QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“President Trump has appealed to fear, not facts. Division, not unity.”
-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling out Donald Trump for shutting down the federal government over xenophobic immigration policies
“Trump’s Interior Dept may be in the pocket of Big Oil, but our new House majority is working to block their offshore drilling spree.”
-California Representative Jared Huffman tweeted after reintroducing the West Coast Ocean Protection Act and the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act
“So happy for @desmondmeade and the over 1M others in Florida who can now register to vote because of him and his team working so hard to pass Amendment 4. An amazing victory for democracy!”
-John Legend tweeted excitedly about Desmond Meade registering to vote in Florida — Meade led the successful Florida ballot initiative that restored voting rights to 1.4 million formerly incarcerated people, efforts Florida Conservation Voters supported
LCV IN THE NEWS:
Washington Journal: Tiernan Sittenfeld & James Taylor on the “Green New Deal” and 116th Congress
NPR’s Living on Earth: A Greener U.S. Congress
High Country News: Sportsmen flex their political muscles
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:
Tampa Bay Times: (FL): 4 ways you didn’t know the government shutdown is affecting Florida
Billings Gazette (MT): Montana public land advocates to rally in Helena Friday
Capital Public Radio (CA): As Gavin Newsom Becomes Governor, How He Could Shape California’s Future—Issue By Issue
Press of Atlantic City (NJ): Coastal Congress members move to ban offshore drilling
VTDigger (VT): Statehouse preview: Eyes on the environment
The Post and Courier (SC): Solar advocates gear up for renewed SC Statehouse efforts
Maryland Matters (MD): Poll Shows Strong Support for Rx Drug Measure, Health Care Mandate, Clean Energy
SHUTDOWN THE SHUTDOWN: The federal government has been shutdown for 21 days as a result of Trump’s xenophobic immigration policies. LCV President Gene Karpinski put it into perspective this week: “This isn’t a reality TV show without consequences. Millions of people are being harmed by Trump’s ridiculous government shutdown, from federal employees and contractors going without paychecks to families hoping to visit our national parks. Scientists have been locked out of their research labs, the EPA has stopped monitoring air quality, and we’ve broken our obligations to Native American tribes – but Trump’s Interior Department is continuing to approve drilling permits on our public lands, showing again that their priorities lie with polluting special interests.”
DISPATCHES FROM THE STATES: Interior Department and EPA employees across the nation who protect our clean air, clean water, lands, and more are among those who have been hit hardest by the shutdown. Some of LCV’s 30 state affiliates – from Alaska and Michigan to Florida and Arizona – have spoken about how the shutdown is hitting home. Their stories can be found here.
NOT A DRILL: While thousands of government workers are furloughed, the Trump administration is ensuring that the shutdown does not stop oil drilling. The Interior Department is continuing to issue permits for oil companies to drill on federal land and in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other parts of Alaska is also continuing, but a public meeting to determine if pipelines and drilling rigs can be constructed near wetlands that sustain caribou and threatened birds was put on hold after Chairman Raul Grijalva raised concerns about going forward during the government shutdown
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT: Volunteers with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association went to national parks across the country to pick up trash over the weekend. The group, which has logged almost 200,000 hours in clean-up projects since 2016, was joined by members of the public that contacted them through social media. Group organizers say they see the cleanup as service to the nation and as a way to increase dialogue with people who may not personally know a Muslim person. Organizers said that if the government shutdown continues, they will continue looking for parks and areas to pick up.
#TRUMPTRASH: Even members of Congress have been cleaning up our national parks as trash piles up. California Representatives Jared Huffman and Jackie Speier joined forces this week to pick up the “#trumptrash” during the “#TrumpShutdown,” calling on Trump to “end this callous shutdown now.”
ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE: The Trump shutdown is also impacting our preparedness to manage wildfires in key Western states. It has halted training for firefighters, there is a lack of necessary equipment, and more. Meanwhile, Trump has ordered FEMA to send no additional funds to California to address the state’s deadly wildfires.
PRUITT 2.0: Despite the federal government shutdown that has furloughed over 13,000 EPA employees, Trump still had the nerve to nominate coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as the next EPA administrator. Wheeler has proven that he is just as dangerous as Scott Pruitt was in this position, and LCV has called on the Senate to reject his nomination. Right before the new year, Wheeler listened to his polluter buddies and rolled back Mercury Air Toxics Standards, which protect the health of children and everyone else who breathes. He did this despite warnings that it could cause 11,000 more premature deaths.
WHEELER NO DEAL: This week, a federal judge ordered the EPA to release tens of thousands of emails and other documents involving Wheeler and other top officials. This could help shed more light onto how the EPA under Wheeler and Trump interacts with special interests and how that affects their decision making.
OPPO PROBLEMS: In 2017, the EPA had hired the services of a hyper-partisan GOP opposition research firm, and spokespeople from the EPA claimed it was to help the agency save money. New emails have surfaced that they were hired to cherry pick news that showed Pruitt in a positive light and circulate it within the agency. Sounds more like saving face than money.
SHORING UP SUPPORT: Environmental champions in the House from coastal states took big steps this week to protect their states from Trump’s drilling spree in public waters. This included Florida Representative and Chair of the Select Committee on Climate Change Kathy Castor, who reintroduced the Florida Coastal Protection Act, and California Representative Jared Huffman, who reintroduced the West Coast Protection Act and the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act. Just days in, the new House is already taking strong stands to fight Trump’s toxic environmental agenda.
THREE CHEERS FOR PA! In yet another example of states leading the way on combating climate change, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order this week that will reduce carbon pollution by 80 percent by 2050, reduce overall energy consumption, replace state cars with clean vehicles, and promote renewable energy.
SOLAR IN SOUTH CAROLINA: A bipartisan pro-solar coalition in South Carolina is reviving efforts to expand clean energy as the legislative session kicks off. And the clock is ticking — the state is close to hitting a cap on production, which could eliminate thousands of jobs. Conservation Voters of South Carolina and other advocates and pushing the legislature to eliminate the cap altogether so the solar economy can keep growing and provide pollution-free renewable energy to communities across the state.
SHUTTING DOWN THE DENIERS: LCV’s senior vice president of Government Affairs, Tiernan Sittenfeld, was on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal this week going head-to-head with a climate denier from Heartland Institute. They covered everything from the Green New Deal to the 116th Congress. The full interview can be found here, and here are some highlights:
TIERNAN ON THE GREEN NEW DEAL: “We’re very excited about the idea of a Green New Deal, and more broadly, we are thrilled by all the energy and enthusiasm that both new and returning members of Congress are bringing to the need to combat the climate crisis, which has never been greater. At the center of the Green New Deal is the effort to get to 100 percent renewable energy. We are very excited about that, in fact, as we were working with our state LCV partners across the country on a new campaign called Clean Energy for All, a campaign to give communities the power to choose pollution free communities and to get to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, we had more than 550 successful candidates in November up and down the ballot who have committed to that. So, we have seen opportunities in Congress and at the state level to make real progress to double down on the need for a new clean energy economy that will protect the frontline communities, the communities of color that are hurt first and worst by pollution. It is going to create a just transition, and it will create good paying jobs and begin to jumpstart the green energy, the green infrastructure package we need.”
TIERNAN ON THE MIDTERMS: “The 2018 elections sent a very clear message that being good on climate change and supporting clean energy is good policy and good politics…There are now 235 new Democrats in the House and they include new champions, people who ran because they were so appalled by what the Trump administration — which is the most anti-environmental administration we’ve ever had– has been doing to commonsense public health and environmental protections.”
TIERNAN ON CLIMATE SCIENCE DENIAL: “It is 2019. This is embarrassing, horrifying, and the view is flat out wrong…Scientists are confident that humans are causing climate change just as much as they are that smoking causing cancer. To suggest otherwise is dangerous… The notion of denying climate change is so fringe and so marginalized…Why would we take time to continue to make these arguments when we are seeing life and death impacts for people all across the country?”
SOOTY SITUATION: A preliminary estimate released this week found that U.S. carbon dioxide levels rose in 2018 after three years of declines. For some, the report underscored how the United States, which was once a climate leader in the world, has abandoned many environmental goals and targets, such as the Paris Climate Agreement. The 2018 CO2 emissions increase could be the largest in the past 20-years. The researchers who wrote the report concluded that the increase would not have been as stark without Trump’s rollback of environmental protections and efforts to address climate change.
OCEANS TOO: Another report this week found that ocean temperatures are heating up 40 percent faster than previous estimates. Like other studies, this indicates that climate change is accelerating — and our window for action is shrinking. More and more people will continue to experience the devastating impact of climate-fueled natural disasters and coastal flooding.
January 16 – Andrew Wheeler’s Senate Confirmation Hearing
January 29 – State of the Union address