THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – April 12, 2019

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

 

“The true measure of leadership is whether we leave the world better for our children and our grandchildren…each day that we fail to act on climate change, we’re risking our health, security, and the security of future generations. For these reasons, our committee is making climate change a top priority for this Congress.”

— Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings in his opening statement at the House Oversight Committee hearing examining efforts to combat climate change.

 

“We can lead the way in building good paying jobs in a renewable energy economy for everyone. It’s our responsibility to protect public lands from harmful drilling while engaging in sustainable energy development. It’s time we #ActOnClimate.”

— New Mexico Representative Deb Haaland via Twitter on Monday.

 

LCV IN THE NEWS:

 

Grist: Trump signs executive orders fast-tracking the pipeline approval process

The National Law Review: Signs of Potential Trouble Ahead for Trump Administration’s Deregulatory Agenda

Colorado Politics: Colorado’s Cory Gardner needs to get schooled on the environment

Oklahoma Energy Today: Environmental group opposes Supreme Court Justice’s nomination to be federal judge

E&E News: N.C. GOP candidates tie opponents to ‘crazy liberal clowns’

 

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:

 

Hartford Courant (CT): We can’t wait for Washington. It’s time for a Connecticut green economy

South Florida Sun Sentinel (FL): Grassroots efforts to raise awareness of rising sea levels

The Baltimore Sun (MD): Delegates revive proposal to mandate that half of Maryland’s electricity come from renewable energy sources

NPR Michigan (MI): 1st Friday Focus On The Environment: A Conversation With Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Gotham Gazette (NY): Opinion: Invest in City Parks to Improve Our Public Spaces and Save the Environment

 

 

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CLIMATE ON THE TRAIL: 2020 candidates are prioritizing climate change. Check out this week’s roundup of what candidates have said and done to put climate action front and center.

 

BERNHARDT HEARTBURN: This week the Senate confirmed oil lobbyist David Bernhardt to be Secretary of the Interior. He has already used his previous posts to support zeroing out the Land and Water Conservation Fund, fast-track efforts to drill in the pristine and sacred Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and pursue the largest expansion of risky and unpopular offshore drilling in American history.

 

OUR TAKE: In a statement from Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel, he said, “An oil lobbyist like David Bernhardt should not be running the department that’s entrusted with preserving America’s majestic public lands and waters for future generations. Bernhardt’s corporate connections mean he has the most conflicts of interest of anyone in Trump’s cabinet—and that is saying something.”

 

TRUMP BACKS DIRTY OIL AGAIN: Trump announced and signed two new executive orders that would fast track oil and gas projects in his ongoing attempt to boost Big Oil and other polluters at the expense of our health and the environment. The orders would undermine Clean Water Act protections which serve as a way to limit the  damage caused by pipelines.

 

OUR TAKE: LCV Legislative Representative Madeleine Foote said in a statement: “The oil and gas industry has tried for years to undermine the safeguards established in the Clean Water Act, and they have found shameless cronies in this administration and their allies in Congress to do their bidding.  From the Dirty Water Rule to rolling back protections against toxic pollutants from power plants, this is now the next step in the Trump administration’s all-out assault on our clean water.”

 

NEW EPA REPORT SHOWS COST OF CLIMATE CHANGE: A new study released this week from EPA scientists shows that by 2100, climate change will cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars per year in the form of water shortages, infrastructure issues, and air pollution, amongst other environmental costs. The study said that the main way to mitigate costs would be to quickly and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

INCONSISTENCIES AT THE EPA: The EPA Office of the Inspector General sent an emergency letter this week to the head of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention warning that there are inconsistencies in the Agency’s data on toxic chemical releases, saying that some of the public data did not match internal information. This is concerning for communities and researchers who use this data in their analysis, and, most importantly, means that the public has not been getting an accurate picture of the chemicals being released into their environment.

 

TRUMP’S ANTI-ENVIRO FED NOMINEE: Trump’s nominee for a spot on the Federal Reserve Board, Stephen Moore, said he doesn’t think the Fed should consider climate change when making decisions about the economy. “The Fed’s job is to keep prices stable; that’s all it is. It’s not to get involved in political and policy issues,” Moore said in the interview. Moore is a known climate denier and has even spoken out about Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, who wants to take climate change into consideration because of its impact on the economy.

 

TRUMP BACKS DRILLING OFF FLORIDA AGAIN? The Trump administration is considering putting a plan into action that would allow oil and gas drilling to take place off the Florida coast, which is wildly unpopular with native Floridians, environmental champions, and even including many Republican politicians from the Sunshine State like Senator Rick Scott, Governor Ron DeSantis, and other elected officials. Politico reported this week that the draft plan has been with Interior, but they were waiting for the Senate to confirm David Bernhardt to lead the agency before moving it forward because it is such a toxic policy.

 

AGENCIES COUNTER TRUMP’S CLIMATE PANEL: Several federal agencies told the National Security Council that they will not be participating in Trump’s proposed panel to reassess climate science. The Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the EPA are some of the agencies that haven’t provided members to send for the panel.

 

HEARINGS IN THE HOUSE: The new pro-environment House of Representatives continued to show its commitment to combating climate change this week by having several hearings related to environmental issues. Here are some highlights:

 

GREEN CHAMPS DRILL WHEELER: At a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on environment and climate change hearing on Tuesday, EPA chief Andrew Wheeler testified on behalf of the agency’s FY2020 budget plan, and environmental champions were there to question his anti-environment policies. California Representative Doris Matsui called out Wheeler for the EPA’s proposal to change emissions standards, saying that it was “a perfect example of how EPA prioritizes boosting industries like the oil industry over public safety.”

 

CORRECTING THE RECORD: On Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing on how climate change is affecting national security, with former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel serving as panelists. While Republican members attempted to downplay or disprove the panelists’ expertise, Kerry and Hagel pushed back by highlighting how climate change is already having drastic effects on our national security.

 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES: While Trump continues to undermine and rollback important environmental protections, state and local leaders are moving forward with climate action and helping us transition to a clean energy economy. Here are some highlights:

 

WASHINGTON: On Thursday night, the Washington House of Representatives passed a bill that puts the state on a path to 100% clean energy by 2045. The measure had previously passed the Washington Senate, but was amended in the House so it now goes back to the Senate for a final vote.

 

MARYLAND: The Maryland General Assembly approved the Clean Energy Jobs Act this week, which would create a mandate for the state to run on 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. The bill now goes to the desk of Republican Governor Larry Hogan, who vetoed a similar bill in 2016, but the Maryland state legislature has veto-proof majorities. The General Assembly also approved a bill that would create a grant program to help school districts move to a zero-emission bus fleet.

 

OUR TAKE: Karla Raettig, Executive Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, said, “Our success in moving this legislation as far as we have is thanks to grassroots efforts by concerned citizens of Maryland who recognize that now is the time to double our use of renewable energy over the next 10 years so that we can avoid the worst effects of climate change and also expand jobs, investment and tax revenue in our state.”

 

WE LOST A GREEN GIANT: Michael Busch, the Democratic House Speaker from Maryland and a staunch advocate for the Chesapeake Bay, passed away on Sunday, just one day before the Senate was set to override the Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill he sponsored to safeguard five oyster sanctuaries. The override succeeded.

 

ARIZONA:  On Thursday night, the organizers and volunteers of Chispa AZ secured a big victory for our national Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign at the Phoenix Union High School District Governing Board. PUHSD has approved an electric bus pilot program–the first of its kind in Arizona. PUHSD will plan to invest this year in their first electric bus and EV charging stations, tour electrified districts across the country, and partner with other Phoenix districts to explore shared infrastructure for up to five new buses in the next year.

 

CALIFORNIA: The California Air Resources Board has sued President Trump this week regarding the administration’s potential change in fuel efficiency and emissions standards. The suit alleges that the administration refused to release information regarding its claim that higher fuel standards would promote safety, which is in dispute.

 

GEORGIA: A story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution this week highlights how Georgia Republicans have started to warm up to addressing climate change. One of those mentioned is Rep. Buddy Carter, who represents part of the state’s coastline, and recently said that “climate change is real and the need to protect our environment is real.” He also requested Georgia be excluded from Trump’s plans to drill off the East coast of the United States.

 

NEVADA: Chispa NV is leading efforts at the State Legislature to pass bills providing $15 million in funding for electric school buses, raising Nevada’s RPS to 50% by 2030 and expanding solar access to low-income families. Two of those bills have already passed out of committee with unanimous support and are headed for a floor vote. Dozens of volunteers and organizers have also visited the Capitol in the last month to urge lawmakers to support measures that promote clean energy and clean air.

 

YOUR WEEKEND READ: The New York Times Magazine put out its Climate Issue this week, covering topics of how capitalism and the economy intersect with climate change. In three longform features, the Times wrote about how individuals and communities are tackling big companies in court over pollution and climate change, how the world can foot the bill that’s bound to come with our current climate catastrophe, and the policy ideas economists are putting forward to help tie it all together on the largest scale.

 

YOUR WEEKEND READ ROUND 2: Pulitzer Prize-winning author and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman argued his week that the best way to beat Trump in 2020 is to focus on climate change. Trump has already voiced his intentions to run his 2020 race against the Green New Deal, so Friedman argues to take him up on that plan and show voters that a president who doesn’t protect the environment is no president for us.

 

COMING UP:

 

APRIL 15 Deadline for comments on the EPA’s “Dirty Water Rule.”

 

APRIL 17 Deadline for comments on the EPA’s rollback of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

 

JUNE 26 & 27 – First Democratic 2020 Presidential debates

 

JULY 30 & 31 – Second Democratic 2020 Presidential debates

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