“This crisis isn’t simply a public health issue. It is directly related to social equity and environmental justice.”
— NRDC President and former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy via Twitter.
“At the end of all this, let’s try to remember that the geniuses who told us not to worry about coronavirus are the same geniuses telling us not to worry about #climatechange”
— Jimmy Kimmel via Twitter.
“Air pollution is so deadly that health professionals are calling it a pandemic, noting that fossil fuels are the leading source of this death and despair worldwide.”
— Earther senior staff writer Yessenia Funes’ article, If You Live With Air Pollution, You’re Already More Vulnerable to Covid-19.
The New York Times: Working From Home in Washington? Not So Great
Inside Climate News: In the Face of a Pandemic, Climate Activists Reevaluate Their Tactics
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:
NC Policy Watch (NC): Poll: North Carolinians say feds must address climate change, unhappy with Tillis
Patch.com (VA): VA Legislature Wraps Up Session Packed With Environmental Issues
Associated Press (VA): For environmentalists, a ‘monumental’ legislative session
Colorado Springs Independent (CO): LCV’s 2019 Conservation scorecard released
WE WILL NOT STOP: We sent out an email to our supporters updating them on COVID-19 and our response to this global health crisis. We understand the questions and stress during this time and want to ensure that we are taking all the necessary measures to protect ourselves, including, but not limited to, social distancing. LCV staff across the country are following health experts’ guidelines and are working remotely from home, but the climate fight does not end and we will continue to make it a priority.
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “This extraordinary situation will test all of us. With that said, addressing the climate crisis and winning at the ballot box is work that cannot stop or even take a short pause. If anything, this pandemic shows what happens when science and the experts are ignored and the institutions we rely on to protect us are weakened. It’s time to reverse that course and we believe it can be done.”
STIMULUS FOR CLIMATE ACTION: LCV and 17 other environmental advocacy organizations sent a letter to Senate and House leadership today in opposition to a bailout of fossil fuel companies and in support of action on climate change and environmental justice in any long-term economic stimulus package. Specifically, the letter calls on Congress to advance solutions that spur economic recovery and tackle climate change – like helping boost clean energy deployment and funding transit and water infrastructure projects in the low wealth communities and communities of color hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis.
OUR TAKE: The coalition letter says, “On behalf of our millions of members, supporters, and workers, we the undersigned strongly support your efforts to respond to the COVID-19 global public health crisis and its economic ramifications and believe that any government economic stimulus package or supplemental funding in response at least should not exacerbate two other ongoing crises – climate change and environmental injustice – and rather should advance solutions that boost economic recovery and tackle those two crises as well.”
ARIZONA DC DEBATE: Amid so much uncertainty around the novel coronavirus, last Sunday’s Democratic debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders focused on COVID-19. The debate did transition from a serious discussion of this public health crisis into a conversation about another existential threat, the climate crisis. The debate dedicated about 12 minutes to climate where both Biden and Sanders discussed their climate plans, including recommitting to international action, banning new fossil fuel leases on public lands, and more. Even in times of uncertainty, it’s clear that we cannot stop tackling the climate crisis — it is at this time when vulnerable communities are most susceptible to COVID-19 due to air pollution and other climate factors.
SUPER TUESDAY III: This week Florida, Arizona, and Illinois held primary elections, while Ohio delayed voting because of the COVID-19 crisis. Ahead of these primaries, LCV sent out a memo, which focused on the local impacts that make tackling climate change a top priority for voters in each state, and polling that shows support for clean energy and climate action in these states.
2020 CENSUS: The 2020 Census is here folks! A complete Census count isn’t just important to our democracy and politics, but it’s also important for the environment — we are encouraging everyone to be counted, especially people who, in the past, have been misrepresented or left out, specifically communities of color. The Census determines funding for many air, water, and land projects, and Census data is used to inform research about environmental injustices in communities of color. So, a complete count is fundamental in bringing forth a more equitable environmental movement. During these times of social distancing, filling out online at www.2020census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020 are the best ways to do your civic duty and be counted.
WEEKEND READ: This week’s weekend read is written by Chris Mooney from The Washington Post and titled, The coronavirus is deadly enough. But some experts suspect bad air makes it worse. Experts suggest that smoke inhalation of any kind, whether it be deliberate or from pollution, could intensify COVID-19 or make a person more vulnerable to catching the respiratory infectious virus. Studies have linked air pollution to having a vulnerable respiratory system, so what does this mean for areas with high air pollution? Unfortunately, it can mean certain communities affected most by air pollution — communities of color — can be more susceptible to COVID-19. Now more than ever is the time for aggressive climate action and emissions reductions.
AN ISSUE OF ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM: Echoing the above section about the link between air pollution and COVID-19, this Earther article delves into the crisis as an environmental justice issue. Low-income communities and communities of color are most likely to be exposed to air pollution in the U.S., which means these communities may face added risk during the pandemic. Furthermore, Black people are three times more likely to die from asthma than white people, this number jumps to 10 times more likely for Black children, and Black people as a whole suffer the highest death rates from heart disease than any other race. This reality of air pollution coupled with the COVID-19, what experts refer to as cumulative impacts, makes this crisis a matter of environmental racism and injustice.
ACTIVISM CAN’T WAIT: In this new world of social distancing norms, activist groups are finding new ways to stay on track and not let COVID-19 hinder their important work and goals. Organizations are swapping out the good ol’ knocking on doors for new tactics like “digital striking,” as Greta Thunberg put it. This is a time to be creative because, while we all are being safe and taking precautions, the climate crisis is not slowing down and neither should we.
OUR TAKE: LCV’s SVP of Campaigns Pete Maysmith said, “This is a moment that demands creativity and thinking outside the box. The climate crisis is not slowing down and our efforts to combat it are not going to slow down either. It is pulling out all the tools in our toolbox. That means phone calls, texting, and peer-to-peer and online organizing. We are just going to be engaging people in all the ways we can figure out [online trainings, letter writing, and email campaigns].”
DOUBLE TAKE: LCV Education Fund Deputy Director of Civic Engagement Hilda Nucete said, “While this is a short-term blow to our in-person voter registration goals, we are not slowing our efforts to increase civic participation. We are exploring an expansion of our existing digital, mail and phone-based strategies to continue voter engagement during this time and compensate for lost face-to-face opportunities.”
STATES ARE LEADING: A trend is emerging. In moments of crisis, like this current pandemic, the Trump administration has failed to heed the advice of experts, resulting in an incompetent response to a devastating health crisis, while state elected officials are designing and implementing more active measures and leading the way.
The same is true of the climate crisis. States have been asserting bold climate leadership while the administration undermines the crisis, and states are continuing to fight the climate crisis even in the midst of a public health crisis. Recently, Virginia, Illinois, and Oregon led the way on climate action. In Illinois the Clean Energy Jobs Act, legislation that was informed by over 100 community meetings, continues to gain momentum. It’s built to achieve 100% renewable energy in Illinois by 2050 and create a carbon free grid by 2030. Virginia ended its legislative session with huge climate wins, including passage of the Clean Energy Act. Last week, Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced an executive order that would continue to move Oregon forward on clean energy after Republicans walked out on important climate votes.
CVM TAKE: Following the clean energy success of the Virginia legislature, Executive Director of Virginia LCV Michael Town told the Chesapeake Bay Journal, “This is what a ‘conservation majority’ looks like.”
LEARNING FROM COVID-19 (NC): A new Public Policy Polling poll released this week by the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters (NCLCV) found that 56% of North Carolina voters on both sides of the aisle think a mobilization akin to the government’s response to the coronavirus is required to ward off the worst public health and economic impacts of climate change. In other words, the climate movement has a lot to learn a lot from this moment. Full poll results are available here.
CVM TAKE: NCLCV Director of Strategic Communications Dustin Ingalls said, “ … like the climate crisis, the coronavirus crisis has been made worse by a federal government which has defunded or eliminated response teams, rolled back regulations, ignored science and expert advice, treated it like a hoax, and jumped to action too late.”
March 1-31: Women’s History Month
March 22: International Day of Forests
April 1: Census Day
April 22: Earth Day!