QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Climate change is the issue of our lifetime. I’m proud to announce a 3-way deal with the Legislature on landmark climate legislation that includes the most aggressive mandate in the country: 85% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050, Net zero emissions in all sectors of economy”
–New York Governor Andrew Cuomo via Twitter on Tuesday, announcing a landmark deal on climate legislation
“The fossil fuel industry’s dark money has polluted our politics as badly as its carbon emissions have polluted our atmosphere.”
–Senator Sheldon Whitehouse at an event LCV and End Citizens United held on Wednesday.
LCV IN THE NEWS:
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:
Alabama Political Reporter (AL): Poll: 75 percent of Alabama voters favor expansion of renewable energy
New York Times (NY): New York to Approve One of the World’s Most Ambitious Climate Plans
Colorado Times Recorder (CO): Colorado Leaders Welcome New Climate Action Campaign
CLIMATE ON THE TRAIL: 2020 candidates are prioritizing climate change. Check out this week’s roundup of what candidates have said and done to put climate action front and center.
TRUMP CONTINUES SCIENCE PURGE: Late Friday night, President Trump signed an executive order that requires all federal agencies to get rid of at least one third of their advisory committees. While the order is binding on all federal agencies, some are calling it a stealth maneuver to attack climate science and remove scientific advice from the rulemaking process. Former EPA Administrator and LCV Board Chair Carol Browner called the move “disappointing to anyone who cares about evidence-based policy making, scientific review or the truth.”
TRUMP LIES ABOUT ENVIRONMENT IN RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN KICKOFF: At his re-election kickoff rally in Orlando on Tuesday, Trump told attendees that “[o]ur air and water are the cleanest they’ve ever been by far.” As usual, Trump’s comments are far from the truth. While the Obama administration set records for air quality, Trump’s record on the issue is much worse. In fact, air quality improvements have stagnated during his time in office: there have been 15% more unhealthy air days during the two years Trump has been in office.
OUR TAKE: LCV Victory Fund Senior Vice President Pete Maysmith said, “It’s very clear that Trump’s pro-polluter agenda means he’s not looking out for people who need breathable air and drinkable water. The fact is that his administration continues to double-down on dangerous policies that will only enrich wealthy polluters while leaving everyone else with more health risks, staggering costs for climate change impacts, and without the economic opportunities a clean energy future would bring.That’s why we will do everything we can to make sure that Trump is replaced with a leader who will fight for a cleaner, safer and prosperous future that works for everyone.”
WHEELER MOVES TO PROTECT COAL: The Trump administration never fails to let down our environment. Its latest assault on our planet targeted the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan — on Wednesday, EPA chief Andrew Wheeler finalized the administration’s Clean Power Plan replacement, which rolls back the CO2 emission reduction standards for coal plants. This Dirty Power Scam means that utilities will not be adequately held responsible for their pollution — they will be required to eliminate less than half of the pollution that experts warn is necessary to stop catastrophic warming levels.
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “Data from Trump’s own EPA clearly shows there were 15 percent more unhealthy air days in the U.S. in the last two years than the four prior — the last thing we need is this Dirty Power Scam to put more carbon pollution in our increasingly unhealthy air… Today’s announcement by the most anti-environment administration in history is a direct rebuke to the stated mission of the EPA ‘to protect human and environmental health.’ We can and must do better.”
HOUSE VOTES ON BILLS TO PROTECT LAND AND SEA: On Wednesday the House Natural Resources Committee approved three bills: one would provide full, permanent and dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, one would ban offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and one would ban offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico off Florida.
OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel said, “These bills would boost communities’ coastal and outdoor recreation economies by preserving our lands, waters and beaches. We commend Reps. Van Drew, Cunningham, and Rooney and Chairman Grijalva for their leadership on these issues and urge the pro-environment House of Representatives to bring these bipartisan bills to the floor.”
LAWMAKERS STEP UP TO PROTECT BRISTOL BAY: Fifty-four members of Congress have penned a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging it to block a proposed mine in Bristol Bay in Alaska, calling it “the most valuable wild salmon fishery in the world.” The proposed project, a copper and gold mine called Pebble Mine, would drain to Bristol Bay’s watershed and imperil the area’s fish and wildlife. Representative Jared Huffman offered an amendment to the first appropriations minibus that was adopted and blocks the Army’s Corps of Engineers from finalizing an environmental impact statement, the required next step in permitting, for the site.
OUR TAKE: In a letter urging lawmakers to support amendment #90, LCV President Gene Karpinski wrote, “The Bristol Bay watershed is one of America’s last great wild places, but Pebble Mine would threaten its future and the people, salmon, wildlife, and economies that depend on it.”
LAWMAKERS STEP UP TO PROTECT ARCTIC REFUGE: The U.S. House of Representatives blocked an amendment (#143) to the second appropriations minibus Interior-Environment division that would have helped oil companies bid for leases to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
OUR TAKE: In a letter to lawmakers urging them to oppose amendment #143, LCV President Gene Karpinski wrote, “This amendment would do irreparable damage to one of America’s most magnificent and wildest landscapes that is home to polar and brown bears, muskoxen, and birds that migrate from all 50 states and 6 continents.”
LCV URGES DEMOCRACY REFORM TO COMBAT CLIMATE CRISIS: On Wednesday, LCV teamed up with End Citizens United (ECU) Action Fund to host “Mission Critical: Reforming Our Democracy to Save Our Planet” at the National Press Club. With a keynote address from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the event focused on the need for comprehensive government and money in politics reform to combat the climate crisis. Tiernan Sittenfeld, LCV SVP for Government Affairs, said, “We must reform our democracy so that climate deniers and the fossil fuel industry cannot continue to abuse the system and delay climate action in the face of the greatest crisis of our generation. The communities most impacted by the climate crisis are currently excluded from power — in order to take equitable, fair and just action to address climate change it is imperative that the same corporate actors that got us into this mess aren’t deciding our energy future.”
A FIRST STEP TO ROOT OUT DANGEROUS PFAS: On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved legislation to address dangerous PFAS contamination, which is linked to serious health problems like cancer, thyroid disease, neurological development issues, and more. For too long, the Trump administration has dragged its feet, leaving this serious crisis in the hands of states and localities. This legislation would force the administration to take action.
OUR TAKE 1: Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters said, “We’ve known about this widespread problem for years and communities in states like Michigan are confronting the crisis on their own without much urgency from federal agencies. That inaction has rightly led the U.S. Congress to step in and take leadership on bold legislation solutions so we can establish some fundamental safeguards for public health and drinking water.”
OUR TAKE 2: LCV Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote said, “We greatly appreciate that the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee is taking the PFAS crisis seriously, and while this is an important first step, we must go further, including listing all PFAS as hazardous under CERCLA (Superfund)…To truly tackle this crisis, we must regulate and ban the entire class of PFAS chemicals, clean up the contamination, and hold polluters accountable for knowingly jeopardizing our health and the environment.”
PANIC IN THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY: Democrats running in 2020 are proposing to force corporations to disclose the risks they face from climate change. Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Jay Inslee, and Beto O’Rourke have all proposed new reporting requirements in which companies have to tell the Securities and Exchange Commission the financial risks they face due to climate change. In the words of Senator Brian Schatz, “If they’re not requiring one of the fastest growing risks to be accurately accounted for, then they’re not doing their job.”
MAN’S BEST FRIEND NOT SPARED BY CLIMATE CHANGE: A USA Today article published Saturday reported that climate change has increased the risk of fatal disease for dogs in the U.S. Some experts argue that increasing temperatures have expanded the habitat for ticks and the diseases they carry, potentially to the detriment of dogs across America. And not only has climate change expanded the risk of existing disease, it may make it possible to ticks to give new disease entirely to dogs.
SPARE NO BEES: Trump’s EPA announced Monday that it would allow the use of Sulfoxaflor on certain crops, a pesticide known for harming bees. The pesticide was barred from use in 2015 and now will be allowed for use on cotton and sorghum crops. An EPA spokesperson said that the new directive includes advisory guidance for how to protect bees, although the agency has also booted scientists from its own advisory panels.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES: While Trump continues to undermine and rollback important environmental protections, state and local leaders are moving forward with climate action and helping us transition to a clean energy economy. Here’s a fact sheet we released last week, a video about Clean Energy for All, and our report on governors’ progress in their first 100 days in office. Here are some highlights from this week:
OREGON: The Oregon House of Representatives voted Monday to approve a bill that would establish cap and trade statewide. The bill would limit carbon emissions by creating a marketplace for trading pollution credits. The measure has now moved to the Oregon Senate…
DRAMA IN THE OREGON SENATE: Seeking to kill the cap and trade bill that the Oregon House passed, Oregon Senate Republicans fled to Idaho to deny the chamber a quorum and effectively block the bill. Governor Kate Brown has ordered state police to attempt to recover the senators and bring them back to Salem to do their jobs. Governor Brown put out a statement saying, “It is absolutely unacceptable that the Senate Republicans would turn their back on their constituents who they are honor-bound to represent here in this building.”
MAINE: On Tuesday, the Maine legislature passed three critical bills that will move the state to 100 percent clean energy by 2050, reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, and increase investment in and access to solar power.
THE CVM TAKE: Maine Conservation Voters Executive Director Maureen Drouin had this to say, “This legislative session shows the power of people coming together to elect forward-thinking leaders who will act to protect Maine’s environment, tackle climate change, and build new economic opportunities for the state.”
NEW JERSEY: Governor Phil Murphy announced on Monday that the state’s Department of Environmental Protection had adopted new rules that will allow the state to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative by March of 2020. In 2012, Chris Christie’s administration withdrew from the landmark agreement among eastern states to reduce CO2 emissions from power generation. Governor Murphy called Christie’s decision “reckless” and has vowed to make New Jersey a leader in fighting climate change.
NEW YORK: On Thursday, the state legislature passed bold new climate policy thanks to a deal reached between Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers. The Climate and Community Protection Act is now the strongest climate policy in the country and requires New York eliminate 85% of its emissions economy wide by 2050.
THE CVM TAKE: New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe said, “New York’s climate bill is the strongest and most ambitious in the nation…As the White House continues to put fossil fuels first, this legislation is a bold model for other states to follow.”
June 22 – 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga river fire
June 24 – U.S. House to vote on pro-environment Interior-Environment appropriations
June 24 – BlueGreen Alliance launches Solidarity for Climate Action
June 26-27 – First Democratic primary debates