THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION – MARCH 24, 2023
Mar 24, 2023
Heading into 2022, we knew it would be a pivotal year for climate and democracy. We also knew what we at LCV needed to do about it: work to secure transformational climate action in Congress and in the states, defend voters’ access to free and fair elections, and elect leaders who will prioritize these issues.
That work was never going to be easy — and indeed, it took everything we had. But, now, as December draws to a close, we are thrilled that in many ways, 2022 has been the most effective year yet for climate action and our movement.
We succeeded in enacting truly historic federal climate legislation — the Inflation Reduction Act — that will put our country on the path to curb climate pollution by 40% by 2030. At the same time, our state affiliates continued to advance climate and clean energy policies at the state level, which, together with federal progress, will help create a more equitable and sustainable future for all communities.
Our movement also had vitally important successes in the midterm elections, as climate champions and candidates up and down the ballot were able to run on their support for climate action, environmental justice, and clean energy — and win. As a result, LCV, alongside our state affiliated entities and partners, expanded the pro-environment, pro-democracy majority in the U.S. Senate, beat expectations in the U.S. House, and helped bring about a “green wave” in governors and other state and local races across the country.
We are so grateful to all of our supporters, partners, and allies who shared these goals and made the many accomplishments of this year possible. Everything we have achieved together in 2022 puts us in an even stronger position to expand climate action, advance environmental justice, and defend democracy in 2023 and beyond. Onward!
And now, here is LCV’s Top 5 for 2022:
1.) AFTER MORE THAN A DECADE OF WORK, LCV CELEBRATES ENACTMENT OF THE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT
This year, our nation made truly historic progress to protect people and the planet. In August, Congress passed and President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, which contains roughly $370 billion in transformative investments for clean energy, energy security, and environmental justice. The law is the most significant climate bill in history and the single largest investment the U.S. has made toward solving the climate crisis.
This victory followed more than a decade of work by LCV and our state affiliates to organize supporters, hold leaders accountable, and elect hundreds of environmental champions at all levels of government. This included a massive 18-month long nationwide advocacy and organizing campaign — unmatched in LCV’s 50-year history — to pass climate action legislation in Congress.
Thanks to the continued support of donors like you, LCV was able to utilize our five key strategies — advocacy, accountability, grassroots organizing, state and local power, and elections — to press leaders to take bold action on the existential crisis of climate change. We helped build a coalition of support across the country and in Washington, D.C. and the political will to get this passed. Through multiple failed attempts to reach a deal, we never let up pressure and successfully kept climate investments at the center of the final bill.
2.) LCV VICTORY FUND AND AFFILIATED ENTITIES MOBILIZE VOTERS IN 2022 ELECTIONS, BEATING EXPECTATIONS IN CONGRESS AND CREATING A GREEN WAVE IN THE STATES
Voter support for candidates who back strong climate action was in abundant evidence this year, as against long odds, political headwinds, and historical trends, voters turned out and delivered a clear victory for climate and democracy in the 2022 elections.
LCV Victory Fund and partners invested more than $100 million to elect climate, justice, and pro-democracy leaders at all levels of the ballot this election cycle. We engaged two million Climate Voters, knocked on two million doors, and ran nearly 200 ads to build support for pro-environment candidates across the country. Environmental donors also helped raise a midterm-election record of $27 million in contributions directly for candidates through GiveGreen, a project of LCV Victory Fund and NRDC Action Votes. In doing so, we made the difference in close races and helped climate and democracy champions win.
Thanks to this work, pro-environment leadership will not only retain control of the U.S. Senate, but has added a seat to its majority, and many incumbent and new climate champions will head to Congress. And thanks to the work of our state affiliates, there was a “green wave” in critical governors, state legislative, and other state and local races across the country — an outcome that will expand the landscape for climate and clean energy progress and help protect free and fair elections through 2024.
These victories didn’t happen by accident. They are the result of investing strategically to turn out millions of voters, supporting hundreds of pro-environment candidates, and mobilizing thousands of LCV members to volunteer with campaigns.
3.) LCV’S CLEAN ENERGY FOR ALL CAMPAIGN HELPS SECURE CLEAN ENERGY PROGRESS IN 30 STATES ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Since launching the Clean Energy for All campaign in 2018, LCV and our more than 30 state affiliates have secured 100% clean energy commitments from more than 1,300 successful local, state, and federal candidates. In 29 states, we have translated those commitments into policy progress, including 15 states that have committed to 100% clean energy.
In 2022, states continued to enact ambitious climate policies that are driving the U.S. transition to 100% clean energy. This year, states enacted policies that protect public health, defend our environment, create family sustaining jobs, reduce the legacy of toxic pollution in frontline communities, and ensure that the transition to a clean energy economy includes benefits for everyone. Thanks to the work of the Clean Energy for All campaign, more than 40% of people in the United States now live in a place dedicated to 100% clean energy.
In LCV’s latest annual Clean Energy for All Report, we detail how 30 states made clean energy progress in 2022, led by the work of LCV’s state affiliates in the Conservation Voter Movement. Coupled with historic progress that federal leaders secured by passing the Inflation Reduction Act, state action will propel nationwide climate action in the years ahead.
4.) CHISPA’S CLEAN BUSES FOR HEALTHY NIÑOS CAMPAIGN HELPS ENSURE THAT 90% OF EPA CLEAN SCHOOL BUS REBATE FUNDS WILL GO TO ZERO-EMISSIONS ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES
In 2017, LCV’s Chispa program launched the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign to call on governors and state and local decision makers to put the health of children and families first by moving to zero-emission electric school buses. In 2021, the campaign — in partnership with the Alliance for Electric School Buses, of which Chispa is a founding member and facilitator — was instrumental in securing billions in federal funding for 100% clean electric buses for school districts across the country, as part of the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act.
In October 2022, following the EPA announcement of the award recipients of the Clean School Bus Program, Chispa and LCV were thrilled that over 90% of the initial grant money — nearly $1 billion — is going to zero-emission electric school buses in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Chispa and other members of the Alliance were pivotal to ensuring that the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program centered on equity and that school districts applied for electric school bus grants. Due to overwhelming demand, the EPA nearly doubled 2022’s funding from $500 million to $965 million in rebates.
This historic investment comes after years of organizing and would not have been possible without the many Chispa supporters, mom promotoras, and staff who worked tirelessly to make electric school buses part of the solutions to electrify public transportation systems. Chispa will continue to push EPA to ensure that the next $1 billion in funding be made available as grants in 2023 in order to help school districts serving communities of color that were not well positioned to use a rebate program.
5.) PUBLIC LANDS WIN: LCV, STATE AFFILIATES CELEBRATE THE DESIGNATION OF BIDEN’S FIRST NATIONAL MONUMENT AND HIS COMMITMENT TO PROTECT ANOTHER
After years of hard work, LCV, our partners, and our state affiliates helped secure a big policy win to protect public lands this year and are on the cusp of securing another:
Colorado: LCV, Conservation Colorado, and other partners worked alongside Colorado leaders — including U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, U.S. Representative Joe Neguse (CO-02), and Governor Jared Polis — to secure the permanent protection of the Camp Hale-Continental Divide area. This year, President Biden made that permanent protection a reality.
The Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument designation honors the extensive history of the military and outdoor recreation industry in the region, and will preserve ecological resources and wildlife habitats that are essential to fighting the climate crisis.
The new protections for Camp Hale — as well as for the Tenmile Range and the Thompson Divide — are central pieces of the proposed Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act (CORE Act), first introduced in the U.S. House in 2019 as the culmination of local communities’ years-long efforts to preserve public lands throughout Colorado. Since the Act’s introduction, LCV advocated vocally for its passage to the media, through lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, and through other advocacy efforts, including scoring the U.S. House vote on the CORE Act in LCV’s 2019 National Environmental Scorecard.
Nevada: Avi Kwa Ame (Ah-VEE kwa-meh), or Spirit Mountain, is a proposed national monument in southern Nevada. It spans more than 450,000 acres and features dramatic peaks, scenic canyons, natural springs, and ancient Joshua tree forests. The area is considered sacred by ten Yuman-speaking tribes, as well as the Hopi and Chemehuevi Paiute, as the land is tied to these tribes’ history and well-being. If unprotected, these lands are under threat from vandalism, looting, and development, which would destroy culturally significant areas and disrupt ecosystems across multiple states.
LCV, Nevada Conservation League (NCL), and other organizations — including Indigenous leaders, local governments, and business organizations in communities near Avi Kwa Ame — have pushed the Biden-Harris administration to protect this land by designating it a national monument. In January of this year, LCV and NCL released a poll showing that Nevadans overwhelmingly support monument designation to permanently protect Avi Kwa Ame. In September, NCL joined other Avi Kwa Ame coalition members in calling on Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to advise President Biden to designate Avi Kwa Ame as a national monument. And, as part of Public Lands Day, 100 groups, including LCV and NCL, sent a letter urging the administration to designate the land as a national monument.
Our advocacy work paid off in November, when President Biden announced he will soon designate Avi Kwa Ame National Monument. The announcement is a testament to the efforts of tribes, local leaders, and activists who worked collaboratively over the years to carefully craft a boundary that will fully honor the Tribes’ proposals, respect the sacredness of Avi Kwa Ame, and support the economic growth and vision of surrounding communities. LCV and NCL released a statement thanking the president for his commitment to protecting Avi Kwa Ame.