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This Week In Climate Action

THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION- JULY 21, 2023

Jul 21, 2023

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, Twitter, and Instagram.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

“These are not just numbers on a page. This is the air in our skies and in our lungs, the water we drink and bathe and cook with. These are basic life necessities that we have a simple obligation to protect for the American people.”

Rep.  Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee on the House Republicans’ draconian cuts in the House Interior Appropriations bill.

“The Freedom to Vote Act rests on a simple, but fundamental principle: All Americans should have the freedom to vote without fear of discrimination. It would set basic standards for Americans to vote safely, securely, & help instill confidence that our elections are free and fair..”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the Freedom to Vote Act.

“Frankly, it’s exhausting. There’s just so much going on. There’s just so much extreme heat. It’s really kind of overwhelming. The oceans are record warm. The land is record warm. The Northern Hemisphere is record warm. The globe is record warm.”

— Daniel Swain, UCLA climate scientist, in his “virtual office hours” on extreme weather events.


HIGHLIGHTS IN INFLATION REDUCTION ACT IMPLEMENTATION:

BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION BOOSTS OFFSHORE WIND: President Biden  visited a Philadelphia shipyard for a “steel-cutting” ceremony where he announced the Department of Interior’s first-ever offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico. The areas being leased could generate up to 3.7 GW of energy, enough to power almost 1.3 million homes.

OUR TAKE: VP of Federal Policy Matthew Davis said,  “Today’s announcements are yet another great example of how the Biden-Harris administration’s affordable clean energy plan is delivering on family-sustaining union jobs, lower energy costs, and the clean energy we need to combat the climate crisis that communities are feeling–especially during this record-breaking summer. The historic proposed offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico has the potential to help provide millions of homes with reliable, affordable, and clean energy, and will incentivize workforce training and a domestic supply chain that reaches far beyond coastal states. We applaud the Biden-Harris administration for leading the charge to make the United States a global leader in offshore wind and for continually demonstrating its commitment to deploying 30 GW of offshore wind power by 2030 – including being on track to complete review by the end of next year on projects adding up to 27 GW.

“The Biden-Harris administration’s bold action stands in stark contrast to House Republican efforts to eliminate the clean energy incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act, block offshore wind projects, and spread misinformation about clean renewable energy–even when those clean energy programs and projects are already benefiting their own districts.”


IN NATIONAL NEWS: 

FREEDOM TO VOTE ACT REINTRODUCED IN CONGRESS: Representative John Sarbanes (MD-03) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) reintroduced the Freedom to Vote Act to Congress on Tuesday with a joint press conference featuring multiple senators and representatives. The bill, if passed, wll be the most significant piece of voting rights legislation in the last half-century.

OUR TAKE: LCV Democracy Program Director Justin Kwasa said, “Our right to vote is under relentless attacks from election deniers and proponents of the Big Lie. We’ve seen these threats through legislation to restrict voting rights and through the court decisions to dismantle protections for our democracy. The stakes for our democracy require bold legislation like the Freedom to Vote Act to expand and protect the freedom to vote, end partisan and racial gerrymandering, improve our broken campaign finance system, and restore transparency and accountability in our government. A free and fair democracy is vital to combat the climate crisis and environmental injustice — especially in historically excluded communities most burdened by pollution and environmental harm. Every voter in every community deserves to have their voice heard at the ballot box, regardless of their race, identity, disability, income, or zip code. Congress must swiftly act to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, in addition to the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, and the Judiciary Act to ensure our elections are more equitable and just for all voters.”

ENVIRONMENTAL COALITION CALLS ON CONGRESS TO PASS FREEDOM TO VOTE ACT: A coalition including Clean Water Action, Climate Hawks Vote, Earthjustice, Endangered Species Coalition, Greenpeace USA, Interfaith Power & Light, National Wildlife Federation, NRDC, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and LCV released a statement encouraging Congress to pass the newly reintroduced Freedom to Vote Act.

COALITION TAKE: In a joint statement, the organizations said, “Climate, environmental, environmental justice, and faith-based climate groups representing millions of members and activists applaud the introduction of the Freedom To Vote Act.

“Every American’s freedom to choose the elected officials who best represent their values and principles is a fundamental creed written into our founding documents. While we recognize that our democracy has never truly worked for all Americans, the Freedom to Vote Act will help move us closer to the mountaintop, where every American has equitable access to the ballot, and a brighter light will shine on the fossil fuel billionaires and corporations who pour big money into anti-environmental politicians and misleading ads hampering our ability to combat the climate crisis.

“With the urgency of the climate crisis, it is more important than ever that we elect officials who will fight for the people—not the oil and gas industry. A fair and just democracy is vital to protect our environment, and the Freedom to Vote Act will be an essential, historic step in the right direction.

“We call on Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act as soon as possible, and we also call on President Biden to ensure agencies fully implement his Executive Order Promoting Access to Voting and to take every executive action possible to protect and expand the fundamental right to vote and strengthen the pillars of our democracy.”

LCV President Gene Karpinski also released a letter urging senators to pass the bill.

GENE’S TAKE: From the letter, “LCV urges you to vote YES on S. 1, the Freedom to Vote Act, which if passed would be America’s most significant pro-democracy legislation in half a century. This vital bill would protect free and fair elections in the United States by safeguarding and expanding voter access, banning partisan gerrymandering, modernizing voter registration, improving our broken campaign finance system, protecting election integrity, and promoting security of election systems. There is no more time to wait.

“Threats to democracy, like threats to the environment, are not evenly distributed. The burden of both harms falls disproportionately on people of color, young people, people with disabilities, indigenous people, and other marginalized groups. Just since the 2020 election, state legislatures across the country have taken up hundreds of bills to restrict their rights and dilute their votes.

“For far too long, voter suppression, partisan gerrymandering, and big polluters’ money have drowned out the voices of the people directly experiencing the health impacts of pollution in their communities and the dangers of extreme weather. It’s clear that a healthy democracy and a healthy environment are inextricably linked, and that the clock is ticking for both.

“We urge you in the strongest possible terms to support the Freedom to Vote Act and all procedural measures necessary to its passage, and will strongly consider including votes on this in our next Scorecard.”

LCV URGES SUPPORT FOR SCERT ACT: In addition to the letter urging support of the Freedom to Vote Act, President Gene Karpinski also released a letter encouraging senators to vote “yes” on the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act, or SCERT Act. The SCERT Act would require SCOTUS adopt and publish a binding code of conduct, create a process for ethics complaints to be processed, improve disclosure for gifts, travel, and outside income, and strengthen recusal requirements to avoid conflicts of interest, among other provisions. The bill is crucial to rebuilding public trust in the courts and holding corrupt Justices accountable.

GENE’S TAKE: From the letter,  “LCV urges you to vote YES on S. 359, the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act (SCERT Act), an important and timely proposal to ensure the highest court in the nation does not operate with the lowest ethical standards.

“Unlike all other federal judges, Supreme Court Justices are not bound by a code of conduct. This raises significant concerns about both actual impropriety and the appearance of impropriety—a particularly grave issue for Justices with life tenure who frequently get the last word on matters of national import… We need high ethical standards for officials of all ideologies, at all levels, in all three branches of government… [We] will strongly consider including votes on this in our next Scorecard.”

SENATE CONFIRMS JUDGE RACHEL BLOOMEKATZ: The U.S. Senate confirmed Rachel Bloomekatz, a public-interest lawyer and environmental champion, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit earlier this week.

OUR TAKE: Senior Director of Judiciary & Democracy Doug Lindner said, “LCV is thrilled to support the confirmation of Rachel Bloomekatz, the first public-interest environmental litigator ever appointed to the federal bench. Bloomekatz’s confirmation to the Sixth Circuit is an important step toward a judiciary that works for the people, not just polluters and special interests. Her professional experience in environmental law as well as voting rights law, immigration law, and criminal law is vital for a judiciary that understands complex scientific issues as well as the need to serve every community in our country equally, especially historically excluded communities. We applaud President Biden and the Democratic Senate for continuing their historic record to nominate and confirm highly qualified, diverse judges with demonstrated commitments to the public interest, and urge them to ensure every vacancy on the federal bench is filled by the end of the 118th Congress.”

LCV AND CHISPA AZ CONTINUE SUPPORT FOR TRIBAL-LED PROPOSAL TO PROTECT THE GRAND CANYON REGION: This week, a public meeting was held to gather input on protecting the Grand Canyon region through the designation of the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument. LCV has supported the Tribal-led efforts to designate this land as a national monument and will continue to urge the administration to finalize the designation. Read more about the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument on the blog.

OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director America Fitzpatrick said, “We proudly stand with the local coalition of Tribes and advocates who are calling on President Biden to designate the sacred lands of the Grand Canyon region as the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument. This Indigenous-led proposal will ensure that the Grand Canyon is protected from new uranium mining and other harmful development, and ensure that Indigenous communities continue to steward the lands they’ve been rooted in since time immemorial.”

CHISPA AZ TAKE: Chispa Arizona’s Federal Organizer DJ Portugal said, “The Grand Canyon is tied to the place of origin of the Navajo, Hopi, Paiute and Zuni peoples and holds sacred significance for at least 12 Tribes and Nations. Like many public lands, the Grand Canyon is a beautiful place full of wonder, sacredness and inspiration but also a reminder of displacement, denial of heritage rights and political oppression for Indigenous peoples. Chispa Arizona holds this balance in mind as our Latinx community joins the local coalition of Tribes in calling on President Biden to designate a national monument and safeguard the landscape in protection of the Grand Canyon, water and Indigenous access to lands they’ve stewarded since time immemorial.”

50 ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS OPPOSE HOUSE FY24 INTERIOR APPROPRIATIONS BILL: LCV and Trust for Public Land led 50 environmental organizations in sending a letter to Congressional Appropriators urging them to oppose the House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bill during the full committee markup this week. As it stands, the bill includes a draconian 40% cut to the Environmental Protection Agency, completely zeroes out spending on environmental justice programs, and slashes basic clean air and water and endangered species protections and environmental cleanup programs. Additionally, the current bill rescinds funding for critical Inflation Reduction Act programs like the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which last week launched its marquee grant competitions.

COALITION TAKE: From the letter, “In the middle of a summer full of record heat waves, horrific flooding, and wildfire smoke that is blanketing much of the nation, this bill would gut the agencies charged with protecting our environment and our health and would massively undermine last year’s historic climate legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act. It would also introduce an onslaught of extreme anti-environmental policy mandates that have no place in the appropriations process. This attack on our health, lands, wildlife, biodiversity, air, water, oceans, and communities is unacceptable and must be rejected.”

HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS MARKUP SLASHES EPA, INTERIOR FUNDING: The House Appropriations Committee met this week to mark-up the Interior Appropriations budget and piled even more harmful provisions onto an already dangerous bill.

OUR TAKE:  LCV Senior Government Affairs Advocate David Shadburn said, “Today the Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee made an already awful bill even worse. This summer, the bad news has been record-breaking heat, wildfire smoke, and flooding fueled by climate change. The good news has been that programs to incentivize clean energy and fight the climate crisis are fueling the country’s economic comeback by creating jobs and lowering prices while the administration has worked on stronger environmental protections. This bill would reverse all of that economic and environmental progress while ignoring the impacts and injustices of the climate crisis.

“The original bill already included many harmful provisions; added to that list today were amendments to block protections from air pollution from power plants and trucks, requirements for even more oil and gas lease sales, and even more anti-LGBTQIA+ policies to name just a few.

“By reneging on their own spending deal, Republicans are setting the country on the path to a harmful and completely unnecessary government shutdown. We applaud the Democrats on the Committee who fought against these measures and reminded their Republican colleagues of the terrible costs of their pro Big Oil agenda.”


HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

TEXAS GOVERNOR ORDERS BORDER SECURITY OFFICIALS TO USE INHUMANE RESOURCES: Chispa TX joined others in condemning Governor Greg Abbott’s directive to order state border security officials to use inhumane measures, which also drew legal action from the U.S. Department of Justice.

CHISPA TX TAKE: Chispa Texas Program Director Elida Castillo said, “Governor Abbott’s inhumane directive to mistreat those seeking asylum at the border contradicts his stance on life. We condemn actions that further jeopardize and cause harm to the lives of migrants and refugees. As extreme temperatures continue to rise, he sends the guard to act as judges, jury, and executioners rather than sending assistance. This is not the behavior of a person who values life. These are the actions of an extremist acting above the law for political gain at the expense of people fleeing political violence and climate disasters. We urge the federal government to step in to stop this inhumane treatment of human beings, including children. Our comunidades deserve to be treated with dignity, and Chispa is committed to fighting for a more just and equitable future for all.”

NEW YORK GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF STATE’S LARGEST ROOFTOP SOLAR ARRAY: Today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the completion of the largest rooftop solar project in New York State. Located in Orange County atop a distribution center owned by Medline Industries, the nation’s largest privately held manufacturer and distributor of medical products, the 7.2-megawatt community solar project is helping to reduce energy costs for both the company and residents in the Mid-Hudson region. This project supports New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal to install six gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025 and accelerates progress toward ten gigawatts by 2030.

NYLCV TAKE: NYLCV President Julie Tighe said, “We are thrilled to see the completion of the rooftop solar project in Orange County with its 7.2 megawatts of clean energy slated for the mid-Hudson region’s homes and businesses. As the largest installation of its kind in the state, this project is not only enormous in scale, it is an ironclad demonstration of Governor Hochul’s continued commitment to the growth of solar energy and, more broadly, to ensuring New York is a leader in the fight against climate change.”

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR SEEKS TO END ALL GAS-POWERED VEHICLE SALES BY 2035: New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced the introduction of the Advanced Clean Cars II (ACCII) rule on Monday. ACCII requires car manufacturers to increase the sales of electric vehicles in the state over the next 12 years and mandates all new cars sold in New Jersey to be zero-emission electric vehicles by 2035. The proposed rule is expected to be published by August 21, beginning a two-month public comment period.

NJLCV TAKE: Allison McLeod, Policy Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, said, “We are extremely excited for New Jersey’s adoption of Advanced Clean Cars II, getting thousands more electric vehicles on the road while solidifying New Jersey’s role as a climate leader. This rule adoption will directly lead to improved air quality, public health, climate safety, and financial savings. Furthermore, since the majority of New Jerseyans—particularly low-income drivers—purchase used vehicles, it will also help with the purchase of affordable vehicles in the secondary market.”

WISCONSIN SOLAR PROJECTS FACE DELAYS FROM FEDERAL REVIEW:  Federal investigators are trying to determine whether solar panels purchased for the Paris Solar-Battery Park project were made with forced labor in China. The $400 million mixed solar and battery project was initially supposed to be in service by this May, but no solar panels have been installed on the 1,500-acre site and the target completion date has been pushed to the end of the year. The panels needed to finish the project are sitting in a Chicago-area warehouse, waiting for a review from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ensure they were not made with forced Chinese labor. This issue highlights the importance of building a strong, domestic renewable energy industry to ensure projects such as Paris Solar-Battery Park are completed at the speed necessary and use American labor.

WISCONSIN CONSERVATION VOTERS TAKE: Wisconsin Conservation Voters Government Affairs Director Jennifer Giegerich said, “If we don’t actually have the workforce and the manufacturing here in the United States to [produce solar panels], then we are not becoming as energy independent as we want to be — we’re still dependent on other countries to provide those resources. The whole point of energy independence is to make sure that we have a cleaner environment, but that we also control the ability to put the kind of clean energy technologies we want online.”

NCLCV PROMOTES COOPERATION ACROSS ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS: North Carolina LCV is continuing efforts to build organizing power in cities across the state. This week, NCLCV co-hosted an activist training with Sunrise Raleigh which included a strategy session on collaborating with the Durham organizing scene. The NCLCV Action Team also recently connected with representatives from the NC Food System Advocacy Coalition, 350 Charlotte, and the local Greenfaith chapter at an Earth Witness event.

COMING UP:

July 26, 3-5pm ET: House T&I Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Democratic Roundtable “Murky Waters: Navigating a Post-Sackett World”

AUGUST 16: 1 year anniversary of the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act

AUGUST 23: National Poll Worker Recruitment Day

AUGUST 26: 60th anniversary of the March on Washington

SEPTEMBER 30: Government funding expires