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.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Any deal on an infrastructure package must include measures to promote our clean energy economy and mitigate the dangers posed by climate change.”
— Senator Ed Markey via Twitter on Wednesday.
“People don’t make the connection that your environment affects your health, until it literally does. There’s a lot of kids in south Phoenix who have asthma.”
— Vianey Olivarria with Chispa, an LCV community organizing program that is building the power of Latino communities in the fight against climate change.
“I am losing sleep over climate change and this administration’s stubborn refusal to address its threat.”
— Senator Tom Udall during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing where Interior Secretary David Bernhardt testified on his department’s budget request.
LCV IN THE NEWS:
The New York Times: Climate report cards for Democratic candidates
E&E News: The rise of Kathy Castor
The Guardian: 2020 candidate John Delaney pitches vastly unusual climate change plan
The Brunswick News: Seismic testing plaintiffs respond to federal agencies
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:
Maryland Matters (MD): Hogan Pans Renewable Energy Bill But Allows It to Become Law; Vows to Go Cleaner in 2020
New Jersey 101.5 (NJ): ‘CLEAN ENERGY’ JOBS IN NJ NEARS 55,000, WITH HOPES FOR MORE
Tucson Sentinel (AZ): Dust, particle pollution disproportionately affect Latino and poor communities
Florida Politics (FL): Takeaways from Tallahassee — Unintended consequences
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.
EPA’S MATH PROBLEM: The federal agency charged with protecting public health and the environment thinks our air is clean enough. This week The New York Times reported that the EPA plans to revise how it projects the health risks of air pollution. This change would drastically underestimate the number of premature deaths, paving the way to undo key measures aimed at protecting the environment and public health. Unsurprisingly, this method has not been properly assessed and is scientifically dubious.
BERNHARDT FACES TOUGH QUESTIONS: At a Wednesday hearing held by a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt testified. Bernhardt’s recent comment about not having “lost any sleep” over the climate crisis was not lost on some. Displaying images of disasters caused by climate change, Senator Jeff Merkley told Bernhardt to “maybe lose some sleep” and to start taking action. Senator Tom Udall brought up Bernhardt’s myriad conflicts of interest saying, “It’s clear you’re making decisions that benefit former clients instead of the American people.”
PFAS ON THE AGENDA: This week the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing on legislation that would address PFAS contamination. Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, or PFAS, are jeopardizing the health of communities across the country, particularly through drinking water contamination. While the Trump administration is failing to take the actions necessary to protect our families from these toxic chemicals, the issue is gaining much-needed momentum and attention in Congress. Senator Tom Carper tweeted a thread worth reading, saying, “In the @USNavy, when faced with an especially challenging mission, we’d call for ‘all hands on deck.” Today, to solve this widespread public health problem, we need a different kind of all hands on deck, but we need one nonetheless.”
EPA PLAYS HOOKY: Representative Diana DeGette, who leads the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations, called out the EPA for not showing up to this week’s hearing on Trump’s plan to undo Obama-era rules designed to curb mercury pollution. DeGette expressed her frustration with the agency, saying their non-appearance “is just another example of the efforts to block Congress from performing its oversight functions.”
SPENDING BILL OK’ED: The House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday approved a spending bill that included a provision that would prevent the rollback of the clean car standards. Subcommittee Chairman David Price said this “will help ensure the federal government will remain an active partner alongside states and local communities as they grapple with climate change and extreme storms.”
DON’T DRINK THE WATER: The environmental community is criticizing a new proposal from the EPA that would allow 10 times more perchlorate — a rocket fuel ingredient that has been linked to thyroid problems — in drinking water. Even at low levels, exposure to the chemical can be harmful to children’s health.
MUST READ: This week columnist for The Washington Post Karen Tumulty wrote about how the Trump administration tried to silence George Luber, the former head of the climate and health program at the CDC. Luber’s work, which focused on the consequences of warmer temperatures on public health, was less than welcome at the Trump-era agency. The piece touches on a range of issues Luber encountered, including how he was pressured not to use the term “climate change” and how higher-ups cancelled a climate and public health summit that he had spent months putting together.
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 are some highlights:
ALASKA: This week the Anchorage Assembly adopted the Anchorage Climate Action Plan and joined thousands of other communities in taking an active stand in the future of Climate Change Mitigation. The plan seeks to reduce carbon emissions while creating a stronger economy and improving community health.
CONNECTICUT: A Connecticut bill that would ban restaurants from using styrofoam containers passed the state’s House on Tuesday. Anyone who violates the law would face financial penalties. The bill now heads to the Senate.
MARYLAND: On Friday a bill mandating that half of Maryland’s energy come from renewable sources by 2030 became law without Governor Larry Hogan’s signature. The legislation, which passed the General Assembly last month, will increase support for solar and wind farms and makes Maryland one of eight states with a goal of 50% renewable energy or higher.
OUR TAKE: Karla Raettig, Executive Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, said, “We are thrilled Gov. Hogan has ensured Maryland remains a renewable energy leader by allowing the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act to become law and we look forward to learning more about his Clean and Renewable Energy Standards (CARES) plan. It’s so encouraging to see Maryland’s leaders joining together in a nonpartisan decision to take climate action, protect residents and strengthen the future of our state.”
NEVADA 1: This week the Nevada Senate unanimously approved a bill that would make solar energy more accessible to residents and small businesses. The bill now heads to Governor Steve Sisolak’s desk to be signed.
OUR TAKE: Andy Maggi, Executive Director of the Nevada Conservation League, said, “We are pleased to see the Senate pass Assembly Bill 465, which will reduce rates for Nevadans who want to go solar but can’t afford to do so, while creating well-paying jobs and reducing carbon pollution. This bill ensures Nevada’s clean energy economy continues to move in the right direction, expanding access to solar energy to more Nevadans who have been kept out through economic, workforce or systemic barriers. We appreciate Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno’s work on this front and look forward to continuing to work to improve equity and access to solar energy.”
OUR TAKE 2: Rudy Zamora, Program Director of Chispa Nevada, an organizing program of the League of Conservation Voters, said, “Low-income families, particularly in communities of color, want to be able to invest in clean energy, reduce the pollution in our neighborhoods, and lower our electricity bills. AB465 guarantees bill savings for some low-income Nevadans who are eligible to apply, while starting a workforce pipeline for the clean energy industry. This is a small but important opportunity to expand solar energy access, and we thank the Nevada Senate for supporting this bill. We look forward to the Governor’s signature.”
NEVADA 2: On Thursday Governor Steve Sisolak signed legislation to fund electric school buses. Electric school buses are more cost effective and mean cleaner, healthier rides for students. At the bill signing ceremony, the governor said that the legislation “is a step in the right direction towards a cleaner energy future for our children.”
OUR TAKE: Andy Maggi, Executive Director of the Nevada Conservation League, said, “This bill is yet another example of the importance of electing champions who understand what’s at stake in our energy future. Diesel school buses affect not only the children they carry, but the communities they drive through every day. This pollution worsens the effects of climate change and endangers public health. The path forward is with zero-emission electric vehicles, and we commend the Nevada Legislature and Governor Sisolak for hopping on board and funding electric school buses.”
OUR TAKE 2: Rudy Zamora, Program Director of Chispa Nevada, an organizing program of the League of Conservation Voters, said, “Senate Bill 299 is a victory for Nevada’s children. Right now, our kids are riding in toxic diesel school buses that put their health at risk, pollute the air we breathe, and damage our environment, but SB299 begins the transition to a clean ride for kids. For low-income communities of color who disproportionately suffer from dirty air and the corresponding lung and heart illnesses, this is an important opportunity for a better future. We thank the Nevada Legislature, especially bill sponsors Senators Brooks and Spearman, and Governor Sisolak for passing this legislation and improving the health and wellbeing of our communities.”
NEW JERSEY: The New Jersey legislature passed legislation this week that would make the state nearly carbon-free over the next 30 years. The bill requires the Department of Environmental Protection to create regulations that put the state on a path to reduce emissions 80% below 2006 levels by 2050.
OUR TAKE: Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, said, “The Global Warming Response Act was passed 12 years ago, but has never been fully implemented. The current bill S3207/A4821 is bipartisan legislation that requires the state to set interim benchmarks and adopt sensible measures to meet the Act’s goals – which will catalyze substantial economy-wide decarbonization efforts. We applaud the legislature for exhibiting their continued commitment to addressing the climate crisis and thank Assembly sponsors Assemblywoman Vainieri-Huttle, Assemblywoman Pinkin and Assemblyman Kennedy for their leadership. We urge Governor Murphy to continue to demonstrate his strong environmental leadership and sign the updated Global Warming Response Act into law.”
May 27 – Fourth anniversary of the Clean Water Rule
June 1 – Two years since Trump announced his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement