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Top 5

December 2023 Top 5 – Year in Review

Dec 20, 2023

As 2023 comes to a close, LCV is looking back on some of the biggest things we were able to accomplish this year for people and the planet.

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Working with supporters and partners across the country, LCV and our 33 state affiliates successfully used our five key strategies — grassroots organizing, advocacy, accountability, state and local power, and elections — to press leaders to take bold action to address the existential crisis of climate change and to strengthen democracy.

Together, we helped secure policies that are boosting clean energy, reducing harmful pollution, delivering equitable investments in communities, and protecting voting rights nationwide. And in a year when so many people suffered from the dangerous heat, wildfires, and floods caused by climate change, we saw firsthand how much our work matters.

For the sake of our lives, our communities’ health, and the well being of future generations, thank you for making a difference in 2023. You are what keeps us going and why LCV will never give up this fight.

Read LCV’s Top 5 stories from 2023:

  1. Grassroots Organizing: Chispa Secures Clean Buses
  2. Advocacy: One Year Anniversary of the IRA
  3. Accountability: LCV National Environmental Scorecard Release
  4. State & Local Power: Clean Energy & Democracy
  5. Elections: Recap of 2023 State & Local Results

1. Grassroots Organizing: Chispa Secures Clean Buses

Chispa Nevada staff members pose in front of a zero-emission electric school bus in Clark County.
Photo by Jesus Martinez

Since 2016, Chispa — an LCV program that builds the power of Latinx communities to achieve climate justice and environmental protections — has been successfully working to transition our nation’s 480,000 polluting diesel school buses to a clean, electric fleet by mobilizing concerned people to elevate this issue for decision makers.

Chispa has been a force in leveraging grassroots pressure to demand — and win — hundreds of millions of dollars in investments in clean school buses that are now rolling out in school districts nationwide. Chispa’s success is thanks to its innovative Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign, its work leading the Alliance for Electric School Buses, and grassroots programs in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, and Texas.

In 2023, LCV’s Top 5 highlighted Chispa’s work securing $400 million in grants for clean school buses from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), part of a total $5 billion in eligible funding over the coming years to replace thousands of polluting diesel-fueled buses with primarily electric alternatives. We also celebrated the rollout of the first electric buses in Clark County School District in Las Vegas, home to the nation’s largest school bus fleet, thanks to the work of Chispa Nevada.

Chispa continues to work to ensure that the benefits of electric buses and other clean energy advancements reach the people who need them most, especially low-income students, students of color, and school transportation workers who breathe the dirtiest air.

Read our Top 5 stories from May and September celebrating Chispa’s grassroots organizing work to secure clean buses.

2. Advocacy: One Year Anniversary of the IRA

Workers install solar panels, and a woman charges her electric vehicle with a “1” balloon for the first anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act.

LCV’s work to advocate directly for our elected leaders to pass strong policies was essential to how we built the political will to pass the historic Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) — the most important action the U.S. has ever taken to address climate change — in 2022.

In August 2023, we celebrated the one year anniversary of the IRA, and how this landmark legislation is moving our country toward an equitable clean energy future and making tangible differences in people lives, including by:

  • Creating more than 210,000 good-paying jobs, with nine million jobs projected by 2032.
  • Launching hundreds of clean energy projects and manufacturing facilities in rural communities, towns, and cities.
  • Speeding the transition to electric vehicles with up to $7,500 in tax breaks for their purchase and $7 billion for charging stations nationwide.
  • Spurring investments in clean energy through tax credits, grants, and loans to state and local governments, Tribes, rural electric cooperatives, and households.
  • Encouraging business growth through tax incentives for more energy efficient buildings and manufacturing processes.

LCV and our 30+ state affiliates remain focused on maximizing the benefits of this legislation for individuals, communities, small businesses, and states, as well as defending these and other crucial environmental protections from pro-polluter Republicans in Congress who would turn back the clock on progress. We also continue to advocate for additional executive and state-level actions that are essential for our nation to meet its climate goals and reduce health-harming pollution, such as this major new rule to curb methane pollution from the oil and gas industry, announced by the EPA in early December.

3. Accountability: LCV National Environmental Scorecard Release

Cover of the 2022 National Environmental Scorecard with a search box to find your member of Congress.

LCV’s advocacy and organizing efforts are complemented by our work to educate the public about how elected officials are supporting — or opposing — strong policies. Since 1970, LCV’s annual National Environmental Scorecard publication has been holding members of Congress accountable for their votes that directly impact the health and safety of their constituents. (You can easily learn how your representatives are prioritizing the issues that matter to you by searching for the scores of your members of Congress.)

In March 2023, LCV highlighted the release of our most recent Scorecard, which tracks dozens of important votes on climate, environmental, and democracy issues taken by Congress in 2022, as well as racial justice and equity-related votes. The 2022 Scorecard is also notable for scoring the passage of the IRA, which was so essential to environmental progress that we took the rare step of scoring it twice. The Scorecard also elevated the leadership of champions of color in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus — collectively, the Tri-Caucus — last year.

In addition to the Scorecard, LCV held leaders accountable for their votes and actions this year by running paid ad campaigns, such as one calling out Republicans in Congress for voting to default on America (May), and by working with our partners a Climate Power and Climate Action Campaign to track threats to the IRA and clean energy (October).

4. State & Local Power: Clean Energy & Democracy

An offshore wind project with the state outline of Maine. A rally for clean energy with the outline of Michigan, an animated video of the state constitution with the outline of Montana, and “I voted” stickers with the outline of Ohio.

One of the most important ways that LCV advances and defends strong policies is through our partnership with our 30+ state affiliates in the Conservation Voters Movement (CVM).

LCV supports and amplifies the work of our state affiliates to build state and local power, including by facilitating close collaboration and sharing of expertise and resources across the CVM.  In August, we highlighted state-level victories in Maine, Montana, and Ohio that illustrate the power of our movement to win on climate and democracy issues across the country.

The CVM also helped secure strong state and local policies in California, which became the first state to require large corporations to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions (September) and in Michigan, where our affiliate helped win passage of 100% clean energy legislation (November). These efforts are part of our nationwide Clean Energy for All campaign, which has successfully pushed state and local leaders to equitably transition to a clean energy future over the last five years. Thanks to the policies won by this campaign, more than 40% of people in the U.S. now live in places committed to 100% clean energy. 

The power of the CVM is also evident in our expanding work to advance and defend state and local policies that strengthen voting rights and democracy across the country. In 2023 alone, the CVM helped to pass or protect more than 150 pro-democracy policies nationwide, including:

  • Securing automatic voter registration in Pennsylvania
  • Protecting direct democracy in Ohio
  • Passing a Connecticut Voting Rights Act
  • Defending administrative authority in the Wisconsin Election Commission

Our collective efforts also helped to confirm 66 pro-democracy judges to federal courts and sent more than 800,000 calls, texts, and emails to get out the vote in local primary and general elections.

See more highlights of our democracy work and watch a thank-you video from LCV Democracy Program Director Justin Kwasa in LCV’s 2023 Democracy Wrapped post.

5. Elections: Recap of 2023 State & Local Results

Photo of voting booths with a blue and red gradient overlay.

LCV knows that electing committed leaders who truly represent their communities is one of the most effective ways to win progress on climate, the environment, and democracy. Through entities like LCV Victory Fund, LCV Action Fund, and affiliated state organizations, we influence the outcomes of elections at all levels of government.

In November, we celebrated how environmental champions across the country won their elections this year, as voters once again elected candidates who promised bold clean energy leadership and rejected cynical attacks from Big Oil and their political allies.  Together, the CVM collectively invested more than $7 million in over 220 races around the country, and 72% of supported candidates won. Critical state and local election victories include:

  • Holding the state Senate and flipping the House of Delegates to elect a new pro-conservation majority in the legislature in Virginia
  • Expanding a pro-environment Democratic trifecta (governor and both legislative chambers) in New Jersey
  • Winning a critical State Supreme Court race in Pennsylvania
  • Reelecting climate champion mayors in Boise, Idaho, and Tucson, Arizona

Read highlights from November’s state and local elections or view our full 2023 elections results recap.

In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll also be sharing more information about what our movement will be doing to elect a pro-environment, pro-democracy president, Congress, governors, and state legislators in the critical election year of 2024.

THE JOLT

“We reach certain inflection points in American history — in history, period, not just American history — where the decisions made over a short period or span of time determine the outcome of what the next five, six, seven decades are going to look like. We’re in one of those periods in history.”

— President Joe Biden, November 28, 2023, in Denver, Colorado

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