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.
“To put it simply, our families and our planet cannot survive another four years of Donald Trump — there is far too much at stake.”
— LCV Board Chair and former EPA Administrator Carol Browner in The Hill op-ed on needing an environmental champion in the White House.
“These businesses, these workers deserve immediate relief.”
— LCV Legislative Director Matthew Davis in an Associated Press article on saving the renewable energy industry, which is struggling in the midst of COVID-19.
“It’s no longer this distant, looming threat. We’re seeing it play out in real time, on our doorstep. Our relationship to Earth and to society and each other.”
— Actor Chris Hemsworth on the climate crisis in a GQ interview.
The Hill: We need an environmental champion in the White House in 2020
Associated Press: Solar, wind energy struggle as coronavirus takes toll
Politico: The Women of Maine vs. Susan Collins
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:
Iosco County News-Herald (MI): Oscoda activists call on AF to stop the flow of PFAS from Wurtsmith by 2023
E&E News (VA): Ads and petitions target Dominion’s Atlantic Coast project
WEEKEND READ: As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, take some time to recognize the legacy of Larry Itliong, a leader in the farm-labor movement, in this weekend read. In 1965 Itliong began the Delano, California grape strike with his fellow Filipino workers to fight against the racism and deplorable exploitation of farm workers. Larry Itliong will continue to go down in history as a hero inside and outside the Filipino community as a groundbreaker for farm worker rights.
SO MANY JOURNALISTS TO CELEBRATE! The folks over at the Pulitzer Prizes really sent a clear signal about the importance of climate change and science this year. Congratulations to the staff of the Washington Post for winning the Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for “a groundbreaking series that showed with scientific clarity the dire effects of extreme temperatures on the planet.” Congrats to Chris Mooney, Steve Mufson, Darryl Fears, Juliet Eilperin, Trish Wilson and all the many folks who contributed to this important work! Also shout outs to finalists in the same category — Rosanna Xia, Swetha Kannan and Terry Castleman of the Los Angeles Times “For a deeply researched examination of the difficult choices Californians must make as climate change erodes precious coastline.” And the staff of the New York Times for being finalists in Public Service for “exemplary reporting that exposed the breadth and impact of a political war on science, including systematic dismantling of federal regulations and policy.” Great work Lisa Friedman, Coral Davenport, Brad Plumer, Jonah M. Kessel, Hiroko Tabuchi and so many others at the New York Times.
LCV LETTER TO CONGRESS: As Congress prepares another legislative response to the coronavirus pandemic, we at LCV have outlined the action that we believe ought to be prioritized, especially as COVID-19 continues to expose deep injustices — driven by systemic racism and structural inequity — in our country. As Black and Latinx communities are experiencing disproportionately high death rates and employment insecurity while also facing higher levels of toxic pollution, any response needs to rebuild our country to be more just, equitable and sustainable. These are LCV’s immediate priorities: protect frontline workers, support communities and families struggling with the economic and health ramifications of the pandemic, protect our democracy, and make transformative investments to build a more just, equitable and sustainable society. Congressional investments into programs that reduce pollution, build clean water infrastructure, grow clean energy, reduce energy waste, promote clean transportation, restore our lands and waters, and build more resilient communities are essential ways to put people back to work, protect public health, and strengthen our economy.
JUSTIN WALKER HEARING 👎: Last week LCV sent letters to Congress, urging lawmakers to oppose the judicial nomination of Justin Walker to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Cory Wilson to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Walker lacks the basic experience and temperament required to serve as a judge, and shows an inappropriate willingness to side with partisan political interests. This Wednesday, the Senate held Walker’s nomination hearing, rather than addressing the far more pressing issues at hand. In the midst of this public health crisis, it’s all too telling that Mitch McConnell is prioritizing the confirmation of judges who ignore scientific experts, oppose access to public health protections, and will serve as a rubber stamp for Trump.
PRIORITIZE FAMILIES, NOT FOSSIL FUELS: This week, the House Committee on Natural Resources held a virtual roundtable to discuss this administration’s prioritization of the fossil fuel industry during the current pandemic. Trump and his administration have focused on boosting fossil fuel development, rolling back pollution safeguards and they continue to ignore science. During this COVID-19 pandemic communities and the health of families should be prioritized more than ever before, but instead, oil bailouts are on the top of Trump’s list.
STOP DRILLING ON SACRED LAND: The Natural Resources Committee Chair and Vice Chair, Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva and Deb Haaland, are speaking up for Tribal communities. Late last week they criticized the Department of Interior for allowing oil and gas extraction on sacred lands in New Mexico during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to this drilling on sacred lands, the Bureau of Land Management would not extend the public comment period for a plan that would determine the management of more than four million acres of sacred homeland in northern New Mexico.
REP. GRIJALVA’S TAKE: Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva said, “Native Americans are contracting and dying from coronavirus at an alarming rate and the Trump administration should be working to make sure they have the resources they need to stop deaths, not keep drilling at record speed. The government’s coronavirus response is a matter of life and death in Indian Country, and the Trump administration is simply failing the American people. Communities want their lands, waters, and health protected, not polluted with impunity.”
REP. HAALAND’S TAKE: Natural Resources Committee Vice Chair Deb Haaland said, “Many folks near the Chaco region live in areas without internet access. By moving forward, the Department is failing to fulfill its trust and treaty obligations to Native Americans, and it is failing to protect a national treasure. Instead of disenfranchising entire communities, Secretary Bernhardt should heed the New Mexico delegation and All Pueblo Council of Governors’ requests to extend the comment period to allow sufficient time for comments after the threat of the pandemic has passed.”
PROTECT POSTAL WORKERS: LCV recently signed onto The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights letter to Congress urging them to support robust funding for the United States Postal Service. USPS workers are essential and, during this pandemic, have served on the frontlines every day. They are risking their health to deliver services to all Americans, including masks, ventilators and testing kits. Furthermore, the USPS is essential to a fair and accurate 2020 Census, as USPS is relied upon to reach hard to count populations in communities across the country. USPS is also imperative to administering a representative election, as more voters than ever will be casting vote-by-mail ballots. A vote against proper care, job security and funding for postal workers is a vote against civil rights.
PUSH FOR GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOORS ACT: Amid COVID-19, groups are still pushing for major legislation to get passed to boost the hard-hit outdoor economy. The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable sent a letter to Congress urging them to act on the Great American Outdoors Act. The GAOA would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) as well as address maintenance and upkeep at national parks and public lands.
COVID-19 RENEWABLE ENERGY IMPACTS: Even more than some industries across the country, the clean energy industry is suffering the economic impacts of COVID-19. Numerous projects have been delayed, and workers in the clean energy industry — which was one of the fastest growing sectors in our country’s workforce — filed over 106,000 unemployment claims in March, three times the rate of the economy on the whole. As we re-imagine our economy and energy landscape post-coronavirus, high-quality clean energy jobs will be essential to rebuilding a healthier, more just, equitable, and sustainable society. Yet Trump continues to be far more interested in bailing out Big Oil – already in debt before the pandemic hit – than supporting a clean energy workforce that will lead us to a healthier future and stronger economy.
CLEARING THE AIR: The NRDC released an issue brief, Clearing the Air: The Benefits of the Clean Air Act, which estimates the emissions reductions, benefits, and costs of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. The annual benefits of cleaner air include 370,000 avoided premature deaths, 189,000 fewer hospital visits and an economic benefit of up to $3.8 trillion for the U.S. economy. But despite these health and economic benefits, the Trump administration has continually attacked and rolled back Clean Air Act protections. More pollution will lead to more asthma and lung disease cases, which put people even more at risk for contracting and suffering from COVID-19.
GRIST WEBINAR: This week Grist, in partnership with Ensia, held a Zoom webinar, moderated by Yvette Cabrera, where a panel of journalists discussed the intersections of climate justice, COVID-19, and communities of color. Distinguished panelists included Earther senior staff writer Yessenia Funes, ProPublica environmental justice reporter Talia Buford, and CityLab staff writer Brentin Mock.
STATES ARE STILL LEADING: While Trump’s failed leadership during the coronavirus pandemic has put many lives at risk and his administration is concurrently rolling back environmental safeguards, state and local elected officials are leading the coronavirus response and continuing to fight climate change. Many governors have issued orders placing moratoriums on utility shut offs to offer extra relief to communities during this tough time. Thanks to the Energy and Policy Institute, you can track which states and utilities have suspended disconnections and which have not. Despite the impacts of COVID19, many state leaders continue to find ways to move forward on bold clean energy plans that will protect local communities and support clean energy job creation.
FLIPPING THE SWITCH ON ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES (CO): Colorado’s West Grand School School District will be rolling out its first electric school bus this fall! Power advisor for Mountain Parks Electric Chris Michalowski thinks this new rollout of electric buses will “flip the switch” and encourage the community to advocate for them everywhere. Electric co-ops are helping school districts invest more funds into getting electric vehicles and educate the public on the benefits of them. Conservation Colorado’s Protégete advocated for the state’s Volkswagen settlement money to be put toward electric buses in the state. Good to see the prioritization of healthy kids and communities during this time of uncertainty in the world.
ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES (NC): Late last week, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in favor of a black defendant in an issue of racially discriminatory jury selection, for the first time in the state’s history. Prosecutors have been known to reject Black people from serving on juries and the issue has not been formally dealt with in the state until now. The decision was written by Justice Anita Earls, a long-time civil rights attorney and a judicial candidate who environmental donors supported in 2018 via GiveGreen.com, a joint initiative of LCV Victory Fund and NextGen America. This huge win begins to dismantle a system that supported blatant and unaddressed racism for decades. This decision is a reminder that judicial elections have consequences, as well as the importance of judges who reflect and represent all our communities, not just the wealthy and privileged. We must continue to push for change that will further dismantle the racist systems that perpetuate injustice and inequity in this country.
May 1-30: Asthma Awareness Month
May 1-30: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
May 22: World Biodiversity Day
June 8: World Oceans Day
November 3: United States 2020 Presidential Election