QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“This is no longer just a conversation for climate activists; I think that every group and every decision we make as members of Congress has to take into account … the long term impact that we will have on our environment and our communities. This is no longer a single issue conversation — the climate impact of legislation has to be incorporated into everything that we do.”
– Representative Jahana Hayes (CT-05), speaking on Build Back Better’s broad, bipartisan support at a press conference hosted by the League of Conservation Voters.
“Do we want to spend the money before and save lives and our physical infrastructure? Or do we want to spend it after? After, you can fix the infrastructure. But you can’t bring people back if they are lost in a storm.”
– Dr. Kristen Broady speaking about how lawmakers opposed to Build Back Better because of its cost are failing to properly recognize that the risk of not investing in climate resilience will be borne by the most vulnerable and be irreversible.
“I have seen firsthand the effects of climate change, environmental racism and policies that favor the oil and gas industry over the health and safety of my children and families…This report is further confirmation of the connection between pollution and race and the existence of environmental racism.”
– Dr. Beverly L. Wright, executive director of the New Orleans-based Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, speaking on the negative consequences Gulf energy production has caused in Black communities, referencing a NAACP report that found more than 1 million Black people live within a half-mile of an oil or gas facility, where pollution exceeds the EPA’s guidelines for cancer risk.
“It is our moral imperative to tell the truth about our past to finally reconcile with this nation’s history of racism and white nationalism, and our legislation will serve as a vital component in our fight to do just that. The moment we are in requires of us a clear-eyed vision to ensure that not just our children but people of all ages, have access to resources and education that accurately recount African American history.”
– Representative Jamaal Bowman speaking on the proposed African American History Act that was introduced to the Senate on the first day of Black History Month. The legislation would invest $10 million over 5 years to support African American history education programs.
“I would love to see a Black woman who will insist on racial, environmental, social, disability, and economic justice named to the Supreme Court. Identity is important but it is not enough.”
– Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01) via Twitter, speaking on President Biden’s promise to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court following Justice Breyer’s retirement announcement.
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS WANT BBB!: On Monday, House Democrats representing swing districts across the country on the frontlines of the climate crisis made a unified call for the Senate to urgently pass Build Back Better Act’s climate provisions. New Democrat Coalition Chair Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Rep. Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Congressional Progressive Caucus Deputy Chair Katie Porter (CA-45), and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) emphasized the legislation’s broad support and made clear that we simply cannot afford inaction. Read more about what House members said HERE.
MORE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS WANT BBB!: On Monday, members of Congress from key House districts – including some of the speakers on the call above ☝ – signed onto a Build Back Better letter led by Representative Mike Levin, calling on President Biden to “move swiftly to finalize the most comprehensive legislation that can pass the Senate and get this historic progress to [his] desk for [his] signature in the coming weeks.” Read the full letter HERE.
MERCURY STANDARDS: On Monday, the EPA reaffirmed mercury pollution limits for coal-burning power plants. Mercury is particularly dangerous to children and fetuses, and restoring these safeguards, which the Trump administration had undermined, will reduce dangerous air pollution.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis said, “We applaud the Biden-Harris administration for taking action to reaffirm the solid scientific, policy, and legal foundation for protecting children’s health – especially children in low income and communities of color who are disproportionately impacted by toxic pollution – from mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants. Undoing the illegal and dangerous work of the Trump administration is critical to protecting the health of all communities and tackling climate change, and we encourage the Biden-Harris administration to more swiftly push beyond existing standards to better protect public health and the environment from the ravages of fossil fuel pollution, including on these mercury and air toxics standards for power plants and oil and gas methane standards, among others.”
PROGRESS ON REPARATIONS: Today, more than 350 leading civil rights, human rights, faith-based organizations, policy groups, and academic institutions, from a diverse coalition, issued a joint letter to congressional leaders urging an immediate House vote on H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African-Americans Act. H.R. 40 would examine reparations for Black people for the ongoing legacy of the enslavement era and advance racial progress. Read more about why this legislation is critical to addressing environmental injustice HERE, and read the joint letter to congress HERE.
OUR TAKE: LCV Chief Officer for Racial Justice and Equity Leslie Hinkson said, “LCV knows that we cannot build political power for people and the planet without addressing and dismantling anti-Black structures and their legacies. H.R. 40 is just one first step toward reparations — we must confront the devastating environmental injustices and pervasive barriers to participating in our nation’s democratic process in Black communities that are directly linked to centuries of systemic and structural racism in this country. Congress must recognize the critical urgency of this moment and take this overdue step towards addressing these injustices by swiftly passing H.R. 40 into law.”
SIX NON-INCUMBENT CANDIDATES FOR SENATE: LCV Action Fund announced its first round of non-incumbent endorsements for U.S. Senate candidates in the 2022 cycle. This week’s Senate endorsements include six candidates: Cheri Beasley (NC), Charles Booker (KY), Val Demings (FL), Abby Finkenauer (IA), Lucas Kunce (MO), and Peter Welch (VT).
OUR TAKE ON ALL SIX: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “LCV Action Fund is all in to defend and expand the pro-environment majority in the Senate, and we are thrilled to support this diverse group of climate champions for election to the U.S. Senate. We know these leaders will deliver on transformational climate action, clean energy, jobs, democracy, and justice for all communities.” Read our full statement HERE.
BUDZINSKI, BOHANNAN, AND MATHIS FOR CONGRESS: This week, LCV Action Fund endorsed three pro-environment candidates in their races for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives: Nikki Budzinski in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, State Representative Christina Bohannan in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, and State Senator Liz Mathis in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. Read more about the background and impact these pro-environment candidates will make: Budzinski, Bohannan, and Mathis.
CELEBRATING ROSA PARKS ON TRANSIT EQUITY DAY: Transit unions, community organizations, environmental groups, and labor unions commemorated Rosa Parks’ birthday today, February 4, by making a clear statement that access to public transportation should be a right not a privilege. Parks’ experience with public transportation is a matter of equity and equality. Communities of color have experienced inequitable access to public transportation and have been forced to endure higher levels of pollution with outdated infrastructure.
CLEANING UP ORPHANED OIL + GAS WELLS: On Monday, the Department of the Interior announced that states can apply for new funding to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells. Millions of people in this country live within a mile of orphaned oil and gas wells, which is a major source of groundwater pollution. These investments will make a tangible difference in communities across the country, including creating good-paying, union jobs. This is what we need more of and why we must pass the Build Back Better agenda.
CONSERVATION COLORADO’S TAKE: Beau Kiklis told the Denver Post, that the incoming money is good news for Colorado, “But let’s not be fooled: it’s also a stinging rebuke of an industry that’s amassed profits at the expense of our communities and by leaving taxpayers holding the bag.”
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:
🎉MAJOR MILESTONE FROM THE FIELD🎉: Across the nation, LCV’s field team continues to hear that communities across the country want climate action now – as of this week we’ve knocked on over 500,000 doors and have talked with people about the critical climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act. And, over 23,000 businesses are displaying their support for climate action, too. Read activists’ stories below or watch them tell their stories HERE.
NV ACTIVIST TAKE: “If we don’t have climate action now, these guys will not be alive anymore,” said Jeremiah in Las Vegas, NV, referring to the animals he works with daily.
IA ACTIVIST TAKE: “I work with kids, and the environment we have now is all that’s left to them,” said Patty, an elementary school teacher in Des Moines, IA who worries about our future on a warming planet and what will happen to the next generation if we don’t do something now.
GA ACTIVIST TAKE: “We must respond to climate change immediately, as it single-handedly is one of the biggest issues we face in this country,” says Rovonne, who owns a dry cleaning business in Atlanta, GA and hopes that Senators Ossoff and Warnock continue to fight for climate action.
MORE TAKES: For more on why people across the country are advocating for climate action, read some of our top stories from New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Nevada, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Michigan.
VIRGINIA REJECTS WHEELER: This week, the Virginia Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections voted 9-6 to remove Andrew Wheeler from SJ 84, a resolution to confirm Governor Youngkin’s cabinet-level appointments. Gov. Youngkin’s nominee for Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Wheeler is a former coal lobbyist and was head of the EPA under Trump where he presided over an unprecedented reversal of environmental laws and regulations.
VIRGINIA LCV TAKE: Executive Director of VA LCV Mike Town said, “Andrew Wheeler is unfit to lead Virginia’s environmental agencies. Today, Senators in the Privileges and Elections Committee made the right call by removing him from consideration. We hope the Youngkin Administration can find a replacement Secretary who actually has a demonstrable record of caring about environmental protection, not working to undermine safeguards that protect clean air, clean water, and our health.”
CONNECTICUT ENVIRONMENTAL SUMMIT: Last week, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters Education Fund held its annual Environmental Summit to discuss environmental issues being considered in this year’s legislative session. The two-day virtual event brought together lawmakers, environmental advocates, policy experts and the public for an educational forum on policy opportunities for topics including climate and energy, environmental justice, transportation, land conservation and waste management. Governor Ned Lamont and state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes also laid out the administration’s environmental priorities and called on legislators for their support. See event materials and watch event recordings HERE.
DEEP COMMISSIONER TAKE: Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes said, “Our commitments to addressing clean transportation are motivated largely by equity and environmental justice, because the burdens of air pollution are disproportionately felt in our communities of color in our urban environments, who live close to those transportation corridors where they’re breathing more vehicle exhaust.”
CHISPA FLORIDA’S ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY: February 4th marks the one-year anniversary since the Chispa Florida program launch. In just one year, Chispa Florida has been able to work closely with communities to fight for climate justice and accountability to elected officials. Check out Chispa Florida’s post here.
VA PIPELINE FIGHT CONTINUES TO WIN IN COURT: The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned another key permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) yesterday, due to its threat to two endangered fish species. The court in Richmond Virginia found errors in previous approvals by federal agencies, including the Fish and Wildlife Service, that failed to accurately evaluate the project’s environmental impacts. This decision follows the court’s rejection of a permit to allow the gas pipeline to cross the Jefferson National Forest last week and the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board’s denial of an important air permit in December. The Virginia League of Conservation Voters has been heavily engaged in the grassroots-led efforts against the MVP. Opponents are hopeful that these two decisions will help to end the project permanently as shares drop in value and the pipeline remains years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.
ALL OF FEBRUARY – Black History Month
FEBRUARY 18 – Government funding expires
MARCH 1 – President Biden’s State of the Union address