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Last year, our movement was all in to elect pro-climate action officials to every level of government, most of all to the White House. Today, April 30th, marks 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration, and what a difference 100 days of pro-environment, pro-justice leadership makes.
In his first few days in office, President Biden issued a series of executive orders — including reentering into the Paris Climate Accord, freezing more than 100 Trump-era rollbacks on environmental and public health protections, and halting the Keystone XL pipeline — that underscored his promise to take a whole-of-government approach to address climate change and environmental justice.
Since then, the administration’s commitment to a just, equitable response to climate change has continued unabated. On April 24, at the International Climate Summit — also known as the Earth Day Summit, President Biden announced that the U.S. will commit to a new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) that aims to cut at least 50% of our nation’s greenhouse emissions by 2030. This is our nation’s most ambitious climate target to date, and in line with what the science demands and communities need.
This month we also saw Congress step up for climate and clean energy progress with the introduction of the Clean Commute for Kids Act. The bill would authorize an investment of $25 billion to rapidly transition almost half of the nation’s school bus fleet to clean, electric buses over ten years, prioritizing grants to school districts serving communities with unhealthy air pollution and lower incomes. The introduction of this bill is no accident — it’s due in part to years of grassroots organizing within Latinx communities by LCV’s Chispa program. LCV is proud of the ongoing leadership of Chispa and its Clean Buses for Healthy Niños initiative that is making school transportation safer and healthier for children across the country.
Here are LCV’s Top 5 Stories of April 2021:
In a letter organized by LCV and Climate Power, 1,266 state and local officials representing all 50 states and Washington, D.C. asked Congress to pass a package of policies and investments that will rebuild our economy and infrastructure and is centered around clean energy, climate, justice, and good paying union jobs.
The letter was released shortly after President Biden announced the American Jobs Plan and called on Congressional leaders to “seize a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help our communities recover by creating and sustaining millions of good-paying jobs, putting us on the path to 100% clean energy, and building a more equitable and just society.”
“This many signers from every corner of the country is the clearest call yet that state and local leaders have waited long enough for a real recovery plan that tackles climate change and invests in clean energy jobs,” said Gene Karpinski, President of LCV. Click here to read more about how leaders from around the country are lining up to support this historic climate moment.
Related: Watch LCV President Gene Karpinski on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal in an interview discussing the urgent need for the Biden administration and Congress to take action on climate, clean energy, and environmental racism.
Though the American Jobs Plan enjoys overwhelming support from state and local officials, labor unions, the environmental community including environmental justice groups, and voters — including a majority of Republican voters — sadly, not everyone is on board. Congressional Republicans are proving once again to be more concerned with blocking action to address climate change and the nation’s economic recovery than responding to their constituents’ needs.
After a year of so much loss, what could be stopping Republicans in Congress from supporting clean energy investments that will create millions of good-paying jobs and be a boon to the economy overall? Perhaps it’s their allegiance to fossil-fuel interests, who contribute significant sums to their campaigns. Click here to see a list of Republicans who refuse to support the overwhelmingly popular American Jobs Plan — and how much money their campaigns have accepted from polluters.
In May 2017, we joined a group of conservation and Alaska Native groups in suing the Trump administration over its attempt to jettison a permanent ban on new offshore oil and gas drilling in virtually the entire Arctic Ocean and sensitive areas of the Atlantic Ocean. It was the first time in LCV’s nearly 50-year history that we had ever taken an administration to court. But we felt compelled to take this step because offshore drilling and the associated threat of devastating oil spills puts coastal economies and ways of life at risk while worsening the consequences of climate change.
Now, nearly four years later, we can finally claim victory. Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal in the League of Conservation Voters et al v Donald J. Trump et al case, which reaffirmed President Obama’s permanent ban on 128 million acres of ocean territory in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.
In light of this hard-won success, LCV President Gene Karpinski said in a statement, “This is a big victory for our oceans, marine life, and our climate — and all people who rely on clean beaches and healthy marine environments. We’re thrilled that the ban on oil and gas leasing will remain in place for millions of acres of vibrant and sensitive offshore waters in the Arctic Ocean and key parts of the Atlantic Ocean.”
LCV builds political power for people and the planet. Yet political power is not equitably distributed in our country and never has been. The racism deeply embedded in our country’s governance and structures means that Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color are more impacted by climate change, breathe more polluted air, face greater barriers to voting, and have been habitually excluded from the spaces where decisions that impact their health, livelihoods, and rights are made.
With pro-climate action and pro-justice leadership in both chambers of Congress and the White House, our nation has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address the climate and environmental crises in a racially just and equitable manner. Now is the moment to be bolder than ever before, and to do so, dismantling structural racism should be a top priority. LCV believes the call for reparations for African Americans is a first and necessary step towards achieving this goal, which is why we support the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act (H.R. 40, and its companion S. 40) becoming law.
Missed any of our expert-packed virtual events this month? We’ve got you covered. You can still check them out below:
On April 6, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm joined LCV to talk about clean energy, jobs, and a justice-centered economic recovery. She was joined by LCV board member and former U.S. Representative (MD-04) Donna Edwards; member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and former South Carolina State Representative Harold Mitchell; Director of Regulatory and State Policy at United Steelworkers Anna Fendley; and LCV Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo. The group discussed the strategy for advancing bold economic recovery legislation that dramatically scales up clean energy, invests in solutions that benefit environmental justice communities, and creates and sustains millions of family-supporting, high-quality union jobs. Watch the full video here.
This year, 43 states have already introduced, prefiled, or carried over more than 250 bills to restrict or limit voting access — intentionally written to suppress the record numbers of Black and Brown voters who overcame barriers to vote last year. In early April, LCV co-hosted a virtual event with the Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD) to discuss how Senate Bill 1, the For the People Act, levels the playing field for more equitable representation, including in the communities most impacted by toxic pollution and climate change, particularly communities of color and low-wealth communities. Speakers included LCV Voting Rights Program Director Justin Kwasa; Greenpeace Executive Director Annie Leonard; True North Research Executive Director Lisa Graves; Common Cause Senior Counsel Stephen Spaulding; and Georgia Sierra Club Conservation Organizer Angela Jiang. Watch the full video here.
Want even more news? Check out LCV’s latest news here.