THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION – JANUARY 28, 2022
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 and Twitter.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience, and integrity, and that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court.”
— President Joe Biden, speaking about selecting a Supreme Court nominee to succeed Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer who announced his retirement this week.
“I think the important thing to note is that whatever action we take after the report comes out will depend largely on what tribes want to do. We are in a new era for Indian tribes where consultation is meaningful. It’s an all-government approach to making sure that tribes have a voice in any process that we are moving forward.”
— Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaking on next steps for the national investigation into Native American boarding schools she announced last year.
“This is a victory for all Gulf communities impacted by the onshore pollution from offshore drilling in the Gulf. Today, we can look forward to the day when we stop selling off our public waters for pennies on the dollar when a just transition to a clean energy future is critical to our very survival. Now, the Gulf can be seen as a viable field for offshore wind energy that will power our future.”
–Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of Healthy Gulf, on the D.C. District Court’s decision to invalidate the Department of the Interior’s offer of 80 million acres for oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico, a pivotal victory in the fight to defend Gulf communities and the planet from the worsening climate crisis.
1 YEAR CLIMATE EO ANNIVERSARY: A year ago yesterday, the Biden-Harris administration issued a historic slate of executive actions on climate and the environment, laying a strong foundation for climate action. Among many things, these actions aimed to renew U.S. climate leadership, advance environmental justice, cut carbon emissions in half by 2030, launch an all-of-government approach to the climate crisis, and protect sacred lands.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “With these actions in their first week, the Biden-Harris administration made crystal clear it was putting the U.S. back on track to tackle the climate crisis and protect the health of our communities from its devastating impacts…Now, in order to fulfill the promise of cutting climate pollution in half by 2030, the administration must get the job one in the coming weeks on the most comprehensive version of the Build Back Better Act that centers climate and can pass the Senate while continuing to build on their executive actions.”
EJ PLATFORM TAKE: LCV joined the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform’s statement that reflects on the administration’s “historic commitment to confront environmental injustice and reduce harm from toxic pollution and climate change to frontline communities.” Read the full statement HERE.
ON TWITTER: To mark the one year anniversary of President Biden’s executive actions to begin tackling the climate crisis, LCV gathered members of Congress for a Twitter Q&A that highlighted the ways these groundbreaking executive orders have impacted their constituents. To continue the momentum on climate, we are calling on the Senate to pass the Build Back Better Act with strong climate provisions.
ICYMI, YEAR ONE PROGRESS REPORT: Last week, LCV released a progress report on the Biden-Harris administration’s first year, which highlights the climate executive orders and more. Read the full report HERE.
THE PEOPLE WANT BBB!: Across the country, artists and activists joined together in a common refrain, telling Congress that #ClimateCantWait and we need to #PasenLaLeyDelClima ahora. Over seven days, activists used social media content created by artists to elevate Build Back Better agenda climate investments that will benefit communities in every corner of the country. Like all the activists are saying, “The Build Back Better Act would be game-changing for working families and our planet.” Check out the climate action week content hub HERE.
ELECTED OFFICIALS WANT BBB!: This week during the congressional recess, members of Congress used their time at home to meet with constituents and discuss what lies ahead for Congress. Climate was a major focus, with members all across the country calling for swift passage of the Build Back Better Act’s climate investments. State and local elected officials joined the chorus of support too. Find the highlights of what these elected officials are saying HERE.
EDITORIAL BOARDS WANT BBB!: Over the last two weeks, leading newspapers across the country have called on the Senate to pass comprehensive climate legislation through the Build Back Better package. The Seattle Times, Chicago Sun Times, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Vermont Times Argus, and Los Angeles Times all back the clean energy and climate-related investments and made clear their communities are out of time. Read more HERE.
HEAR MORE ABOUT BBB!: On Monday at 12 p.m. ET, LCV and Climate Power will be joined by Representatives Suzan DelBene, Katie Porter, and Abigail Spanberger to call for the Senate to quickly finalize the most comprehensive version of the Build Back Better agenda that centers climate action and can pass the chamber. Interested reporters can register HERE.
JUSTICE BREYER RETIRES: On Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced his intent to retire at the end of the Court’s term, opening a critical vacancy for a justice who, much like Breyer, will defend our environment, voting rights, and civil rights. We were encouraged to hear that Biden intends to fulfill his campaign promise to appoint the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, someone who will bring excellence and experience to the bench, and an identity that has long been absent from the decisions of our nation’s highest court. And we are confident he has numerous highly qualified jurists to choose from.
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “LCV commends Justice Breyer for his many years of service on the Supreme Court, where he has been a critical defender of our environment, voting rights, and civil rights. The Senate must confirm a worthy successor committed to environmental justice and protecting our democracy by the time Justice Breyer transitions to his well-earned retirement at the end of the Court’s term. The stakes for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the climate crisis, and our precarious democracy are higher than ever. We applaud President Biden’s commitment during his campaign to nominate the first Black woman to the nation’s highest court, and look forward to engaging in an inclusive process to fill this critical vacancy. Concurrently, as our nation is faced with both massive challenges and transformational opportunities, it’s time to quickly finalize the most comprehensive version of the Build Back Better agenda that centers climate action and can pass the Senate.”
DONNA EDWARDS, SUMMER LEE, ANDREA SALINAS FOR CONGRESS: This week, LCV Action Fund endorsed three pro-environment candidates in their races for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives: former LCV Board Member and former U.S. Representative Donna Edwards in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, former Oregon LCV Board Member and State Representative Andrea Salinas in Oregon’s 6th Congressional District, and State Representative Summer Lee in Pennsylvania. Read more about the background and impact these pro-environment candidates will make: Edwards, Lee, and Salinas.
GULF OIL LEASES HALTED: Yesterday, a federal court found that oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico did not appropriately take the effects of climate change into account when they were awarded, so the court has canceled these oil and gas leases, which cover more than 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico. This is a major victory for Gulf communities whose lives and livelihoods are deeply tied to a clean and healthy coast, and win for climate and clean air, too.
OUR TAKE: Senior Government Affairs Advocate Ben Alexandro said, “The toxic oil and gas industry has polluted Gulf Coast communities and waters for far too long. This decision puts us one step closer to aligning the management of our public lands and waters with our climate and environmental justice goals. We applaud our friends at Earthjustice, Healthy Gulf, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and Friends of the Earth for bringing this case to the court and we look forward to continued efforts to move away from our reliance on fossil fuels once and for all. The health of our communities and the local economy is at stake.”
BOUNDARY WATERS PROTECTED: This week, the Biden-Harris administration announced that it will continue steps to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and surrounding watershed in northeast Minnesota.
OUR TAKE: Senior Government Affairs Advocate Ben Alexandro said, “We are thrilled to see the Biden-Harris administration take these critical steps towards protecting the Boundary Waters. Mining companies should not be allowed to pollute America’s most visited wilderness area and put at risk the vital outdoor recreation jobs, clean water, and wildlife habitat it provides for the communities of northeast Minnesota – and we are glad to see the Trump-era opinion that allowed the renewal of these leases to be revoked. We applaud Secretary Deb Haaland for her leadership and look forward to next steps from the Department of Interior and the rest of the administration to ensure that this watershed will never face the risk of toxic mining.”
CONGRESSIONAL AMICUS BRIEF: This week, over 190 members of Congress filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, supporting the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The effort was led by multiple committee chairs, including House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Chair Cathy Castor, who explained, “Polluters are trying to make an end run around Congress and long established law. If they succeed, they will shift huge costs onto consumers, harm our health and make it harder for our children to inherit a livable planet.” Read more HERE.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:
PIPELINE PERMIT DENIED: On Tuesday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled to reject critical approvals for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) to cross through the Jefferson National Forest due to the environmental damage caused by it’s construction. The highly contested gas pipeline has had nearly 400 environmental regulation violations since breaking ground in 2018 and is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. The Virginia League of Conservation Voters has been heavily engaged in the grassroots-led efforts against the MVP and last month, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board denied another important permit for the project. Opponents are hopeful that Tuesday’s decision could be the final nail in the coffin to block the destructive project permanently.
FROM THE FIELD: Across the nation, LCV’s field team continues to hear that communities across the country want climate action now – we’ve knocked on over 490,000 doors and have talked with people about the critical climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act. And, over 22,000 businesses are displaying their support for climate action, too.
ICE SCULPTURE IN MONTANA: In Butte last weekend, Montana Conservation Voters partnered with artist Cory Gransbery of Absolute Zero Ice Design to create an 8,000 pound ice sculpture depicting the future Butte community powered by clean energy and highlighting the dire need for climate action now. Community members participated by writing messages to their senators on the Build Back Better Act urging them to “get ‘er done.” Check out more photos of the sculpture HERE and HERE.
NEVADANS WANT NEW NATIONAL MONUMENT: New polling shows 70% of Nevadans support protecting the Avi Kwa Ame area in Southern Nevada as a national monument. In fact, support increases as people hear arguments from both advocates and opponents, showing the durability of support for protecting native sacred spaces and creating more outdoor recreation opportunities.
CHISPA FLORIDA’S FIRST LATINO CLIMATE ADVOCACY DAY: Chispa Florida hosted their first virtual Latino Climate Advocacy day in Tallahassee on January 26th. The event included an advocacy training with Federico de Jesus, a public affairs consultant, advocate, and political commentator,and attendees lobbied their elected officials on access to affordable housing, solar panels, and other environmental justice issues facing their communities.
CHISPA FLORIDA HOSTS ENVIRONMENTAL ROUNDTABLE: This week, Chispa Florida hosted a community roundtable discussion at Florida Technical College moderated by the commissioner of Kissimmee, Olga Castaño. Speakers discussed environmental legislation, shared the Chispa Florida community survey results, and shared resources available for Kissimmee residents.
JANUARY 31 – LCV and Climate Power press call on BBB with members of Congress
ALL OF FEBRUARY – Black History Month
FEBRUARY 18 – Government funding expires
MARCH 1 – President Biden’s State of the Union address