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Activists participate in a march for voting rights on August 28, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Protecting US Democracy and Climate Action Are 'Inseparable,' Green Groups Tell Congress

The "grim" anniversary of the Capitol attack, they said, "should serve as a wake-up call" for lawmakers to "expand the right to vote, end partisan gerrymandering, and give power back to the people."

Jessica Corbett

As people across the United States this week look back on last year's January 6 insurrection, environmental advocacy groups came together to remind federal lawmakers and President Joe Biden that efforts to protect U.S. democracy and tackle the climate emergency are fundamentally connected.

"Democracy, climate action, human rights, social equity, and environmental justice are inseparable."

In a joint statement, the groups said that "we have an opportunity to reflect on the violent attack that took place one year ago when a small faction of white supremacists launched a violent attack on our nation's Capitol with the intent to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election."

"One year later, we are still at a pivotal moment in the fight to protect our democracy," they added.

The organizations behind the statement are Clean Air Moms Action, Clean Water Action, Climate Hawks Vote, Environmental Defense Fund Action, Friends of the Earth Action, Greenpeace, Interfaith Power and Light, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, Sierra Club, Union for Reform Judaism, and Union of Concerned Scientists.

"Since the January 6 insurrection, we have seen attack after attack to erode the fabric and core of our democracy and the freedom to vote," the groups noted. "From insidious voter suppression laws in several states and partisan gerrymandering to Republican officials' continuously stoking falsehoods to sow confusion and mistrust in our elections and democracy, we stand united with all those working to protect voting rights and prevent future attacks."

GOP state lawmakers are expected to continue forcing through a "tidal wave" of anti-voter legislation, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which found that at least 19 states enacted 34 such laws in 2021 alone.

Meanwhile, world leaders and experts within and beyond the United States have shared their alarm about the current state of U.S. democracy over the past year, with many joining progressive activists and lawmakers' demands for Congress to act.

Noting last year's attack, the green groups said that "this grim anniversary should serve as a wake-up call to urgently take all action necessary to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and Freedom to Vote Act to expand the right to vote, end partisan gerrymandering, and give power back to the people."

Both bills have been blocked in the Senate by Republicans, bolstering calls for Democrats to reform or abolish the filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) promised to make changes to the chamber's rules by January 17 if GOP obstruction persists.

"When everyone's vote counts and everyone's voice is heard, we can hold our government accountable to address critical needs including combating the climate crisis, addressing rising inequality, advancing environmental justice, and protecting our air, lands, waters, oceans, and wildlife," the environmental groups said.

They emphasized that "democracy, climate action, human rights, social equity, and environmental justice are inseparable."

"The vast majority of the country supports bold action and investments to improve quality of life for those who have been marginalized and to combat the climate crisis; but racism is used to fuel political wedges while big polluter interests continually wield their outsized influence in politics to undermine the will of the people and hinder progress," the groups added. "The time to act is now."

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