Why Strengthening Our Democracy is Vital to Confronting the Climate Crisis

It is essential for communities to have access to the ballot box and the right to vote to ensure everyday Americans’ voices are the basis for how policies are made. Our ability to combat the climate crisis, therefore, is closely linked with the urgency of combatting attempts to undermine our democracy.

Chris Carnevale and Brady Watson | March 2, 2021 | Climate Change, Elections, Energy Policy

UPDATE: On March 17, the Senate version of The For the People Act, S1, was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon and referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration. It is on the calendar for that committee for Wednesday, March 24. On March 3, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 220 to 210 to pass HR 1: For The People Act. You can see how your member of Congress voted here and you can read more about HR 1 pulled together by the Committee on House Administration here.

Our central focus at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) is to ensure people throughout the Southeast have access to clean, safe and affordable energy. In order for that to happen, we believe it is essential for communities to have access to the ballot box and the right to vote to ensure everyday Americans’ voices are the basis for how policies are made. 

Unfortunately, some politicians are working to restrict access to the voting booth, especially in communities of color, which all too often also face significantly higher burdens from fossil fuel pollution and unaffordable energy. Meanwhile, too often big-monied special interest groups, like fossil fuel companies, set their own toxic policy agenda by attempting to buy political influence with lobbying and campaign contributions. Our ability to combat the climate crisis, therefore, is closely linked with the urgency of combatting attempts to undermine our democracy. For this reason, SACE is supporting the For the People Act (H.R. 1/S. 1) moving through Congress this month. 

For the People

The For the People Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation focused on strengthening and preserving our democracy since the Voting Rights Act was passed back in 1965. The For the People Act contains an extensive number of reforms that would as described by the Brennan Center for Justice, “make it easier to vote in federal elections, end congressional gerrymandering, overhaul federal campaign finance laws, increase safeguards against foreign interference, strengthen government ethics rules, and more.

By increasing the public’s access to participate in free and fair elections, and limiting the corrupting influence of big money in politics, the For the People Act would take a large step toward ensuring that ours is a government of, by, and for the people. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 1 this week, and subsequently, it will move over to the U.S. Senate for their consideration. 

Civic Engagement Core to SACE’s mission

Voter education, engagement, and turnout are priorities for SACE that have manifested in our work such as:

The effort to support the For the People Act is a continuation of our civic engagement work, the importance of which is especially notable in the state of Georgia where we have seen a renewed attack on voting rights in the aftermath of an election with historically high turnout and an electorate becoming ever more diverse. To continue this progress in voter participation both in Georgia and throughout the region, it is essential we protect the rights of all citizens to cast their ballots, and let their voices be heard without being drowned out by the influx of corporate spending from fossil fuel companies and other industries that benefit from the status quo.

Take Action to Protect Democracy and Combat the Climate Crisis

The For the People Act is a vitally important step toward ensuring the communities most impacted by climate change have the ability to make their voices heard.

To ensure your representative in Congress knows that you also support the For the People Act (H.R. 1) before they vote later this week, please call the Capitol Switchboard today at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your member of Congress. If you don’t know your member of Congress, you can look it up here.

Chris Carnevale
Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Chris is SACE’s Coastal Climate and Energy Manager and South Carolina State Affairs Liaison. Chris joined the SACE staff in 2011 to help build a…
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