Earlier this month, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, the most significant action Congress has ever taken to address climate change.
Though this legislation has provisions that we strongly oppose — including some that could harm communities near fossil fuel leasing and infrastructure, which LCV will continue to fight against — it contains nearly $370 billion in transformative investments for clean energy, energy security, and environmental justice. These investments will:
This monumental achievement did not happen by accident. With the support of donors like you, LCV has been organizing and advocating for more than a decade 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.
So how did we do it? This month’s LCV Top 5 Newsletter breaks down the top five strategies we used to get the most significant climate bill in history passed through Congress and signed into law.
1. Grassroots Organizing
Grassroots activism is the bedrock of all successful movements. LCV has been able to ensure the passage of federal, state, and local climate legislation because of our ability to quickly mobilize and engage tens of thousands of supporters across the nation through our Climate Action programs and partnerships with 30+ state affiliates.
This base of grassroots support was critical to passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. In 2021, LCV and our state affiliates launched a nationwide Climate Action Now campaign — the largest grassroots federal advocacy campaign that we have ever executed — in support of the passage of ambitious climate legislation. Over 18 months, we knocked on over 575,000 doors, activated tens of thousands of people who displayed yard signs and volunteered, engaged 27,000 businesses, and held 400 events with federal and local leaders to demand climate action now. This visible, vocal, and relentless grassroots activism in Congress members’ home districts and states gave them the support they needed to pass legislation that gives humanity a real chance to avoid climate catastrophe and create a more sustainable world for future generations.
“Without [LCV’s] outside mobilization, we would not have been this successful” in passing the Inflation Reduction Act.
– Speaker Nancy Pelosi, August 2022
LCV’s advocacy work is integral to securing progress on climate change, environmental justice, and many other issues. Every day, our expert D.C.-based lobbying team is in close contact and meeting with Biden-Harris administration officials and leaders on Capitol Hill, and our state affiliates are meeting with state and local leaders, to advocate for transformative climate action and just, equitable environmental policies. These leaders turn to us for our support and expertise, our partnerships, and our strong political and accountability programs.
As a complement to our in-person advocacy work, we send letters to Congress alerting them of key votes that will be considered for inclusion in our annual National Environmental Scorecard, release statements to the press, place opinion editorials in news outlets, and run advertisements — digital, television, and other media channels — both inside and outside of D.C. to promote the benefits of good environmental policies and push for lawmakers to enact them. Our 18-month long campaign to push for federal passage of historic climate investments included more than $50 million in paid media advertisements, done in partnership with Climate Power, to uplift the benefits of climate action.
LCV works closely with partners in the environment, labor, environmental justice, and broader progressive movements to ensure that the policies we advocate for will benefit workers, communities of color, and low-wealth communities on the front lines of pollution and climate change. Our work as a founding partner of the Equitable & Just National Climate Platform and in collaboration with the BlueGreen Alliance deeply informed our advocacy priorities on federal climate, justice, and jobs legislation over the last 18 months. These partnerships and vision to center climate action in addressing environmental and economic injustice is what made the transformative investments of the Inflation Reduction Act possible, and it will be essential to future efforts to fight the continued influence of the fossil fuel industry.
LCV’s advocacy work helps drive action on environmental policy by bringing urgency to the White House, within the halls of Congress, and, in partnership with our 30+ state affiliates, at every level of government. In tandem with our grassroots organizing efforts and our powerful coalitions, LCV’s advocacy work gives us the ability to wield power for the environmental movement like few other organizations.
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.
In addition to the Scorecard, LCV engages in paid media campaigns to hold elected officials accountable to their constituents, calling out those who put polluter profits over people and praising those who vote for pro-climate action, pro-environmental justice legislation. For example, LCV and Climate Power recently launched a $2.2 million ad campaign to thank pro-environment members of Congress for passing the Inflation Reduction Act. (Post-passage, LCV, Climate Power, and Future Forward USA Action also launched a $10 million national ad campaign to educate people on the benefits of the law to their lives.)
LCV also provides platforms for elected officials to publicly demonstrate broad political support for good policy by hosting town halls and webinars with the public and holding press conferences with the media. Many of these opportunities are part of LCV’s Climate Champions program, which we launched in 2013 as a way to thank and uplift elected officials who vocally support and advocate for action on climate change. Through the Climate Champions program, LCV is able to lean on current climate champions to help push pro-environment legislation forward amongst their elected colleagues, as well as cultivate even more climate champions by demonstrating the political benefits — positive media coverage, increased visibility, and constituent appreciation — of supporting pro-environment policies.
“And make no mistake, I don’t think [the Inflation Reduction Act] would have gotten over the finish line without groups like the League of Conservation Voters.”
– House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Chair Kathy Castor (FL-14)
4. State and Local Power
For decades, LCV has supported the work of our state partner organizations to push for the advancement of pro-environment policies at the state and local level. After the 2016 elections, when the White House, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House were all controlled by anti-environment leadership, LCV deepened our investments in building the power of our 30+ state affiliated entities. In 2017, we formally established the Conservation Voter Movement (CVM) to maximize our collective ability to secure pro-environment policies at every level of government.
The success of this approach is illustrated by the CVM’s Clean Energy for All campaign, which we launched in 2018 to push state and local leaders to equitably move the U.S. to a 100% clean energy future. Thanks to the policies won through this campaign in multiple states across the country, more than 40% of people in the U.S. now live in places committed to 100% clean energy.
Today, through programs like Clean Energy for All, Chispa, and Democracy for All, LCV and our state affiliated entities work in close collaboration to advocate, organize, and mobilize people for policies that will help tackle the climate crisis, transition our nation to clean energy, advance environmental justice, and strengthen voting rights and our electoral systems to ensure free and fair elections for all. Importantly, when strong policies pass at the state and local level, it provides a blueprint for the most effective policies and puts upward pressure on federal lawmakers to act.
LCV believes that electing committed leaders who truly represent their communities — at all levels of government — is one of the most effective ways to enact change and propel progress on climate, the environment, and our democracy. Through entities like LCV Victory Fund, LCV Action Fund, and our affiliate state organizations, we are a critical ingredient to influencing the outcomes of elections. And the online donation platform, GiveGreen, supported by LCV Victory Fund, offers people a powerful, strategic way to help elect environmental champions to office.
Elections have consequences — and you don’t have to look very hard to see them. After LCV Victory Fund’s state affiliated entities helped elect pro-environment candidates up and down the ballot in 2018 — including nine new governors and nearly 300 new state legislators — governors across the country used executive action to advance climate progress, and the 2019 state legislative sessions were the most productive in our nation’s history for climate and clean energy. Similarly, it was only after LCV Victory Fund helped usher in a trifecta of federal pro-climate leadership in the White House and Congress in 2020 that we were able to seriously advance ambitious federal climate legislation and pass the Inflation Reduction Act.
Elections are an integral part of our overall strategy to advance climate progress and protect our nation’s democracy from partisan politicians who seek to restrict voting and subvert our electoral systems. With both our climate and democracy under threat like never before, in 2022, it is imperative that we continue to protect and elect pro-climate, pro-democracy candidates to office.
Together, these five strategies are how LCV, alongside our allies, works to build a world with clean air, clean water, accessible public lands, and a safe, healthy climate that is protected by a just and equitable democracy.
LCV is like no other organization. We have the political power, the breadth of programs, and the scale and geographical reach to engage in a layered, comprehensive approach that gets results. And all of this is possible because of the support from donors like you. Thank you for investing in our work.
As we look ahead, there is still so much more to do in the fight against climate change, for environmental justice, and for stronger voting rights and an electoral system that answers to voters, not politicians. This most recent win is only the beginning, and we hope you’ll continue to be a committed partner in our efforts.