THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION – February 24, 2023
QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“It blows my mind that we’re still having firsts in 2023, but I’m very honored.”
–Representative-elect Jennifer McClellan, who this week was elected as the state’s first Black congresswoman with her victory in Virginia’s 4th district.
“If I’m talking about prison abolition, if I’m talking about Black Lives Matter, or another Black person being slain by police, that is an environmental issue. The same communities that are over-policed in this country are the ones that have the least amount of trees or access to fresh, affordable food. One of the most important parts of the environmental justice movement is the ability to create self-determination for those who have been most impacted by environmental harm, and allow people to have a say.
–Arielle V. King, Programming Director of Black Girl Environmentalist, commenting on the importance of centering those most impacted by the climate crisis and environmental injustice.
“This particular consequence of global warming warns us of a seismically turbulent future.”
– Professor Ibrahim Ozdemir, UN adviser and environmentalist, commenting on the link between climate change and earthquakes in the wake of the earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria on February 6. There is growing scientific evidence that climate change is increasing the risk of such tremors, as melting glaciers change the distribution of weight on the earth’s surface.
LCV TO LAUNCH 2022 NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL SCORECARD: On Tuesday, February 28 at 12:15 p.m. ET, join LCV for a virtual discussion with Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Rep. Kathy Castor (FL-14) about LCV’s 2022 National Environmental Scorecard that analyzes the best year ever for climate action. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Stabenow will lay out the benefits of the affordable clean energy plan for rural communities, the future of U.S. vehicle manufacturing, and opportunities to build on last year’s progress in this Congress via the Farm Bill. Representative Castor, who chaired the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis that pro-polluter Republicans disbanded, will reflect on the historic progress for climate action in 2022 and discuss Democrats’ commitment to block the extremely slim Republican majority’s efforts to cater to their donors’ dirty pro-polluter agenda. Register for the event here.
CELEBRATING THE ENDURING LEGACY OF BLACK ACTIVISTS WHO BIRTHED THE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT: This Black History Month, LCV celebrates the enduring legacy of generations of Black activists whose courageous actions gave rise to the environmental justice movement over four decades ago. We particularly honor the activists of Warren County, North Carolina, who in September 1982, organized a protest against an EPA decision to establish a landfill in their majority-Black community to hold toxic transformer oil that had been illegally produced and dumped on a roadside by the Ward Transformer Company. Notably, the oil contained cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB). The Warren County protests are widely credited as the beginning of the environmental justice movement that continues to this day. Read more about this historic moment here.
DR CHAVIS TAKE: Reflecting on the legacy of the Warren County protests forty years later, in 2022, Dr. Chavis said, “We now not only have a movement in North Carolina — we have a movement all over the world. The environmental justice movement is a global movement. And now with the call for climate justice, I see a convergence between environmental justice and climate justice.”
TRUMP VISITS EAST PALESTINE POST TRAIN WRECK: LCV calls former President Trump’s political stunt in East Palestine, Ohio at the site of the devastating train derailment and resulting environmental disaster “the height of hypocrisy.”
LCV TAKE: Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo said, “It’s the height of hypocrisy for Trump to feign concern for the community of East Palestine after years of openly mocking and rolling back environmental safeguards. As president, Trump rolled back rail safety protections, including withdrawing a proposal that would have required faster brakes on some trains carrying highly flammable materials, cut funding to the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, and dismantled nearly 100 environmental protections. Trump bent over backwards to cater to corporate polluters at every turn and put East Palestine and other communities directly in harm’s way. If Trump, Sen. Vance, Rep. Johnson, and other extreme MAGA Republicans were truly serious about preventing these kinds of disasters, they wouldn’t be pushing to weaken health and safety protections and instead would be supporting stronger environmental regulations including the Biden administration’s proposed chemical safety rule and making sure that the corporate polluters responsible for this tragedy are fully held accountable.”
BIDEN-HARRIS ADMIN MAKES HISTORIC OFFSHORE WIND ANNOUNCEMENT: On Wednesday, the Biden administration proposed the first ever offshore wind lease areas in the Gulf of Mexico.
LCV TAKE: LCV Government Affairs Advocate David Shadburn said, “Today’s announcements are yet another great example of the Biden-Harris administration’s ongoing plan to transition to a healthy and just clean energy economy that is more reliable and affordable for everyone. The historic first-ever proposed offshore wind lease areas in the Gulf of Mexico have the potential to provide nearly 1.3 million homes with reliable, affordable, and clean energy, will incentivize workforce training and a domestic supply chain that reaches far beyond coastal states, and is being subject to thorough environmental and ocean-use conflict reviews. California and Louisiana’s entry into the Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership are just the latest example of states taking advantage of the clean energy economy to create good-paying jobs, lower costs for families, and tackle the climate crisis head-on. We applaud the Biden-Harris administration for leading the charge to make the United States a global leader in floating offshore wind and for continually demonstrating its commitment to deploying 30 GW of offshore wind power by 2030.”
ENCOURAGING EPA TO STRENGTHEN AIR QUALITY STANDARDS: LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis and LCV Government Affairs Representative for Healthy Communities Lizzy Duncan testified before the Environmental Protection Agency on February 22nd and 23rd to encourage the EPA to further strengthen the particulate matter national ambient air quality standards. Read their testimonies here.
CONGRATULATIONS TO REP-ELECT JENNIFER MCCLELLAN: LCV congratulates Representative-elect Jennifer McClellan on her win in the special election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s 4th Congressional District.
LCV TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Jennifer McClellan is a true climate champion – from guiding Virginia to become the first Southern state to commit to 100% clean energy to leading passage of the Solar Freedom Act and Virginia Clean Economy Act, Jennifer McClellan knows how to deliver bold climate action. With pro-polluter politicians like Kevin McCarthy now leading the House, Jennifer McClellan’s voice and experience in Congress is needed now more than ever. LCV is looking forward to working with her to implement the historic climate investments in the Inflation Reduction Act and continue to build on the late Representative Donald McEachin’s strong legacy fighting for climate action and environmental justice.”
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:
WIN FOR FAIR MAPS IN MONTANA: This week, the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission made the right decision to uphold maps that are more fair for Montana voters! After almost a year of organizing efforts by Montana Conservation Voters (MCV), the independent redistricting commission voted 3-2 to approve MCV’s most desired legislative map. MCV Program Director Jocelyn LeRoux testified in favor of the map at the final hearing last week.
MCV TAKE: MCV Program Director Jocelyn LeRoux stated, “[This map] meets all of the goals set out by the commission, and does not favor one political party over another. This ensures fair elections that will encourage voters to keep showing up to make sure their voices are heard on issues such as conservation. Our state has changed significantly in recent years and this new map is much more reflective of the voting patterns of the state than the current map that is 10 years out of date.”
OUTRAGE IN NV OVER HIGH GAS BILLS: Nevada Conservation League and Chispa Nevada joined clean energy advocates and Southwest Gas customers at a Public Utilities Commission of Nevada consumer session Tuesday to demand action to reduce customers’ gas bills. Attendees called for programs that increase energy efficiency and make electric appliances more affordable, and for the state to reduce gas spending which falls on Nevadans.
NCL TAKE: Nevada Conservation League Communications Director Angelyn Tabalba said, “This winter, Nevadans saw their monthly bills almost double. For low-income households, a slight increase in their gas bills can have a significant impact on their ability to afford basic necessities such as food and healthcare.”
SOMOS VOTANTES TAKE: Somos Votantes organizer Angel Lazcano said, “We need the PUCN to help accelerate our state’s transition to renewable energy and provide our families with an energy source that’s cleaner, more affordable, and less volatile than methane gas. The Inflation Reduction Act presents Nevada utilities with a historic opportunity to do all these things. Please make sure they are leveraging these funds on our behalf.”
CHISPA NV TAKE: Chispa NV member said, “Communities of color, we have been the communities historically underserved, so it would be unfair for a company that enjoys many economic benefits [Southwest Gas]… to continue increasing prices even more when we as a community need to have sufficient resources to be able to meet all our basic needs in each of our homes. For a low-income family, this $2.77 [gas rate] increase could help raise enough money to pay for medications for a child with a chronic condition.”
VA REJECTS CLIMATE ATTACKS AND DEFENDS CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE: LCV applauds climate champions on Virginia Senate committees for successfully thwarting multiple legislative efforts to undermine the commonwealth’s clean energy commitments. In 2020, Virginia passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act which set a goal to reach 100% carbon-free energy by 2050.
VALCV TAKE: Executive Director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters Michael Town said, “Democrats in the Senate are standing up for our clean air, our clean energy future, and our economy, while Governor Youngkin and his allies continue to want to take Virginia backwards and play games with how we power our daily lives. Our work is not yet done defending our progress at the General Assembly – there are still a handful of issues we need to iron out – but we are grateful for the Senators’ leadership today in defending our climate progress and defeating these shortsighted attacks.”
OFFSHORE WIND MOVES FORWARD IN NEW JERSEY: Last week, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved the construction of a transmission line to bring power online from a planned offshore wind project off the coast of Ocean City. This was an important win for New Jersey to make progress on its goals for offshore wind which has been the focus of intense misinformation campaigns in the state.
NJLCV TAKE: Executive Director of New Jersey LCV Ed Potosnak said, “We’re glad that the misinformation spread by fossil fuel companies is not impeding our essential transition to 100% clean energy, and we support the Board of Public Utilities’s decision to allow a transmission line to be responsibly constructed in Cape May County to bring clean renewable offshore wind electricity to homes and businesses. With this decision, offshore wind can bring the benefits of reduced air pollution and good local jobs that can’t be outsourced. Offshore wind will also move us away from the dirty fossil fuels, which contribute to climate change and have given New Jersey some of the worst air quality in the nation, causing asthma and exacerbating other heart and lung problems. To protect and preserve New Jersey’s coastal communities and habitats for generations to come New Jersey LCV supports responsibly developed offshore wind.”
$19M IN GRANTS GO TO STORMWATER MANAGEMENT IN NJ: On Tuesday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s administration announced $19 million in grants to help municipalities transition to new requirements for municipal stormwater permitting designed to better prevent pollutants in stormwater. These permitting changes will also help mitigate localized flooding that is increasing due to climate change.
NJLCV TAKE: Executive Director of New Jersey LCV Ed Potosnak said, ”We applaud the DEP for continuing to highlight the importance of stormwater management and for giving local communities much-needed on-the-ground support. Localized flooding has been a huge challenge across New Jersey in recent years and, due to the effects of climate change, we know we can expect more frequent, intense storms in the years to come. Stormwater flooding can devastate homes and businesses, and these resources show our commitment to helping all New Jerseyans, including our most vulnerable communities, better prepare for the stormwater challenges ahead.”
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNITY WIN AT THE ARIZONA LEGISLATURE: Last week, legislation to cut funding for Arizona’s public transit and light rail was stopped in a state senate committee after Chispa Arizona and community advocates testified against the “anti-light rail” bill. Through the Clean & Green Campaign, Chispa AZ is pushing for “complete streets” that reimagine transportation systems and infrastructure that prioritize cars by instead investing in more accessible, safe and efficient multimodal transportation, including public transit and active transportation such as walking and biking. Hear about the anti-light rail bill from Chispa AZ Advocacy Deputy Director Vania Guevara here and learn more about complete streets and the Clean & Green campaign here.
FEB 28: LCV releases its 2022 National Environmental Scorecard
MARCH 1: Ho-Chunk Nation, Wisconsin Native Vote, and the Native American Rights Fund Community Dinner + Discussion on WI Supreme Court Election
ALL OF FEBRUARY: Black History Month
ALL OF MARCH: Women’s History Month