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This Week In Climate Action

THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE ACTION – SEPTEMBER 15, 2023

Sep 15, 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:

“Now is the time for the Big Three to work with the UAW, step up for hardworking Americans, support our country’s competitive standing in the world and help fight the climate crisis.”

Mike Williams, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, on the UAW contract negotiations and EV transition.

“Climate change affecting the food supply should scare everybody. If you don’t have food, you don’t have life.”

– Cherie Jzar, an urban farmer in Charlotte, NC, in LCV’s new ad campaign urging members of Congress to pass a Farm Bill that maintains the $20 million in climate-smart investments from the IRA.

“LCV, Rewiring America, and [Congresswoman Escobar] are in lockstep in terms of ensuring we are doing whatever we can to ensure those investments are targeted and prioritized for communities that need it most.”

— Davis Bates, LCV Congressional Champions Project Director, during a webinar on IRA implementation with Rewiring America, Chispa TX and Congresswoman Escobar.


HIGHLIGHTS IN INFLATION REDUCTION ACT IMPLEMENTATION:

TOWN HALL WITH REPRESENTATIVE ESCOBAR: U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar co-hosted a town hall with LCV, Chispa TX, and Rewiring America to boost awareness and familiarity with the IRA’s clean energy and climate justice investments passed in the last Congress with state, local, and Tribal government officials and school district representatives. The town hall is part of LCV’s ongoing efforts with members of Congress to educate entities and constituents about how to access beneficial clean energy programs.

OUR TAKE: LCV Government Affairs Advocate on Clean Energy and Climate Change Art Terrazas said, “We are thrilled to support the efforts of Representative Escobar to equitably implement the historic clean energy and climate investments in the Inflation Reduction Act for the communities that need them most. We look forward to continuing to work with members of Congress and state, local, and tribal governments to tap into the money saving benefits in the affordable clean energy plan.”

CHISPA TX TAKE: Chispa TX Program Director Elida Castillo said, “We are grateful for the work that Representative Escobar does in her district and we are honored to partner with her in bringing forward this valuable information on how our most impacted communities can benefit from the Inflation Reduction Act. We hope local municipalities, school districts, and other small governments will leverage this funding to create the safe, healthy, and thriving communities we all deserve.”

REPRESENTATIVE ESCOBAR TAKE: Representative Escobar said,  “As El Paso continues to experience record breaking heat, I am proud to have voted for both the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to ensure the federal government is putting the resources to transition to a clean energy future in the hands of communities like ours. The climate crisis is here, and I’m grateful to organizations like the League of Conservation Voters for joining me in bringing awareness to El Paso’s local governments about the federal resources available to them.”

IRA 1st ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS WRAP UP: LCV’s Climate Action team in New Hampshire rounded out CVM celebrations of the one year anniversary of IRA with a roundtable event featuring U.S. Representative Chris Pappas. Representative Pappas, along with seven other participants, spoke on what is happening at the federal level to secure funds for coastal and marine resiliency projects.


IN NATIONAL NEWS: 

LCV KICKS OFF FARM BILL AD CAMPAIGN: This week, LCV launched a six-figure ad campaign to highlight how farmers across the country benefit from conservation funding and urge members of Congress to pass a Farm Bill that maintains the $20 billion in climate-smart investments from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as Republicans have aimed to cut funding in ongoing negotiations. Watch one of the ads here!

OUR TAKE: LCV Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote said, “Investments in climate-smart agricultural practices allow farmers to be part of the climate solution, helping to protect people, our food supply and our planet. The Inflation Reduction Act’s $20 billion in climate-smart agriculture funding is the largest investment in farming and rural communities in decades, yet, extreme Republicans want to roll back the IRA despite the harm it would cause to their own constituents. Farmers and families across the country are already seeing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis firsthand, so it is critical that Congress maintain these critical investments in conservation and climate-smart agriculture in the farm bill to increase the resiliency of our farmers, communities, food supply, and economy.”

HOUSE REPUBLICANS VOTE TO BLOCK STATES’ STRONG CAR STANDARDS: House Republicans, and a handful of Democrats, voted to pass H.R. 1435, the so-called Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act, and in doing so severely limited states’ ability to set strong car standards and protect communities from the effects of toxic air pollution.

OUR TAKE: LCV Climate & Clean Energy Government Affairs Advocate Darien Davis said, “Republicans are determined to roll back electric vehicle benefits for families, harm our global competitiveness, and weaken car standards that keep our communities safe in favor of polluters and special interests. Today’s vote forced by extremist House Republicans is disappointing but not unexpected as they continue to do everything in their power to stall progress towards a clean energy future and block states’ rights to deliver cleaner air to their residents in favor of their fossil fuel cronies. Transitioning to zero-emission vehicles will mean cleaner air for our communities and our children in historically excluded communities who suffer the most from toxic air pollution.”

CHISPA TAKE: Chispa National Director Estefany Carrasco-Gonzalez said, “With today’s vote, House Republicans have once again shown that they value the interests of Big Polluters over the health and safety of our communities. The science is clear: we must transition away from traditional combustion engines to secure a safe future for the planet and breathable air for our children and comunidades, yet extreme House Republicans continue to ignore the impacts of air pollution and put our communities, especially those who have been historically excluded, at risk. Congress must take immediate action to place the needs of people over polluter interests by strengthening clean transportation policies instead of weakening them.”

UAW ON STRIKE: This morning, the UAW began a targeted strike against the Big Three automakers (GM, Ford, and Stellantis) after failing to come to an agreement on the union’s demands of increased wages, benefits, and job protection in the transition to electric vehicles by the negotiation deadline last night. In our statements on car standards, LCV and Chispa stood in solidarity with autoworkers.

OUR TAKE: LCV Climate & Clean Energy Government Affairs Advocate Darien Davis said, “We stand in solidarity with UAW and underscore their demands of the Big Three to ensure the future of electric vehicles guarantees good jobs for families across the country. Stronger clean vehicles standards help boost innovation, good jobs, and local investments to keep our manufacturing at the cutting edge of transportation.”

CHISPA TAKE: Chispa National Director Estefany Carrasco-Gonzalez said, “While it is important to embrace cleaner transportation, we cannot do so without ensuring good jobs for the workers critical to facilitating this transition. Chispa supports the UAW in their demands and stands in solidarity with autoworkers.”

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION RELEASES MINING LAW RECOMMENDATIONS: The Biden-Harris administration released the Interagency Working Group Report on Mining Regulations, Laws, and Permitting, which included recommendations that would improve oversight for hardrock mining and protect communities, clean water, and cultural resources.

OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director America Fitzpatrick said, “We applaud the Biden-Harris administration’s Interagency Working Group for rightly recognizing that our existing laws and regulations on hardrock mining inadequately protect communities and our resources, and for recommending badly needed changes. The recommendations in this report center the needs of impacted communities, including Tribal nations, while also advancing our clean energy future. We join the Biden-Harris administration in calling on Congress to reform our antiquated hardrock mining laws.”

U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS RELEASE DAKOTA PIPELINE EIS: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Dakota Access oil pipeline was released last week with a variety of options examined, but no definitive guidance on the pipeline’s future, instead stating the Army Corps will take input from the public and other agencies before making a decision.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Federal Advocacy Campaigns Director Leah Donahey said, “Today’s draft environmental impact statement from the Army Corps holds open the only acceptable option – a shutdown of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. Continued operation of this pipeline threatens clean air and water, and the health and safety of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others downstream. LCV continues to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and will be encouraging public engagement to fight this dirty and dangerous pipeline.”

EPA RELEASES WATER QUALITY IMPROVEMENT RULE: The EPA released the final “2023 Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Improvement Rule,” which restores state and Tribal authority to protect their waters from potentially harmful federal projects, like pipelines.

OUR TAKE:  LCV Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote said, “The EPA’s action has restored the important authority of states and Tribes to protect the waters their communities depend on for drinking, recreation, and fueling healthy local economies. The capability of states and Tribes to weigh in on federal projects like pipelines and dams and limit potential harm to their waterways is a key component of the Clean Water Act, which the Trump administration rolled back to help their Big Polluter allies. We greatly appreciate the Biden administration’s effort to undo the damage from this polluter giveaway and their continued work to safeguard clean water for all communities.”

NEW REPORT IMPACT OF HEAVY INDUSTRY POLLUTION: The Sierra Club released a report with data regarding the impacts of heavy industry pollution on climate and public health, particularly in fenceline communities, in order to drive and inform public engagement with industry and government.

SIERRA CLUB TAKE:  In an introduction to the report, Sierra Club said, “Given the consequential impacts of these manufacturing facilities on the economy, environment, and communities, good data is vital for making good policies and taking constructive action. This includes understanding the specific effects of each industry at large, as well as the impacts of individual facilities… The goal of this research is to support public engagement with industry and government around policies to transform American manufacturing to serve a more sustainable economy, while improving climate and public health impacts.”

TURBINE CONSTRUCTION BEGINS AT NATION’S LARGEST OFFSHORE WIND FARM: This week, the first turbines went into the water off the coast of Massachusetts at the Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind project. Once completed, 62 turbines will generate over 800 MW of electricity, powering more than 400,000 buildings and reducing carbon pollution by over 1.6 million tons a year. Vineyard Wind 1 and South Fork Wind – a smaller offshore wind project currently under construction near Long Island – are both expected to begin operation before the end of this year and will be the nation’s first utility-scale offshore wind farms. Read about and see photos from the New England for Offshore Wind coalition’s boat trip to the Vineyard Wind 1 site in August here.


HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:

CALIFORNIA PASSES NATION-LEADING CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY BILL: The California Senate passed groundbreaking emission transparency legislation that requires major companies to publicly disclose their climate emissions. California Environmental Voters sponsored the legislation and led efforts for over two years to secure this win.

CALIFORNIA ENVIROVOTERS’ TAKE: California Environmental Voters CEO Mary Creasman said, “The Assembly Speaker and the Senate President and their houses have shown true leadership in this moment ensuring California doesn’t take a step backwards in the fight for our future. This bill will have global impacts in our fight to reduce pollution and the connected catastrophic impacts like extreme heat, fires, flooding, and drought. We are closer than ever to making it a reality that our largest corporations (who are responsible for 71% of global emissions) will have to measure and publicly disclose their pollution through all scopes of business.

“Major corporations like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Salesforce, Ikea, and many others have stepped up to be accountable for their emissions and lead the business community forward on climate leadership. California is the 4th largest economy in the world, and this policy will have global impacts.

“We are excited for the Governor to join the Speaker and Senate President in advancing California’s climate leadership by signing SB 253 into law. Our fight to protect our future and build a healthier, cleaner California is not over.”

VALCV INJECTS $2 MILLION INTO STATE CAMPAIGNS: Virginia LCV’s PAC announced it will make the organization’s largest investment to date to support Democratic candidates in the upcoming state elections.

VALCV TAKE: Virginia LCV Executive Director Michael Town said, “We need strong environmental leadership now more than ever in Virginia, and we’re all-in to restore the Conservation Majority at the General Assembly. Governor Youngkin and his extreme allies up and down the ticket have one thing in common: they want to dismantle the progress we’ve made in Virginia and put big polluters’ interests above what’s best for our Commonwealth. We refuse to let that happen, which is why we’re mounting our largest legislative electoral campaign to-date to send environmental leaders to Richmond.”

MONTANA CONSERVATION VOTERS CONDEMN VETO OF POPULAR CONSERVATION BILL: Montana Conservation Voters (MCV) recently released it’s 2023 Scorecard, and used the opportunity to hold Governor Greg Gianforte accountable for his veto of a popular conservation bill that would have redirected marijuana sales tax to conservation-related projects. The veto is now the subject of a lawsuit against Gianforte.

MCV TAKE: MCV Board Chair Jock Conyngham said, “We hope that the Governor’s office learns to respect the voters and the legislators they elect, and not play this kind of game that he’s playing by denying the opportunity for an override.”

BACK TO SCHOOL FOR CLIMATE ACTION TEAMS: LCV Climate Action teams headed to college campuses in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Nevada to talk about the federal Farm Bill and the Environmental Justice for All Act this week. The teams connected with students and encouraged them to contact their legislators in support of these vitally important bills.

CHISPA NEVADA LIDERES URGE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION NOT TO INCREASE RATES: Chispa Lideres (“leaders”) showed up to the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada hearing this week to urge commissioners not to increase the cost of electricity for Nevadans. For more, check out Chispa NV’s post.


NEW ON THE POWER SOURCE BLOG AND SOCIALS:

ON THE BLOG: Following the passage of the IRA, Georgia artist Caitlin Rogers teamed up with GCV and other local organizations for a climate justice inspired mural in the Summerhill neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. Learn more about Caitlin and their mission, new on the blog!

ON OUR SOCIALS: LCV showed its support for the UAW strike on Twitter/X, where the Farm Bill ad campaign also debuted.


COMING UP:

SEPTEMBER 19: National Voter Registration Day

SEPTEMBER 22: National Drive Electric Week begins

SEPTEMBER 23: National Public Lands Day

SEPTEMBER 30: Government funding expires