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This Week In Climate Action

THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION – DECEMBER 15, 2023

Dec 15, 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, Twitter, and Instagram.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

“It’s daunting what these young people have had to go through. Losing your home to fire, evacuated from floods. The number of days of school that have been lost is astounding.”

Andrea Rodgers, senior staff attorney with Our Children’s Trust, the law firm that represented the plaintiffs in the historic case Held v Montana, which ruled that the state of Montana violated the youth plaintiffs right to a healthy environment, on a new youth climate lawsuit the firm has taken on in California.

“We’re in an oil country surrounded by oil countries that are now signing a piece of paper saying we need to move away from oil. It is historic.”

Danish Climate Minister Dan Jørgensen on the agreement signed at COP28 to transition away from fossil fuel use.

“This is just the beginning of what offshore wind can do.”

Stephanie McClellan, executive director of Turn Forward, on the announcement that a wind turbine off the coast of New York is supplying electricity to the U.S. energy grid, making it the country’s first commercial offshore wind development to be brought online.


HIGHLIGHTS IN INFLATION REDUCTION ACT IMPLEMENTATION:

FIRST EV CHARGING STATION FUNDED BY INFRASTRUCTURE BILL COMES ONLINE:  The first electric vehicle charging station funded by the Biden administration’s 2021 infrastructure bill has come online in Ohio. This is a major milestone for clean transportation and marks the first step toward achieving the administration’s goal of creating a nationwide, 500,000 station EV charging network to facilitate the transition to cleaner transportation.


IN NATIONAL NEWS: 

DOE FUNDING FOR CARBON CAPTURE: Three carbon capture projects at fossil fueled power plants in Texas, North Dakota, and California received a combined $890 million in funding from the Department of Energy this week. The federal support of prolonging fossil fuel usage has drawn widespread criticism, particularly from environmental justice advocates.

OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President of Federal Policy Matthew Davis said, “Today’s announcement from the Biden-Harris administration lacks the carbon capture projects critical in industrial, hard to decarbonize sectors — which could help build the future of clean manufacturing in the U.S. These power plant-focused projects reflect only part of the intent from Congress for the program, and the projects must offset their impact and ensure strong protections for fenceline communities disproportionately overburdened by toxic pollution. For too long, the communities most impacted by Big Polluters have been left out of the decision-making processes around fossil fuel infrastructure being proposed in their backyards. The administration must ensure local historically excluded communities are equitably included and consulted in the process, have critical information on projects including identified benefits and protections for community health and safety, and have the opportunity to be engaged in project design processes and funding decisions.

Implementation of the President’s affordable clean energy plan must build healthy communities, tackle the legacy of toxic pollution, and invest in good paying union jobs that will put us on the path towards cleaner air, water, and communities for all.”

CHISPA TX TAKE: Chispa TX Program Director Elida Castillo said, “With today’s announcement of potential support of another carbon capture storage project in Baytown, we are once again disappointed by the federal investment in technologies that will prolong the use of fossil fuels — the root cause of the climate crisis that our communities are facing. This project will only further our dependence on fossil gas and sustain the industry instead of moving us toward conservation and renewable energy. Taxpayer funding should not be used to benefit Shell — Calpine Texas CCUS holdings must pay Shell with their multibillion-dollar profits.”

BIDEN ADMIN RELEASES PLAN TO PROTECT COLUMBIA AND SNAKE RIVER SALMON: The Biden administration and the Six Sovereigns (the Nez Perce, Warm Springs, Umatilla, and Yakama Tribes, and the states of Oregon and Washington) announced a package of actions and commitments to recover and rebuild salmon populations in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

WCA TAKE: Washington Conservation Action CEO, and citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon, Alyssa Macy said, “I hold dear the generations of Native Nations that have fought for their cultures, for their treaties and for abundant salmon runs. We applaud the leadership of President Biden and his administration for announcing an historic path forward for salmon and steelhead recovery in Nch’i-Wana, or the ‘Big River,’ known in English as the Columbia/Snake River basins. This decision fosters a resilient Pacific Northwest in the face of climate change. It supports communities that center salmon in their culture and their economy. It is a step toward saving orcas that depend upon salmon. It upholds the federal trust and treaty obligations made by the federal government. There is no time to waste. We are ready, eager and committed to fulfill this agreement – for the people of Eastern Washington, for salmon, for Tribal Nations, and for the preservation of our lifeways for generations to come.”

OLCV TAKE: Oregon LCV Executive Director Lindsey Scholten said, “This agreement is a turning point, and it comes just in time. OLCV is thrilled to see this path forward to rebuild and restore salmon, center Tribal input, and ensure clean and affordable energy for our communities. We are grateful to all the Tribal, community, and elected leaders who helped make this pivotal moment happen. Now, we need federal agencies and members of Congress to urgently follow through on the policies and actions identified in this agreement.”

CVI TAKE: Conservation Voters for Idaho Executive Director Rialin Flores said, “Breaching the four lower Snake River dams is the only way to save salmon and we are thankful that decision makers are listening to tribal leaders from the Nez Perce, Yakama, Warm Springs, and Umatilla tribes. Restoring salmon is not just critical in fulfilling the commitments of the past but is an investment in our economic future. Throughout the west, the decline of salmon has cost nearly a billion dollars a year in economic losses and destroyed more than 25,000 family wage jobs. These federal commitments are built on bi-partisan efforts, including an earlier initiative proposed by Rep. Mike Simpson (Idaho) and Idahoans. We look forward to seeing members of Congress and federal agencies follow through on the critical next steps and commitments outlined in this agreement.”

REPS DINGELL, FITZPATRICK, RYAN INTRODUCE PFAS ACTION ACT: On Thursday, Representatives Debbie Dingell (MI-06), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), and Pat Ryan (NY-18) lead the introduction of the PFAS Action Act of 2023. The bill would, among other measures, establish national drinking water standards for PFAS, accelerate hazardous chemical designations for PFOA and PFOS, and limit industrial discharge.

OUR TAKE: LCV Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote said, “The PFAS Action Act is a critical step in tackling the growing PFAS crisis that is jeopardizing the health and safety of communities all across the country, especially the health of vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, and low wealth communities. For decades, chemical companies have known about and hidden the dangers of PFAS, but this legislation will finally begin to hold them accountable while also safeguarding our communities by strengthening standards for drinking water, accelerating hazardous substance designations, and designating hazardous air pollutants, among other important measures. We greatly appreciate Representatives Debbie Dingell, Brian Fitzpatrick, and Pat Ryan for leading this legislation and urge Congress to quickly pass it to ensure every family has access to clean air, safe water, and a healthy environment.”

COP28 COMES TO A CLOSE: This week marked the end of the 28th Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The annual summit closed with a historic agreement on fossil fuels, but left much to be desired.

OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo said, “The commitments made for the first time ever to divert from fossil fuels and triple renewable energy on a global scale is an important step in the right direction, but the work is far from over to tackle the climate crisis and environmental injustice at the scale science and impacted communities here and abroad require. The Biden-Harris administration must continue their leadership on climate action at home and continue to implement bold regulatory and executive actions such as EPA’s recently announced methane rule, which will significantly reduce a climate super pollutant and help protect the health of communities who live next to oil and gas operations. The outsized presence of Big Polluters at COP also emphasizes the urgency to elect pro-environment, pro-democracy champions to double down on our efforts for clean air, clean water, and a clean energy future for all.”

CLEAN ENERGY AND TRANSMISSION ACT INTRODUCED: Representatives Sean Casten and Mike Levin, along with a diverse group of 74 Democratic original cosponsors, introduced the Clean Energy and Transmission Act (CETA) in the House to improve our grids and the permitting process. The bill will help ensure robust, equitable deployment of the clean energy and transmission investments in the affordable clean energy plan.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “We applaud Representatives Casten and Levin for leading with a positive vision for what our clean energy future can and should be. Transitioning to clean energy is critical to fighting the climate crisis and reducing pollution, and improving our grids and transmission systems will help accelerate that transition. Simultaneously, these efforts must advance environmental justice so that we do not perpetuate the same harms that the fossil fuel industry has unfairly imposed upon communities of color and communities of low wealth, and we appreciate that this bill moves the ball forward on all of these urgently needed solutions.”

LCVAF ANNOUNCES U.S HOUSE ENDORSEMENTS: LCV Action Fund has announced new endorsements for House seats in the 2024 election cycle, including endorsements for U.S. Representatives Valerie Foushee (NC-04), Deborah Ross (NC-02), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), and candidate Gil Cisneros (CA-31).

LCVAF’s other endorsements to date for the 2023-2024 election cycle can be found here.

OUR TAKE: LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “LCV Action Fund is thrilled to continue to support these environmental champions who are fighting for strong protections for the air we breathe, the water we drink, and our communities across the country. Representatives Foushee, Ross, Stansbury, and former Representative Cisneros prioritize all communities, especially those that have been historically excluded from our democracy and who bear the brunt of climate impacts and toxic pollution. We look forward to continuing to work with these climate champions to build a more resilient climate for every community and a stronger democracy for all.”

LCVAF also released its endorsements of three candidates for seats in the U.S. House representing Texas, including Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), and Michelle Vallejo (TX-15).

TAKE 2: LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “LCV Action Fund is thrilled to support environmental leaders in Texas who will fight for clean air and water, climate action, and a more free and fair democracy for all of our communities, especially those historically excluded from the electoral process and most impacted by the climate crisis and pollution. Texans across the state experienced unbearable record breaking heat this summer, and in the wake of extreme weather across the country and relentless attempts to subvert our most fundamental rights, we are proud to endorse Representatives Crockett and Fletcher for reelection as well as Michelle Vallejo.”

TRIBAL ADVOCATES CALL FOR EXPANDED PROTECTIONS FOR GREATER MOLOK LUYUK REGION: Congressman John Garamendi (D, CA-8), Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, and other local Tribes and advocates have called on President Biden to finalize the most expansive protections for the greater Molok Luyuk landscape around the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in California.

OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director America Fitzpatrick said, “LCV is thrilled that the Biden-Harris administration prioritized this week’s public meeting to hear strong support from Tribal leaders and local community members  for expanded protections for the Molok Luyuk, or Condor Ridge, as part of Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. Permanently protecting these lands honors its cultural importance to California Tribes and conserves the region’s incredible biodiversity. This Tribally-led effort is another critical opportunity to incorporate meaningful Tribal planning, co-management, and consultation into federal protections and management. We thank the Yocha Dehe Wintun people, Senator Padilla and Representative Garamendi for their leadership and working closely together with Tribal leaders and local advocates to ensure the most expansive protections for this important landscape. LCV looks forward to supporting a monument designation on this deserving landscape which gets the Biden-Harris administration’s closer to its goal of protecting 30% of US lands and waters by 2030.”

CEV TAKE: California Environmental Voters Federal Advocacy Coordinator Aaron McCall said, “Expanding Berryessa is necessary to safeguard sites of cultural and historic significance, biodiversity, and green spaces for all Californians. Protecting these public lands is a perfect opportunity to move closer toward the President’s commitment to conserve 30% of America’s wild spaces by 2030 as part of the 30×30 goals. We’re eagerly awaiting the Biden Administration’s expansion of the national monument to include Molok Luyuk, land sacred to the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation.”

GREEN 2.0 RELEASES 2023 REPORT CARD: Green 2.0 has released their seventh annual NGO and Foundation Transparency Report Card. The report serves to hold organizations, and the environmental movement, accountable for commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice.

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “We know the solutions to the climate, racial justice, and public health crises are intertwined. We also know that the solutions that would best reflect all of our communities, especially historically excluded communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, require bold leadership at every level. It’s up to environmental leaders to ensure our climate priorities reflect the voices and perspectives of the diverse body of people impacted by our changing environment and pollution.”


HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

LCV, OEC JOIN TELE-TOWN HALL WITH REPRESENTATIVE SYKES: On Tuesday, LCV and our state affiliate, Ohio Environmental Council, joined a tele-town hall hosted by Representative Emilia Sykes (OH-13) on IRA implementation in Ohio’s 13th District. Watch a recording of the full town hall on Facebook.

OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President of Federal Policy Matthew Davis said, “We are thrilled to support the efforts of Representative Sykes to equitably implement the historic climate and clean energy investments that congressional Democrats passed last session, by engaging directly with constituent consumers and local communities in Ohio. We look forward to continuing to work with members of Congress and state, local, and tribal governments, nonprofit and municipal entities, and other local leaders to tap into the money saving benefits in the affordable clean energy plan.”

OEC TAKE: Ohio Environmental Council Managing Director of Energy Policy Nolan Rutschilling said, “Across the state, Ohio communities are benefiting from historic investments in clean energy, climate action, and environmental justice as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. We are proud to work with Representative Sykes and leaders at all levels of government to ensure Ohioans take full advantage of these once-in-a-generation pieces of legislation, ensuring all Ohioans can access the new jobs, energy savings, and a cleaner environment.”

SYKES TAKE: Representative Emilia Sykes said, “The people of Ohio’s 13th Congressional District are working harder than ever before, but high costs are preventing them from getting ahead. I promised that I would fight to lower everyday costs when I was elected to Congress, and I’m doing just that by introducing the Lower Your Taxes Act to put more of your hard-earned dollars back into your pocket. I’m committed to growing the middle class by building on investments like the Inflation Reduction Act that are already saving people money on their energy bills and creating an economy that works for everyone in Northeast Ohio.”

WCA, REPRESENTATIVE JAYAPAL HOST THREADS Q&A: Washington Conservation Voters and Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) hosted a Q&A event on Instagram Threads where Representative Jayapal answered questions on climate, democracy, the IRA, environmental justice, and more.

NEVADANS TESTIFY AGAINST SOUTHWEST GAS RATE HIKE:  As Southwest Gas proposes another increase to Nevada families’ utility bills, Chispa Nevada joined community members to urge the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada to reject the proposed rate increases and protect Nevada customers. Read testimonies from the participants in Chispa NV’s Twitter/X thread from the hearing, and read Chispa’s press release to learn more.

BOISE MAYOR ANNOUNCED AS VICE CHAIR OF CLIMATE MAYOR’S NETWORK: Last November, Conservation Voters for Idaho ran their largest ever electoral program endorsing incumbent Boise mayor Lauren McLean, who is also Boise’s first woman mayor. McLean won her reelection bid with over 55% of the vote, and was recently announced as the 2024 vice chair of the Climate Mayor’s Network.

TEXANS AND CLIMATE VULNERABILITY: Yesterday, Chispa Texas and partners held a town hall in San Patricio County to discuss climate vulnerability. Explore the insightful discussions and expert insights by watching the full recording, and see Chispa Texas’ Instagram post from the event.


NEW ON THE POWER SOURCE BLOG AND SOCIALS:

ON THE BLOG: This week on The Power Source Blog, we featured Jordan Morales, the District 4 City Council Member-Elect for Boise, Idaho, and alum of LCV’s Candidate Academy. Morales spoke on the lessons he learned from the Candidate Academy, what he is looking forward to in his new role, and advice he has for others considering running for office.

ON OUR SOCIALS: This week in MAGA GOP antics featured on our social channels: An unfounded impeachment inquiry and Donald Trump the dictator.


COMING UP:

DECEMBER 22-JANUARY 1: LCV closed

JANUARY 5: Press conference on the third anniversary of the January 6th, 2021 attack on the Capitol

JANUARY 17: SCOTUS hears oral arguments for Relentless, Inc., et al. v. Dept. of Commerce