THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – July 12, 2019

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

 

“Wow, he’s going to follow the law?”

— Senator Elizabeth Warren’s reaction to Trump’s long, drawn-out concession to move forward without the citizenship question on the 2020 census.  

 

“I don’t think there’s ever been a president less qualified to tout his ‘environmental accomplishments’ — but today Pres. Trump did just that.”

— Senator Tom Udall via Twitter following Trump’s environmental speech on Monday.

 

“President @realDonaldTrump just promised to veto the House defense bill over protections against toxic chemical contamination in our drinking water.  Didn’t he just say that his administration’s top priority is to have ‘the cleanest water on the planet’?”

— Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer via Twitter on Thursday.

 

LCV IN THE NEWS:

 

The New Republic & Earther: Why We’re Challenging the 2020 Democrats to a Climate Summit

Bloomberg: Trump Touts Environmental Record After Rolling Back Protections

Pacific Standard Magazine: ‘We’re working Harder’: Fact-Checking Trump’s Event on His Environmental Record

Press Herald: Pingree amendment would require Pentagon to prepare for climate change

 

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:

 

WEMU Radio (MU): 1st Friday Focus On The Environment: U-M Commission On Carbon Neutrality

Capitol News Service (FL): More local governments consider plastic straw restrictions

Green Biz (ID): Toxic PFAS chemicals in food and food packaging pose risks to grocery stores and big box retailers

Connecticut Patch (CT): It’ll Cost a Dime to Use That Plastic Bag in Guilford Very Soon

 

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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.

 

TIME TO TALK: LCV announced that we will be joining The New Republic and Gizmodo for a presidential climate forum this September. As the event’s moderators, journalists Emily Atkin and Brian Kahn, pointed out, “the first round of Democratic presidential debates failed our planet” by dedicating only “a combined 15 minutes of airtime to the biggest existential threat humanity faces.” So, we’re joining forces and taking matters into our own hands. Atkin and Kahn will be facilitating a discussion that includes voices from the communities most damaged by the climate crisis, and together we’ll dig into climate questions that voters deserve answers to, like how we’ll end our dependence on fossil fuels. 

 

CONCRETE DECEIT: In an attempt to appeal to moderate voters this week, Trump shamelessly delivered a speech that glorified his administration’s environmental record while failing to mention climate change even once in his hour long remarks. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler — both of whom once lobbied for fossil fuel interests — stood at Trump’s side in the East Room of the White House, underscoring the utter absurdity of Trump’s claims to things like reducing carbon emissions and prioritizing the “cleanest air.” 

 

OUR TAKE 1: Former EPA Administrator and LCV Board Chair Carol M. Browner said, “Without the President’s acknowledgement of climate change as a threat to our economy, our environment and our health, his record on the environment can only be described as a total failure. Under this president we’ve seen more than 80 roll backs of public health and environmental protections on everything from the Clean Power Plan to pesticides. Enforcement of environmental laws is down more than 80% under his watch. Trump’s environmental record is such a toxic disaster it should be declared a Superfund site.”

 

OUR TAKE 2: LCV SVP of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “Make no mistake: today’s speech is a made-for-TV moment from our made-for-TV president trying to make up for some bad poll numbers on his environmental record. Instead of worrying about poll numbers, Trump should pay attention to his own EPA’s numbers — like the fact that there were 15 percent more unhealthy air days in the U.S. in the last two years than the four prior.”

 

OUR TAKE 2, THE CANDID VERSION: LCV SVP of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfled told the Guardian, “He [Trump] must be seeing the polls showing that when it comes to the environment in particular, his polls are really in the toilet.  Obviously that’s for a very good reason.” 

 

CENSUS NOT A CONSENSUS: In Trump’s latest episode of Tweets gone awry, he’s managed to create complete chaos within his own administration over including a citizenship question on the 2020 census. After the Supreme Court deemed their rationale for the question “contrived,” the president issued an executive order for federal departments to aggregate their citizenship data to locate and count immigrants. 

 

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski had this to say: “Trump’s back and forth about a citizenship question on the 2020 Census undermines the integrity of our Democratic systems. Now more than ever, it is important that all communities participate to have a fair and accurate 2020 Census.”

 

DEFENDING OUR WATER: This week, the House debated the National Defense Authorization Act, which included votes on a set of amendments that would take critical first steps in addressing the national PFAS crisis. These toxic chemicals are  threatening the drinking water of millions of people, but the amendments, which passed on a voice vote, will move us towards the goals of  stopping the use of PFAS chemicals, cleaning them up, and holding polluters accountable for the damage they have caused our health and the environment.

 

OUR TAKE: LCV Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote said: “This is a huge victory for the tens of millions of people across the nation living with toxic PFAS contamination of their drinking water. Though there is still more to do, the House has taken critical first steps to stem the flow of these harmful chemicals and begin the necessary cleanup of widespread contamination.” 

 

RISK AVERSE: This week, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Representatives Sean Casten and Matt Cartwright introduced a bill that would require every public company to disclose critical information regarding its climate-related risks. Ultimately, this bill would give investors the tools to hold corporations responsible for their role in the climate crisis and accelerate our transition away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy sources.

 

CLIMATE ALERT: Senator Bernie Sanders, and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Earl Blumenauer introduced a resolution to declare climate change a national emergency in an effort to spur federal mobilization. The resolution highlights the severity and urgency of the climate crisis and “demands a national, social, industrial and economic mobilization of the resources and labor of the United States at a massive-scale.”

 

MAKING MONEY MOVES: Over the 4th of July holiday, Trump diverted $2.5 million from parks funding to his frivolous Fourth of July “Salute of America” — these funds were originally intended for improvement and recreation fees for the National Park Service. Senators have requested an investigation into the costs of the event because of concern for the allocation of finite federal funds. 

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES

 

Here are some highlights from this week:

 

GOVERNORS TO TRUMP: YOU ARE SO ON (24 STATES): On Tuesday, 24 governors joined together to urge the president to forgo his plan to weaken clean car standards. This bipartisan group of governors represent over half the country’s population and over half the country’s car market too.  

 

EXPOSED! (CO): Conservation Colorado released its 2019 Conservation Scorecard, the analysis of every state legislator’s votes on environmental bills. The report also includes bill descriptions and national policies proposed by Colorado’s legislators.

 

THE CVM TAKE: Executive director of Conservation Colorado Kelly Nordini said, “Colorado’s 2019 legislative session was historic by any measure. From climate action and clean energy to oil and gas reforms to protecting our lands, water, and wildlife, this year’s scorecard provides an accounting of who helped and hindered Colorado’s progress.”

 

TAKING THE LEAD ON LEAD (NY): New York League of Conservation Voters is spearheading legislation to lower the lead threshold in New York Public Schools’ drinking water. The bill aims to decrease the lead remediation level to 1 lead part per billion (ppb) instead of 15 ppb. Studies show that any exposure to the neurotoxin makes it more difficult for children to learn in addition to brain and nervous system damage. 

 

POWERED DOWN (NM): Last week, New Mexico’s largest electric provider submitted its plan to close its coal-fired power plant and begin using alternative energy sources, including  solar and wind farms. This change is part of New Mexico’s plan requiring energy producers to use 50% clean energy by 2030 to hit the state’s goal of becoming 100% carbon neutral by 2050. The plan also detailed aid and training for workers displaced by the coal plant shutdowns and price cuts in customers’ bills. 

 

TURN DOWN THE HEAT! (AK) : Anchorage, Alaska shattered its previous heat record and hit 90 degrees on Independence Day, along with a wave of record-breaking temperatures all over the Midwest and Europe. Experts say this heat and aridity increase the likelihood of explosive wildfires and that this extreme weather is caused by climate change and will only get worse. 

 

COMING UP: 

 

July 16: House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Oversight Hearing on Oil and Gas Development: Impacts of Business-as-Usual on the Climate and Public Health

July 24-26: National Governors Association Meeting 

July 30-31: Second Democratic Primary Debates

September 23: Presidential Climate Forum with The New Republic and Gizmodo

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