March Top 5 2023
Mar 29, 2023
Your weekly resource to learn what the environmental movement is saying about the news of the day and the political fight of our generation. Be sure to follow LCV on Facebook and Twitter.
“I confess, I believed the stories of my father and grandparents were history. You think this was about a day? I tell you it’s about the cancer in our democracy that’s been here from its start.”
— Senator Cory Booker speaking during yesterday’s Senate floor proceedings on the anniversary of the January 6th insurrection on the Capitol.
“Instead of just giving up, they actually went back to their individual states and introduced over 400 voting-rights bills in order to continue to suppress the votes of the American people.”
— Justin Kwasa, LCV Democracy Program Director, speaking on the critical need for voting rights legislation as states have seen continued attacks on democracy with restrictive voting laws.
“I do fear that this is going to be the new norm in the West. It’s not going to be wildfires in the mountains. It’s going to be wildfires everywhere.”
— Korina Bersentes, who recently lost her home in the recent Colorado wildfires.
Common Dreams: Protecting US Democracy and Climate Action Are ‘Inseparable,’ Green Groups Tell Congress
E&E News: ‘Incredible legacy’: Harry Reid’s energy, environment work
PBS: Arizona Horizon — Capitol Riot, Environmental Advocates, Purses
Tech Register: How electric vehicles have helped labor and climate groups team up
Public News Service: Dozens of CA Pro-Democracy Rallies Set for Thursday
TruthOut: Manchin or No Manchin, Climate Activism Is Working
Washington Post: Sen. Manchin voiced his strongest support yet for Democrats’ climate provisions. Will it be enough?
Politico: Manchin calms the nerves
E&E News: Dozens of CA Pro-Democracy Rallies Set for Thursday
4State News: Is baseball ready for climate change?
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:
LCV’s affiliates are hard at work protecting the environment and fighting climate change in the states. Here’s what people are reading across the country:
E&E News (NY): N.Y. governor backs nation’s first statewide gas ban
E&E News (VA): Va. governor-elect taps Trump EPA chief for key postSpectrum News 1 (NY): Hochul makes climate push as federal action remains in limbo
Blue Ridge Public Radio (NC): North Carolina’s gerrymandering trial ends, with a ruling coming by Tuesday
New Jersey Spotlight News (NJ): Senate panel likely to green-light Murphy’s three nominees to Pinelands Commission
The News & Observer (NC): A guide to the three gerrymandering lawsuits challenging NC’s political maps
A note about former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s tireless legacy advocating for the environment: In remembrance, just before the new year, LCV President Gene Karpinski noted, “He brought the fight time and again throughout his long and distinguished career to climate solutions, clean energy, and protecting public lands in his beloved Nevada and across the country. In 2015, LCV was honored to present him with our Lifetime Achievement Award for his role as an environmental champion in Congress. We send our deepest sympathies to his family, and we will keep fighting for climate action, renewable energy, conservation and more in his honor.”
A VIGIL FOR LAST YEAR’S ATTACK ON DEMOCRACY: Thursday marked one year since the violent and deadly attack on the nation’s Capitol in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results. However, the attacks on democracy didn’t end on January 6th — in 2021, 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting, and over 440 bills with provisions restricting voting access were introduced in 49 states. Yesterday, voting rights advocates, including LCV, organized a candlelight vigil in front of the Capitol with members of Congress and voting rights leaders to reflect on the horrifying events of that day, and to underscore the urgent need to pass critical legislation that will help to safeguard our democracy and protect voting rights for all voters, including the Freedom to Vote Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the Protecting Our Democracy Act, and the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. For the vigil, LCV commissioned a 20 ft floating mural, showing that we must protect and strengthen our democracy at all costs. Watch a livestream of the vigil HERE and see more from the event in our blog post HERE.
PRESIDENTIAL TAKE: At a morning press conference President Joe Biden stated, “Right now, in state after state, new laws are being written — not to protect the vote, but to deny it; not only to suppress the vote, but to subvert it; not to strengthen or protect our democracy, but because the former president lost. Instead of looking at the election results from 2020 and saying they need new ideas or better ideas to win more votes, the former president and his supporters have decided the only way for them to win is to suppress your vote and subvert our elections.”
OUR TAKE: LCV Voting Rights Program Director Justin Kwasa stated, “There is a much different energy in the air today than there was one year ago — and that is hope. We know what needs to be done and those of us who showed up to the National Mall and the hundreds of events across the country, are fighting to make sure that happens. We must pass the Freedom to Vote Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the Protecting Our Democracy Act, and D.C. Statehood without fail. Our democracy is at stake.”
FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION FOR CLIMATE ACTION: In the wake of the deadly tornadoes across the Midwest last month and the devastating fires in Colorado last week, LCV and Climate Power hosted a virtual press conference with members of Congress, including Senators Brian Schatz, Martin Heinrich, Tina Smith, John Hickenlooper, Chair of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Kathy Castor, and Representative Donald McEachin to discuss why the Senate must take transformative climate action by passing the Build Back Better Act as soon as possible. As we saw from the extreme weather events over the last year, we can’t wait to take action on the climate crisis and environmental injustice. See more highlights from our speakers HERE, and read LCV’s latest memo highlighting the benefits of the climate and environmental justice provisions in the Build Back Better Act for communities across the country.
SENATOR HICKENLOOPER TAKE: Senator John Hickenlooper said, “Thousands of people have been displaced. When someone’s house burns, they don’t just lose their house. They lose their records and pictures — things that were mementos of a life well-lived. It goes far beyond just that moment. It is ridiculous that we still are willing to avoid the scientific reality and subject communities across this country to the same agony caused by the Marshall Fire in Colorado.”
REPRESENTATIVE MCEACHIN TAKE: Representative Donald McEachin stated, “Make no mistake about it my friends: we are at an inflection point. The decisions we make or fail to make will have long-term impacts, the raging fires in Colorado. Vulnerable populations are disproportionately impacted by climate change. The House has done its job — now we need the Senate to resume negotiations.”
CHAIR CASTOR TAKE: Chair of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Kathy Castor said, “This is, unfortunately, a new normal. We cannot become complacent. People across the nation are demanding that Congress act. They are more awake to the catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis than ever before. We should not be discouraged—we have made progress, more than 200 recommendations have been turned into law, and another 377 passed by the House. And the House Select Committee has created a tracker for clean energy and climate change recommendations and legislation. The Senate now holds all the cards in the negotiation to get these proposals signed into law.”
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “The costs of inaction on climate are catastrophic. They are staggering. And they are beyond tragic. It’s never been more urgent or more important for Congress to address this Code Red for Humanity. Fortunately, the House has already passed the Build Back Better Act to do just that. Now the Senate must pass the Build Back Better Act to meet the test of cutting climate pollution in half by 2030, the goal set by President Biden and that science and environmental and racial justice require.”
ICYMI, EPA FINALIZED CLEAN CARS RULE: In case you missed it, last month, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized the SAFE 2 replacement rule, a strengthened clean car standard that will require reduced emissions in new vehicles in model years 2023-26, helping to cut climate pollution from the transportation sector while saving drivers money on fuel.
FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR TAKE: LCV Board Chair and former EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner stated, “We applaud the Biden-Harris Administration for listening to the public and swiftly delivering strong clean car standards that put us on the path to cut U.S. climate pollution in half by 2030. The rule goes a long way toward protecting communities, especially communities of color and low-income communities, from toxic traffic pollution and will deliver cost savings to families no matter what the price of gas is. It is imperative that Congress swiftly passes the Build Back Better Act and its historic investments in clean energy to inspire additional innovation from manufacturers, create good-paying union jobs, and advance electric vehicle adoption across the country. This is just the beginning – the administration must build on this comprehensive rulemaking by proposing longer term clean car standards that get us to 60% electric vehicles by 2030 and 100% electric vehicles by 2035 – achievable goals that will clean our air and fight climate change. The stakes have never been higher and the opportunity has never been greater.”
ICYMI, PROGRESS REPORT ON AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL + COMMENT PERIOD ON THE ATLAS: In case you missed it, last month the Biden-Harris administration released their progress report on the America the Beautiful Initiative from summer of last year, which outlines a 10-year multi-agency vision to conserve 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030. In addition, the Department of the Interior, in coordination with the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce and the Council on Environmental Quality, announced listening sessions and public comment on the development of a new tool, the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas, which will outline information on lands and waters that are conserved. While actions taken by the administration have helped set national conservation goals, restore protections for sacred landscapes rolled back under the Trump administration, and initiated new protections for additional lands and waters, we’re counting on the Biden-Harris administration to continue to listen to local communities and Tribal Nations to accelerate the pace and scale of efforts to protect our nation’s lands and waters. Read LCV’s report from last summer on the initiative HERE.
HOW TO COMMENT: Later this month, there will be three virtual public listening sessions hosted by the interagency working group that will be livestreamed on their events page, at which representatives from LCV and a number of state LCVs plan to testify. Those who would like to participate and share verbal comments during these sessions must register in advance at the following links:
OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel stated, “The Biden-Harris administration established a strong foundation in its first year by setting our country’s first-ever national conservation goal. We honor the work they have done to restore protections for lands and waters put at risk under the previous administration and their moves to protect several new, sensitive landscapes. We also applaud the local leaders, Tribal Nations, farmers and ranchers, hunters and anglers, and advocacy groups who have worked hard to develop locally-driven conservation initiatives to meet the challenge of protecting 30% of our lands and waters by 2030. Now, as we approach the second year of President Biden’s first term, it’s critical that he seize this opportunity to build an inclusive and resilient conservation legacy by championing locally-led initiatives to protect places with incredible cultural, historic and ecological resources before it is too late. To that end, we hope the president will use his power to designate new national monuments in response to the communities in southern Nevada campaigning to protect Avi Kwa Ame and those around El Paso seeking to protect Castner Range.”
ICYMI, NEW OFFICE AT DOE: In case you missed it, the Department of Energy announced the establishment of the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, which will work to support clean energy technology demonstration projects and showcase the impacts and effectiveness of innovative clean technologies in communities, and will provide a blueprint for implementation of future clean energy projects.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis stated, “We applaud President Biden, Secretary Granholm, and the entire Biden-Harris administration for establishing an office focused on clean energy innovation and driving down air and climate pollution to reach science-based goals of 100% clean electricity by 2035 and net zero climate pollution economy-wide by 2050. The establishment of this office is an important piece of the administration’s whole-of-government approach to climate action and it must be paired with the strong legislative action in the Build Back Better Act to stave off the worst of the climate crisis. It’s imperative for Congress to swiftly pass the Build Back Better Act to deliver clean energy, jobs and justice for all of our communities.”
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:
2021 IN REVIEW — CLEAN ENERGY FOR ALL!: Last month, LCV released our 2021 report, Clean Energy Success in the States, highlighting the work of the 30 states across the nation and across the political spectrum with active Clean Energy For All (CEFA) campaigns. Last year, 28 states made important advancements on clean energy and climate action, including passing comprehensive climate legislation, shutting down fossil fuel infrastructure, increasing access to clean energy, setting strong emissions reductions targets, and implementing community-based solutions to address environmental injustice. Since launching the Clean Energy for All campaign in 2018, LCV and our state affiliates have secured 100% clean energy commitments from more than 1,300 successful local, state, and federal candidates. In 28 states we have translated those commitments into policy progress, including 15 states that have committed to 100% clean energy. Read the full report HERE and see highlights below and HERE.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Director for State Policy, Advocacy, and Network-Wide Campaigns Bill Holland stated, “In 2021, states continued to use every tool at their disposal to advance 100% clean energy and move climate action forward. This is not a red vs. blue state issue. Voters see that clean energy is a win for their local economy, it creates jobs, improves our health, and helps us tackle the climate crisis. Communities are standing up and demanding a clean energy future. Every elected leader needs to hear them.”
COLORADO LEADS ON GAS REGULATIONS: Colorado was the first state in the country to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas production, and recently approved new rules to expand these regulations. Under the rules, every oil and gas well in Colorado must be inspected at least once a year, nearly doubling the number of inspections. Higher-producing sites, sites near disproportionately-impacted communities and sites within 1000 feet of homes and schools must be inspected monthly. A new program will give oil and gas producers more flexibility over how they reduce their emissions to meet increasingly stringent goals and is projected to further help curb pollution to help the state reach its climate goals.
CONSERVATION CO TAKE: Kelly Nordini, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado said, “Colorado’s Air Commission just passed nation-leading rules to cut pollution from oil and gas and protect our air. Commissioners – thank you for acting decisively to continue putting health and safety first and leading to protect our air quality and climate.”
REDUCING EMISSIONS IN N. CAROLINA: North Carolina governor Roy Cooper signed an executive order today to strengthen the state’s economy-wide carbon emissions reductions goals to cut carbon pollution by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality as soon as possible. The administration will create a statewide greenhouse gas inventory to track emissions and examine pathways to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Cooper also set targets for increasing electric vehicles and directed the state Department of Transportation to create a clean transportation plan.
NCLCV TAKE: North Carolina League of Conservation Voters tweeted, “[Governor Cooper] continues leading NC on a just transition toward a clean energy and clean transportation economy. “Just” is the key word. This EO not only ramps up this transition ensures equity for the communities most impacted by pollution and #climate: communities of color.”
NEW YORK TO GO ELECTRIC ON BUSES: In her first State of the State address, New York Governor Kathy Hochul committed to electrify all school buses and state light-duty vehicle fleets by 2035 and invest $1 billion into increasing electric vehicles in New York. Hochul is proposing legislation to codify these goals and directed state agencies to develop comprehensive plans to build out electric vehicle infrastructure and facilitate a state-wide transition to zero-emissions vehicles. The governor also announced funding for green infrastructure and climate resiliency planning, especially to mitigate the impacts of flooding. These initiatives build upon New York’s commitments last year to take action to tackle the climate crisis at the state level.
GOVERNOR HOCHUL TAKE: Governor Kathy Hochul stated, “[The climate crisis] is a threat to our way of life — here and now. That’s why we must implement an ambitious agenda to meet this moment.”
NYLCV TAKE: New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe stated, “New York has a law on the books with the Climate Change and Community Protection Act. So because there’s uncertainty in Washington, it’s more important than ever that New York acts.”
GAS PLANT TAKES A MAJOR HIT IN CONNECTICUT: This week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a request from the operator of the New England regional electric grid to end its contract with a proposed gas-fired power plant in eastern Connecticut. In November, ISO-New England sent a letter to FERC asking to be released from its commitment to purchase power from the Killingly Energy Center due to the project falling far behind the planned construction timeline. The power plant was supposed to become operational in June but still hasn’t broken ground and is not projected to be able to provide power until 2024, 2 years behind schedule. The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) has been fighting against Killingly for years, and now without ISO-New England’s contract to use its power, the project is less viable and will hopefully be abandoned for good.
CT GOVERNOR STEPS UP FOR CLIMATE ACTION: Connecticut governor Ned Lamont signed a comprehensive climate executive order last month in an effort to get the state back on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals. The order seeks to tackle emissions from sectors economy-wide and calls for action across the state government including initiatives for resiliency, energy efficiency, building codes, land-based solutions, and transportation. Lamont also established the Connecticut Clean Economy Council to develop policies and strategies to equitably transition the state to a clean economy.
WHEELER NOMINATION: This week, Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin nominated Trump EPA Administrator and former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to be the state’s next secretary of Natural Resources. As the head of EPA, Wheeler oversaw attacks on some of the country’s most important health and environmental protections including: undermining mercury and air toxic standards, reversing long-standing air pollution protections, rolling back methane protections, and gutting the Clean Power Plan. Especially as the recent snowstorm in Virginia stranded some people on I-95 for 24 hours, now is not the time to go back on climate policy.
VALCV TAKE: Virginia League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Michael Town stated, “Youngkin’s pick for Secretary of Natural Resources is simply unacceptable. As head of EPA under former President Trump, Wheeler did nothing more than cater to corporate polluter interests time and time again, putting their welfare ahead of our environment and Americans’ health. This is hands down the most extreme nomination for an environmental post in Virginia’s history and the absolute worst pick that the Governor-elect could make. While we were optimistic we might be able to find some common ground with the new Administration moving forward, this nomination makes it plainly clear that environmental protections are under attack in Virginia, and we are prepared to fight to defend them.”
FROM THE FIELD: Over the New Year, LCV’s field team achieved several major milestones demonstrating widespread support for climate action across the nation, including knocking on more than 450,000 doors and engaging 20,000 businesses in displaying their support for climate action.
January 15th — AZ Deliver for Voting Rights Mobilization
January 17th — Martin Luther King Jr. Day + D.C. Peace Walk