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This Week In Climate (In)Action

THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – JUNE 19, 2020

Jun 19, 2020

Your weekly resource to learn what the environmental movement is saying about the news of the day and the political fight of our generation. Be sure to follow LCV on Facebook and Twitter.

 

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

“Today reminds us that progress might be slow. It might take decades. But no matter what things might look like today, it’s always possible. Happy Pride month, everybody.” 

President Barack Obama via Twitter.

Despite colloquialisms in the outdoor community claiming “outdoors for all,” it is our experience as people of color today that the outdoors are not for all.

Co-lead of Imaginemos Utah’s Environmental Chinampa Olivia Juarez in her Salt Lake City Tribune op-ed on Environmental health means being pro-black.

“Water and the Black experience are linked and fraught.” 

— President and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative Linda Goler Blount in a Blavity op-ed on why clean water is vital for Black communities.

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

 

Grist: Women just won big in New Mexico’s primary. Here’s what that means for climate change

E&E News: Oil executives: Biden a larger threat than recession, COVID-19

Washington Post: Trump’s EPA chief drops into battleground states ahead of election

Mother Jones: Surprise, Surprise—In an Election Year, Two Vulnerable GOP Senators Are Suddenly Conservationists

Bloomberg: Biden Ties Climate Change to the Struggle for Racial Equality

E&E News: Biden uses town hall to sway greens on climate plan

Florida Politics: Climate Power 2020 selects José Javier Rodríguez as Florida co-chair

Politico: Lawmakers ask: What’s the coronavirus impact?

Nation of Change: Trump EPA’s refusal to strengthen air quality standards most likely to harm communities of color, experts say

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

 

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:

 

Michigan Advance (MI): Michigan’s dam problem isn’t just in Midland — and it’s part of a larger infrastructure crisis

NJ.com (NJ): Let’s not cling to the familiar. Let’s do better and create green jobs | Opinion

E&E News (CA): Bleak cap-and-trade results raise doubts about program

Press of Atlantic City (NJ): Plan would make South Jersey a hub for wind-energy manufacturing

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CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH: Today is a very important holiday for Black people around the country, a day that LCV is proud to have made a permanent holiday for our offices moving forward. Juneteenth marks the day — two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation and end of the Civil War — that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned of their long overdue freedom. Now, 155 years after slavery, in practice, ended, Black people are still fighting for their human rights. While the pain of injustice fills our streets at this moment, Juneteenth is a time for celebration, and much like when the union soldiers delivered the news in Galveston, federal recognition of Juneteenth as a holiday is long overdue. We must continue to let the world know that Black lives matter.

SOLIDARITY WITH M4BL: This week, LCV and Chispa signed onto the Movement For Black Lives (M4BL) principles of Six Nineteen. The principles of Six Nineteen include prioritizing safety, respecting Black leadership, investing in Black communities, advocating for systemic change, and addressing anti-Black racism externally as well as internally. We firmly stand united in making it clear that Black lives matter. The fight for environmental justice is the fight for racial justice. We will not forget the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks and the thousands of other Black lives lost to police brutality and white supremacy.

BIDEN SPEAKS TO LCV MEMBERS: On Tuesday night, LCV members joined a conversation between Vice President Joe Biden and Climate Activist and Co-founder of @futureearth Stephanie Shepherd to discuss climate change, racial justice, and Trump’s terrible record on both. Vice President Biden laid out a passionate and strategic set of solutions for solving the climate crisis tonight, including addressing environmental injustices that have disproportionately hurt communities of color. “This is an existential threat – we can’t postpone anymore. I am going to fight the deadly inequities that have been amplified by COVID, launch a 100% clean energy revolution creating millions of good paying jobs.” The virtual event also included LCV Board Chair and Former EPA Administrator Carol Browner, LCV Board Member and Former Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards and LCV Board Member and the President of Hip Hop Caucus Reverend Lennox Yearwood who talked about the urgent need to act on climate and dismantle racism in this country. 

 A WIN FOR DACA: Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States protected hundreds of thousands of young people who rely on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, many of whom are people of color. Millions of families will now have temporary peace of mind. Nearly 256,000 U.S. children have at least one parent who is a DACA recipient and across the country, 2.5 million U.S. citizens live with a DACA recipient. The fight to protect all immigrants can only truly advance with advancing the movement for Black lives. Part of defending immigrants includes the defense of our Black immigrant community, who are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). We have said it before, and we will say it again and again: there is no environmental justice without racial and social justice. Read the full statement here, which features Deputy Director of Chispa Estefany Carrasco’s story on becoming DACAmented.

OUR TAKE: LCV’s Arizona-based Senior Vice President of Community & Civic Engagement Jennifer Allen Aroz said, “Human rights won today in the Supreme Court — and we’re proud to stand in solidarity with the immigrant youth and community leaders who have fought tirelessly to protect their families, especially Black immigrant communities facing heightened risk from law enforcement. It’s long past time for the Senate to pass H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, and ensure that Dreamers remain protected and have a path to citizenship. This is an important moment for people in every corner of our country, yet the deeply embedded racism and injustice that immigrant communities will continue to face needs to be named and dismantled. As LCV fights for the right of immigrant communities to breathe clean air and have a planet that can sustain the hopes and dreams of generations to come, we will continue to stand with immigrant families who are fighting to be part of a country that is grounded in justice and equity.”

ANTI-TRUMP CAMPAIGN: As part of its ongoing $14 million anti-Trump campaign targeting ‘environmental swing voters,’ LCV Victory Fund released new digital ads and direct mail that expose the truth about Donald Trump’s harmful environmental record, and its similarities to his coronavirus response. The ongoing paid media campaign targets voters in the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. LCV Victory Fund is partnering with Priorities USA Action for the digital programs in Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Since the start of the paid media campaign last month, the ads have had tens of millions of impressions on various digital platforms including Facebook, YouTube, and Hulu across all six battleground states.

OUR TAKE: LCV Victory Fund Senior Vice President of Campaigns Pete Maysmith said, “Donald Trump is currently exploiting a nation in pain, in the middle of a pandemic that is disproportionately harmful to Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities, to dismantle environmental policies that protect our children and families. Voters need to know that Trump refuses to listen to experts, prioritizes corporations over people, and denies the threat of climate change just like he denied the threat of the coronavirus. Trump is putting the health of our communities at extreme risk, especially communities of color and low-income communities.”

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH MEANS BEING PRO BLACK: We cannot sincerely advocate for a healthy planet while racism continues to plague our Earth. In her op-ed on the structural inaccessibility of outdoor spaces, Olivia Juarez explains that the recent white violence against Ahmaud Arbery is one example of many that demonstrates that outdoor activity can have lethal consequences for people of color. Accessibility to fresh air, running water, sunshine and wildlife is especially important as we face coronavirus. Black community members shoulder disproportionate stress living amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and — additionally — are facing the trauma of the murder of Black lives and ensuing protests. Olivia Juarez calls on the environmental community to adopt a “pro-people-of-color framework” in which we “recognize and root out anti-blackness and colonialism in ourselves and among our communities.” We cannot continue to boast “outdoors for all” until we can guarantee outdoors for Black people. 

LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX: For the first time in a long while, we woke up to great news this Monday morning. In a classic American wow-this-really-isn’t-already-a-law moment, the Supreme Court ruled that wow-it-really-is-law that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination. Prior to this ruling, it was legal in more than half of the states to fire employees for being gay, bisexual or transgender, and this decision comes in the wake of nation-wide protests over violence against transgender people of color. In the fight for justice and equity, we’ve taken a step forward, now let’s take six to 19 more. 

CLEAN WATER IS VITAL: Black children in the United States are three times more likely than white children to have high levels of lead in their blood. In her op-ed on the racism of clean water access, Linda Goler Blout — President and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative — explains that the Trump administration’s gutting of the Clean Water Act will have disproportionately large adverse health effects on Black women and their families. Racist zoning policies, discriminatory land use and segregation have forced low-income and Black communities to live in areas vulnerable to water pollution from nearby industrial facilities. Blout highlights a report on clean water in the U.S., recently published by the Black Women’s Health Imperative, and encourages communities to use the information to demand local policies to safeguard clean water, protect the health of people and the planet, and root out environmental racism. 

ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE: In far less uplifting Supreme Court news, the court ruled that the National Forest Service can permit the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline under the Appalachian Trail. While the decision is a blow to the fight against the pipeline, there are numerous steps in the process before the natural gas pipeline, which would cross West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, can proceed. The project has long been a source of controversy for the impacts it will have on the environment and communities along its path, particularly the proposed compressor station that would be built in the heart of Union Hill, a historic Black community founded by former slaves following Emancipation where many of their descendants still live today. 

GAOA: This Wednesday the Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act on a big bipartisan vote. This major legislation would boost the hard-hit outdoor recreation, tourism, and construction sectors and protect and enhance green spaces nationwide. We urge the House of Representatives to swiftly take up this legislation. Creating and maintaining parks is so important, but recent events have highlighted the need for Black communities, and other communities of color, to be able to be safe and welcome in them—to jog, to bird watch, to protest, and to enjoy our natural heritage and outdoor spaces without fear. We look forward to working with Congress and others on ways to address those barriers to equity and inclusion in the United States.

OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel said, “We are incredibly excited at the momentum behind this landmark legislation to help people and communities access America’s outdoors. We support the Great American Outdoors Act in part because it helps make access to nature more equitable and can reinvigorate local economies across the country by building out our park and public lands infrastructure and supporting outdoor recreation and tourism jobs. It’s long past time for Congress to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. We urge the House of Representatives to take up this legislation as-is and as soon as possible.”

JUSTICE IN POLICING ACT: Lawmakers in the House and Senate are responding to the weeks of national protest sparked by the killing of George Floyd with legislation to overhaul policing in the United States. The Justice in Policing Act is led by the Congressional Black Caucus and aims to “hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias.” The bill calls for much overdue reforms to policing, including a ban on using the chokehold that claimed George Floyd’s life and the no-knock warrant that allowed officers to shoot Breonna Taylor in her bed. The chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif) commented, “the profession that has the power to kill should be a profession that has national standards, is transparent and is accountable to the public.” The Judiciary Committee held a markup of the Justice in Policing Act on Wednesday.  

JUSTIN WALKER CONFIRMATION: This week, the Senate voted to confirm Justin Walker to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. LCV also sent out a statement on the expected confirmation. Early last month LCV sent a letter to Congress, urging lawmakers to oppose the judicial nomination of Walker. He lacks the basic experience and temperament required to serve as a judge, and shows an inappropriate willingness to side with partisan political interests. In the midst of this public health crisis and heightened discourse due to police brutality towards Black people in this country, it’s all too telling that Mitch McConnell is prioritizing the confirmation of a judge who will serve as a rubber stamp for Trump. National Journal reported that green groups, like LCV, are ramping up their role in judicial confirmations. LCV has been running a $20K ad for the last two weeks opposing Justin Walker and his clear inability to sit in this position. 

OUR TAKE: LCV Judiciary Program Director Ben Driscoll said, “Senate Republicans are exploiting the resurging coronavirus crisis and nationwide outcry against systemic racism and brutality in our policing to push through a political favor for Leader McConnell and the president and confirm an unfit, partisan ideologue to one of the most powerful federal courts – for a seat that won’t even be open until September. Senate Republicans made clear with this vote today who they serve – and it certainly is not their constituents.”

ENERGY SECTOR JOB LOSS: The Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy held a remote hearing on Tuesday to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the energy sector. The clean energy industry has lost 620,500 jobs, as Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), E4TheFuture, and American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) reported this week, during the coronavirus pandemic. Ernest J. Moniz, President & CEO of Energy Futures Initiative Inc., made a statement in which he argued that “a comparison between COVID-19 and climate change provides valuable insights including two key points: we must heed what science is telling us, and government must do a better job at risk management.” In his testimony, Moniz called for a major investment in clean energy to propel job growth. He noted that “a just and equitable low-carbon future must be founded on optionality, flexibility, and innovation to acknowledge and accommodate significant regional differences in resources, infrastructure and policies.” Later in the hearing, Gregory Wetstone, President and Chief Executive Officer of ACORE, testified that the most important step Congress can take to help the clean energy industry is “to provide temporary refundability for renewable tax credits facing an increasingly constrained tax equity market.” This effort is essential to save and rebuild hundreds of thousands of green, family-supporting jobs and safeguard the growing deployment of energy efficiency technologies, renewable energy sources, and zero emission cars, trucks, and buses.

CONGRATS CHISPA: Congratulations to Chispa for winning this year’s Forth Roadmap Community Partner Award! This award honors an organization that exemplifies leadership in extending benefits from electric, smart and shared mobility to communities of color and other traditionally marginalized communities. Chispa’s Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign is at the forefront of this work and is proof that grassroots activism can lead to real change! 

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES: 

OFFSHORE WIND SPEED BUMP: Many states are pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create more clean energy jobs. In the Northeast, states like New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York are trying to charge forward with their offshore wind projects. The one problem holding them back is the Trump administration. Trump has disapproved many times of offshore wind, falsely claiming the turbines cause cancer and other health related issues. In order for clean energy projects of this magnitude to get underway Trump needs to sign off on permits — which he is not doing. Clean energy creates jobs, healthy air, and a healthy future for all. 

SUPPORT FOR BLM (CA): The California League of Conservation Voters wrote a blog about the ways we can continue to support the Black Lives Matter movement, “as an organization, we’re deeply committed to racial justice and equity and building an anti-racist movement. Our hope is that the Black Lives Matter movement will not lose traction. The enthusiasm invested in this movement must remain in order to spark change.” In order to help foster momentum, California LCV provided a list of action items for allies to accomplish beyond posting on social media. The list includes: signing petitions, contacting local officials, voting, continuing conversations, reading books, watching films and listening to podcasts. This movement is a marathon, not a sprint, and we must put in the work to solve the problem of racism.

CENTERING THE NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY (IL): An additional one million Illinois residents are now eligible for community service assistance, bringing the state’s total to 3.5 million residents using government aid to avoid utilities shutoffs. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced on Monday that the state will be allocating an additional $90 million of Federal Cares Act funding towards assisting low-income households with food, rent, utilities, temporary shelter and other essential services. This brings the total to $275 million for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Community Services Block Grant programs.

DON’T CLING TO THE FAMILIAR (NJ): NJ.com ran an op-ed from New Jersey LCV Executive Director Ed Potosnak about moving towards a green economy after COVID-19. While the economy has taken a dip during the coronavirus pandemic, it provides New Jersey with a chance to focus on clean energy and clean jobs to help boost it back up. Governor Murphy has already released an Energy Master Plan (EMP) that will help put New Jersey on track for some ambitious goals, including 100% clean energy by 2050. While the EMP is a good starting point, there is even more that can be done. Potosnak mentions that in order to have a prosperous future the state needs to focus on creating clean energy jobs. Potosnak challenges us not to cling to what feels familiar, but to think outside of the box.

OFFICE OF CLEAN ENERGY EQUITY (NJ): Last month, New Jersey state Senator Troy Singleton announced a proposal to establish an Office of Clean Energy Equity. Earlier this week, the New Jersey Board of Public utilities announced similar plans to create such an office–as reported by NJ Spotlight The office would help ramp up clean energy efforts in lower-income communities and communities of color. New Jersey is  seeing an increase in solar energy and development but rarely in communities that need it the most — lower-income ones. Many landlords are not motivated to adapt to solar energy because of crumbling infrastructure that may not be suitable for it. Senator  Singleton’s Clean Energy Equity Office proposal seeks to address COVID-19 and make sure that communities of color are also benefiting from clean energy. 

WIND ENERGY HUB (NJ): This week, Governor Murphy announced plans for a huge wind energy project in South Jersey. The project is slated to be built on a 200 acre site along the Delaware River. The project also includes a 25 acre manufacturing site where the wind turbines will be built. This is great news for clean energy progress and has the potential to have $500M in annual impact while creating hundreds of new jobs.

CVM TAKE: New Jersey LCV Executive Director Ed Potosnak said, “This is just the leadership we have been asking for. We ask that the Governor remain vigilant about providing opportunities to marginalized workers of color who often don’t reap the benefits of these new initiatives. Any post-COVID-19 economic recovery must include everyone, no matter the color of their skin or their zip code.”

 

 

COMING UP:

June 19: Juneteenth – a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States that, as Vann R. Newkirk II wrote, “celebrates liberty in America as it actually is: delayed”

November 3: Election Day