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“There is one term that appears nowhere in the president’s budget: It’s called climate change. One of the greatest challenges of our time, the No. 1 threat facing our planet, climate change, is not mentioned once among the hundreds of pages of the president’s budget.”
— Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in an E&E article on Trump’s FY2021 budget.
“We’re more likely to contract diseases and to develop cancers and these type of life-threatening conditions, especially in communities of color that are disproportionately affected by environmental threats.”
— Teenage climate activist Jesús Villalba Gastélum in a Los Angeles Times article about fellow youth activist Nalleli Cobo and her recent diagnosis of a rare cancer.
“There are no concrete details here about scaling down production of fossil fuels or scaling up renewables. This will raise concerns that the company thinks it can just plant trees or use other offsets to make up for ever greater petrochemical production. This would not be enough to stabilise the climate.”
— Jonathan Watts in his Guardian article, BP’s statement on reaching net zero by 2050 – what it says and what it means
Houston Chronicle: Democrats’ plastic waste bill would upend industry
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: On the New Hampshire campaign trail: What some candidates are saying about climate change. (Spoiler alert: It’s smart.)
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:
Grand Rapids Legal News (MI): Local Attorney Welch is making a run for Michigan Supreme Court Justice Position
Mail Tribune (OR): Brown announces ‘historic’ agreement
The Washington Post (VA): Virginia House passes major renewable energy legislation
WEEKEND READ: Don’t forget to check out this week’s weekend read! This LA Times article, She fought a South L.A. oil site as a child. Now, this teen activist has a new battle, by Emily Alpert Reyes, profiles 19-year-old climate activist Nalleli Cobo. Cobo has been fighting against oil drilling and chemical factories in her south Los Angeles neighborhood since the age of nine. She bravely shares her and her family’s experience dealing with the toxic fumes and the health complications that have transpired. Cobo joined Jane Fonda’s Fire Drill Friday along with Joaquin Phoenix in LA to share her unfortunate diagnosis of a rare cancer. Although doctors are not sure of a direct linkage to the pollution, Cobo and other youth activists of color, like Jesús Villalba Gastélum, are helping to lead this fight for a healthier future.
CLEAN ECONOMY ACT: Senator Tom Carper introduced the Clean Economy Act of 2020 in the Senate, which will put the U.S. on a path to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050. The bill is cosponsored by 34 Democratic senators and one independent. This new legislation would help achieve cleaner air and healthier communities nationwide.
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “We commend Senator Carper and a strong coalition of environmental champions in the Senate for introducing the Clean Economy Act. This legislation is in line with what science demands and recognizes we must act now. It is critical that our solutions to the climate crisis create good, family-sustaining jobs and reduce locally harmful air pollution. We appreciate the engagement of Senator Carper and his staff across labor, environmental, business and environmental justice experts in developing this legislation. The public is demanding action on the climate crisis and its impacts are harming communities across the country and exacerbating racial and social inequality. This legislation stands in stark contrast to President Trump and Senate Leader McConnell who are harming all of us by doing polluters’ bidding and attempting to block climate action and cut programs critical to our health and our environment.”
BREAKING FREE: Democrats from the House and Senate introduced the Break Free From Plastics Pollution Act, which would halt the construction of new plastic manufacturing plants until experts can determine the full extent of the plastic waste crisis we are facing. The bill is sponsored by Senator Tom Udall and Representative Alan Lowenthal and would also ban single use plastic products such as bags. It is estimated that about 20 BILLION pounds of plastic waste end up in our oceans every single year and that we each ingest a credit card’s worth of plastic every week (gulp!). This bill, if made into law, would help cut plastic pollution, demand for plastics, and plastics’ associated toxic emissions.
OUR TAKE: LCV Legislative Director Matthew Davis said, “We commend Sen. Tom Udall and Rep. Alan Lowenthal for the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act. Our over-reliance on plastics is bad for our health, air quality, the climate, local waterways, and the oceans, and particularly for those low-wealth communities and communities of color who bear the brunt of air, water, and climate pollution from their fossil fueled production. Nothing we use for a minute should pollute our environment for hundreds of years. It’s time for us to reduce the use of plastics, increase recycling, and maximize the use of recycled materials.”
FIRST-IN-THE-NATION RESULTS: This week was the highly anticipated New Hampshire Primary where Bernie Sanders was declared the winner in a timely manner. LCV put out a memo on the New Hampshire primary, similar to the one we did a few weeks ago on Iowa, detailing how climate has been a top issue in the primary. Climate continues to be a winner in the polls (see below 👇) and among democratic voters. We look forward to what candidates have to say at the Nevada debate, taking place Wednesday, February 19th and don’t forget to keep an eye out for our next memo, ahead of the Nevada caucuses on February 22!
GRANITE STATERS’ TAKE: In response to New Hampshire exit polls, the Washington Post’s Sarah Kaplan smartly pointed out: “Nearly 3 in 10 people leaving the polls in NH said climate change was their top issue; the only issue that ranked higher was health care. In 2016, exit polls didn’t even offer climate as an option.”
NEW NEVADA POLL: With the Nevada caucuses and Democratic debate right around the corner, LCV released the results of a new Public Policy Polling poll of the state’s likely Democratic caucus goers. Some toplines from the poll: 86% of likely Democratic caucusgoers think climate and the environment are very important or the most important issues of 2020, and for likely Latinx caucusgoers, climate change is an even more important issue than health care or immigration. Climate is winning in the polls and deserves prioritization from candidates.
CVM TAKE: Nevada Conservation League Executive Director Andi Maggi said, “Nevadans know that 2020 is our last and best chance to confront the climate crisis and are looking for a nominee who is committed to taking immediate action. That’s why climate champions have been elected up and down the ballot in Nevada and why our state is leading in this fight. As candidates campaign in Nevada, they must continue talking about their climate plans with voters and learning from our clean energy and sustainability leaders how we can solve this crisis together.”
DOUBLE TAKE: Chispa Nevada Program Director Rudy Zamora said, “Latinx communities are hit first and hardest by climate, so it’s not surprising to see that climate change is the most important issue for Nevada Latinx voters in deciding who to support for president. Latinx voters want the next president to have a strong climate plan. If 2020 candidates want to win the Latinx vote in Nevada, they must understand the relationship that our communities have with our environment and make it a priority to address climate injustices.”
YOUR TAKE: Earther’s Yessenia Funes wrote an article in which she analyzes the results and says, “The results tell an even more interesting story if you take a closer look at Latinx respondents. Climate change was the most important issue. It came out on top of universal healthcare and immigration reform. Latinxs surveyed were more likely to choose climate change as their issue than the white, indigenous, Asian American, or black people surveyed.”
SAME OLD BUDGET: The Trump administration released its last proposed budget ever (🤞), which, unsurprisingly, recommends decimating the EPA’s budget with a 26% cut, a cut that would, of course, sacrifice initiatives that protect the health and safety of children and communities across the country. The Trump proposal also slashes the Department of the Interior’s budget by 13%, which includes nearly eliminating funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program that has provided communities access to parks and public lands in almost every county of our country. The good news: Congress, who actually holds the power of the purse, is unlikely to follow these unreasonable budget suggestions, especially since they don’t match the agreed-upon budget caps.
OUR TAKE: LCV Legislative Director Matthew Davis said, “The values reflected in this budget proposal show Trump prioritizes polluters over people every time. Cutting the Environmental Protection Agency budget by nearly a third and Interior by 13 percent, including nearly zeroing out the Land and Water Conservation Fund, would be dangerously irresponsible. The effects of climate change are already being felt in communities across the country. Unhealthy air days rose 15 percent in the first two years of the Trump administration, and our drinking water sources face serious threats as tens of millions of people risk exposure from pollution like lead, arsenic, toxic algae blooms, and a group of toxic chemicals called PFAS. What’s more, the drastic cuts to non-defense-related Department of Energy programs completely undermine Trump’s assurances that his administration will address the climate crisis through research and innovation — an approach that fails to meet the scale of the climate crisis but that he still won’t put resources towards. Congress must reject and replace this budget with one that truly protects the public’s health and provides the economic opportunities of a clean energy future.”
THAT’S WILD: This week, the House passed legislation, the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act, which would permanently protect 1.37 million acres of public lands and waters in California, Colorado and Washington. The package of six bills preserves majestic landscapes and rivers, protects tribal lands and cultural sites from oil and gas development, improves access to public lands for underserved communities, addresses threats of climate change by increasing wildfire resilience, and promotes our country’s thriving outdoor recreation economy.
OUR TAKE: LCV sent a letter to members of the House, urging them to support the package of bills. In the letter, LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “At a time of unprecedented attacks by the Administration on our public lands and in the midst of the global nature, extinction, and climate crises, protecting our public lands is crucial to fight against the desecration of our natural resources and heritage, address the rapid loss of natural areas to human activity, safeguard wildlife and biodiversity from mass extinction, ensure the safety and health of our communities from Big Polluters, and naturally mitigate the devastating effects of climate change.”
OUT REPRESENTATION: Part of protecting our planet is protecting our democracy, and ensuring every community has representation in Congress, so their voices are heard as we seek to air and water clean, and take action on climate. And this week, our country got one step closer to a more just and equitable democracy for the more than 700,000 residents of our nation’s capital. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform passed legislation that would grant DC its long-overdue right to statehood and thus full voting representation in Congress. House leadership has committed to bringing the bill to a vote on the floor before the end of summer, which will be the first vote in Congress on DC statehood since 1993.
JUDGE DREAD: This week, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Andrew Brasher to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, despite his long record advocating for restricting the right to vote, particularly in communities of color. The right to vote is, indeed, a right and not a privilege and should be treated as such. With Brasher’s nomination we are taking even more steps backwards in our democracy under the Trump administration.
OUR TAKE: LCV sent a letter to the Senate opposing the judicial nomination of Andrew Brasher.
ASKING FOR INPUT ON NOT TAKING INPUT: This week, the administration held a public hearing in Denver on their proposal to gut key provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act. In particular, the administration’s proposal would severely limit public input on the environmental effects that federal projects will have on our communities, public lands and health (oh, the irony of the hearing). At the hearing, Lyla June Johnston, an activist and member of the Diné nation responded by saying, “The proposed changes are a slap in the face to our democracy – a slap in the face to the integrity of our mother earth.”
COAL WORLD (MD): New legislation was introduced in Maryland this week. The bill offers plans to help retire six coal-burning power plants remaining in Maryland. The bill will also offer a transition plan for coal workers in their shift to clean energy. Maryland continues to see the devastating effects of climate change with rising sea levels and extreme weather, and the state is taking steps toward making the needed transition to clean energy.
CVM TAKE: Deputy Director for Maryland League of Conservation Voters Ramon Palencia-Calvo said, “Maryland is especially vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis and communities of color face the brunt of pollution from these outdated coal-fired power plants. Our state needs to be a leader in the clean energy economy with a transition for workers in this field and the communities hosting the facilities. This bill includes an equitable and just plan to move away from coal as the best path forward to solve the climate crisis and better serve frontline communities.”
PUT A SIGNATURE ON IT (NY): Many children’s products, including toys, car seats, and apparel contain chemicals that are linked to cancer, development delays, cognitive impairments and other health problems. For years, the New York League of Conservation Voters has worked as part of a coalition advocating for the Child Safe Products Act, which Governor Cuomo recently signed into law. Now the state will be required to maintain a list of concerning and dangerous chemicals, manufacturers will be required to disclose the use of these chemicals in their products, and the sale of new children’s products containing dangerous chemicals will be banned. This is a huge win for the kids!
CVM TAKE: New York League of Conservation Voters Senior Vice President Josh Klainberg said, “The Child Safe Products Act is a long-overdue step forward in protecting our children’s health and removing toxins from our environment. That’s why we included it in our Environmental Scorecard and State Policy Agenda for years. Requiring the disclosure of chemicals in children’s products and banning the most hazardous chemicals from being used will keep children safe and reduce environmental toxins. We thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill after many years of negotiation. We commend Senator Kaminsky and Assemblyman Englebright for their continued leadership on environmental health.”
100% IS GOING LOCAL (OH): While the election of many pro-environment governors and state legislators in 2018 has resulted in unprecedented state-level climate policies, some states, like Ohio, still face state governments that are hostile to clean energy progress. To circumvent this roadblock and continue to make progress, our state partner in Ohio, the Ohio Environmental Council, is leading a new initiative, “Power a Clean Future Ohio,” which will work to help municipal leaders implement carbon-reduction plans. With local governments, they’re planning to increase the use of renewable energy, transition city transit fleets to 100% electric, implement energy-efficiency programs, and create more green space.
CLEAN ENERGY LOBBY DAY (OR): Earlier this year, lawmakers in Oregon relaunched a bill limiting carbon pollution that, during the previous legislative session, sent Oregon Republicans scuttling across state lines in a dereliction of their duty. This week, the re-upped legislation has drawn enormous public support: over 1,000 people joined the Oregon League of Conservation Voters and Renew Oregon in support of the climate legislation. Stay tuned to the Oregon legislative session to see whether Republican Senators will listen to the masses and stay in Salem and do their jobs.
VIRGINIA CLEAN ECONOMY ACT (VA): This week the Virginia House of Delegates passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, the strongest package of clean energy and climate legislation in the state’s history. The legislation will eliminate carbon emissions from the electricity sector, implement the state’s first-ever mandatory renewable portfolio standard, require investments in energy efficiency, and make it easier to install rooftop solar. The initiative also prioritizes input from disadvantaged communities when making electric energy decisions, protects low-income ratepayers, and addresses the social cost of carbon.
CVM TAKE: Virginia League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Michael Town had this to say, “Today, Virginia made history. The House of Delegates just advanced the most aggressive plan to tackle the climate crisis that we’ve ever seen in the Commonwealth, putting us among top states nationally that are working to cut carbon emissions and expand clean energy. This legislation will grow our economy, protect public health and improve Virginians’ lives. But we’re only halfway there. We urge lawmakers to continue the momentum on climate action by getting the Virginia Clean Economy Act to the Governor’s desk. Voters demanded action – now is the time for results.”
February 1-29: Black History Month
February 19: Nevada Democratic Debate
February 22: Nevada Caucus
February 25: Public hearing in DC on Trump admin’s proposed gutting of NEPA
February 27: International Polar Bear Day
February 28: National Science Day