“Neither the environment nor climate change was mentioned by the moderators. Not once. It got a few mentions from Sanders, Steyer, and Buttigieg, and the issue has been briefly discussed in previous debates, but it is frankly absurd that the issues that will be the biggest threats to our way of life in the 21st century weren’t debated.”
— 16 year old Kentucky high school student Satchel Walton in a BuzzFeed opinion piece on the South Carolina Democratic debate
“Everywhere you turn, the world is enduring a climate crisis that is changing the nature of our food supply and changing the lives of the people who feed us.”
— Celebrity chef and television personality Andrew Zimmern on his MSNBC show, “What’s Eating America?”
“The color of one’s skin or the thickness of your wallet should not determine your ability to breathe clean air,”
— New Jersey state Senator Troy Singleton, sponsor of the New Jersey Environmental Justice bill, in NJ Spotlight article
The Washington Post: In state after state, climate change emerges as a key issue for Democratic voters
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:
Virginia Mercury: At session’s midpoint, unprecedented progress on climate, clean energy
Associated Press: Virginia moves toward joining cap-and-trade program
Charleston City Paper: From a TV debate in a Charleston flood zone, no questions about climate
WEEKEND READ: If you have some time this weekend check out these informative articles! The first read is a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists that finds that ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft are ultimately contributing to climate pollution and congestion. The second article is a piece from Earther’s Yessina Funes, discussing the disrespectful nature of Trump blowing up sacred tribal lands to make room for his racist border wall the same day those tribal leaders testified against it in Congress.
LANDMARK ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE BILL: House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Grijalva and Representative McEachin introduced the landmark Environmental Justice for All Act on Thursday. The bill reflects hundreds of hours of input and leadership from the environmental justice community, which included months of open comment and a historical congressional convening. As Grijalva pointed out on Twitter upon releasing the bill, “@RepMcEachin and I just introduced people powered legislation to hold polluters accountable. We’re fighting together to ensure justice regardless of your ZIP code or your skin color.” LCV supports the Environmental Justice for All Act.
EJ LEADERS TAKE: “On behalf of the Moving Forward Network, we applaud Chairman Grijalva and Representative McEachin for working to address environmental racism – both through their environmental justice initiative and now through the introduction of the Environmental Justice for All Act. [Chairman Grijalva and Representative McEachin’s] approach to crafting this legislation has been grounded in the input of representatives from local EJ communities, and those communities were at the center of identifying both the issues and the solutions to environmental injustice. Moving forward now is confident that together with the EJ community and in partnership with Chair Grijalva and Representative McEachin we can finally advance environmental justice for communities that have been overburdened by pollution and environmental degradation,” said Angelo Logan, Campaign Director with Moving Forward Network.
NEPA HEARING: In DC this week, the Trump administration held its second and last hearing on their proposal to gut the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a law that requires the federal government to analyze the environmental and health impacts of major projects and gives people the opportunity to voice concerns and feedback about projects or alternatives that could be harmful to their community. Notably, members of the Moving Forward Network, an alliance of over 50 organizations that center on frontline-community knowledge and expertise, and many other local leaders fighting for environmental and climate justice, flew in to share their concerns with this nefarious rollback.
RALLY FOR JUSTICE: The #ProtectYourVoice rally took place around the hearing to elevate the voices of those who would be affected most by the Trump administration’s harmful NEPA rollbacks. The rally featured key community leaders, activists, storytellers and others that represent underserved communities, including Moving Forward Network and some 50 environmental environmental justice groups. LCV’s Chispa joined in support!
DEBATE DEBACLE: This week was the Democratic debate in South Carolina where the candidates took the stage to discuss important issues. One important issue missing from these conversations — climate change. With moderators asking zero questions about the climate crisis, it was definitely a step backwards from the last debate in Nevada where there were 16 minutes dedicated to the crisis. Climate is a top issue for a majority of democratic voters, including South Carolina voters, and the debate questions should reflect that. Going forward, the moderators need to do more to incorporate climate questions throughout the debate to foster conversation.
PALMETTO PRIMARY: The South Carolina primary is only one day away! Conservation Voters of South Carolina (CVSC) released a new memo (read below 👇) outlining how the candidates have prioritized climate in South Carolina and how the state is taking advantage of clean energy. The memo also features a CVSC and Audubon Action Fund poll that shows, among many things, that South Carolinians on both sides of the aisle view climate as a serious problem and want action.
CVM TAKE: Conservation Voters South Carolina Executive Director John Tynan released a memo similar to the ones you’ve previously read on Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. The memo featured recent news clips of climate taking the lead and highlights of candidates prioritizing climate in The Palmetto State.
🤠THE OTHER CRITICAL PRIMARY ON TUES.🤠: Presidential candidates aren’t the only ones on the ballot on March 3. Voters in South Texas also have the opportunity to elect an environmental champion who has dedicated her life to fighting for Texas families in the TX-28 primary — LCV Action Fund-endorsed candidate Jessica Cisneros. It’s time for new leadership in a district currently represented by pro-polluter Congressman Henry Cuellar. That’s why LCV Victory Fund joined NARAL Pro-Choice America, MoveOn Political Action, Planned Parenthood Votes, and EMILY’s List’s independent expenditure arm WOMEN VOTE! to support a $1.2 million effort to elect Cisneros in the primary.
OUR TAKE: LCV Victory Fund SVP of Campaigns Pete Maysmith said, “Jessica Cisneros is the environmental champion we need representing Texas’ 28th District. While Representative Cuellar has sided with President Trump and corporate polluters over the people of Texas, Cisneros has spent her life fighting for South Texas families and she’s committed to addressing environmental injustices in the district. It’s time for new, ambitious, pro-climate leadership in Texas 28.”
ENERGY LET DOWN: This week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee announced the The American Energy Innovation Act, an energy bill package comprised of bills that have already been reported out of committee. While there are some bills included that do good (clean energy research and development, we’re looking at you!), there are more that have the potential to be harmful to our lands and residents who inhabit them. Next week, the Senate will vote to decide whether this package should be debated, but we at LCV are ready to weigh in now: in the Senate’s one attempt to move energy legislation in 13 years, it needs to do much better to reduce emissions and advance clean energy immediately.
OUR TAKE: LCV Legislative Director Matthew Davis said, “It is critical that any energy package rapidly reduces emissions and transitions to a clean energy future. It is long past time for an energy bill to be on the Senate floor and we are disappointed that it does not do nearly enough to reduce harmful pollution and deploy clean energy. Handouts to hardrock mining, nuclear energy, coal, and natural gas industries will only take us backwards. We must instead focus on investing in research and development for challenging sectors to decarbonize and clean energy sources like wind and solar, and extend and expand tax incentives to support near-term deployment and job growth in clean energy industries.”
OUTDOORS FOR ALL: The House Natural Resources Committee held a legislative hearing on Thursday on The Outdoors For All Act (H.R. 4512) which would dedicate funding to the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) grant program to increase and enhance access to outdoor recreation opportunities in underserved communities. The ORLP is funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program protecting public lands and improving access to green spaces nationwide, which is in need of full and dedicated funding.
EXPLAIN YOURSELF: At a hearing on Wednesday, House Natural Resources Chair Raul Grijalva and others took Rep. Westerman and his Trillion Trees bill to task for failing to adequately address the climate crisis and including too many rollbacks that could lead to further logging and deforestation. Instead, Chairman Grijalva offered the American Public Lands and Waters Climate Solutions Act, a serious piece of legislation that would make our public lands and waters part of the climate solution, rather than continuing to let the fossil fuel industry hold sway on the public estate.
Then in a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing, Rep. Paul Tonko and others made EPA Administrator Wheeler attempt to defend the President’s Budget’s failure to address climate change among many other shortcomings.
SUPPORT CLEAN JOBS (IL): In Illinois, advocates of the Clean Energy Jobs Act are continuing to push for passage of the bill designed by community partners statewide that commits the state to 100% renewable energy. The bill establishes “Clean Jobs Workforce Hubs that seek to train economically disadvantaged communities and former fossil fuel workers, address the inequity with marginalized groups and transition the state to clean energy including establishing a carbon-free power sector by 2030.
CVM TAKE: In a Daily Northwestern article by Molly Lubbers about the push to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act, Illinois Environmental Council Policy Director Gavin Taves says the bill is, “about humanity, and I know this is a grand thing, but it’s about saving our world.”
FIGHTING BACK (NJ): For far too long, communities of color have been dumping sites for waste and sites for power plants. This may all be coming to an end in New Jersey. There is a new bill in motion from state Senator Troy Singleton that will give those communities the power to fight back against environmental injustice. The bill will allow the Department of Environmental Protections to thoroughly assess all the potential impacts that come along with building new sites.
CVM TAKE: In a NJSpotlight article by Tom Johnson, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Environmental Justice Policy Manager Lee Clark said, “This legislation has lingered for far too long.’’
REPUBLICAN FAIL (OR): Womp 👎. Republicans in Oregon have once again walked out of the Capitol to avoid voting on a bill limiting carbon pollution, overall, blocking it’s passage. Only one of 12 Senate Republicans showed up on Monday and House Republicans, in a truly unproductive move, joined their Senate counterparts in solidarity. The extremely popular climate bill that Republicans keep walking out on is aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon and it will require businesses to purchase pollution credits, eventually moving towards cleaner energy.
CVM TAKE: Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV) condemned the walkout (Republican’s fourth walkout in less than a year — sheesh!) and urged citizens to attend a rally that took place this past Tuesday. As OLCV said in a blog post, “By walking out, Republicans are wasting taxpayer dollars and preventing important bills—including climate action, funding for housing, and emergency relief—from going to a vote. Our climate bill has the votes it needs to pass, and the overwhelming support of Oregonians statewide. The only way Republicans could stop it was by walking out. And, in doing so, they’ve set the dangerous precedent that they can shut down the government at any time, over any issue that they don’t agree with. That’s not how the legislative system works. And, more importantly, that’s not the Oregon way.”
I’M JUST A BILL — YES, I’M ONLY A BILL (VA): The Virginia Mercury published an op-ed by Executive Director of Virginia League of Conservation Voters Michael Town. As a refresher, the Virginia House and Senate passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which aims to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050 at the latest. Now the chambers are conferencing, and a final version of the bill is expected to be voted on next week, so stay tuned!
CVM TAKE: In the op-ed, Virginia League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Michael Town says, “The new ‘Conservation Majority’ at the General Assembly has broken the logjam when it comes to protecting clean air, clean water and our natural resources. Post-crossover, we have close to 100 good pieces of legislation still moving, and for the first time in Virginia’s history, we’re very close to passing serious legislation to address climate change.”
IN THE MEANTIME (VA): While the Virginia Legislature sprints to the end their session and moves closer and closer to passing the Virginia Clean Economy Act, the General Assembly finally voted to officially join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state cap-and invest program that has been cutting carbon pollution since 2008. This vote paves the way for Virginia to begin cutting harmful power plant pollution while returning $100 million of revenue to the state that will go toward safeguarding frontline communities from dangerous flooding and energy efficiency programs for low-income Virginians.
CVM TAKE: Virginia League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Michael Town had this to say, “For the first time in Virginia’s history, the General Assembly is finally taking the climate crisis seriously. Passage of this legislation is good for clean air, our economy, public health, vulnerable communities, and our future. Joining RGGI is not a silver bullet in this fight – we still expect passage of comprehensive climate legislation in the coming days – but is a solid first step in addressing climate change in a way that will return years of dividends to the Commonwealth.”
February 1-29: Black History Month
February 28: National Science Day
February 29: South Carolina Primary
March 3: Super Tuesday
March 8: International Women’s Day
March 10: NEPA rule comment period deadline