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:
“Mr. President, it was young people that organized across this country to help you get into office.Their number one issue is climate change. Mr. President, it was young people who organized across this country to help us push back against the so-called red wave and maintain balance in the house. And it is going to be young people who organize to help us win back the house in 2024, and help America to reach its ideals. Stop the Willow project.”
–Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) in an impassioned speech on the House Floor calling on President Biden to stop the dirty and dangerous Willow project.
“Every legislator knows, as Representative McEachin did, that opposing entrenched power is difficult, and that democratically elected representatives are in a position to help. Beyond advocating for policies, we need congressional environmental justice champions to leverage their understanding of the nuts and bolts of government to make sure climate policies are implemented effectively and well, and always in the service of justice. Frontline communities need their fearless and focused leadership—right now.”
–National Wildlife Federation Executive Vice President Mustafa Santiago Ali and Reverend Leo Woodberry, a pastor and executive director of the nonprofit New Alpha Community Development Corporation in South Carolina, in a joint op-ed in Newsweek titled “Environmental Justice Lost a Champion. Congress Must Build on His Legacy.”
“I have a maintenance inhaler and a rescue inhaler. If we don’t find a way to take our health into our own hands, we will all be walking drugstore timebombs, because you can’t last with this kind of air.”
– Emprezz Nontzikelelo, speaking for a recent exclusive in the Guardian that covered a study which showed that the most predictive variable determining fine particulate matter pollution levels is systemic racism. Nontzikelelo, who is from Bakersfield, CA, grew up in the eastern side of Bakersfield, the city’s only area where Black families like hers were allowed to live. Eastern Bakersfield is still populated by predominantly low-income people of color and lies downwind of oil wells, freeways and the pesticide-choked agricultural fields of California’s Central Valley.
HIGHLIGHTS IN INFLATION REDUCTION ACT IMPLEMENTATION:
ICYMI: SEN. TINA SMITH, REP. ANDY KIM JOIN MN AND NJ LCV STATE LEAGUES TO TALK IRA: On Wednesday, Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and Representative Andy Kim (D-NJ-03) joined Conservation Minnesota Executive Director Paul Austin, New Jersey LCV Executive Director Ed Potosnak, and LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld for a roundtable discussion on implementation of the historic Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) at the state level. The event took place during the Conservation Voter Movement fly-in, during which dozens of LCV state partners from around the country convened in D.C. for back-to-back days of pro-environment advocacy meetings with members of Congress and the Biden-Harris administration. Watch the roundtable here.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Dozens of LCV state partners are in D.C. this week for our first advocacy fly-in since the Inflation Reduction Act became law. We’re meeting with more than 120 congressional offices as well as departments and agencies across the Biden Harris administration to help ensure that the affordable clean energy plan is implemented swiftly, effectively, and equitably. Minnesota Conservation Voters and New Jersey LCV are great examples of state leagues that have also worked with their governors and legislatures to leverage incoming federal investments to advance even stronger state clean energy policies.”
CONSERVATION MN TAKE: Executive Director of Conservation Minnesota Paul Austin said, “The federal support helps with affordability. Even though wind and solar are some of the cheapest forms of energy to build in the state, there’s a lot of cost involved with doing a transition of this scale, from one system of energy to another. The Inflation Reduction Act and all of these pieces of legislation are providing vital funds to help make sure that can be done affordably, and makes it possible for legislators and utilities to see how they get from the current system to a system of 100% clean energy in a way that their customers can afford and in a way they can deliver reliable power.”
NJ LCV TAKE: Executive Director of New Jersey LCV Ed Potosnak said, “In a lot of ways, New Jersey is leading the nation. Whether it’s through legislation pushing the goal of 100% clean energy by 2040 or an executive order from Governor Murphy, these efforts are buttressed by a nation leading environmental justice law that will ensure we follow the lead of groups in communities or color. In New Jersey, we have seen the largest growing sector in our economy in clean energy. We will be adding 50,000 – 100,000 jobs through energy efficiency and weatherization – like taking rattling doors and windows and sealing them up – because right now low income families are literally losing money out the window through leaks. We’re excited to be here to talk about the work we’ve done and the work we have ahead.”
INFLATION REDUCTION ACT BRINGS BENEFITS FOR NEW YORKERS: This week, New York LCV President Julia Tighe and U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat co-authored an opinion piece highlighting the important benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) for renters and communities facing the greatest impacts of pollution. Along with landlords and property owners, renters are eligible for rebates on energy efficient appliances and home upgrades that lower utility bills and improve indoor air quality. The IRA also addresses transportation air pollution and the urban heat island effect which disproportionately affect low-income communities, Black communities and other communities of color through incentives for electric vehicles and funding to plant trees.
IN NATIONAL NEWS:
OPINION: #STOPWILLOW HAS BECOME TOO BIG TO IGNORE – ARE YOU LISTENING, PRESIDENT BIDEN?: In response to President Biden’s pending decision on the dirty and dangerous Willow Project, Han Gwich’in and Sicangu/Oglala Lakota land protector, climate justice activist, and fashion model Quannah Chasinghorse published an op-ed denouncing any version of the proposed project.
ACTIVIST TAKE: Quannah Chasinghorse said, “I’m raising my voice against this project and I’ve been inspired by the chorus of voices who have joined me. Over the last week, millions of fellow young people have taken over TikTok to express their opposition to the Willow project, particularly in light of President Biden’s ambitious climate goals and promises on the 2020 campaign trail. To date, #StopWillow (and related) videos from a diverse array of young creators have around 300 million direct views on TikTok alone. In a matter of just a few days, #StopWillow catapulted to the top of social media conversations – and more than 4 million petitions from people who share my opposition to Willow have been sent to the Biden administration to fight back. We know that our window to act on climate is rapidly closing and every new fossil fuel project makes it harder for us to do what we need to avert a truly catastrophic climate change.”
STARK CONTRAST BETWEEN BIDEN BUDGET FOR THE PEOPLE VS HOUSE REPUBLICANS’ POLICIES FOR POLLUTERS: The difference between President Biden’s FY2024 budget and the pro-dirty fossil fuel bills being marked up in the House Natural Resources and Energy & Commerce Committees this week could not better showcase whose side each is on.
OUR TAKE: Federal Advocacy Campaigns Director Leah Donahey said, “The contrast between President Biden’s budget for the people and House Republicans’ policies for polluters could not be more stark. The President’s budget would hold profiteering oil companies accountable; House Republicans want to pad the pockets of Big Oil who raked in an obscene $400 billion+ last year. The President’s budget includes the most climate funding in presidential budget history, and would lower energy costs for families; House Republicans are trying to lock us into decades of dirty, volatile fossil fuels that will make the climate crisis worse and perpetuate environmental injustice. The dirty energy package in formation in the House is nothing more than a handout to Big Oil and MAGA extremists. The pro-environment, pro-working family policies in the President’s budget are the popular approach to advancing affordable clean energy our country needs.”
COALITION TAKE: Coalition partners said, “It is of the utmost importance that President Biden and Congress fight for a robust FY24 budget that fully funds the agencies responsible for advancing environmental justice and protecting our public lands, the ocean, biodiversity, waters, and climate. Passing a strong federal budget is a critical part of the fight against extremist, Big Oil-backed politicians who are trying to destroy the economy, gut the Inflation Reduction Act, and slash funding to the agencies and programs responsible for ensuring the law’s benefits reach the communities that need them most. These politicians would prioritize the profits of corporate polluters and the wealthy instead of listening to what the American people want and need. The climate and environmental community remains determined to help Congress pass a budget that reflects President Biden’s vision and improves people’s lives. As our country deals with inflation, high energy prices, public health crises, biodiversity loss, and climate change, it is now more important than ever that Congress fully funds the agencies responsible for addressing these critical issues.”
HOUSE PASSES ANTI-CLEAN WATER CRA: Yesterday, the House passed a Congressional Review Act joint resolution that would kill the Biden-Harris administration’s Clean Water Restoration Rule and undermine the Clean Water Act.
OUR TAKE: Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote said, “Today’s vote puts big polluter profits ahead of the health of our families and communities. This dangerous legislation would severely weaken the Clean Water Act by revoking important protections for critical waters and allowing unregulated pollution and destruction of everything from small streams to rivers to wetlands. Since the Act’s passage over 50 years ago, polluters and their allies in Congress have tried to roll back the important safeguards it provides and deny our basic human right of access to clean water for their own gain. But polling continues to show that voters want Congress to do more, not less, to protect the waters our families, communities, and economy depend on. We urge the Senate to reject this damaging attack on our waterways and commit to ensuring that everyone, no matter their race, zip code, or income, has access to clean, safe water.”
100 DAYS HAVE PASSED, BIDEN MUST DESIGNATE AVI KWA AME A NATIONAL MONUMENT: Over 100 days have passed since President Biden promised Nevada communities that he would designate Avi Kwa Ame a National Monument. The 450,000-acres of land are of spiritual and cultural significance to the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe and are part of a culturally, biologically, historically, and economically important landscape for Nevada communities.
NV LCV TAKE: Nevada Conservation League Avi Kwa Ame Campaign Manager Craig Bakerjian said, “We have a duty to preserve our country’s lands and waters for future generations, especially those that hold cultural and historical values. We are thrilled to know the Biden Administration will soon fulfill this duty with the designation of Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada. Protecting this sacred and important site will honor tribes, preserve ecological resources, and strengthen our outdoor recreation economy while heeding Nevadans’ call for meaningful conservation and climate action. We owe this moment to the hard work of tribes, conservationists, local advocates, and community members who continue to fight to protect the natural landscapes that make Nevada home.”
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “Nevada and the country will soon have a brand-new national monument thanks to President Biden, Secretary Haaland and advocates from Indigenous, conservation, outdoor recreation, and local communities. Avi Kwa Ame is a sacred landscape to tribes in the region with petroglyphs and artifacts as well as habitat for rare and threatened wildlife and plants. The new national monument will strengthen opportunities for the state’s outdoor recreation economy. LCV appreciates the leadership of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe as well as the efforts of Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen and Reps. Dina Titus and Susie Lee who worked with the Biden-Harris administration to make this monument a reality.”
MANCHIN OPPOSES LAURA DANIEL-DAVIS CONFIRMATION: Senator Joe Manchin announced via op-ed that he is officially pulling his support for Laura Daniel-Davis to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Lands and Minerals Management.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Laura Daniel-Davis is a proven leader and dedicated public servant who is eminently qualified to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Lands and Minerals Management. She should’ve been swiftly confirmed after she was nominated by President Biden nearly two years ago rather than being subjected to inordinate delays and disrespectful rhetoric by Senator Manchin and others who oppose her nomination. We look forward to continuing to work with Laura Daniel-Davis on the myriad of climate, clean energy, and conservation issues that are so vitally important to our nation.”
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:
FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY LEADS WHALE STRANDING DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN TARGETING OFFSHORE WIND: Following recent whale beachings along the coast of New Jersey, a misinformation campaign has been incorrectly targeting offshore wind as the cause. Studies show that the leading threats to whales are collisions with boats and entanglement in fishing gear. Despite statements from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Marine Mammal Commission and others declaring that there is no connection between the whale deaths and offshore wind, clean energy opponents have seized the opportunity to attack offshore wind development. Unsurprisingly, the fossil fuel industry is behind these misinformation efforts through right wing think-tanks and organizations helping prop up local opposition groups. This week, New Jersey LCV Executive Director Ed Potosnak was interviewed by ROI-NJ to set the record straight on the environmentally responsible development of offshore wind and the urgency of addressing the climate crisis and transitioning to clean energy to protect all animals, including whales.
NJ LCV TAKE: New Jersey LCV Executive Director Ed Potosnak said, “It’s a misinformation campaign from Day One funded by fossil fuels to ensure we’re more addicted for longer to their product, which is polluting our air, water and land, and bringing profits to [fossil fuel] shareholders…Offshore wind is part of the solution to the real greatest threat to the ocean, which is climate change. You have to look at the track record of the fossil fuel industry, which for years had its own scientists verify that their product was causing climate change. They ran a PR campaign specifically to say humans are not causing climate change or global warming… They’ve created a misinformation picture for residents that’s not even close to accurate.”
MELISSA HOFFER APPOINTED AS FIRST-EVER CLIMATE CHIEF IN MA: On her first day in office, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey signed an executive order creating the state’s first-ever Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience to help advance the state’s ambitious climate goals including reaching 100% clean electricity by 2030 and ending new gasoline-powered car sales by 2035. Yesterday, the Washington Post interviewed climate chief Melissa Hoffer, a former Environmental Protection Agency official and climate champion who was appointed by Governor Healey to lead the newly established office. Massachusetts is one of four states (Michigan, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Minnesota) with a climate champion trifecta controlling the legislature and executive office , giving Hoffer the important and unique opportunity to advance bold state-level climate action with broad support.
ELM TAKE: Environmental League of Massachusetts Legislative Director David Melly said, “I’m very excited for the climate chief to play a role in state agencies that are certainly impacted by climate policy, but don’t necessarily do it as their primary mission. And Melissa is absolutely the right woman for the job.”
NEVADA ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE COALITION CELEBRATES THE FIRST EVER ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE LOBBY DAY: This Monday, Chispa Nevada joined partners in the Nevada Environmental Justice Coalition and advocates to hold the first Environmental Justice Lobby Day. Participants received lobbying training and were briefed on important bills before meeting with their state legislators to advocate for environmental justice. Watch Chispa NV’s video of the event here.
MID MARCH: Keep an eye out for LCV’s new website!
ALL OF MARCH: Women’s History Month