QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Republican leaders in Congress and this President must stop denying the science and come together to tackle climate change. The cost of inaction is simply too high for our country and our kids’ future for us to sit on the sidelines.”
— Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto said during the announcement of a new Senate special committee to address the climate crisis.
“Senate Republicans are using political stunts to hide the reality that they have no plan to combat climate change. But we cannot be silent while they continue to look out for the fossil fuel industry and special interests.”
— Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen tweeted in regard to McConnell’s political stunt vote on the Green New Deal resolution.
“Oil and gas activities on the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain is a direct attack on our ways of life and to our human rights.”
— Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, at Tuesday’s House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Arctic Refuge.
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:
Anchorage Daily News (AK): Groups mobilize against Alaska governor budget meetings sponsored by Americans For Prosperity
NJ Spotlight (NJ): On The Waterfront: State Poised To Grant Public Greater Access To Beaches
CLIMATE ON THE TRAIL: 2020 contenders continued to prioritize climate change in their campaign stops this week. Check out this week’s roundup of what candidates are saying and doing to put climate action front and center.
BERNHARDT SENATE HEARING: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee began hearings on Thursday on the nomination of David Bernhardt for Secretary of the Interior. Senate Democrats took the lead and questioned Bernhardt on his plans to expand oil and gas drilling, as well as narrowing in on his career as a lobbyist for Big Oil. His time in the Interior thus far has been marked by protecting the fossil fuel industry at the expense of our lands, our water, our air, our climate, and our health.
LCV LETTER: LCV sent a letter to senators outlining our opposition to Bernhardt’s nomination, saying: “LCV urges you to oppose the nomination of David Bernhardt for Secretary of the Interior. This position is critical to protecting our natural resources for future generations, but Bernhardt’s confirmation would put our public lands and oceans, national parks and monuments, clean air and water, and wildlife at risk.
PILES OF PAGES: The House Natural Resources Committee asked the Department of the Interior to send over documents regarding Bernhardt’s activities as Acting Secretary, and the Department handed over almost 7,000 pages of documents only two days before Bernhardt’s confirmation Senate hearing.
BERNHARDT BLOCKED FWS REPORT: The New York Times reported this week that back in 2017 when Bernhardt was Deputy Secretary of the Interior, he blocked a report by the Fish and Wildlife Service outlining the devastating effects of certain toxic chemicals on endangered species. This happened because Bernhardt and his team implemented a new process for determining the risks of chemicals…one that lets the power chemical industry off the hook.
GREEN NEW DEAL VOTE: This week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought the Green New Deal Resolution to the Senate floor without any hearings or amendments. It is clear this was a political stunt to please their corporate polluters and Senate Republicans offered no alternative plans to address climate change and some senators even mocking the seriousness of this issue.
OUR TAKE: LCV wrote an open letter to Senator Mitch McConnell on Monday urging the majority leader to take the climate threat seriously and to stop his partisan games with the Green New Deal. LCV wrote, “We urge you to stop the cynical, political stunts that stifle real discussion of climate solutions. The climate crisis is a problem of epic proportions that requires a level of ambition just as big.”
OUR TAKE PT. 2: LCV Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo said, “As communities across the country continue to feel the devastating impacts of wildfires, flooding, and extreme weather events fueled by climate change, the Majority Leader is refusing to even take this crisis seriously.”
JURASSIC VIEWS: Before the vote on the Green New Deal resolution, Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah took to the Senate floor to say that having more babies will solve the problems of climate change. He said climate change “is a challenge of creativity, ingenuity and technological invention…problems of human imagination are not solved by more laws, but by more humans. More people means bigger markets for innovation. More babies mean more forward-looking adults.” He also underscored his flippant attitude toward the most urgent crisis of our time when he used a poster with an image of Ronald Reagan riding a velociraptor to oppose the Green New Deal.
RETURNING TO PARIS: House Democrats released legislation on Wednesday that demands that the U.S. uphold its commitments from the Paris Climate Accord. The bill, H.R.9, the Climate Action Now Act, would force the Trump administration to create a plan to meet the U.S. commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement and withhold funds from executive branch actions to withdraw the U.S. from this landmark agreement, showing that the pro-environment House majority is united in putting this country back on track to tackle the climate crisis.
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “Voters elected a new House majority in 2018 that promised to hold this administration accountable, and the Climate Action Now Act is an important first step against one of the most irresponsible and dangerous decisions made by President Trump – the decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.”
NEW CLIMATE COMMITTEE IN THE SENATE: Senate Democrats announced the creation of the Special Committee on the Climate Crisis on Wednesday. The Committee will be chaired by Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, and will work to take immediate action to combat climate change.
BATTLING CORRUPTION IN CONGRESS: Senate Democrats introduced the For The People Act this week, which includes anti-corruption standards and regulations, including decreasing the power and increasing the transparency of money in politics. It would also implement automatic voter registration, among other voting rights provisions. The bill’s lead sponsor is Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), and has been co-sponsored by every other Senate Democrat. The House recently passed its partner bill, H.R.1.
OUR TAKE: LCV’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “We applaud Senator Udall and the entire Senate Democratic caucus for introducing this comprehensive pro-democracy legislation and we hope that the Senate will join the House of Representatives in passing it. Prioritizing improvements to our voting rights, campaign finance system, and ethics laws means more power to the people, and less corrupting influence by corporations.”
CLIMATE HEARINGS IN THE HOUSE: The House of Representatives held a handful of hearings related to climate change this week, including one in the House Natural Resources Committee on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that featured a panel of Alaska natives as well as environmental activists. There were also multiple hearings on the proposed FY2020 Department of the Interior budget, and a Senate hearing on PFAS on Thursday.
OIL EXECS BOAST ACCESS: A recording obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting this past weekend shows oil executives talking about their “unprecedented access” to Trump administration officials. The oil execs also talked about Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt being an ally, saying he would help promote their interests. It is no secret that the Trump administration has been helping the oil and gas industry, and this new recording provides further proof of just how far that goes.
ANOTHER ANTI-CLIMATE TRUMP NOMINEE: Trump’s nominee for a seat on the Board of Governors at the Federal Reserve, Stephen Moore, not only lacks the experience to be a part of the Fed, but also holds deeply dangerous views, particularly on climate change. He has fervently supported “clean coal” and has said that “global warming is the biggest scam of the last two decades.”
UDALL ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT: New Mexico Senator Tom Udall announced his retirement from Congress this week, saying he will not seek re-election in 2020. After five terms in the U.S. House, Udall was elected to the Senate in 2008, and has been a true champion of conservation. Senator Udall has a 96 percent LCV lifetime score, and has led many efforts to protect our treasured public lands, wildlife, air, and water and to advance clean energy and tackle climate change.
AMERICANS WANT CLEAN ENERGY: According to Gallup polling released this past weekend, 80 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of Republicans are in favor of decreasing our country’s fossil fuel use. Eighty percent of those surveyed also favored increasing our emphasis on solar energy, while only 22 percent wanted a greater reliance on coal.
CLIMATE CRISIS COULD CAUSE FINANCIAL CRASH: Climate change could spur a financial crisis due to agricultural losses, infrastructural damage, and commodity price increases, according to the San Francisco Federal Reserve. New research shows that banks have started to incorporate the economic impacts of climate change in their financial risk assessments, and pressure is mounting for government intervention and legislative action to help fix the climate crisis.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES (AND TERRITORIES): 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.
IDAHO: Idaho’s biggest energy provider, Idaho Power, is planning to phase out of coal and go 100 percent renewable by 2045. The company is shutting down operations in its coal power plants, and investing in clean energy to help power the whole state. A blog post from our state partner, Conservation Voters for Idaho called this “the most ambitious commitment from an investor-owned utility in the country, making Idaho a leader in the transition to clean energy.”
PUERTO RICO: The Puerto Rico legislature passed legislation this week that aims to make the territory run on 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The territory was having to spend exorbitant amounts to import fossil fuel energy and will now not only contribute to a greener and cleaner environment, but also a more sustainable economy.
TONIGHT – Chris Hayes will moderate a town hall with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the Green New Deal. The event will take place in New York and will air on MSNBC at 8 p.m.
APRIL 1-5 – Clean Water Week, which will highlight the harmful impacts of the Trump administration’s Dirty Water Rule through social media and a Special Order Hour in the House on Tuesday evening. Follow the coverage at #ProtectCleanWater.
APRIL 2 – Andrew Wheeler will testify on the EPA’s FY20 budget request before the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.
APRIL 2 – House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change will hold a hearing to learn from state and local leaders’ who are taking bold action on climate change.
APRIL 2 – House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold a hearing on legislation that will protect coastal communities from offshore drilling.
APRIL 2 – House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing about the ways climate change threatens U.S. National Security.
APRIL 3 – Andrew Wheeler will testify on the EPA’s FY20 budget request before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.
APRIL 4 – The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will host its first hearing, “Generation Climate: Young Leaders Urge Climate Action Now.”
APRIL 15 – Deadline for comments on the EPA’s “Dirty Water Rule.”
APRIL 17 – Deadline for comments on the EPA’s rollback of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.