“A lot of times, Black folks get left out of the conversation when it comes to environmental justice. Environmental justice encompasses so much way beyond what folks usually think. It encompasses housing, transportation, education, commerce, making sure that Black folks and people of color get the opportunity to join the renewable economy like wind and solar.”
—Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-74th), chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, in a press conference members held to discuss environmental justice and kick off Black History Month.
“For the first time in two decades, our fishermen will head out on the water this fishing season without the existential threat of Pebble Mine looming just upriver. Thousands of small fishing businesses and industry members are thanking the Biden administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.”
— Katherine Carscallen, director of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, speaking on the Biden administration and the EPA’s decision to heed the call of Alaskan communities and protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay from the immensely destructive Pebble Mine.
“Moving the pieces around or pledging more greenspace in the project’s footprint does not change the fundamental disagreement over this unnecessary facility: the forest is too important to the health of our communities to destroy even a portion of it.”
–Sierra Club Georgia Chapter Interim Director Gina Webber in response to government officials from the city of Atlanta and DeKalb County announcing the issuance of land disturbance permits and minor changes to official plans for a public safety training facility in the Weelaunee (South River) Forest.
RESOURCES TO CELEBRATE AND LEARN FROM BLACK LEADERS: Every day during Black History Month this year, the Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice will be highlighting environmental justice pioneers who helped cultivate the movement and continue to keep it thriving. The series started this week with Dr. Robert D. Bullard himself – the “Father of Environmental Justice” – who has authored numerous books that address environmental racism, urban land use, housing, transportation, sustainability, smart growth, climate justice, and community resilience. They followed with a spotlight on Dr. Beverly L. Wright, an environmental justice scholar, advocate, and founder and executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ), the first-ever environmental justice center in the United States. Follow along with the Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice’s spotlights page here to learn about a new black environmental justice leader each day.
LCV STATEMENT ON WILLOW PROJECT: This week, the Biden-Harris administration released the final environmental impact statement proposing to allow ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project to move forward. The administration can still reverse course and reject the Willow Project.
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. Alaska is already warming three times faster than the rest of the world due to climate change and allowing this project to proceed would do irreversible damage to the pristine Western Arctic, bring serious public health risks to Indigenous peoples living nearby, and lock us into more fossil fuels for decades when we should be investing in a clean energy future. In the wake of a year when Big Oil raked in record shattering profits at the expense of the rest of us, the last thing ConocoPhillips needs is another carbon bomb project to further pad C-suite executives’ salaries and wealthy stockholder buybacks. It’s not too late for the Biden-Harris administration to reject the dirty and dangerous Willow Project, and that’s exactly what they should do.”
LCV AND ALASKA CENTER APPLAUD BIDEN ADMINISTRATION’S PROTECTION OF BRISTOL BAY: On Monday, the Biden-Harris administration and the EPA took historic action under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay from the immensely destructive Pebble Mine, heeding the call of Alaskan communities and millions of people across the country to safeguard this critical watershed for the people and wildlife who depend on it.
OUR TAKE: LCV Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote said, “We are overjoyed and relieved that Alaska’s spectacular Bristol Bay is finally protected from the decades-long threat posed by the dangerous and destructive Pebble Mine. This is a hard-fought victory for local Tribes who have not only served as stewards of these iconic waters for thousands of years, but also led this fight and united nearly four million people across the country to safeguard the lives and livelihoods that depend on the Bay’s clean water and unparalleled salmon runs. We thank President Biden and the EPA for heeding the calls of these Tribal leaders and delivering on their campaign promise by allowing the residents of Bristol Bay to focus on a more sustainable future that respects the cultural, spiritual, and economic significance of these irreplaceable waters and protects them for generations to come.
THE AK CENTER’S TAKE: The Alaska Center’s Co-Executive Director Chantal de Alcuaz, said,“This is a huge win for the families, everyday Alaskans, organizations, activists, fisherfolk, and Indigenous leaders who have committed years of their lives to this fight. At The Alaska Center, we believe that Alaskan voices need to be in the spaces where decisions are being made for our communities’ and climate’s future. This is a wonderful example of what happens when Alaskans can come together and are listened to. We are now counting on our state and federal leaders to ensure this special place, fishery, and community is protected for generations to come.”
2023 STARTING OFF STRONG FOR THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT: 2022 was the most effective year yet for climate action and our movement, and as we begin 2023, LCV is laser focused on building on these successes to continue climate progress. Among LCV’s Top 5 from January 2023 are stories that show that state elected officials have hit the ground running, the sustained advocacy of LCV supporters can successfully create the pressure needed to influence the Biden-Harris administration, and electric buses for cleaner communities are the future. Read the Top 5 stories of January 2023 here.
DESIGNATE THE SPRINGFIELD RACE RIOT SITE A NATIONAL MONUMENT: Back in September of 2022, LCV and Illinois Environmental Council sent a letter to the National Park Service in support of the locally-led movement to protect the Springfield, Illinois site of the 1908 Race Riot as a national monument. As we enter Black History Month, the call to designate the Springfield site to acknowledge our nation’s terrible legacy of racial violence against Black lives continues.
NAACP SPRINGFIELD TAKE: NAACP Springfield Branch President Teresa Haley said, “Our community is united and requests your leadership to help our nation move forward. We ask you to listen to our voices and fill in a critical gap in the National Park System. By using the Antiquities Act, you can help unite our nation, advance racial justice, and build on the legacy of Abraham Lincoln.”
OUR TAKE: In the letter, LCV and Illinois Environmental Council said, “Less than a quarter of our national parks are dedicated to recognizing the histories and stories of black, indigenous, and people of color, and fewer explore the structures of racism that continue to hold our country back. None tell the story of our nation’s long history of race riots and thousands of lynchings. A Springfield 1908 Race Riot National Monument could help teach our nation about an important yet tragic part of our history and how these injustices manifested, as well as the heroism of those that stood against violence and oppression.”
MINNESOTA PASSES LEGISLATION TO TRANSITION TO 100% CARBON-FREE ENERGY BY 2040: Yesterday just before midnight, the Minnesota Senate passed landmark legislation to help the state reach 100% carbon-free energy by 2040. The state House of Representatives passed the companion bill last week, and the legislation will now go to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. 100% Clean Energy has been a pillar of Governor Tim Walz’s climate change initiative for the last three years. This win comes after climate champion Democrats won a majority in the state senate last November. LCV’s state league, Conservation Minnesota, has been pushing hard to get the bill passed: view their latest ads here.
CVM TAKE: Executive Director of Conservation Minnesota Paul Austin said, “Now that the Minnesota Senate has passed the 100% Clean Energy bill, it’s time to celebrate the biggest action ever to address the climate crisis. We applaud Governor Walz and the bill authors in the House and Senate for their unwavering commitment and swift action this session to reducing dangerous pollution and protecting our Great Outdoors. The 100% Clean Energy bill leverages our current momentum towards carbon-free energy while ensuring reliable and affordable energy for all Minnesotans.”
OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President of State Policy and Advocacy Bill Holland said, “Minnesota just told the country loud and clear that momentum for climate action shows no signs of slowing. Congress took a historic step forward last summer with the largest investment in clean energy in our history. Minnesota’s action demonstrates that state and city leaders are ready to build on that climate success and invest in local solutions that benefit their communities.”
THE NEW SCHOOL PROFESSORS AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT ON BLACK HISTORY MONTH: During Black History Month, The New School, a university in New York City, has released a list of faculty experts across academic disciplines that are available for comment on the history and purpose of Black History Month. The faculty offer various perspectives and have backgrounds in topics including environmental justice, social protest movements and racial and ethnic disparities in the economy and healthcare. Learn more and get contact information here.
THE BIGGEST OPPORTUNITIES FOR STATE CLIMATE PROGRESS IN 2023: We know we are in a now-or-never moment. Following the “big green wave“ in state elections last November, LCV and our state affiliates nationwide are building on this historic momentum by launching ambitious advocacy campaigns to secure 100% clean energy and implement investments from the Inflation Reduction Act. Recently passed national policies have made an enormous difference, and now state and local leaders face the historic opportunity to invest in local solutions that create clean energy jobs, cut planet-warming pollution, and invest in just solutions that will build a better future for us all. Read LCV Vice President of State Policy and Advocacy Bill Holland’s memo on the biggest opportunities for climate and clean energy progress we see across the country in 2023 here.
CHISPA AZ SHOWS UP FOR SAFE AND HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: This week, Chispa Arizona Deputy Director Vania Guevara was at the state capitol to to advocate for Chispa Arizona’s 2023 legislative priorities, which include advancing equitable access to public lands, demanding clean energy, and prioritizing clean air for communities. Get more information on Chispa AZ’s website and hear Vania talk about the 2023 legislative session here. You can also learn more about Chispa AZ’s “Complete Streets” campaign and watch videos highlighting community members as part of the organization’s storytelling project here.
LABOR AND ENVIRO GROUPS CONTINUE PUSH FOR OFFSHORE WIND: The drumbeat continues for responsible development offshore wind in New England and this week, Maine Conservation Voters (MCV) organized a letter with environmental and labor groups in response to the draft Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap asking for stronger labor and equity provisions in the final plan. In the letter, MCV and partners urge the plan advisory committee to address the lack of detail and concrete actions regarding workforce development and organized labor in the draft plan, and add specific considerations for environmental justice communities and frontline and low-income communities which are also absent in the draft. Last week, MCV joined labor and conservation groups to introduce legislation that would require the state to get an increasing amount of energy from offshore wind.
MCV TAKE: Maine Conservation Voters Energy Justice Manager Kelt Wilska said, “Organized labor needs to be a crucial part of this investment. And we need to make sure working families, both coastal and inland, benefit from this.”
February 7: President Biden will address a joint session of Congress in “State of the Union”
February 21 – Special election for Virginia’s 4th Congressional District