QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Young people all over the world are leading the way in the fight to protect our planet because they know their future depends on it. This Earth Day, I want to celebrate the courageous, committed young leaders who are stepping up to save the one planet we’ve got.”
— President Barack Obama via Twitter on Monday.
“Nevadans know climate change is real. We’re seeing longer, more severe wildfires, heat waves & droughts. That’s why it’s critical for us to come together on Earth Day & every day to address climate change & protect our environment for future generations.”
— Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto via Twitter on Monday.
“The idea behind the Green New Deal is that we need to act boldly and urgently to confront the climate crisis and match the urgency of the challenge through large scale investments in clean energy, clean transportation, and in communities. The bottom line is that all Democrats agree that the climate crisis is a serious issue and that Congress needs to act boldly to address it.”
— Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in an interview with Our Daily Planet this week.
LCV IN THE NEWS:
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:
Miami Herald (FL): Environmentalists wary of bleak Florida Forever budget
The Colorado Sun (CO): Colorado is overhauling climate goals with an eye on scrubbing carbon from its electricity
The News & Observer (SC): Drilling off SC coast may be on hold. Many people are ecstatic.
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.
CLIMATE HIGHLIGHTED AT CNN TOWN HALLS: Five Democratic presidential candidates vowed to confront the climate crisis head on if elected in 2020 at back-to-back town halls in Manchester, New Hampshire. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg echoed the sentiments expressed in a new Harvard IOP poll, which showed that 69 percent of young Democrats who are likely to vote think climate change is “a crisis and demands urgent action.”
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “We commend these 2020 presidential candidates for campaigning more aggressively on climate action than ever before. The 2020 election represents the last, best chance for our country to confront the climate crisis, it’s a top tier issue for Democratic primary voters and every single candidate must commit to an ambitious plan to address the crisis on day one as president.”
COURTS, COASTAL COMMUNITIES FORCE BERNHARDT TO PAUSE OFFSHORE PLAN: Secretary of the Interior and former oil and gas lobbyist David Bernhardt told the Wall Street Journal that the federal court decision in LCV vs. Trump, which reinstated the ban on drilling in virtually the entire Arctic Ocean and key portions of the Atlantic, had complicated the administration’s attempts to ramp up offshore drilling. Additional sources said the plan would be postponed until after the 2020 election because offshore drilling is a political loser in the southeast and elsewhere. This pause in the offshore drilling plan is a win for coastal communities, but it isn’t enough–the administration’s plan should be scrapped entirely.
POLLS GALORE: Three new polls that surveyed public opinion on climate change were released this week; one by Gallup that shows concerns around the issue are higher in the Northeast and the West; another by the Harvard Institute of Politics that reveals young Americans want politicians to get serious about addressing climate change; and one by NPR conveying that over half of Republicans believe climate change should be taught in schools, with many more Democrats sharing this belief.
DIRTY INTERIOR: The Department of Interior’s Inspector General office launched an investigation this week into potential ethics violations by six Interior staffers who were appointed by Trump. They are accused of continuing to work with former employees or clients after taking their jobs at Interior, going against conflict of interest rules.
RULEBREAKING BERNHARDT: Although Interior Secretary David Bernhardt pledged to recuse himself from departmental dealings with his former clients, the newly-approved agency head involved himself anyway. Newly disclosed information about Bernhardt’s official calendar shows he participated in dozens of meetings with groups involved in matters he promised to avoid. This investigation was launched within mere days of Bernhardt becoming the secretary, which must be some kind of record.
WHEELER DEALER: EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler omitted a key lobbying client from his financial disclosure documents, according to a new letter from House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings. Wheeler left off his lobbying work for agricultural supplier Darling Ingredients, which raises even more potential ethics concerns for the Secretary since the EPA is in charge of writing and enforcing regulations that could affect the company.
DEMS LAUNCH ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE CAUCUS: Senators Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Tom Carper of Delaware announced Monday they are forming the Senate Environmental Justice Caucus, which will focus on studying and advocating for low income communities and people of color who are disproportionately impacted by climate change.
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “We are thrilled that Senators Duckworth, Booker, and Carper have launched this critical new caucus that shines a much-needed spotlight on the long history of environmental racism in the United States…Through this commitment to environmental justice, these senators are leading the way towards equal access to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. We encourage every senator to join the Environmental Justice Caucus.”
FLORIDA OPPOSES OFFSHORE DRILLING: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, along with a bipartisan group of fellow Florida Representatives, introduced a bill on Monday that would ban drilling off the Florida coast.
SEE YOU IN COURT PART 1: A federal judge ruled last Friday that the Department of Interior violated the law in its attempt to undo an Obama-era moratorium on coal mining on federal lands. The ruling says that the agency did not conduct proper environmental studies and reviews before lifting the moratorium.
SEE YOU IN COURT PART 2: The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that residents of Flint, Michigan can sue the federal government for improperly dealing with the water contamination the city has faced for years. The decision, which was made late last week, will open the door for lawsuits against the EPA for its role in the Flint water crisis.
TRUMP APPOINTEE RAO TO DECIDE EPA CASE: Neomi Rao, Trump’s recent pick for the federal judiciary, will hear her first case as a U.S. Court of Appeals judge next month. The case? Natural Resources Defense Council v. Wheeler, a suit that alleges the EPA violated the law when getting rid of a ban on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), greenhouse gases 12,000 times more potent that carbon dioxide. Rao spent the past two years as one of Trump’s chief deregulators, and her appointment as a federal judge will be a disaster for the environment.
OUR TAKE: LCV’s Judiciary Program Director Ben Driscoll said, “The Senate’s confirmation of Neomi Rao puts public health and the environment at risk, and Senators who voted for her have endorsed the immeasurable harm she will cause with her lifetime seat on the bench.”
TRUMP’S EARTH DAY ADDRESS OMITS CLIMATE CHANGE: In a proclamation released by Trump on Earth Day, the president failed to even mention climate change, instead talking about the economy and boasting about his environmental record, which has been one of destruction and deregulation. He said in the address, “My administration is committed to being effective stewards of our environment while encouraging opportunities for American workers and their families,” which is a flat out lie. But that’s no surprise coming from him.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND ECONOMIC INEQUALITY: A new study by two Stanford professors published by the National Academy of Sciences this week shows that climate change has made the global wealth gap even worse. Higher temperatures and increased emissions have greatly contributed to economic inequality between already-poorer and richer countries.
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:
ARIZONA: Chispa Arizona Executive Director, Laura Dent wrote about how dirty politics is polluting our air, and a day after Earth day, Arizona passed Public Lands Day both in the House and in the Senate.
NEVADA: On Monday, Governor Steve Sisolak signed into law a bill that sets a new standard requiring electric companies to use at least 50% renewable energy by 2030. Nevada became the 9th state (and 3rd one this year) to enact similar laws setting higher goals for clean energy across the country.
NEVADA PART TWO: Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto met with Chispa NV to talk about how climate change affects people or color.
OUR TAKE: Nevada Conservation League Executive Director Andy Maggi said, “With Governor Sisolak’s signature and unanimous support from our legislators, our state is now closer to a future where 100% of our energy comes from our plentiful solar, wind and geothermal resources, starting with a requirement of 50% by 2030. Raising the RPS helps Nevada’s workers, consumers, voters and our environment.”
WASHINGTON: This week, Washington State passed 100% clean energy legislation that vows to get rid of coal-powered energy by 2025 and to have the state run entirely on renewable energy by 2045. The law also incorporates equity considerations in the planning and acquisition of new energy sources and ensures benefits for impacted communities. Washington becomes the fourth state to pass legislation that promises 100% clean energy in the coming decades.
OUR TAKE: Washington Conservation Voters CEO Joan Crooks said, “Washington state once again showed that we can lead on climate action. A big thanks to the legislature and Governor for passing the strongest clean electricity bill in the nation, proving that we can champion worker protections, equity, and reduce climate pollution all at the same time.”
Next week–floor vote on the Climate Action Now Act (H.R.9) in the U.S. House of Representatives. LCV sent a letter today urging Representatives to vote for the bill.