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QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Climate change is real, it’s here & it’s a threat to NH. The Trump admin needs to stop prioritizing the needs of energy lobbyists over American families & heed the warnings of scientists. The admin must reverse course on its dangerous policies.”
— Senator Jeanne Shaheen tweeted calling out the Trump administration for its dangerous, anti-environmental policies
“Acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler should not be confirmed. He won’t set limits for toxic chemicals in drinking water or admit the horrible impact of mercury emissions from coal plants. He’s nothing more than the pawn of big polluters. Enough is enough.”
— California Representative Mike Levin tweeted this week, highlighting the dangers of the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be the next EPA administrator
LCV IN THE NEWS:
Indian Country Today: Rep. Ruben Gallego re-introduces bill to protect Bears Ears National Monument
Politico: Greens Oppose Rao Nomination
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:
LCV’s state affiliates are hard at work protecting the environment and fighting climate change in the states. Here’s what people are reading across the country:
Seacoast Online (NH): Climate advocates to host alternative State of the Union Party
Real Vail (CO): Poll: Independent voters care deeply about energy, environment, giving Polis clear mandate
Associated Press (WI): Evers promises clean drinking water; what now?
POST-SHUTDOWN WOES: As the government reopened after the longest shutdown in history, EPA employees have expressed concern about the work that built up as they were furloughed.
TREE FALLS IN A FOREST: Despite the shutdown temporarily ending, some of our national parks and monuments will feel its damage for hundreds of years. Vandals and park guests damaged Joshua Tree National Park when the park’s staff was furloughed and thus unable to maintain and monitor the lands. Some of the famed Joshua trees were chopped down and run over by cars, and regrowing the damaged trees to their full height could take 200 to 300 years.
OVERSIGHT NOW: The new pro-environment House majority is already calling for oversight of the EPA and Department of Interior’s actions during the shutdown. Minnesota Representative Betty McCollum, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for overseeing the EPA and Department of Interior, announced this week that she intends to hold oversight hearings investigating the administration’s decision to keep some of our national parks open without the necessary staff and their decision to call in furloughed staff to work on oil and gas leasing and permitting activities.
LCV IN THE HOUSE: LCV President Gene Karpinski will be attending the rescheduled State of the Union address as the guest of New York Representative Paul Tonko. Representative Tonko has a lifetime score of 97 percent on LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard, is co-chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, and in his new role as chair of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, announced on Wednesday that the committee will host its first climate-focused hearing in six years, entitled “Time for Action: Addressing the Environmental & Economic Effects of Climate Change.”
REP. TONKO: “I am delighted to be joined by Gene Karpinski and the incredible advocacy of the many League of Conservation Voters members he represents. Climate change already threatens every community and every bit of America’s economy, with increasingly grave consequences for our public health, national security, and our economic future. We can no longer afford inaction or denial of this scientific reality by our own government.”
DEPARTMENT OF CENSORSHIP: In 2017, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao about the impact of climate change on Rhode Island’s infrastructure. This week, he highlighted that she had censored the language initially drafted by her staff in response to his letter, noting that phrases like “sea level rise” were changed to “sea level variations.” It’s hard to chalk these changes up to simple editing when it comes from an administration that has consistently used rhetorical schemes to undermine the real threats of climate change.
TOXIC WATER: The EPA, under acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, is failing to limit two of the most well-known of the class of PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, in drinking water, another move in Trump’s dangerous pro-polluter agenda. The chemicals have been known to cause major medical issues like cancer, birth defects, and more. This move is strongly opposed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and is another clear example of why Wheeler should not be confirmed to lead the EPA.
EMBRACING COAL: Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Reverend Mitch Hescox of the Evangelical Environmental Network penned an op-ed in The Hill on Tuesday, outlining their fears and frustrations with the Trump administration’s promotion of the coal industry. Their main point: Trump is planning to roll back an Obama-era mercury regulation that would support coal and harm public health.
HAZY RECOLLECTION: An EPA review released Monday outlined the agency’s “successes” of the past year, including rolling back more than a dozen regulations that Scott Pruitt and Andrew Wheeler spearheaded in an attempt to dismantle common sense environmental protections. These “successes” all favor polluters at the expense of our health, clean energy future, and access to clean water, clean air, and more.
WHEEL OR NO WHEEL: With all the EPA news this week, it’s important to keep in mind that Wheeler‘s confirmation process to be the next EPA administrator moves forward next week. There will be a committee vote on Tuesday before his nomination goes before the full Senate.
NO WHEEL: LCV and our state affiliates have been urging Senators to reject the nomination. This week, Maine Conservation Voters urged Senator Collins to vote no, citing ways his confirmation would impact her constituents. For example, Mainers have higher rates of asthma, both among children and adults, than the nationwide average. As acting administrator, Wheeler has gutted clean air protections in favor of polluters, which puts those with asthma at a higher risk of health issues.
TROLLED WITH TRUTH: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration subtweeted Trump on Tuesday, writing “Winter storms don’t prove that global warming isn’t happening.” His own administration is telling him that climate change is real, despite his Twitter-drivel of climate falsehoods during this week’s dangerous polar vortex.
WEATHERING THE STORMS: Climate change is fueling drastic weather conditions around the world, including the polar vortex currently hammering the Midwest — parts of Chicago faced -60 degrees Fahrenheit due to the storm and wind chill. At the opposite extreme, it hit 116 degrees Fahrenheit in Australia last week.
ASK THE WEATHER CHANNEL: LCV teamed up with the weather channel, asking Meteorologist Carl Parker, if the world is warming, why is it cold outside? His expert take: “Extreme heat is becoming more likely, but extreme cold can be related to climate change as well…Winters are expected to get warmer in the long term, but for now we can still experience severe cold outbreaks, sometimes driven by climate change-relate circulation changes.”
NEW CHAMPIONS READY FOR ACTION: The new pro-environment House majority is off to a great start and is ready to act on climate. On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment & Climate Change, now chaired by Rep. Paul Tonko, will host a hearing on environmental and economic impacts of climate change. Fun Facts: this is the committee’s first hearing on climate change in six years, AND it’s the first time a subcommittee has had climate change in its name in six years! The House Natural Resources Committee will also host a full committee hearing on the impacts of climate change and the need to act, with witnesses including LCV Board Member and Hip Hop Caucus President, Rev. Lennox Yearwood.
SECRETS AND LIES: The Trump administration’s Department of Energy has secretly shipped a half-ton of weapons-grade radioactive plutonium into Nevada. Despite the state’s opposition to the shipment, Trump and DOE moved ahead with it anyway in secret.
OUR TAKE: Andy Maggi, the Executive Director of the Nevada Conservation League, said: “…shipping highly-toxic material to and through our beautiful state, without proper notice, reveals this administration’s utter contempt for the people of this country, our safety, the environment, the rule of law and complete disregard for the health and safety of all Nevadans.”
ILLUMINATING ELECTRIC: Today, at the Nevada Electric Transportation Forum, Chispa Nevada Program Director Rudy Zamora spoke about accelerating the transition to electric vehicles: “It starts in the community. Some community members don’t know what it means to have an electric vehicle. We start with an education piece and people get excited to know there’s more options.”
DANGERS TO DEMOCRACY: The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) this week filed a lawsuit against Texas Secretary of State David Whitley and Attorney General Ken Paxton, accusing them of voter intimidation and propagating a false narrative about voter fraud in the state. This is a critical step to fight back against moves to systemically disenfranchise African-American and Latino voters.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES: Despite Trump’s anti-environmental efforts, many states are pushing forward with climate action. From coast to coast, states are passing pro-environmental measures, enforcing regulations, and ensuring that their lands are protected. Here are some highlights from this week:
NEW MEXICO: New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham joined the U.S. Climate Alliance on Tuesday, committing her state to forward-thinking climate policy goals. New Mexico aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030.
CALIFORNIA: California State Senator Hannah Beth-Jackson introduced a bill this week that would make her state’s oil pipeline regulations some of the tightest in the country. The measure would impact how pipelines are built, survey the construction process, and put power in the hands of state regulators instead of Big Oil.
FEBRUARY 5 – State of the Union address
FEBRUARY 5 – Senate committee vote on Andrew Wheeler’s nomination to head the EPA
FEBRUARY 6 – House Natural Resources and House Energy and Commerce Committees both hold hearings on climate change