This Week In Climate (In)Action


Apr 19, 2019



“Today, with the signing of this bill, it is our hope that the oil and gas wars that have enveloped our state are over.”

— Colorado Governor Jared Polis while signing oil and gas reforms into law

“Every community should be able to voice their concerns when oil & gas companies want to drill. However, the President skipped meaningful consultation with tribes & outreach to our communities. So, we held a hearing.”

— New Mexico Representative Deb Haaland via Twitter, following a U.S. House Natural Resources subcommittee field hearing in Santa Fe.


“The Green New Deal has the power to reshape our energy system, our economy, and our democracy…The Green New Deal is about jobs and justice. McConnell and Republicans think the Green New Deal is just a resolution, but it is a revolution.”

— Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey wrote in an op-ed for The Boston Globe this week.



LCV issued a new report, 100 Days of Clean Energy Progress in the States, which features the environmental progress of ten governors across the country. These ten governors are turning their Clean Energy for All campaign commitments into real-world policies, moving the U.S. closer to 100 percent clean energy. Now, 100 days into these governors’ terms, they’re setting an ambitious tone and pace for clean energy action.


Read more here. Here are some highlights:


  • Colorado Governor Jared Polis used his first executive order to create statewide electric vehicle standards.
  • Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker helped the Illinois EPA launch a new greenhouse gas emissions tracker for the state.
  • Maine Governor Janet Mills pledged to get 100 percent of Maine’s electricity from renewable sources by 2050 and to eliminate 80 percent of Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  • Minnesota Governor Tim Walz required utilities to prioritize efficient, clean energy sources over fossil fuels any time they propose new power generation.
  • New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham championed and signed a bill that increases the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) targets to 50 percent by 2030, 80 percent by 2040, and 100 percent by 2045.




E&E News: Gardner ‘ready for battle,’ plans to run on environmental record

Vox: Sen. Ed Markey: “We are now in the era of the Green New Deal”

The Guardian: The rare Republican who’s actually worried about climate change

Essence: She, The People: Meet Rhiana Gunn-Wright, An Architect Behind The Green New Deal

E&E News: Greens convene Midwestern leaders for collaboration



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:


Western Wire (CO): Polis, Dems, Greens Tout “End Of Oil Wars” In Signing Of SB 181

Albany Times Union (NY): New York aims to curb food waste

Bangor Daily News (ME): Mills gets A rating from Conservation Voters

Montgomery Advertiser (AL): City Council, mayor rebuke efforts by Legislature over local control issues

WorkBoat (SC): Bill would ban offshore drilling on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts




CLIMATE ON THE TRAIL: 2020 candidates are prioritizing climate change. Check out this week’s roundup of what candidates have said and done to put climate action front and center.

SHOT: GOVERNORS GET IT DONE: The Washington Post profiled a group of newly elected governors this week, noting their accomplishments in pushing forward environmental protection policies. Governors Janet Mills of Maine, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, among others, have been working to undo the damage of their predecessors.


CHASER: POLIS SIGNS SWEEPING LEGISLATION: Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill that will change how oil and gas industries are regulated. The new law requires health and safety to be the primary consideration when the state approves new oil and gas permits and gives local governments greater authority over drilling .


ALREADY INVESTIGATING BERNHARDT : The Interior Department’s inspector general has launched an investigation into Secretary David Bernhardt, who was confirmed by the Senate last week. The investigation will look into potential ethics violations by Bernhardt, who has been accused of not only using his position at Interior to help his former lobbying firm and clients , but also continuing to lobby after legally declaring he had stopped. The investigation will also look into Bernhardt blocking a report on the effects of chemicals on endangered species.


BERNHARDT PART 2: While House committees are still looking into what happened to missing documents that were requested for Bernhardt’s confirmation hearing, the Interior Department said this week that Bernhardt’s missing calendars were due to “internal protocol,” meaning that staff intentionally excluded listing the secretary’s meetings with third party special interest groups like fossil fuel and timber companies.


SPEAKING OF BERNHARDT: This week LCV launched digital ads calling out Senator Cory Gardner for voting to confirm an oil and gas lobbyist to lead Interior. LCV’s own Pete Maysmith said: “Senator Gardner can’t claim to be a champion for western values in one moment and then turn around and vote to sell out our public lands in the next.”


REPS WANT MORE INTERIOR FOIA FUNDING: A group of House members have requested increased funding to help staff at the Department of Interior handle FOIA requests, with the goal of providing faster access to details of department dealings. Representatives Raúl Grijalva, Elijah Cummings, and TJ Cox asked the House Appropriations Committee last Friday to allocate funding for a minimum of 10 new staff for Interior’s FOIA office.


EPA HEARTS DIRTY WATER, STATES DON’T: According to a joint statement issued by 15 Attorneys General, EPA “Dirty Water Rule” proposal to replace an Obama-era water regulation would end crucial protections for half of America’s wetlands. They  highlight that Trump is violating the very mission of the Clean Water Act, and that the EPA’s proposal ignores science on the connectivity of waters and failed to evaluate how many waterways would lose protection under the proposal.


THE COMMENTS ARE IN: After a short 60 days, the official public comment period on the Dirty Water Rule closed on Monday. LCV members joined over half a million people in submitting comments telling the administration that the EPA should abandon the Dirty Water Rule and instead stand up for our families and communities, not corporate polluters.  


EPA HEARTS DIRTY WATER PART 2: This week EPA issued troubling new “interpretive guidance” that states the agency will no longer regulate pollution that travels through groundwater into surface water under the Clean Water Act. The move is an attempt to persuade the Supreme Court as it reviews a case on the issue, but, besides throwing out decades of agency precedent, this new interpretation defies Congress’ intent in passing the Clean Water Act in the first place and creates a huge loophole in the law that only benefits polluters.


COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF CLEAN WATER: The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that the EPA needs to strengthen its regulations for toxic wastewater at power plants. The guidelines had not been updated in over three decades, and it is important for public health that this wastewater, often filled with heavy metals like mercury, lead, and other pollutants, is better regulated. The court ruling is also likely to throw a wrench into the Trump administration’s attempted rollback of the broader Steam Electric Effluent Limitation Guidelines for power plants.  


ZINKE RUINS AMERICA’S PUBLIC LANDS, EARNS 6 FIGURES: Former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who resigned in January due to a slew of ethics violations, recently landed a six-figure job working for a mining company in Nevada. The Associated Press reported, “The company’s CEO cited Zinke’s ‘excellent relationship’ with the Bureau of Land Management and the Interior Department in explaining his hiring as a consultant and board member.”


HOUSE HEARING IN NEW MEXICO: The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing in New Mexico on Monday about oil and gas development. Indigenous leaders, including from the Navajo Nation and Pueblo tribes, argued for protecting sacred sites from nearby drilling.


SEE YOU IN COURT: A coalition of environmental groups is suing the Trump administration for its approval of a coal project near Bryce Canyon National Park, saying it goes against environmental rules and regulations. The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Utah on Tuesday.


WHERE IMMIGRATION AND CLIMATE INTERSECT: A story in The New York Times published over the weekend highlights the growing trend of migration to the U.S. from Central America due to the effects of climate change on agriculture. Many people from countries including Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador — countries where Trump has said he would cut off aid — are moving north to survive while their local economies suffer from the impacts of a changing climate.


YOUNG PEOPLE KNOW WHAT’S UP: It’s a fact that young people are serious about climate change, but it’s not just kids on the left; young conservatives, even Trump supporters, are rooting for climate action. In January, the American Conservation Coalition, a group of college-age Republicans advocating for the environment, sent a letter to Republican politicians urging them to take action on clean energy and environmental issues.


HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES: While Trump continues to undermine and rollback important environmental protections, state and local leaders are moving forward with climate action and helping us transition to a clean energy economy. Here are some highlights:


MIDWEST: LCV, along with the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups, convened a meeting of Midwestern state officials on Tuesday to discuss actions they can take to combat climate change. Led by their new Clean Energy for All governors, each state has recently signed on to the U.S. Climate Alliance, which aims to uphold the U.S.’s commitments in the Paris Climate Agreement.


COLORADO: In addition to Governor Polis signing oil and gas industry reforms into law, the Colorado State House passed H.B.1261, the Climate Action Plan To Reduce Pollution, on Tuesday. The bill would establish goals for emissions limitations in order to promote clean air and conservation. The bill now heads to the state Senate.


OREGON: Portland-area public buses are going green. TriMet, the area’s bus system, has announced its vehicles will run on 100% wind power from now on, the first fleet in the country to do so.


NEVADA: The Nevada Senate passed a bill to raise its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and commit to 50% clean energy by 2030. The Senate also passed a bill that provides funding for electric school buses, which would mean cost savings and safer, healthier rides for students. El Tiempo ran an article on the electric school bus funding  — read it in Spanish, here!.


WASHINGTON: The Washington legislature passed the Clean Buildings for WA Act, which would make buildings healthier places to work, help lower energy bills, and create new jobs.




APRIL 22 – CNN / Harvard IOP Town Halls w/ Mayor Pete, Sen. Harris, Sen. Klobuchar Sen. Sanders, and Sen. Warren.


APRIL 24 – She the People Presidential Forum at Texas Southern University w/ Sen. Booker, Former Sec. Castro, Rep. Gabbard, Sen. Garris, Sen. Klobuchar, Former Rep. O’Rourke, Sen. Sanders, and Sen. Warren.