“Protecting and respecting Black women means keeping their leadership at the forefront, and getting in the trenches with them when the work is hard, exhausting and often underappreciated. From protests to policy meetings to Pennsylvania Avenue, we all have to keep marching forward.”
— Senior Enterprise Editor of Culture Erin E. Evans in her piece introducing HuffPost’s Black History Month series honoring Black women whose stories paint a portrait of America, Protect Black Women Isn’t Just A Slogan. It Requires Real Work
“It is urgent that Black people consolidate political power now. In my view, the acquisition of Black power has reached a level of urgency rivaling that of the climate crisis: Immediate action is required, but it may very well already be too late.”
— Columnist Charles M. Blow in his New York Times Op-ed, Black Power: Now or Never, which argues that it will only become harder to pass policies that stand to benefit Black people as the Senate continues to tilt toward smaller states
“As it turns out, electing more candidates of color to Congress (and beyond!) may be the secret sauce to make climate legislation a reality.”
The Frontline: Congress Needs More Black and Brown Leaders
Politico Magazine: Environmental Groups’ Greatest Obstacle May Not Be Republican Opposition
Native News Online: Biden Signs Efforts to Address Climate Change
LCV’s affiliates are hard at work protecting the environment and fighting climate change in the states. Here’s what people are reading across the country:
New York Times Union (NY): Commentary: New York’s next goal: Reduce transportation emissions
Florida Phoenix (FL): Coalition touts FL clean-energy plan to protect climate and create jobs
Harlem World Magazine (NY): Elected Officials, Advocates Call For Stronger Lead Poisoning Prevention Law
Virginia Mercury (VA): We can’t address climate change without tackling transportation
THESE VOTES HAVE IMPACTS: Just as Black History Month got started, LCV released a new report examining the environmental records of members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), collectively referred to as the Tri-Caucus. Using data from LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard, the report details how members of the Tri-Caucus were champions of strong environmental policies that address environmental injustice, helped chair a record number of hearings about climate change, and led on many of the critical pro-environmental bills during the 116th Congress. Read the report here.
We hosted a virtual event to launch the report in partnership with Luz Collective, featuring House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl Grijalva, Congressman Donald McEachin, and environmental justice advocate and National Co-Coordinator of the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform Michele Roberts. Watch the event recording here.
OUR TAKE: LCV Legislative Representative Darien Davis said, “Members of the Tri-Caucuses have championed important pro-environment legislation rooted in justice and equity that has set the stage for the 117th Congress and the Biden administration to act swiftly and boldly — LCV applauds their history-making leadership and vision. The global pandemic has only exacerbated environmental racism in this country and amplified the need for all communities to breathe clean air and have access to outdoor spaces. We look forward to our continued partnership with Tri-Caucus members to combat the climate crisis, address environmental injustice, and protect our lands, air, and water.”
OUR DBL TAKE: Chispa National Director Johana Vicente said, “For decades, low-income communities of color have been forced to live in neighborhoods with dirtier air, experiencing the worst effects of climate change and environmental injustices, so it is no surprise to see that people of color are some of the strongest advocates for climate action. Tri-Caucus members in the 116th Congress understand this and have championed legislation that would prioritize cleaning up the air our communities breathe, like the Clean School Bus Act — a bill that would transition dirty diesel buses to zero-emission, electric school buses in the low-income communities of color where children’s health most suffers from toxic pollution. Tri-Caucus members’ leadership is more important than ever, as our communities demand equitable, overdue access to a healthy environment.”
CHISPA FL LAUNCH: While commemorating Transit Equity Day and Rosa Parks’ birthday, the Chispa family also celebrated the much-anticipated launch of the Chispa Florida program. The Chispa Florida team held a virtual event, introducing the world to their advocacy and ways to get involved, and they were joined by musician Nohemy who performed live, community partner organizations, and state legislator Carlos G. Smith, who highlighted the importance of lifting up environmental justice work and the leadership of the Chispa Florida team.
OUR TAKE: During the event, Chispa National Director Johana Vicente said, “We are looking forward to building power and building community leadership in a state where Latinx communities are so key…We know that communities of color are disproportionately impacted by environmental issues, and we also know that we are leaders in this movement. We are the ones advocating for change, we are the ones closest to the issue, and closest to the solution. We are excited to continue building the base of leaders who are going to make an impact and have a say in decision making for a clean energy future.”
EPW HEARS REGAN: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on Michael Regan’s nomination for EPA administrator — if confirmed, Regan will become the first Black man to be EPA administrator, which is likely to happen, poignantly, during Black history month. During the hearing, Regan promised to urgently address the climate crisis, and responded to concerns about fossil fuel workers saying, “We all understand the anxiety and the fear as we make this transition…In order for us to be successful, every state and every community has to see itself in our vision.” And, when Senator Cory Booker asked Regan to affirm the need to prioritize farmworkers and environmental justice communities, Regan enthusiastically and immediately agreed.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Regan proved he is just the right person to lead the EPA in addressing the climate, racial justice, economic and public health crises, and he made clear he will always be guided by science and the law. Regan has received bipartisan praise for his record of building coalitions and fighting for environmental justice for North Carolina communities exposed to toxic pollution — including runoff from hog farms and toxic PFAS chemicals in drinking water. Any Senator who votes against Regan’s confirmation would be putting fossil fuel CEOs before clean air, clean water, and healthy communities.”
BUTTIGIEG CONFIRMED!: The Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg as our new secretary of transportation — the first-ever openly gay Cabinet Secretary. During the confirmation process, Buttigieg vowed that climate change would be central to any infrastructure package, advocating that we have a “unique window of opportunity” to invest in much-needed infrastructure that also combats the climate crisis. With his confirmation behind him, we are excited to see Buttigieg build back better.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Congratulations to Pete Buttigieg on his historic confirmation! We’re thrilled for Secretary Buttigieg to lead the Department of Transportation toward a 100% clean energy future and deliver on Biden’s Build Back Better plan. Buttigieg’s experience advocating for clean, place-based transportation at the local level and his 2020 presidential campaign plans for environmentally-smart infrastructure and disaster resilience and preparedness bodes well for state and local partnerships to reduce pollution. As we transition to a zero-emission future, we fully expect the Department of Transportation to ensure frontline communities and communities of color are front and center at every step.”
GRANHOLM TO THE FLOOR: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved Jennifer Granholm’s nomination for Secretary of Energy, setting up a floor vote and hopefully soon. Granholm responded to the largely bipartisan vote by thanking the members who voted for her and reassuring those who did not, “Even if you didn’t vote for me, know that I will work for your people and your state as well. I know we can work together, and I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves.”
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski sent a letter to the Senate, urging senators to support Granholm’s nomination, saying, “Granholm is a champion for clean energy, economic development, and technological advancement. She is an excellent choice to lead the Energy Department’s efforts to accelerate the equitable deployment of clean energy, including a strong focus on workforce development, and advance innovation in energy and transportation research, development and demonstration.”
ENCOURAGING E.O.S: LCV launched a new cable TV ad, “Our Moment,” supporting President Biden’s early action on climate and environmental justice from his executive orders. The new ad, which is a part of a larger effort that LCV and Climate Power launched last month, recognizes President Biden’s historic executive actions during the first days of his presidency to restore America’s leadership on climate, including centering environmental justice, transitioning to 100% clean energy, and creating high-quality, good-paying union jobs. As the oil and gas executives try to stay relevant, polls continue to show that the majority of voters want to see action on climate and investments in clean energy.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “With President Biden in the White House, this administration is prioritizing people — not polluters — and leading on climate and environmental justice, creating clean energy jobs and rebuilding a more equitable and just economy for all. We’ve already seen the single biggest day for climate action in more than a decade, and this is only the beginning for President Biden and Vice President Harris. This is our moment.”
CLIMATE POWER TAKE: Climate Power Executive Director Lori Lodes said, “President Biden took bold action on climate in his first weeks in office, building toward a clean energy future that means millions of more good-paying jobs and protecting our right to clean air, land, and water. This is exactly what our country needs at this urgent moment.”
CONFIRM CLIMATE ADS: The Biden-Harris administration has nominated a dream team to lead their cross-governmental climate efforts, and we’re eager to see them build back better. LCV is running ads encouraging the Senate to swiftly confirm Jennifer Granholm as secretary of Energy, Representative Deb Haaland as secretary of the Interior, Michael Regan as EPA administrator, and Janet McCabe as EPA deputy administrator.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “In order to Build Back Better, we need leaders throughout the government committed to protecting our environment and public health. The Senate must quickly confirm President Biden’s dream team of climate champions so that this historic administration can build on the president’s executive orders and get to work addressing the interwoven climate, racial, economic, and health crises with a whole-of-government approach and build a safer and healthier planet for future generations.”
SILENCING SCIENCE VACATED: In the Trump administration’s final weeks in office, they made a last-ditch effort to undermine science at the EPA, finalizing a rule that would have restricted the use of the best available science in the agency’s policy making decisions. This week, the rule met its demise: a federal judge vacated the rule, which means the Biden-Harris administration needs to spend none of their time reversing it and can instead focus on new protections for public health and the environment (including some of LCV’s policy priorities). And they’ll have the best science at their disposal to do so.
DREAM ACT REINTRODUCED: This week, Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham reintroduced the Dream Act, which would protect and provide a roadmap to citizenship for nearly 2 million young people without documents in our country. While President Biden signed an executive order his first week in office to protect Dreamers, he also promoted a proposal to provide a permanent solution for all undocumented immigrants. The early action to protect Dreamers and other immigrant community members is a testament to the power of immigrant youth and community leaders who have fought hard to protect their families — with whom we’re proud to stand in solidarity.
+VACCINE DISTRIBUTION: As COVID-19 continues to devastate communities across the country, immigrant communities have been disproportionately impacted, and undocumented people have been excluded from critical pandemic relief and recovery efforts. In good news, the Department of Homeland Security is supporting equitable access to vaccines and vaccine distribution sites for our neighbors without immigration documents — ICE and CBP will not conduct enforcement at or near distribution sites or clinics. Providing everyone access to vaccines is the only ethical, moral and science-backed way to deal with the pandemic.
BIPARTISAN ARCTIC PROTECTION LEGISLATION: Senator Ed Markey and Representatives Jared Huffman and Brian Fitzpatrick jointly introduced bills to restore protections for the Arctic Refuge. Preventing oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic Refuge would safeguard the subsistence rights of the Gwich’in people, who are spiritually and culturally connected to the land, waters, and animals of the refuge. The Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee Bernadette Demientieff remarked, “On behalf of the Gwich’in Nation, we thank our congressional leaders for listening to the voice of the Indigenous people…It is important for our young people to see honorable and humble people in leadership respecting our human rights and Indigenous voices and to know we are being heard.”
OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel said, “Drilling in the pristine Arctic Refuge would violate Indigenous rights, exacerbate climate change, and shortchange taxpayers. We stand in solidarity with the Gwich’in people in the fight to protect an area they call ‘the Sacred Place Where Life Begins.’ Congress and President Biden should do everything in their power to permanently protect this sacred land that is ground zero for climate change. We are thankful to the sponsors of this legislation and look forward to working with them to pass these vital protections into law.”
CLIMATE AND HEALTH PROTECTION ACT: This week, Representative Lauren Underwood introduced the Climate and Health Protection Act, which would help mitigate the harmful health impacts of climate change. Underwood’s legislation seeks to re-establish and strengthen the CDC’s Climate Health Program, a program that helps state and local governments prepare for the health consequences of climate change. The Trump administration undermined this program through consolidation and proposed defunding, and this legislation would prevent degradation in the future by codifying the program’s core functions in law.
OUR TAKE: LCV Legislative Director Matthew H. Davis, MPH, said, “Almost daily we are seeing climate change-fueled catastrophes across the country, and they are harming low-income communities and communities of color first and worst. And climate change poses grave threats to public health beyond the flooding, storms, and wildfires, too — increased number of bad air days, heat stress and stroke, worsening allergies, ubiquitous Lyme disease, and new vector-borne diseases, among others. LCV applauds Rep. Underwood for introducing this bill to reestablish the Climate and Health Program at CDC so that states and communities have support in protecting the health of their residents from this growing threat.”
CORE ACT REINTRODUCED: The Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy (CORE) Act, a landmark and broadly supported effort to protect Colorado’s public lands, was reintroduced in the 117th Congress. This bill is a decade in the making and — with pro-conservation majorities in the House and Senate — Coloradans have a new opportunity to see this popular bill become law. The CORE Act will protect approximately 400,000 acres of iconic public lands for future generations.
CONSERVATION COLORADO’S TAKE: Conservation Colorado Executive Director Kelly Nordini said, “The long-anticipated CORE Act is a cornerstone of Colorado’s part in the effort to conserve 30 percent of our U.S. land and water by 2030 — a bold and achievable goal that requires immediate action. Senator Bennet, Representative Neguse, and countless local leaders have worked for years to craft a strong bill that protects some of Colorado’s most popular, iconic, and historic places. Our new pro-conservation Congressional majority should act swiftly to pass it.”
2021 GOVERNOR’S RACE ALREADY KICKS OFF (NJ): New Jersey League of Conservation Voters endorsed Governor Phil Murphy today and announced that the NJLCV Victory Fund and NJLCV PAC plan to spend at least $1 million to elect Murphy and other environmental champions on the ballot in New Jersey in 2021. Since being elected in 2017, Phil Murphy has been one of the strongest environmental governors in the country, committing the state to massively increase clean energy, ordering NJ Transit to electrify all vehicles by 2040, and passing the strongest environmental justice protections in the country.
NJLCV TAKE: “We are thrilled to endorse Governor Murphy for a second term. In 2017, we were the first statewide environmental organization to endorse Phil Murphy, and we’re proud to be the first to endorse his re-election. We made our biggest expenditure in our history to elect Phil Murphy because of his commitment to restoring New Jersey to a position of national environmental leadership, and Governor Murphy has delivered,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey LCV. “Murphy pledged to put New Jersey on a path to achieving 100 percent clean energy by 2050, and he understands the importance of clean air, safe drinking water, and open space for all of New Jersey’s families and, in my opinion, has earned the title of “Greenest Governor in America.”
ALL OF FEBRUARY–– Black History Month