“Every second is a time for action and we are here because we are action.”
— Philippines youth activist Kisha Erah Muaña at COP25 in Madrid.
“Families and workers across the country should not have to pay the ultimate cost of this administration’s refusal to do its job: our lives.”
— Co-executive director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services Ana Parras in a New York Times op-ed.
“Civil Rights are Human Rights and human rights are Environmental Rights”
— Youth activist Jerome Foster II at LCV’s New York Dinner.
San Francisco Chronicle: Opinion – U.S. needs to boost incentives for electric vehicles
The Hill: The Hill’s Top Lobbyists 2019
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:
The Washington Post (VA): Opinion – Virginia lawmakers have a conservation mandate in 2020
Newsday (NY): A proven way to help curb carbon emissions
Summit Daily (CO): Opinion | Colorado must take bold action to cut carbon pollution
CLIMATE ON THE TRAIL: Check out this week’s roundup of the Democratic presidential primary, including a new poll showing climate is the number one priority for California Democratic voters, Mayor Bloomberg’s plans for a 100% clean energy future, and other candidate remarks on climate. Plus, KUNR profiles a first-time voter in Reno, Nevada who wants climate action.
NY DINNER SUCCESS 🎉🗽: On Tuesday, LCV hosted our annual dinner in New York City. This event showcased multiple varieties of environmental leadership and urged people to join the movement at this critical moment. We honored Ted Turner with the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by Jane Fonda. Jerome Foster II, a youth climate activist, and Washington state Senator Mona Das gave inspiring remarks. To round out our special guests, Captain Donald Lawson, who is aiming to break the world record for the fastest and first Black man to sail around the world, attended the event as well. LCV President Gene Karpinski also spoke and emphasized the importance of electing environmental champions at all levels of government in order to combat the climate crisis.
IF JEROME IS OUR FUTURE, WE GOT A DAMN GOOD SHOT: Youth climate activist Jerome Foster II told the crowd, “I feel great hope and pride as I strike, protest and speak truth to power with some of the bravest, smartest, and morally conscience young minds, and soon we will vote with the same passion and purpose. We are tomorrow’s transformative leaders and scientists. We are the greatest force for change the fossil fuel industry has ever faced when we vote.”
FUN WITH JANE: Academy Award winning actress and activist Jane Fonda said, “I’m a member of LCV because large-scale progress on climate change will only happen when we force our elected leaders to take swift action and enact new climate policy. The next president that walks into the White House needs to be ready to tackle this crisis on day one, and needs a Congress that is leading the way. I know that if we work together, we can win for the environment at the ballot box next November.”
TED TURNER’S AWARD WINNING REMARKS: In a letter that Ted Turner wrote and his daughter, LCV Board Member Laura Turner Seydel, read to the audience, Turner said, “The time is now to invest in our planet’s future. I am an optimist and believe that if we work together, we are unstoppable when it comes to ensuring a livable planet for our children and grandchildren. Together, we truly can SAVE EVERYTHING.”
MORE OF MONA PLEASE: Washington state Senator Mona Das said, “My family immigrated to the United States with only six dollars when I was just eight months old. I knew when I grew up I wanted to do good work, committed to equality and environmentalism. Today, as a Washington State Senator for the 47th district, I’ve helped get our state on track to have 80% of power come from non-carbon-emitting sources by 2030. And our policies and programs explicitly recognize the burden on lower-income communities and communities of color. I’m proud and humbled to be a part of this effort to protect our earth.”
BRINGING IT HOME: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “As I like to say — Elections have consequences. In 2018, LCV and our 30 state affiliates launched the Clean Energy for All campaign to transition the United States to 100% clean energy. We secured commitments to 100% clean energy from over 600 elected officials who won their races at every level of government, including commitments from 10 new governors. Today, one in four people live in a state committed to 100% clean energy. This progress will not only help ease our carbon footprint, it is also helping to build momentum to the federal action that is essential to solving the climate crisis.”
ANOTHER CAPTAIN FOR THE PLANET 🌊🚤: Captain Donald Lawson, an LCV member who attended our New York Dinner, shared his ambitious story on LCV’s blog: He is attempting to break multiple world records, starting with being the first Black man to sail around the world, and he plans to do so in record time using nearly 100% clean energy. Lawson hails from Baltimore and wants to share his love for sailing and maritime with other people of color, particularly the youth in his hometown. You can read more about his inspiring story here.
WEEKEND READ: This week’s featured piece is a New York Times op-ed by Ana Parras, the co-executive director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services. In the wake of two chemical plant explosions over Thanksgiving in Port Neches, TX, Parras examines the Trump administration’s recent rollback of chemical plant safeguards. She urges the importance of passing legislation to reverse climate change and help the citizens of her Houston community in particular. She talks about her own struggle with an autoimmune disease, which was brought on by toxic air and pollution, and declares that this administration’s approach to toxic chemicals is putting people’s lives on the line while the industry benefits.
WEEKEND LISTEN: Before heading to our New York Dinner, LCV President Gene Karpinski stopped by the Climate 2020 podcast to discuss political prospects of climate in the 2020 elections with host David Gelber.
BE-TRADE: This week, House Democratic leadership signaled support for a revised United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), also known as NAFTA 2.0. Despite repeated calls for fundamental fixes on the environmental provisions, the final deal didn’t even mention the climate crisis, let alone take the actions necessary to address the relationship between trade and climate. Because the final deal fails to protect our communities and the environment, LCV, along with nine other environmental organizations, sent a letter to the House declaring our opposition, along with a clause that LCV will consider scoring the vote in our 2019 National Environmental Scorecard.
SENATOR SHAHEEN’S TANDEM LETTERS: Senator Jeanne Shaheen wrote two letters this week, one to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and one to Trump, urging the president to put more effort into fighting climate change. The letter to Trump expressed major concerns with formally withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement and criticized him for not negotiating with Democrats to find a way back into the agreement. Shaheen’s letter to the UNFCCC supports the global efforts to combat the climate crisis, specifically with COP25 in Madrid.
TRUMP BEING A BULLY…WHAT ELSE IS NEW: As COP25 continued in Madrid this week, the U.S. has allegedly been trying to slow down the initiative to help poorer countries receive money from wealthier nations to help compensate for harm these nations have experienced because of climate change. To add to the administration’s pathetic COP25 performance, Trump tweeted a ridiculous and insulting slew of words at 16 year old climate activist Greta Thunberg, TIME’s Person of the Year.
GRETA ALWAYS PREVAILS: Despite Trump’s immature antics, Greta Thunberg has been named TIME Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year. Greta’s journey started in her home country of Sweden with climate strikes during school and has since grown into a global movement. She is good friends with Jerome Foster II (👆 see above) who is a leader in the youth climate strikes as well. She has paved the way for millions of others and has had the opportunity to meet with leaders of nations to discuss the impacts of climate change. She acknowledges that there are so many youth activists of color that also deserve this recognition and have been doing just as much as her in this fight. Previous TIME winners include Barack Obama, Ted Turner (👆 also see above), Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the South African Apartheid Peacemakers.
EXXON WALKS 👎: After nearly a four year lawsuit with the state of New York, ExxonMobil has unfortunately walked free. The Attorney General failed to meet the burden of proof for the crimes regarding deceit and securities fraud when it came to knowing about the truth of climate change and the role their company played in it. The $1.6B lawsuit ended up getting dismissed, however the Judge was careful to point out “Nothing in this opinion is intended to absolve Exxon Mobil from responsibility for contributing to climate change in the production of its fossil fuel products.”
OCEANS 11,12,13 … 2 TRILLION???: Senator Elizabeth Warren just unveiled plans for a Blue New Deal. If this sounds familiar, it is because it complements the Green New Deal, which Warren is an original cosponsor of. This blue deal focuses on protecting the oceans and finding new, innovative ways to help save the planet. Considering Earth is comprised of about 71% water, this seems long overdue. In the plan, Warren emphasizes creating more offshore wind and banning offshore drilling across the board. Warren also hopes to tie her environmental justice platform into this plan by offering subsidies and tax benefits to communities.
OUR TAKE: LCV tweeted, “Protecting our oceans and marine areas are fundamental to fighting climate change and revitalizing coastal communities. We are glad to see a plan recognizing the oceans’ role in defending against the climate crisis.”
POWERFUL WOMEN 💪: The Hill released their list of top lobbyists for 2019. The list is comprised of powerful and influential people who advocated for some of the nation’s biggest issues this year. Happy to say that two badass women from LCV made the list of impactful people: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld and LCV Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo. Keep breaking glass ceilings!
*GRUMBLE* LAWRENCE VANDYKE CONFIRMATION: The Senate recently confirmed Lawrence VanDyke to a lifetime appointment on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Trump’s 50th pick for the federal circuit courts.
OUR TAKE: LCV Judiciary Program Director Ben Driscoll said, “Lawrence VanDyke spent his legal career consistently opposing the interests of those most at risk in our society, with a particular focus on degrading our public lands and expanding dangerous oil and gas drilling. At a time when the courts are the only protection from the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back lifesaving environmental protections, it is more important than ever for our judges to be unbiased, qualified, and fair. It is especially troubling that VanDyke was confirmed despite opposition from both of Nevada’s senators and 60 lawyers, judges, and other colleagues who said he was unfit for the job.”
OUR SCHOOLS MATTER: Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Representative Dave Loebsack recently introduced the Renew America’s Schools Act. This legislation will help improve infrastructure in schools as well as facilitate more sustainable operation of school districts. It will incorporate new energy efficiency upgrades such as lighting and ventilation. The act will be awarded grant money through the Department of Energy, which will provide $100M a year for five years for K-12 funding. And this week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee passed Senator Cortez Masto’s bill out of committee to the full Senate.
SENATOR’S TAKE: Senator Cortez Masto said, “There is no greater investment we can make than providing more funding to our schools in Nevada, and throughout the country. Nevada is a leader in the use of energy efficient technologies and with this legislation we can bring that innovation into our schools nationally, reduce costs for our school districts and improve the health of our communities by using more zero-emission school buses to safely transport our kids.”
DOUBLE TAKE: Senator Cortez Masto tweeted, “Proud the [Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources] passed my 4 bills to protect NV’s Ruby Mountains, support rural communities & improve public school infrastructure & broadband, [including] my Ruby Mountains Protection Act, Renew America’s Schools Act, Small County PILT Parity Act, & Secure Rural Schools Extension Act”
STATES ARE SAYING NO TO PLASTIC BAGS ♻: Many states have or are in the process of banning plastic bags for good! As we all know, plastic is all around us in our everyday life. It’s a cheap product that is easy to build things with, which is why ever since WWII it has been a hot commodity. Knowing what we now know about plastic, the ban is long overdue. Plastic does not break down and is often dumped into our oceans, causing pollution and harm to wildlife. A big shout out to the states doing great work and taking the steps to eliminate these harmful products: NJ, PA, CA, HI, MA, NY, DE, VT, ME.
CVM TAKE: Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania tweeted, “Plastic single-use bags are showing up more and more in our waterways and oceans, and more severe storms speeds up this problem. That’s why we’re glad to see Philadelphia taking a stand! #KeepWaterCleanPHL.”
A MANDATE TO ACT ON CLIMATE (VA): When Virginians voted for new majorities in their legislature, they voted to hold polluters accountable and address the climate crisis. This is Executive Director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters Michael Town’s take in a piece that ran in The Washington Post last Friday. Town admits that Virginia is behind when it comes to green practices and carbon cutting but now with a conservation majority there is no excuse for achieving these environmental goals.
CVM TAKE: Virginia League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Michael Town said, “Solidifying a conservation majority has been an uphill battle and the goal of this organization over the past 20 years. With that majority in place, our work begins. This legislature has a mandate to act in 2020. We expect the environment to be a top-tier priority.”
December 19: Sixth Democratic Debate – Los Angeles, CA
December 20: Government funding deadline for 2020