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This Week In Climate Action

THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION(!) – JANUARY 29, 2021

Jan 29, 2021

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:

“With this executive order, environmental justice will be at the center of all we do addressing the disproportionate health and environmental and economic impacts on communities of color.”

— President Joe Biden in his remarks prior to signing climate executive orders

“This is the single biggest day for climate action in more than a decade.”

— LCV President Gene Karpinski in response to the Biden-Harris administration’s climate executive orders

“To make it clear that you want every government agency to examine what it needs to do by way of addressing systemic racism, it’s an important acknowledgement.”

— Keith Reed, co-host of the Run Tell This podcast, on President Biden’s Executive Orders on racial inequity

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

New York Times: Biden Team Rushes toTake Over Government, and Oust Trump Loyalists
AP: Biden to pause oil and gas sales on public lands
Huffpost: State And Local Leaders Push Biden To Protect 30% Of U.S. Land, Waters By 2030
The Guardian: Joe Biden’s ‘climate day’ of executive actions signals clean break with Trump
NBC News: Biden looks to begin climate policy with executive orders
New York Times: Can Biden Deliver on His Climate Promises?
New York Times: In Sweeping Actions on Climate, Biden to ‘Pause’ Oil and Gas Leasing
USA Today: Politics live updates: Biden to unveil executive orders on climate change; Fauci to speak on COVID
E&E News: Biden embraces ambitious conservation plan. Will Congress?

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

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:

Chicago Sun Times (IL): ‘Huge.’ ‘Amazing.’ As Biden delivers ambitious plan for environment, Illinois should join in
Detroit Free Press (MI): Biden taps state leaders who have led the way on fighting climate change
San Francisco Chronicle (CA): Here’s what major climate moves mean for California

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THIS WEEK IN EOS, CLIMATE HAS ITS DAY: In the first days of the Biden-Harris administration, the president took immediate action on climate, and for the second week in a row, has heeded voters’ mandate on climate and environmental justice, issuing a slate of climate and equity executive actions that prioritize an all-of-government response to the climate crisis; this was the biggest day for climate action in over a decade. These actions make clear that the Biden-Harris administration is already following through on their ambitious campaign commitments, leading by example, raising global ambition on climate change, and centering environmental justice and workers in their response. This is an excellent start, and we look forward to all the progress we can make together, especially with responsible and ambitious leadership from the White House.

OUR CLIMATE EOS TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “This is the single biggest day for climate action in more than a decade, and what makes it all the better is that President Biden and Vice President Harris are just getting started! We’re thrilled that this administration is taking a whole of government approach that puts bold climate action, clean energy, and environmental justice at the heart of their domestic and foreign policy agenda.

Today’s actions help deliver on their historic commitments to set our country on a path to 100 percent clean energy by 2035, protect 30 percent of our lands and ocean by 2030 and stop reckless giveaways of those lands to oil and gas CEOs, address environmental injustice, ensure that 40 percent of all investments are directed to frontline communities and communities of color, create high-quality jobs, restore the role of science in decision-making and more. This is what the record number of voters who overcame historic barriers to elect President Biden and Vice President Harris are counting on.

Congress must complement these executive actions with bold legislation that puts our economy on a path to recovery by making transformative investments in healthy, equitable, safe communities powered by clean energy.”

OUR CLIMATE EOS DBL TAKE: Former EPA Administrator and LCV Board Chair Carol M. Browner said, “President Joe Biden is taking unprecedented actions and sending an unmistakable message to the world that the United States is back and serious about tackling the climate crisis. President Biden’s comprehensive approach will uplift all communities, especially disadvantaged communities that suffer from pollution first and worst, and drive economic growth and job creation fueled by clean energy. It truly is a new day for climate action and with these first important steps President Biden is implementing a climate policy course correction based on science and grounded in equity and justice.”

OUR EQUITY EO TAKE: LCV Voting Rights Program Director Justin Kwasa said, “The communities that suffer the brunt of environmental impacts, in particular Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, also must navigate the inequities that come from biased prison, policing and housing systems. Knowing this, we applaud President Biden for directly addressing these inequalities with targeted executive orders that begin the work to dismantle systemic racism through more fair housing policy, ending the Justice Department’s contracts with private prisons, condemning racism toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and more. As the administration has made clear, today’s actions are only the first step — we look forward to environmental justice focused actions tomorrow and more progress in the weeks and months to come as the president continues fighting for our communities.”

OUR OIL AND GAS LEASING PAUSE TAKE, SPECIFICALLY: In response to the executive order pausing new oil and gas leases on public lands and waters, LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel said, “We’re glad the Biden Administration is stopping the reckless giveaways of the Trump administration that put the profits of corporate polluter CEOs before our health, and charting a new path forward so that our public lands and waters work for the people and local communities, not just polluter CEOs. It’s long past time to pause and review the broken leasing system that is enriching Big Oil while fleecing taxpayers, harming our majestic public lands and waters, worsening climate change, and polluting communities, often times communities of color and low-wealth communities. The Biden administration is right to review this program and ensure it aligns with the best interests of taxpayers, communities, our public lands, and our climate.”

CLIMATE OPPORTUNITIES ADS: This week, LCV launched a new $300,000 digital ad campaign celebrating the new opportunities for transformational climate action in the U.S. with President Biden, Vice President Harris, and their team of experts throughout the government. The ads launched ahead of Wednesday’s climate day at the White House, when President Biden put tackling climate change at the center of the administration’s domestic and international priorities. Last week, LCV released its initial policy priorities for the administration and Congress, which are available here.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “President Biden and Vice President Harris ran strong on climate and won big on climate, and now the record number of voters who elected them are counting on this administration to deliver on their bold Build Back Better plan to prioritize climate solutions, clean energy jobs, and environmental justice, and rebuild a more equitable and just economy for all. The Biden-Harris administration got to work on day one with vital, immediate actions to begin to reverse the damage done to our environment and communities by the Trump administration, and we look forward to much more progress in the days and weeks to come.”

STATE AND LOCAL LEADERS FOR 30X30: The day before President Biden declared a  national commitment to conserve at least 30% of the lands, waters, and ocean in our country by 2030, 450 state and local elected officials from across the nation joined together to show their support for confronting America’s nature and climate crises through the 30×30 goal. State and local leaders’ signed an open letter calling for an ambitious and inclusive movement and outlined six critical aspects of the 30×30 goal: more equitably distributing nature’s benefits; honoring the sovereignty of tribal nations; supporting locally-led conservation; protecting wildlife and biodiversity; supporting private conservation; and being guided by science.

OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel said, “We are thrilled to see President Biden making such a historic and ambitious commitment to conserve our lands and ocean and applaud these local and state elected officials on their leadership. Achieving 30×30 gives us the opportunity to make access to nature in this country more inclusive and equitable and we are all-in to help reach and exceed this goal.”

BUTTIGIEG TO THE FLOOR: This week, the Senate Commerce Committee approved Pete Buttigieg’s nomination for secretary of transportation. At the hearing, 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. And he was met with praise from the committee — Senator Jon Tester said, “You know what the hell you’re talking about, and that’s pretty damn refreshing.”

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski sent a letter to the Senate, urging senators to support Buttigieg’s nomination for secretary of transportation, saying, “Buttigieg is a strong advocate for transportation policies and programs that reduce pollution, enhance resilience, and strengthen communities while meaningfully engaging stakeholders and serving the interest of public health and safety…Buttigieg has committed to ensuring these investments create good-paying jobs and help address the racial and economic inequities in transportation and planning policies.”

GRANHOLM IS HEARD: On Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee held a hearing on Jennifer Granholm’s nomination as secretary of energy. In her opening statement, Granholm continually highlighted the promise of clean energy, saying, “This is a sector that every state can benefit from: The products that reduce carbon emissions will create a 23 trillion dollar global market by 2030. That’s a massive opportunity!”

CVM TAKE: In an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press, Michigan League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Lisa Wozniak said, “In choosing Granholm to help the Department of Energy, Biden is walking the walk — taking the first crucial step to fulfill his campaign climate promises…Our state has shown we can build a clean energy future and a strong economy with good jobs at the same time. Michiganders should feel proud to know we have one of our own, who’s fought for our health and environment, in the room. And it’s something the whole country should celebrate.”

DACA + ACA: LCV joined 320 organizations in a letter to the Biden-Harris administration requesting that they restore Affordable Care Act access to DACA recipients. As the letter notes, “Access to COVID-19 testing and treatment for DACA recipients and their U.S. citizen children is absolutely critical during this pandemic, particularly for the 202,500 DACA recipients employed as essential workers on the frontlines of COVID-19 to keep our country healthy and running.”  All people who call the United States home must have the safety, stability, and legal means to fully participate and contribute to their communities and our nation.

THE GOV’T IS AWAKE: For years, polluters’ allies in the Senate have obstructed, denied and undermined federal progress on climate change, yet all the while — for 278 speeches to be exact — Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has remained a vociferous champion for the climate solutions communities across the country deserve. Now, after 278 calls for climate action on the Senate floor, Whitehouse is finally able to say farewell to #TimeToWakeUp, and hello to advancing climate solutions. Polluters’ allies will still attempt to obstruct progress, so we’re fighting with allies like Whitehouse to get those climate solutions across the finish line. As Whitehouse noted on Twitter, “The conditions are at last in place for a real solution. Now, it’s time to get to work.”    

DC STATEHOOD: On Wednesday, Senator Carper introduced S.51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, a bill that would finally grant statehood for DC, a monumental piece of democracy reform that would grant hundreds of thousands of DC residents representation in Congress. LCV proudly supports this initiative and signed onto a group statement with more than 65 organizations applauding Senate Democrats for their leadership on this bill.

OUR TAKE: LCV Judiciary Program Director Ben Driscoll said, “We applaud Senator Carper and Senate Democrats for stepping up and prioritizing the fair and equal representation in the federal government for taxpayers living in our nation’s capital. DC residents of color are disproportionately impacted by toxic pollution — yet don’t have the constitutional right to make their voices heard when demanding bold climate action.  And when an angry mob of insurrectionists and white supremacists mounted an attack on the Capitol, DC officials lacked the authority to control their own national guard, relying on permission from the same person who had incited the riots. This is unacceptable and it must end. Congress must act now to give power to the people and enact DC statehood into law. We have full confidence that Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will work to make this critical piece of democracy reform a reality.”

BLUE GREEN COVID RELIEF: As federal lawmakers, reportedly, devise the next COVID-19 relief package, the BlueGreen Alliance — a coalition of labor unions and environmental organizations, including LCV — sent a letter to congressional leadership urging them to strategically invest in a clean and just economic recovery.  The letter acknowledges both the immediate relief and long-term investments needed to build a stronger, cleaner, fairer economy, and identifies the racial and economic injustices we have the opportunity to address: “This crisis has demonstrated that our economy already wasn’t working for too many Americans. We went into this pandemic with three ongoing, interconnected crises: economic inequality, racial inequality, and climate change…We urge you to pass legislation that shows up in the pockets of those who need it, protects workers, and makes investments in a sustainable recovery.”

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

STATES PRAISE CLIMATE EOS: All across the country, states weighed in on the Biden-Harris administration’s historic climate executive actions. From preserving 30% of our land and waters by 2030, to pausing new oil and gas leases on public lands, to the new civilian climate corps, LCV’s state affiliates are ready for the all-of-government climate response — and that includes local, state, and federal solutions that cross-cut all sectors. Like Biden said just before signing the executive orders, “We’re going to work with mayors and governors and tribal leaders and business leaders who are stepping up, and the young people organizing and leading the way.”

STATE TAKES: Read how state environmental leaders reacted from across the country: Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada x2, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Virginia.

COALITION GETS CLEAN ENERGY WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT BILL INTRODUCED (NM): After months of negotiations and coalition work, The Climate Solutions Act (HB 9) was introduced in the New Mexico Legislature on Thursday — a priority bill for Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM). This bill will codify the Governor’s 2019 climate executive order and promotes sustainable, equitable and resilient economic development that will create new pathways for workforce development for rural communities and communities of color. HB 9 is the culmination of CVNM’s work as a member of the Power4NM coalition working to identify career pathways for communities of color into the renewable energy industry, and as a member of the broader coalition working to implement the Energy Transition Act and climate executive order.

OUR STATE AFFILIATE’S TAKE: Ben Shelton, Political & Policy Director at Conservation Voters New Mexico said “House Bill 9 keeps New Mexico at the front of the pack in a community-focused approach to addressing climate change. This legislation ensures that the most impacted communities and historically disadvantaged communities are the priority for pollution reduction and have a seat at the table to envision a more diversified and resilient economy as we move to a net-zero carbon future. Policy conversations about climate action and equitable transition must continue to grow together. Our ability to take bold climate action will require the active involvement and participation by every community in New Mexico, no matter how remote. This bill takes us in that direction.”

AFTER VETO, LAWMAKERS SEND CLIMATE BILL RIGHT BACK (MA): Governor Baker vetoed major climate legislation in Massachusetts earlier this month. But Thursday lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the bill through both chambers again. The bill will push Massachusetts toward net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, establish interim emissions goals, and address needs in environmental justice communities.

COMING UP:

February — Black History Month

Tuesday, February 2 — Senate to vote on confirmation of Secretary of Transportation-nominee Pete Buttigieg

Wednesday, February 3 — Confirmation Hearing for EPA Administrator-nominee Michael Regan