Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the September 24th edition of Three Things Thursday. I send these weekly messages to keep you up-to-date on the Three Things the Michigan LCV team — and our broader Conservation Voters Movement — has accomplished and/or experienced recently in our work to protect Michigan’s incredible natural resources and the health and well-being of our children and communities.
It has been a challenging few days since last I wrote. So many of us are balancing a complex mix of emotions surrounding the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was a remarkable woman with a life story well worth understanding and a body of work that has had a powerful impact on all of our life experiences over the last 25+ years*. Like many of you, I have been mourning Justice Ginsburg everyday knowing that the simultaneous steps of organizing are exactly what that whip-smart, deeply dedicated and enormously under-stated Brooklyn native would have wanted.
Justice Ginsburg’s casket, which arrived at the US Supreme Court yesterday accompanied by a legion of her former clerks, lay in repose today. Tomorrow, she will become the first woman to lie in state in the US Capitol. May you rest in peace and in power, RBG.
The September 24th Three Things….
1. Governor Whitmer announces bold climate plan with big impacts for Michigan
Yesterday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the Michigan Healthy Climate Plan, a sweeping Executive Order aimed at combating climate change, which establishes Michigan as a national leader in tackling the climate crisis.
The Michigan Healthy Climate Plan outlines specific goals that will reduce emissions and protect our public health and natural resources. The Plan is headlined by several bold initiatives:
- Economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050. This goal applies to all state infrastructure, manufacturing, and development, along with energy consumption for both the public and private sectors.
- Forty percent (40%) reduction in energy use by all existing state facilities by 2040.
- Carbon neutrality for all new state buildings and renovation projects by 2030.
- Finally, the order established a Michigan Climate Solutions Plan, which will serve as an action plan used to meet all of these outlined goals and make sure they are achieved within the specified timeline.
The announcement of the Michigan Healthy Climate Plan came at a truly critical time as we continue to see the disastrous impacts of climate change play out across Michigan and the United States, from dam collapses and hurricanes to massive, unprecedented “climate fires” (as WA Governor Jay Inslee calls them). Since taking office, Governor Whitmer has made addressing climate change in Michigan is a top priority. The Michigan Healthy Climate plan takes her commitment to an entirely new level, clearly illustrating the deep connections between climate action, job creation and the protection of people and planet.
Earlier this week, Michigan LCV released a statement on climate change, calling for increased action and accountability from our elected officials. We are incredibly grateful to Governor Whitmer for heeding our call.
2. Team Michigan LCV in action!
Our team had a busy week in addition to all of our elections work and amplifying the governor’s major climate announcement. Staff members from every part of our organization were invited to participate in a variety of different speaking engagements. Here’s a snapshot of our team in action:
1. National LCV Education Fund “Couch Party”
It is National Voter Registration Week and the Michigan LCV team has been working hard to elevate the importance of voter registration, poll worker recruitment, and early voting. On Tuesday, September 22nd, our team participated in the National Voter Registration Couch Party in partnership with Democracy For All, a national League of Conservation Voters Education Fund initiative. The virtual event was modeled after the couch parties we pioneered right here in Michigan and held throughout the Summer with live music and DJs. We were proud to have Olivia Bradley, our Civic Engagement Manager, step up as the spokesperson for the great state of Michigan!
What made this event especially fun was a friendly competition to see which LCV affiliates in the East Coast, Midwest, and South/Southwest regions could get the most people registered to vote during the hour-and-a-half couch party timeframe.
To learn more about voting resources and to get help in making your personal voting plan, I invite you to visit our Civic Engagement website.
2. Foundation-hosted event on how organizations quickly pivoted during COVID to reach their constituencies
On Wednesday, September 23rd, our Partnerships Manager Joané Booth represented Michigan LCV Education Fund on a panel presentation for an array of foundation funders in the Chicago area. Joané focused on Michigan LCV’s nimble, innovative and cross-sectional work as we pivoted from our pre-COVID-19 voter/member education and mobilization plans to an all virtual environment.
In March, staff from our Governmental Affairs, Communications, Development, Operations, Civic Engagement and Political & Outreach teams quickly caucused, coming up with fun, engaging ways to meet people where they were/are (at home in front of their devices!), allowing us to reach and engage a variety of different communities during this incredibly challenging time. (If you haven’t seen our short, powerful video encapsulating our work, it’s a must! You can check it out here.)
3. “40 Days of Early Voting” Press Conference
Today, Rhonda Saxton, our Macomb County Civic Engagement Regional Coordinator, spoke at a press conference with our Michiganvoting.org coalition partners, including the ACLU of Michigan and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, to kick off a “40 Days of Early Voting Campaign.” The event took place at the ACLU’s headquarters in Midtown, Detroit, and Rhonda did a fantastic job representing Michigan LCV and spreading the word about early voting, making a voting plan, and signing up to be a poll worker.
Rhonda Saxton speaking at the press conference
4. UM Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) Panel Discussion
On Monday, I participated in a panel discussion hosted by the University of Michigan’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute on citizen activism and a healthy democracy. I was honored to be joined by Roddy Wares from the League of Women Voters and Branden Snyder from Detroit Action. There were over 200 attendees, which was amazing, and Karen Bantel did an excellent job moderating the discussion filled with solid, informed questions.
3. Election Update: Carrying the message of #OurWaterOurVote
Below is a Bob Allison (our Deputy Director) update from the campaign trail, illustrating how #OurWaterOurVote continues to break through the clutter of this busy election season.
The powerful message of #OurWaterOurVote has been on full display in key Michigan congressional races over the past 7 months — driven by millions in direct spending already by the LCV family of organizations.
That continued this week with the launch of a new $880,000 TV ad by LCV Victory Fund and House Majority PAC entitled, “Signs,” linking U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin’s opponent Paul Junge to President Trump’s terrible record on toxic contamination in our drinking water.
This is the fourth TV ad in 2020 on toxic PFAS contamination, and the second LCV TV spot done in CD-8, including this ad from February that promoted Rep. Slotkin’s work on the PFAS Action Act.
LCV also ran statewide TV, cable and satellite ads for two weeks on behalf of U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, “Diagnosed,” earlier in May that featured a leader in Need Our Water (NOW) Oscoda and a Michigan LCV partner, Cathy Wusterbarth.
The Peters campaign, itself, then ran a TV ad recently, “Eliminate PFAS Contamination,” that featured the story of another Michigan LCV partner and West Michigan PFAS activist, Sandy Wynn-Stelt — talking about her family’s struggle with toxic contamination.
This kind of visibility of the #OurWaterOurVote message is building momentum for candidates who are talking about protecting our drinking water, our public health and our children’s futures.
Our national LCV partners, with strong strategic guidance from the Michigan LCV team, have coupled this sizable investment in congressional races, with:
- Millions of digital, streaming and addressable TV ads highlighting President Trump’s refusal to clean up PFAS at military bases and set tough federal standards for these “forever chemicals” in our drinking water — such as: FAR AWAY … THE POUR … WHAT DOES HE MEAN … TITANS … HOOK … SERIOUS
- Nine (9) flights of mail to 381,000 “environmental swing voters” in Michigan identified through sophisticated data modeling with messages like Diagnosis … Scientist … Military … Zoom … Worry … Kids
- Over 2.5 million Vote@Home phone chase attempts (with 88,000 contacts) to push thousands of Michiganders toward absentee voting, urge them to return ballots early in advance of the August primary, and/or register people in their households
We know from polling that our clean, safe drinking water message connects deeply with essential 2020 voters: infrequent voters, younger people, independent women, and communities of color.
We are actively pushing all our endorsed candidates to make this issue a priority on the campaign trail and ride the Clean Water Wave we’re building.
Next week, we will provide a deeper look at similar work we are doing related to state House, Michigan Supreme Court and county commission candidates.
Thanks for all you do to make our work possible. It’s more essential than ever.
Until next week…
*Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s environmental legacy
In addition to her commitment to equality and equal rights for all, Justice Ginsburg had a strong and enduring environmental legacy. This Politico article does a great job detailing those accomplishments, among those here are some big ones that stand out:
- Helped establish critical Supreme Court precedent that empowered EPA to address the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change, which set up the Obama administration to issue rules limiting carbon pollution from cars, power plants and other sources
- Part of the five-justice majority in the high court’s first-ever ruling on climate change, 2007’s Massachusetts v. EPA, that said the Clean Air Act gave EPA the authority — and, effectively, a mandate — to regulate greenhouse gases from automobile tailpipes.
- In 2011, Ginsburg authored another ruling, American Electric Power v. Connecticut, that reiterated EPA’s authority to target greenhouse gases — this time for a unanimous court
- In 2001, she joined a unanimous court in ruling that EPA cannot consider implementation costs when deciding on national air quality limits for smog, soot and other major pollutants. This is considered one of the high court’s most important environmental rulings, and those EPA regulations are credited with saving and improving millions of lives.
- Six years ago, Ginsburg led a 6-2 majority that reversed a lower court and upheld an Obama rule limiting air pollution that floats across state lines, saving a regulation credited with helping shut down some of the nation’s dirtiest power plants.
- And, in April, she was part of a six-justice majority that said pollution that travels into waterways via groundwater can be subject to the Clean Water Act.
- Ginsburg was a consistent vote in favor of broad Clean Water Act jurisdiction as questions about the reach of the 1972 law became a legal quagmire over the past two decades.