“When people of color venture outside their neighborhoods to explore true wilderness, they’re confronted with another uncomfortable reality: suspicious white people.”
— Senior Staff Writer Yessenia Funes in an Earther article discussing the need for diversity in the outdoors.
“TOGETHER, we can fight back against #COVID19 & Climate Change.”
— Sir Rod Stewart via Twitter.
“Before COVID-19, air pollution was already weakening our bodies. A truly healthy recovery will not allow pollution to continue to cloud the air we breathe and the water we drink. It will not permit unabated climate change and deforestation, potentially unleashing new health threats upon vulnerable populations.”
— Over 350 organizations representing over 40 million health professionals from 90 different countries in a letter to G20 leaders calling for a #HealthyRecovery
Politico Pro: Green groups raise $11M so far this election cycle
Florida Politics: Climate change and virus crises meet in new ads attacking Donald Trump
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:
North American Wind Power (CT): Connecticut Positioned to Close on Offshore Wind Deal
Public News Service (MD): MD Latinos Devastated by COVID-19 to Get Assistance
LCV STANDS AMONG THOSE CALLING FOR RACIAL JUSTICE, ACCOUNTABILITY, AND AN END TO VIOLENCE: The high profile attention to the stories of racial violence against Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Christian Cooper and Omar Jimenez are tragically the tip of the iceberg. It is outrageous that in the midst of a pandemic that is clearly disproportionately destroying the lives of people of color, that it is not even safe for Black people in America to go for a run, bird watch, report the news or even be in their own homes. The same is true for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities facing harassment and violence based on racism and irrational fear.
But the truth is that the moment we are in — both the virus and the violence — simply serves to put a spotlight on the systemic and pervasive racism that makes people of color and indigenous communities in our country fear for their families’ health, safety and lives every single day.
As an organization that envisions a world with clean air, clean water, public lands, and a safe climate that are protected by a just and equitable democracy for generations to come, we also believe that we are all only as safe as those members of our community who are most at risk. We recognize the leadership of the frontline organizations and individuals, and we stand among those calling for justice, accountability, and an end to violence.
DIRTIEST OF ALL TIME: LCV Victory Fund and Priorities USA Action released the first round of high-impact digital ads and unique direct mail in Florida, which is a part of a previously announced $14 million paid media program to expose the truth about Donald Trump’s environmental record to voters in six battleground states. The Florida ads will run in English and Spanish, targeting over 365,000 total swing voters who care about the environment. Latino voters make up 40% of the universe.
OUR TAKE: LCV Victory Fund SVP of Campaigns Pete Maysmith said, “Donald Trump puts Floridians at risk because he doesn’t believe what scientists and experts say and thinks he knows best instead. Trump’s refusal to listen to expert advice on the coronavirus and climate change, and his prioritizing of corporations over people is especially harmful for Florida’s communities of color and low-income communities that are already bearing the brunt of the impacts of the climate crisis. Voters need to know that Trump denies the threat of climate change just like he denied the threat of the coronavirus and it’s the public who pays the price.”
GIVE GREEN: LCV Victory Fund, NRDC Action Fund PAC, and NextGen America announced that they have together raised over $11 million for federal and state candidates through GiveGreen so far in this election cycle. During the 2016 election cycle, $8.35 million total was raised through GiveGreen for federal and state races. With five months to go until the 2020 November general election, LCV Victory Fund, NRDC Action Fund PAC, and NextGen America have already outraised the 2016 total by close to $3 million.
OUR TAKE: LCV Victory Fund President Gene Karpinski said, “Combating the climate crisis has never been more urgent, and voters clearly understand that the best way to mend the destruction caused by the Trump administration is to build power for climate action across the nation, up and down the ballot. While Donald Trump’s denial of science in response to the climate crisis and the coronavirus pandemic is putting our communities at risk, momentum is building for pro-environment candidates on GiveGreen who are ready to act.”
CLIMATE UNITES: in a Vox article, climate writer David Roberts discusses how activists and organizations are uniting in order to defeat Trump this election. Groups are realizing they have more commonalities than differences and that the bigger picture is working to create a safer planet for all. Every serious Democratic presidential candidate released comprehensive climate plans with ambitious goals, speaking to the wants and needs of their constituents. With the current COVID-19 crisis and the lack of leadership from the Trump administration, pro-environment candidates are focusing on creating a cleaner, more equitable post-coronavirus world.
EXTREME PRIORITIES: This week, the League of Conservation Voters launched a new $20,000 digital ad opposing President Trump’s judicial nomination of Justin Walker to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is one of the United States’ most important federal courts, responsible for determining the future of critical public protections that safeguard the health of our communities, and serving as a check on presidential overreach. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on Justin Walker’s nomination Thursday, June 4, despite the seat not being vacant until September.
OUR TAKE: LCV Judiciary Program Director Ben Driscoll said, “Instead of responding to the coronavirus pandemic and providing relief to communities and workers, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump are packing the courts with extreme, partisan judges. Justin Walker, McConnell’s protégé and nominee to the powerful DC Circuit court would be nothing more than a conservative activist on the court, prioritizing polluters over people for decades to come.”
WATCH THE AD: “Extreme Priorities”
IT DON’T MEAN A THING IF IT AIN’T GOT THAT SWING: The Change Research poll of 4,116 registered likely voters in eight Senate swing states (AZ, CO, GA, IA, ME, MT, NC, SC) reveals that the majority of voters support the most recent House-passed coronavirus relief package, the HEROES Act. Additionally, it found that Democrats and independents in all eight states are more likely to vote for a candidate who supported the HEROES Act. Swing state voters support distributing aid to local governments to protect small businesses, essential workers, jobs, schools, nutritional programs, student loan debt, and public health efforts. In addition to support for state, local, and tribal governments to provide essential services, the bill incorporates a number of LCV priorities, including: a moratorium on utility shutoffs; funding for energy and water utility support to low income families; adequate funding for securing and holding safe 2020 elections; transit funding; OSHA protections for frontline workers; offering all people regardless of immigration status testing, treatment, and financial support; and support for the USPS (critical to the census and vote by mail). Voters are clear the resources included in the HEROES Act should be made available to everyone — regardless of immigrant status.
DEFENDING OUR COMMUNITY, PROTECTING THE LAND: This week Chispa Arizona shared a blog about the first public lands day in their state. We must continue to protect our pristine and sacred lands so that they are enjoyable and accessible for all in the many years to come. The Chispa Arizona team shared their stories on the importance of public lands and what it means to them. Read the stories from the Chispa Arizona team here!
HEARING ON IMPACTED COMMUNITIES: This week, the Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the disproportionate impact COVID-19 is having on communities of color, in particular the Black and Latinx communities. Unfortunately, communities of color are being hit the hardest by COVID-19 due to years of systemic racism and oppression. Members of the committee offered solutions to help combat these disparities and lessen the devastation in these communities. It’s important to note the link between air pollution in communities of color and the rates at which they are contracting COVID-19. The first-of-its-kind hearing saw robust participation from representatives and lasted over 4.5 hours, with the committee soliciting submission of written testimony from organizations and individuals for potential inclusion in the permanent record. Watch the full virtual hearing here and check out this very powerful clip from Dr. Ibram Kendi, a historian and leading scholar on racism noting how Black Americans are dying at nearly two times their population share from COVID-19.
WEEKEND READ: On Monday morning, a now-viral video reminded us of the need to intentionally work to make outdoor spaces — and the larger environmental movement — more inclusive and racially diverse. The video shows Amy Cooper, a white woman, calling the police on Christian Cooper, a Black man, after he asked her to abide by the park rules and leash her dog. This week’s weekend read by Earther senior staff writer Yessenia Funes explains the history and current reality of systematic racism experienced by people of color attempting to access outdoor spaces in America, and calls on the environmental community to amplify voices of color in finding ways to make our parks safe and more inclusive.
CLEAN CAR STANDARDS LAWSUIT: A coalition of 25 states and cities, including Washington, D.C., has filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s rollback of the Clean Car Standards rule and the current Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) rule. The lawsuit is led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who also led a tweet storm this week, highlighting the benefits of clean car standards. These benefits include reducing pollution-related respiratory illnesses, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and decreasing the use of fossil fuels.
OUR RE-TAKE: Former EPA Administrator and League of Conservation Voters Board Chair Carol M. Browner said, “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.”
CAPTURED COURTS: This week, Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse released a new report connecting a web of deep-pocketed special interests to Trump and McConnell’s strategy to fill our courts with industry-friendly judges. Republicans are so busy making sure courts are stocked with extreme partisan judges, that they are ignoring the health of families and putting everyone at risk during this pandemic. They also released a one page summary that exposes a web of dark money, exploited tax laws, and other right-wing special-interests.
600,000 CLEAN ENERGY JOB LOSS: The Center for American Progress issued a brief highlighting the alarming job loss in the clean energy industry during the coronavirus pandemic and calling on Congress to extend clean energy tax credits AND make them refundable. The clean energy industry has lost 600,000 jobs during the coronavirus pandemic and Congress must step up and make tax credits refundable, meaning all clean energy project owners can immediately receive the full value of their credit rather than carrying the unused credit forward or partnering with a tax equity investor. This stimulus effort is essential to save hundreds of thousands of green, family-supporting jobs and safeguard the growing deployment of renewable energy sources.
OUR RE-TAKE: LCV Legislative Director Matthew Davis said, “These nearly 600,000 job losses in the clean energy sector are devastating for workers and our future. Congress can put people back to work and strengthen our economy by supporting the hard hit clean energy sector now. Specifically, Congress needs to extend the deadlines for and enable direct pay or refundability of tax credits for clean renewable energy, energy efficiency projects, and electric vehicles, and expand these programs to include energy storage and offshore wind. We should build out electric charging infrastructure, replace diesel buses with clean, electric ones, and expand transit. We should be modernizing our grid and making homes and buildings more energy efficient. Clean energy workers and the clean energy industry will be essential to leading our country out of this economic downturn — we need to support them now.”
CELEBRATING ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH: This week, Youth Digital Campaigns Manager Tiffany Hsieh wrote a blog celebrating the diverse culture of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and the continued fight for environmental and racial justice. In the current world of COVID-19, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) — along with other communities of color — continue to be disproportionately impacted by the devastating impacts of climate change. It is important in these times to practice solidarity and work to elect pro-environment AAPI leaders. You can read Tiffany’s full blog post here.
VOTING RIGHTS ACT LIVE DISCUSSION: Did you know that yesterday was the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act passing in the Senate?! Today, LCV and Chispa held a joint Instagram live event to discuss how the law affects voting 55 years later. The VRA was set in place to protect Black voters from being intimidated and terrorized and while we have come a long way, there is still so much to do. Black communities still face voter suppression, gerrymandering, and ballots not being counted. These are the very intimidation tactics the VRA was set in place to stop. Experts from LCV and Chispa answered questions about the accomplishments of the VRA, registering to vote, and how voting protections affect the environment.
SAVE THE VOTE: This week, LCV Voting Rights Program Director Justin Kwasa helped put together the DC, Maryland, Virginia (DMV) segment of the Protect Our Vote National Day of Action, which aimed to show Congress support for approving additional funds that would make voting safer for all this election cycle. Justin, along with other DMV leaders, gathered in a Fairfax County parking lot to spell out “SAVE THE VOTE” with their cars in a safe, and socially distant way. Check out the video here!
SWAMP MONSTER (AZ): Last weekend, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt visited the Grand Canyon to highlight its reopening. While access to the outdoors is important, we cannot forget that we are still in the midst of a pandemic and people’s lives are at risk. During Secretary Bernhardt’s visit, a digital billboard outside the Grand Canyon Visitor Center displayed a video warning park travelers that Bernhardt’s interests align with oil lobbyists and not public lands. The mobile billboard was organized by Public Citizen.
CVM TAKE: Executive Director of Chispa Arizona Laura Dent said, “The opening of the Grand Canyon and visit by Secretary Bernhardt during the pandemic is ignoring the health and wellbeing of tribal nations. We need to prioritize the protection of the lands, which includes the protection of people. The Navajo Nation has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 crisis. Instead of opening the Grand Canyon, Secretary Bernhardt should keep the park closed until COVID-19 numbers have flattened.”
TRANSIT EQUITY (IL): Chicago transportation advocates remind us that the coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated inequities that were already deeply entrenched in Chicago’s transportation system. Any recovery plans must address the need to reduce existing disparities going forward. The Active Transportation Alliance, in partnership with additional transportation and equity advocacy groups, including the Illinois Environmental Council, sent an open letter to Chicago’s four main transit agencies. The letter outlines a list of demands to address inequities experienced by the city’s communities of color and people with disabilities. Included in the list is a call for a transition to electric and other zero-emission public transportation vehicles.
SUPPORT THE LATINX COMMUNITY (MD): This week, Maryland LCV and Chispa Maryland launched a fundraising effort in partnership with the Langley Park Civic Association to support members of the Langley Park community. Prince George’s County, Maryland has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the entire state. Many community members and volunteers from Chispa Maryland have been directly impacted. During these times, it is so important to show up for our communities and support folks who are disproportionately affected. Please consider making a donation and sharing this with your networks. Here is the link to the press release that includes the gofundme page.
May 1-31: Asthma Awareness Month
May 1-31: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
June 8: World Oceans Day
November 3: United States 2020 Presidential Election