Honoring Black History Month and the Path Towards Energy Justice: Coal Ash Testimony at US Commission on Civil Rights

On Feb 5 I had the honor to accompany local and national advocates to Washington, DC for a briefing of the US Commission on Civil Rights regarding the environmental justice impacts of toxic coal ash. Together, we delivered an unequivocal message to the Commission: Communities are suffering from this byproduct of burning coal for electricity, and EPA’s rules leave a lot to be desired to protect them. In 2016, the Commission is reviewing civil rights implications of EPA’s policies and will provide a report to Congress and the President by September 30. EPA recently released two new rules related to coal ash, so the Commission held this day-long briefing to hear from several panels of impacted people, experts, and industry representatives about environmental justice and coal ash.

Honoring Black History Month and the Path Towards Energy Justice: Hollis Briggs of Wilmington, NC

Wilmington North Carolina is a small coastal town in Southeastern North Carolina. It has pristine beaches that meet the mouth of the state’s largest river system known at the Cape Fear River. This daunting name has historical significance that serves as a great metaphor for the town’s deeply rooted justice issues that many Wilmingtonians fear bringing up. But Hollis Briggs is not like most Wilmington residents.

Environmental Justice Community Airs Concerns in Memphis

Last weekend, the 2015 Memphis Environmental Justice Conference – Envisioning a Cleaner, Healthier Environment – brought people together, both local and national, to hear speakers talk on issues ranging from transportation issues, labor and the environment and gender and environmental security. A common theme of the conference presentations was recognition that access to clean air, clean water and even clean energy should not be restricted based on attributes like one’s race, gender, religion or economic status.

Justicia Económica y el Plan de Energía Limpia: Más Empleos, Más Justicia

El Plan de Energía Limpia ha sido estructurado para crear miles de nuevos empleos en los sectores de energía limpia y eficiencia energética, ofreciendo incentivos para crear buenos empleos en las comunidades vulnerables. El Plan recomienda estándares robustos para asegurar que los nuevos puestos de trabajo creados conduzcan a carreras de calidad. El Plan de Energía Limpia e iniciativas de política pública relacionadas también contienen protecciones vitales para los trabajadores en el sector del carbón y para sus comunidades. La EPA y el Departamento de Energía (DOE, por sus siglas en inglés) han tomado medidas para ayudar a asegurar que los sindicatos, los trabajadores afectados y sus comunidades sean tratados como partes interesadas, cuyas opiniones sean escuchadas y reflejadas en los procesos estatales para crear planes de implementación (en adelante “planes estatales”). Lo que es más, el Plan de Energía Limpia aborda las preocupaciones de los sindicatos en cuanto a la confiabilidad de nuestro sistema eléctrico, el período para su cumplimiento, y crédito por reducción de emisiones originadas por procesos industriales, como la cogeneración eléctrica y térmica.

Nuevas carreras en los sectores de energía renovable y eficiencia energética

En general, el Plan de Energía Limpia anticipa un mayor crecimiento de la capacidad de generación proveniente de energía limpia que la propuesta de regulación – 28 por ciento en el reglamento final, en comparación con 22 por ciento bajo la propuesta. Además, aunque la eficiencia energética ya no es un “pilar” para el establecimiento de metas estatales de reducción de carbono, el Plan de Energía Limpia aún proporciona fuertes incentivos para que los estados y las regiones implementen programas de eficiencia energética como mecanismo de cumplimiento.

Labor and the Clean Power Plan: More Jobs, More Justice

The final Clean Power Plan is structured to create thousands more new jobs in clean energy and energy efficiency, with incentives to create good jobs in vulnerable communities. It recommends robust standards to ensure that the new jobs lead to quality careers. The Clean Power Plan and related initiatives also contain vital protections for coal workers and communities. The EPA and DOE have both acted to help ensure that unions, affected workers, and their communities will be treated as stakeholders whose views are heard and reflected in the state processes to create implementation plans. What’s more, the plan addresses concerns from affected unions about ensuring our power system is reliable, the timeline for compliance, and emissions reduction credits for manufacturing processes such as combined heat and power.

Polling Shows Hispanic Voters Support Climate Action

Polling has consistently shown that Latino and Hispanic voters support action to combat climate change. Polling conducted by Latino Decisions, in partnership with Earthjustice and GreenLatinos, found that Latinos, more than other Americans, see climate change as a consequence of human activity – with almost two-thirds accepting anthropogenic explanations of climate change.

That same polling also showed that many Latinos are willing to put their money where their mouth is, accepting anywhere from a $5 – $10 increase in monthly utility bulls to help hasten the transition to clean, renewable energy sources. Most notably, Latino Decisions’ polling found that the majority of those polled do not accept the argument that environmental improvements come at the cost of a decreasing job market – 59% believe renewable energy and environmental reform is good for economic opportunity and job growth.

A Clean, Green Job-Creating Machine

Information in this blog was taken from an in-person interview with Dana Dorsey of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation as well as information included in an article on her work in High Ground News.  Dana Dorsey has been busy. She just finished celebrating the graduation of the first class of the Memphis Clean and Green Job [...]

Environmental Justice In the Clean Power Plan

Power plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide in the United States, the pollution that is throwing our climate into chaos. Power plants also emit conventional and toxic air pollutants that contribute to respiratory and heart diseases, as well as premature death. The Clean Power Plan will lead to significant climate and public health benefits for all, including minority, low-income, and indigenous communities.

La Justicia Ambiental en el Plan de Energía Limpia

Las centrales eléctricas de combustibles fósiles son la fuente más grande de dióxido de carbono en los Estados Unidos, la contaminación que está causando caos en nuestro clima. Estas plantas de generación también emiten contaminantes del aire que contribuyen a muchas enfermedades respiratorias y del corazón, así como a la muerte prematura. La implementación del Plan de Energía Limpia conducirá a reducir el cambio climático y a mejorar la salud pública para toda la población, incluidas las minorías, las comunidades de bajos recursos y las comunidades indígenas.

Frank Talk: Pope Francis Calls for Bold Actions Against “Culture of Waste” at United Nations

In his address to the United Nations, Pope Francis focused on a variety of issues, but paid special attention to the ecological crisis. He stated, “The ecological crisis along, with the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species.” As with his environmental encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis linked the interdependence of humanity with nature (which he frequently referred to as “Creation”). As he put it, “Any harm done to the environment is harm done to humanity.” The harm caused to the environment, as well as to humanity, is a symptom of a “Culture of Waste”, another theme found in Laudato Si stated as a “Throwaway Culture.”