Join LCV for our annual Capital Dinner on March 20th in Washington, DC Register Now

This Week In Climate Action

THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION – JULY 28, 2023

Jul 28, 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:

“Even those who deny that we’re in the midst of a climate crisis can’t deny the impact extreme heat is having on Americans.”

— President Joe Biden in a speech on the impact of extreme heat on workers in the U.S.

“After working for years to make this happen, I’m proud that, as of today, the historic Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago is finally a national monument – helping ensure Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley’s stories are never forgotten.”

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) on the designation of a national monument honoring the memory and legacy of Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Mobley-Till.

“The Supreme Court decision Sackett v. EPA is a distressing outcome. It’s guided by the conservative ideology of the makeup of this court, a very partisan court…that aren’t making the kinds of decisions that are based on science.”

– Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20), former engineer, at the T&I Post-Sackett Roundtable.


HIGHLIGHTS IN INFLATION REDUCTION ACT IMPLEMENTATION:

NHTSA PUSHES FOR HIGHER EFFICIENCY STANDARDS: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed new rules on Friday to improve the fuel economy of SUVs and light-duty trucks. The proposed Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards come on the heels of April’s proposed tailpipe emissions rules from the EPA.

OUR TAKE: LCV Government Affairs Advocate on Clean Energy and Climate Change Darien Davis said, “Today’s proposed standards demonstrate the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to creating safer, healthier communities and delivering savings on families’ energy costs. Improvements in fuel economy help reduce harmful transportation pollution, which most impacts those historically excluded and redlined near highways, including communities of color and communities with low wealth. CAFE standards also help to lower the amount drivers pay at the gas pump — over the years, previous CAFE standards have saved families hundreds of billions of dollars. We’re looking forward to weighing in on this proposal, and we urge NHTSA to finalize the most stringent rule possible to ensure that all vehicles are more fuel efficient. These rules, alongside strong climate pollution limits for cars and trucks that EPA is working to finalize in the coming months and the critical investments in the manufacture and purchase of electric vehicles from Biden’s affordable clean energy plan, will help transition us to a cleaner transportation future.”

CLIMATE ACTION NH TALKS FARM BILL, IRA: Organizers with Climate Action New Hampshire took to the streets this week collecting public comments in support of protecting the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA’s) $20 billion in climate-smart agriculture investments from being redirected or slashed by extreme MAGA Republicans during negotiations on the Farm Bill, and on the EPA’s proposed rule for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.


IN NATIONAL NEWS: 

LCV ACTION FUND ANNOUNCES FIRST ROUND OF CONGRESSIONAL ENDORSEMENTS: LCV Action Fund has released its first round of congressional endorsements for the 2024 elections. Learn more about LCV Action Fund’s endorsements here, and see the new list here. The endorsements were also featured in Thursday’s edition of Climate 202 from the Washington Post.

OUR TAKE:  LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “LCV Action Fund is proud to endorse this initial slate of climate champions, and we’re all in to help them win and to ensure we have a pro-environment, pro-democracy trifecta after the 2024 elections. As our nation and our planet suffer from this summer’s deadly and devastating impacts of the climate crisis, it’s more clear than ever that we need to elect and re-elect congressional champions who will fight for effective and equitable climate solutions at the scale and pace that science and justice demand. On the heels of Democrats delivering historic climate, clean energy, and environmental justice progress for their constituents last year, extreme MAGA Republicans are making polluter profits their top priority, even as communities face record-breaking extreme heat, droughts, floods and more. We must defend and expand the pro-environment, pro-democracy majority in the Senate, take back the House, and re-elect President Biden and Vice President Harris so that together we can continue fighting for a healthy, affordable and equitable clean energy future for all.”

PROTECTING OUR DEMOCRACY ACT REINTRODUCED IN THE HOUSE: The Protecting Our Democracy Act, which would defend against abuse of power and corruption in the executive branch, was reintroduced by Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) and others in the House on Thursday.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Director of Judiciary & Democracy Doug Lindner said, “The integrity of our democratic institutions has been eroded by politicians who have put personal, corporate, and polluter interests before the rights of the people, and who have abused their offices to protect and enrich themselves, distort our elections, and target their political opponents. With critical elections quickly approaching, LCV is proud to support the reintroduction of the Protecting Our Democracy Act to defend against abuse of power and corruption in the executive branch, strengthen accountability and transparency, shore up checks and balances, and safeguard the integrity of our democracy. Holding elected officials accountable and preventing abuse of power is critical to ensuring our democracy works for all people, especially communities historically excluded from political processes. We need Congress to pass the Protecting Our Democracy Act in addition to other critical democracy legislation including the Freedom to Vote Act, John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, Washington, D.C. Admission Act, and Judiciary Act.”

SENATORS INTRODUCE BILL TO PROTECT STATE ELECTION INTEGRITY: Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and others introduced the Preventing Election Subversion Act, a bill that would protect state elections from partisan interference. In the last year, Georgia, alongside several other states, enacted legislation that would give partisan actors more power to interfere with local elections, prompting the introduction of this bill.

OUR TAKE:  LCV Senior Director of Judiciary and Democracy Doug Linder said, “LCV is proud to stand with Senator Reverend Warnock in supporting the Preventing Election Subversion Act, a critical bill to ensure local election officials can serve their communities without partisan interference and that voters’ fundamental right to vote is not subject to baseless registration challenges. This legislation would provide much-needed protections for our election systems, and especially for voters of color and other historically marginalized groups who for generations have been targets of systemic voter suppression, and who also bear disproportionate burdens of environmental injustice.”

BIDEN SPEECH ADDRESSES EXTREME HEAT, CLIMATE CRISIS: The President made a speech Thursday announcing measures to keep workers on the frontlines of climate impacts safe from extreme heat.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “President Biden’s extreme heat measures today to help workers on the frontlines of climate impacts are clearly necessary, and as this record-breaking heat rages on it’s more important than ever that we move quickly and make more climate progress.

“The good news is that as we approach the one-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act, the President’s affordable clean energy plan is supercharging our clean energy economy and creating good-paying, family-sustaining jobs. It is a critical part of the fight against the climate crisis, but we clearly must do more.

“Yet day after day, extreme MAGA Republicans are threatening all of this progress in their own districts at great cost to their constituents as they continue pushing failed fossil energy policies of the past, including massive giveaways to Big Oil and other polluters.

“July was just declared Earth’s hottest month ever. It’s never been more important or urgent that we take further action – for our climate, our jobs, our wallets, for environmental and racial justice, worker protection, national security, and so much more. This will require more strong executive action and swift, equitable and effective implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act.”

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PROPOSES NEPA RULE: Today, the Biden administration proposed a new rule to boost public engagement, advance environmental justice, and overturn Trump-era policies which limited public input and environmental review of major federal projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

OUR TAKE: LCV VP of Federal Policy Matthew Davis said, “We applaud the Biden-Harris administration for fixing more of the damage the Trump administration inflicted when they limited public input and environmental review of major federal projects. By proposing to improve community engagement, accounting of climate impacts, and analysis of cumulative impacts – particularly for overburdened communities that are predominantly communities of color or low wealth – these critical improvements should help advance environmental justice, empower those most affected to help create better final projects, and reduce time-consuming and expensive litigation. We look forward to working with the administration to finalize the strongest possible final rule.

“We continue to strongly oppose the extreme MAGA Republican efforts to weaken NEPA. Given changes already made to the National Environmental Policy Act, and the nearly $1 billion the Inflation Reduction Act provided to agencies to carry out more robust and timely federal environmental review, permitting, and community outreach, it’s clear we need more positive executive action, rather than additional legislative action, until there is a pro-environment trifecta.”

LCV CELEBRATES LATINO CONSERVATION WEEK: Last week, July 15-23, LCV, along with Chipsa and the Hispanic Access Foundation, celebrated 10 years of Latino Conservation Week. Read about events, hear from representatives, and learn more about Latino Conservation on the blog.

OUR TAKE: From the blog, “The importance of Latino Conservation Week could not be more relevant as deadly heat waves, extensive flooding, wildfire smoke, and increasing costs and energy bills plague households and disproportionately burden Latinx communities and communities of color. Now more than ever, we need policies that protect outdoor spaces, promote healthy air and water, and ensure all communities have access to a healthy, livable outdoors.”

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION DESIGNATES EMMETT TILL AND MAMIE TILL-MOBLEY NATIONAL MONUMENT: President Biden announced the designation of the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument in Illinois on Tuesday.

In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was abducted, tortured, and lynched after allegedly flirting with a white women in a Mississippi grocery store. After his murder, his mother worked tirelessly to expose the systems that led to his death and was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. The monument designation honors their memory and legacy, and reminds us of the continued loss of life at the hands of corrupt and racist institutions in this country.

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinksi said, “The brutal murder of Emmett Till in 1955, and the courage and strength of Mamie Till-Mobley to share her loss with the world, helped expose the racism in America and inspire movements for justice. Their legacy, and President Biden’s preservation of the sites that tell their stories, stand in stark contrast with the current politicians who attempt to erase the country’s history of racism instead of learning from it. We appreciate the Biden-Harris administration’s work to preserve sites and landscapes with ecological, cultural, and historic resources, including places of devastating tragedies like this monument. The continued murder and loss of life, disproportionately young Black men, at the hands of institutions in our society further demonstrates the importance of these lessons as well as the work still in front of us.”

IEC TAKE: Illinois Environmental Council Executive Director Jen Walling said, “Today, we are celebrating President Biden’s move to preserve historically significant sites tied to the memory of Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, whose strength during a moment of profound darkness shed light on the horrific dangers of white supremacy in our country. We all share a responsibility to carry forward her example of courage as we strive to answer the call to confront systemic racism in our work to advance equitable environmental policies for all Illinoisans. President Biden’s designation compliments the work of our local environmental justice partners, particularly Blacks in Green, who work tirelessly to keep Emmett and Mamie’s memory alive in Chicago and for all who find strength in their stories.”

SUPREME COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF MVP: In a short order issued on Thursday, the Supreme Court overturned the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that placed a construction stay on the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The ruling, for which the court did not offer extensive reasoning or note any dissent, clears the stay of construction on the controversial pipeline. Meanwhile, the court case challenging MVP in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit continues. Read more on MVP and its impact on communities on the blog.

OUR TAKE:  Vice President of Federal Policy at the League of Conservation Voters Matthew Davis said, “Including the Mountain Valley Pipeline in the debt ceiling deal was an egregious reckless move, which locks in decades of methane climate pollution, threatens water quality, and jeopardizes communities in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, especially low-income, elderly, Indigenous, and Black communities that live near the pipeline’s path. It is time to move forward with real solutions that center the most impacted communities as we swiftly transition to a more healthy, equitable and just clean energy economy, as opposed to building out duplicative, dirty, and dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure.”

VALCV TAKE: Virginia LCV Executive Director Michael Town said, “We commend communities on the frontlines threatened by this project and the members of Virginia’s congressional delegation for their resolve to stand up against this dangerous pipeline.  We remain dedicated to meet the urgent challenges our changing climate requires with true energy solutions that create the healthy, clean and just economy this moment demands.”

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT UNDER ATTACK: Since its passage 50 years ago, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been credited with saving 99% of listed species from extinction. Despite a half-century of success, the ESA has come under attack from MAGA extremists who want to strip the law of its ability to protect endangered plant and animal species from extinction. Read more on the blog.

OUR TAKE: From the blog, “There has long been opposition to the ESA’s protections for vulnerable species and habitats, primarily in the name of agricultural development and economic growth. The Trump administration undertook various efforts, both executive and administrative, to prioritize economic development, prevent the use of the best available science, narrow the definition of “habitat,” and overall to interfere with federal agencies’ abilities to prevent species’ extinction. Now, the Biden-Harris administration is taking steps to reverse those actions and strengthen regulations to protect threatened species. However, the attacks continue in Congress.”

Just this week, all but one voting House Republican approved CRAs to rescind ESA protections for the lesser prairie chicken and northern long-eared bat.

OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director America Fitzpatrick said, “Today, extreme MAGA Republican House leadership prioritized politics over science by taking the unprecedented step of voting to remove protections for not one, but two individually protected species, the lesser prairie chicken and northern long-eared bat. This is the first time in the CRA’s 30-year history that Congress has attempted to use this law to rescind Endangered Species Act protections for individual species. LCV applauds President Biden’s commitment to vetoing these resolutions and rejecting House Republicans’ attempts to undermine the Endangered Species Act, which has been credited with saving 99% of listed species like the iconic bald eagle from extinction. This year, on the 50th anniversary of the ESA’s passage, it is more important than ever to uphold this bedrock environmental law in the face of these threats.”

FREEDOM TO VOTE ACT REINTRODUCTION VIDEO: The Declaration for American Democracy launched a new video in support of the newly-introduced Freedom to Vote Act. The video features voices from the coalition, including LCV, and members of Congress on the urgent need to pass this transformational democracy package.

OUR TAKE: LCV Democracy Program Director Justin Kwasa said, “In order to make progress on the issues that Americans care most about, such as healthy communities, a stable environment and environmental justice – we must build a system that serves the people rather than the interest of the few.”


HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

MAINE SETS NEW OFFSHORE WIND PROCUREMENT GOAL: On Wednesday, Maine passed legislation to responsibly develop three gigawatts of offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine by 2040, which could eventually provide for nearly half of the state’s energy needs. The bill includes important labor provisions to create a strong Maine offshore wind workforce with good-paying union jobs. Governor Janet Mills signed the bill into law on Thursday.

MCV’S TAKE: Kathleen Meil, Senior Director of Policy & Partnerships at Maine Conservation of Voters, said, “Offshore wind is the single biggest lever we can pull to address the climate crisis, meet Maine’s energy needs, and grow our economy simultaneously. This legislation charts a path that reflects a broad coalition of environmental groups, labor advocates, and a key fisheries organization and sets high standards for labor and equity. When this bill is implemented, Maine will set a national example for how to responsibly develop a new, affordable energy source, grow good-paying jobs for our workers, and do so without compromising Maine values. We’re ready to get to work and launch this new industry.”

NEW JERSEY MOVES TO CUT FOSSIL FUELS FROM BUILDINGS: The New Jersey Board of Utilities on Wednesday adopted a building electrification framework to transition residential and commercial buildings away from using fossil fuels. The program encourages building owners to voluntarily switch from using fossil fuels for heating and cooling to using electric heat pumps.

NJLCV’S TAKE:  Allison McLeod, Senior Policy Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, said, “The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ proposal will not only bring us closer to our climate goals, but deliver affordable, reliable clean energy for those who need it most. We are especially pleased to see incentives to make it affordable for low- and moderate-income families to choose to transition to cleaner, healthier sources of energy. This is a common-sense approach to energy efficiency and a good first step to keep the lights on at affordable rates, all while moving us forward toward a clean energy future.”

CTLCV PUSHES FOR BILL TO ALLOW DIRECT ELECTRIC VEHICLE SALES TO CONSUMERS: Environmental organizations, including Connecticut LCV, are calling on lawmakers to change statewide policies to allow vehicle manufacturers to sell directly to consumers. Many electric vehicle brands – such as Tesla, Rivian and Lucid – only sell their vehicles directly to consumers, which is currently banned in Connecticut. Allowing direct sales would bring more electric vehicles to the state, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping to fight climate change.

CTLCV’S TAKE: Lori Brown, director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, testified, “Legislators can remove arbitrary obstacles and allow the market to expand consumer choice that would get more non-polluting vehicles on the road. These artificial barriers are costing our state time so that we don’t have to start slowing down our transportation emissions.”

NORTH CAROLINA CLIMATE ACTION TEAM EXPANDS NETWORK: This week, North Carolina’s Climate Action Team hosted a series of events with local partners. Organizers co-hosted a virtual workshop on crafting an effective public comment ahead of  hearings for the local energy company’s proposed rate hike, and the Raleigh team hosted “ABC… XY ZINE!”, an International Zine Month event where attendees learned how to make zines and DIY bookbinding skills from local artists, and discussed the role zines have played in activism, both historically and in current campaigns.

CHISPA ARIZONA LEADERS CALL TO PROTECT THE GRAND CANYON: Last Tuesday, during Latinx Conservation Week, Chispa AZ youth, members, and staff joined allies and partners  to testify at a hearing in Flagstaff pushing for federal protection of the Grand Canyon from increased uranium mining and other land desecration. Check out Chispa AZ’s Instagram post for more information!

COMING UP:

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 event

SEPTEMBER 30: Government funding expires