THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – MAY 15, 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:

“America is segregated and so is pollution.”

— Robert Bullard, a professor at Texas Southern University, in a Boston Globe article that links air pollution to COVID-19 disparities.

“Resilience is our ability to prepare for and respond to hazardous events. It is a reaction to climate change, not a cure…Let me be clear: Resiliency measures do not prevent or lessen the extent of climate change” 

— Deputy Director of Florida Conservation Voters Jonathan Scott Webber in response to Florida Governor DeSantis’s announcement of new chief resilience officer position in his administration. 

“Our planet is dangerously imperiled, and wherever there are decisions made, the people must have a voice.” 

— Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) via Twitter on accepting the nomination to co-chair former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders’s Climate Change Unity Task Force

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

 

Axios: Democratic campaign vets unveil 2020 climate push

Latino USA: During A Global Pandemic, Environmental Inequality Lingers In Arizona’s Climate Crisis

E&E News: Will governors use popularity from virus for climate action?

Electrek: Climate Crisis Weekly: Trump has rolled back 98 environmental rules — NYT

Roll Call: Green supporters see holes in Democrats’ recovery bill

E&E News: LCV goes on the offensive to expand House Democratic majority

 

 

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:

 

San Jose Inside (CA): California Legislators Propose Bill to Protect Voting Rights, Public Health in Fall Election

Tampa Bay TImes (FL): We need a ‘green governor’ to stem climate change | Column

Journal Star (NE): Campbell, Bostar advance in Lincoln legislative contest

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**MEDIA ADVISORY**

Vice President Joe Biden to Speak at LCV Victory Fund’s ClimateVote2020 Launch Party

 On Thursday, June 16, at 6:00 p.m. ET, Vice President Joe Biden and other special guests will join supporters of LCV Victory Fund for our ClimateVote2020 Launch Party, a virtual event to rally our movement in the march to victory. LCV Victory Fund’s ClimateVote2020 campaign is built on the idea that 2020 is our last, best chance to elect leaders in the United States who will tackle climate change and accelerate a clean energy future that benefits all communities.

 Speakers will address the critical importance of climate change in the 2020 election, and the need to elect pro-environment candidates up and down the ballot in November. This event is hosted by the LCV Victory Fund. Last month LCV Victory Fund announced the most ambitious electoral program in the organization’s history to impact the presidential election, starting with a $14 million paid media program to expose the truth about Donald Trump’s environmental record to voters in key battleground states.

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

 

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PENNSYLVANIA NEEDS CLEAN WATER: This week, Trump visited Pennsylvania, an important battleground state, under the guise of an “official” visit. As Trump and his administration continue to dismiss science and undermine the health of families, LCV Victory Fund released a new video titled “Kitchen,” which portrays Trump’s lack of concern for contaminants and toxic water in Pennsylvania. Watch “Kitchen” here.

OUR TAKE: LCV Victory Fund National Campaigns Director Emily Crerand said, “Donald Trump is putting Pennsylvanians at risk because he doesn’t believe what scientists and experts say and thinks he knows best instead. As our communities are already hurting from the coronavirus pandemic, there are toxic chemicals that cause cancer in dozens of water danger zones all over Pennsylvania that Trump has opposed cleaning up. Trump’s repeated denial of science in response to the coronavirus pandemic and his refusal to listen to expert warnings about climate change and environmental threats have severe consequences for our health.”

HEROES ACT: House Democrats released their newest coronavirus relief bill, the HEROES act, which notably includes nearly $1 trillion dollars for state and local governments to help them battle COVID-19. Last week, LCV sent a letter to Congress outlining our priorities of COVID-related action. These priorities included protections for communities and support for frontline workers, election assistance funding, and investments in building cleaner, more resilient and equitable communities. It’s great to see some of these items included in this new HEROES act and we urge Congress to do more to help protect our communities and take action on climate. The House is set to vote on the package today. Ahead of the vote, LCV led a coalition letter of environmental organizations to the House supporting the democracy provisions of the legislation .

OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo said, “This package would provide much needed funding to state and local governments, tribes, and territories to maintain the essential services they provide and additional funding to support transit. Critically, this bill includes a moratorium on all utility disconnects and mandates safe reconnections as well as assistance to ensure no household loses water service due to inability to pay. We’re glad to see an additional $3.6 billion in dedicated election assistance funding to help states ensure every eligible voter has safe access to the ballot during the pandemic. We also commend the inclusion of environmental justice grants to understand the links between pollution exposure and impacts of COVID-19 in environmental justice communities and provisions protecting frontline workers, including requiring the Occupational Safety and Health Administration set an emergency standard.”

LCV ADVOCACY: Since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. in March, LCV has called on Congress and the administration to protect frontline workers, support people struggling with the economic and health ramifications of this pandemic, protect our democracy, and invest in a more just, equitable, and sustainable society. LCV put together a list of all COVID-related letters we have signed and led since mid-March. Some of the topics include providing robust funding for U.S. postal workers, $4B in elections funding, and immigration related priorities. This list will be updated weekly. 

600,000 CLEAN ENERGY JOBS LOST: BW Research for E2, E4TheFuture, and the American Council on Renewable Energy released a clean energy jobs report this week. The report’s major takeaways: 447,208 additional clean energy sector workers filed unemployment claims in April, for a total of over 600,000 jobs lost since March. These jobs represent workers in manufacturing who produce everything from electric vehicles and batteries, to efficient appliances, building materials, high-efficiency lighting equipment and solar panels and wind turbine parts to residential construction and specialty trade contractors. The report gives a state by state breakdown of job losses throughout these multiple clean energy sectors – Georgia took the hardest hit with nearly 1 in 3 clean energy workers losing their jobs. 

OUR TAKE: LCV Legislative Director Matthew Davis said, “Clean energy workers and the clean energy industry will be essential to leading our country out of this economic downturn — we need to support them now. Specifically, Congress needs to extend the deadlines for and enable direct pay or refundability of tax credits for clean renewable energy, energy efficiency projects, and electric vehicles, and expand these programs to include energy storage and offshore wind. We should build out electric charging infrastructure, replace diesel buses with clean, electric ones, and expand transit. We should be modernizing our grid and making homes and buildings more energy efficient.”

CLIMATE POWER 2020: LCV is very excited about the launch of Climate Power 2020, an independently run project created by LCV, Center for American Progress Action Fund and Sierra Club. Climate Power 2020 is a campaign dedicated to changing the politics of climate in 2020. Learn more about Climate Power 2020 here!

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “The Climate Power 2020 campaign is launching at a time when the need to win on climate is greater than ever. When the Trump administration ignores experts and science, they also ignore the reality of people who already feel the impacts of toxic pollution and climate change. That has real consequences for communities across the country, especially for frontline communities and communities of color. We are proud to be part of this effort to lift up the voices of people nationwide who are demanding action on the climate crisis.”  

UNITY TASK FORCE: Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders announced on Wednesday the formation of their joint task force meant to unify the Democratic Party heading into November’s general election. The task force will advise the Biden campaign on six policy areas: climate change, criminal justice reform, economy, education, health care, and immigration. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will co-chair the climate change task force along with former Secretary of State John Kerry. The stated goal of the unity task forces is to develop recommendations and offer solutions ahead of the Democratic National Convention. 

CLIMATE UNITY: Michigan LCV board member Kerry Duggan was named to the unity task force on climate change! Duggan previously served as Deputy Director for Policy in the Office of Vice President Joe Biden. 

PROTECT OUR WATER: This week the EPA defied a court order to regulate the amount of perchlorate in our water. Perchlorate is used in rocket fuel and is linked to fetal and infant brain damage. This decision by Administrator Wheeler is dangerous and irresponsible. The anti-science administration ignores facts and instead does what’s best for their polluter industry friends, putting millions of people at risk. Clean drinking water is a basic right and opting not to limit these toxic chemicals is another example of the Trump administration setting weak regulations that jeopardize the health of our communities.  

#PeopleNotPolluters: The Trump administration continues to prioritize Big Oil over the needs and well-being of families. While there are small businesses struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, Trump is giving $15M in public funds to oil and gas firms in efforts to bail them out because of poor planning decisions prior to the pandemic. While there are people struggling to get by and pay their bills, Trump is continuing to line the pockets of wealthy corporations and CEOs, further proving his loyalties.

MOMENTUM FOR THE GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOORS ACT: Advocates continue to ramp up their push to pass major legislation that would boost the hard-hit outdoor recreation economy and protect and enhance green spaces nationwide. LCV joined more than 850 organizations in a letter to Congress expressing our support of the Great American Outdoors Act, a bipartisan bill to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and address maintenance and upkeep at national parks and other public lands. In Congress, 118 bipartisan members of Congress — led by Reps. Neguse and Cunningham–sent their own letter to leadership outlining their support for protecting and enhancing our public lands, ensuring equitable access to green spaces, and repairing the deteriorating infrastructure on our public lands.  

MOTHERS IN THE MOVEMENT: Green Latinos, a national coalition of Latino environmental and conservation leaders, hosted an event this past Wednesday on Mothers in the Movement. LCV SVP of Community and Civic Engagement Jennifer Allen Aroz and Chispa Arizona Organizing Director Dulce Juarez were featured speakers. The panel explored what it means to be a mother in the workplace. You can watch the event here

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES: 

STATES ARE STILL LEADING: While Trump’s failed leadership during the coronavirus pandemic has put many lives at risk and his administration is concurrently rolling back environmental safeguards, state and local elected officials are leading the coronavirus response and continuing to fight climate change. Many governors have issued orders placing moratoriums on utility shut offs to offer extra relief to communities during this tough time. Thanks to the Energy and Policy Institute, you can track which states and utilities have suspended disconnections and which have not. Despite the impacts of COVID-19, many state leaders continue to find ways to move forward on bold clean energy plans that will protect local communities and support clean energy job creation. Rebuilding the economy in states is going to help push them forward into clean energy and away from fossil fuel reliance as LCV SVP of Campaigns Pete Maysmith said in this E&E article.

OUR TAKE: LCV SVP of Campaigns Pete Maysmith said, “Rebuilding economies can mean more electric vehicle charging stations, upgraded energy efficiency standards for buildings and homes, and fuller build-outs of solar and wind power. The governors have opportunities on all of those issues, and many more, to be forward-looking when it comes to climate change and not be replicating what we’ve done in the decades and centuries past, which is a reliance on fossil fuels.”

REPUBLICANS LIMIT COVID RESPONSE: As state legislatures return to session, Republican lawmakers are beginning to challenge the authority of governors to extend stay-at-home orders and allocate relief funds. Republican lawmakers in Maine, Wisconsin, Louisiana and Mississippi are attempting to place politics above public health by overriding governors and state health departments in planning the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Republican efforts to undermine executive authority power in these states is spreading, posing a serious threat to public health. In Louisiana, Republican lawmakers have drafted a petition to override Governor John Bel Edwards’ emergency declaration. Edwards’ administration has stated, if successful, the petition would not only override orders closing schools and limiting visitors to hospitals and nursing homes, but would also endanger unemployment funds and safeguards on price gouging for protective equipment and test kits. 

ACC ELECTIONS (AZ): The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), a public utilities commission that regulates gas, electricity, and water will hold their elections this November for three open board seats. Board members have the potential to influence the amount of fossil fuels used which is why it is so critical to elect pro-environmental candidates. Chispa Arizona successfully challenged four of 6 republican candidates, removing them from the primary ballot. 

FLORIDA NEEDS A ‘GREEN’ GOVERNOR (FL): Deputy Director of Florida Conservation Voters Jonathan Scott Webber wrote an op-ed featured in the Tampa Bay Times on how Governor Ron DeSantis is failing as a green governor. Governor DeSantis has been all talk and no action when it comes to environmental legislation and has lacked enthusiasm for creating a better planet and healthier communities. Webber suggests that DeSeantis hire a climate advocate who will help push climate legislation along, especially during these difficult  times.

LINKING COVID AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE (MA): Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey released a new study in the Boston Globe linking air quality to high COVID-19 rates in certain parts of the state. Healey offers policy recommendations to help combat the disparities, like investing in clean energy and jobs, fighting against the Trump administration’s rollbacks, and tracking pollution levels in areas hit the hardest.

CVM DOMINATES (NE): This week, Nebraska held their primary elections for the state Legislature, and the CVM came out on top! Eliot Bostar, executive director of the Nebraska Conservation Voters, finished in the top two of his primary for State Senate District 29 and will move on to the November general election! Eliot came in second with 26.9% of the vote, beating the other Democrat by 546 votes.

VIRGINIA VOTES COUCH PARTY! (VA): Virginia LCV Education Fund hosted an incredible virtual event from 12 – 5 pm ET today with musicians and celebrities to encourage communities of color to register to vote and advocate for election assistance so that every eligible voter has safe access to the ballot during the pandemic.

 

COMING UP:

 

May 1-30: Asthma Awareness Month

May 1-30: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May 15: Endangered Species Day

May 22: World Biodiversity Day

June 8: World Oceans Day

November 3: United States 2020 Presidential Election

 

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