Remembering Donald McEachin

A champion for climate justice, fighting against a tangled mess of inaction


Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) introduces the Environmental Justice for All Act, February 27, 2020.

I’m devastated to report the passing of Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.). Rep. McEachin, who had been battling colorectal cancer since 2013, was a fearless champion for environmental justice. As a Virginia state legislator, McEachin pushed energy efficiency. renewable energy, and climate justice bills among many others. After winning his seat in Congress, he co-founded the United for Climate Environmental Justice Task Force with Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) in 2017. In 2018 they proposed a Constitutional amendment to affirm the right of every person to “clean air, pure water, and to the sustainable preservation of the ecological integrity and aesthetic, scientific, and historical values of the natural environment.”

Working with Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), McEachin wrote the Environmental Justice for All Act in 2020, after a yearlong process of community engagement with stakeholders across the nation, then continued to improve the legislation before its 2022 markup with further national community engagement.

In 2022, McEachin and Grijalva were instrumental in stopping Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) poisonous pipeline-permitting bill pushed by President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in return for the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

“We cannot allow a bill to pass that neuters EJ for All without even a vote on it,” McEachin said on a September press call. “No one picked up the phone and gave me a call, even though I’ve been working on it for over two years with our grassroots advocates. I have no compunction about voting against it.”

This weekend also sadly marked the passing of Mike Pertschuk, the Congressional staffer behind the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act, Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, Federal Railroad Safety Act, Consumer Product Safety Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Journalist Mike Moore, editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists throughout the 1990s, also passed away.

The Guardian—one of the few major news outlets to refuse fossil-fuel advertising—reports:

  • More than 20,000 people died across western Europe in this summer’s heatwaves, in temperatures that would have been virtually impossible without climate breakdown, figures show.

  • A “tangled mess of inaction” means that hundreds of plans for the recovery of threatened species in Australia from the corroboree frog to the King Island scrubtit will expire in the next six months.

  • Ocean temperatures over parts of the Great Barrier Reef have reached record levels this month, sparking fears of a second summer in a row of mass coral bleaching.

The Great Barrier Reef’s gloomy octopus (Octopus tetricus) throws shells, silt, and algae at other octopuses in fish in a way that is highly suggestive of antisocial behavior.

FOSSIL-FUELED WEATHER: A significant outbreak of severe thunderstorms, including a few strong tornadoes, is unfolding for the Mississippi Valley, mid-South and parts of the Southeast Tuesday into Tuesday night.

A landslide caused by torrential rains in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde on Sunday killed at least 14 people who were attending a funeral.

A number of people are feared to have been killed after a mudslide triggered by heavy rains swept away homes on the island of Ischia, near Naples.

Zimbabwe’s prolonged power shortage is set to worsen after the entity that manages southern Africa’s biggest dam ordered suspension of electricity generation at its main hydro plant because of a water shortage caused by prolonged drought.

A LOOK TO EUROPE: For decades, Russian cash flooded into German politics, helping bind the nation to Russian gas imports. But in the months following the Ukraine invasion, Germany has cut loose from Russian gas with remarkable speed, in part through the construction of massive new liquefied natural gas terminals.

Blocking climate migration becomes a winning platform for far-right political parties in Europe. As the Swedish government comes under the control of one of those parties, Greta Thunberg and other climate activists have filed a lawsuit against the Swedish state for insufficient climate action.

Zack Colman investigates the state of affairs of federal programs designed to help people move out of harm’s way as climate polluters make more of the United States uninhabitable. The article, published in the fossil-funded Politico, is strangely silent on Republican climate denial and fossil-industry influence.

The Black-Friday-to-Cyber-Monday shopping frenzy generates an impressive pulse of pollution from the unregulated shipping industry and the world’s shipping ports, Molly Taft and Maria Gallucci write.

In good news, the Bureau of Land Management has proposed new rules for methane pollution from drilling on public lands. A fleet of sensor-equipped cars is blanketing New York City and six other New York cities for the next year to gather data on fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, methane, carbon dioxide, black carbon and benzene pollution in the air.

A post shared by Jack Lodge (@jacklodgephotography)

As previewed in the Climate Politics Almanac, Democrats hold their leadership votes tomorrow. The House is not in session this week, but the Senate is.

This morning, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) chaired a business meeting to confirm multiple nominees, including Joe Goffman to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s crucial Office of Air and Radiation, its pollution-regulating arm. Goffman has been the acting director for some time. At the meeting, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) supported the committee’s approval of Goffman, but said he would not vote for him in a floor vote until the EPA takes action to implement the $7 billion solar rooftop program authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act.

Tomorrow, Carper chairs a hearing on the implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure law, taking testimony from highway-construction and electric-vehicle executives.

On Thursday, Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) will chair a hearing on Landsat and the future of Earth-monitoring satellites, and Manchin will take testimony on a raft of energy and lands bills, including hydrogen, mining, uranium, carbon removal, and Southwest drought management.

Hearings on the Hill:

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