PEOPLE DEMAND CLIMATE ACTION NOW!:  This week, LCV National Field Director Jennessa Agnew wrote a memo that recounts the reasons people across the country support climate action now. Since June, LCV’s field program has been on the ground talking to voters and businesses, knocking on over 215,000 doors, and over 12,000 households and 8,000 businesses are displaying “Climate Action Now” signs in their neighborhoods. And while the climate crisis means something different to each of them, one theme remains the same: they want to see climate action in Congress, and they want to see it now. Read the stories HERE.

CLIMATE ACTION WATCH PARTY: This week, LCV hosted a Climate Action Watch Party with elected officials and environmental advocates, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, actress and advocate Connie Britton, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, LCV Board Chair and former EPA administrator Carol M. Browner, LCV Board Member and former U.S. Representative Donna Edwards, LCV President Gene Karpinski, LCV SVP of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld, and poets from Get Lit. Speakers highlighted the urgent need to take action on the climate crisis and to make the bold investments outlined in the Build Back Better Act, especially in communities of color and communities of low wealth who are too often on the front lines of the climate crisis. Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make the transformational investments in climate, justice, and jobs necessary to pass the Climate Test — cutting our emissions by at least 50% by 2030, and putting our nation fully on the path to 100% clean energy. Watch the event recording HERE.

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE MUST REMAIN IN BBB: This week, the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform signatories released a statement in response to committee markups on the reconciliation package, calling for full inclusion of environmental justice priorities in the Build Back Better Act. For too long, historically excluded communities, including communities of color and communities of low-wealth, have suffered disproportionately from the impacts of the climate crisis — Congress must make the investments necessary for transformative change in all of our communities. 

COALITION TAKE: The coalition wrote, “The environmental justice provisions in the House committees’ bills — including environmental and climate justice block grants; funding to reduce greenhouse gases and local pollution; increased monitoring of toxic air pollution in front-line communities; solar projects that serve low-income households; and investments in healthy ports, pollution-free heavy-duty vehicles, affordable housing, climate resilience, and much more — must remain in the final bill voted on by the full House and Senate. The best way to Build Back Better is to stop leaving communities behind.”

SUPPORT THE CIVILIAN CLIMATE CORPS IN BBB: This week, 68 members of the House sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to express their support for a $30 billion investment in a new Civilian Climate Corps. Investments to fully fund a Civilian Climate Corps will create millions of clean energy jobs and build infrastructure that is resilient to increasing extreme weather events, especially in historically excluded communities, and puts our country on the path to 100% clean energy. 

MEMBER TAKE: The 68 members of Congress wrote, “Fully funding the CCC will provide employment opportunities that will reduce climate impacts on communities and mitigate the crisis, while prioritizing investments in historically disadvantaged groups. The devastating effects of climate change will continue increasing in frequency, extremity, and range. Congress has a unique opportunity to fund and support a new Civilian Climate Corps and to invest in enlisting Americans from all walks of life in preventing and responding to this continued threat.”

NEW POLL!: This week, LCV and Climate Power released new poll results from Hart Research, showing majority support for the Build Back Better Act in key states, including Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire. Across the country, communities are seeing the impacts of climate change with increased extreme weather events and temperatures, crumbling infrastructure, and evidence that we can’t wait to act on the climate crisis. See highlights below and full poll results HERE.

KEY FINDINGS: 

    • Significant majorities of voters across these five key states support the Build Back Better Act after hearing a brief description of it, including that it would cost $3.5 trillion spread over 10 years
    • Voters do not want to cut the cost and scope of the legislation.

ENVIRO WINS IN THE NDAA: Last night, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill included significant protections for public lands, provisions to keep our communities safe and healthy, and will help to fight the climate crisis. Specifically, funding for cleaning up dangerous PFAS chemicals and reforms to limit air and water pollution are important victories for the health and safety of our communities, especially for military members and their families. And the inclusion of amendments to protect millions of acres of public lands — including sections of the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, Grand Canyon Protection Act, and Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act — will help communities access parks and public lands, safeguard national treasures and nearby tribal communities from dangerous mining operations, and protect vital ecosystems and wildlife corridors.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Government Affairs Advocate Ben Alexandro said, “We commend Chairman Smith and House leadership for ensuring that we are using every opportunity to tackle the climate crisis, such as this defense bill that includes protections for our public lands, safeguards for our clean air and water, and funding for important climate research and resiliency efforts…As we look to a conference with the Senate, we urge negotiators to pass a final package that preserves these critical provisions that invest in healthy and safe communities, tackle climate change, and protect our public lands and waters from Big Polluters.”

HYDROFLUOROCARBONS BE GONE!: The Biden administration announced a rule to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 85% over 15 years, as authorized in a bipartisan bill passed last year. HFCs, which are commonly found in refrigerators and air conditioners, are powerful greenhouse gasses known as super-pollutants that contribute to the climate crisis and its impacts like heat, floods, wildfires, drought and extreme weather. By phasing down these dangerous pollutants, the administration is putting peoples’ health and wellbeing ahead of polluters, and showing the world that our country is ready to lead the fight against climate change.   

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis said, Today brings another example of how the Biden-Harris administration is using their all of government approach to tackle climate change by slashing emissions of super-pollutant HFCs and driving innovation and clean tech jobs here in the U.S….From the ‘code red for humanity’ IPCC report to devastating extreme weather and long-standing environmental and racial injustice and economic inequality, it’s never been more urgent or more important to act on climate.”

SUPPORT REPEAL OF ARCTIC REFUGE DRILLING: On Wednesday, Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva, and Representatives Jared Huffman and Diana DeGette led a letter signed by 60 House Democrats, urging President Biden to support the inclusion in the Build Back Better Act of the repeal of the oil and gas leasing program in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and to buy back the leases issued in January of this year. While the Biden-Harris administration has suspended new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Refuge, we’re counting on the administration to insist on the inclusion of this provision in the final Build Back Better Act to restore protections for the Arctic Refuge, an area that’s sacred to the Gwich’in people. 

INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL COMMITMENT FOR CLIMATE: On Wednesday, President Biden announced that the U.S. will increase its international climate finance commitment — putting the United States back on track as a climate leader on the global stage. The latest IPCC report makes it clear — this is a “code red for humanity” and we must fight the climate crisis at home and across the globe.

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “As climate-fueled extreme weather rages across the planet, harming one in three Americans just this summer, it is critical that the United States is a global leader in the climate fight. We applaud the Biden Administration for building on their strong international commitment to fighting climate change by increasing support for climate finance around the world. Increasing the U.S.’ annual international climate finance commitment to $11.4 billion would help us support countries around the world meet our Paris Agreement goal of keeping temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

LAURA DANIEL DAVIS HEARD: This week, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources considered the nomination of Laura Daniel Davis to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management. As a long-time public servant at the Department of the Interior, Davis said she had gained “a bird’s eye view of the Department, and a deep respect for its 70,000 employees,” and she went on to describe how she would approach the challenges the department faces, saying, “they demand leadership that listens first, address underlying inequities, and strives for balanced, bipartisan and collaborative solutions.”

OUR TAKE: Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel stated, “Laura Daniel Davis would be an excellent addition in the Biden administration to serve as the next Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. Davis’ two decades of experience focused on public lands conservation and thirteen years in the Interior Department make her extraordinarily well equipped to realize this administration’s ambitious agenda to build forest resiliency, restore our lands, improve partnerships with Tribal communities and landowners, diversify our nation’s energy portfolio, and expand accessibility to the outdoors for all. We can’t wait for Laura Daniel Davis to work alongside Secretary Deb Haaland, and we hope the Senate will move swiftly to confirm her as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management.”

🏈FROM THE FIELD🏈: LCV’s organizers on the ground continue to knock on doors and build support for climate action across the country.  So far, our field team has knocked on nearly 220,000 doors, made nearly 2,000 calls, and mobilized over 8,000 businesses to support climate action and clean energy jobs across 11 states! 💪 See our video highlighting 150k doors knocked HERE, and our mid-recess recap HERE.

CLIMATE ACTION SPOTLIGHT: LCV Youth Digital Organizer Aida Amirul wrote a blog series highlighting LCV Climate Action volunteers who are helping lead the next generation to take action — read about Jezreel, a champion for social change for Climate Action Nevada. See our last climate action spotlight on New Hampshire volunteer Maddy HERE!

75 LEGAL SCHOLARS ON CLIMATE DISPLACEMENT: In a letter to the Biden administration, 75 legal scholars and experts called on the White House to use its executive authority to provide relief to those displaced by climate change. They say, “As a free and prosperous country, it is our duty to offer protections to peoples displaced by climate change, especially given the United States’ outsized role in causing climate change.” 

BIG OIL SUBSIDY REPORT: A report from Friends of the Earth, Oxfam America, and BailoutWatch highlights the overseas tax loopholes that the twelve major oil and gas companies, also known as the “Dirty Dozen,” have been taking advantage of in order to rake in an additional $86 Billion. In addition to this, they’ve been receiving over $120 billion in subsidies from the U.S. government. The report also focuses on how these companies have launched an intense lobbying effort since President Biden has made promises to roll back subsidies and close tax loopholes for oil and gas companies. According to the report, the House bill meets this promise to a certain extent, but advocates are pushing for the final bill to go even further and eliminate all subsidies so that the billions of dollars given to big oil and gas can be used to invest in initiatives that will invest in clean energy and put the US on a path to meet President Biden’s imperative climate goals.

NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION DAY PREVIEW: Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day! We know that we can’t have a healthy environment without a healthy democracy. LCV recognizes the unfortunate reality that too many people have been disenfranchised by racist barriers to voting in many parts of the country. This is why we are working to eliminate these barriers by fighting for a democracy rooted in racial justice and equity through mobilizing young people, and Black, Indigenous, and people of color to participate in the democratic process.We will be amplifying this message on social media and work to support our partners on the ground in their effort to get more people registered and involved in the democratic process. We will also use this occasion to further push for Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act so that voting rights are protected nationwide. Voter Resources can be found here

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

NEW ENGLAND OFFSHORE TURBINE TOUR: The Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM) hosted a boat tour out to the Block Island Offshore Wind Farm with Ørsted — the wind developer — and state legislators including the Massachusetts House Speaker Ronald Mariano. ELM has been working to promote and gain support for their priority offshore wind bill and facilitates a coalition — New England for Offshore Wind to advocate for wind development across the region. Under the turbines, House leadership unveiled their plans and priorities for moving offshore wind forward in this legislative session, including investment funding and economic development. There are currently 2 planned offshore wind projects off the coast of Massachusetts.

REP. ROY TAKE: Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) Committee Chair Jeff Roy said, “These are exciting times for Massachusetts and exciting times for clean energy. I’m delighted that we have a Speaker who is focused on leading the way and I’m happy to be a part of that team. I can’t wait to do this trip in 2 years off the coast of Massachusetts.”

BUILD BACK BETTER WITH JUSTICE40: Since President Biden first introduced his Build Back Better agenda, environmental justice leaders and racial justice organizations across the country have called on Congress to pass bold climate action. In op-ed pieces, at events, and in statements they have repeatedly made clear that climate disasters and a legacy of pollution shaped by environmental racism are devastating frontline communities. This is why we need Justice40, an initiative that would direct at least 40% of Build Back Better investments to communities hardest hit by pollution and climate change, and center at-risk voices in the legislative process to ensure we all share the benefits of a new clean energy economy. See highlights from opinion pieces HERE.

TELLING THE STORIES OF AVI KWA AME IN NEVADA:  Avi Kwa Ame (Spirit Mountain) is an important spiritual landmark for ten Indigenous tribes in Southern Nevada. This mountain and the surrounding landscape are essential to the way of life of these tribes and  is a space for recreation, culture and wildlife. Currently, only a portion of this land is protected from large-scale development but advocates have launched a campaign to establish the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument, which would protect all of the land within this sacred area. Learn more about this campaign, which receives support from 62% of Nevadans in a poll out this week, and how to support the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument HERE.

CLEAN ENERGY STUDIES FROM COAST TO COAST: Two new studies focusing on the economic effects of clean energy investments in both Appalachia and Arizona were released this week. In RMI’s analysis, they found that Appalachia will be among the biggest benefactors from a clean energy grid. According to their projections, the area’s capacity to sustain major solar and wind projects would allow it to gain the highest lifetime revenues from transitioning to a 90% carbon-free grid by 2035. Similarly, an ASU study found that Arizona’s economy would benefit tremendously from passing the climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act through budget reconciliation. This includes an estimated growth of $115.6 billion in Arizona’s GDP, over 99,000 new jobs, and an additional $3,300 in disposable income that Arizonians will be saving on their energy bills. The evidence clearly shows that climate action not only creates healthy communities, it also creates a robust economy where every corner of the country will benefit.

🎨ART ACTIVATIONS: Across the country, communities are joining with local artists to demand climate action, justice and clean energy jobs at the scale that science requires. This is our now or never moment with the critical opportunity provided by the Build Back Better Act as the  the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report declared a “code red for humanity”. 

IN NEW JERSEY: NJ LCV teamed up with artist Anthony Cappetto over the weekend to create a chalk activation and host a community event with Representative Andy Kim. The congressman gave a moving speech to community members discussing the recent flooding and extreme weather events in New Jersey, and the need for immediate climate action. See the chalk piece in progress HERE.

IN CALIFORNIA: California Environmental Voters (formerly CLCV) collaborated with artist Cece Carpio and team to create a mural at Fort Mason Center Farmers Market in San Francisco. The piece depicts a California forest, half of it on fire, with a text overlay that reads “Code Red for Humanity” to highlight the urgency of the moment we are in. See the piece and artists HERE.

⚡COMMUNITIES POWER UP: In coordination with LCV’s state affiliates and partners, we held events and town halls in key states and Congressional Districts, demanding that Congress tackle the climate crisis and invest in a dual-track package for clean energy, justice, and jobs. 

IN OREGON: Over the weekend, OLCV hosted a town hall with Representative Blumenauer. Blumenauer discussed how the climate pieces are the most important to him in the Build Back Better Act, describing this as our big moment on climate.

IN VIRGINIA: Virginia LCV hosted an offshore wind tour and press conference with Representative Elaine Luria, where she discussed her commitment to clean energy jobs in Hampton Roads.  

COMING UP:

SEPT 15- OCT 15: Latina Heritage Month

SEPT 25 – OCT 3: National Drive Electric Week

SEPTEMBER 25: National Public Lands Day

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