•  “Administration needs to step up its game and get the job done,” according to League

    Washington, DC (April 15, 2013) – Today the League of Women Voters of the U.S. (LWVUS) expressed disappointment with the Obama Administration for missing a key deadline to set industrial carbon pollution standards for new power plants.

    “We are concerned and disappointed that the Administration is falling behind in taking the critical steps needed to protect our health and our planet,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national President of the League. “In this, the first opportunity for real action on power plant pollution since the President’s commitments in his Inaugural speech and State of the Union address, we see that the deadline for administrative action has been missed.”

    The Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set carbon pollution reduction standards for major emitters.  The agency proposed standards for new power plants in 2012 and was required to complete action on the proposed rule by April 13.  These first-ever industrial carbon pollution standards for new power plants would assure that all new plants use modern technology to cut their dangerous carbon pollution in half. 

    “Just last year more than three million public comments were sent to the EPA in favor of limits on industrial carbon pollution from both new and existing power plants. This record number of comments on the EPA proposal reflects strong support for controlling carbon pollution from the American people,” MacNamara said.

    “The Administration needs to step up its game and get the job done,” said MacNamara. She noted that EPA will undoubtedly be sued over this delay, but she also pointed to the larger agenda that needs attention. “While this rule is important, controlling carbon pollution from existing power plants is what needs to be done to fulfill the President’s pledge on climate, protect our health, and save the planet.”

    “The President needs to step in, get the process back on track, and make sure that his Administration fulfills his commitment to control the pollution that is causing climate change,” MacNamara said.

    “The President has said it is our nation’s obligation to take action to slow climate change and he’s committed his Administration to deliver on that obligation,” added MacNamara. “He has the authority to take bold action and we expect him to keep his promise.”

    “U.S. power plants are the nation’s largest carbon polluter, and the largest uncontrolled source of industrial carbon pollution.  We must dramatically slash industrial carbon pollution from these plants – both new and existing power plants -- to stave off the worst impacts of climate change and protect the health and well-being of Americans, concluded MacNamara.”

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, kceballos@lwv.org

  • Coalition to President Obama and Secretary Kerry: Pipeline is Not in National Interest

    Washington, DC (April 8, 2013) - The “All Risk, No Reward Coalition” launched today as a new national group that will educate the American people on the ‘all risk and no reward’ of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and urge President Obama and Secretary Kerry to reject it. The coalition brings together a unique group of national and state organizations, is very focused in its messaging on national interest, and is using paid media in a way that has never been part of the anti-Keystone movement.

    The coalition was up on the major Sunday news shows yesterday with a TV ad (available at www.allrisknoreward.com), which will be on the air again next week and in an additional dozen markets targeting the Democratic base. The coalition will continue to run national and state-based advertising and earned media, including a youth mobilization effort. 

    “With the tar sands oil spill in Arkansas, there’s a growing mountain of evidence of the dangers that would come with a pipeline spanning some of the most sensitive areas of our country.  This coalition is set to educate the American people about the dangerous climate, environmental and political implications of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline,” said Bill Burton, LCV Senior Advisor.

    The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will run through America, but does not benefit America.  Based on the State Department’s Environmental Impact Statement, the pipeline will create only 35 permanent jobs. It would also put American communities at significant risk of oil spills like the recent tar sands spill in Arkansas. The pipeline will not reduce dependence on Mideast oil because Keystone XL products will likely be exported overseas, including to China and Venezuela.

    Randy Thompson, “The All Risk, No Reward Coalition” Chair officially announced the launch of the coalition with an op-ed in the York News Times, a Nebraska newspaper along the pipeline route. Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ), published a column in The Hill’s Congress Blog about the risks of the Keystone pipeline, as evidenced by the tar sands spill in Arkansas.

    “As a Nebraska landowner on the front lines of the Keystone XL battle, I know firsthand the tremendous risks that Americans would face if President Obama approved the tar sands pipeline,” said All Risk, No Reward Coalition Chair Randy Thompson. “This pipeline is clearly not in our national interest, since American citizens like me would be taking on all of the risk so that Big Oil and foreign countries could get the reward.”

    “Given that the oil carried by Keystone XL would not be mined, refined, or consumed in the United States, why would we accept the transit risk associated with a pipeline project of this magnitude?” said Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. “Why would we want to expose thousands of towns up and down the United States to the same risks faced so catastrophically in Mayflower?”

    “Nebraska Farmers Union is 100 years old this year,” said Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen.  “We shudder to think about the risks our landowners will face for the next 100 years as the result of TransCanada’s dangerous and irresponsible route.  We call on President Obama and the State Department to reject TransCanada’s permit.” 

    "The League opposes the Keystone XL pipeline proposal because it puts enormous and unacceptable risks on the American people," said Toni Larson, Advocacy Chair for the League of Women Voters of the U.S. in her remarks to the press. "It threatens clean water and public health, makes climate change worse, and sends our nation’s energy policy in the wrong direction."     

    The coalition includes the following state and national organizations:

    National Groups:

    -        League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

    -        League of Women Voters

    -        Indigenous Environmental Network

    State Based Organizations:

    -        Bold Nebraska (NE)

    -        Keystone XL Truthforce (OK)

    -        League of Women Voters Nebraska

    -        STOP Tarsands (TX)

    -        Sandhills Beef (NE)

    -        Nebraska Farmers Union

    -        Interfaith Power and Light  (NE)

    -        Dakota Rural Action

    For more information, including an All Risk and No Reward white paper, please visit www.allrisknoreward.com.

    Contact: Rachel Wolf, 202.331.2120

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  • Second Significant Voting Rights Case Heard by Supreme Court

     Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Arizona v. ITCA, Inc. a critically-important voting rights case that examines whether the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) prevents states from passing laws that restrict the voter registration process. In this case, the League of Women Voters of the U.S. submitted an amicus brief and the League of Women Voters of Arizona was a named plaintiff.

    “The NVRA was intended to and has succeeded in bringing more citizens into the democratic process since its passage in 1993,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “After 20 years, the Supreme Court should not let Arizona’s law trump the Constitution and overturn the NVRA with its proven record protecting the integrity of our election system and increasing access to voter registration in federal elections across the country.”

    “Restrictions on the use of the national voter registration application form like those by Arizona make it much more difficult to register eligible citizens to vote,” MacNamara said. “Independent registration drives by citizen groups like the League are often the only effective means for some voters to get registered and participate in our great democracy.”

    “States should not be allowed to play politics with the voter registration process, the key entry point for political participation in our democracy,” said MacNamara. “This case could send us down a slippery slope toward more and more state restrictions on the voter registration process and the right to vote.”

    “Once again, supposed ‘states rights’ are being used as an excuse to try and prevent people from registering to vote,” according to MacNamara. “We hope the Supreme Court sees this for what it really is – an attempt to keep some U.S. citizens from exercising their right to vote,” she said. 

    “The importance of the two recent Supreme Court voting rights cases – Arizona v. ITCA today and Shelby County, AL v. Holder two weeks ago – really can’t be overstated,” said MacNamara. “The stakes have always been high in the fight to protect and expand voters’ rights but the stakes got a lot higher in 2013.”

    “The Court is currently considering two of the most significant voting rights laws in the modern era,” MacNamara said. “The decisions in either and both of these cases could be game-changers when it comes to protections for the right of every citizen to vote and the work the League and citizen groups like us do to expand participation and the electorate.”

    “It is deeply troubling that the nation’s highest Court might turn its back on the crowning achievements of the civil rights era,” said MacNamara. “Arizona’s law clearly violates a federal law that Congress has clear constitutional authority to enact. As the grassroots organization that led the push for enactment of the NVRA, we are concerned that this case could reverse years of progress,” MacNamara said. “Restricting voter registration is just one way to limit the right to vote,” she said.   

    “Without a strong VRA, voting rights are left without vital protections and without the NVRA, the voter registration process is vulnerable to political manipulation,” concluded MacNamara. “If states win and voters lose before the U.S. Supreme Court, we can expect to see additional states consider an even broader range of restrictions on voting and changes to electoral systems unparalleled since the days of Jim Crow.”

    ###

    CONTACT:  Kelly Ceballos, kceballos@lwv.org

  • Arizona v. ITC Places Citizens’ Right to Vote, Independent Voter Registration Drives at Risk

    Washington, D.C. (March 7, 2013) – Today, the League of Women Voters of the U.S. announced its submission of an amicus brief in the critical voting rights case, Arizona v. ITC, which will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, March 18.  The court is being asked to decide whether the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) prevents states from passing laws that restrict the voter registration process.

    “This case puts independent voter registration drives like those conducted by the League squarely in the crosshairs of those that want to restrict access to political participation and voting,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States.  “This is a dressed-up attack on the League and our community partners that are often the only effective means for some voters to get registered and participate in our great democracy.”

    “As the grassroots organization that led the push for enactment of the NVRA in order to streamline the crazy-quilt of state laws that made citizen-led voter registration drives so difficult, we are deeply concerned that this case could reverse years of progress,” MacNamara said. “Restricting voter registration is just one way to limit the right to vote,” she said.    

    The state of Arizona is looking to limit voter registration by mail by requiring every new registrant to provide documentary proof of citizenship, even though the NVRA bars states from adding such restrictions.  The streamlined mail registration form is an essential element for independent voter registration drives.  The federal Election Assistance Commission has repeatedly held that Arizona’s restrictions are not consistent with the NVRA. 

    “States should not be allowed to play politics with the voter registration process, the key entry point for political participation in our democracy,” said Barbara Klein, president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona, which is a plaintiff in the case along with many other Arizona organizations.  “Congress acted to protect and enhance the right to vote when it passed the NVRA.  The U.S. Supreme Court should not step in over 20 years later and overturn Congress’ intention,” she said. 

    “Approval from the U.S. Supreme Court for state restrictions on voter registration would undoubtedly put that issue in front of state legislatures. Already, several states have sought to restrict voter registration, and we can expect others to try if given the green light by our nation's highest court,” said MacNamara.

    Arizona v. ITC is the second pivotal voting rights case in as many weeks to come before the U.S. Supreme Court.  On February 27, 2013, the court heard arguments in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, a case that will decide the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965, landmark legislation that outlaws racial discrimination in state voting practices.

    “The importance of these two upcoming decisions simply can’t be overstated,” said MacNamara. “Without a strong VRA, voting rights are left without vital protections.  Dismantling the NVRA leaves the voter registration process vulnerable to political manipulation.  If states win and voters lose before the U.S. Supreme Court, we can expect to see additional states consider an even broader range of restrictions on voting and changes to electoral systems unparalleled since the days of Jim Crow,” concluded MacNamara.

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos at kceballos@lwv.org

  • The Voting Rights Act Remains Critical Safeguard of the Right to Vote

    Washington, D.C. (February 27, 2013)  – Today, Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S., joined civil rights leaders, members of Congress and activists on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to speak out in support of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA).  This morning the court heard arguments in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, a case that examines the constitutionality of Section 5 of the VRA, landmark legislation that outlaws racial discrimination in state voting practices, and its critical enforcement mechanism.

    “While we’ve made immense progress to expand the right to vote, so much remains to be done, especially as the American electorate continues to diversify,” said MacNamara. “The recent onslaught of anti-voter state legislation further fuels the urgency and need for Section 5 as the tool to keep our elections free, fair and accessible.”

    “Today, the threat to these key principles is real and growing. Anti-voter legislation has swept the country, putting the very foundation of our democracy at risk by erecting new barriers to the polls, restricting voter registration efforts, shortening voting periods and illegally purging voter lists,” MacNamara added.

    “Section 5 has helped transform American democracy from a restricted, segregated past to one of remarkable inclusion,” said MacNamara.  “The enormity of this threat cannot be overstated. The importance of the outcome of this case cannot be overstated. We are here today to sound the alarm and so that the voices of our fellow citizens are not silenced.”

    In their work protecting voters, Leagues around the country have used Section 5 as a critical safeguard to protect the rights of all voters.  The League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters of South Carolina have submitted amicus briefs in this case and were present at the hearings in Washington, DC.

    “For those who argue Section 5 is no longer necessary need look no further than my home state of South Carolina,” said Barbara Zia, President of the South Carolina LWV.  “Using Section 5, the League and our partners were able to battle back and overturn a discriminatory voter ID law. The VRA protected the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians and in doing so protected the very foundation of our great democracy - our right to vote and have our votes counted.”

    “Surely, the problems exposed by the 2012 elections—long lines, shortened early voting hours, and more-- should be an impetus for the Court to more fully enforce the laws that protect our voting rights, not take them away,” concluded MacNamara.  “The thought that the Supreme Court might overrule Congress, and take away voting rights should send a chill down the spine of every American.”

    Contact Kelly Ceballos at kceballos@lwv.org to find out more or to schedule an interview.

  • The following is a statement from Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S.:

    Washington, DC -- "President Obama was wrong today when he suggested the consequences of overturning Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act would be merely inconvenient.  With the upcoming Supreme Court case, the President and the nation must not underestimate the importance of protecting and defending the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The League believes that overturning Section 5 of the VRA would have dire consequences and would lead to disenfranchisement for millions of voters. This is the second time in as many weeks that President Obama has disappointed with his remarks regarding voting rights and the importance of fair elections in our democracy."

    Contact:
    Kelly Ceballos
    (202) 263-1331
    kceballos@lwv.org 

  • President's Address Sets "Strong Course for Nation" on Climate, Immigration and Gun Safety

    Washington, DC – The following is a statement from Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the United States: “The President tonight set a strong course for the nation in committing to common sense steps to limit gun violence through background checks, limits on high-capacity magazines and taking weapons of war off our streets.

    “President Obama also made clear that immigration reform must include a path to citizenship. The League believes this is the essential element in immigration reform and we applaud his commitment.

    “On climate change, the League strongly supports action by the President to curb industrial carbon pollution from new and existing power plants and so we were heartened when the President promised to take executive action if the Congress does not move quickly to address this incredible problem.

    “With these positive elements, we were thus surprised and disappointed that the President did not suggest bold action to ensure that every American citizen can exercise the right to vote. Setting up a commission is not a bold step; it is business as usual. The President could have done much better by pointing to real solutions like that in legislation already introduced on Capitol Hill to require early voting, set limits on waiting times, provide for portable voter registration and set up secure online voter registration.”

  •  League Joins Amicus Briefs in Shelby County v. Holder case on Voting Rights Act (VRA)

    Washington, D.C.  – Today, the League of Women Voters of the U.S. announced it has signed onto an amicus brief in the pivotal voting rights case, Shelby County v. Holder.  At issue is whether Congress exceeded its authority under the 15th Amendment to fight racial discrimination in voting by enacting the 2006 amendments to the Voting Right Act (VRA), which were signed into law by President Bush.  Section 5 contains special enforcement provisions covering those areas of the country where Congress demonstrated that significant racial discrimination against voters still continues.

    "The Voting Rights Act is an essential part of American democracy.  The thought that the Supreme Court might overrule Congress and take away voting rights should send a chill down the spine of every American,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national President of the League of Women Voters.  “Based upon a record of thousands of pages of testimony, Congress knew what it was doing in 2006.  It would be wrong for the Supreme Court to substitute its will for that of our elected representatives in Congress.”

    The League of Women Voters of South Carolina also joined a brief in this case.  That brief provides a strong narrative specific to the State of South Carolina on current threats to voting rights and how Section 5 has helped improve the situation.

    “The VRA ensures that every American has an equal right to vote and has been one of the most important gateways for voter enfranchisement in the modern era, helping to transform American democracy from a restricted, segregated past to one of remarkable inclusion,” according to Barbara Zia, co-president of the League of Women Voters of South Carolina.  “Our democracy still needs the Voting Rights Act.”   

    “The importance of this case simply can’t be overstated,” said MacNamara.  “Without a strong VRA, voting rights are left without vital protections, and we can expect to see states consider a range of restrictions on voting and changes to electoral systems unparalleled since the days of Jim Crow.”

    For more than 90 years, the League has worked to protect every American citizen’s right to vote. The League has long supported the VRA as a fundamental guarantee of the rights of American citizenship and has worked for its reauthorization and enforcement. 

    Contact Kelly Ceballos at kceballos@lwv.org to find out more or to schedule an interview.

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    www.lwv.org
    January 24, 2013

     Senate Reaches Agreement on Filibuster Reform

    Statement by Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the United States

    WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Senate leadership reached agreement on filibuster reform.  

    The League believes the agreement is a modest but important step. It falls short, however, of what is needed to truly solve the procedural problems facing the Senate.  We are encouraged that our leaders in Washington are focused on getting work done this term. We will be monitoring the implementation of this agreement; its effectiveness will be judged by how well it actually works in practice. 

    ###

    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

     “Like” the League on Facebook.   Follow us on Twitter: @LWV

    -----

    Contact: Stephanie Drahan, 202-263-1332

  • Spirit of the Islands Key to President Obama’s Legacy on Climate Change

    Honolulu, Hawaii (January 4, 2013) – As President Obama wraps up his family vacation on his native Hawaii, the League of Women Voters sent him back to Washington DC with a reminder that his legacy on climate change will have a great impact on the island state’s future.  In a full-page print ad, which will run on Saturday in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the group is urging President Obama to set tough standards for new and existing power plants under the Clean Air Act.

    The President has the authority to act now to address these sources of dangerous climate change. A warming planet, according to the recent Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA), will impact Hawaii especially hard. The report makes clear that rising sea levels and higher temperatures pose real threats to the natural resources of Hawaii.

    Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the United States said, “Climate change is the greatest environmental threat of our generation, perhaps of all time," said MacNamara. "How we deal with climate change will be our legacy, and it will be the President’s legacy for our children and grandchildren."

    Beppie Shapiro, President, League of Women Voters of Hawaii said, “The President has said, 'We want our children to live in an America that isn't ... threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.'  He is right.  If we fail to act, rising sea levels, super storms, and droughts will forever change these islands, our nation and the world.”

    The ad is part of a broader push by League of Women Voters for executive action on climate change. The group recently sent a letter to President Obama, which calls for the President to "take the historically necessary step of controlling industrial carbon pollution from new and existing power plants.  Use your existing regulatory authority to make this happen.”

    The letter concludes, “President Obama, if you don’t do it, it won’t get done. If the United States doesn’t lead, the rest of the world cannot follow.”

    Full text and image of the advertisement, which is situated over an image of a lei lying upon a beautiful Hawaiian beach, can be found below.

     Mr. President, your legacy is callingText:

    Mr. President, your legacy is calling.

    The ‘aina is part of our legacy, Mr. President, and yours.  Climate change poses the greatest environmental challenge of our time.  A recent report by the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA) makes clear that the fish in our waters and the wildlife habitats in our highlands are threatened.Climate change endangers our very way of life.

    As you have said, "We want our children to live in an America that isn't ... threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet."  If we fail to act, rising sea levels, super storms, and droughts will forever change these islands, our nation and the world.

    Mr. President, your legacy is our future.  As you return to Washington, please use the authority you have as president to set standards for new and existing power plants under the Clean Air Act and protect our world.  Please do what is pono. 

     

     

    Contact:  Shannon Maurer  (202) 604-2464

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