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“My own parents were more focused on making sure they got their roots. Now it’s about focusing on what it means to be a full participant in our democratic system.”
— Kris Kolluri, speaking on his experiences navigating civic engagement in the U.S. as the son of immigrants in an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Asian American leaders see ‘a pivotal moment’ for political participation amid rising hate”.
“I truly believe that for any person who is Black, Brown, Indigenous, who is API, who is someone living on the margins of society, who is trans or gender non conforming: We need to strive for liberation for all to be able to find ourselves able to live in a society that so often sidelines us or even harms us.”
— Juniper Yun, artist and part of San Francisco’s Transgender District, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering the transgender community through ownership and safe community spaces during the Gender Equity and Justice summit hosted by the Stanford Women’s Community Center.
“Why are they not coming here? Is it because we are low-income and people feel like we don’t have a lot here and we don’t care about the environment? We do.”
— Pamela Woods, who lives just a few miles from a once-contaminated hazardous waste site in a Cincinnati Public Radio story, “People Living Near The Mill Creek Want ‘Environmental Justice’”
“I want to build some infrastructure and to be able to provide some support for other folks that are thinking about stepping up. I really do think that we need a government that looks a lot more like the rest of America.”
— Representative Andy Kim, speaking on the leadership PAC he created in October to recruit Asian Americans and other candidates of color to run for political office in a Politico article, “Andy Kim is taking on the daunting task of recruiting Asian Americans for office”
Common Dreams: Backed by Unions and Climate Campaigners, Brown and Schumer Unveil $73 Billion Clean Bus Plan
Huffington Post: Burger Bans And Land Grabs: The Right’s Deceptive War Against Biden’s Climate Goals
AP: Biden’s plan would boost conservation of US lands, waters
The National Herald: Gianaris: Senate Passes His Bills Protecting Environment & Keeping Kids Safe
The National Journal: Biden team poised to spell out conservation strategy
Insider NJ: Environmental advocates call on Congress to build on Pallone offshore drilling ban by passing Biden infrastructure plan
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:
Maine Beacon (ME): Tribal leaders to focus on building momentum as sovereignty bill tabled until next year
Idaho Press (ID): New fellowship program aims to diversify representation in Idaho
EcoWatch (CA): Why the Environmental Movement Should Stop Ignoring Asian Americans
AZ Republic (AZ): ‘You’re already experts’: South Phoenix students empowered to reimagine their green spaces
ABC-15 (AZ): Protesters question police budget increases in Phoenix
The Nevada Independent (NV): New Monument will make Nevada a leader in conservation
KPCC (FL): Ron DeSantis Pushes Coastal ‘Resilience’ While Doing Little To Tackle Climate Change
Rutland Herald (VT): Weekly Planet: Action supports healthy communities
Duluth News Tribune (MN): Local View: Jobs and the environment can and should work together
Queens Daily Eagle (NY): Opinion: Congestion pricing is key to fighting climate crisis
East County Today (CA): Padilla Introduces Bill to Protect Over One Million Acres of CA Public Lands
KRWG (NM): New Mexico Conservation and Environmental Leaders Applaud “America the Beautiful” Initiative
AAPI HERITAGE MONTH READING: The Natural Resources Defense Council released a story by NRDC Content Management Director Christina Choi, “Why the Environmental Movement Should Stop Ignoring Asian Americans,” highlighting her experiences growing up as a Korean American, and how her ancestral ties to colonialism and conservation influence her activism and approach to interconnected issues — particularly the impacts of the environmental, public health, and economic crises on communities who are frequently left out of the democratic process. Read her story on NRDC’s blog here.
ACTIVIST TAKE: NRDC Content Management Director Christina Choi wrote, “The environmental movement in the United States didn’t ever reach out to me—I had to go to it. Despite Asian Americans’ 250-plus years in this country, with the first recorded arrival of Filipinos in Louisiana in 1763, we have been constantly erased, and continue to be, from the nation’s history, identity, and conversations, as well as from key statistics on public health and well-being, such as how the pandemic affects our communities. The origins of my strong foundation in conserving the earth’s resources are my own, an unbroken thread stretching for generations, but I suspect that the values of many of those 70 percent of Asian Americans who self-identify as environmentalists have been similarly shaped by their ancestry. And maybe one day, their kids and mine, with her “water alerts,” will become a powerful Asian American voice—one that the future environmental movement won’t want to waste.”
APEN TAKE: Citing a study from Asian Pacific Environmental Network, “Asian American Environmentalists: An Untapped Power for Change in California,” NRDC Content Management Director Christina Choi notes, “that a great majority of Asian American voters in the state—83 percent—describe themselves as environmentalists; 71 percent support environmental laws; and 61 percent believe we can protect the air, land, and water while creating jobs. In that state, 85 percent of Asian American voters said they are likely to vote for environment-focused ballot measures.” Read the study here.
HONOR THE VOTE: A healthy democracy and a healthy environment are inextricably linked — communities of color most impacted by toxic pollution and climate change are the same communities whose voices are being silenced by restrictive voting laws, which an alarming number of states are currently passing through their legislatures. Tomorrow is the John Lewis Day of Action where people across the country are coming together to fight back and demand passage of the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and D.C. Statehood. Find local events here.
REMEMBERING ELI BROAD: Late last week, we lost a committed philanthropist, Eli Broad, who touched the arts, higher education, and civic engagement — including supporting LCV Victory Fund’s Vote2020 campaign, which helped target environmental swing voters in key battleground states for the 2020 presidential election. Read more about the impact of Eli Broad’s greater contributions in Washington Post’s obituary here.
LCV TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski stated, “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Eli Broad. While deservedly long known as a monumental supporter of the arts, culture and science, we are also deeply grateful to, and proud of, Eli and Edythe’s support of LCV Victory Fund’s work to elect climate champions. The Broads’ early support played a critical role in LCV Victory Fund’s ClimateVote2020 campaign, focused heavily on environmental swing voters in battleground presidential states. That support helped deliver the mandate for climate justice that the Biden-Harris administration began acting on starting on Day One. Our thoughts are with Edythe, the entire Broad family, and their staff, and we will endeavor to keep working to fulfil their vision of climate action centering justice and equity.”
ELECTRIFYING AMERICA’S ROADS: On Wednesday, LCV co-hosted an event with Representatives Andy Levin and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to announce their re-introduction of the EV Freedom Act, which would establish infrastructure for a network of electric vehicle charging stations across the nation. This legislation will help jumpstart the groundwork for people in all communities, particularly those in communities who are most likely to be left behind, to access electric vehicles. Watch LCV’s event with Levin and Ocasio-Cortez here.
AOC TAKE: In a press call on Wednesday, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated, “The EV Freedom Act is a piece of legislation that upholds those core Green New Deal principles … it’s part of a much larger comprehensive approach to transportation, we’re making sure we’re not leaving any community behind. It’s important it’s explicitly uplifted that our disabled community is an environmental justice front-line community.”
LEVIN TAKE: Representative Andy Levin stated, “This network needs to be in place. Friends, we are not messing around. We are talking about something that’s comprehensive, national, up to the scope of saving our planet from the way we’ve been frying it in the industrial revolution, and doing it in a way that’s fully just.”
LEVIN DOUBLE TAKE: In a February opinion piece published by The Hill, Levin stated, “All of these crises intersect with our environmental policy, particularly our green energy policy. By building green and turbo-charging the transition away from fossil fuels, we can grow the economy in a way that puts the most affected workers — pipefitters, boilermakers, laborers, coal miners — and frontline communities — Black, Brown and Indigenous communities beset by environmental racism — at the center of the table and helps us recover from the economic damage of the COVID pandemic.”
LCV TAKE: LCV Government Affairs Advocate Darien Davis stated, “We’re excited to see Representatives Andy Levin and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez re-introduce the EV Freedom Act. This comprehensive policy would help to make pollution-free vehicles more accessible to drivers across the country. Furthermore, the EV Freedom Act prioritizes funding for environmental justice communities while creating good-paying union jobs. We urge Congress to fund clean transportation infrastructure as part of an American Jobs package to support climate action, jobs and justice.”
CLEAN TRANSIT FOR AMERICA: On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Sherrod Brown unveiled their new Clean Transit for America plan to help protect our planet by providing $73 billion to move our country’s public transit systems to zero-emission fleets. A bold transition to clean buses will improve the health of communities near roadways and thousands of bus drivers who currently breathe polluted air from dirty diesel buses — particularly communities of color and low wealth communities where children are at a higher risk of breathing polluted air, and are already disproportionately impacted by pollution. See more statements from supporters of the plan here.
SCHUMER TAKE: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated, “To reduce the carbon in our atmosphere and address the climate crisis, we must transform our transit system. The Clean Transit for America proposal will replace dirty, diesel-spewing buses, create new American jobs, help save the planet and protect public health, particularly in our country’s most vulnerable communities. That is why I am working to make sure this proposal is part of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.”
UNION TAKE: IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson stated, “As president of the IBEW, the largest union of electrical workers in the country, I want to thank Majority Leader Schumer and Senator Brown for their ambitious Clean Transit for America proposal. This plan will create tens of thousands of jobs for IBEW members around the country by modernizing our nation’s mass transit buses to zero emission vehicles. In particular, we strongly support the incorporation of the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) into the plan, which will ensure charging infrastructure financed by this proposal is done by highly skilled electricians. The IBEW looks forward to working with Leader Schumer, Senator Brown and the United States Senate to move this proposal forward and fulfill the promise to build America back better.”
LCV TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “We applaud Senator Schumer and Senator Brown for proposing this big step toward the sustainable and equitable future we need to build back better and shift our public transit systems away from relying on dirty-diesel vehicles. It’s long past time to invest in pollution-free transit with a focus on the low-income communities of color that are most impacted. We urge Congress to move quickly to advance this plan, in concert with the American Jobs Plan, to help create good-paying jobs, fight the climate crisis, and advance racial justice.”
AMERICA, THE BEAUTIFUL: On Thursday, the Biden-Harris administration released their 30×30 report “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful,” which outlines a 10-year multi-agency vision to conserve 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030. The 30×30 initiative is widely supported by local elected officials on both sides of the aisle and communities across the country. This year, LCV helped organize bipartisan letters of support from more than 70 mayors across the country and 450 state and local elected officials. More information about 30×30 is available here: https://www.natureamerica.org/
HAALAND TAKE: At an event with Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory and co-hosted by National Wilderness Federation and Hispanic Access Foundation, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland stated, “This is a good moment to reflect on where we’ve been the last four years and where we want to be as a country. We’re a country that will roll up our sleeves to pass this heritage on for generations to come.”
LCV TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel stated, “We are thrilled to see the Biden-Harris administration reaffirm their commitment to this first-ever national goal to conserve our lands, waters, and ocean in collaboration with local communities. We are glad to see the administration recognize that the pursuit of 30×30 must be guided by science, respect Tribal sovereignty, and honor private property rights in order to make access to nature in this country more inclusive and equitable, fight climate change, boost our outdoor economy, and restore wildlife habitat. We are all-in to help reach and exceed this goal and look forward to working with President Biden, his cabinet agencies, state and local governments, Tribal nations, and people all across the country as we work together to tackle the climate crisis and expand access to nature in America the beautiful.”
INFRASTRUCTURE DAY: There’s no doubt that the Biden-Harris administration has had the strongest first 100 days for climate and environmental justice we’ve ever seen. Thursday was Infrastructure Day in Biden’s “Getting America Back on Track Tour,” where Biden spoke in Louisiana about bipartisan efforts and support for his infrastructure plan. Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley” has been a prime example of how on the frontlines, primarily communities of color and communities of low wealth bear the largest burdens from environmental crises. Tackling environmental injustice while rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure and creating clean energy jobs is critical to addressing the climate crisis. See more highlights from Navigator’s polling regarding the Biden-Harris administration’s first 100 days here, and LCV’s 100 day progress report here.
PRESIDENTIAL TAKE: While touring a water treatment plant that is struggling to meet higher standards for drinking water in Louisiana on Thursday, President Biden said, “Infrastructure is all about making life livable for ordinary people.” See the White House fact sheet on the American Jobs Plan here.
100 DAYS POLLING: Recent polling on the Biden-Harris administration’s first 100 day’s show:
STATE OPINIONS: Our state partners have worked with elected officials, labor leaders, and other advocates across the country to publish their support for the American Jobs Plan and the specific positive impacts it will have on their communities. See some of their stories here:
A THRIVING REINTRODUCTION: Last week, the Transform, Heal and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy (THRIVE) Act, was reintroduced in Congress. The legislation outlines a plan to invest $1 trillion per year for a decade to address environmental injustice, create 15 million good-paying jobs and achieve full employment while tackling the climate crisis. When Interior Secretary Deb Haaland served in Congress, she led the introduction of the THRIVE agenda, stating that, “We have an opportunity to not just recover from these interlocking crises, but to thrive by creating millions of good paying, union, clean, green jobs while building a more just, healthy, and stable economy that leaves no one behind”. See the facts on the THRIVE agenda here and see the section by section breakdown here.
FACTS TO THRIVE: The THRIVE Act is a bold economic recovery package that centers climate ambition, advances racial justice and creates good paying, clean energy jobs by:
HFC ANNOUNCEMENT: This week, the EPA proposed the first-ever national limits on Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), pollutants that are contributing significantly to the climate crisis and its disproportionate impacts on low-income communities and communities of color. Over the next 15 years, this action will reduce HFC production and importation by 85%, helping the US to meet our international treaty goals and resulting in $283.9 billion in climate and public health benefits by 2050. In the Biden-Harris administration’s first 100 days in office, they’ve honored their promises to prioritize the climate crisis and advance environmental justice — and EPA Administrator Michael Regan is continuing the trend.
CLEAN CARS WIN IN MN: Today, a Minnesota Administrative Law Judge Jessica A. Palmer-Denig ruled in favor of Clean Cars Minnesota, an initiative that would set emissions standards for all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the state and increase accessibility of electric vehicles to consumers in Minnesota. This win for Minnesota puts them with 14 other states and the District of Columbia to commit to stronger clean car standards.
BIDEN CELEBRATING FIRST 100 DAYS IN GEORGIA: Last week, President Biden returned to Georgia, to celebrate his first one hundred days in office. Georgia was a key state where Senate race victories allowed the Biden-Harris administration to pursue a more bold, ambitious legislative agenda. Biden spoke on the successes of his first 100 days, highlighting his commitment to climate action and environmental justice including addressing infrastructure, clean energy jobs, and land and water conservation to support and protect families and communities across America.
PRESIDENTIAL TAKE: At a drive-in rally in Georgia last week, President Biden stated, “Folks, it’s only been 100 days, but I have to tell you, I’ve never been more optimistic about the future in America, and America is on the move again. We’re choosing hope over fear, truth over lies, light over darkness. We’re working, we’re working again. We’re dreaming again. We’re discovering again. And we’re leading the world again. And you’re proving democracy can deliver for the people. We just need to remember who we are.”
GCV TAKE: Georgia Conservation Voters Executive Director Brionté McCorkle stated, “Georgians spoke loud and clear when they cast the deciding votes for control of Congress and the Presidency. We voted for leaders in Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock who understand that we are at a crossroads to tackle four historic crises all at the same time: coronavirus, economic inequality, climate change and racial injustice. The President and Congress have taken a major step towards fixing these problems with the American Rescue Plan and are making progress to stop the pandemic. Now we need to move to recovery.
It is time for millions of Americans to get back to work with new, high-quality union jobs in a clean energy economy. We know that our country doesn’t have to choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy. Georgians need both. This is a fight that unites labor unions, racial justice advocates, environmental groups and the overwhelming majority of voters. We call on Georgia’s congressional delegation to support President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and quickly pass a comprehensive infrastructure and clean energy bill that focuses our recovery on climate action, justice and good paying jobs for every community.”
CALIFORNIA CHAMPIONS FOR CLEAN ENERGY JOBS: Last week, the California League of Conservation Voters released videos from environmental champions Senator Alex Padilla and Representative Mike Levin expressing their support for the American Jobs Plan. We need legislators in Congress who are committed to fighting for bold investments in clean energy jobs while addressing environmental injustice to tackle the climate crisis. Congressmen Padilla and Levin are helping lead the way towards a more just clean energy future for all. See the videos here.
AMERICAN JOBS PLAN POTENTIAL IN MN: Conservation Minnesota Voter Center Executive Director Paul Austin and Local 1091 of LIUNA International Liaison and Business Manager Dan Olson cowrote a Duluth News Tribune opinion piece,“Jobs and the environment can and should work together,” to emphasize the potential that the Biden-Harris administration’s American Jobs Plan has for Minnesota. They argued that the proposed plan is a critical opportunity to increase community resilience and simultaneously create union jobs, allow the state to make necessary and overdue infrastructure improvements, and help Minnesota get on track to achieve Governor Tim Walz’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2040.
CMVC TAKE: Conservation Minnesota Voter Center Executive Director Paul Austin and Local 1091 of LIUNA International Liaison and Business Manager Dan Olson wrote, “Congress has been presented a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a more equitable and just future using strategies to help our communities recover and prosper by creating millions of good-paying union jobs, updating our country’s infrastructure, and putting us on a path to 100% clean energy. Biden’s plan is rooted in the philosophy that jobs and the environment can and should work in concert — and not in opposition — with one another. To truly take advantage of this moment, finding collective solutions is the only way to succeed.”
POLICY PROGRESS IN VT: Lauren Hierl, Vermont Conservation Voters Executive Director wrote an opinion piece in the Rutland Herald, detailing some of the issues and bills currently under consideration in the state legislative session. VCV priorities include initiatives for healthier, cleaner and more equitable communities, especially supporting the leadership of communities of color. Hierl also noted the unique opportunity presented by the federal stimulus money from the American Rescue Plan Act.
VCV TAKE: Vermont Conservation Voters Executive Director Lauren Hierl wrote, “Altogether, given the massive challenges and opportunities we are grappling with right now, I’m heartened to see lawmakers’ ongoing commitment to policies that support healthy communities and an accessible democracy. Likewise, I’m hopeful that once-in-a-lifetime investments made possible by the federal stimulus funds can be strategically invested in programs that improve our health and environment. As spring blooms, I’m grateful for these reasons for optimism.
MONUMENTAL LEADERSHIP IN NV: Nevada Conservation League member Paulette Stauffer Henriod wrote an opinion piece for the Nevada Independent, expressing support for the proposed Avi Kwa Ame national monument. This would put Nevada ahead on implementing the 30 by 30 initiative to conserve 30 percent of US lands and waters by 2030, as well as preserve valuable natural spaces for recreation and protect biodiversity from resource extraction and other land degradation. Avi Kwa Ame is also sacred to many Native American Tribes in the area who are leading the efforts to designate the monument.
NLCV TAKE: Nevada Conservation League member Paulette Stauffer Henriod wrote, “Nevadans are worried about the future of natural spaces and we’re ready for bold action to protect them. We’ll enjoy the economic benefits that a new national monument will provide. But most importantly, we are stewards of the earth’s blessings and are accountable for the planet’s degradation. Conservation of the land and water is our moral obligation. The better we care for the earth and the more equitably we share its resources, the better it will sustain, strengthen, enliven, gladden and protect us.”
ALL OF MAY – Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
May 8th — John Lewis Day of Action