The League of Women Voters Addresses Environmental Issues

by Sue Garzon

The League of Women Voters is well known for its support of voting rights, but it has also taken stands on other issues affecting Americans, including the environment.

The Tennessee Valley Authority. In the 1920s and 1930s, the League supported formation of the Tennessee Valley Authority (the TVA), a federal program under Roosevelt that brought hydroelectric power and other benefits to a large region.

Positions on environmental issues. The U.S. League aided in passage of the Clean Water Act and worked to protect, expand, and strengthen the act. The League has also supported the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Clean Air Act, the EPA Clean Power Plan, and other measures aimed at protecting the environment and combating global climate change. The League has supported EPA regulations, fought legislation designed to hinder progress on climate initiatives, and pushed for the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. In 2016, the Oklahoma League opposed the so-called Right to Farm amendment, which would have prevented many future environmental laws or made it easy to overturn them.

An award for work on climate change. The League has fought to improve opportunities for public participation in natural resource issues. In 2010, the League President received a “Sisters on the Planet Climate Leader Award” by Oxfam America. The award recognized the League’s grassroots work on climate change.

The Oklahoma League studies water. In 2012-13, the Oklahoma League carried out a study on water as a natural resource. Leagues in the state supported:
Full disclosure of all chemicals used in any process that affects the quality of water to the appropriate government   agency and urges that access to this information be made available to the public.
Continued education at all levels on the importance of water conservation, quality and availability.
On-going long-­term planning efforts regarding water resources, watersheds and infrastructure.

Juliana vs. United States. Twenty-one young people across the U.S. brought a lawsuit against the federal government, asserting that the government has taken actions that cause climate change. Thus, it has violated the constitutional rights of the youngest generation to life, liberty, and property. The Trump administration petitioned to stop the lawsuit. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals considered the petition. The U.S. League of Women Voters and the Oregon League of Women Voters submitted a friend of the court brief. The League affirmed the urgency of dealing with climate change. Although the League ordinarily encourages legislation and executive action, this case was different. Since children can not vote, they should have recourse to the judicial branch to protect their constitutional rights. Therefore, it is appropriate for the Juliana case to be tried in the courts. On March 9th of this year, a panel of judges ruled unanimously that the Juliana case can proceed toward trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.

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