THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – April 5, 2019

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

 

“Thank you for being the voice of this generation.  We hear you. It’s now our obligation — our moral responsibility — to act on climate.”

— Chairwoman Kathy Castor thanked the youth climate leaders who shared their insights at the very first hearing held by the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

 

“Clean and safe water is a basic human need. Unfortunately, this administration has made it a priority to dismantle the Clean Water Act, regardless of the science or the law.”

— California Representative Grace Napolitano via Twitter on Tuesday.

 

“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; there’s no such thing as a small oil spill. And when you drill, you spill. And nobody can truthfully look this committee in the eye and say there will be no spills if we drill off the coasts.”

— South Carolina Representative Joe Cunningham said during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on Tuesday to consider the Congressman’s bill to end offshore drilling.

 

LCV IN THE NEWS:

 

HuffPost: Trump Order Opening Arctic Ocean To Drilling Is ‘Unlawful And Invalid,’ Judge Rules

E&E News: Energy and Commerce to vote on leadership’s Paris bill

Smithsonian Magazine: Judge Blocks Oil Drilling in Arctic Ocean

The New Yorker: Why Ed Markey, the Co-Sponsor of the Green New Deal, May Be Hopeful For Its Chances

CNN: Judge rules Trump executive order allowing offshore drilling in Arctic Ocean unlawful

 

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:

 

The Colorado Sun (CO): Climate change is a priority at the Capitol. These charts show how far Colorado needs to go.

Scientific American (NY): New York Looks to Congestion Pricing to Control Pollution

Maryland Matters (MD): Hogan Gets Mixed Grades in Green Group’s Report Card

The Courier Times (NC): State orders Duke to excavate coal ash basins

Maine Public (ME): Mills Signs Bill Restoring ‘Net Metering’ For Solar Users

 

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CLIMATE ON THE TRAIL: 2020 candidates continue to prioritize climate change in their campaign stops. Check out this week’s roundup of what candidates have said and done to put climate action front and center.

 

LCV VICTORY OVER TRUMP: In response to a legal challenge from Alaska Native and conservation groups including LCV, a U.S. District Court Judge blocked President Trump’s attempt to reverse permanent protections from offshore drilling for the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. This is the first time in LCV’s 50 year history that we have sued an administration, and the ruling means that, for now, the drilling limitations put in place under President Barack Obama will remain unless Congress decides on expansions. The decision can be found here.

 

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said: “This victory shows that no one, not even Trump, is above the law…Offshore drilling and the associated threat of devastating oil spills puts coastal economies and ways of life at risk while worsening the consequences of climate change. President Trump wanted to erase all the environmental progress we’ve made, but we fought back and we won.”

 

TRUMP SPOUTS LIES: At the National Republican Congressional Committee Spring Dinner, Donald Trump lied about the impact of clean energy. He said: “if you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value. And they say the noise causes cancer. If you love birds, you never want to walk under a windmill, because it’s a sad, sad sight.”

 

FACT CHECK: As the AP’s fact checkers noted, Trump has routinely “ascribed a variety of evils to wind power over the years, usually with scant evidence, while praising coal, a well-documented cause of health problems.” The American Cancer Society also rightly noted that they are “unaware of any credible evidence linking the noise from windmills to cancer.”

 

BERNHARDT NOMINATION ADVANCES: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 14-6 to advance the nomination of David Bernhardt to be Secretary of the Interior.

 

BERNHARDT LIED ABOUT ENDING LOBBYING WORK: The New York Times reported this week that Bernhardt continued his lobbying work after officially stating he was done with his previous gig in November 2016. The article says that Bernhardt was working with the Westlands Water District up through April 2017, which is when he was nominated to be Deputy Interior Secretary.

 

BERNHARDT’S “FORMER” BUSINESS IS BOOMING: Brownstein Hyatt Farber & Schreck, the firm at which Bernhardt worked before joining the Interior Department, has seen four times more Interior-related business since Bernhardt joined the Interior Department. In 2016, before Bernhardt started at the Interior, his firm brought in $1.2 million for Interior-related lobbying. In 2018, that number jumped to $4.8 million. There has been an onslaught of new clients who hope they’ll hold more sway over the federal government with Bernhardt’s ties to the firm.

 

FORMER REAGAN EPA OFFICIAL SAYS HE’D RESIGN UNDER CURRENT LEADERSHIP: Bernard D. Goldstein, a former chairman of the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) under Ronald Reagan, wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post saying that he would resign immediately if he still worked at the EPA  because of the agency’s “destructive alterations” to clean air standards. “I urge the current members of CASAC to step down rather than seemingly acquiesce to this charade. The EPA’s leadership is destroying the scientific foundation of environmental regulations, to the detriment of the health of the American people and our environment,” he said.

 

NUCLEAR OPTION: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the extreme decision this week to unilaterally change Senate rules to rush confirmation of Trump nominees.

 

OUR TAKE: LCV’s Judiciary Program Director Ben Driscoll said: “McConnell is once again changing the rules and rigging the system so that he can ram though more of Trump’s extreme, partisan judges. After blocking dozens of President Obama’s judicial nominations, including Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, McConnell is slashing the time for floor debate so he can pack the courts at record pace. This is the height of hypocrisy, and extremely troubling given the multiple nominees who have failed to disclose or hidden damaging writings from their records, only to have them emerge in the final days of debate. Senate Republicans are playing political games with these lifetime positions, and we will face the harmful consequences for decades to come.”

 

OUR CLIMATE CHAMPIONS IN CONGRESS: On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 29-19 to advance H.R.9, the Climate Action Now Act, which would require President Trump to put together a plan for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Agreement. The bill’s lead sponsor is Representative Kathy Castor, who is also the Chairwoman of the newly established House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

 

OUR TAKE: LCV’s SVP of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “It’s a new day in the U.S. House! We commend Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko, and all of the Democrats on the Committee for passing H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act. After eight years of climate change deniers running the show, we’re thrilled that positive climate legislation is advancing through the U.S. House of Representatives.”

 

OUR CLIMATE CHAMPIONS ON THE WATCH: Arizona Representative and House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva, along with California Representative TJ Cox, sent a letter to the House Committee on Appropriations on Tuesday asking to increase funding for the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of the Interior. The congressmen requested an additional $2.5 million in funding, which they hope would boost internal investigations and oversight at the department.

 

OUR CLIMATE CHAMPIONS SPEAKING OUT: This Tuesday marked Clean Water Day, and many of our climate champions in Congress spoke out against the Trump administration’s Dirty Water Rule. Many took to Twitter to voice why they support protecting clean water, including Representatives Peter DeFazio, Xochitl Torres Small, Daniel Lipinski, and Don Beyer.

 

LCV SPEAKS OUT TOO: For clean water week, LCV’s Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo shared her thoughts on the administration’s attacks on clean water.  Spoiler alert: Sara’s none too happy about the administration’s attempts to “roll back clean water protections that would take us back decades.”  

 

SEISMIC LETTER: The entire Virginia Democratic delegation to Congress, led by Representative Donald McEachin, sent a letter this week to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to oppose seismic airgun blasts and offshore drilling off the coast of Virginia.

 

HEARINGS IN THE HOUSE: The momentum in Congress continued this week with our new, pro-environmental majority. There is a renewed interest in addressing climate change and holding this administration accountable for its destruction to our environment. This week, Congress held another series of hearings on climate change and conservation. The House Natural Resources  Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing entitled “Protecting Coastal Communities from Offshore Drilling” on Tuesday, and there were half a dozen hearings regarding EPA and Interior budget proposals.

 

PERRY UNDER PRESSURE: At the Senate Appropriations hearing on the Energy Department’s proposed FY20 budget, Rick Perry faced scrutiny on potential cuts to clean energy programs. Renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, and energy efficiency programs would be cut by 50 percent.

 

HOLD HIM TO HIS WORD: EPA chief Andrew Wheeler told lawmakers that the administration will not go through with stripping the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative of its funding. The administration’s budget proposal currently includes a 90 percent budget cut to the program, so Congress must hold him to his word and fully fund this program that protects the Great Lakes.

 

HOUSE CLIMATE COMMITTEE HOLDS INAUGURAL HEARING: The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis held its first-ever hearing on Thursday to hear from young people about why they believe the government needs to act on climate change. The witnesses included Aji Piper, a plaintiff in Juliana v. United States, a case that has been brought to the federal government by a group of students regarding inaction on climate change. The other witnesses were student activist Chris J. Suggs; Melody Zhang, Climate Justice Campaign Coordinator for Sojourners and the Co-Chair of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action; and Lindsay Cooper, a Policy Analyst for the Office of the Governor of Louisiana.

 

LCV URGES SENATORS TO OPPOSE JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS: LCV wrote to United States Senators on the Judiciary Committee, asking them to reject three nominees for the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The nominations of Daniel Bress, Daniel Collins, and Kenneth Lee are especially concerning given that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals covers nearly three-quarters of the nation’s public lands and plays a decisive role in some of the most important environmental cases. One has spent years working to protect the oil and gas industry. Another has dismissed the well-established fact that pollution and other threats to public health often disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color. The third? He doesn’t even live in the Ninth.

 

WHAT VICTORIES?: McClatchy reported this week that the Trump campaign is trying to put together a list of “climate change victories” that the president can claim he championed over the past two years. Trump may try and take credit for the work of others, but over the course of his three years in office, he has endangered the lives of everyone in this country by rolling back common sense safeguards to our clean air, clean water, and public lands, all while consistently ignoring climate change.

 

IT’S GETTING HOT IN HERE: Alaska just had one of its hottest Marches on record. In the North, some areas registered temperatures 30 to 40 degrees higher than normal, it didn’t snow once in Anchorage, and Juneau had 10 days that broke the record for highest temperatures .

 

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.

 

COLORADO: The Colorado legislature passed a measure that provides local oversight and enforcement of the oil and gas industry, strengthens limits on methane pollution, and shifts the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from promoting the industry to prioritizing health, safety and the environment. The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Jared Polis, who is expected to sign the measure. Additionally, The Colorado State Assembly is set to consider the Climate Action Plan To Reduce Pollution, a measure that would set a number of goals for the state, including reducing fossil fuel emissions by 50 percent by 2030, and by 90 percent by 2050.

 

NEVADA: In Nevada, legislation that would make the Silver State the 8th state committed to 50% renewables or higher by 2030 unanimously passed out a key state senate committee.

 

SOUTH CAROLINA: Clean energy advocates “brought the heat” on critical legislation to expand solar use in the Palmetto state with growing momentum for Senate action on the Energy Freedom Act.

 

MARYLAND: Maryland LCV and other advocates are continuing to mobilize pressure for legislative action on its 50% renewable energy standard before its session ends on Monday.

 

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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