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 could see the plume come up and over us. Our eyes were burning, and my face could feel it.”
—Lisa Marie Sopko, founder of Kindred Spirits Rescue Ranch in Darlington, Pennsylvania, 4 miles from the accident. The ranch evacuated 77 animals.
“You gotta force air in because it feels like my lungs are closing up. You never get used to it.”
— Ronald Wayne, a 65-year-old resident of West Port Arthur, Texas, where a Koch-owned chemical plant, Oxbow, was recently found in clear criminal violation of the Clean Air Act.
“The environmental and climate justice movement is about frontline community leadership because we see that it’s been corporate interests that have been leading us here up until now, whether it’s our legislatures, our courts, or our regulatory system.”
— Jacqueline Patterson, a leading climate justice leader and founder and executive director of The Chisholm Legacy Project, a Black-led climate organization building resources for Black communities to build power. The Chisholm Legacy Project is named after Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first woman and Black person to seek a presidential nomination from a major U.S. political party.
6 MONTHS SINCE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT SIGNING, THE AFFORDABLE CLEAN ENERGY PLAN IS ALREADY IMPROVING PEOPLES’ LIVES: Thursday was the six-month anniversary of President Biden signing the Inflation Reduction Act into law. In the months since, energy and car companies have announced billions of dollars of investments in U.S.-based clean energy manufacturing facilities that will create at least 100,000 good jobs and counting, and in just the last week, we’ve been encouraged by the White House, EPA, Treasury, IRS, Department of Energy, Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Federal Highway Administration taking steps to begin to direct benefits of the clean energy transition to low-income and disadvantaged communities. Read LCV’s full statement here.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis said, “In the short six months since the historic Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law, the Biden-Harris administration’s affordable clean energy plan is already lowering costs, creating good jobs, and reducing toxic pollution that causes health problems across the country. At the same time there is more work to do to ensure that all of these investments and tax credits are the most effective at reducing emissions and advancing equity. If these first six months with the Inflation Reduction Act on the books are any indication, our country has a LOT to look forward to in the coming months and years. LCV and our state partners are all in to support the Biden-Harris administration’s swift, effective, and equitable implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act and finalization of health and climate protections across the agencies that get us all the way to the President’s climate goal.”
CLIMATE ACTION ORGANIZER IN VA: ‘THIS IS WHAT THE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT MEANS TO ME’: To mark the 6 month anniversary of the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act, LCV interviewed Colin A., a field organizer with the Virginia League of Conservation Voters’ Climate Action Team. Colin is working to get the investments made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act into the hands of their community in Hampton Roads, Virginia.
ORGANIZER TAKE: Virginia League of Conservation Voters’ Climate Action Team field organizer Colin A. said, “Historic obstacles to taking action on climate change require historic solutions, and that’s what this plan delivers. People are excited to get involved, and we now have funding for transportation, green energy, and environmental justice communities. The best thing about the IRA passing is having the resources to work on more.”
CELEBRATING GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTION FUND ANNOUNCEMENT: On Tuesday, the EPA released key details of the implementation of the $27B Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund from the Inflation Reduction Act.
OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo said,“This is great news and a critical step in making sure the benefits of the clean energy transition are felt in low income and disadvantaged communities, including communities of color. Delivering this funding to projects benefiting frontline communities is a key part of the Biden-Harris administration delivering on its Justice40 Initiative to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, clean energy and transportation. We are thrilled to see the rapid pace at which the Biden-Harris administration continues to implement the Inflation Reduction Act. Unfortunately, House Republicans have made cuts to this and other parts of the administration’s clean energy plan a top priority, but we will do everything we can to make sure we do not go backward and instead use this as just the first step toward the clean energy economy of the future.”
LCV VICTORY FUND SUPPORTS MCCLELLAN IN SPECIAL ELECTION: LCV Victory Fund launched a new digital ad buy today in support of Virginia State Senator Jennifer McClellan in the VA-04 special election. This election fills the seat last held by the late Rep. Donald McEachin, a lifelong climate and environmental justice champion.
LCV VICTORY FUND’S TAKE: LCV Victory Fund Regional Campaigns Director Eva Estrada said, “Jennifer McClellan is the definition of a climate champion – there is no better candidate to build on Representative McEachin’s pro-environment legacy for the people of Virginia’s 4th District and the country. With a slim anti-environment majority in the House, we need Jennifer McClellan in Congress now more than ever to block harmful pro-polluter policy and keep delivering the progress on climate, justice, and jobs that voters want.”
NEW LCV TV AND DIGITAL ADS CALL ON PRESIDENT BIDEN TO STOP CONOCOPHILLIPS’ WILLOW PROJECT: LCV launched a new six-figure television and digital ad buy on Wednesday in response to the Biden-Harris administration’s recently issued environmental impact statement that recommends allowing ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project to move forward. The ad, titled “Wrong Direction,” will run on Morning Joe in Washington, D.C. through March 7.
OUR TAKE: Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “We urge the Biden-Harris administration to reverse course and reject ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project as soon as possible to prevent a climate disaster and irreversible damage to the Western Arctic’s people and wildlife. Locking in more fossil fuels for decades is antithetical to the clean energy future that people across the country want. The last thing Big Oil’s C-suite executives’ should be given following a year of record shattering profits is this dirty and dangerous project. The time for the Biden-Harris administration to make the right decision and stop Willow is now.”
DISCLOSE ACT REINTRODUCED: Today, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. David Cicilline re-introduced the DISCLOSE Act, which would help fight the prominent influence of secret money in our elections. Last year, LCV sent a letter to Congress urging Senators to help protect our politics from hidden spending by the fossil fuel industry and other corporate interests.
BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION REAFFIRMING MERCURY AND AIR TOXICS STANDARDS: Today, the EPA reaffirmed what many have known for a long time – that it is appropriate and necessary to set Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for coal and oil power plants.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs and former EPA health scientist Matthew Davis said, “We very much appreciate the Biden-Harris administration reaffirming the need to address mercury and other toxic pollution from power plants and highlighting the major positive economic benefits of improving our air, water, and health. Repairing yet one more illegal, baseless attempt of the Trump administration to undermine our foundation of public health and environmental safeguards is critical to the Biden-Harris EPA following the rule of law and tightening the standard to further protect our communities. We look forward to the EPA building upon today’s action in the coming weeks to require that fossil-fueled power plants do more to clean up their toxic air, water, and climate pollution.”
DIRE ENVIRONMENTAL EMERGENCY AS TRAIN CARRYING CHEMICALS DERAILS IN EAST PALESTINE, OH:On February 3rd, a 50-car freight train containing hazardous chemicals derailed in Ohio, causing a major explosion at the site and releasing dangerous toxins into the air and water. Many local residents have evacuated to escape what some are now calling the largest environmental disaster in US history.
THE OHIO ENVIRONMENTAL COUNCIL TAKE: Northeast Ohio Regional Director for the Ohio Environmental Council Chris Colón said, “Our hearts are with the residents in East Palestine, Ohio, and the surrounding communities following the devastating train derailment and toxic chemical release. It will take time before we know the full extent of the environmental damage from this accident. We know the community faces serious air and water quality concerns—including reports of fish kills in streams leading into the Little Beaver Creek, a Federal Scenic River and a State Wild and Scenic River, as well as known contamination of the Ohio River, which serves as a drinking water source.”
NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR SETS GOAL OF 100% CLEAN ENERGY BY 2035: New Jersey governor Phil Murphy signed three executive orders this week to take bold climate action – most notably, accelerating his timeline to achieve 100% clean energy in the state by 2035. Murphy also set goals for building electrification and electric vehicles and directed New Jersey to begin the process to adopt the Advanced Clean Cars II rule which would require all light-duty vehicles and cars sold in the state to be zero-emission by 2035. These announcements came after New Jersey LCV’s report card reflecting on Murphy’s progress in 2022 downgraded his rating from an A to a B+ and removed his title as “America’s Greenest Governor” which NJLCV bestowed on the governor following his first term in 2021.
NJLCV TAKE: Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Ed Potosnak said, “With today’s bold executive actions, Governor Murphy is again putting New Jersey at the forefront of the fight against climate change. Governor Murphy has set the most ambitious clean energy goal in the nation –100% clean electricity by 2035, which meets not only the moment, but the goal New Jersey LCV set in 2021. We are thrilled to see a roadmap to 100% clean electricity, meaningful commitments to electrify buildings, vans, trucks, and buses and updated coastal rules to protect families and businesses – all as we step up efforts to protect our communities from the impacts of climate change. These important environmental policies will also position our state to be a leader in creating new union jobs in growing green industries even as we slash carbon pollution. Other states looking to combat climate change, protect our environment, and create good local jobs that can’t be outsourced must now take their cues from New Jersey.”
MAINE MAKES EXCITING 100% CLEAN ENERGY ANNOUNCEMENT: On Wednesday, at her State of the Budget address, Maine Governor Janet Mills directed the Governor’s Energy Office to develop legislation requiring that 100% of the state’s electricity come from clean and renewable sources by 2040, 10 years earlier than the previous goal.
MCV TAKE: Maine Conservation Voters Executive Director Maureen Drouin said, “Governor Mills continues to demonstrate how a rural state can take bold action to tackle the climate crisis while ensuring a fair and equitable economic transition for our communities. By doubling funding for local climate action through the Community Resilience Partnership and setting a goal of developing legislation that will achieve 100% clean energy by 2040, the Mills administration is building a stronger, more resilient, and more equitable future for all Maine people.”
ALBUQUERQUE BECOMES FIRST CITY IN NATION TO ADVANCE JUSTICE40: Joined by climate justice, economic justice and social justice advocates, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller signed an executive order late last week that made the city the first in the country to take action to advance Justice40 – a Biden-Harris Administration initiative to deliver 40 percent of overall benefits from various federal investments to disadvantaged communities. Read more here.
MICHIGAN LCV STATEMENT ON SHOOTING: On February 13th, a horrific shooting on Michigan State University’s campus left 3 students dead and another 5 injured.
MI LCV’S TAKE: Executive Director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Lisa Wozniak said, “Our hearts go out to the victims, students, faculty, staff and families impacted by last night’s tragedy at Michigan State University. We stand with our board members, staff, interns and partners who are all part of the Spartan Family. As we work to clean up our drinking water, tackle climate change, hold polluters accountable, defend the very essence of our democracy and work to create a more just, equitable world, gun violence remains a public health crisis across our country. Together, we must commit to finding real and immediate solutions to ensure our children and communities are safe.”
CHISPA AZ TAKE ON INDIE FILM FEST: Yesterday, Chispa Arizona premiered a community storytelling short film about the Complete Streets campaign at the Indie Film Fest at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix. Chispa AZ digital Organizer Noemi Gonzalez participated in a community fair before the event and spoke on a panel following the film screening. Check out Noemi’s video from the event here.
ALL OF FEBRUARY: Black History Month
FEBRUARY 21: Special election for Virginia’s 4th Congressional District
MARCH 1: Ho-Chunk Nation, Wisconsin Native Vote, and the Native American Rights Fund Community Dinner + Discussion on WI Supreme Court Election