THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – JANUARY 10, 2020

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:

“There are over 540+ cities in America with a population over 100k that have water this is over the APA action level for lead. That does not account for any of the cities with a population under 100k. 

AMERICA

HAS 

A

WATER

CRISIS”

— Mari Copeny, aka Little Miss Flint, via Twitter 

“Our elders warned settlers that we cannot abuse the land and expect future generations to be able to enjoy it. That’s what we keep saying — we cannot go on like this.”

— Mohawk activist Ellen Gabriel in Vice article

Make no mistake. The tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate change-based. We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is. That way, we all have a future

— Russell Crowe, who was with his family in Australia during the Golden Globes, had a climate message delivered to the audience upon winning best actor in a limited series or TV movie  

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

 

The New York Times: Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work

Mother Jones: A New Trump Rule Would Fast-Track Oil Pipelines Without Consideration of Climate Change

USA Today: Trump says environmental policy change would fix ‘regulatory nightmare’; critics say consequences ‘dire’

Spectrum News: U.S. House Expected to Consider ‘Forever Chemicals’ Legislation

 

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:

Gloucester Daily Times (NH): Sanders talks environment, ‘corporate greed’ in Plaistow, NH

MLive.com (MI): Gov. Whitmer exploring criminal charges for ‘green ooze’ polluter

New Jersey Globe (NJ): NJ LCV names Murphy ‘greenest governor in America’

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**COMING UP** On Tuesday, January 14 at 2 p.m. ET, LCV is co-hosting a press call with Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI), Rep. Chris Pappas (NH), and clean water advocates including our own Michigan LCV Executive Director Lisa Wozniak to highlight the Clean Water Resolution. Join the call! Dial in: 877-229-8493 Passcode: 115274

CLIMATE ON THE TRAIL: New CBS/YouGov polling in Iowa and New Hampshire shows climate change continues to be a top-two issue in the presidential primary. Ahead of the debate next week, the Iowa State College Dems are “calling on all presidential candidates to come to the next debate with a substantial plan for combating climate change.”

LIGHTER WATERS?: Today, the House passed legislation that takes important steps to address the growing national PFAS crisis that is threatening the health of millions of people across the country.  Used in many everyday consumer products and known as “forever chemicals” for their persistence in the environment and our bodies, PFAS is linked to serious health conditions like certain cancers, thyroid disease, and neurological development issues, making it truly troubling that communities continue to discover their drinking water, food, and soil are contaminated.  This legislation would set drinking water standards, require monitoring of PFAS, provide funding for water treatment and create much needed transparency and consumer reporting for products containing PFAS.  

OUR TAKE: LCV Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote said, “Today’s vote is important progress for the communities struggling with PFAS chemicals that have been linked to devastating health problems like cancer, thyroid disease, neurological development issues, and more. For too long, states and localities have been forced to tackle these harmful chemicals in their communities with little support — it is long past time for the federal government to step in. We want to especially thank the many environmental champions in Congress who have been leading the charge to hold polluters accountable for the damage they have done to our health and environment despite the Trump administration’s complete failure to clean up our water and protect our families.”

 DOUBLE TAKE: On Thursday, LCV  sent a letter to members of the House, urging them to support the legislation and informing them that we will strongly consider including votes on this legislation in the 2020 Scorecard. As the letter states,  “H.R. 535 will take critical steps forward that are necessary to reduce PFAS use, clean them up, and hold polluters accountable for the damage to our health and the environment.” 

NEPA NOPE: The Trump administration has released its draft plans to gut the National Environmental Policy Act  (NEPA), one of our bedrock environmental laws that requires federal agencies to consider climate change and other environmental impacts and public input before beginning a major construction project like expanding transportation infrastructure or approving pipelines. If Trump has his way, dirty fossil fuel projects like coal export terminals or pipelines will no longer be required to take responsibility for their climate impacts, and the public’s opportunity to provide input on projects that will impact their communities will be significantly limited. Trump is once again putting our health and safety on the line for the benefit of the fossil fuel industry.

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “President Trump is trying yet again to sell out the health and well being of our children and families to corporate polluters. This misdirected proposal to change the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act is one of the most egregious actions  the Trump administration has taken to limit the federal government’s response to climate change yet. The implications for access to clean air and clean water and for public input, especially among the low income communities and communities of color most impacted by climate change and toxic pollution, could be dire.”

🔥🚨 FINAL FIRE DRILL FRIDAY: For weeks now, we’ve eagerly watched Jane Fonda engage in civil disobedience and risk arrest, all in the name of elevating the climate emergency and inspired by the youth climate strikers whose future is threatened by the greed of polluters and failure of lawmakers to act. For Jane’s last DC-based Fire drill, a number of LCV staff attended to cheer her on, as well as other celebrities, including Martin Sheen (aka President Josiah Edward “Jed” Bartlet), Joaquin Phoenix, Naomi Klein, June Diane Raphael, and Amber Valletta.  

WEEKEND READS: Check out our extended weekend read, featuring three articles tied to the global impacts of climate change and natural disasters: The devastating bushfires in Australia, the record breaking rainfall and flooding in Indonesia, and the deadly earthquakes in Puerto Rico. It is imperative that we don’t overlook the crisis in our own country (ahem, the Trump administration continues to illegally withhold billions of dollars in disaster funding for Puerto Rico)  while also acknowledging and taking responsibility for our role in the global climate crisis.  

STOP EXPLOITING BLACK LIVES: According to a New York Times article by Ivan Penn, the NAACP is urging its state and local chapters to forgo donations from utilities that promote fossil fuel interests. For years, utilities and the fossil fuel industry have cultivated relationships with chapters of the NAACP to further their energy agendas. However, the national office is urging chapters to rethink these exploitative relationships — It is no coincidence that fossil fuel companies tend to site their factories in predominantly black neighborhoods. Those very residents who were forced to play host to the big energy companies’ polluting facilities are the same ones on the frontlines of climate change and having to bear the brunt of pollution the most. 

FRAMEWORK OF DRAFT FOR THE CLEAN FUTURE ACT: This week, Chairmen Pallone, Tonko, and Rush unveiled the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s framework for the CLEAN Future Act, a plan to tackle the climate crisis and ensure the U.S. achieves a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050. Per usual, the pro-environment majority in the House is hard at work devising solutions to the looming climate crisis while the administration encourages the fossil fuel industry to run wild and neglect their responsibilities to, um, humanity. 

OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo said, Kudos to Chairman Pallone, Chairman Tonko, and Chairman Rush for putting climate action front and center at the start of the 2020 session. We are encouraged to see the pieces coming together for what will be the Energy and Commerce Committee’s first comprehensive climate bill in a decade — today’s announcement is further proof that elections have consequences. We look forward to working with Energy and Commerce and the pro-environment House majority on the next phase of this legislation and will be working to ensure that climate solutions address racial and social inequality and create good, family-sustaining jobs.”

NC ADS: In case you missed it, just before the holidays, LCV launched a $75K digital ad campaign in North Carolina calling out Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis for their recent votes to make it easier for dirty energy companies to pollute North Carolina’s air and water. Both Burr and Tillis supported the Trump administration’s do-nothing “Affordable Clean Energy Rule” (a.k.a. Dirty Power Scam) in an October 2019 Senate vote. The rule would do nothing to address the climate crisis or protect the health of children and families including the frontline communities and communities of color most impacted by toxic pollution. The new ad campaign includes eight digital video spots and eight static digital ads. Ads will run on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

OUR TAKE: Megan Jacobs, LCV National Campaigns Director said, “With childhood asthma rates already in the hundreds of thousands, Senators Burr and Tillis are putting the health of North Carolina kids and families at risk. Burr and Tillis sided with Trump and polluters over the people of North Carolina when they supported  the do-nothing ‘Affordable Clean Energy Rule’ — they are taking North Carolina backward and undoing progress we’ve made on clean air and clean water.”

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

#CleanRide4Kids (AZ): Phoenix Union School District rolled out its very first electric school bus in Arizona with Chispa Arizona yesterday! Phoenix’s air is among the most polluted in our country, so this is a huge step towards a cleaner future for the city’s youth. We hope other places will follow this example and integrate zero-emission buses and vehicles into their districts. 

GREEN OOZE?! YUCK! (MI): Michigan got quite a surprise over the holidays. A toxic chemical that residents are calling “green ooze” spewed out onto the I-696 highway outside of Detroit and is said to have come from a metal plating factory that is no longer open. Governor Gretchen Whitmer is looking to seek criminal charges against the parties involved in the matter, though the president of the formerly operated plant is currently in prison for his role storing hazardous waste. 

CVM TAKE: Executive Director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Lisa Wozniak said, “Lansing must step up. The Legislature and governor need to work hand-in-hand to do more than just talk about protections and clean up but put those words into action.”

GOVERNOR’S TAKE: Governor Gretchen Whitmer said, “This situation demonstrates the need for broad reforms to address problems of critical underfunding and understaffing at the department following eight years of one-party control in Lansing. It’s time for Republicans in the legislature to ensure EGLE has the technology and resources it needs to keep the public safe.”

RUN CVM RUN (MI): Good luck to Elizabeth Welch as she announced her run for a seat on Michigan Supreme Court. Welch formerly served as the president of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Board. We’re rooting for you!

MOAR PENN STATION, LESS POLLUTION (NY): Governor Cuomo announced plans to fix up Penn Station and expand transit in New York City. His plans mention a new transit center across from the current Penn Station that will allow for more people to take transit and hopefully reduce the overall greenhouse gas emissions caused by those individuals taking their cars. 

CVM TAKE: New York LCV wrote via Twitter, “Expanding capacity at Penn Station will make it easier for more commuters to choose mass transit, making our streets more livable and our air cleaner. We commend @NYGovCuomo for his leadership.”

CUOMO EXPANDS TRANSIT: Check out this tweet from Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiling his new transit plans. 

SOUTH CAROLINA DOMINION ENERGY (SC): The South Carolina Public Service Commission voted to increase compensation Dominion Energy pays to solar providers. The SCPSC reversed their initial decision where they cut rates and were met with backlash from multiple environmental groups. The 10 year contracts encourages the business of more solar providers and brings greater value to their services. 

MARYLAND VS PENNSYLVANIA (MD, PA): Maryland is fed up with Pennsylvania’s lack of commitment to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Governor Hogan has asked General Attorney Brian E. Frosh to sue Pennsylvania in federal court. Hogan points out that Pennsylvania has constantly come up short of their targets to reduce pollution and that the EPA should no longer make excuses for them. 

FLOOR IT ACROSS THE FINISH LINE (NJ): New Jersey is making enormous strides when it comes to electric vehicles. In an effort to get more electric cars on the roads, lawmakers have proposed legislation that would  increase the number of charging stations and give motorists incentives for purchasing or leasing an electric vehicle. The bill was passed by two Assembly Committees this week and now awaits a full Assembly vote before the session ends next week. 

CVM TAKE: New Jersey League of Conservation Voters tweeted, “Today is a big day in Trenton: the EV Bill has passed through the Assembly Environment Committee and Assembly Appropriations!”

GOVERNOR PHIL MURPHY MAKES THE GRADE (NJ): In an analysis of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s first two years in office, the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters has awarded Murphy an ‘A.’ As Executive Director Ed Potosnak explains, “We are proud to give Governor Murphy and his administration an ‘A’ for his second year in office, improving his grade from the ‘B+’ he earned last year. The Governor’s second year has built off of the momentum of his first, continuing with pro-environmental actions and commitments to conservation, including issuing a strong Energy Master Plan, committing New Jersey to 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind energy, protecting clean drinking water and critical open spaces and nominating pro-environment appointees to the Highlands Council and the Pinelands Commission.”

 

COMING UP: 

 

January 14: Press call on Clean Water Resolution

January 14: Iowa Debate

February 2: World Wetlands Day

February 3: Iowa Caucus 

February 4: State of the Union

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