THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – July 19, 2019

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

 

“Another rally, another racist incident. @Ilhan is in her country. It’s the people chanting ‘send her back’ — and the President presiding over them — who have no concept of American values.”

— Representative Raul Grijalva in response to the racist chants at Trump’s rally

 

“The climate crisis may well be the biggest equity challenge of our time.”

— Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in her testimony before the Senate Special Committee on the Climate Crisis. 

 

“I just executed the largest offshore wind agreement in the nation & signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the most aggressive climate legislation in the US.  NY is officially a global leader in the fight against climate change!”

— New York Governor Andrew Cuomo via Twitter on Thursday.

 

LCV IN THE NEWS:

 

The Washington Post: The Energy 202: Broad group of green organizations releases climate platform ahead of 2020 election

Grist: Trump’s EPA just gave a controversial pesticide the green light

Bloomberg: Michigan House Freshman Sees Manufacturing, Sustainability Nexus

E&E News: Greens, social justice groups build climate coalition

 

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:

 

 

Outside Online (MT): How Anti-Public-Lands Money Enters Montana Politics

WORT-FM (WI): Wisconsin Conservation Voters Protects Our Drinking Water

E&E News (MI): Governor appoints energy efficiency leader as top regulator

Grit Daily (NY): New York brands itself a climate change capital. But will it work?

NW Florida Daily News (FL): DeSantis reaches six-month mark with risky road ahead

 

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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.

 

STANDING TOGETHER: LCV joined a coalition of over 70 environmental justice and national environmental groups to release the “Equitable and Just National Climate Platform.” This historic, bold vision identifies pathways for local, regional, and national policymakers, business leaders, and advocates to address the climate crisis while confronting racial, economic, and environmental injustices.  The signatories, who worked together on the platform for the last year, are committed to continuing their collaboration to ensure these policies become a reality. For more, check out AJustClimate.org and this video introducing the Equitable and Just Climate Platform. 

OUR TAKE 1: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “In solving the climate crisis, we must address the legacy of toxic pollution and other environmental harms that have for far too long overburdened low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal communities with devastating health and social impacts.” 

OUR TAKE 2: LCV VP of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo, told the Washington Post: “We’re optimistic about the reception in Congress, where environmental justice caucuses now exist in both chambers and where there is growing momentum for action on climate change.”

 

HOW THE ADMINISTRATION LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE CHLORPYRIFOS: On Thursday, the Trump EPA announced that it is choosing not to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide associated with many health impacts, including developmental disabilities in children. In 2015, the EPA’s very own scientific studies showed the pesticide’s potential to damage brain development in children, prompting the Obama administration to ban chlorpyrifos.  However, disgraced EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt set in motion a reversal of this prohibition and many years of legal battles, which current Administrator Andrew Wheeler has now seen through to its dangerous end.

OUR TAKE: LCV Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote said, “The Trump administration continues to support the profits of big chemical companies at the expense of the health of our children, farmers and farm workers. This hazardous pesticide, chlorpyrifos, has had devastating impacts on farm workers, their families, and their communities at large. While EPA scientists know the dangers of this pesticide, EPA Administrator Wheeler has decided to ignore the facts and needlessly put more people at risk. If the Trump administration won’t revisit their decision to look the other way on this chemical, Congress must take action.”

 

WE CAN-YON DO IT: The House Natural Resources Committee passed two bills this Wednesday that aim to protect sacred and historic lands in Arizona and New Mexico — areas around the Grand Canyon and Chaco Culture National Historical Park — from mining and drilling and a third bill that would remove uranium from a Trump administration list of minerals that are considered critical to our nation’s economy and defense efforts, which would steamroll community opposition with fast-tracked permitting. During consideration of the legislation, committee members underlined the legislation’s benefits like protecting the Navajo community from cancerous uranium, increased outdoor jobs, and tourist revenue.

OUR TAKE 1: Advocacy Director of Chispa Arizona Gloria Montaño said, “This vote will continue the work, led by indigenous communities for centuries, to protect these sacred lands. The Canyon is essential to Arizonans and all in this country, we must all commit to protecting the canyon and the areas surrounding this global wonder for the future of our environment, the preservation of our cultural heritage and the wellbeing of our communities. ”

OUR TAKE 2: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel said, “The Chaco landscape deserves permanent protection from the Trump administration’s threats to allow drilling — it contains a multitude of historical sites that are culturally important to tribes.And uranium mining has left a toxic legacy across the southwest, which means the mining industry should not be allowed to cut corners for activity that continues to threaten the drinking water and lands of communities and tribes.”

BEY BONUS: Here’s a new Beyonce video promoting “The Lion King” movie, which features Arizona’s Havasu Falls, a protected limestone aquifer that lies eight miles below the rim of the Grand Canyon on Havasupai tribal lands. Beyonce also filmed at Red Rock State Park — the things land protections make possible!

 

BLATANT RACISM: After spewing racist, hate-filled tweets imploring The Squad — a group of congresswomen of color — to “go back” to their own countries, Trump shamelessly continued his xenophobic crusade on the campaign trail where his supporters chanted “send her back.” The congresswoman whom they referenced, Ilhan Omar, was greeted by a heartwarming show of support upon returning to her district in Minnesota. The despicable, hateful rhetoric was condemned by the House as “racist.” 

OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “This week’s attacks on Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib are just the latest example in Trump’s long history of dehumanizing people who are courageous enough to confront his administration. As an organization committed to racial justice and equity, the League of Conservation Voters stands with these members of Congress and will continue to fight against Trump’s racist policies and rhetoric.”

 

TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK: Five mayors from across the country came to DC to discuss climate action at a local level in the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis’ first hearing. The mayors highlighted how their cities are combating carbon emissions and dealing with the impacts of extreme weather. Each of their testimonies considered exciting plans and initiatives that make Atlanta, Honolulu, St. Paul, Pittsburg, and Portland (Oregon) leaders on climate action. The committee also considered how the federal government should aid states in their upcoming fights for clean energy and climate change. 

 

HOT, HOT, HOT!: The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report on the rising frequency of extreme heat days caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions. The report details the worrisome implications of inaction on climate change —  if nothing changes, nearly one third of the U.S. population is likely to experience heat conditions that are “literally off the charts” and the average number of days per year that reach over 105 degrees is set to quadruple. 

THE CVM TAKE: Nevada Conservation League Executive Director Andy Maggi said, “We’re locked into outcomes. We’re locked into hotter weather. All those things that are already happening will continue to happen. The question is: How bad do we let it get?”

 

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES

 

Here are some highlights from this week:

 

A MISSED OPPORTUNITY (FL): The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) released its draft plan for spending the $166 million from the Volkswagen settlement. While FDEP is collecting public comments on the plan through mid-August, it’s currently drafted to with 70% of funds allocated to school, transit, and shuttle bus upgrades. While it appears that the plan is prioritizing upgrades to school buses — a priority that our Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign has been advocating for in Florida — the plan left out a commitment to clean, electric fuel sources.

THE CVM TAKE: Florida Conservation Voters South Florida Lead Organizer Olivia Nedd said, “The people’s voice is clear: we want clean energy solutions.  Every school day, diesel buses expose almost 3 million children to toxins and known carcinogens.  While the Plan recommends ‘alternative fuel’ as an option for replacing diesel vehicles, we want FDEP to commit to replacing eligible units with 100 percent electric-power.”

 

PAVING THE WAY (NY): Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a groundbreaking bill requiring New York to have 70 percent renewable energy by 2030 and achieve zero emissions by 2040 while prioritizing equity during the transition. 

THE CVM TAKE: New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe said, “We applaud Governor Cuomo for signing the climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which will boldly lead the nation with goals of 70% renewable energy by 2030, carbon-free electricity by 2040, and economy-wide carbon-neutrality by 2050.”   

 

BYE BYE, COAL PLANT (IN): American Electric Power (AEP) is discontinuing one of its coal plants in the largest plant closure since 2010. The company plans to replace the power with renewables like solar and wind to reduce carbon emissions. 

 

NEW ENERGY? NEW JERSEY (NJ): New Jersey officials announced the construction of a wind farm as part of the plan to reach 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The renewable energy source is expected to generate $1.2 billion in economic benefits, over 15,000 jobs, and enough power for 500,000 homes. Construction begins this year and will be completed by 2024.

 

CLEAN ENERGY IS PERSONAL (IA, MD, NC): Three LCV interns took time to reflect on the ways climate change is impacting places from their childhood and the potential clean energy solutions that give them hope for those places.  Check out Sam McDermott’s experience in Iowa, Riley Pfaff’s experience in Maryland, and Olivia McAuliffe’s experience in North Carolina.      

 

COMING UP: 

 

July 24: House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change Hearing on “Building America’s Clean Future: Pathways to Decarbonize the Economy” 

 

July 24-26: National Governors Association Meeting 

 

July 25: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Full Committee Hearing on Energy Innovation

 

July 30-31: Second Democratic Primary Debates

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