THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – June 7, 2019

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

 

“We’re in a race against time with climate change, and yet there is virtually no hope of bold federal action on this issue for at least another two years. Mother Nature is not waiting on our political calendar, and neither can we.”

–Mike Bloomberg on the launch of the Beyond Carbon program, his $500 million investment to fight the climate crisis

 

“Scientific consensus is clear: climate change is happening. Now. The effects are cross-cutting and severe, with real impacts on our national security.  Climate change causes resource scarcity, instability and conflict.”

–Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee,  via Twitter on Wednesday.

 

LCV IN THE NEWS:

Inside Climate News: Biden’s Climate Plan Embraces Green New Deal, Goes Beyond Obama-Era Ambition

VICE: Biden’s Surprisingly Strong Climate Plan Is Giving People Hope

E&E News: LCV backs group of Dem freshmen for reelection

Houston Chronicle: Biden pledges U.S. net zero emissions by 2050

 

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:

Corvallis Gazette-Times (OR): Clean energy will be Thursday meeting topic

Great Falls Tribune (MT): Should state Legislature meet every year?

MLive (MI): Michigan farmers can build commercial solar panels on land preserved for agriculture

Urban Milwaukee (WI): Wisconsin Conservation Voters Spends Big

Hartford Courant (CT): Environmentalists win plastic bag victory

 

 

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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.

BIDEN ON CLIMATE CHANGE: On Tuesday, presidential candidate Joe Biden announced his plan to stop climate change. The plan includes $1.7 trillion to spur investment and development in clean energy and his campaign declared that it would  not take money from fossil fuel corporations or executives. He also called for a new federal research program to focus on developing new technologies.

OUR TAKE: “We applaud Vice President Biden for putting forward a strong plan and powerful video about the urgent need to combat the climate crisis. By committing to ambitious goals, including net zero emissions and a 100% clean energy economy no later than 2050, prioritizing environmental justice for the communities hit first and worst by climate impacts and toxic pollution, creating good-paying jobs, and pledging not to take contributions from the fossil fuel industry, Biden is building on his longtime commitment to a clean energy economy,” said Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld.

 

BLOOMBERG GOES BEYOND: Today Mike Bloomberg is launching the largest coordinated effort to tackle the climate crisis ever undertaken in the United States. With a $500 million investment — the biggest ever philanthropic effort to fight the climate crisis – Beyond Carbon will work to put the U.S. on track towards a 100% clean energy economy by working with advocates around the country to build on the leadership and climate progress underway in our states, cities, and communities. LCV is thrilled and honored to partner with Mike Bloomberg to meet the climate crisis head-on.

OUR TAKE: “Thank you Mike Bloomberg! The biggest challenge our world faces is now met by the biggest investment ever to fight it. The stakes have never been higher, the public is ready for action, and it’s up to all of us to remove the last political barriers to the clean energy future that will work for everyone. Mike Bloomberg is someone who believes that we can make change and achieve progress through politics and elections — a philosophy that also motivates our work at LCV. We are thrilled and honored to partner with him and his team to meet the climate crisis head-on,” said LCV President Gene Karpinski.

 

LCV GOES OUT ON THE TOWN: On Wednesday, June 12th, LCV will hold its annual Lobby Day with our state partners and youth leaders from all over the country to encourage Congress to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, take action on toxic PFAS chemicals, and commit to moving the country towards 100% clean energy. In the evening, we will also host our annual Capital Dinner featuring Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. This year, the dinner will focus on our victories in 2018 and 2019, including the successful election of a pro-environment House of Representatives, more environmental champions at the state and local level, and the most productive state legislative sessions in history for clean energy and climate action. The Capital Dinner is an LCV membership event, and a media RSVP is required in order to attend.

 

WARM WELCOME: UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed on Monday that she would bring up climate change with Trump during his state visit. Confirmation from her office came after 250 climate researchers urged the prime minister to raise the issue with Trump . Across the pond, Trump was also greeted by a message that an art student mowed into his lawn and was visible from the air:  “Climate change is real.”

 

TRUMP SPOUTS ANOTHER CLIMATE TRUMPISM: In an interview Wednesday, Trump stated that “there’s a change in weather, and I think it changes both ways.” He claimed that environmentalists had intentionally changed the terminology to “climate change” because global warming “wasn’t working.” The interview came after a meeting with Prince Charles that left Trump “unconvinced” of the science of climate change.

 

EPA BANS SCIENTISTS’ ADVICE ON SCIENCE: On Monday, the NRDC sued the EPA for a 2017 directive from former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt that banned some scientists from joining panels that advise the agency on science. Not only did the EPA remove scientists from panels, the NRDC argues that they replaced those scientists with corporate representatives.

 

EPA CHIEF BLAMES MEDIA: At a luncheon in D.C., EPA head Andrew Wheeler stated that the media does a “disservice to the American public” by not writing stories on the “progress” our country has made in protecting the environment. The former lobbyist rattled off a set of achievements throughout the agency’s history, touting decreases in particulate matter pollution and CO2 emissions. This is the same former lobbyist who is working to roll back environmental protections and has strong ties to the fossil fuel industry.

OUR TAKE: The press is covering our country’s progress.  It’s just that this progress is being made by state leaders, not by the White House. Read our report, 100 Days of Clean Energy Progress in the States.

 

LCV URGES SUPPORT OF DREAMERS: On Tuesday, LCV President Gene Karpinski wrote a letter asking representatives to pass H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which would provide permanent protections for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders living in limbo because of the Trump administration’s decision to strip away their legal status. Karpinski reminded members of Congress that Dreamers “are integral members of our communities” and deserve “safety, stability, and legal means to fully participate in our democracy.” He added, “Communities of color and immigrant communities are often hit first and worst by climate change’s impacts, and far too often are not able to participate equitably in our democracy.”

 

LCV APPLAUDS ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUS BILL: Thanks in large part to years of organizing from Chispa, LCV’s community organizing program, six lawmakers have introduced a new bill to make the electrification of school buses a priority. Senators Kamala Harris, Jeff Merkley, Cory Booker, Tina Smith, Bernie Sanders, Catherine Cortez Masto and Dianne Feinstein introduced on Thursday the Clean School Bus Act, which would help replace harmful diesel school buses with clean electric buses, with a focus on low-income communities and communities disproportionately impacted by air pollution. Since 2017, the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños initiative, run by Chispa, has been calling on state legislatures to make investments in electric buses.

OUR TAKE: Fernando Cazáres, National Director of Chispa, a community organizing program of LCV, said, “Our children and our communities have a right to breathe clean air. Research has shown that exposure to toxic diesel emissions results in respiratory illnesses, particularly among school children for whom asthma attacks are a leading cause of absenteeism. The proposed legislation would reduce pollution in low income communities, most-impacted, and communities of color first. It is exactly the kind of leadership we need from lawmakers at the state and federal levels right now.”

 

SENATORS MOVE TO PROTECT PARIS AGREEMENT: On Wednesday, Senators Jeanne Shaheen, Bob Menendez, and Tom Carper introduced legislation to block President Trump from withdrawing from the historic Paris Climate Agreement. The International Climate Accountability Act would prevent the use of any federal funds for the purpose of withdrawing from the Paris agreement and affirms the critical role the Paris Agreement plays in preventing the disastrous effects of climate change.

OUR TAKE: “We are thrilled to see Senators Shaheen, Menendez and Carper, invaluable champions for strong climate action, leading this critical legislation to hold President Trump accountable and ensure the United States honors its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. The fact that this legislation is cosponsored by 43 of the Senators’ colleagues in the Senate Democratic caucus is further evidence of the stark contrast with the denialism and obstruction of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republican Senators. The climate crisis is the greatest challenge of our generation, and the United States should be leading the world in the fight to combat it,” said Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld.

 

HOUSE GOP CALLS FOR DISASTER RELIEF, THEN VOTES AGAINST IT: After multiple attempts by House Republicans to block the much-needed disaster relief bill, the House finally approved the bill 354-58 on Monday. Of the 58 Republicans who voted against the bill, 43 had previously called for disaster relief funding for their own states before ultimately voting against the bill.

 

INTEL, MILITARY OFFICIALS RAISE RED FLAG: At a Wednesday hearing of the House Intelligence Committee to discuss the effects of climate change on national security, senior intelligence and military officials cautioned that melting ice in the Arctic poses a growing threat to U.S. national security. Representatives from the State Department and the Office of National Intelligence told lawmakers that climate change will open new routes to ships in the Arctic, which could create potential for commercial shipping conflicts in a new area of the world.  

 

TRUMP TAKES AWAY PUBLIC LANDS: A recently published study shows that Trump is to blame for the largest reduction in protected public lands in American history. His reduction of the Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument and the Bears Ears National Monument opened up acres and acres to oil and gas companies, endangering the land for generations to come.

 

COMPANIES CONFRONT CLIMATE CHANGE: More and more, companies are coming to terms with how climate change will impact their businesses, like the effects of extreme weather on their products and operations. On Tuesday The New York Times reported on a new CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) analysis that surveyed thousands of companies and estimated that the world’s biggest corporations may face around $1 trillion in losses from climate change in the coming decades. Many of these losses, the companies estimate, could come within the next five years.  

 

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:

ALABAMA: This week Conservation Alabama, along with its partners at Energy Alabama and Southern Environmental Law Center, released a new poll showing that Alabamians overwhelming support renewable energy, regardless of demographics, party, or location. This poll follows a nationwide trend of strong bipartisan support for clean energy policies. In fact, a recent poll from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication showed that seven in ten people, including 87 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Republicans, think clean energy should be a “high” or “very high” priority for the president and Congress.

CONNECTICUT: On Tuesday the Senate unanimously passed a measure that would require the state to procure up to 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy and make Connecticut a leader in clean energy. Governor Ned Lamont is expected to sign the legislation.

OUR TAKE: CTLCV Executive Director Lori Brown said, “Offshore wind is the key to fighting climate change, creating jobs, and lowering energy costs, and we at CTLCV are thrilled to see it pass with such strong bipartisan support. This bill shows Governor Lamont and the General Assembly are thinking about our future. Investing in offshore wind now means we will have clean alternatives to fossil fuels, natural gas, and nuclear energy in the decades to come. It will create green collar jobs in both the development and maintenance of new windfarms—all of which will be done with an eye to mitigating impacts on wildlife and the environment. Our green economy starts today.”

MICHIGAN: Yesterday Enbridge Energy filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan to enforce a backroom deal struck between the Canadian oil company and former Gov. Rick Snyder that would allow a controversial tunnel to be built under the Straits of Mackinac to replace Line 5. The move comes after the oil company failed to come to a deal with the new Whitmer administration.

OUR TAKE: Michigan League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Lisa Wozniak said, “The backroom deal to keep Canadian oil pumping under our Great Lakes was jammed through during Lame Duck and will only keep our Great Lakes at risk of a disastrous oil spill. Oil pipelines do not belong in our Great Lakes, and a tunnel, which would take nearly a decade to build, is the wrong path forward for our state and would imperil our waters. The only way to truly prevent an oil spill is to shut down Line 5 immediately.”

 

COMING UP:

 

June 11 – House Energy and Commerce Hearing with EPA Administrators

June 12 LCV Annual Lobby Day and Capital Dinner

June 26-27 – First Democratic presidential primary debates

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