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.
“Avi Kwa Ame is the point of Mojave creation; it’s a very important and integral part of our history and belief system. For us, that mountain is a living landscape; it’s like a person. If something were to happen to it, it would be like losing a loved one.”
– Ashley Hemmers, tribal administrator for Fort Mojave, commending President Biden for officially protecting Avi Kwa Ame by designating the area as a national monument.
“The protections and requirements in this bill are overdue and an essential part of not only fighting environmental injustice, but fighting climate change and acknowledging past wrongs.”
– Chandra Taylor-Sawyer, environmental justice initiative leader with the Southern Environmental Law Center, speaking on the importance of the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act.
“This piece of paradise that many of us have enjoyed year in and year out was once home to our ancestors. It is home to the wildlife and flora of the Chihuahuan desert that survives both bitter winter cold as well as blistering summer heat. It is the place for me, where hikes in the area during the darkest months of the COVID-19 pandemic gave me hope that better days were ahead. Most importantly, it is the inheritance we leave for future generations.”
–U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar (D-TX) celebrating the designation of Castner Range National monument in a recent op-ed.
HIGHLIGHTS IN INFLATION REDUCTION ACT IMPLEMENTATION:
AFFORDABLE CLEAN ENERGY PLAN IS ALREADY ‘UNLEASHING CLEAN ENERGY’S POTENTIAL’: Bob Keefe, executive director of the national nonpartisan business group E2, published an op-ed in the Hill this week reflecting on the major clean energy progress made possible by the affordable clean energy plan in the last six months. Across the nation, private companies announced the investment of over $64 billion into more than 130 clean energy projects and more than 53,000 jobs in the industry. Among those new projects are Nucor’s $125 million electric vehicle steel plant in Alabama, MSS Steel Tube’s $6 million solar equipment factory in Tennessee, and Ford’s $3.5 billion, 2,500-employee battery plant in Michigan.
MN MEETS THE MOMENT ON CLIMATE ACTION: The Minnesota Department of Commerce, which plays a leading role in Minnesota’s energy transition, is preparing for the rapid influx in federal funding made possible by the affordable clean energy plan to reach the state’s ambitious climate goals. With the expectation of millions of dollars from the IRA, Minnesota is reorganizing their departments and bringing on new hires to focus and boost climate and clean energy priorities. The state hopes to reach 100% clean energy by 2040, and these federal funds will be elemental in helping get them there. Read more about Minnesota’s big plans here.
IN NATIONAL NEWS:
IPCC REPORT DELIVERS DIRE WARNING ON THE URGENT NEED FOR CLIMATE ACTION: On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Sixth Assessment Report from the world’s top scientists outlining the dire consequences of extending our reliance on fossil fuels and the need for swifter and bolder climate action.
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “Today’s dire IPCC report makes clear that the world will fail to limit warming to 1.5°C if we extend our reliance on fossil fuels. In order to avert climate catastrophe and meet President Biden’s science-based climate goal of cutting pollution in half by 2030, we need the Biden-Harris administration to quickly set the strongest possible climate and public health safeguards across federal agencies and to ensure swift, equitable implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act, the new affordable clean energy plan. Additionally, states like Minnesota and New Jersey are already leading by example in 2023 with new 100% clean energy laws or commitments that more governors and legislatures across the country should embrace. The latest IPCC report also underscores just how utterly out of step the House Republicans’ Polluters Over People Act is with science and how far it would take us in the wrong direction.”
BIDEN DESIGNATES AVI KWA AME AND CASTNER RANGE NATIONAL MONUMENTS: After decades of hard work from local activists, President Biden officially designated two new national monuments, Avi Kwa Ame National Monument and Castner Range National Monument, at the White House Conservation in Action Summit this week.
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “President Biden delivered for the communities who have worked for decades to protect these landscapes and their natural and cultural significance all while expanding access to nature. LCV applauds President Biden, Secretary Haaland, and the entire administration for their commitment to supporting locally led conservation efforts – a vital component of addressing climate change.
The Avi Kwa Ame landscape is sacred to 12 Tribes, home to rare wildlife and plants, and full of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. We celebrate with the coalition of Tribal Nations, businesses, recreationists, gateway community residents, and local leaders as well as Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen and Representatives Titus and Lee.
Castner Range, an incredible place with significance for Indigenous people, veterans, and the world’s largest binational community, and this monument designation will help ensure the community has access to clean water, protect the area’s endemic rare and endangered species, and preserve fragile lands already surrounded on three sides by development. We celebrate with the community organizations, religious leaders, veteran groups, and Rep. Escobar.
We are also pleased the president will initiate the public process to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. If finalized as envisioned, this designation will surpass the administration’s goals to protect 30 percent of our waters by 2030. LCV looks forward to working with partners across the country and the Biden-Harris administration to strengthen protections for additional sites and landscapes, including through the Ocean Climate Action Plan and the guidance on wildlife corridors and connectivity, in the coming months.”
THE A. DONALD MCEACHIN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE FOR ALL ACT IS A MODEL FOR PROGRESS: On Wednesday, House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act, a landmark piece of environmental justice legislation that would address racist decisions and policies that place a disproportionate share of our pollution burden on communities of color and low-income communities.
OUR TAKE: LCV Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo said, “There is no better way to honor the legacy of Congressman Donald McEachin than by passing and enacting his signature legislation that now bears the late Congressman’s name. Critically, this sweeping environmental justice legislation would ensure that community input is central to the development of all new energy projects, in addition to the many important anti-racist policies in the Act that address longstanding inequities in our environmental protections. We should be passing the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act instead of House Republicans’ destructive Polluters Over People Act. LCV commends the leadership of Rep. Raúl Grijalva, late Rep. Donald McEachin, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove, Senators Tammy Duckworth and Cory Booker, and the hundreds of environmental activists involved in writing and advancing the most comprehensive environmental justice legislation in U.S. history.”
CHISPA LCV TAKE: Chispa National Director Estefany Carrasco-González said, “Chispa LCV welcomes the reintroduction of the Environmental Justice for All Act as the most important effort to address decades of environmental racism. We urge the House Natural Resources Committee to advance this bill without delay and enact these policy solutions that will give the community, especially those bearing the brunt of climate change, more power in determining the environmental and public health of the places where we work, play, live, learn, and spend time with our families. Four years post initial introduction, the dire need for our communities to obtain environmental solutions is ever more critical.”
PRESIDENT BIDEN USES FIRST VETO TO REJECT CRA RESOLUTION: President Biden issued his first veto on Monday to reject the Congressional Review Act resolution that would have put retirement savings at risk.
OUR TAKE: Government Affairs Advocate David Shadburn said, “President Biden deserves immense credit for using his first veto to stand up for investor freedom and respond to retirees’ demands that climate risks be treated just the same as all other financial risks in their pensions. It is abhorrent that Republicans are using their narrow majority in the House to fight the popular, affordable clean energy transition that’s already creating good paying jobs and lowering energy bills across the country. This harmful resolution would have forced investors to disregard climate risks and tie retirees to the same financially damaging investments that are already increasing costs for extreme, MAGA Republican-led states.”
BIDEN MUST EXPAND BERRYESSA SNOW MOUNTAIN NATIONAL MONUMENT TO INCLUDE MOLOK LUYUK: Chairman Anthony Roberts of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation published an op-ed calling on President Biden to expand protection from Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument to include Molok Luyuk. Molok Luyuk is land that is sacred to the Patwin people and is steeped in thousands of years of Indigenous history. The ridge includes sites where the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation practice religious ceremonies and that are central to their origin stories. Read more here.
NEW YORK LOOKS TO ELECTRIFY NEW BUILDINGS: New York Democratic lawmakers and Governor Kathy Hochul (D) are close to finalizing a state budget that would phase out fossil fuel-burning furnaces, water heaters, clothes dryers, and stoves. This would mean access to appliances run on clean electricity for residents in newly-constructed buildings and would be a huge step towards New York’s goal of reaching net-zero fossil fuel emissions by 2050. Read more about the legislation here.
CONSERVATION VOTERS FOR IDAHO’S RIALIN FLORES NAMED ONE OF USA TODAY’S WOMEN OF THE YEAR: Conservation Voters for Idaho Executive Director Rialin Flores was named as one of USA Today’s Women of the Year for her leadership and dedication as a lifelong conservationist. Flores continuously champions the preservation of Idaho’s democracy, clean air, water and lands and has successfully united state leaders to achieve important progress. Reflecting on her path to success, Flores cites the guiding principle to “lift as we climb,” affirming the importance of opening doors to allow for and build new rising leaders.. Read USA Today’s interview with Flores here.
RIALIN FLORES TAKE: Executive Director of Conservation Voters for Idaho Rialin Flores said: “As I work to navigate organizational leadership and leadership within my community, I have always sought to connect with others and find ways in which we can bring more people into the work… To help ensure that my perspective and the unique path that I took into where I am today can be seen by others, so that they can see themselves in leadership in general in the future, as well.”
GEORGIA ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE DAY: On Tuesday, Georgia Conservation Voters and partners held an Environmental Justice Day at the state capital. Attendees lobbied their legislators in support of climate action and urged leaders to prioritize environmental justice.
NV IS READY FOR AN EQUITABLE TRANSITION TO ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES: Chispa Nevada Lider Angelez Sanchez wrote an op-ed calling on Clark County School District (CCSD) to establish a plan for the complete transition of its fleet to electric school buses, and to roll out these zero-emission buses in the neighborhoods and schools most affected by transportation pollution. Read the full piece here.
MARCH 28: American Democracy: A Way Forward! virtual panel discussion
ALL OF MARCH: Women’s History Month