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.
“We have long been saying, ‘I can’t breathe.’ Environmental racism kills. It’s bad for your health. We have to work hard so that we’re not leaving any communities or populations behind.”
— Dr. Bullard, known as the “Father of Environmental Justice”, speaking on his upcoming talk on April 29. The event, hosted by Sustainable U, is open to the public to register and attend.
“I remember, after hours of researching, I stumbled across this man whose name is Arturo Sandoval, and he was the only Chicano activist that was a part of the [first] Earth Day committee. There’re transcripts of him talking about how the Earth Day movement was not diverse at all and did not prioritize the needs of people of color. I was like ‘I knew it!’ It was very affirming for me because people have been talking about this for 30-plus years.”
— Leah Thomas, climate activist and co-founder of the organization Intersectional Environmentalist, speaking on her research for her newly released book, The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet.
“Climate justice means recognizing and addressing the fact that marginalized communities will feel – and have already felt – the worst impacts of climate change. We must make sure that those who face these effects are in positions of power, where they are able to make decisions for their own communities and to contribute to research and creative solutions. These goals require our sector to collaborate with and learn from Black, Brown, and Indigenous, leaders, which is inextricably linked to how we implement our grantmaking priorities.”
— John Palfrey, resident of the MacArthur Foundation and Theodore Roosevelt’s great-great grandson, in an op-ed on how President Roosevelt and many others in the white-led conservation movement did not do enough to protect the Earth with equity in mind.
IT’S TIME TO CLOSE THE DEAL AND GET THIS DONE: Ahead of President Biden’s remarks on Earth Day, LCV joined some of the nation’s top environmental, environmental justice, and public health groups in a letter to President Biden urging him to take swift action on climate by finalizing a deal to pass into law the $555 billion in climate, justice, jobs, and clean energy investments that the House of Representatives approved last November. This letter also comes a day before thousands of activists and advocates are bringing this message straight to the White House with a rally in Lafayette Park on Saturday and more than 100 other events around the country.
CEOS TAKE: “You can fulfill the vision for climate action that defined your historic campaign; meet the pledge you made to your voters, including young people, during your campaign; and show the world what a true climate president looks like. We are depending on you to do everything you possibly can to meet this moment and work with the Senate to pass a reconciliation package that puts the U.S. on the path to real energy independence while cutting emissions in half by 2030 and building an equitable, inclusive, and just future for all.” Read the full letter HERE.
CELEBRATING EARTH DAY BY FIGHTING FOR OUR FUTURE: As we celebrate Earth Day, we know that we can’t wait to tackle the climate crisis and environmental injustices that communities face every day. Join us in DC and across the country for a rally to call for the historic investments in President Biden’s climate and economic plan, which would lay the critical foundation for our urgent transition to a clean energy economy – while also creating good-paying union jobs, lowering costs for families, reducing pollution, and addressing environmental injustices.
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “Today, President Biden made it crystal clear – his pen is ready and he is ready to get this done. As we saw this week, the Biden-Harris administration continues to prioritize growing our clean energy economy and workforce, lowering costs for families, protecting our forests, responsibly building climate-smart infrastructure, and reducing climate pollution. With rising inflation, high gas prices, and Putin’s unprovoked and inhumane war, there is no doubt we are in a challenging moment. But time is running out and federal climate legislation is essential to hit our necessary and ambitious climate goals.
“This is a legacy defining moment. We are depending on this administration to do everything they possibly can to work with the Senate to swiftly pass a reconciliation package that puts the U.S. on the path to real energy independence while cutting emissions in half by 2030 and building an equitable, inclusive, and just future for all. We are all in to get these transformational investments we need in climate, clean energy, justice, and jobs passed into law. Together we can and must get this done.”
THANKING SENATORS FOR CONFIRMING JUSTICE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: On Monday, LCV, Earthjustice, and the Sierra Club launched a six-figure digital ad campaign thanking U.S. Senators across the country for confirming Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. The ad campaign thanks Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
OUR TAKE: LCV Advocacy Director for Judiciary & Democracy Doug Lindner said, “Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic confirmation to the Supreme Court is a major milestone in the fight for a judiciary that looks like America and protects our vital interests, including the rights to clean air and clean water, to vote and to be equal before the law. Justice Jackson’s qualifications and distinguished career of public service demonstrate that she’ll be a Justice for the people, not just the polluters and other special interests. As we celebrate Justice Jackson’s confirmation and commend these Senators for voting to confirm her, we urge the Senate to continue swiftly confirming President Biden’s excellent slate of personally and professionally diverse nominees for the many vacancies on the lower federal courts.” Read each participating organization’s take HERE.
NEW NEPA RULE UNDOES SOME TRUMP ADMINISTRATION DAMAGE: On Tuesday, the Council on Environmental Quality’s final ‘Phase 1’ rule restored some environmental review requirements to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis said, “The Biden-Harris administration’s final rule restores some key damage done by President Trump, but more action is needed to improve implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act. We look forward to a fuller and more robust second rulemaking to ensure communities and the environment are safeguarded and the public is meaningfully engaged in major projects that affect their lives and surroundings. Strengthening NEPA plays a key role in the Biden administration delivering on its promise to advance environmental justice.”
ICYMI, LCV BROUGHT STATE AFFILIATES TOGETHER TO DISCUSS THEIR FIGHT FOR FAIR MAPS AHEAD OF THE 2022 PRIMARIES: On Tuesday, LCV kicked off Earth Week by holding a virtual press briefing with the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters (NCLCV) and Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), who challenged unjust district maps and won their respective state Supreme Court cases earlier this year. The briefing featured key players in the redistricting fight who discussed why fair Congressional and state legislative districts nationwide are essential to advancing environmental and electoral justice.
OH ORGANIZING COLLABORATIVE TAKE: Executive Director of Ohio Organizing Collaborative Prentiss Haney stated, “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. 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.”
NCLCV TAKE: Director of Strategic Communications at North Carolina LCV Dustin Ingalls said, “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. 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.”
OUR TAKE: LCV Director of Civic Engagement Hilda Nucete said, “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. 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.”
BIDEN’S FORESTS EXECUTIVE ORDER: This Earth Day, President Biden signed an executive order aimed at strengthening America’s forests, boosting wildfire resilience, and combating global deforestation.
OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel said, “We welcome President Biden’s recognition of the critical role that old forests can play in addressing the climate and biodiversity crises and his commitment to protect these areas. Mature and old-growth forests store large amounts of carbon, provide clean drinking water for communities, and serve as essential habitat for many at-risk species. We are out of time to address the climate crisis, which is why we are counting on the Biden administration to move forward swiftly with a rule to safeguard these old forests from logging and other threats.”
ROADMAP TO CLEANER TRANSPORTATION: A new report details how the United States can drastically cut emissions from the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, the transportation sector, 34% by 2030. The roadmap was released by America Is All In, a coalition of businesses, institutions, organizations and non-federal governments driving climate leadership and action at all levels.
ENDORSEMENTS FOR CONGRESS: This week, LCV Action Fund, endorsed Representative Nikema Williams for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia’s 5th Congressional District.
OUR TAKE: LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “It has never been more important to have leaders in Congress like Representative Nikema Williams who are fighting hard every day to protect our democracy and for climate, clean energy, jobs, and justice. We are thrilled to support her campaign for reelection so she can continue to lead efforts for environmental justice to keep our communities healthy, grow our clean energy economy, and make our democracy more accessible to all.” Read the full press release HERE.
HISTORIC CLEAN ENERGY PLAN IN WISCONSIN: This week, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ released a Clean Energy Plan to reach the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals and implement his 2019 executive order to achieve zero-carbon electricity by 2050. The plan has important justice provisions and centers communities most impacted by climate change. Read Wisconsin Conservation Voters’ statement on the plan HERE.
WCV TAKE: Wisconsin Conservation Voters Executive Director Kerry Schumann said, “This is a historic moment. Gov. Evers’ Clean Energy Plan meets the scale and scope needed to properly address the climate crisis. Wisconsin Conservation Voters applauds Gov. Evers for gathering input from Tribal Nations, frontline communities, and other groups to develop equitable solutions that address the needs of everyone in the state. The plan rightly prioritizes equity and justice. Wisconsin currently sends $14 billion out-of-state for fossil fuels. Investing in clean energy workforce development at home will lift us all – especially communities most impacted by climate change.”
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE OFFICE CREATED IN WI: Following the release of his clean energy plan earlier in the week, on Friday, Wisconsin governor Tony Evers signed an executive order to create a state Office of Environmental Justice. Evers originally proposed the office in his budget last year but Republican lawmakers removed it from the final version. Read Wisconsin Conservation Voters’ statement HERE.
WCV TAKE: Wisconsin Conservation Voters’ Engagement and Development Manager Angelito Tenorio said, “Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color have historically been left out of the decision-making process and excluded from the environmental movement. These communities are disproportionately affected by climate impacts and must be at the table when decisions are being made. The Office of Environmental Justice is a vital step toward addressing the generations of harm done and to dismantling systems that threaten the wellbeing of these communities.”
CLIMATE ROADMAP IN MICHIGAN: Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer released the MI Healthy Climate Plan this week which lays out actions for the state to become carbon neutral economy-wide by 2050, a goal she committed to in a 2020 executive order. The plan details actions for a variety of issue areas organized into six pillars, Commit to Environmental Justice and Pursue a Just Transition, Clean the Electric Grid, Electrify Vehicles and Increase Public Transit, Repair and Decarbonize Homes and Businesses, Drive Clean Innovation in Industry, and Protect Michigan’s Land and Water. Interim goals include closing all coal-fired power plants and increasing electric vehicles in the state to 2 million by 2030. Read Michigan League of Conservation Voters’ statement on the plan HERE.
MLCV TAKE: Michigan League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Lisa Wozniak said, “This MI Healthy Climate Plan makes Michigan a major proof-point that our state is committed to addressing the climate crisis by rapidly investing in clean, renewable energy to reduce pollution and ensure a healthy future for our children and grandkids. The clock is ticking on climate, yet not every state has the type of leadership willing to address it. Gov. Whitmer is bringing together business leaders, bipartisan lawmakers and environmental advocates to put our state on a bold pathway to achieving climate action, creating good-paying jobs, and improving the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink.”
BUILDING A DISABILITY-INCLUSIVE CLIMATE MOVEMENT: On Wednesday, the Journal of Environmental Health published an article co-authored by Rebecca Rehr, Director of Climate Policy and Justice at Maryland League of Conservation Voters. The piece, “Building a More Inclusive Climate Movement: Climate Change and Disabilities,” highlights the outsized impact of climate change factors on people with disabilities and outlines five key steps that organizations can take to build disability inclusion into their work.
MD LCV ENDORSES CANDIDATES FOR THE LEGISLATURE: On Tuesday, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters announced its first round of endorsements in state legislative races, which included 25 Senate incumbents, one delegate running for senator, and 47 House incumbents seeking reelection.
MLCV TAKE: Chair of the Maryland LCV board of directors Lynn Heller said, “The recent legislative session demonstrated how crucial it is to elect strong legislative candidates who will fight for just and equitable environmental policy. The number of candidates working to set themselves apart as champions for both climate and justice has never been greater.”
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON MT SEN. DAINES POSITION ON PUBLIC LANDS: On Wednesday, Sally Ericsson and Chris Saeger – Vice-Chair and Director of Montana Conservation Voters’ Board of Directors respectively – published an op-ed criticizing a piece by the Montana Citizens’ Climate Lobby which stated that Montana Senator Steve Daines is “leading the charge to protect our natural resources.” Calling him a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Ericsson and Saeger outline Senator Daines’ dismal natural resources record in Montana.
MCV TAKE: “While Montana Citizens’ Climate Lobby is well-intentioned, we’d caution anyone against taking Senator Daines’ lip service on Montana’s natural resources, climate and our outdoor way of life to heart. He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And his record speaks louder than his talking points.” Read the op-ed HERE.
VOTER REGISTRATION PROGRAM LAUNCH IN NEVADA: On the eve of Earth Day, Chispa Nevada celebrated the launch of a new $600,000 site-based voter registration program in Nevada with a community celebration accompanied by the unveiling of an art piece by local Las Vegas artist Cerissa Lopez to highlight the power and strength of our community when voting. This program will register eligible voters that identify as Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian American or Pacific Islander as well as eligible voters in immigrant communities and neighborhoods historically excluded from voter registration efforts. See a photo of the art piece with artist Cerissa Lopez HERE and see a photo from the celebration HERE.
ARTIST TAKE: Local Las Vegas artist Cerissa Lopez stated, “Individual and unheard voices in the community become stronger when everyone unites — people have more motivation to make a change once they’re given the opportunity to participate. We’re bringing communities together through art and celebration to empower our neighbors and ensure the same Las Vegas communities who face environmental injustices are informed on how to be civically engaged.”
CHISPA NV TAKE: Chispa Nevada Director of Civic Engagement Guillermo Barahona stated, “We are excited to announce this initiative to help ensure our communities have an opportunity to have a voice at the ballot box. Our team has been engaged over the last few years to help protect the right to vote in communities historically left out of the electoral process. Especially during an election year, it’s crucial we provide voting information to our communities who often face barriers to participating in our democracy.”
NEVADANS WANT CLIMATE, JOBS, AND JUSTICE: On Earth Day, communications director for the Nevada Conservation League, Angelyn Tabalba, is joining Governor Steve Sisolak and other environmental advocates in a call for the U.S. Senate to invest in our planet and pass the Build Back Better Act to put $555 billion toward climate mitigation, clean energy, and environmental justice.
NCL TAKE: Communications director of the Nevada Conservation League Angelyn Tabalba said, “2021 was the first time our federal government announced there was a water shortage at Lake Mead. So we have all these things that are telling us that we do need to act on climate to protect our communities from this dangerous extreme weather…with federal investments in more energy efficiency and electric infrastructure, the average family could save about $500 per year in utility bills.”
CLIMATE CHANGE IS A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE: In New Hampshire, a newly formed advocacy group, Healthcare Workers for Climate Action, sent a letter to state legislators signed by thousands of healthcare workers calling for laws to address the health crisis brought about by a changing climate.
NHLCV TAKE: Director of the New Hampshire League of Conservation Voters Rob Werner said, “Solutions are at hand. It’s not a problem with finance. It’s not a problem in technology… It’s really a problem of decision.”
NH CALLS FOR CLIMATE INVESTMENTS: LCV launched digital ad campaigns in Portsmouth, NH and Portland, OR this week urging the President and Congress to pass new federal climate and clean energy legislation. The ads ran as President Biden visited the cities to speak about new federal infrastructure investments,
NJ CALLS FOR ACTION THIS EARTH DAY: This week, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, Ed Potosnak, published an op-ed opposing the privatization of Liberty State Park in Jersey City. The Park is threatened by private developers despite acting as an important site for neighboring communities, who are historically underserved and lack abundant access to free public green spaces. As people gather at the Park to commemorate the upcoming “50+2 Earth Day Celebration” event on Saturday, Potosnak calls on those who gather to double down on efforts to keep the park available publicly to the local community. He also reflects on what he hopes to see when people celebrate Earth Day fifty years from now.
NJLCV TAKE: Executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Ed Potosnak said, “If we’re going to see the kind of future we all want, New Jersey’s commitment to conservation must continue, but the scope must be broadened beyond trees and wildlife to include healthy communities for all New Jerseyans, no matter their ZIP code. This Earth Day, let’s pledge to take the kind of action we need so that, 50 years from now, we’ll have long forgotten what it was like to live in a state and nation with such gross inequities and clean water, air, and accessible open spaces will be reality for everyone.”
LAGUARDIA UNVEILS SOLAR ROOFTOPS: This week, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey unveiled a new solar rooftop at LaGuardia Airport as part of a broader solar program across the region’s airports. The project is part of the agency’s goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and reduce 50% of greenhouse gas emissions in eight years.
NYLCV TAKE: Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said “The New York League of Conservation Voters is excited to see 3,500 solar panels installed at LaGuardia Airport to provide the port authority’s first-ever solar rooftop. This initiative will cut reliance on polluting fossil fuels; supply clean and renewable energy to the airport and its thousands of travelers every day; and support the agency, as well as New York’s, net-zero emissions goals.”
NYLCV CELEBRATES EARTH DAY: On Tuesday, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters Julie Tighe joined Special Advisor on Climate & Sustainability at Columbia University Daniel Zarrilli for the Earth Week 2022 episode of the Max Politics Podcast. The show discussed New York climate and environmental policy. Listen to the episode HERE.
A MILESTONE FOR CLEAN ENERGY IN NY: On Monday, Clean Path NY (CPNY) announced a critical milestone for its “All Renewable, All New York” clean energy and transmission project, which aims to deliver reliable, clean energy to New York communities. With contract approval from the New York State Public Service Commission, CPNY will move forward on a robust public engagement process to advance an $11 billion investment that will reduce fossil fuel-fired generation by 22 percent per year statewide, eliminate an estimated 49 million tons of carbon emissions through 2040, and create thousands of in-state jobs.
NYLCV TAKE: President of the New York League of Conservation Voters Julie Tighe said, “Today’s decision to approve the Tier 4 projects is a critical step forward in transforming New York’s energy future and meeting the urgent climate goals we need to ensure a healthy, sustainable state for this generation and the next. This is a can’t-miss opportunity for the environment, green jobs, and a more resilient future for New Yorkers.”
EASIER BIKING FOR NEW YORKERS: On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Jessica S. Tisch announced an $11 million investment in cleaner streets, improved mobility, and reduced carbon footprint for New York City as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) executive budget. The plan includes funding for year-round protected bike lane cleaning, which will make biking an even more reliable mode of transportation for New Yorkers.
NYLCV TAKE:, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters Julie Tighe said, “It’s critical that we support a plan that keeps our streets clean and safe, supporting micromobility and helping reduce the reliance on fossil fuel burning cars. The New York League of Conservation Voters is excited to see this new investment to keep bike lanes clean so more riders can take advantage of reliable transportation that helps keep our city healthier and safer, and we thank Mayor Adams and Commissioner Tisch for their leadership.”
NY APPLAUDS NEW DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION COMMISSIONER: This week, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced the appointment of Jessica Tisch as commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY).
NYLCV TAKE: President of the New York League of Conservation Voters Julie Tighe said, “The New York League of Conservation Voters thanks Commissioner Grayson for his 23 years of public service and congratulates Jessica Tisch as the new DSNY Commissioner. As a leader who delivered results for city residents during the pandemic by working at the forefront of IT infrastructure to manage response efforts, Commissioner Tisch will be a forward-looking leader as the city confronts major challenges from the waste crisis. There is much work to do to achieve the goal of zero waste, and we look forward to working with Tisch and the city to take a proactive approach to improving recycling, implementing composting, and putting in place initiatives like this much-needed containerized collection pilot.”
SETBACK FOR OHIO’S CLEAN WATER PROTECTIONS: On Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine signed legislation to roll back regulations surrounding the development of ephemeral streams, which flow only by way of rain and snowmelt and are critical to maintaining water systems.
OEC TAKE: Pete Bucher, program director for the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund, said “House Bill 175 fails to protect the important ecological qualities of Ohio’s ephemeral streams, and it also fails to protect the drinking water of millions of Ohioans who rely on water resources fed by these streams,” he said. “This bill could seriously unravel the progress that’s been made to clean up our rivers, lakes, and streams.”
WIN FOR VICTIMS OF TOXIC POLLUTION IN VT: This week, Gov. Phil Scott signed long-sought legislation to allow access to medical monitoring for those exposed to toxic chemicals through industrial or other contamination. The bill, which Gov. Scott vetoed two similar versions of in the past, was driven mostly by the 2016 discovery of PFAS, also referred to as “toxic forever chemicals”, in hundreds of drinking water wells in a wide swath of towns around two former factories.
VLCV TAKE: The Bennington Banner published executive director of Vermont Conservation Voters Lauren Hierl’s statements before and after the bill’s signing: “At the end of the day, this bill is about fairness — it’s about holding companies responsible for the harm they cause. After twice vetoing similar bills, I hope Governor Scott finally signs this bill into law…big corporations typically have large legal teams that can tie up lawsuits in court for many years, and make it incredibly difficult for victims of toxic contamination to be compensated for the costs they’ve had to bear.”
CLEAN HEAT STANDARD WILL LEAD VERMONT TO CLEAN ENERGY: This week, chair of the Board of Vermont Conservation Voters Linda Gray published an op-ed highlighting the importance of passing the Clean Heat Standard bill, which would set up clear and increasing requirements for companies selling fossil fuels for heat in Vermont to reduce their climate pollution over time. The bill will make clean energy more accessible and affordable for Vermonters.
VLCV TAKE: Chair of the Board of Vermont Conservation Voters Linda Gray said, “We know that we have to make this transition, so let’s do it with a program that provides predictability, clarity, and stability to both customers and suppliers.”
APRIL 23: Fight For Our Future rallies in Washington, Atlanta, and Phoenix
VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINES: Click HERE for more information and see dates below:
-April 22 – North Carolina VR Deadline
-April 24 – Arkansas VR Deadline
-April 25 – Georgia VR Deadline
-April 26 – Oregon VR Deadline
-April 27 – West Virginia Early Voting Begins
-April 28 – North Carolina Early Voting Begins