THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – MARCH 13, 2020 

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.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

“…each of us has a duty to do everything we can to ensure that all of our children are able to grow up on a habitable planet, breathing in clean air and drinking safe water—no matter the color of their skin, the size of their family’s income or the zip code they’re from.”

— Senator Tammy Duckworth in LCV’s press release announcing the 2019 Environmental Scorecard

“Both demand early aggressive action to minimize loss … only in hindsight will we really understand what we gambled on and what we lost by not acting early enough.”

— Climate scientist Kim Cobb in an interview with the New York Times about the lessons we can learn from the coronavirus response for fighting climate change

“The executive branch has a responsibility to the electorate, and a scientific, economic, and moral imperative to reduce [greenhouse gas] emissions…and to reduce the worst risks of climate change and ocean acidification for future generations.”

— Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s historic new executive order tackling climate change 

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

The Hill: Both parties see gains on environmental scorecard

E&E News: LCV gives Democrats high marks for 2019

The Washington Post: The Energy 202: Students in Portland., Ore., want climate justice taught in every classroom

 

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:

 

Wisconsin State Journal (WI): Toolkit offers local governments a guide to harnessing clean energy

Oregon Public Broadcasting (OR): Oregon Governor Promises Executive Action On Climate. It Might Look Like This

Associated Press (VA): Virginia lawmakers send ‘historic’ energy bill to governor

The Washington Post (VA): Virginia passes sweeping law to mandate clean energy amid questions about cost

Pennsylvania Capital Star: Pa. Sen. Bob Casey scores 100 on enviro group’s report card; Toomey gets a 0

Maryland Matters: Md. Congressional Dems Make Honor Roll in Green Group’s Annual Report Card

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LCV SCORECARD: On Thursday, March 12, LCV released its 2019 National Environmental Scorecard, which is the primary yardstick for evaluating the environmental records of members of Congress. This year’s Scorecard shows the difference a diverse, pro-environment majority in the House of Representatives can make on the lives of people, especially the low-income communities and communities of color most impacted by the climate crisis and toxic pollution. Speaker Pelosi’s pro-environment led House wasted no time passing legislation to protect our air, water, lands and wildlife, combat the climate crisis, and protect our democracy, while pro-polluter Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked progress at virtually every step in the Senate. 

For the release, we were joined by 100%ers Senator Tammy Duckworth and Representative Chuy Garcia. You can read the overview of the Scorecard here.

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “We are grateful to Speaker Pelosi and her pro-environment majority for prioritizing climate action and protections of our air, water, lands, wildlife, and democracy. While pro-environment leaders supported policies that will protect communities across the country, especially low-income communities and communities of color, from the negative impacts of climate change-fueled extreme heat, natural disasters, and toxic pollution last year, Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s refusal to act on hundreds of important House-passed bills put the health of our children and families at risk for the benefit of his corporate polluter friends.”

DUCKWORTH’S TAKE: Senator Tammy Duckworth said, “With the nightmarish effects of climate change and environmental injustice more obvious by the day, each of us has a duty to do everything we can to ensure that all of our children are able to grow up on a habitable planet, breathing in clean air and drinking safe water—no matter the color of their skin, the size of their family’s income or the zip code they’re from. I’m thankful to have LCV as my partner in that effort.”

GARCIA’S TAKE: Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García said, “I am fighting for clean air and water for Chicago’s communities, and my 2019 LCV score shows that’s exactly what I’ve done. The Trump Administration may be rolling back environmental protections, but in our first year in Congress, the climate champions in the House showed people that when we’re in the majority, we get things done.”

🗳️STILL ON 🗳️ MARCH 17 PRIMARIES: As of now, all systems are still a go for Tuesday’s presidential primary elections in Arizona, Illinois, Florida and Ohio despite many major event changes due to the coronavirus pandemic. And while Sunday’s Democratic debate has been relocated from Phoenix, Arizona to Washington, D.C., Arizona voters still have a massively important role to play on Tuesday. That’s why the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and LCV’s Chispa program released new polling of Arizona Democratic primary voters today — and guess what?! They care deeply about the climate crisis and other environmental priorities. 

KEY ARIZONA POLL FINDINGS: Arizonans know that 2020 is our last and best chance to confront the climate crisis and are looking for a nominee who is committed to taking immediate action. 90% of likely Arizona Democratic primary voters believe environmental and climate issues are important and 86% say they are more likely to support a candidate who pledges to make climate change a top issue in their administration and prioritize policies to move the United States to a 100% clean energy economy. Full results here

GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOORS ACT: This week, new bipartisan legislation pairing up up full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) with money to address the national parks’ maintenance backlog was introduced in the Senate, with the possibility of being brought to the Senate floor soon. LWCF is America’s premier conservation program, helping to protect public lands, preserve historical sites, and create community parks to more equitably share nature’s benefits with all communities. 

OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel said, “We welcome the introduction and the strong showing of support on this bipartisan bill providing funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and to address the maintenance backlog in our national parks and other public lands. Moments like this don’t come around very often in Washington, so we urge the Senate to move quickly to take up and pass this package as-is. This is long overdue—let’s get it done.”

ENERGY BILL: An energy package, introduced two weeks ago by Senators Manchin and Murkowski, is currently at a standstill in the Senate. While the bill does include some pro-environmental provisions and is long overdue for debate in the Senate, it also includes harmful policies and  does not do nearly enough to address pollution and create clean energy. Efforts to improve the bill by adding pro-environment bipartisan amendments on building efficiency codes, super pollutant HFCs, clean energy tax incentives, and existing mercury emissions standards have met fierce opposition by Sen. McConnell, the construction industry, and fossil fuel allies. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate. Meanwhile, the House is likely to put together its own, more climate and clean energy-focused package in the coming weeks or months.

HEAD-TO-HEAD DEBATE: The next Democratic presidential debate, which was originally scheduled to take place in Phoenix, Arizona this weekend, will now be held in a DC studio, out of precaution for coronavirus. We are now down to only two candidates for the debate, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. While we anticipate that discussing the coronavirus pandemic will be a priority in this debate, we are hoping that CNN moderators Ilia Calderon, Dana Bash and Jake Tapper also ask substantial climate questions, unlike the last debate where the climate discussion fell short. Climate consistently ranks as one of the highest issues among Democratic voters, and the debates need to reflect how people will be voting in the primary. 

DEMOCRACY + PLANET 🤝 : This week, Declaration for American Democracy, a coalition of over a hundred progressive organizations including LCV, released a series of issue briefs, Fixing Our Broken Democracy. The briefs detail the ways that threats to our democracy — including the undue influence of corporations, a Senate graveyard, and a corrupt administration — are stalling progress on a range of issues that are important to people around the country, including climate change. As the environmental section, co-written by LCV, puts it, “For the past decade, it has been abundantly clear that the people responsible for polluting our air, our water and resisting efforts to combat climate change are also responsible for polluting our democracy with hundreds of millions of dollars to influence policymakers.” In short, to protect our planet, we must fix our broken democracy. 

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES: 

CLEAN ENERGY JOBS ACT (IL): In Illinois, the Clean Energy Jobs Act continues to gain attention — WGLT’s Erick Stock and Charlie Shlenker covered the landmark bill this week on Sound Ideas. The attention is well deserved — with over 100 community meetings informing the legislation, it’s built to achieve 100% renewable energy in Illinois by 2050, create a carbon free grid by 2030, reduce pollution from the transportation sector, and generate jobs throughout Illinois, while ensuring that the communities most affected by coal emissions feel the benefits of clean energy. 

COMMUNITY TAKE: On WGLT’s Sound Ideas, Dawn Dannenbring, an environmental justice organizer with Illinois People’s Action, said, “Climate change is here, it’s not something that’s around the corner. The Clean Energy Jobs Act addresses climate change.”   

LOOKING INTO THE WIND (ME): In Maine, Governor Janet Mills announced that her administration is looking to ways the Mack Point Terminal in Searsport can support the offshore wind industry. This is yet another step positioning Maine to become a leader in the offshore wind industry.  

OREGON TAKES ACTION (OR): After Republicans in the Oregon legislature neglected their duty and walked out on the cap-and-trade bill early this month and last month, Governor Kate Brown announced an executive order for a bold, statewide climate action plan that will make Oregon a leader in clean energy. Governor Brown’s groundbreaking new plan will help Oregon’s businesses, buildings, and transportation systems transition to clean energy over time, saving money and creating new jobs. This is exactly what Oregon needs, and exactly what Oregonians have been asking for. To learn more, read Oregon LCV Executive Director Doug Moore’s blog here.

CVM TAKE: Oregon LCV Executive Director Doug Moore said, “Today, Governor Kate Brown delivered for Oregonians, especially younger Oregonians, with an historic executive order to tackle climate change. Oregon can now stand proud as a leader on the most important issue of our time. This is what climate leadership looks like: cleaner fuels that reduce toxic air pollution and improve the health of Oregonians, cleaner buildings that are more energy efficient and save people money on energy bills, big polluters truly held accountable, and meeting our critical climate reduction goals so that the next generation and the next after that get a chance to thrive.

CLIMATE POLLUTION LIMITS (WA): The Washington state Senate passed a Climate Pollution Limits bill that will update the state’s goals for reducing harmful carbon emissions, limits that haven’t been updated in over a decade and will now reflect the current science and urgency of the climate crisis.

 CVM TAKE: Washington Conservation Voters CEO Alyssa Macy said, “Washington needs to be a place that roots our decisions in the best available science.” 

CLEAN ENERGY TOOLKIT (WI): Wisconsin Conservation Voters and other environmental groups are offering major help to the state’s local governments with the release of their new clean energy toolkit, which outlines steps local officials can take to develop plans for implementing clean energy. Among many topics, the toolkit includes ideas and resources for implementing and financing clean energy projects, creating equitable carbon reduction strategies, and explores the benefits clean energy can provide in schools. Wind and solar are increasingly becoming the cheaper form of electricity all while helping to reduce carbon emissions and making communities healthier.  

 

COMING UP: 

March 1-31: Women’s History Month

March 15: Democratic Presidential debate 

March 17: AZ, FL, IL, OH primary elections

March 22: International Day of Forests

April 22: Earth Day

 

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