QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Young people know that they are the ones who will have to deal with the biggest impacts of climate change. They want lawmakers to take action, now.”
— Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy via Twitter on Wednesday, in support of the Green New Deal
“As the energy sector changes to address climate change, it’s critically important that we not only invest in clean energy infrastructure, but also a diverse workforce that can build it.”
— Illinois Representative Bobby Rush tweeted about an upcoming Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on building clean energy infrastructure.
LCV IN THE NEWS:
The Hill: Green groups hammer Trump over emergency declaration
The Journal Times: Commentary: Public lands bill is a huge step forward
E&E News: ‘Green New Deal’ fight puts spotlight on moderates
Houston Chronicle: Are Republicans wavering on climate change?
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:
TheBayNet.com (MD): Students rally for clean energy future in Maryland
The Portsmouth Herald (NH): Groups to host local showings of film on PFAS contamination
The State (SC): Solar war calms; rate that helps lower power bills will continue
IT’S SCORECARD TIME! On Wednesday, February 27 at 11:30 ET, Senator Jacky Rosen and Representatives Elaine Luria and Joe Neguse will join us for a press call to release the 2018 National Environmental Scorecard. Since 1970, the Scorecard has been the primary yardstick for evaluating the environmental records of members of Congress, and the 2018 Scorecard reveals whether members chose to fight to protect our environment or be a rubber stamp for the White House in the second year of the Trump administration’s continued attacks on our air, water, land, and wildlife.
The call will feature senior members of the LCV Government Affairs team to discuss highlights of the 2018 Scorecard, and new members of Congress will contrast last year’s anti-environmental attacks with opportunities for environmental progress in the 116th Congress.
Please RSVP for call-in to firstname.lastname@example.org
STILL NOT AN EMERGENCY: Last week, Donald Trump declared a national emergency over his xenophobic border wall which will not only rip families apart, but it will disrupt national ecosystems, destroy land, and harm wildlife.
WHEELER NOMINATION: It is expected that the full Senate will vote next week on whether to nominate Andrew Wheeler as head of the EPA. Wheeler is a former coal lobbyist who has been serving as the EPA’s acting administrator for several months now. In early February, LCV sent a letter out to Senators urging them to oppose Wheeler’s nomination, citing his record of harming the environment and protecting the oil and gas industry through deregulation.
HALF OF U.S. VOTERS SUPPORT GREEN NEW DEAL: In a recent poll Morning Consult and Politico did of voters, nearly half said they support the Green New Deal, with a quarter of those surveyed saying they were unsure of their stance on the measure. The number of Democrats who support the deal is more than double the number of Republicans, with 72 percent of Democrats in favor. In our recent poll of Democratic primary voters, we found similar results: both the Green New Deal and moving to 100 percent clean energy by 2050 proved extremely popular among voters in early states.
CLEAN WATER TO SCOTUS: The Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will hear a case, County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, that has the potential to drastically impact the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act prohibits dumping pollutants into navigable waterways from point sources without a permit, and the Court will decide whether or not pollution that travels through groundwater into surface water should be treated like a point source and regulated as such. If the agency’s current interpretation is struck down, it would create a giant loophole in the law and jeopardize our waterways and drinking water.
UNETHICAL EPA: POLITICO obtained documents this week that show that current EPA staffer Bill Wehrum, while previously working as a lobbyist, helped coordinate and gather money from multiple coal companies in order to lobby against Obama administration clean air regulations. In 2017, his firm received $8.2 million from this coalition of companies. Wehrum is part of the EPA’s current efforts to undo environmental regulations, effectively making it easier for big oil and gas to get away with mass pollution.
PFAS FIGHT CONTINUES: Last week, the EPA released a plan to deal with toxic PFAS chemicals that are linked to numerous health problems, but environmental and public groups as well as parents and impacted communities rightly criticized the plan for falling far short of the urgent and broad action needed to deal with this widespread problem. In the plan, the EPA was not clear that it would actually regulate even the most well-known of the thousands of PFAS chemicals, but after huge pushback from both the public and members of Congress, David Ross, the EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Office of Water, announced that they would be regulating these two dangerous chemicals afterall. While this is a start, it isn’t nearly enough to tackle the problem, particularly since the industry has switched from PFOA and PFOS to other PFAS chemicals that science is showing are not any safer. Fortunately, there are many members in the House and Senate who are stepping up to the challenge and proposing the solutions necessary to finally end the use of these harmful chemicals, clean them up, and hold polluters accountable for the damage they’re causing to our health and the environment.
SEE YOU IN COURT: This week, a flurry of new lawsuits against the EPA arose. A coalition of environmental organizations is suing the EPA for not properly regulating paint strippers that contain harmful chemicals known to endanger people’s health. Additionally, a Minnesota environmental organization is filing a lawsuit against the EPA to make public the internal concerns construct a copper mine that could threaten lands and waters.
KILL THE DRILL: Another group of environmental organizations has sought a preliminary injunction to block harmful seismic blasting, a precursor to offshore drilling, in the Atlantic Ocean, which the Trump administration has been pushing despite the harm it would bring to marine life and oceanic habitats.
SHADY DEALINGS: In yet another unethical Trump administration move, the Department of the Interior recently proposed a rule that would put more limitations on releasing the department’s public records. The rule would make it more difficult to access public documents, and it would also cap the number of documents processed per person or organization every month.
TRUMP’S TRICKY TACTICS: While multiple federal agencies have put out reports that prove the threat of climate change on national security, the White House is assembling a committee to determine whether climate is really affecting the safety of people in the U.S., (once again… it is). Climate science denier and National Security Director William Happer will be leading the committee.
CLIMATE CHAMPIONS IN CONGRESS: On Tuesday morning, senators introduced a bill that would fund climate change education through a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant program that would help middle and high school teachers access educational programming on climate change. The bill is sponsored by Senator Ed Markey and co-sponsored by over a dozen other Democratic senators.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES: While the Trump administration is barreling away at removing critical environmental protections, states are still making sure the environment is a priority.
NEW YORK: New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal introduced a bill this week that would ban single-use plastics across the city. Instead, businesses and consumers alike would use biodegradable and environmentally-friendly products in place of plastics in items like disposable utensils and containers.
CALIFORNIA: An article in TIME Magazine this week praised California, which has been largely leading the crusade against Trump’s anti-climate agenda. Most recently, the state joined with 15 others in a lawsuit against the president’s national emergency declaration, but the Golden State has also helped lead other states and cities in sticking with the Paris Climate Accord after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal. Former Governor Jerry Brown and current Governor Gavin Newsom have both pledged to put climate change at the top of their agenda, which has shown through with measures to combat wildfires and maintain strict environmental standards and regulations.
SOUTH CAROLINA: The South Carolina House of Representatives unanimously voted Thursday to ensure citizens are given the most favorable rates on homeowner solar panel installations, therefore helping lower the cost of energy in the state. The bill is a compromise that follows last year’s bitter fight over restrictions that limit the growth of the solar panel industry. Conservationists and solar industry officials applauded the deal. “We are pleased to see a compromise that addresses short-term issues,’’ John Tynan, director of the Conservation Voters of South Carolina, said in a statement.
OMINOUS OP-ED: Over the weekend, The New York Times published a lengthy opinion piece by author, deputy editor, and climate columnist David Wallace-Wells – the article is called “Time To Panic.” Wells urges people to get serious about combating climate change, noting rising global temperatures, increasing carbon emissions, and worsening natural disasters as reasons for people around the world to fear for the future.
REMEMBERING BROEKER: Renowned climate scientist Wallace Broecker, who helped coin and popularize the term “global warming,” passed away this week at the age of 87. He had been a faculty member at Columbia University for decades, where he conducted research on the world’s oceans and lands, surveying the intricacies of Earth’s climate. He will be remembered as a pioneer who helped pave the way for climate science.
YOUR WEEKEND READ: In this week’s New York Magazine, you can read a longform piece about how Trump’s environmental policies are harming children. The piece also underscores how EPA administrator nominee, Andrew Wheeler, would continue to dismantle the processes that have protected our children for decades.
February 26 – House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee hearing on Trump EPA’s troubling enforcement record
February 27 – LCV will release its 2018 National Environmental Scorecard for Members of Congress. The 2018 Scorecard will detail how the extreme leadership in the House of Representatives failed to protect our environment and public health or combat the climate crisis.
TBD – The House will vote on the lands package that includes permanent reauthorization of LWCF
TBD – Senate confirmation vote on Andrew Wheeler for EPA Administrator
TBD – Hearings begin for David Bernhardt for Interior Secretary