April 22 was Earth Day, the annual celebration of, and show of support for, protecting people and the planet. As we consider the progress made since last year’s Earth Day, there is indeed a lot to celebrate — as well as a lot more work to do.
At this time in 2022, LCV and our 30+ state affiliates were engaged in the biggest grassroots campaign in our history, which focused on pushing the federal leaders our movement helped elect to turn their climate promises into reality. In August 2022, we succeeded when Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). This transformational legislation is now unleashing $369 billion in investments that will curb climate emissions, lower costs for consumers, create good clean energy jobs, and deliver benefits to communities on the front lines of climate change and pollution.
The story of how our movement, in coalition with labor and environmental justice groups, brought about this progress through years of strategic efforts is one we’ve shared previously with our supporters. Now, you can read more about the decade of “mobilization by green groups, their donors, activists and elected officials” in an in-depth story published in Politico earlier this month. The piece, “How the Climate Movement Learned to Win in Washington”, is an incredible read — and LCV’s work is at the center of the narrative.
Of course, passing this historic legislation was only the beginning. That’s why LCV and our state affiliates are working to secure robust, equitable implementation of federal investments, strong executive action from the Biden-Harris administration, and more state and local progress in 2023.
Each year, Earth Day reminds us that we all play a role in protecting our planet and advancing a healthy and sustainable future for all. Read about our latest progress in LCV’s Top 5 stories from April 2023:
Winning passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was a turning point on our path to a clean energy future. The IRA invests $369 billion in climate action — creating jobs, reducing energy costs, and directing benefits to communities impacted by climate change, pollution, and the transition away from a fossil-fuel based economy.
Earlier this month, the White House announced new clean energy projects to revitalize energy communities, support coal workers, and reduce reliance on competitors — all spurred by billions of dollars in tax credits made available by the IRA. To highlight these benefits, the Biden-Harris administration kicked off an “Investing in America” tour, traveling to states across the country to show how the IRA and other recent legislation is igniting a manufacturing and clean energy boom.
Many projects are already underway, with many more to follow, that will address climate change and bring cleaner air, safer drinking water, and family-sustaining jobs to workers and frontline communities. Current projects include new manufacturing of electrolyzers that will help produce emissions-reducing clean hydrogen while bringing supply chains back to the United States. Read more about the benefits of federal clean energy investments.
Pushing for stronger regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies is a critically important way that LCV works to protect public health and advance climate progress. We continually advocate for EPA actions that will work alongside legislation as well as other federal, state, and local policies to move us toward a just and safe clean energy future.
Earlier this month, the EPA released proposed rules to reduce emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and light- and medium-duty cars and SUVs. Emissions from these vehicles are a major source of upper respiratory disease, asthma, and cancer — and the nation’s largest source of climate pollution. The proposed EPA rules are a positive step toward limiting threats to public health and harm to disproportionately impacted low-income communities and communities of color. In fact, LCV is advocating to make the final rules even stronger, which will help drive the continued innovation from vehicle manufacturers that will move us toward a zero-emission transportation future.
The new proposed rules complement another recent EPA decision that — in a reversal of Trump-era policy — restores the authority of states to set health-protective standards for clean trucks that go beyond those set by the federal government. California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington — which together cover 20 percent of the medium- and heavy-duty truck market — have already set such standards, and now, other states may follow.
Learn about the proposed EPA trucks rule and clean cars standards, and take a moment to show your support for adopting strong standards below.
Judges who are willing to put people, our democracy, and our climate above the interests of corporate polluters are critical for environmental protection. That’s one reason why Wisconsin Conservation Voters Independent Expenditure Committee (WCV IEC), our state affiliate’s political committee, was keenly focused on the race for an open Supreme Court seat in Wisconsin earlier this month.
On April 4, Wisconsin voters cast their ballots to elect Judge Janet Protasiewicz to the Supreme Court, flipping the 4-3 anti-environment, anti-democracy majority to one that will uphold and restore environmental protections. Flipping the balance of the Court opens up the possibility of overturning Wisconsin’s heavily gerrymandered legislative maps and makes it less likely that future anti-environment supermajorities in the state legislature could override the governor’s vetoes of harmful anti-environment or anti-democracy bills.
This victory for the environment and voting rights is a result of the hard work and dedication of our state affiliate and a network of coalitions, organizations, and voters who turned out in this critical election. WCV IEC invested $1.5 million in voter mobilization efforts, including knocking on 150,000 doors, sending 10,000 handwritten postcards to voters, conducting direct mail campaigns, and initiating nearly 20,000 phone calls and text messages. Read about the Wisconsin Supreme Court win.
Holding elected leaders publicly accountable for their actions is a central strategy in LCV’s work to secure strong policies. That’s why we recently partnered with House Majority Forward to launch an ad campaign that shines a light on the U.S. House Republicans who voted to put corporate polluters’ interests ahead of people. These legislators’ votes on H.R. 1, also known as the Polluters Over People Act, supported a massive giveaway to big oil companies that, if passed by the Senate, would take us backwards in the fight against climate change and lock us into harmful fossil fuel production for decades.
Our ads ran in seven districts in California and New York held by House Republicans who voted to pass H.R. 1, with the goal of educating constituents about how their representatives are backing Big Oil. And while we expect the pro-environment majority in the Senate to block overall passage of this bad bill, some pro-polluter provisions of H.R. 1 are still at risk of becoming part of a deal to fast-track dirty energy permitting. We continue to encourage senators to stay strong and prevent fossil fuel giveaways from passing in Congress. Learn more and watch the ads.
Chispa Arizona is an LCV program that focuses on organizing Arizona’s Latinx community to increase their political power in pursuit of environmental justice and climate action. Several other Chispa programs nationwide (in Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, and Texas) share a similar focus.
Recently, Chispa Arizona volunteer Guadalupe attended the March for Clean Air event in Phoenix, where she linked arms with fellow activists in front of Arizona’s Capitol. She called on the EPA to regulate the soot air pollution that causes allergies, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses in her family and community, emphasizing that Latinx, Black, and Asian communities are exposed to higher concentrations of health-harming pollutants.
Chispa Arizona is also benefiting from the voice of one of their youngest members, 8-year-old Yaretzi, who also joined the March for Clean Air and shared her views on environmental activism. Learn more about Guadalupe and watch Yaretzi explain her thoughts about helping her community.