THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – OCTOBER 18, 2019

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:

“When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked — in 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?”

— Chairman Elijah Cummings, a courageous leader who will be dearly missed

“There wasn’t a single question during the #DemDebate about climate change. Families are suffering with poisoned air and water, cancer, chronic health conditions—and it’s communities of color who suffer the most. Families on the front lines of the climate crisis need action now.”

— Elizabeth Warren via twitter on the October 15th Democratic debate

“From the Inbox: “3 hours + 0 climate question = 1 pissed off movement” 

— Buzzfeed Climate Reporter Zahra Hirji, sharing the climate movement’s response to CNN and the New York Times’ failure to ask a single question about climate change at this week’s debate  

 

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

Politico: Congress back with climate focus

E&E News: Senate climate vote seen as Democrats’ road map

USA Today: Tom Steyer has been pushing impeachment for years. Now it’s center stage for his first debate

The Washington Post: The Energy 202: Why Democrats forced a failed climate vote in the Senate

National Journal: Schumer Eyes Climate ‘Reckoning’ in the Senate

 

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:

Associated Press (VA): Record-breaking fundraising in Virginia’s legislative races, at $53 million so far

Tuscon.com (AZ): Environment, education top priorities for Romero in race for Tucson mayor

Hartford Courant (CT): Opinion: Communities of color are rallying to fight climate change

 

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REST IN POWER: It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Congressman Elijah Cummings. As the Representative for Maryland’s 7th district, which includes  Baltimore, Chairman Cummings continuously fought for justice and civil rights, and was a true environmental champion. He courageously held this current administration accountable for their actions, and his leadership will be deeply missed. In this difficult time, our condolences go out to his family and staff. 

CLIMATE ON THE TRAIL: 2020 candidates are prioritizing climate change. Check out what candidates are saying about climate justice. 

🚨🚨 NEW LCV REPORT: Prior to the fourth Democratic debate this week, LCV released a Special Report on the Climate Crisis in the 2020 Primary, which provides a snapshot of how the Democratic presidential candidates are prioritizing climate action on the campaign trail. In this report we examine the candidates’ speeches and social media, as well as how climate has shown up (or not) in the debates. Take a look at the full report here.

THE KEY TAKEAWAY: While we are encouraged that so many presidential candidates have already released comprehensive climate plans and are discussing this critical issue at campaign events and on social media, the 2020 presidential candidates must take the next step to prove that climate action is one of their very top priorities. 

DOUBLE TAKE: And, of course, after an utterly disappointing zero climate questions from CNN and NYTimes at the fourth debate, we are doubling down on our call for moderators — the conversation gatekeepers — to just do better.  On that note…

WTF CNN AND THE NEW YORK TIMES???: This past Tuesday was the fourth and most disappointing of all the Democratic debates held this year. Moderators opted to ask superfluous questions about Ellen and grill candidates about whether they are too old or young to be president rather than asking a single question about climate change. Needless to say, this left a sour taste in our mouth, especially when the latest major presidential primary poll found that almost 80 percent of Democratic primary voters say that a candidate’s position on climate change is very important and 11 of the 12 candidates onstage have released a comprehensive climate plan. Seven of the candidates did manage to mention climate change in some capacity, but given the urgency of this issue, CNN and the New York Times should have devoted air time to this top priority.  

OUR TAKE: Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated, “Climate is a top priority for voters, it’s a top priority for candidates, and it’s most definitely a top priority for LCV and our members across the country. And with devastating impacts of the climate crisis upon us, this failure by CNN, The New York Times and tonight’s debate moderators is all the more appalling. The dire circumstances demand more from the networks and people shaping the most-watched events of the Democratic primary.”

DOUBLE TAKE: LCV Legislative Director Matthew Davis told National Journal, “The most important thing that Democrats, and any elected official, can do is to get out a plan that gets us where the scientists believe we need to be in terms of reducing our emissions to avert the worst of climate change.  That has to be at least one way to communicate with voters who are fired up about climate.”

WHUT? THE SENATE TOOK A VOTE?:  On Thursday, thanks to Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Ben Cardin’s use of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), the Senate was forced to vote on overturning the Trump administration’s Dirty Power Scam, which does nothing to fight climate change or protect communities from toxic pollution and lets fossil fuel-fired power plants off the hook for cleaning up their pollution. With Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proudly shirking his responsibility to legislate, Schumer has proved himself the chamber’s productive leader, and, unlike the debate moderators, he has prioritized climate change, making it the first of three issues he will force the Senate to vote on in coming weeks. It’s just a shame that Senators Thom Tillis, Richard Burr, Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, Cory Gardner, Martha McSally, and Kyrsten Sinema helped vote the initiative down.   . 

OUR TAKE: LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld joined Senators Schumer, Cardin, Merkley and Whitehouse at a press conference in the Capitol, and she had this to say, “At a time when unhealthy air days are up 15 percent according to data from Trump’s own EPA and the science says we need to drastically cut carbon pollution, we can’t afford a new Trump rule that would do nothing to address the climate crisis or protect the health of our children and families, including the frontline communities and communities of color often most impacted.”

RICK PERRY OUT: It’s video-official, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who has been teasing his retirement for months and is now embroiled (ahem, subpoenaed) in the impeachment saga, has tendered his resignation. He posted a video to Twitter and slipped Trump a note on Air Force One, yet it still remains unclear when Perry will depart the self-proclaimed coolest job he’s ever had, despite at one time not remembering that DOE existed.  Given Perry’s secret meetings with coal magnate Robert Murray and eagerness to promote Trump’s fossil fuel agenda, we’re with @drvox on this one: “Goodbye, you sweet, daft creature.”

WELL, MULVANEY SURE HAD A DAY: Among White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s blunder of poor judgement, yesterday told the world that Trump awarded the coveted G7 summit contract to himself — yes, Trump National Doral Miami golf resort will be hosting next year’s summit. But, oh no, that is certainly not all.  Mulvaney went on to say that..wait for it…climate change will not be on the agenda. Did we mention that this is all taking place in Miami?!      

LEAVE OUR TREES ALONE: On Tuesday, the Trump administration proposed a plan that would allow logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the largest intact temperate rainforest in North America. The “Roadless Rule,” created in 2001 by the Clinton administration, protects the region’s salmon fishery and tourism operations — as well as pristine and delicate habitats — from logging and other destructive acts.

OUR TAKE: Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel said, “At a time when the world’s rainforests are already under assault, opening the Tongass – the world’s biggest intact temperate rainforest – is the last thing we should do. President Trump’s assault on our public lands and climate continues. Trump wants to allow clear-cut logging in these pristine, backcountry areas but chopping down old-growth trees that store carbon would harm our climate and the region’s fishing and tourism economies. We’re going to mobilize LCV’s members to fight this attack on the Roadless Rule and protect the majestic Tongass National Forest.”

CARBON FREE TOGETHER: On Thursday, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing discussing realistic pathways to achieving net-zero emissions. Subcommittee Chair Alan Lowenthal pointed out, “If we can’t drastically cut emissions, we risk catastrophe.  The science is clear. We have to take the threat seriously.” And, a witness underscored that this is an “audacious task,” but together, “we can get there.” And another witness highlighted that crafting climate policy should include “environmental organizations, labor unions, Indigenous Peoples, frontline communities and companies.”   

THE FIGHT FOR TRANSPORTATION EQUITY: On Thursday, Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Jesús “Chuy” García, and Mark Takano introduced a bill that seeks to address how transportation funding is not geared towards new policy and how that is ultimately affecting marginalized groups.   

REP. GARCIA’S TAKE: In a statement, Representative García said, “For too long, conversations about transportation and infrastructure have focused too much on funding and not enough on policy. We have decades-old policies that inadequately address climate change and the shifting realities of Americans’ commute to and from home, work, and school. Our current systems leave out communities of color, contribute to congestion and disrepair, and fail to respond to disruptive technologies and the climate crisis.”

DO IT FOR THE GRAM: To close out Latinx Heritage Month, LCV’s Chispa launched an Instagram account with a promo video dedicated to showing the program’s grassroots community organizing, which is building the power of Latinx and communities of color in the fight for climate justice. Don’t forget to show support by following and liking! 

THAT’S SHOWBIZ: Congratulations to Chispa National Communications Director Pita Juarez for receiving Best Director award at the New York International Film Festival! Her feature-length documentary is titled “You Racist, Sexist, Bigot” and examines prejudice and intolerance in society. 

 

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES: 

YOU DOWN WITH OPP…D? (NE): On Tuesday, the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) Board of Directors Committee on System Management announced a historic plan for the cornhusker state. The proposal states that by 2050 Nebraska will go 100% zero carbon. The board can make their decision as early as November 12th, so be on the lookout. 

CVM TAKE: Executive Director of Nebraska Conservation Voters Eliot Bostar said, “This goal represents the kind of leadership that is forward-thinking and greatly benefits not just Omaha but all Nebraskans …This proposal will help us plan ahead and make [the transition to a clean energy economy] in a way that is responsible and worker-focused. This is just a first step, and there’s going to be a lot more to do over the next 30 years to reach this goal. We are excited to work together with business, the utility, and community members to build this future.”,

POC ON THE FRONTLINES (CT): Chispa Connecticut Program Director Leticia Colon de Mejias wrote an op-ed for the Hartford Courant on the plight communities of color face because of climate change and how they are taking the reins to find solutions. Connecticut has recently experienced dangerous rises in sea levels and storm surges that cause major flooding and sewage overflows fueled by climate change. Weather events will continue to get more severe if immediate action is not taken. Chispa Connecticut is calling on the federal government to do more and take equitable climate action. Communities of color face the brunt of climate change all over the world. They are the ones on the frontlines fighting this battle.

CVM TAKE: In the opinion piece, Chispa CT’s Leticia Colon de Mejias writes, “Latinos want action on climate change. A landmark Yale study showed that over 75 percent of Latinos are worried about climate change. Right now, we are deeply concerned about the impacts climate change is having on the ocean and how that will affect communities we work with.”

TRIPLE PLAY (NJ): This was a big week for New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. First, his administration rejected the PennEast Pipeline, showing that the Garden State is resolute in its turn away from fossil fuel production. Murphy also came out in opposition to a proposed power plant in the Meadowlands, saying, “I just can’t find the justification for building a power plant in the Meadowlands and increasing emissions.” And to top it all off, Murphy also announced a comprehensive, $500 million plan plan to eliminate lead exposure and replace lead service lines across the state over the next 10 years.

CVM TAKE, PIPELINE EDITION: New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Ed Potosnak said, “Today is a great day for the environment in New Jersey and it — without a doubt — showcases the commitment  Governor Murphy has made to be a leader in addressing the climate crisis. With the denial of the PennEast Pipeline, Governor Murphy sends a strong and clear message to our country — New Jersey is committed to developing good local jobs in our rapidly expanding clean, renewable energy economy and the time for dirty and climate change-inducing fossil fuel expansion has passed.”

CVM TAKE, POWER PLANT EDITION: New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Ed Potosnak said, “We applaud Governor Murphy for standing up on behalf of New Jersey residents who don’t deserve to be subjected to the negative effects of another power plant in their backyards, especially one that would provide no benefit to New Jersey residents.”

TASKMASTER (WI): This week, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signed an executive order creating a Task Force on Climate Change that will collaborate with Wisconsinites all across the state to cut climate pollution and address the biggest challenge of our time. Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes will lead the taskforce, and told the Guardian, “I want us to get back to a place where we look at our manufacturing roots here in Wisconsin.  Where we’re building wind turbines, we’re building solar panels. That should honestly get Republicans excited as well.”

COMING UP:

October 22: House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will hold a hearing: “Solving the Climate Crisis: Natural Solutions to Cutting Pollution and Building Resilience.”

October 22: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing: “Energy Efficiency Efforts in the United States and Internationally.”

October 22: Discussion on “Confronting the Nature Crisis” at Center for American Progress, featuring Senator Tom Udall, Rep. Deb Haaland, and John Podesta. 

October 23: House Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee will hold a hearing: “The Pebble Mine Project: Process and Potential Impacts.”

October 23: House Energy and COmmerce Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee will hold a hearing: “Building a 100 Percent Clean Economy: Solutions for Planes, Trains and Everything Beyond Automobiles.”

Week of October 28: Legislation on the floor of the House to protect public lands around the Grand Canyon, Chaco Culture Historical Park, and in the state of Colorado. 

November 20: Fifth Democratic Primary Debate in Georgia   

 

 

 

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