THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – AUGUST 7, 2020
QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“We need free and fair elections in order to address environmental racism — and that starts with Congress passing the Heroes Act.”
— Politician, lawyer, voting rights activist, and author Stacey Abrams during LCV’s webinar, ‘Preserving a Voting Environment: The 55th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act’ — a virtual event that discussed the importance of safe and secure elections.
“The right to vote is the most effective tool we have as citizens to ensure a government that truly represents the will of the people.”
— Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder during LCV’s webinar, ‘Preserving a Voting Environment: The 55th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.
“This moment has forced us to reckon with the fact that environmental racism is real, it impacts everything, and it is not separate from the environmental movement at large. Mobilizing climate voters is really about mobilizing voters around everyday issues — like whether you can breathe clean air or drink clean water.”
— Civic Engagement Organizer with Georgia Conservation Voters Gayla Tillman during LCV’s webinar, ‘Preserving a Voting Environment: The 55th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.
LCV IN THE NEWS:
Univision: Esta demócrata confía en un pequeño electorado latino para convertirse en la primera congresista hispana por Kansas
The Washington Post: How Joe Biden’s surprisingly ambitious climate plan came together
E&E News: Electricity to EPA: Where 7 veep contenders stand on energy
InsideClimateNews: Sagebrush Rebel Picked for Public Lands Post Sparks Controversy in Mountain West Elections
Politico: Morning Energy – Ad Wars
E&E News: Inside Biden’s network of climate advisers
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:
WBUR (MA): Advocates Celebrate As Legislature Gets One Step Closer To Passing Environmental Justice Law
Ionia Sentinel-Standard (MI): November election could be ‘disaster’ if changes aren’t made
Flathead Beacon (MT): As Governor, Cooney Will Fight for Our Public Lands
Ionia Sentinel-Standard (MI): Michigan’s drinking water standards for these chemicals now among toughest in nation
PRESERVING A VOTING ENVIRONMENT: This week, Stacey Abrams, Founder of Fair Fight Action, and Eric H. Holder, Jr., the 82nd Attorney General of the United States, joined LCV for ‘Preserving a Voting Environment: The 55th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act’ — a virtual event that discussed the historical and current importance of safe and secure elections. LCV’s Voting Rights Director Justin Kwasa moderated the conversation and Gayla Tillman, a Civic Engagement Organizer with Georgia Conservation Voters, also spoke. You can watch the full webinar here!
OUR TAKE: LCV Voting Rights Program Director Justin Kwasa said, “On the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, the very best thing we can do to honor John Lewis’ legacy is pass the full elections funding in the Heroes Act. The dual crises of climate change and the coronavirus pandemic have made it more clear than ever that aiding states’ proactive election protection measures through the funding in the Heroes Act is vital to ensure that every voice is heard in November.”
GAYLA’S TAKE: Voting rights leaders Stacey Abrams and Eric H. Holder, Jr. were joined by the Conservation Voters Movement’s Gayla Tillman, who is a civic engagement organizer at Georgia Conservation Voters. As a community leader, Gayla illuminated the ways voting and the climate crisis are intersecting in people’s daily lives, emphasizing, “The fight for the right to vote — the fight for being counted — is very much intertwined with the fight to take a breath that is free from toxic chemicals and harm. Black people, communities of color, and young people are paying attention and we’re getting involved because we care about equity for all of us.”
A TIME FOR HEROES: In the lead up to the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, LCV advocated for $4 billion in government funding for safe and secure elections through ‘A Time for HEROES’ storytelling campaign. The campaign tells the stories of LCV’s staff, volunteers and supporters across the country. This week’s story is from Amanda Urmanski, a Wisconsin voter. Check out our first two blogs in the series about D.C.’s June 2 primary election and Chispa organizer Nicole’s experience in Arizona. These stories illustrate the urgent need for Congress to pass the election provisions of the Heroes Act and ensure immediate and comprehensive election funding that will protect the voice of communities who often see the worst of climate change and environmental degradation: communities of color, low-income communities, immigrant communities, native populations, the disabled, and young people in particular.
THIS IS WHAT EQUITABLE AND JUST POLICY LOOKS LIKE: Senator Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez formally introduced the Climate Equity Act this week, groundbreaking new legislation that would hold Congress accountable for ensuring that frontline communities are at the heart of the decision-making process for climate policy.
OUR TAKE: Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo said, “We commend Senator Harris and Representative Ocasio-Cortez not only for introducing a bill that puts frontline communities and environmental justice leaders at the center of climate policy development, but also for ensuring that the Climate Equity Act itself was crafted through an inclusive process with environmental justice organizations and coalitions. Climate change solutions and addressing racial, economic and social injustice are inextricably linked and this important legislation creates critical tools to hold Congress and the Executive Branch accountable in centering justice for frontline communities as we address these interconnected crises.”
FLORIDA’S ENVIRONMENTAL SWING VOTERS: Last week, LCV Victory Fund and Priorities USA Action released a memo outlining our efforts to make the case about climate to swing voters who care about the environment in Florida. In the spring, we found that tying Trump’s repeated denial of scientific warnings about the threat of coronavirus, refusal to listen to scientists’ warnings about climate change, and public comments that both crises were a “hoax” could move Florida swing voters in support of Biden. Based on these findings, we’ve run a layered English and Spanish language digital and direct mail campaign since May. This week, LCV Victory Fund and Prioirities USA released a new anti-trump digital ad, “The Last Thing,” criticizing the Trump administration’s reported plan to open Florida waters to oil drilling.
OUR TAKE: With the release of “The Last Thing,” LCV National Campaigns Director Megan Jacobs said, “This is just another example of Trump ignoring science, ignoring experts and ignoring the needs of Florida families. As hurricane season begins and the climate crisis and coronavirus pandemic rage on, the absolute last thing Florida communities, especially communities of color, need is for Trump to open the Gulf to dangerous offshore drilling.”
IT’S PRONOUNCED “GRASSROOTS ACTIVISM”: After years of tireless advocacy from people all across the country, the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) finally became the law of the land this week. By investing in our public lands and waters, the GAOA will protect our nation’s natural heritage and invaluable landscapes, enhance access to the outdoors and green spaces for communities nationwide, and provide much-needed repairs to deteriorating infrastructure in our national parks. GAOA is a huge step toward ensuring that people have access to nature, yet there is more work to be done to ensure every community – especially low income and communities of color – has access to public lands while feeling safe and welcome in them. This victory is a testament to the power of grassroots activists, but it is also just the beginning of a new future for conservation, one that is centered on equitable access to green spaces, safety for all communities, and equal representation in our public spaces.
AN UNFAIR COUNT: This week, Trump announced that he will be cutting the time for the 2020 census short by four weeks. This is especially troubling considering the census’ struggles to fully canvass the population this year due to social distancing. This will affect the nation’s remote and hardest to reach residents the most, leading to unfair and inaccurate representation. The census is what we use to allocate funds for various projects, including sustainability and infrastructure. This is an attempt to defund lower-income and communities of color and a complete abuse of power on Trump’s part.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES:
JUST TRANSITION REPORT (CO): In 2019, Colorado passed a just transition law, becoming the first state to approach a just transition on a statewide basis. This week, the Colorado Just Transition Advisory Committee released a report identifying top needs for funding and assistance — at the top of the list is assistance to 2,100 workers in coal mines, plants and railroads, as well as impacted communities. While the law is clear that it won’t decide how communities will reinvent themselves — that is left for the communities to determine themselves — the state is working to assist them.
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE PREVAILS (MA): The Massachusetts House passed major climate legislation last Friday! This bill would put the state on a path to net zero emissions and mandate stronger environmental impact review, including examining the environmental justice impact of proposed facilities near frontline communities. LCV’s state affiliate, Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM), worked closely to support the leadership of Green Roots, Inc, Neighbor to Neighbor and other organizations who lead the state environmental justice table and drove support for the Massachusetts environmental justice bill. The bill is now one step closer to being signed into law and having climate justice and equity win in the state of Massachusetts.
CLEAN BUSES (MN): On Wednesday, Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency announced plans to invest $3 million from their 2016 Volkswagen settlement into a pilot project funding six new electric school buses. Minnesota is the first Midwest state to implement an electric bus project that will gather information and data about buses’ performance — and if the project is successful, the goal is to provide additional investments, making clean buses and cleaner air accessible to schools in all regions of the state.
OPPOSE PENDLEY AND GIANFORTE (MT): LCV’s Montana state affiliate, Montana Conservation Voters, released a new ad and website – StopPendley.org — calling on Montanans to tell Senator Steve Daines to oppose Trump’s nomination of anti-public lands bigot William Perry Pendley. The ad is backed by a six-figure buy on broadcast and cable TV across the state of Montana. In addition to the Pendley ad, the Montana Conservation Voters Congressional Action Fund, the affiliated state political action committee of Montana Conservation Voters, also released a new television ad taking issue with Congressman Greg Gianforte’s record of “protecting himself, not public lands,” as the congressman vies to become Montana’s next governor.
MORE CLEAN TRANSPORTATION (NC): North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that nearly $30 million from its Volkswagen settlement will be put toward replacing vehicles with more energy-efficient models and installing charging stations in the state. Over 100 school buses and 16 transit buses will be replaced, and 33 charging stations will be built. Overall, the reduction in annual emissions will be the equivalent of removing over 51,000 cars from the roads — providing healthier, cleaner air to North Carolinians, especially children who will ride cleaner, safer school buses.
ANOTHER CONFEDERATE MONUMENT REMOVED (VA): The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors voted, unanimously, to remove “At Ready,” a confederate monument, from the courthouse grounds in Charlottesville. The unanimous decision was informed by a public hearing, where nearly all of the 20 speakers called for removing the blatant symbol of racism — which, as one speaker noted, was erected to intimidate Black people during the Jim Crow era. As pastor Brenda Brown-Grooms said, “It’s more than offensive to me to have those statues on ground that my ancestors bled for…My people and I have paid for this country, and it’s time for our history to reflect my story, native stories, and everybody else who’s been othered. Enough already.”
OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel, a Charlottesville resident, spoke at the public hearing, noting that LCV is concerned about the safety and accessibility of outdoor spaces, which means those spaces need to be safe and welcoming to people of color. As Alex put it, “there is simply no way” that the park around the courthouse can be safe and welcoming to all people as long as the statue remains.
August 9: International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
November 3: Election Day