THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – JULY 31, 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:

“Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.”

—  John Lewis in his beautiful posthumous New York Times op-ed.

“Today, Black people advocate for clean energy, safe drinking water and fresh air. We stand up against systemic racism that keeps us from our history, lands us in toxic zones and threatens our safety in nature. And still we rise. We are standing on the shoulders of our ancestors who devoted their lives to moving the country closer to its founding promise of equality and freedom.”

—  Actor Don Cheadle in his Blavity op-ed, Our Soulful Connection To Nature And Mother Earth.

“Black people have to build our own solutions that will work for our own communities. We are leading and we are asking that white people fall in line.”

— Hop Hopkins in his Blavity article, How The Movement For Black Lives Will Help Save The Planet.

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

 

Guardian: Joe Biden’s climate bet – putting jobs first will bring historic change

CNN: Biden’s climate plan won praise from progressives. Now he needs their votes.

E&E News: Inside the rise of the green super PACs

Wall Street Journal: Environmental Groups Urge Fed to End Energy Bond Buying

E&E News: 5 Republican Senate candidates make ‘Dirty Dozen’ list

Business Insider: Kamala Harris is on Joe Biden’s vice presidential shortlist. Here’s what the former presidential candidate ran on.

E&E News: Critical minerals, energy aid make the cut in GOP package

Florida Politics: Environmental PAC backs Charlie Crist in CD 13 reelection

E&E News: Trump floats delaying election; bipartisan pushback is swift

 

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:

 

Politico (NY): Cuomo delays environmental bond act

E&E News (CA): ‘Pretty hypocritical’: Campaign targets Toyota

DeSmog (NJ): How the Gas Industry Is Fighting Efforts to Electrify Buildings

Maryland Matters (MD): Md. Environmentalists Jubilant Over Passage of Public Lands Bill

Inside NJ (NJ): Gottheimer Works to Address Toxic Algae in NJ-5 Lake 

Michigan Advance (MI): Michigan’s 1st PFAS drinking water standards clear final hurdle

Binghamton News (NY): Rep. Delgado Votes to Pass Bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act

KTVZ (OR): Wyden, Merkley introduce Senate resolution to declare racism a public health crisis

WEMU (MI): Whitmer Calls On Congress For More COVID Aid

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**Media Advisory**

Wednesday, August 5 at 3:00 p.m. ET

Stacey Abrams, Attorney General Eric Holder to Join LCV 

on 55th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

This will be an online event. Email emily_samsel@lcv.org to RSVP

 On Wednesday, August 5, at 3:00 p.m. ET, Stacey Abrams and Eric H. Holder, Jr., the 82nd Attorney General of the United States, will join LCV for ‘Preserving a Voting Environment: The 55th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act’ — a virtual event to discuss the importance of safe and secure elections. LCV’s Voting Rights Director Justin Kwasa will moderate the conversation and Gayla Tillman, a Civic Engagement Organizer with Georgia Conservation Voters, will share her story. 

 In the lead up to the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, LCV is advocating for $4 billion in government funding for safe and secure elections through ‘A Time for HEROES’ storytelling campaign. The campaign tells the stories of LCV’s staff, volunteers and supporters across the country. The first posts are about voting challenges in D.C.’s June 2 primary election and Chispa organizer Nicole’s experience in Arizona. These stories illustrate the urgent need for Congress to pass the election provisions of the HEROES Act and ensure immediate and comprehensive election funding that will protect the voice of communities who often see the worst of climate change and environmental degradation: communities of color, low-income communities, immigrant communities, native populations, the disabled, and young people in particular.

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 PARK POLICE HEARING: The House Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday held a hearing on the Park Police attack on protesters in Lafayette Square. Acting U.S. Park Police Chief Gregory Monahan testified that the White House did not order the clearing of the protestors from Lafayette Square and that the action was not related to Trump’s church visit. However, Monahan could not explain why the clearing needed to occur 30 minutes prior to the curfew that evening. Monahan also claimed that the officers used suitable force given the situation. Later in the hearing, Adam DeMarco, a major in the D.C. National Guard who was present at the protests, testified that the park police’s actions were “an unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force.” Natural Resources Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) rejected the administration’s description of the event and will be making additional efforts to reveal the truth.

OUR TAKE: LCV Legislative Representative Laura Forero said, “Thank you to Chairman Grijalva, and the rest of the House Natural Resources Committee, for making it clear that this obvious abuse of power cannot and will not be tolerated. We must hold the Trump administration and U.S. Park Police accountable and find some answers as to why this dangerous attack was ordered. The U.S. Park Police should be protecting our public lands and the people in them, not gassing protesters to clear the way for a publicity stunt — especially at a time when our nation is facing a deadly respiratory pandemic. We look forward to the continued investigation and ensuring that this vast misuse of law enforcement does not happen again and all those involved are held accountable.”

COVID RELIEF FAIL: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the Republican COVID-19 pandemic relief plan on Monday. Republicans’ proposed relief package leaves out critical funding for state, local, and tribal governments, comprehensive COVID-19 testing, tracking, and health care, slashes unemployment support, leaves the safety and security of our elections in jeopardy, and ultimately does little to bolster the long-term health and safety of our communities. Congress should instead use this opportunity to safeguard communities and build a more just, equitable, and sustainable society. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the Republican proposal “pathetic” and does not expect to reach an agreement anytime soon. 

OUR TAKE: LCV Legislative Director Matthew Davis said, “The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing deep injustices in our country. Environmental injustice, systemic racism, and structural inequality in our country are driving higher coronavirus infection and death rates in communities of color, and Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans don’t seem to notice or care. This proposal fails on all fronts and stands in stark contrast to the House-passed HEROES Act and Moving America Forward Act. Any relief package must protect frontline workers, support families struggling with the economic and health ramifications of this pandemic, protect our democracy, ensure everyone has clean water, and make transformative investments in safe, healthy communities powered by clean energy.”

TRUMP CALLS FOR ELECTION DELAY: This week, Trump tweeted a call to delay the 2020 presidential election, falsely claiming that vote-by-mail is fraudulent and won’t reflect accurate results. This is clear election interference. The president and Congress have a mile long list of policies they should be worrying themselves with — policies that directly impact communities of color. Instead, Trump is using Twitter as his personal diary to rant and suggest interfering in an official election. 

OUR TAKE: LCV Voting Rights Program Director Justin Kwasa said, “Don’t let Trump’s tweets distract you our health, communities, democracy and planet are at stake in the 2020 elections. Trump does not have the power to delay the election, but with our votes we have the power to decide it. What Trump is suggesting is blatant election interference and an obvious attempt to undermine this election. With a nation in the midst of a global pandemic, Congress should be focusing on passing immediate, comprehensive election funding to protect the voice and health of communities who often see the worst of climate change and environmental degradation: communities of color, low-income communities, immigrant communities, native populations, the disabled, and young people in particular. We should not have to choose between public health and a functioning democracy. Having more options for voters who can’t make it to the polls helps prepare our states for the elections this year, and safeguards a more fair and equitable democracy moving forward.”

OIL FUNDS THE POLICE: In not-so-shocking-news, an investigation by the Public Accountability Initiative found that some of the largest fossil fuel bankrollers also help to fund police foundations and groups in the top cities. The report shows that  major companies such as Chevron, Shell, and Marathon Petroleum donate to police foundations, which raise money for police departments across the country. So, as big polluters continue to devastate Black and Brown communities with pollution and climate disasters, they’re supporting local police — who also continue to criminalize and brutalize peaceful protesters  and terrorize Black and Brown communities. It is very clear that this is a never ending cycle of greed and power at the expense of peoples’ lives. This is yet another example of how racial justice and climate justice go hand in hand.

DIRTY DOZEN: This week, LCV Victory Fund announced that Montana Senator Steve Daines, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, Michigan Senate candidate John James, Arizona Senator Martha McSally, and North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis would join President Donald Trump on the organization’s signature 2020 Dirty Dozen list of some of the worst anti-environmental candidates running for office this year. The four incumbent senators — Daines, Gardner, McSally, and Tillis — have an abysmal combined average lifetime LCV score of 8%. All four have supported policies, including Trump’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan, that put more pollution in the air and make it harder to breathe — and studies have found that increased pollution levels lead to higher COVID-19 death rates. While Michigan businessperson John James has no experience in elected office, he is “all for” the Trump agenda and even suggested that rolling back regulations would help Flint residents suffering from lead-contaminated water.

OUR TAKE: LCV Victory Fund SVP of Campaigns Pete Maysmith said, “We’re naming these five Trump evangelists to the Dirty Dozen early because they’ve put the health and safety of our communities, especially communities of color, at extreme risk. We simply cannot afford another six years of this. Make no mistake — no matter what they say and do to earn last minute votes, Daines, Gardner, James, McSally, and Tillis have dangerous anti-environmental records and will ultimately side with corporate polluters over our families’ well-being.”

MORE APPROPRIATIONS: This week the House passed the second minibus of fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills. The legislation invests $49.6 billion in Energy and Water Development programs, an increase of $1.26 billion above fiscal year 2020, including a big boost in energy innovation program ARPA-E, in stark contrast to Trump’s efforts to ax the program. LCV and several other environmental groups sent a letter to Congress urging them to support H.R. 7617. This and other clean energy and water funding is needed to create livable, green jobs while combating climate change and improving the nation’s water infrastructure. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey believes that this legislation will put us on the right path to building a clean energy future. Also, the bill included an amendment from Rep. Huffman to block the massive proposed Pebble mine that would devastate the largest salmon fishery and indigenous way of life in southeast AK.

HEROES VIDEO FROM CHISPA: As the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act approaches, LCV is advocating for $4 billion in government funding for safe and secure elections through ‘A Time for HEROES’ storytelling campaign. This week, Chispa organizer Nicole shared her experience participating in our democracy, encouraging her community to vote, as a Dacamented Arizonian. As she shows us in the video, for communities to have access to the land, they need access to the ballot. 

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES: 

MORATORIUMS ARE EXPIRING: Millions of people are preparing for a one-two-punch as power shut-off moratoriums and supplemental unemployment benefits are scheduled to expire at the same time. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, dozens of states and utilities placed moratoriums on power shut-offs to ensure that people could keep the lights on as we faced extraordinary health and economic hardships. The looming shut-offs pose a serious health threat to low-income communities living amidst record heat waves, and communities of color who are already at an increased risk for COVID-19. These energy inequalities have always existed in the United States — 1 in 3 households had a hard time paying energy bills in 2015 — but they have been exasperated by the pandemic. We need to continue to pressure Congress and utilities to extend relief on power shut-offs because nobody should have to choose between putting food on the table or running the air conditioning, particularly in the midst of record-breaking, climate change-fueled, summer heat.  

BOOST IN ENERGY REQUIREMENTS (AZ): This week, Republican Robert Burns and Democrat Sandra Kennedy — two members of the Arizona Corporate Commission, which determines rates and policies for utilities — proposed an ambitious increase to renewable energy standards, including making the state’s electricity 100% carbon-free by 2050. The proposal would also change how utilities plan for electricity demand and help customers with energy efficiency measures. Commissioners Marquez Peters, Olson and Dunn failed Arizonans when they refused to push forward on the Burns- Kennedy Amendment that complemented the input from community advocates. Opposition to the Burns-Kennedy amendment was prioritizing utilities, not customers. We need policies like the Burns-Kennedy as we reimagine a post-pandemic future where communities who’ve long faced the greatest impacts of pollution — too often, communities of color — are afforded their right to clean air.

SOVEREIGN LAND ONCE AGAIN (CA): Some great news coming out of California this week — after 250 years, land near Big Sur has finally been returned to the Esselen Tribe. The land — 1,200 acres of undeveloped private property — was purchased and transferred to the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving Native heritage. In the 18th Century, Spanish colonists seized the land and forced the Indigenous people to convert to Catholicism, and by the early 19th century, nearly all of the tribe was wiped out by disease. The Esselen tribe will now share the land and sovereignty with the original tribes of the land, including Ohlone, the Amah Mutsun and the Rumsen people.

HOLDING TOYOTA ACCOUNTABLE (CA): As many celebrate the 20th anniversary of the bestselling hybrid-electric vehicle, the Toyota Prius, environmental groups in California and around the country are saying, “Toyota Can’t Be Trusted.” An ad campaign from environmental groups launched this week exposing Toyota Motor Corporation for siding with President Trump on the EPA’s revocation of California’s Clean Air Act waiver for greenhouse gases. The company supported Trump in scrapping the waiver, which gives California the authority to set tougher vehicle emission standards than those set by the federal government. Five automakers  — Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Volkswagen AG, BMW of North America and Volvo  —  have publicly stated they will be following the more stringent standards even despite Trump’s rollback. The anti-Toyota campaign website features a petition urging Toyota to withdraw their support from Trump, and a letter calling on local officials in California to boycott purchasing Toyota vehicles for city fleets.

CVM TAKE: Chief Executive Officer of the California League of Conservation Voters Mary Creasman said, “Toyota is speaking out of two sides of their mouth here. They want to be a green automaker, and the anniversary of the iconic Prius is coming up soon.  At the same time, they are actively advocating against clean car standards and the ability of California to lead the way. So it really is pretty hypocritical. It’s deeply disturbing that not only do we have to fight the Trump administration, but some of the companies that have decided to get in bed with them.” 

REJECT PENDLEY (MT): This week, LCV’s state affiliate in Montana, Montana Conservation Voters (MCV), released a memo laying out Montanans’ opposition to Trump’s nomination of William Perry Pendley to the head of the Bureau of Land Management. As someone who is actively anti-public lands, Pendley is unfit to serve in his acting role and has no place as official head of the BLM. The MCV memo thoroughly outlines Pendley’s history of advocating for the selling of public lands, opposition to Montana’s public stream access, proposals to “develop all the lands,” denial of climate change, and ethical conflicts with the BLM mission. Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pendley has led the BLM to weaken dozens of environmental protections. MCV and its members are calling on Senator Daines to oppose Pendley. Every U.S. Senator has an obligation to weigh in on Pendley’s nomination. We must protect our land, clean air and clean water from this climate-denying, resource-exploiting bigot.

OUR TAKE: LCV Legislative Representative Laura Forero said, “Pendley’s record of listening to polluters instead of people, along with a history of making racist anti-Black, homophobic and transphobic comments shows he is completely unfit to lead staff or protect public lands. His denial of climate science, hostility toward bedrock environmental protections like the Endangered Species Act and the Antiquities Act and his eagerness to sell off public lands mean he has no place enforcing our laws meant to safeguard public lands that belong to all of us. More importantly, his ugly attacks about the Black Lives Matter movement, immigrants, and the LGBTQ+ community mean he should have no place in the Federal government and we urge the Senate to reject his confirmation. He is unfit to serve in his current role as the acting director and should be removed immediately.” 

REPLACING COAL (NM): Earlier this year, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) unanimously voted to shut down the San Juan Generating station – one of the state’s remaining coal plants. In the transition plan, the plant’s workforce is supported with job training and economic relief, and on Wednesday, the Commission determined that entirely renewable energy sources and storage are the preferred alternative to coal. The San Juan community’s pursuit of healthier, cleaner air is becoming a reality.

 

COMING UP:

 

August 6: 55th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act becoming law

August 9: International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

November 3: Election Day

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