QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“We can do so much more, take action on climate change, defend individual liberties with fair-minded judges. But none of these ambitions are possible without the bedrock guarantee of our right to vote.”
— Stacey Abrams said in her State of the Union rebuttal on Tuesday night.
“The effort to reduce emissions to a level that avoids the most catastrophic changes to our climate requires state, national, and international leadership.”
— Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker said in his testimony before the House Committee on Natural Resources this Wednesday.
LCV IN THE NEWS:
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:
Las Vegas Sun (NV): Secret shipment put us at risk
InsideClimate News (MI): Michigan’s New Governor Puts Climate Change at Heart of Government
Public News Service (NM): NM Lawmaker’s Solar Push Recognized for Environmental Justice
Public News Service (MT): Groups Urge MT Lawmakers to Protect Environment
New Jersey Spotlight (NJ): Environmentalists Raise Questions About Salting of NJ Roads
STATE OF THE UNION: Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address this week, and failed to mention climate change, clean air, clean water, or any other pro-environment aspirations. Instead, he focused on his xenophobic and environmentally destructive border wall and glorified our nation’s status as the world’s largest producer of dirty oil and gas. Here are some real updates on the state of the union:
THE REAL AMERICAN ENERGY REVOLUTION: Trump touted our production of dirty oil as the “revolution of American energy.” However, the real revolution is the more than 600 leaders who were elected to offices all across the nation in November that committed to achieve 100 percent clean energy including 56 pro-environmental champions who were elected to the House.
WHAT REAL LEADERSHIP LOOKS LIKE (PT. 1): Newly elected governors – including Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico, Jared Polis in Colorado, J.B. Pritzker in Illinois, Janet Mills in Maine, and Ned Lamont in Connecticut – all ran on clean energy for all, and are already stepping up to move us forward. Here’s a link to our video with some highlights of this progress.
WHAT REAL LEADERSHIP LOOKS LIKE (PT. 2): Stacey Abrams, in giving the official Democratic Party response, spoke at length about climate change and called on America to act.
GREEN CHAMPIONS IN ATTENDANCE: Despite Trump’s silence on climate change, our environmental champions’ presence at the State of the Union Tuesday night was loud and clear. New York Representative Paul Tonko invited LCV President Gene Karpinski as his guest, ensuring that LCV’s three million members were represented during Tuesday’s address.
GREEN NEW DEAL: Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey and New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced a Green New Deal resolution that would aim to put America on a carbon emission-free trajectory. The bill, while not calling for an end to fossil fuel usage, aims for net-zero emissions, in addition to a variety of climate-related goals and trajectories.
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “LCV applauds Senator Markey and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez for their climate leadership, and we support the Green New Deal resolution. We are thrilled to see so many members of Congress following through on the climate action that voters clearly said they wanted from their leaders on Election Day, including 100% clean, renewable energy, major investments in climate-smart infrastructure and efficiency, good-paying jobs, and a just transition for workers and communities hardest hit by pollution.”
CHISPA NATIONAL DIRECTOR, Fernando Cazares added, “Latinos, communities of color and low-income families feel the direct impacts of extreme weather, worsened air pollution, and deadlier hurricanes such as Maria and Harvey that devastate our homes, communities, and livelihoods. We hope the Green New Deal continues to draw strong support among Congress and can provide much needed protection for communities who are the first and worst impacted by dirty power plants. It’s urgent to take action on climate change and to develop a clean energy economy that is equitable, sustainable and prosperous for everyone.”
EVEN MORE UPDATES FROM OUR CHAMPIONS: This week, we’ve seen some major steps forward from our new and existing environmental champions in Congress. Here are some highlights:
TASK FORCES IN THE HOUSE: The new environmental majority has eight new task forces ready to take on the most pressing issues in politics, one of which is climate change. The co-chairs of the climate change task force are Virginia Representatives Don Beyer and Elaine Luria, Illinois Representative Sean Casten, and Pennsylvania Representative Susan Wild.
HEARING IN THE HOUSE (PT. 1): The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change held their first hearing on climate change this week, led by Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko. Not only is this the first time in six years that a hearing dedicated to climate change has taken place, it’s also the first time a committee has had the words “climate change” in its name in six years.
HEARING IN THE HOUSE (PT. 2): The House Natural Resources Committee held their first hearing on climate change this week as well. It featured testimony from governors, youth leaders, climate and environmental justice advocates. The President of the Hip Hop Caucus and LCV Board Member Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. also testified at this hearing.
HEARING IN THE HOUSE (PT. 3): The House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife also held a hearing this week on climate change and ocean health. LCV Board Chair and former EPA Administrator Carol Browner testified. All three of these hearings are a great foundation for moving forward with climate action.
SELECT COMMITTEE MEMBERS NAMED: With climate champions Kathy Castor, Suzanne Bonamici, Julia Brownley, Sean Casten, Jared Huffman, Mike Levin, Donald McEachin, Joe Neguse, and Ben Ray Luján named to the new House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, we are confident the Committee will shine a badly-needed spotlight on the true costs of inaction and the solutions that will provide for cleaner, healthier communities in a more just and equitable way.
BIG OIL BERNHARDT: Trump has nominated David Bernhardt to be the next Interior Secretary. Bernhardt is the current acting secretary and previously worked as an oil and gas lobbyist. His conflicts of interest are so far and wide that he needs to carry around a card listing them all.
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Kapinski issued the following statement in opposition to the nomination: “In nominating a former oil and gas industry lobbyist as Interior Secretary, the Trump administration is doubling down on the same destructive policies and ethical failures that marked Ryan Zinke’s time atop the department.”
WHEELER WATCH: The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works narrowly advanced the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to lead the EPA. His nomination passed by an 11-10 vote along party lines. Wheeler has been acting chief for the past six months, and in that time he has issued a slew of damaging rules and degregulations. His nomination now heads to the Senate floor for a confirmation vote, and LCV has urged senators to oppose this nomination.
EPA’S LATEST SCIENCE SKEPTIC: Last Friday, Trump nominated a climate change skeptic to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. Professor John Christy, who works at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, has claimed that most mainstream global warming predictions are too high and doesn’t believe greenhouse gases have much of an effect on rising global temperatures, among other contentious notions. Some scientists have claimed that Christy’s skepticism have provided a base for climate change deniers, and he has testified before Congress (on behalf of Republicans), asserting these views.
DIRTY TIES AT EPA (AGAIN): An EPA deputy and head of chemical research, David Dunlap, who helped draft last week’s decision to stop limiting certain chemicals in drinking water, is a former Koch Brothers staffer, POLITICO reported. It raises the question of whether someone who was previously employed by an industry that would benefit from deregulation ought to be controlling those regulations.
UNITED AGAINST TOXIC WATER: Last Friday, a group of 20 senators penned a letter to the EPA demanding they develop a drinking water standard for PFOS AND PFOA, two of the most well known of the toxic PFAS chemicals after reports last week that the agency has decided against restricting them in their still-to-be-released PFAS action plan.
SUPPORT PUBLIC LANDS PACKAGE: LCV urged senators to vote yes on S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act, which would permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund and protect millions of acres of public lands and waters.
REJECT RAO: This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for the nomination of Neomi Rao to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. LCV has opposed her nomination to this lifetime appointment, citing her history of rolling back fundamental environmental protections,misusing the regulatory review process for partisan political purposes, and offensive writings on sexual assault, race, and climate change.
POST-SHUTDOWN STRESS: The National Parks lost over $10 million in uncollected visitor fees during the government shutdown according to an internal National Park Service email. One NPS employee said that their “work has become increasingly stressful” and that the government shutdown may have both helped and hurt that stress level.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES: While Trump continued ignoring climate change and environmental progress, this week our champions have moved forward with bold action. Here are some highlights:
MICHIGAN: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed several pro-environmental executive orders this week, including the creation of new offices in what will become the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. The restructuring creates offices of public advocates for environmental justice and clean water, and it creates an interagency environmental justice response team. Lisa Wozniak, the executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, said: “Governor Whitmer is demonstrating yet again that our state government will be shaped to deliver on protecting public health, be accountable to citizens, and power our economy with clean, affordable energy.”
FAREWELL TO THE DEAN: Last night we lost a leader who shaped countless crucial environmental laws and will be sorely missed by his home state of Michigan and people all over the country. Read LCV’s statement on the passing of John Dingell here.
LOOKING BACK: In 2017 John Dingell joined LCV to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Clean Water Act and reflect on the continued importance of clean, safe drinking water. Watch here.
TBD – Senate confirmation vote on Andrew Wheeler for EPA Administrator
TBD – Hearings begin for David Bernhardt for Interior Secretary
End of February – 2018 LCV National Environmental Scorecard Released