Advocacy update March 1, 2022

Advocacy update March 1, 2022

Advocacy update March 1, 2022 150 150 Episcopalians in Connection

Your church can take effective action now

Don’t let government impasse over climate policy stop you

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a new report this week with dire warnings on the harm already happening around the world from climate change. Congress has failed to pass President Biden’s major climate legislation, the Build Back Better bill. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Feb. 28 in West Virginia v. EPA, a lawsuit challenging the authority of the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act without clearer authority from Congress.

Please remember that your church can take humanitarian action immediately to reduce your carbon footprint: choose steps to reduce your energy consumption and apply for a Diocesan grant of up to $10,000 for the costs. Loans of up to $10,000 are also available. Eligible retrofits include insulation, lighting, thermostats, and more efficient HVAC equipment. These retrofits will also reduce your utility bills and free up money to use for mission. Read how to apply here.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a grim update this week: “Climate Change 2022:  Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.”  https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-ii/

The scientific working group reported that climate change impacts are more widespread and severe than expected, with many near-term impacts including poverty, illness, forced migration, and disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities.

A study released Feb. 28 by analysts at Princeton, Dartmouth, and several consulting firms (https://repeatproject.org/docs/REPEAT_Summary_Report_022822.pdf?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=wp_climate202&wpisrc=nl_climate202)  found that enacting the climate provisions of the Build Back Better Act would cut US CO2-equivalent emissions a cumulative 5.2 billion tons by 2030, easily attaining the goal of cutting our emissions to 50% of peak levels and saving the average American household $300 per year.  Current law would leave us 1.3 billion tons short.

Public policy is not the only factor. The Supreme Court blocked the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan in 2016. Nevertheless, the Washington Post reports, “its emission reduction goals were met ahead of schedule because of economic conditions that made coal-fired plants more expensive.” The plaintiffs in the case now before the Court, West Virginia v. EPA represent coal producing states, but the Washington Post reported that “if the coal industry was on one side at the court, some of the nation’s largest power plants were on the other, supporting the federal government. Washington lawyer Beth S. Brinkmann told the justices that the industry has invested heavily in reducing emissions and that the EPA needed flexibility beyond regulating conditions in individual plants. ‘Congress directed the expert agency to look to reality when it makes the empirical determination of the best system of emission reduction,’ she said.”

Ohio is in election chaos

Events are moving so fast in Ohio’s redistricting battles that a weekly update like this is obsolete within hours. By the time you read this on the evening of Shrove Tuesday, the Ohio Redistricting Commission may have approved a new Congressional district plan, so asking you in this week’s update to submit testimony or letters may be pointless. One thing you can do is call Senate President Huffman (614-466-7584) and House Speaker Cupp (614-466-9624) asking for a vote to postpone Ohio’s May primary. This needs to be passed by a 2/3 vote in both chambers to take effect in time. Here’s why county elections officials see postponement as essential to running a fair and accurate primary.

As of the morning of March 1, the Commission has not published a new draft Congressional plan of their own, though citizens have submitted many. (https://redistricting.ohio.gov/maps)  Meanwhile, the Commission passed a third set of state House and Senate maps Feb. 24 (see the link above) just hours after making them available to the public. This new plan drew renewed challenges at the Ohio Supreme Court over the weekend so the Court has to rule on its constitutionality.

Although he has warned repeatedly about the feasibility of holding a May 3 primary, Secretary of State Frank LaRose ordered county election boards to start placing candidates on the ballot using this set of maps, even before the Supreme Court decides if they are constitutional. The Ohio Association of Election Officials wrote to Senate President Huffman and House Speaker Cupp on Feb. 28 asking the legislature to delay the primary as all the maps are still under litigation and it’s impossible to even determine the voter rolls. They also need time to test ballots and voting equipment to ensure a fair and accurate election. Candidate filing deadlines have passed and the state has requested but not yet received a waiver on the federal deadline of March 18 to send ballots to active-duty military and overseas voters.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission adopted a third set of state legislative maps by a 4-3 vote just hours after publishing them on Thursday, Feb. 24.  On paper, the plan complies with the Ohio Supreme Court order to achieve a distribution of districts that mirrors each party’s share of votes in statewide elections over the preceding decade:  54% Republican, 46% Democratic.  But plaintiffs told the Ohio Supreme Court that the new plan has the same defects the Court identified in ruling the previous plan unconstitutional, because 19 of 45 nominally Democratic districts in the House plan and 7 of the 15 Democratic districts in the Senate plan are toss-ups (52% or less likely Democratic votes ) while none of the Republican-leaning districts have a vote share less than 52% for that party.

“The plan is pervaded by extreme partisan asymmetry, which this Court found in its February 7, 2022 Opinion and Order to be evidence of a plan’s violation of Section 6(A),” wrote the ACLU of Ohio. “Additionally, the Plan distributes close districts disproportionately between the parties, which the Court in its February 7 Opinion found to violate Section 6(B). Indeed, the asymmetrical distribution of seats under the Second Revised Plan is more severe than the comparable distribution in the January 22 Plan.”

Citizen testimony on both state district and Congressional maps is posted here. (https://redistricting.ohio.gov/meetings#previous-meetings)  Just for comparison, here are the Fair District Model Map for Congressional districts and the map (Sub SB 258) adopted by the Redistricting Commission but ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court. These pictures come from a Fair Maps slide show.

You can see how the Model Map creates districts which are far more compact. It corresponds well to regional planning authority maps and connects communities of interest, such as Southeastern Ohio and Western Ohio, by contrast to the jagged and sprawling districts 5 and 9 in the Sub SB 258 map. The cracking of our See City of Cincinnati from its inner-ring suburbs and connecting it with Warren County in District 1 in the Commission-passed map is another striking example of gerrymandering cited by the Supreme Court in ruling the Sub SB 258 map unconstitutional:

 

Finally, here is the contrast between the two maps for Franklin County:

Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming, and a member of the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Leadership Team. Connect with her at arielmillerwriter@gmail.com