QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“When I realized that polluters were causing unnecessary and unjust suffering, that made embracing environmentalism urgent to me.”
–Morgan Lovell, Climate Action North Carolina Field Organizer, speaking at LCV’s Capital Dinner about her connection to the environmental movement
“I think he’s acting like a moron.”
–Senator John Kennedy is astounded at the latest news on Pruitt’s scandals
“He is about as swampy as you get here in Washington, D.C., and if the president wants to drain the swamp, he needs to take a look at his own cabinet.”
–Senator Joni Ernst offers sharp criticism of Pruitt, who continues to produce scandal after scandal
LCV IN THE NEWS:
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:
LCV’s state affiliates are hard at work protecting the environment and fighting climate change in the states. Here’s what people are reading across the country:
Grist (WA): Land of the Fee?
WHAT WE’RE UP TO: This was a huge week for us at LCV! From launching a million dollar campaign to save our parks to our annual Capital Dinner, it has been busy. Here are some highlights:
HAVE YOU HEARD? We kicked off this week by launching a million dollar campaign to save the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the country’s best parks program, which will expire on September 30. Through the “Our Land, Our Voice” campaign, we plan to push lawmakers to permanently reauthorize and fully fund this program. Read more about why this program is important and why our government should protect it!
VOICES IN THE CAPITOL COMPLEX: At LCV’s 12th annual lobby day, more than 150 people affiliated with our Conservation Voter Movement flooded Capitol Hill and encouraged lawmakers to reauthorize LWCF, support our Clean Energy for All campaign, and stand up for the common sense clean car standards. The day was kicked off by powerful remarks from Reps. Pramila Jayapal and A. Donald McEachin, two of the three co-chairs of the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force. Amidst all the meetings, they also found time to join Demand Justice’s rally against radical judicial nominee Thomas Farr alongside Senator Booker, Senator Harris and Reverend Dr. Barber.
SPOTTED: At LCV’s annual Capital Dinner, three Senate challengers — Representatives Beto O’Rourke, Jacky Rosen and Kyrsten Sinema — took the stage and were followed by Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is the newly chosen Democratic candidate for governor in New Mexico. In addition to these 2018 political stars, Adrian Grenier of was honored for his environmental activism.
GO TO BONNAROO AND SAVE THE PLANET!: We’re teaming up this weekend with Rock the Earth at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee to do just that: rock with musicians and music fans from across the country while mobilizing people to protect our lands and climate. Let us know if you’ll be there, too!
UPDATE FROM THE STATES: In Colorado, the local utility, Xcel, which our state LCV partner Conservation Colorado has been pushing to move to cleaner energy sources, took the next step in its “Colorado Energy Plan.” Not only does the plan include more than 1,800 megawatts of new wind and solar, but it will double the amount of battery storage in the U.S. too. The new details also show that bids from renewable energy developers were the lowest ever in the U.S., meaning that Xcel customers will benefit from lower costs and Coloradans will enjoy cleaner air.
WHAT. A. WEEK. In the span of just a few days, we learned about a slew of new scandals for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The common theme: corruption and greed. Here’s a day-by-day round-up of the latest storylines around the embattled EPA chief:
FRIDAY: Pruitt spent thousands of dollars on personalized office supplies — just for himself! Somehow, 12 fancy fountain pens and leather-bound notebooks totaled $3,230. Add that to the millions and millions of taxpayer dollars that Pruitt used to enrich his own lifestyle, rather than doing his job to protect the environment.
SUNDAY: The New York Times uncovered suspiciously close ties between Pruitt and coal barron Joseph W. Craft III. The billionaire, who gave $2 million to the Trump campaign, also provided Pruitt and his son courtside tickets to a University of Kentucky basketball game. Pruitt then met with Craft several times over the past year, regularly texted with him, and handed the billionaire win after win as he peeled back critical regulations on the coal industry.
MONDAY: We learned that Pruitt makes one of his staffers do a lot of personal — and sometimes odd — tasks. For example, he directed his scheduler to book his summer vacations last year, as well as requested that she try to find him a used Trump International Hotel mattress.
WEDNESDAY: The icing on the cake: Pruitt made an aide help his wife attempt to buy a Chick-fil-A franchise. Just three months after entering office, Pruitt had his staffer reach out to Dan Cathy, the company’s chief executive, to discuss a “business opportunity.” After connecting with someone in the legal department, Pruitt revealed that his wife wanted help becoming a Chick-fil-A franchisee.
THURSDAY: Two of Pruitt’s top aides — senior counsel Sarah Greenwalt and scheduling director Millan Hupp — headed for the exits. These two are the latest in a long line of career employees and political appointees who have jumped Pruitt’s sinking ship, leading us to believe the clock is ticking on his ousting.
ALSO THURSDAY: Politico discovered that Pruitt has been abusing his access to the White House mess — an exclusive restaurant in the basement of the West Wing. He’s been enjoying the fine dining so frequently that White House officials have asked him to start eating elsewhere. Pruitt is known for his lust for the high life, and this is just another example of him abusing his office to elevate his lifestyle.
ALSO ALSO THURSDAY: The Washington Post reported that Pruitt had members of his 24/7 security detail run errands for him that included such important security tasks as picking up his dry cleaning and taking him in search of his favorite lotion.
BUT WHO’S COUNTING? There are now 13 federal probes into Pruitt and his corrupt, self-serving decision-making. From first-class travel to pay raises to fancy furniture, check out this laundry list of Pruitt scandals courtesy of Axios — we guarantee the list is so long that you’ve forgotten about one or two.
THIS SEEMS WRONG: A former plastics and chemicals executive will oversee an EPA task force that aims to clean up the messes left by plastics and chemicals manufacturers. Meanwhile, nearly half of the EPA’s political appointees have close ties to the fossil fuels industry.
ZINKE’S UP TO NO GOOD, TOO: Flying under the radar with all the Pruitt scandals, Secretary Ryan Zinke is sabotaging our environment, too. A tiny regulatory committee of Zinke’s hand-picked industry friends, the Royalty Policy Committee, is proposing to reduce how much the government can collect for the rights to drill on federal lands and waters. This would yield great financial benefit to those who are on the committee — adding another layer of suspect to the already-brewing corruption. We can’t let Zinke sell out our public lands and destroy the treasured landscapes for which he’s responsible.
THE PAPAL WORD: Pope Francis is summoning representatives of the world’s largest oil companies to the Vatican next week to push them to reduce their environmental impact. The Pope, an outspoken leader in the fight against climate change, is expected to chastise them for the damage their companies are doing to the Earth — hoping to turn them from enemies into allies.
MAKING MATTERS WORSE: A recent study with World Bank data revealed that poorer countries will bear the burden of the worst impacts of climate change. Despite the fact that the big carbon emitters — like the U.S., China, and Western Europe — are causing most of the problems, we feel very little of the global impact.
STEPPING UP: A group of big-dollar investors are pushing the G7 to phase out support for the coal industry ahead of their summit this week. The group of nearly 300 assert that the goals set in Paris were not ambitious enough and are calling on governments to take faster, more impactful action to stave off the worst of climate change in the near future. With assets worth over $26 trillion — yes, with a “t” — we think their argument may be compelling.
ASBESTOS WATCH: Pruitt and the EPA decided that they will ignore the asbestos in existing homes and businesses when deciding the dangers of the toxic chemical. This sweep-under-the-rug announcement leaves millions of tons of this carcinogenic substance unregulated and unaccounted for, endangering members of our families and communities nationwide. Sadly, this is consistent with the tone set by the president who has falsely claimed asbestos “100 percent safe, once applied” and once said the health risks posed by asbestos were a conspiracy created by the mob.
THREE CHEERS: Mars, a huge candymaker, is investing $1 billion in making its practices more green. Why? Because, according to the company, that’s where business is trending in the 21st century. Lessening exposure to environmental, social, and governance risk through more sustainable processes will yield hefty returns tomorrow from investment today.
WEEKEND READ: WIRED explores a world in which consumer tastes drive a demand for sustainable goods and processes — a world that we may see come to fruition soon. This new iteration of consumerism has revealed itself in the popularity of bike-sharing programs and more energy-efficient devices, so researchers believe that this may be the direction we’re headed. Read the full piece to see how the world of tomorrow may be bright — and green!
SEPTEMBER 30 – Expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the nation’s best parks program