Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the April 8, 2021 edition of Three Things Thursday! While the Legislature has been on Spring Break over the last week, the world continues on (quite nicely) without them. This week’s Three Things focus on climate change/clean energy and some of what’s happening at the local, state and federal levels.
Before diving in, I want to share two (other) things with you, both COVID-related:
- “COVID brain” is very real and felt by many. I know I’ve been feeling it fairly significantly as we round the corner into year two of this pandemic reality. If you haven’t read the New York Times article entitled, “We have all hit a wall”, it’s worth a peek.
- People are resilient and have found all sorts of different ways to cope within the global pandemic. This photo essay is extraordinary, both the pictures and the words. It makes you realize what’s possible without getting on an airplane.
Now on to this week’s Three Things:
1. WEMU 89.1 FM: Bringing it home with environmental coverage
March was Women’s History Month and the final episode in March for Issues of the Environment — one of WEMU 89.1’s environmentally-focused radio shows — featured Michigan LCV’s immediate past board president, Janis Bobrin. It’s a great interview with an inspiring, dedicated leader who has made an enormous difference in Washtenaw County. If you have any questions about why Water Resources Commissioners matter so much, I invite you to check out this show.
Janis’ notable accomplishments in her work to protect the environment and public health include watershed management projects and the Adopt A Stream platform, stormwater management and water quality protection, instituting programs for septic system inspections to protect our drinking water, and helping preserve large areas of land across Washtenaw County as natural areas. Michigan LCV is extremely lucky to have Janis on our board. You can find the interview here.
Last week, for the first installment of Issues of the Environment in the month of April, WEMU’s Program Director David Fair interviewed Dr. Lisa Del Buono, founder of Michigan Clinicians for Climate Action. Another great interview with a big emphasis on how climate change is having a disproportionate impact on communities of color and low income communities.
And, last Friday, David and I hosted the April edition of 1st Friday Focus on the Environment. Our guest was Jennifer Haverkamp, Director of the U-M Graham Sustainability Institute and co-chair of the University of Michigan President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality (PCCN). Our conversation centered around the PCCN’s final report, which was delivered to President Mark Schlissel a few weeks ago and provides a roadmap to address the climate crisis by working towards 100% carbon neutrality across all three campuses by 2040. The plan and its goals, if adopted in full, will make the University a national leader among higher education institutions, and align closely with both Gov. Whitmer’s climate goals and the Biden administration’s strategies for achieving a clean energy economy. You can listen to our conversation here. (Full disclosure: I was a member of the PCCN.)
2. National webinar featuring Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Michigan LCV’s very own Ali al-Qadi!
Last week, President Biden announced the first part of his Build Back Better agenda. The American Jobs Plan — focused on investing in the future by overhauling the nation’s infrastructure, including transportation and water infrastructure and power grids, and investing in clean energy, all while creating good-paying jobs to help our economy recover from COVID — is an amazing step in the right direction as we experience an ever-growing need to address our water and climate crises. By investing the proposed $2 trillion in clean energy growth and water infrastructure, the plan will also include an emphasis on environmental justice and facilitate programs and equitable solutions for low-income and minority communities that have historically been disproportionately impacted by carbon emissions and the effects of our changing climate.
In concert with the announcement last week, our partners at national LCV hosted a webinar featuring former Michigan governor and newly confirmed Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. The webinar, entitled “Transitioning to a Clean Energy Economy,” included a Q&A session about the new infrastructure plan, strategies to address the climate crisis, and how the Biden administration is planning to achieve the robust goals outlined by the Build Back Better and climate agendas that have been announced thus far.
Drawing on her experience as governor and her work with the automotive industry in Michigan, Secretary Granholm illustrated her prowess on the issues and why she is an excellent choice to lead the Department of Energy, answering questions from a variety of participants, including a member of the Michigan LCV team. Indeed, one of our Southeast Michigan Organizers, Ali al-Qadi, asked Secretary Granholm the following question:
“In so many places, communities of color are most impacted by fossil fuel pollution and climate change, but they have not reaped as much of the upside benefits of solar and other clean energy investments. How can the administration ensure that clean energy deployment and investment is equitable distributed as we rapidly move forward?”
Former Congresswoman Donna Edwards (who is now a national LCV Board member), Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and Michigan LCV’s Ali al-Qadi.
Ali’s question is so important to consider as we work to address climate change, build back our economy from the pandemic, and invest in clean energy solutions. The most polluted and impacted communities — like Detroit’s 48217 zip code — are majority Black and Brown communities that have not been afforded the same protections against fossil fuel pollution and the health impacts are devastating.
Secretary Granholm acknowledged the critical nature of Ali’s question, noting the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative and the commitment to address issues of environmental justice as part of the administration’s overall environmental strategy. Justice40 is headlined by the goal to provide a minimum of 40% of the overall benefits and investments in clean energy and climate strategies that will benefit disadvantaged communities and establishes an Environmental Justice Scorecard to ensure that this happens.
We are so proud of Ali. He did an amazing job representing the Michigan LCV team!
You can watch a video of Ali’s question and Secretary Granholm’s response here.
3. Michigan LCV and the Biden/Harris Build Back Better plan
President Biden’s announcement of the American Jobs Plan last week was cause for a great deal of excitement here at Michigan LCV. Our team has been preparing for the rollout of this bold infrastructure plan, recognizing how pivotal the proposed investment is to COVID recovery and our long term future.
ICYMI: Check out this opinion editorial by Gov. Whitmer urging Congress to support the plan.
From a Michigan LCV perspective, the American Jobs Plan and the Build Back Better agenda present an opportunity to tackle the climate crisis while also addressing the immediate economic problems facing Michigan and the nation. Through this plan, we have the opportunity to invest in those who need it most, protect public health, and build back in ways that ensure healthier, more vibrant communities now and for the decades to come.
Given what we see as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the Michigan LCV team is engaging with community leaders and lawmakers, building a coalition of individuals and organizations that will stand together to help champion the Build Back Better agenda. This type of engagement is second nature to our team given the work we already have underway in key regions of the state.
In Oakland County, for example, we have worked closely with a set of allies to establish a climate and water justice platform for the county commission. In 2020, we helped elect an array of climate champions who pledged action on the platform. This year, those newly elected climate champions established a new position — Sustainability Officer– to help advise and lead the county on environmental and climate issues. None of this would have been possible without the active and ongoing engagement of community leaders and lawmakers. This is exactly what we are now doing with the Build Back Better agenda, helping promote and build support for the Biden/Harris plans.
Right now our team is reaching out to an array of local elected officials–township supervisors, county commissioners, mayors, city councilmen, etc. — with the request that they add their name to letter in support of the American Jobs Plan and Build Back Better. We’d love to have your help in identifying local leaders who are excited by the plans that are underway and willing to lend their name in a sign of support.
As always, thanks for all you do to support our work. Be safe. Be well.