QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Donald J. Trump has become the global face of climate denial.”
– Former Vice President Al Gore said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour discussing the urgent need to fight climate change
“People will die because of the president’s decision.”
– Former Secretary of State John Kerry said on a CNBC panel at Davos this week, speaking on Trump’s dangerous decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement
“When we are looking to our nation’s capital for climate leadership, and we don’t see it from the White House, all we need to do is look to city hall. President Trump is not the end all and be all on climate action in the U.S. The American people are. Let’s take our power and vision for a sustainable planet and healthy communities to our mayors and city councils, and together we will transition to clean energy, stop climate change, and provide opportunity and clean air and water for all communities.”
– Reverend Lennox Yearwood, Jr., the president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus Education Fund, wrote in an op-ed on how cities like Washington, DC are leading the way on addressing climate change
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:
ThinkProgress (MI): Michigan does a legal about-face on climate change under new attorney general
NJ Spotlight (NJ): N.J. governor nominates two conservationists to Pinelands Commission
Adirondack Daily Enterprise (NY): NY Conservation Voters group releases agenda
The Day (CT): Advocates push for action on clean energy, environment
Santa Fe New Mexican (NM): Bill seeks changes to state renewable energy standard
35 DAYS LATER: Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have finally given up on their government shutdown, as 800,000 federal workers — including EPA and Interior employees — were set up miss their second paycheck since the Trump shutdown began. Yet the impacts on federal contractors, our economy, and our national parks will be felt for months — if not years — to come.
AN ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS: The New Republic this week called the shutdown what it was: “an environmental crisis.” It’s halted monitoring uranium in Colorado’s rivers and toxic algae blooms in Florida; our national parks are overflowing with garbage and are being vandalized; protections for clean air and clean water are being threatened; and more.
STOP THE GAMES: We said it again and again — stop holding our government and communities hostage for a racist border wall. This week, LCV joined over 100 organizations across the country in another plea for Congress to oppose Trump’s extreme proposal, which contained numerous poison pills that would hurt immigrant children and families. We also helped lead a letter signed by 78 public interest organizations calling for an immediate end to the #TrumpShutdown without attaching any of Trump’s harmful immigration proposals.
TRUMP TWEETS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE (AGAIN): Trump tweeted on Sunday morning that the cold temperatures and snowy conditions mean that climate change isn’t real. He has tweeted the same thing at least once a year since 2011. Trump’s denial of global warming is not only wrong; it’s dangerous. But, for the record, the past four years have been warmest years on record.
HIS CONSTITUENTS THINK OTHERWISE: TWO new polls out this week – one from Yale and George Mason University and another from the University of Chicago and the Associated Press – show an overwhelming number of people in this country accept the reality of climate change. Seven out of 10 people acknowledge the world is getting warmer. And, the Yale and George Mason poll also shows that 72 percent of those surveyed saw global warming as a personal threat.
PUTTING POLLUTERS OVER PEOPLE: A new analysis out this week from the EPA shows that, under the Trump administration, penalties for polluters have dropped to the lowest level since 1994. In the two decades before Trump, EPA fined polluters an average of $500 million per year. That number dropped 85 percent last year to less than $75 million — another example of the Trump administration letting corporations off the hook for hurting our air, lands, water and health.
TAKING ON TOXICS: The new House is working to bring environmental priorities to the forefront of the 116th Congress. This week, House lawmakers launched a bipartisan task force, led by Representatives Dan Kildee (MI-05) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), focused on issues created by PFAS – a group of persistent man-made chemicals that have been linked to negative health impacts on people and the environment. The task force will focus on pushing for more funding to clean up sites contaminated with PFAS.
CRUCIAL COMMITTEES: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a series of new committee appointments this week, including the new members of the Science, Space and Technology Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. The Science committee, led by Texas Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, houses subcommittees like Energy, Environment, and Oversight that will do important Trump administration oversight. And the Natural Resources Committee will similarly conduct robust oversight of the Trump administration’s agenda of selling out our public lands and waters.
HONORING MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: In a Medium piece posted on Monday, WE ACT For Environmental Justice reflected on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy and his early push for environmental justice. MLK was an advocate for communities of color who too often bear the brunt of pollution’s harmful impacts – a fact we still see today with issues like the Flint Water Crisis and climate change. Unfortunately, as the piece notes, the Trump administration is going against so many of the things King fought for, including Andrew Wheeler’s plans to attack our clean air which will disproportionately impact communities of color.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES (+ DC!): With the federal government shutdown and Trump continuing to deny climate science, we’re continuing to look to the states for climate progress. Here are some of this week’s highlights:
ILLINOIS: Illinois’ new governor J.B. Pritzker this week signed an executive order committing the state to the principles of the Paris Climate Agreement.
MICHIGAN: The state’s new Attorney General, Dana Nessel, announced this week that Michigan will drop four lawsuits against the EPA – which began before Scott Pruitt and Andrew Wheeler were at the helm of the agency – that all targeted and sought to undermine clean air protections.
NEW JERSEY: Governor Phil Murphy nominated two environmental champions to the state’s important Pinelands Commission, which protects one of the largest coastal ecosystems. They will replace commissioners from Chris Christie’s administration, who undermined protections for land use and wanted to sell off parts of the land to polluters.
WASHINGTON, D.C.: Mayor Muriel Bowser has kicked off her second term by signing into law the “Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018” which mandates the city reach 100 percent clean energy by 2032! This is a major step forward right in the nation’s capital and underscores how cities are also leading the way on clean energy and combating climate change.
TBD – State of the Union address
JANUARY 31 – House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the Trump shutdown’s impact on the EPA and other agencies
FEBRUARY 5 – Senate committee vote on Andrew Wheeler’s nomination to head the EPA