THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – JANUARY 8, 2021

Ahead of LCV’s weekly tipsheet, we wanted to say thank you. Reporting the news can be thankless at best and scary and dangerous at worst. This week many of you and your colleagues put your lives on the line to bring us the facts and images surrounding the white supremacist takeover of the Capitol, and we could not be more grateful. Here’s hoping you are safe, well, and able to get some semblance of rest this weekend. 

– LCV Comms (Nick Abraham, Courtnee Connon, Pita Juarez, Megan Maassen, Emily Samsel & Dave Willett)

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THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – JANUARY 8, 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:

“… because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States Senator.”

— U.S. Senator-elect Rev. Raphael Warnock in his victory speech

“The two developments of Wednesday could not have been more stark. In Georgia, Democratic voters — propelled by the strength of Black voters — showed their power and made history…And in Washington, Trump supporters rioted at the Capitol, waving Confederate flags and trying to sabotage democracy for a man who has openly supported white supremacist groups.”

— HuffPost Washington Bureau Chief Amanda Terkel in her article “As Pro-Trump Mobs Riot, Black Voters in Georgia Show Strength at the Ballot”

“True democracy in America is only 55 years old, dating back to 1965, the year the Voting Rights Act guaranteed suffrage — at least on paper — to all American citizens, regardless of race…What transpired yesterday was not simply an assault on democracy. It was an attack on multiracial democracy.”

— Atlantic Staff Writer Adam Serwer in his article, “The Capitol Riot Was an Attack on Multiracial Democracy

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

Washington Post: How the Georgia election results just raised Biden’s climate ambitions
Bloomberg Law: Garland Would Bring Rare Environmental Chops as Attorney General
Mic: How the Georgia runoffs could shape climate policy for years to come
Grist: 6 reasons 2020 wasn’t as bad for climate change as you thought
S&P Global Market Intelligence: New members of US Congress include climate defenders, carbon tax opponents
Bloomberg: Campaign Begins to Seek Confirmation of Biden’s Climate Nominees

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:

WILX 10 (MI): Bill to fight Great Lakes erosion signed into law
WSHU (NY): Cuomo Announces Bus Electrification Initiatives
E&E News (MA): Historic climate, renewable plan heads to Mass. governor
WSHU (NY): Bill Would Preserve 30% Of Land In N.Y.; Eastern L.I. Might Be Used As A Model

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ON OUR DEMOCRACY: Wednesday, January 6th was a day like no other, it began with elation at the historic achievement of Georgia voters and ended with horror and outrage. Those who perpetrated violence and insurrection, and those elected officials who fanned the flames, must be held accountable. President Trump is unfit for office and remains a clear and present danger to the safety and security of everyone in this country. He must resign immediately or be removed from office. Last summer Black and Brown demonstrators were met with a show of force. That Wednesday’s riot led by white supremacists was handled in a radically different manner speaks volumes to the systemic and institutional racism in this country.

The voters have spoken and the message was clear: we are demanding change, including safeguarding our democracy and protecting our planet and communities from the disastrous impacts of climate change. The will of the people must be respected.

THIS WEEK’S HOPE: The first week of 2021 has put conflicting experiences of our democracy in stark relief: As White supremacists assailed our seat of government under the false hopes of overturning election results, Black Georgians turned out to vote like never before, propelling Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to victories that shifted the balance of power in the Senate. This historic effort of Georgia voters, which was possible thanks to years of community leadership and grassroots organizing, showed our country the power of an inclusive democracy.

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski had this to say, “We had been anxiously looking forward to the official call of Jon Ossoff’s victory after Reverend Raphael Warnock’s win Wednesday morning. Unfortunately, the white supremacist-led violence that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol marred that celebration. But that does not change the fact that the historic and hard-fought wins in Georgia, driven by organizers and voters of color, represent the change that voters desperately want to see, and it cannot come soon enough. While we are devastated by Wednesday’s actions, we are also heartened by the millions of Georgia voters who overcame tremendous barriers to cast their ballots, and the campaign organizers, particularly leaders of color, who never stopped fighting for a better, fairer democracy.”

CVM WARNOCK TAKE: Georgia Conservation Voters Executive Director Brionté McCorkle said, “Reverend Raphael Warnock is a longtime champion for environmental justice and I’m so proud to have him represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate. He will fight hard every day for bold and just solutions to the climate crisis to bring clean water, clean air, and clean energy to all communities in Georgia.”

CVM OSSOFF TAKE: Georgia Conservation Voters Executive Director Brionté McCorkle said,“Jon Ossoff will be a vitally important part of the role that the U.S. Senate can and must play in fighting the climate crisis that impacts the lives of Georgians every day. He and Reverend Raphael Warnock will put people over polluters and prioritize climate justice, clean energy, and clean water, and we’re so excited for them to get to work.”

PRIORITIZING THE PEOPLE: For the second Congress in a row, House leadership has given democracy and voting rights protections the honored H.R. 1 billing, introducing the For the People Act as the House’s first piece of legislation.  H.R. 1 seeks to address issues at the core of a well-functioning country — that every eligible voter can participate equitably in our democracy, and that the people’s voice, rather than outsized corporate influence, guides our elected officials. For too long, polluter interests have flooded our elections with money, gerrymandering has divided our communities, and partisan politics have suppressed access to the ballot box. All of these actions drown out the voices of those directly experiencing the health effects of pollution and dangers of extreme weather, making passage of H.R. 1 early in this Congress a priority.       

OUR TAKE: LCV Judiciary Program Director Ben Driscoll said, “We applaud House leadership for renewing its commitment to making democracy reform a top priority. The 2020 election and its aftermath has demonstrated the urgency of protecting the right to vote, and the For the People Act is the first step we need to help ensure elected officials are held accountable to the people. It’s clear that a healthy democracy and a healthy environment are inextricably linked, and the communities frequently targeted by voter suppression — people of color, young people, those who have a disability, and indigenous people — face the burden of environmental harms that threaten our air, water, and climate. Additionally, fixing our broken campaign finance system and enacting sweeping ethics reforms are necessary first steps to blocking the outsized role of corporate influence in our political system that has prevented meaningful action on climate change.”

A CHANGE IS GONNA COME: Less than two weeks out from President-elect Biden’s inauguration day, the incoming president’s team announced his picks of Judge Merrick Garland for Attorney General, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for Labor Secretary, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo for Commerce Secretary, and Isabel Guzman to head the Small Business Administration. From Garland upholding our environmental laws on the D.C. Circuit, to Raimondo’s experience building a clean energy economy in Rhode Island — including the nation’s first offshore wind farm, to Walsh’s prioritization of bold climate action and creating good jobs as Mayor of Boston, to Guzman’s focus on innovation and resilience as Director of the Small Business Advocate for California, these incoming cabinet secretaries are well-equipped to begin delivering on Biden’s all-of-government approach to the climate crisis on Day One.

OUR TAKE: In response to President-elect Biden naming Judge Merrick Garland the next Attorney General, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said: “Biden’s pick of Judge Merrick Garland for Attorney General will restore independence and integrity to the Justice Department — the critical importance of this return to normalcy cannot be overstated. Garland’s decades of fair and even-handed experience on the DC Circuit set him up to prioritize the robust enforcement of our environmental and civil rights laws, protect the fundamental right to vote, fight for environmental justice and seek the fair application of justice as our next Attorney General.”

PAYGONE: When the 117th Congress convened early this week, just days before the insurrection threatened its very being, they reelected Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, swore in new members, and the House adopted the rules that will govern the legislative process for this session. A new provision of the 117th Congress’ House Rules exempts pandemic and climate change legislation from PAYGO restrictions, which means Congress will not be required to find spending offsets for legislation addressing these crises. This provision has set a tone for the congress, immediately indicating that the House is prioritizing climate action and will do so over the next two years. Additionally, to honor and include all gender identities, pronouns in the new House Rules are entirely gender neutral. This is progress.

ARCTIC LEASE SALE: On Wednesday, the Interior Department held a rushed oil and gas lease sale in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — trampling on the human rights of the Gwich’in people, exacerbating climate change, and shortchanging taxpayers. As the major oil companies took a pass on drilling in a remote, pristine, and sacred area, the lease sale was a bust that yielded less than 1% of the revenues that backers of Arctic Refuge drilling promised when they included a provision in the GOP’s 2017 corporate tax cut bill requiring the lease sales. This reckless decision by the Trump Administration is another line in their long list of unconscionable handouts to Big Oil despite the inevitable harm it causes communities and our environment.

OUR TAKE: LCV’s Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel said, “Drilling in the pristine Arctic Refuge would violate indigenous rights, exacerbate climate change, and shortchange taxpayers.  We stand in solidarity with the Gwich’in Nation in the fight to protect an area they call ‘the Sacred Place Where Life Begins.’ The Arctic Refuge is ground zero for climate change and selling it out to big polluters is unconscionable. With all of the major U.S. banks having committed to not finance Arctic drilling, it is clear that any company seeking to develop a lease will run serious financial, reputational, and regulatory risks. We are counting on President-elect Biden and Congress to do everything in their power to protect this majestic place. We will not stop fighting until this sacred land is permanently protected.”

SUPPRESSING SCIENCE: Despite the ongoing public health crisis exacerbated by a denial of science, the Trump EPA has finalized a scheme that would restrict the use of the best available science in EPA policy making and private sector decisions. The Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science Underlying Significant Regulatory Actions and Influential Scientific Information Rule has detrimental impacts on the EPA’s ability to protect communities who are already experiencing the worst impacts of the climate crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, especially communities of color, from harmful pollution and chemicals.

ICYMI: Though Inauguration Day, the light at the end of the dark tunnel, is almost within reach, the Trump administration is determined to spend their remaining days causing more destruction to our environment and the health of communities, especially communities of color. And they didn’t let up on their toxic agenda over the last couple of weeks. While many of us were taking some time to reflect on the last year and the pain suffocating our nation, the Trump administration was busy ramming through anti-environment rules that will harm communities and exacerbate environmental racism in our nation. We put together a list of what the Dirtiest of All Time has been up to over the past few weeks in a last ditch effort to buddy up to Big Oil and polluters giving more handouts as a parting gift on the way out the door.

THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIP: During the 2020 elections, LCV Victory Fund partnered with BlackPAC to reach millions of Black voters across the country — together we helped educate voters about candidates, their plans for Black communities, and how they could make their voices heard in some of our nation’s most challenging elections. In our conversations with Black voters, it was clear they were primed to cast their ballots to defeat not only Trump himself, but Trumpism in all its forms. They voted to replace the politics of fear and division with competent moral leadership. And, as this week  reiterated when White supremacists threatened our democracy, our work together is nowhere near finished. Read more about LCV Victory Fund and BlackPAC’s partnership in Blavity.

OUR TAKE: In Blavity, BlackPAC Executive Director Adrianne Shropshire and LCV Senior Vice President of Campaigns Pete Maysmith wrote, “We came together this election to face a challenge like we had never seen, and we won.  But to undo the underlying systemic roots that led us here, we cannot let the bonds we formed break. So many of us built new partnerships in 2020.  Together we can deliver the democracy we know we deserve and respond to the demands of Black voters, especially on issues like environmental justice. We must continue to fight like our lives are still on the line because they are.”

THE POWER OF COLLABORATION: Leading up to the 2020 elections, Chispa and Democracy For All collaborated with the Redford Center to launch Power the Vote, a campaign empowering storytellers and filmmakers to help get out the vote. Chispa National Communications Director Pita Juarez created a short film, “Fighting for Madre Tierra.” Just before the winter holidays, The Redford Center caught up with Pita, featuring her here, and calling her “the embodiment of the joyful and rigorous work required to achieve environmental justice.”

OUR TAKE: LCV’s Chispa National Communications Director Pita Juarez said, “As the country is reckoning with racial and environmental justice, there is an opportunity to tie together our narratives to show how systemic these experiences of environmental justice are, and accordingly, how intersectional our solutions must be. This year, I was fortunate to join The Redford Center and experience this opportunity with nine other amazing filmmakers who also shared those same values.”

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

BLUEPRINTS FOR PROGRESS: Before the winter holidays — just a month ahead of President-elect Biden’s inauguration — LCV and our 32 state affiliates released the 2020 Clean Energy for All campaign report, detailing the stunning clean energy progress made in states across the country over the last year. Despite four years of relentless attacks on our environment from the Trump administration, state and local action has continued to advance clean energy across the country, laying out a clear roadmap for the Biden administration to follow.  Read the full report here.

TO THE GOV’S DESK (MA): In Massachusetts, state lawmakers passed legislation that would officially set a state-wide goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, codify the definition of environmental justice for the first time, and significantly increase offshore wind in the state. Now, the policies are headed to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk, and it’s unclear whether or not he will sign it into law, demand alterations, or use his pocket veto.

CVM TAKE: The Environmental League of Massachusetts, LCV’s state affiliate in Massachusetts, was actively involved in helping shape this legislation and had this to say on Twitter: “The climate bill on the governor’s desk ensures we reduce emissions at the scale and pace science demands. It gives power to low-income, immigrant and communities of color that have long borne the brunt of environmental burdens.”

COMING UP:

January 20: The Biden-Harris Administration Begins

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