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.
“And I think when you think that our government today doesn’t believe in it, or at least the president doesn’t believe in global warming or anything similar to it, I think it’s really sad. But the rest of the world really, they all know we have to change because we don’t want to be responsible that one day our grandchildren are going to say we [messed] up the world.”
— Wolfgang Puck discussing climate change at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show
“The future of the climate, of abortion rights and of our democracy are on the line. I run a national public foundation, and I see up close that the people who are overrepresented in success at social change — women of color who lead grass-roots nonprofits — are wildly underrepresented in funding.”
— New York Times article by Vanessa Daniel discussing the underrepresentation of women of color and transgender people of color in funding of grassroots and social change movements.
The Hill: Full funding of Land Water Conservation Fund passes key Senate hurdle
Daily Energy Insider: House clean energy package pledges new, expanded renewable energy tax incentives
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:
NJ Insider (NJ): Phil Murphy wants to double offshore wind power goal for New Jersey
Hartford Courant (CT): Environmental group releases legislative scorecard
CLIMATE ON THE TRAIL: Check out this week’s roundup of 2020 Democrats talking climate at the debate, the “First in West Event” in Las Vegas, and more.
100% CLEAN ECONOMY ACT: This Thursday Representative Don McEachin introduced the 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019, which would set a national goal of net-zero greenhouse gas pollution by no later than 2050. It charges federal agencies to use their existing authorities to meet this goal and establishes principles to guide agency action. The bill also creates and Advisory Committee to gather public and broad stakeholder input on reduction goals to keep us on track for achieving the goals of the bill.
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “The 100% Clean Economy Act sets forth a bold goal and recognizes that we must get started immediately on tackling the climate crisis in ways that also address racial and economic inequality. This bill is a win for healthy communities and families and builds on the historic progress that states across the country are making. We commend Representatives McEachin, Haaland, Dingell, Blumenauer, Tonko and Pingree for their tireless leadership on this critical legislation.”
DOUBLE TAKE: National Chispa Director Fernando Cazares said, “We are excited about what this bill means for communities of color. Moving to a 100% clean economy has the potential to help communities of color and low-income communities by both protecting them against worsened air pollution and climate impacts and benefiting from jobs and economic opportunities. As we have seen in recent climate-fueled disasters such as Hurricanes Maria and Harvey, our communities are often the most impacted by the disaster and recovery challenges.”
PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: On Tuesday night 10 presidential candidates met in Atlanta, Georgia for the fifth Democratic debate. In past debates climate change did not get the attention deserved, specifically in the fourth debate where not a single question about climate was asked. This time around though certain social issues were highlighted that were not before, including voter suppression and issues of justice in our democracy. Climate change did receive a question but still requires a much deeper focus in the debates.
OUR TAKE: SVP of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “As the debate moderators themselves mentioned, climate is an issue of significant importance to voters, and tonight we were pleased to see a serious — albeit too short — back and forth between some of the candidates on how they would prioritize the climate crisis as president. The dire circumstances we’re in, however, demand more attention to climate impacts and solutions during the primary. The 2020 presidential election is our last, best chance to combat the climate crisis, and the public deserves to hear more from candidates and the media about specific solutions that address the outsized impact climate change and toxic pollution has on frontline communities and communities of color.”
OUR PRE-TAKE: Ahead of the debates this week, LCV and Georgia Conservation Voters (GCV) released new polling showing that the majority of Georgia voters (53%) believe environmental and climate issues are important and a large majority of Georgia Democrats (61%) support moving to clean energy, such as solar and wind energy, by 2050. African American voters in Georgia support clean energy and climate action by even wider margins — 83% of African American voters said the environment and climate change are important issues, and 69% support setting a new national clean energy standard that would require a majority of our electricity to come from clean and renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.
CVM TAKE: Director of Georgia Conservation Voters Brionté McCorkle said, “Not only do Georgia Democrats overwhelmingly support moving to 100% clean energy by 2050, 83% of African American voters also believe that the environment and climate change are important issues. The failure of the moderators to ask a single question about the climate crisis, environmental justice issues, or their impact on communities in the last Democratic presidential debate was shameful. Not addressing climate change at this pivotal moment for our country is dangerous to people and the planet.”
LCV AT THE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE FORUM: LCV Associate Digital Campaigns Manager Elizabeth Jacob wrote a blog about her experience at the first ever presidential forum on environmental justice. She breaks down the main points of what the six candidates in attendance talked about as well her own take as a woman of color. Read the full story here.
GAME CHANGER: Our own SVP for Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld was honored this week by National Journal as part of “NJ50 50 People Changing the Game in Washington.” Brian Dabbs’ profile describes her as “pivotal environmental operative in Washington.” Congratulations to Tiernan on this well-deserved recognition!
HULK SMASH CHEMICALS: On Tuesday Mark Ruffalo joined Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI-05) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) at the U.S. Capitol to speak about PFAS, A.K.A. Forever Chemicals. In his upcoming movie, Dark Waters, Ruffalo plays a lawyer who discovers that the chemical company DuPont has been poisoning a town in West Virginia while hiding, manipulating, and lying about the science and health impacts. The movie illustrates the harmful and deadly effects of PFAS while calling attention to corporate maleficence that is jeopardizing the health of all of us. Ruffalo hopes the movie will bring more public attention to the issue and create greater momentum and calls for action from all levels of government. And having seen it, it is definitely deserving of the 93% score on rotten tomatoes.
RUFFALO’S TAKE: “‘Dark Waters is a story about bringing justice to communities that have been living with PFAS for decades,” Ruffalo said. “It is everywhere. We’re in this incredible moment right now when we can actually do something about a chemical that has gone completely unregulated for 50 years. We’re here today to make sure this chemical is finally regulated.”
OUR REVIEW: LCV’s Deputy Legislative Director and water expert, Madeleine Foote, gives it 5 💧💧💧💧💧. “A true David and Goliath story, you will be on the edge of your seat as Ruffalo, playing the incredible lawyer Rob Bilott, pieces together decades of chemical industry deception to discover how DuPont has been poisoning Parkersburg, WV, and truly all of us, with toxic PFAS chemicals for decades. Dark Waters is a call to action to finally hold chemical companies accountable for risking our health and environment simply to boost their own profits. It’s a definite must-see.”
PUBLIC LANDS PROTECTED ✅: This week a Senate panel voted to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee voted Tuesday morning to permanently and fully fund the program, which will help protect our coveted public lands for all people including the Indigenous groups that have occupied the land for centuries. The bill passed with bipartisan support and is ready for floor consideration, if only Senator McConnell would allow good, bipartisan proposals like LWCF to move forward.
OUR TAKE: LCV Legislative Representative Laura Forero said, “Today’s committee passage of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) permanent funding bill is a crucial step to secure full, permanent, and dedicated funding for our national, state and local parks, and to ensure access to green spaces for all communities in our country. We congratulate Senator Manchin for moving his bill forward and urge Leader McConnell to bring this bipartisan bill to the Senate floor for a vote without delay.”
ANOTHER ROLLBACK?!: The EPA weakened yet another rule governing how companies store dangerous and poisonous chemicals. The standards were first set in place under the Obama administration after a 2013 explosion in West, Texas that killed 15 people. Under the new standards, companies will not have to provide public access to information about the types of chemicals that are stored on their sites. They also will not have to abide by several measures aimed at preventing accidents, such as analyzing safer technology and procedures, conducting a “root-cause analysis” after a major chemical release or obtaining a third-party audit when an accident has occurred.
THE GREEN ACT: On Tuesday, House Ways and Means Chairman Ritchie Neal and Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures Chairman Mike Thompson and other committee Democrats shared a draft of the Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now (GREEN) Act. This draft legislation is a comprehensive approach to tackling climate change by promoting clean renewable energy use through the expansion of existing and creation of new tax incentives. The main components of the bill aim to “increase energy efficiency and green energy use in both residential and commercial buildings, support the use of zero-emission transportation and supporting infrastructure, invest in a green workforce through energy credits for manufacturers, advance environmental justice through tax credits for research and academic programs, and require the Treasury Department to analyze the feasibility of a price on greenhouse gas emissions, using the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.”
OUR TAKE: LCV Legislative Director Matthew Davis said, “Incentivizing clean energy makes all the sense in the world. Extending these tax incentives will mean cleaner air, economic opportunity, and progress in the fight against the climate crisis. This action is especially critical because pollution and the impacts of climate change are hitting communities of color and lower income communities first and worst and these tax incentives represent our best hope for climate action this year in Congress. We applaud Chairman Neal, Subcommittee Chair Thompson, and the Ways and Means members for pulling together these critical tax policies into the GREEN Act.”
U.S. CHAMBER OF SECRETS: LCV sent a letter, along with Sierra Club, Environment America, Friends of the Earth, Endangered Species Coalition, Public Citizen, and Greenpeace, to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce demanding that the Chamber support science-based climate policies, deploy significant resources to advance the policies, and stop taking funding from climate denying front groups. LCV sent the letter as outgoing Secretary of Energy Rick Perry made his final public appearance at the Chamber, addressing its so-called “Task Force on Climate Action.” Secretary Perry, like the Chamber itself, has a long record of putting fossil fuel industry interests ahead of public health and clean energy.
OUR TAKE: The letter stated, “As more and more businesses and trade associations are taking action to tackle their own climate pollution and publicly committing to promote policies to drive down emissions to net-zero, the Chamber of Commerce is becoming even more out of step with its own membership. Meanwhile, the Chamber’s recent actions to block methane emissions standards for oil and gas drilling on public lands, to support the undoing of the Clean Power Plan, and to oppose legislation protecting our coasts from oil and gas drilling run contrary to public sentiment and the spirit and letter of your newly-announced ‘Our Approach to Climate Change’.”
VROOM VROOM: The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) today launched a new $70,000 radio advertising campaign in North Carolina calling out Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr for not standing up to President Trump’s rollback of Obama-era clean car standards. Carbon pollution from cars is the largest domestic source of the pollution that contributes to climate change, yet the Trump administration is trying to reverse clean cars standards and put even more dirty pollution in the United States’ increasingly unhealthy air. The overwhelming majority of people in the United States support standards that reduce carbon pollution from cars, increase fuel economy, protect our health and save drivers money at the pump.
OUR TAKE: Tiernan Sittenfeld LCV SVP of Government Affairs said, “Shame on Senators Tillis and Burr for siding with Trump and corporate polluters over the health and well-being of North Carolinians. The people of North Carolina deserve better.” Listen to the ad here.
WE ARE HEAR(ING) FOR IT: This week, Senator Tammy Duckworth led the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis hearing about the climate crisis and how it disproportionately impacts low income communities and communities of color. The committee heard from Celeste Flores from Faith in Place, Dr. Cecelia Martinez from the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy, and Michele Roberts who is an environmental scientist associated with Come Clean.
***WEEKEND READ*** Check out this amazingly informative VICE article by Sophie Kasakove on racial injustice when it comes to climate change and action. Read how the residents of Pecan Acres, Louisiana also known as “Flood City” are dealing with the strife of living everyday on the frontlines.
DYNAMIC DUO (NJ): New Jersey is doubling down on expanding its wind energy production! Governor Phil Murphy, who was joined by former Vice President Al Gore, announced an executive order committing the state to produce 7,500 megawatts of electricity through wind energy by the year 2035. That’s more than double the 3,500 megawatt goal Murphy set for 2030. Murphy said that wind energy could power half the state’s energy needs and about 3.2 million homes if this goal is met.
CVM TAKE: New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Ed Potosnak said, “We applaud Governor Murphy for his concrete actions to combat climate change and make NJ the greenest state in America by increasing our offshore wind commitment and creating thousands of good local jobs in the clean energy economy.”
CONNECTICUT SCORECARD (CT): The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) released their 2019 Environmental Scorecard, a comprehensive review of the major environmental victories, challenges, wins and losses for Connecticut’s environment during the 2019 legislative session. CTLCV closely follows the voting record of each Connecticut senator and representative and scores them accordingly with 100% being a full supporter and champion of Connecticut’s environment.
CVM TAKE: Executive Director of CTLCV Lori Brown said, “The 2019 session was a major year for environmental policy in Connecticut, with the passage of the new plastic bag restrictions and greater investments into renewable energies. We saw many freshman lawmakers making real change in environmental policy, and we want to thank all of our environmental champions for their work. However, there are still many lawmakers who rank very low, and we hope to see them do better next session.”
NEVADA’S GOT AN EXECUTIVE ORDER TOO (NV): Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has signed an executive order directing agencies to take more action on climate change by drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This effort will be led by the directors of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Governor’s Office of Energy and will involve representatives from the Public Utilities Commission, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Transportation, the Nevada System of Higher Education, and the Department of Administration. Sisolak’s order will also help close the gap and racial divide when it comes to climate change and action.
CVM TAKE: Nevada Conservation League Executive Director Andy Maggi said, “We applaud Governor Sisolak for signing this executive order to begin significantly reducing our state’s greenhouse gas pollution, crafting a State Climate Strategy, and taking steps towards setting stronger vehicle emissions standards. Governor Sisolak is following through on his repeated promise to protect the futures of Nevadans and directly tackling the carbon pollution harming our communities.”
November 28: Thanksgiving! 🦃
December 19: Sixth Democratic Debate – Los Angeles, CA