This Week In Climate (In)Action


Jun 28, 2019

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.




“Our #ForThePeople agenda prioritizes #ClimateActionNow. We are committed to serving all communities, especially the marginalized communities, by working to protect and strengthen bedrock enviro laws, create green collar jobs and increase EPA funding.”

–Representative Donald McEachin during Blavity’s Twitter chat about LCV’s new report that highlights the environmental leadership from caucuses of color.


“The 2020 election is our last, best chance to address the climate crisis, and voters deserve candidates, debates and media coverage that take the issue incredibly seriously.”

–Former EPA Administrator and LCV Board Chair Carol M. Browner in an op-ed that ran in the Miami Herald prior to the debates this week.


The biggest geopolitical threat to the United States: “Climate change”

–Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Cory Booker, and former Secretary Julián Castro, all cited climate change as the biggest existential threat to the U.S. when asked during the first Democratic primary debate.




LCV leadership was in Miami for the first presidential primary debate, and while we were glad to see that climate coverage is already outpacing the time devoted to the crisis in 2016, over both nights, only 15 minutes were spent discussing the candidates’ plans to combat climate change. That comes out to roughly 6% of the four hours the debate was televised. While moderators made little time for the #1 issue Democratic primary voters said they wanted to hear about on the debate stage, some candidates helped elevate the crisis.


Here are a few climate highlights from night one:

  • Before the first climate change question was asked, Governor Jay Inslee attacked Trump for saying wind turbines cause cancer, stating “we know they cause jobs.”
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren mentioned the “worldwide need for green technology” and said, “We need to go tenfold in our research & development on green energy going forward.”
  • Governor Inslee was asked the first question about climate change, responding that “We’re the first generation to feel the sting of climate change and we are the last that can do something about it.”
  • Former Secretary Julián Castro said that as president his first action would be to sign an executive order recommitting the United States to the Paris Climate Accord.
  • When candidates were asked what America’s top geopolitical threat is, Congressman Beto O’Rourke, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Cory Booker, and Secretary Julián Castro mentioned climate change.

OUR TAKE ON NIGHT ONE: LCV SVP of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said: “While it’s encouraging that many of the candidates prioritized both the climate crisis and clean energy solutions tonight, it simply wasn’t enough. At a time when voters overwhelmingly want climate action and when we have so little time to act, the moderators barely scratched the surface of this existential threat in a city that could literally be underwater in our lifetimes.”


Here are a few climate highlights from night two:

  • Senator Kamala Harris stated she prefers referring to climate change as “a climate crisis,” which she said “represents an existential threat to us as a species.”
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg noted that climate change is “not just happening on the Arctic ice caps” but also “in the middle of the country.”
  • Senator Bernie Sanders spoke about the importance of moving “away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy”
  • Coloradans’ Senator Michael Bennet and Former Governor John Hickenlooper both said climate change would be the first issue they would tackle as president.

OUR TAKE ON NIGHT TWO: LCV SVP of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said: “Tonight the moderators did a somewhat better job than last night giving the climate crisis and clean energy solutions the attention they deserve. This issue is a higher priority for voters than ever before and we are encouraged by the detailed policy platforms a few candidates were able to present. But to be clear, this is just the beginning of what must be a deeper, more robust discussion of how the candidates will enact their bold, ambitious plans to fight the climate crisis starting on Day One of their Presidency. ”




The New Yorker: How Rogue Republicans Killed Oregon’s Climate-Change Bill

The Miami Herald: Climate change is real, and Democratic candidates must debate real solutions

The Washington Post: The Democratic debate is happening at ‘ground zero’ for rising seas. Could the climate candidate get a word in edgewise?

The Washington Post: A climate-focused presidential debate? Here’s what moderators should ask.

Florida Politics: Florida voters hold environmental issue as high priority, poll shows

Business Insider: DNC Chairman Tom Perez still won’t hold a climate-change-focused debate, despite mounting pressure from Democratic activists

Tampa Bay Times: Climate change expected to take center stage during this week’s Democratic debates



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:


Eyes on Ties (NY): NY League of Conservation Directors are Pushing the Williams Pipeline & Other NYS Fossil Fuel Projects

Statesman Journal (OR): Advocates, legislators vent frustration at Capitol rally for carbon cap-and-trade bill

Juneau Empire (AK): Live: Rally to stop Pebble Mine permitting happening outside Sen. Murkowski’s office

Associated Press (NM): Methane rules up for debate as drilling booms in New Mexico

Fox2 News (MI): New bill proposes nation’s first charging network for electric cars in Michigan




CLIMATE ON THE TRAIL: 2020 candidates are prioritizing climate change. Check out to see what the candidates have said and done to put climate action front and center.

INSLEE’S CLIMATE VISION PART 4: Governor Jay Inslee released the fourth part of his climate plan on “Freedom From Fossil Fuels,” which includes his bold agenda to phase out fossil fuel production in our country. The plan’s multi-strategy approach includes putting a price on carbon, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and beefing up enforcement of polluters.


POLL 1: CLIMATE AND CLEAN ENERGY WINNING ISSUES IN 2020: This week LCV and CAP Action Fund released new polling that reinforced that climate change and clean energy are top-tier issues for voters in battleground states. The results specifically revealed that Democratic primary voters want the candidates to present plans for addressing climate change and moving the country to 100% clean energy. Similarly, a majority of general election voters support moving America to 100% clean energy and see this as a job creation opportunity.


POLL 2: FLORIDIANS CARE A LOT ABOUT CLIMATE: Last week, in advance of the first Democratic debate in Miami, LCV released new polling showing that a majority of Florida voters believe environmental and climate issues are important, and even more support a move to 100% clean energy by 2050. Support is especially high among Florida Latinos and African Americans, with 77% of Latinos and 74% of African Americans wanting to move to a completely clean energy economy by 2050.


NEW REPORT ON ENVIRO LEADERSHIP IN CAUCUSES OF COLOR: On Tuesday, LCV released a report examining the environmental records of members of the Tri-Caucus, which includes the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The analysis showed that Tri-Caucus members spoke out and voted against anti-environment policies, especially those that threatened communities of color.

#LCVSCORECARD: After releasing the report, LCV teamed up with Blavity for a Twitter chat about additional action Congress can take to protect communities of color from environmental harm

OUR REPORT, OUR META TAKE: LCV SVP for Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Communities of color and low-income communities bear a disproportionate burden of the dangerous impacts of toxic pollution and climate change, and the Tri-Caucus has helped lead the fight against environmental racism.”


GERRYMANDERING AND CENSUS DECISIONS FROM ON HIGH: On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled on two cases that impact the fundamentals of our democracy: the census citizenship question and partisan gerrymandering. On the citizenship question, we are relieved that the Court did not find the administration’s explanation for adding the question adequate. As for partisan gerrymandering, the decision is a disappointment — the Court has refused to address partisan gerrymandering, and as Justice Kagan put it in her dissent, “the partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American ideal that all governmental power derives from the people.”

OUR TAKE: LCV SVP of Community and Civic Engagement Jennifer Allen Aroz said: “What is at stake in these decisions is whose voices will matter in our democracy. We are disappointed by the devastating Supreme Court decisions on partisan gerrymandering that strike at our fundamental right to be heard and participate equitably in our democracy…The Trump administration’s desire to add a citizenship question to the census is simply wrong and we are pleased the Court rejected the Trump administration’s flawed and racist justification. It is more important than ever for a fair and accurate 2020 Census that ensures all communities are counted, so they get the resources that they deserve.”


ETHICS, BEGONE!: Bill Wehrum, the head of the Office on Air and Radiation at the EPA, resigned Wednesday amid ethics allegations. In April, the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced that it would investigate Wehrum over allegations that he had improperly aided former energy clients from his time at law firm Hunton & Williams. EPA Administrator Wheeler, who has been accused of unethical conduct himself, praised Wehrum.

OUR TAKE: LCV SVP of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Good riddance to yet another Trump official who has padded polluter profits instead of protecting kids’ health. At a time when the number of unhealthy air days has jumped 15%, Wehrum worked to weaken clean air protections further. Mitch McConnell and his allies must stop rubber stamping the industry cronies like Bill Wehrum, Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke who keep having to resign amid ethical transgressions.”


NOTHING TO SEE HERE: On Sunday, POLITICO reported that Trump’s Agriculture Department is suppressing reports of the wide-ranging impacts of climate change. These peer-reviewed studies, which are signed off on by the non-partisan Agricultural Research Service, reveal serious risks to our food sources, such as rice and cattle. Given the Trump administration’s history of sweeping climate change under the rug, these new omissions don’t come as a surprise. Also not a surprise, pro-climate members of the House and Senate are holding the White House and it’s incompetence accountable, demanding answers.

IT’S NOT ALL SONNY WEATHER: In a CNN interview released Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made flippant remarks about climate change being nothing more than “weather patterns,” including an observation that, “It rained yesterday, it’s a nice pretty day today.” He went on to surmise that the rain disrupts Trump’s golf habits: “he’s a golfer, so sometimes he knows he gets rained out and sometimes it doesn’t, but the long term consequences, I don’t know.” Of course, a number of very specific long term consequences of climate change were spelled out in the studies his department failed to release.


NOTHING MORE TO SEE HERE: Last Friday, The White House told all federal agencies that they should no longer factor the climate impact of their projects into accounts of potential environmental damage. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to take account of the environmental impact of new projects, but Trump’s latest directive tells agencies to only do so when “a sufficiently close causal relationship exists” between carbon emissions and a project.


NO-COMMON-SENSE-PENCE: In an interview Sunday on CNN, Pence refused to acknowledge the threat climate change poses to the country, insisting that his administration will “always follow the science” and that the answer was “based upon the science.” When confronted with the truth that the science indeed shows the climate crisis is a threat, Pence tried to change the subject, stating he didn’t want to increase utility rates and falsely added that the air and water in the U.S. are cleaner than anywhere else in the world.


CONGRESS CONVENES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE: On Wednesday House Committee on Natural Resources Chair Raúl Grijalva and Representative Donald McEachin hosted a first-of-its-kind environmental justice summit at the U.S. Capitol. At the event, lawmakers, experts, and activists came together to discuss the pursuit of environmental justice. The summit gave advocates the opportunity to voice their concerns and speak about the challenges their communities face. These congressional leaders are seeking input on Environmental Justice Principles that were initially drafted by their Environmental Justice Steering Committee, of which Chispa AZ’s advocacy director, Gloria Montano-Greene, is a member.


HOUSE SPENDING PACKAGE INVESTS IN ENVIRONMENT: On Tuesday, the House passed a $383 billion spending package, which rejects Trump-proposed cuts and includes funding to address climate change and protect the environment. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Chair Betty McCollum said, “We are protecting and preserving our public lands and natural resources, ensuring clean and safe water to drink and air to breathe for our families, and honoring our federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Native American communities.”


PUBLIC HEALTH ALERT: 74 medical groups joined together on Monday to call on elected officials to strengthen our country’s commitments to combat climate change. The American Lung Association, American Medical Association, American College of Physicians, and others joined the call for “urgent action to fight climate change.” Calling climate change a “health emergency,” the groups demanded the United States both rejoin and increase its commitments under the Paris agreement as well as consider a new carbon pricing framework.


WILDFIRE RAGES IN EVERGLADES: Ahead of the first Democratic primary debates this week, wildfire engulfed 15,000 acres of the eastern portion of the Florida everglades. Coral Springs and Parkland, nearby cities, told residents who have respiratory problems to stay indoors. A wildlife mitigation specialist for the state said the fire would keep burning until there is rain.


WEEKEND READ: The New York Times reported on a mine in Minnesota that has received special attention from the federal government since Trump’s reelection. Owned by a Chilean billionaire who also happens to be the owner of the Kalorama property that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner rent in D.C., the mine is located in the delicate Boundary Waters wilderness in Minnesota. And although it could do untold damage on the surrounding environment, the Forest Service mysteriously called off an environmental review that could have slowed down the project.


HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES: While Trump continues to undermine and roll back important environmental protections, state and local leaders are moving forward with climate action and helping us transition to a clean energy economy. Here are some highlights:


ALASKA — PEBBLE MINE, MORE LIKE PEBBLE NEIN: A series of rallies, some of which were organized by the Alaska Center, protested the construction of Pebble Mine in Alaska this week. This mine would have the potential to deposit up to 11 billion tons of toxic mining waste into Bristol Bay, a critical watershed that supports the world’s largest sockeye salmon run that sustains indigenous communities and fishing businesses.

NEW JERSEY — BYE BYE, COAL PLANTS: New Jersey’s largest power company Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. (PSEG) announced it is selling coal-powered energy facilities to transition into clean energy. In a statement, PSEG said that the company is “one step closer to completing its coal exit strategy, with the remainder of the company’s coal generating assets either sold or scheduled for early retirement.

OREGON — BRAVADO ENSUES: Hijinks have escalated in the case of Oregon Senate Republicans fleeing the state — armed protestors gathered outside the capitol and Senate President Peter Courtney said Tuesday that Oregon’s landmark cap and trade bill did not have the votes to pass. Governor Kate Brown ordered state troopers to retrieve the absconding Republicans, but they remain at large, choosing shows of bravado over voting to protect the health and wellbeing of people in their state. One GOP Senator told a TV station that the police should “send bachelors and come heavily armed.”

OUR TAKE: In a New Yorker article published this morning about the Oregon walkout, it was pointed out that, despite this Oregon debacle, clean energy progress is being made all across the country. At least six states have passed climate legislation with bipartisan support, and as LCV’s Clean Energy Program Director Sara Jordan says, “they each significantly tackle climate pollution and quickly move that state to a clean-energy economy.”



Fourth of July

June 28 – July 8: Congressional Recess

July 30 & 31: Detroit Democratic Primary Debate

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