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.
“Lifting the ban was an experiment, one it’s okay to admit that failed, but it’s also one that we shouldn’t continue supporting. If there is truly a commitment to environmental justice and consideration for the debt we are leaving behind for future generations, then I demand from all members of Congress to support this legislation because we deserve better.”
— Elida Castillo, Executive Director of Chispa Texas, at a press event for the Block All New (BAN) Fossil Fuels Export Act.
“Just in my end of the world in South Texas, we’ve had some really bad luck the last few years. We had a hurricane in ’20. We had a deep freeze in ’21, sandwiched between record droughts and limited irrigation supplies now in ’23.”
— Dale Murden, president of Texas Citrus Mutual, speaking at a U.S. House Agriculture Committee hearing on the importance of creating a permanent disaster fund for agriculture, including specialty crops, in the Farm Bill.
“We work hard, and we deserve fair pay, safe working conditions and to be treated with respect on the job. It was clear that our only path forward was to take our future into our own hands – and that’s what we did today when we voted to organize.”
– Patrick Watkins, a worker at Blue Bird, one of the nation’s largest school bus manufacturers in Georgia, who just voted to unionize.
BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES HISTORIC INVESTMENT IN RURAL CLEAN ENERGY: On Tuesday, the Biden-Harris administration announced its $11 billion investment in bringing clean, affordable, and reliable energy to rural communities.
OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President of Federal Policy Matthew Davis said, “We applaud President Biden and Secretary Vilsack for following through on the commitments made in the president’s affordable clean energy plan to make clean electricity more accessible to rural communities. At a time when House Republicans are threatening to cut funding for clean energy projects that create family-supporting jobs and healthier communities, the Biden-Harris administration is making sure that no one is left behind and everyone can thrive in a new clean energy economy. Providing these funds to rural cooperatives could be particularly helpful to meeting the administration’s Justice40 initiatives.”
ASIAN AMERICAN PACIFIC ISLANDER MONTH READING: In a piece titled “Asian Americans left out of climate movement,” Asian Americans activists and scientists spoke with Axios about the challenges Asian American communities continue to face in the environmental justice movement. Andrea Chu, founder of Chicago Asian Americans for Environment Justice, said, “We continue to be invisibilized and basically get left behind and never spoken about. My approach to this problem has been not to try and fight for space … but to create the spaces that we need.” Find resources and organizations dedicated to advocating for and uplifting Asian American communities in the environmental movement here.
SENATE CONFIRMS BRADLEY GARCIA AND NANCY ABUDU: This week, the Senate voted to confirm Bradley Garcia to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Nancy Abudu to the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Director of Judiciary and Democracy Doug Lindner said, “We’re thrilled by Bradley Garcia’s and Nancy Abudu’s long awaited confirmations to serve on two of the nation’s most important courts. We need highly qualified judges with diverse professional backgrounds, judges who stand for equal justice under law, and judges who serve the people’s interests, not just powerful special interests. Bradley Garcia’s confirmation as the first Latino to serve on the D.C. Circuit and Nancy Abudu’s confirmation as the first Black woman and first Black Georgian to serve on the 11th Circuit are historic and overdue milestones for a judiciary that looks more like the nation they serve. After a distinguished career fighting for the fundamental right to vote, Nancy Abudu especially raises the bar for the kinds of exceptional judicial appointees the American people deserve.
President Biden and Senate Democrats have established an incredible record of appointing professionally diverse and distinguished judges with public-interest legal experience, but there is far more to be done. The White House and Senate must fill every vacancy on the federal bench with exceptional appointees like these by the end of the 118th Congress.”
LCV, CLIMATE POWER LAUNCH NEW WAVE OF ADS CALLING OUT HOUSE MEMBERS WHO VOTED FOR DEFAULT ON AMERICA ACT: This week, LCV, along with Climate Power, launched five new in-district ads holding U.S. House Republicans accountable for voting for their extreme Default on America Act and risking a debt default crisis. Read more about the ad campaign here and watch ads here.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President for Campaigns Pete Maysmith said, “House Republicans are hoping their constituents won’t notice the incredibly irresponsible risks they are taking with their own districts’ future and the entire country’s economy–all to score points for Big Oil and MAGA extremists. We aren’t going to stop making sure these communities hear about the real costs in terms of jobs and critical services their families could feel if Republicans in Congress, including their own representative, get their way.”
EPA PROPOSES NEW RULES TO COMBAT COAL ASH POLLUTION: On Wednesday, the EPA proposed a new rule to require companies to clean up previously unregulated coal ash sites at power plants. Coal ash is a byproduct of burning coal and pollutes groundwater, surface water, and air. Coal ash also has disastrous impacts on public health, especially those living on the frontlines of these plants.
OUR TAKE: LCV’s Deputy Legislative Director, Madeleine Foote said, “We are glad to see the EPA take this critical step towards addressing millions of tons of toxic coal ash waste sitting in unregulated dump sites across the country. This proposal would help ensure that the fossil fuel industry can’t keep using loopholes to escape cleanup responsibility while raking in record profits at the expense of our public health. Communities living on the frontlines of these sites have been overburdened by toxic industrial waste leaking into their groundwater and polluting their environment for far too long. We urge the EPA to quickly finalize the strongest possible safeguards for the health of our families and communities.”
REST IN PEACE, TOMMY JOHNSON: Tommy Johnson, one of the first workers called in to help clean up the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston power plant spill in 2008 that released 5.4 million cubic yards of liquefied coal ash into the Emory River Channel and the surrounding community, has passed away. Johnson’s health suffered after his involvement in the clean up of this massive amount of toxic waste, as did the health of his fellow workers and community members, who have dealt with hypertension, respiratory conditions, cancer, and other conditions directly caused by exposure to coal ash. His story is a stark reminder of the dangers fossil fuels pose to our health and why it is imperative that we move quickly to cleaner, safer energy. We send our condolences to his family and those impacted by his life.
LCV REAFFIRMS PUSH TO EXPAND THE SUPREME COURT IN SUPPORT OF JUDICIARY ACT REINTRODUCTION: Senator Ed Markey and Representative Hank Johnson reintroduced the Judiciary Act on Tuesday, pushing to add four seats to expand and rebalance the captured Supreme Court.
OUR TAKE: In response to the reintroduction of the Judiciary Act, LCV Senior Director of Judiciary & Democracy Doug Lindner said, “Extremist Republicans on our captured Supreme Court have proven they will stop at nothing to roll back the clock on our environmental protections, our democracy, and our fundamental rights. Too many justices are putting partisan and corporate interests over people and fidelity to the law. Last year, in West Virginia v. EPA, they undermined climate action and federal agencies’ ability to make decisions based on expertise and law instead of judges’ ideology. Extremist justices also overturned Roe v. Wade, imperiling access to critical reproductive healthcare across the country.
In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court could roll back Clean Water Act protections, weaken the Voting Rights Act for the third time in a decade, and endanger the ability of state courts and state constitutions to protect our democracy. Congress must pass the Judiciary Act to expand and rebalance the Supreme Court with four new pro-democracy, pro-environment, pro-choice justices who will protect our rights and make decisions based on law, not an extremist partisan agenda.”
FIGHTING TO BAN THE EXPORT OF LNG BRINGS CHISPA TX AND OTHER TX ADVOCATES TO DC: On Thursday, Chispa Texas Executive Director Elida Castillo spoke at a press conference with U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and environmental advocates in favor of the reintroduced Block All New (BAN) Fossil Fuel Exports Act, legislation that would amend the Energy Policy and Conservation Act and ban exporting American crude oil and liquified methane gas (LNG) abroad. Endorsed by 70 organizations, the legislation will protect overburdened communities & our climate from polluting fossil fuel infrastructure and prioritize people over Big Oil profits. Watch a video of Elida here and view a recording of the press conference here.
CHISPA TESTIFIES FOR STRONGEST STANDARDS FOR LIGHT AND MEDIUM DUTY VEHICLES: Last week, Chispa National Digital Campaigns and Creative Manager Alexa Aispuro-Loaiza AND Chispa Arizona Federal Climate Organizer DJ Portugal testified in front of the EPA at a Public Hearing to call for the strongest possible multi-pollutant emissions standards for model years 2027 and later light-duty and medium-duty vehicles. And the week before last, Chispa Nevada community leader Gloria Guardado testified at a public hearing urging the EPA to set stronger greenhouse gas pollution limits for heavy-duty trucks and buses. Read their testimonies here.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:
GOV. LUJAN GRISHAM REITERATES SUPPORT FOR STATE CLIMATE ACTION: LCV and Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM) applauded Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s comments at Thursday’s Politico Energy Summit restating her support for significant climate action. Watch a recording of the summit here.
OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President for State Policy and Advocacy Bill Holland said, “We’re grateful that under Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s leadership New Mexico was one of the first states to enact a 100% clean energy commitment in 2019. Since then, governors across the country have enacted their own 100% commitments, some with even faster timelines, and in recent months have moved quickly to implement President Biden’s Clean Energy Plan to create local clean energy jobs and lower costs for consumers. We’re looking forward to working with the Governor as she lays out her plan to pass legislation re-establishing New Mexico as one of the top states for clean energy.”
CVNM TAKE: CVNM Executive Director Demis Foster said, “It was hopeful to hear the Governor acknowledge that New Mexico will continue to be a leader on climate change by leading on an energy transition and continuing to reduce carbon emissions, but we’ve stalled in the legislature. The administration can reinvigorate the state’s momentum and leadership by committing to rulemakings in the transportation sector – Advanced Clean Cars II, Advanced Clean Trucks, and NOX – updating building codes, and appliance and lighting efficiency.”
MN PASSES HISTORIC ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, AND CLIMATE BUDGET BILL: Minnesota state lawmakers have agreed to a historic $2 billion climate action budget bill 3 months after passing 100% carbon-free energy by 2040. The legislation establishes the toughest PFAS regulations in the country, addresses environmental justice concerns, includes bold initiatives to decarbonize the state and establishes a financial authority to provide financing for green energy projects, as well as sets aside money for protecting and restoring natural resources and ecosystems. Minnesota legislators hope the bill will serve as a model for climate policy in other states.
MAINE TURNS OUT FOR OFFSHORE WIND AND GOOD-PAYING UNION JOBS: Last week, Maine Conservation Voters (MCV) joined union partners in the Maine Climate Labor Council at the State House for a press conference ahead of a legislative hearing on an offshore wind ports bill that outlines how future ports used to manufacture wind turbines could be staffed. Labor groups and MCV support the legislation to create strong labor standards, build a local workforce and stimulate a robust offshore wind industry in the state. Yesterday, MCV held its annual Conservation Lobby Day and testified in support of legislation that would require the state to develop 2.8 GW of offshore wind over the next 12 years.
CHISPA MARYLAND IN THE FIGHT FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE WITH SUPPORT OF LATINO PARENTS: This week, the Linkages to Learning program at Highland Elementary School in Montgomery County invited Chispa Maryland to help organize Latino parents around climate justice. For more info, check out Chispa MD’s Instagram post.
CHISPA FLORIDA MEETS WITH COMMUNITY MEMBERS TO DISCUSS PRIORITIES: Chispa Florida held its April meeting and gathered with community members to talk about its top 4 priority issues: clean water for all, clean air for all, land conservation and democracy for all. See Chispa FL’s Instagram post about the event here.
ALL OF MAY: Asian American Pacific Islander Month
ALL OF MAY: Jewish American Heritage Month
ALL OF MAY: Asthma Awareness Month