Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, League of Conservation Voters
Industry: Environmental activism
Key previous position: Heritage Forests Campaign
Notable fact: Studied in Kenya during college
As lawmakers streamed out of the House on a sun-soaked, early May day, Tiernan Sittenfeld applauded those who had just voted to pass legislation to compel President Trump to stay in the Paris climate accord.
A team of her colleagues at the League of Conservation Voters accompanied her on the esplanade to the east of the Capitol building. The Climate Action Now Act, one of the top 10 bills prioritized by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, garnered support from three Republicans and all voting Democrats, passing 231-190.
Sittenfeld is working tirelessly to make similar scenes on Capitol Hill a reality in the future. As a top lobbyist at LCV, she’s steadily emerged as a pivotal environmental operative in Washington.
“We like to say elections have consequences,” Sittenfeld said. “It’s been extremely refreshing to get to work with this new pro-environment majority in the House and to start to go on offense, especially after eight years of climate deniers running the show.”
The League of Conservation Voters is also steadily amplifying its profile on Capitol Hill and throughout the country. The 50-year-old organization increased its campaign spending to nearly $29 million in the 2018 election cycle. That’s roughly 29 times the amount the group spent in 2010.
“We worked to elect environmental champions up and down the ballot who are not just going to vote right, but who are going to be champions for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the lands we cherish, and of course, for combating the climate crisis,” Sittenfeld said.
House Democrats are continuing to push big-ticket environmental legislation. In September, the chamber passed legislation to prohibit drilling off the East Coast, the West Coast, and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, as well as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A month later, the House signed off on bills to bar energy and mineral development at the Grand Canyon and Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
Still, Sittenfeld stresses that a sweeping victory at the polls in 2020 is needed to advance the biggest environmental priorities. The Senate isn’t likely to take up the Climate Action Now legislation or the other House-passed drilling and mining bills. “It could not be more clear that we need to have a pro-environment majority in the Senate and we need to have a climate champion in the White House so that we can really act on climate on a scale that is commensurate with the problem,” she said.