“We need to make sure all residents, without regard to how much money they make or the color of their skin, benefit from these rules designed to protect people and protect public health.”
— Tom Neltner, chemicals policy director with the Environmental Defense Fund, on environmental racism when it comes to clean water in Grist article by Rachel Ramirez.
“Look, we can’t all go out in the streets. We can’t be doing civil disobedience this time around. That’s because we understand that biology is real and that the coronavirus has to be taken seriously — just in the same way that we understand that physics and chemistry are real and that the carbon dioxide molecule and the methane molecule have to be taken seriously.”
— Author and environmentalist Bill McKibben in Washington Post article by Dino Grandoni on how climate movements are moving to online activism amid COVID-19.
“A lot of people who have highly paid, white-collar jobs that are computer-focused can adjust to this crisis without a lot of pain. And then there’s a much larger group that can’t adjust without a lot of pain to themselves and their families.”
— Heidi Shierholz, former chief economist for the Labor Department, now at the Economic Policy Institute in a Washington Post article by Christian Davenport, Aaron Gregg and Craig Timberg illustrating the racial and educational divide of how people are impacted by teleworking during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Washington Post: The Energy 202: Climate movement moves online during coronavirus pandemic
Bloomberg Environment: Push to Tie Green Strings to Emergency Aid Condemned by GOP
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:
Concord Monitor (NH): Letter: Delegation is fighting for the environment
Coastal Review (NC): Poll Shows Strong Interest In Climate Action
Energy News (NC): Duke Energy rewards, punishes N.C. lawmakers over ratemaking bill
WEEKEND READ: Check out this Washington Post weekend read written by Christian Davenport, Aaron Gregg and Craig Timberg. The article focuses on the racial, educational, and wealth gaps that telework capabilities during the COVID-19 crisis have revealed. Data shows that while 30% of white people can work remotely, only 20% of Black people and 16% of Latinx people can do so, resulting in many of these people risking their health to report to work or being laid off or furloughed. The same communities — often communities of color — are on the frontlines of climate change, disproportionately experiencing its worst impacts, including being more vulnerable to COVID-19 because of air pollution. These are the same communities that historically have not been awarded the same opportunities as their white counterparts but somehow must continue to report to work and put their own lives on the line.
STIMULUS PACKAGE: As we watched negotiations over the federal coronavirus stimulus package teeter on tension between Democrats’ desire to protect people (Sidenote: Speaker Pelosi named her bill “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act” for a reason) and Republicans’ desire to protect industry, lawmakers have come to an agreement — Congress has approved the largest aid package in history. This latest emergency relief package will provide $2 trillion to help those affected by the ongoing crisis. Families and individuals who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 and who are putting their lives on the line need support. We appreciate the hard work Pelosi and the rest of the Congressional Democrats have put forth to make health and safety a priority while keeping $3 billion in direct handouts to oil companies out of this package. We anticipate their continued vigilance and oversight as the Trump administration carries out the law.
OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Moving forward, it’s vitally important that Congress prioritize the low income communities and communities of color hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing climate and environmental injustice crises, provide additional funding for states to protect our elections, and invest in the struggling clean energy and outdoor recreation industries that will be essential for leading our country out of the downturn. We look forward to working with Congressional leaders to ensure these communities and workers in green industries don’t get left behind and that we can build a more resilient and just clean energy economy.”
DOUBLE TAKE: Last week, LCV helped to lead a climate coalition legislative letter urging Congress to not back big oil in the stimulus packages and instead put the needs of the people first.
CENSUS 2020: Don’t forget to fill out the 2020 census! A complete census count isn’t just important to our democracy and politics, but it’s also important to protecting 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 protections, 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 safest ways to do your civic duty and make sure #everyonecounts.
CVM TAKE: You can also check out this blog post by Georgia Conservation Voters Civic Engagement Organizer Gayla Tillman. Gayla explains why she’s fighting for inclusivity and justice through politics, using the 2020 census as an example for people to take back power.
DON’T STICK TO THE STATUS QUO: Green groups all over are switching gears to better handle activism during this new reality. Dino Grandoni’s Washington Post article, Climate Movement Moves Online During Coronavirus Pandemic, explains how climate activists are switching up the status quo to continue fighting for our planet and environmental justice while social distancing. Groups will have to get creative to keep up the momentum, and we are excited to see what others have in store!
OUR TAKE: LCV National Press Secretary Emily Samsel talked to The Washington Post about the ways LCV has quickly and successfully adapted our in-person fundraising events to virtual convenings, “LCV has not held virtual fundraisers before. This is new for us.”
THE RACIST REALITY OF WATER: It is no secret that lower income communities and communities of color have to fight for access to basic human rights and needs like clean water. A Grist article, by Rachel Ramirez, examines how these very communities are less likely to get their outdated and hazardous lead pipes replaced by utility companies. Utility companies consider lead pipes that are on private property to be the owner’s responsibility, and, as a result, replacement rates plummet in lower-income communities where homeowners can’t afford to shell out money they don’t have. Lead pipes are an extreme health risk, as we have seen in places like Flint, Michigan — which, after six freaking years, still struggles with access to clean water..
TRUMP’S PRIORITIES ARE OIL AND GAS — NOT PEOPLE: Trump, once again, is not prioritizing the health of the public. From his uninformed responses to a global pandemic to continuing oil and gas leasing, he is not putting our best interests first. This Washington Post article, by Dino Grandoni, discusses how, despite the drop in oil prices, the Trump administration is continuing to auction drilling leases on public lands, and, not surprisingly, they’re fetching extremely low prices. As we face the coronavirus crisis, Trump is shamelessly fueling another looming crisis — the climate crisis.
THIS WAS NEVER A GOOD IDEA: Next week, during an ongoing and escalating global health crisis, the Trump administration plans to officially roll back popular clean car standards, which will cost drivers billions of dollars and further endanger our health with greater carbon emissions. This is particularly disconcerting in a moment when our country is facing the coronavirus, which often causes respiratory illness that people who breathe polluted air are more vulnerable to developing. And, as our country’s economy is floundering, this rollback will cost drivers $40 billion — yet another example of the Trump administration prioritizing polluters over people.
OUR TAKE: Former EPA Administrator and League of Conservation Voters Board Chair Carol M. Browner had this to say, “In the midst of an out of control global pandemic, it is appalling for the Trump administration to prioritize this environmental rollback that will put our families’ health at further risk. Trump’s rollback of popular clean car standards is dangerous for our health, our struggling economy, and the future of this planet — it will stick drivers with a $40 billion dollar bill and increase carbon pollution by over 900 million metric tons.”
PROTECTING MAJOR POLLUTERS: Lisa Friedman’s New York Times article reports on how amid the coronavirus pandemic, power plants and factories are having to lay off employees and asking for more relaxed EPA regulations. Yesterday the EPA decided it would allow for those power plants and factories to make their own decisions on if they are meeting the legal requirements for reporting air and water pollution. The agency says that during this time they do not want to penalize businesses for certain environmental regulations because of the challenging time that is COVID-19. This is yet another example of the current administration not making the health of people a priority. They would rather protect major polluters than the ones most affected by the damage they bring.
OUR TAKE: LCV Legislative Director and former EPA Health Scientist Matthew H. Davis said, “In the middle of an unprecedented global pandemic, Trump’s EPA has abdicated its responsibility to protect our health and is instead turning a blind eye to industries potentially spewing more toxic pollution into our air and water, putting our families at further risk. This clear giveaway to corporate polluters for an indefinite period of time will only make public health worse, especially for the low income communities and communities of color suffering the most from toxic pollution and the COVID-19 pandemic. The EPA should instead issue narrow changes in guidance to ensure the agency and industries can follow CDC physical distancing guidelines and protect the public from toxic pollution only for as long as absolutely necessary for flattening the curve of disease transmission. While most peoples’ focus is on the crisis and their lives are upended, the Trump administration’s favor factory is running overtime, putting polluters over people with breathtaking frequency, breadth, and speed.”
STATES ARE #WINNING: While Trump and his administration continue to prioritize big oil and airline bailouts and not follow the advice of health professionals during this pandemic, states are stepping up and putting the needs of their constituents first. Not only has this contrast in leadership arisen during the coronavirus pandemic, but has also proved true in 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 while leading the coronavirus response. This is what crisis leadership looks like.
A BETTER WORLD POST CORONAVIRUS (IL): In the Chicago Sun Times this week, Jen Walling, the executive director of the Illinois Environmental council, highlighted the leadership of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker during the pandemic and offered advice on what individuals should ask of their lawmakers in order to make the post-coronavirus world better. The top takeaways: Communities and people should be the center of relief efforts — tell lawmakers to support policies that improve worker conditions, which have always been environmental issues; our safety net is under attack and must be rebuilt — tell lawmakers to rebuild the agencies that the Trump administration has decimated and neglected; climate change is exacerbating this crisis — tell lawmakers that stimulus packages shouldn’t subsidize polluting industries.
CVM TAKE: In Chicago Sun Times, Illinois Environmental Council Executive Director Jen Walling concludes, “Environmental advocacy in this time of crisis needs to address the glaring structural weaknesses in our economic and political system laid bare by the pandemic. We should only consider our economy to be thriving if workers, the environment and communities are protected and healthy.”
THIS IS HOW IT ALL STARTS (NC): This week, the Energy News Network wrote an article exposing the impacts of polluter industry (Duke Energy) donations on North Carolina state lawmakers and elections. Similar to recent research, the article finds that Duke Energy is rewarding lawmakers who voted in support of specific legislation, S559, that benefited the utility, and punishes lawmakers who look out for people and the energy rates they pay by voting against the bill.
CVM TAKE: North Carolina League of Conservation Voters Director of Government Relations Dan Crawford posits that Duke Energy’s PAC contributions to nearly every candidate who supported their legislation is the utility showing these lawmakers that “they had their backs.”
KEEPING THE WAYNE EXCELLENT (OH): Last Friday, our state affiliate in Ohio, the Ohio Environmental Council, received good news about a lawsuit they filed with other conservation groups in 2017: a federal judge has ruled that federal agencies failed to consider threats to public health, endangered species, and watersheds before trying to lease out forest areas for oil and gas development. This ruling will stop fracking in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest, the state’s only national forest.
CVM TAKE: Watch Ohio Environmental Council experts discuss this ruling and what it means for the Wayne National Forest on this Facebook live!
March 1-31: Women’s History Month
April 1: Census Day
April 22: Earth Day!