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Washington, D.C. – In case you missed it, yesterday, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) held a virtual press briefing with key players in the Ohio and North Carolina redistricting fights ahead of their 2022 primary elections. The North Carolina League of Conservation Voters (NCLCV) and Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) challenged unjust district maps and won their respective state Supreme Court cases earlier this year.
Executive Director of Ohio Organizing Collaborative Prentiss Haney, Partner at Jenner & Block Sam Hirsch, Director of Strategic Communications at North Carolina LCV Dustin Ingalls, Staff Attorney at Ohio Environmental Council Chris Tavenor, and LCV Director of Civic Engagement Hilda Nucete shared why fair Congressional and state legislative districts nationwide are essential to advancing environmental and electoral justice, and discussed the outlook for this year’s elections.
Watch the full recording HERE.
“When people look at people like my mother, a Black woman from Dayton Ohio, they don’t listen to her voice — politicians have decided to elect themselves and not let the people choose who will represent them,” said Executive Director of Ohio Organizing Collaborative Prentiss Haney. “That is a fundamental flaw with our democracy. We must not let up, we must keep the pressure up, we must remind people that thousands, millions of Ohioans showed up at the polls in 2015 and 2018 demanding fair maps. The courts have also demanded fair maps, so now it’s time for map makers to deliver it.”
“[Fair maps] are about equal opportunity to nominate and elect your preferred candidates in rough proportion to your numbers in the population,” said Sam Hirsch, Partner at Jenner & Block who represented the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters in their redistricting case. “We know, historically, that that has not been the case in North Carolina, which has been much to the detriment of communities of color. We always put a focus on that, front and center, in our case. We had a partisan gerrymandering state-constitutional claim right next to a racial vote dilution state-constitutional claim. I think that having them in the case together made both of them stronger.”
“As part of the Conservation Voter Movement, we believe that in order for voters to get the clean air, clean water, and energy policy that they deserve, they must be able to elect leaders of their choice and to hold them accountable once they are elected,” said Director of Strategic Communications at North Carolina LCV Dustin Ingalls. “Gerrymandering prevents that. When politicians don’t fear repercussions for their decisions they’re less motivated to make decisions that reflect their constituents’ values and priorities, including their desire to be protected from powerful polluters. Now that we have won our case, we believe that 2022 will be the first step to start building towards a pro-environment, Green Caucus majority in our state legislature, so that we can start to protect people from PFAS forever chemicals, coal ash… and other harms, like climate change.”
“When map drawers divide communities in pursuit of partisan outcomes, they often ignore the lived experiences of people living in those communities, and we can actually illustrate the impact of that fact through data and through the narratives and stories of the people living in those communities,” said Staff Attorney at Ohio Environmental Council Chris Tavenor. “When the line is going straight through their community and one part of their community is on one side of the line and one part is on the other, it is a very real experience for them…environmental groups need to recognize that the work that we do is intersectional. Our issues don’t occur in a vacuum, and our democracy is an underpinning for all of the work that we are trying to do.”
“From turning out community members, to public hearings, to leading educational map making sessions, to ensuring Indigenous communities are equitably counted in redistricting maps, LCV’s affiliates across the country are becoming major players in the redistricting fight – and the work must continue,” said LCV Director of Civic Engagement Hilda Nucete. “Voters should be choosing their elected officials, not the other way around. Elections matter, and every voter deserves to be able to vote for leaders who will act on the climate crisis and protect our democracy. The stakes for environmental injustice and our precarious democracy are higher than ever, and as we have been with a slim Democratic majority in Congress, every single district is critical for passing legislation that will meet the moment on climate justice.”
About Ohio Environmental Council (OEC):
The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) is the state’s most comprehensive and effective environmental advocate for a healthier, more sustainable Ohio. The OEC develops and ensures the implementation of forward-thinking, science-based, pragmatic solutions to secure healthy air, land, and water for all who call Ohio home.
About North Carolina League of Conservation Voters (NCLCV):
“The North Carolina League of Conservation Voters (NCLCV) is a pragmatic, results-oriented, nonpartisan advocacy organization whose mission is to protect the health and quality of life for all North Carolinians, with an intentional focus on systematically excluded communities of color. We elect environmental champions, advocate for environmental policies that protect our communities, and hold elected leaders accountable for their decisions. We have worked for 50 years to create the political environment that will protect our natural environment.” Signup for email updates here: https://nclcv.org/email-signup
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) builds political power for people and the planet. LCV influences policy, holds politicians accountable and mobilizes communities. This is how we fight to build a world with clean air, clean water, public lands, and a safe climate that are protected by a just and equitable democracy. For more information, visit lcv.org.