THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION – MAY 20, 2022

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, Twitter, and Instagram.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

“The ideology of white supremacy has no place in America. None. Failure to say that is going to be complicity.”

— President Joe Biden, speaking to grieving families in Buffalo, New York following the racist mass shooting that targeted and terrorized the Black community 

“Asian and Pacific Islander American communities have made significant contributions to American life. But despite these undeniable contributions, our communities have largely been excluded or erased from American history.”

— Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, speaking on the Senate floor ahead of passage of a bill, first written by Rep. Grace Meng (NY-06) to begin the process to establish a national museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture.

“There is nothing more important than cleaning up the yellow school buses that carry our most precious cargo to and from school every day.”

— EPA Administrator Michael Regan, testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee this week

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ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS RACIAL JUSTICE: We mourn the victims of the white supremacist terrorist attack in Buffalo, New York: Roberta Drury, Margus Morrison, Andre Mackneil, Aaron Salter Jr., Geraldine Talley, Celestine Chaney, Heyward Patterson, Katherine Massey, Pearl Young and Ruth Whitfield. No one should fear persecution or death because of the color of their skin.

As a historically white-led environmental organization that builds political power for people and the planet, we denounce the false eco-facism conspiracy theories that fueled the Buffalo terrorist. Eco-fascists perfidiously claim that people of color and immigrants are responsible for the climate crisis and environmental degradation. The truth is, Big Polluters and their allies are responsible for the climate crisis – and people of color and immigrants have borne the brunt of exposure to toxic pollution and suffer from the related health risks. In the world we envision – one in which tackling the climate crisis, confronting environmental injustice, and strengthening our democracy lead to a more just, equitable and sustainable planet for all – there is no room for the racist eco-fascism conspiracy and white supremacy that fueled this tragic act of terrorism.       

HOUSE VOTE ON FUEL PRICE GOUGING: LCV and 14 other environmental organizations sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives urging members to support H.R. 7688, the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, which the House passed on Thursday. This legislation takes important action to protect families struggling with high gas and home heating fuel prices while Big Oil rakes in sky-high profits.

OUR PRE-PASSAGE TAKE: In the letter, LCV and the coalition said, “The oil and gas industry is profiteering off Putin’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by jacking up prices at the pump that are straining families’ budgets…They must be held accountable for their contribution to the pain high energy prices are causing families across the country…While this bill takes important steps to address high gas prices today, it is also imperative that we achieve a long-term solution of securing energy independence by reducing our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels.” 

OUR POST-PASSAGE TAKE: Following House passage of the bill, LCV SVP of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “We commend Representatives Porter and Schrier for their leadership and every House Democrat who voted yes and stood up for their constituents who are paying the price for Big Oil’s abhorrent gouging at the gas pump during an international crisis. The Senate must follow suit and take swift action to hold polluters accountable, lower energy costs for families, and achieve long term clean energy independence by passing this bill and the House-passed $555 billion investments in climate, jobs and justice.”

FOURTEEN PRIMARY WINS: On Tuesday, 14 LCV Action Fund endorsed candidates were successful in their Democratic primary elections: Charles Booker (KY-Senate), Cheri Beasley (NC-Senate), Valerie Foushee (NC-04), Jeff Jackson (NC-14), Senator Ron Wyden (OR-Senate), Representative Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Val Hoyle (OR-04), Andrea Salinas (OR-06), Representative Dwight Evans (PA-03), Representative Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Representative Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Representative Susan Wild (PA-07), Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) and Summer Lee (PA-12). Environmental donors contributed over $500,000 to these candidates via GiveGreen, a partnership between LCV Victory Fund and NRDC Action Votes that helps people directly contribute to pro-environment candidates. Separately, LCV Victory Fund invested in ads in support of Andrea Salinas (OR-06) and Summer Lee (PA-12) as part of a $550,000 campaign to support pro-environment, non-incumbent women of color running for U.S. House seats in competitive primaries.

OUR TAKE: LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Congratulations to these stellar candidates on their primary victories across the country. It has never been more important to have leaders in Congress who will fight to protect the health of all communities and tackle the climate crisis through transformational investments in clean energy, environmental justice, and good-paying union jobs. Voters understand this and they know that these are the people we need fighting for us in Washington. We look forward to continuing to support these candidates through more victories in November.”

GET OUT THE VOTE: On Thursday, LCV Education Fund announced their 2022 multi-state site-based voter registration program in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania —  the largest non-partisan, site-based voter registration program in the country this year — to register eligible voters historically excluded from voter registration efforts, including communities of color in urban and rural communities.

OUR TAKE: LCVEF Director of Civic Engagement Hilda Nucete stated, “Barriers to voting disproportionately impact eligible voters in communities of color, immigrant communities, in urban and rural communities, especially for first-time voters, voters with disabilities, and voters who speak or read another language. We know that we can’t have a healthy environment without a healthy democracy — the same communities who are historically excluded from the voting process are the same communities who are disproportionately impacted by environmental injustices.”

EPA CLEAN SCHOOL BUS PROGRAM LAUNCHES!: Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opened its historic, billion-dollar a year Clean School Bus Program to help districts replace polluting buses with zero-emission, electric school buses. School districts can apply to receive a rebate – delivered to the manufacturer or dealer before the district pays – that will cover the full cost or price differential of a new electric school bus, with a limit of 25 new school buses per district. Additional funding will also be awarded for school districts to purchase electric school bus charging stations. 

CHISPA NAT’L TAKE: Chispa Senior National Director Johana Vicente said, “Chispa’s members have been fighting for a clean ride for kids for years. EPA’s initial efforts are a historic investment in electric school buses and we are excited to welcome school districts to begin applying for funding now. As communities of color are disproportionately impacted by air pollution, we will continue to push for race and air pollution level indicators to be part of the criteria to ensure that low-income communities of color who most need cleaner air quality get the benefits first. We look forward to working with the EPA in real-time to center equity, prioritize electric school buses, and ensure that this initial round of transformational funding will reach the communities this program is intended to help.” 

LCV TAKE: LCV Government Affairs Climate and Clean Energy Advocate Darien Davis said, “We applaud the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to advance clean electric school buses. Parents want their kids to have healthy air to breathe, and unfortunately, for many parents in communities of color living near roadways or polluting industries, that fundamental goal is out of reach. Zero-tailpipe-emission electric school buses can make parents’ goal of clean air for their kids much more attainable. We commend the tireless leadership of our Chispa colleagues to advocate for clean rides for children, and will continue to work together to push Congress and the administration to free up more federal funding for electric school buses and direct funds to those school districts whose families have historically faced the worst air quality and need the most support to transition to zero-tailpipe-emission school buses.” 

MORE TAKES: Find Chispa Arizona and Chispa Florida’s takes HERE.

FROM THE LAUNCH: The Biden-Harris administration hosted an event at Meridian High School in Falls Church to announce the program. Chispa Senior National Director Johana Vicente, LCV Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo, and LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis attended the event. Check out scenes from the event HERE and HERE!

DOI 5 YEAR PLAN: On Thursday, during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing to examine President Biden’s FY2023 budget request for the Department of Interior (DOI), Secretary Deb Haaland disclosed that the department would soon release the next draft of their 5-year plan for offshore drilling. This news comes after the exciting announcement last week that DOI canceled three lease sales off the coast of Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico. Since leasing decisions won’t produce oil for years or decades, they have no impact on today’s gas prices, which are a result, in part, of oil companies’ decisions to use their sky-high profits for stock buybacks and executive bonuses instead of lowering prices for consumers. But new leases will keep us dependent on oil years or decades from now when our transition to clean energy must be far along.

OUR TAKE: LCV’s Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel said, “We applaud Secretary Haaland and the Interior Department for recently canceling offshore drilling lease sales and for taking a deliberative and thoughtful approach to the forthcoming five year offshore drilling plan… Offshore drilling is a dirty and dangerous business that threatens coastal communities, economies and marine life, which is why implementing solutions now to allow for a future powered by clean energy must be the way forward. We look forward to the release of the next draft of DOI’s 5-year plan for offshore drilling and are counting on this administration to finalize a plan that schedules no new lease sales.” Read the full statement HERE.

MONEY IN POLITICS: This week, the Supreme Court struck down limits on repayments of candidate loans by federal political campaigns in its decision in Federal Election Commission v. Ted Cruz for Senate. This decision means more special interest money will ultimately end up in candidates’ and elected officials’ personal bank accounts – another instance where polluters and special interests gain power in our democracy rather than the people.

OUR TAKE: LCV Advocacy Director for Judiciary and Democracy Doug Lindner said, “Today, the Republican-appointed majority on our captured Supreme Court issued a party-line decision in favor of a Republican politician and his re-election campaign. The Court’s decision in Federal Election Commission v. Ted Cruz for Senate means more special interest money will find its way into the personal accounts of elected officials and candidates. We are disappointed but not surprised that conservative justices who routinely expand the corrupting influence of money in politics while dismantling the most basic protections for voting rights have struck down yet another campaign finance law. LCV will continue to support robust campaign finance and voting rights legislation in pursuit of a democracy that works for all people, not just the polluters and other big-money special interests.”

ENDORSEMENTS FOR CONGRESS: This week, LCV Action Fund endorsed two candidates: Representative Jason Crow (CO-06) and Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives. LCV Action Fund endorsed these candidates for their record and commitment to action climate, justice, and jobs. You can find these and all of LCV Action Fund’s endorsements HERE.

EARTH X FILM FESTIVAL: This past weekend, our Communications Director for Chispa National Pita Juarez assisted in the screening of the Redford x Chispa LCV video series. Pita highlighted the importance of our communities organizing themselves to achieve environmental justice. For more check out our post HERE.

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

CONNECTICUT CLIMATE BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW: Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed two key climate bills into law this week, including a commitment to achieve 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040 and legislation increasing access to commercial and residential solar power. The 2022 legislative session was historic for climate wins in Connecticut. The state took action that will improve air quality, strengthen vehicle emissions standards, increase electric vehicles and buses, and remove barriers to solar power. You can watch the bill signing and learn more about the legislation HERE.

CTLCV TAKE: Connecticut LCV Executive Director Lori Brown said, “Governor Lamont’s 100% renewable energy bill, Senate Bill 10, will help us tackle climate change, breathe cleaner, healthier air, and create thousands of jobs for Connecticut residents. Senate Bill 176 will help meet our new commitment to 100% renewable energy by expanding rooftop commercial solar power across our state. It is clear that Governor Lamont and the Connecticut legislature are strongly committed to clean, renewable energy. This is the kind of leadership on climate that citizens have been hoping for.”

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE COALITION LAUNCHED IN NEW JERSEY: The New Jersey Progressive Equitable Energy Coalition (NJPEEC) publicly launched yesterday. The coalition includes New Jersey LCV and over a dozen other groups and will advocate for policy and action that advances environmental justice. 

NJPEEC TAKE: NJPEEC chair and NJ NAACP environmental and climate justice committee chair Marcus Sibley said, “NJPEEC is here to provide a voice for the community and to build power for the community so that when we get to those tables, we’re not only making people aware of the issues, but we will have the political connections as well as the relationships built so people see we are a priority and we’re worth the time, the effort, the resources, the energy in order to reverse some of these long-standing issues in our communities.”

HIGHLIGHTING NATIVE VOICES IN WISCONSIN: Wisconsin LCV released a new video as part of its Native Vote program featuring April Stone, the last basket weaver of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Ojibwe tribe. Stone brings the viewer into her workshop and shares her 23 years of experience making baskets from bapagemak – the black ash tree. Knowing that the existence of black ash has become threatened by an invasive beetle, Stone says, “I vote for the protection of our land and water. I vote for the protection of our culture bearers.” Watch the video HERE.

CHISPA FLORIDA COMMUNITY BABY SHOWER: On May, Saturday 14th, Chispa Florida was part of a community baby shower where mothers received training, information, and products for them and their future babies to come. At the event, they educated mothers and other community members on Chispa’s Clean Buses for Healthy Niños Campaign. Check out more HERE.

COMING UP:

ALL OF MAY: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

MAY 24: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Texas Runoff Primary Elections

MAY 24: House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on Rep. McCollum’s (D-MN) bill protecting the Boundary Waters