Honoring Black History Month and the Path Towards Energy Justice: Creating a Climate for Change

The Clean Power Plan and the transition to the clean energy economy more broadly are creating immense opportunities for community engagement in helping shape our states’ energy futures. Environmental justice champion, Reverend Leo Woodberry, who we profiled in our Black History Month blog series last year, is therefore focusing on bringing people together to find common ground in acting on climate change.

Honoring Black History Month and the Path Towards Energy Justice: Dr. Yolanda Whyte fights for children

When it comes to keeping kids safe and healthy, SACE member Dr. Yolanda Whyte knows that it takes more than a visit to the pediatrician. She is devoted to raising the alarm about the source of many health problems, especially for children of color and those who live in low-income areas: environmental toxics in our air and water. She graciously agreed to be interviewed for SACE’s Black History Month series.

Honoring Black History Month and the Path Towards Energy Justice: Energy Efficiency and Economic Stability in Memphis

In cities as old and historic as Memphis, TN, there are often many older, inefficient homes where energy seeps out through leaky windows, doors and poorly insulated attics. A city often remembered for its role in the Civil Rights Movement, Memphis is a majority-minority city with African-Americans comprising around 63% of the population. As of 2010, almost 27% of Memphians were living in poverty – and only a little more than half of the city (51%) owned their own homes. The other half of Memphians live in multi-family housing, like apartment buildings, duplexes, and condominiums, where families have less control over the energy efficiency of their residences.

Arlicia Gilliams is one Memphian who used to live in an extremely inefficient apartment that lost energy through poorly sealed doors, windows and a poorly sealed attic. Although gainfully employed and working hard, Ms. Gilliams was struggling to meet unnecessarily high utility bills while also on the search to buy a house. Now, Ms. Gilliams is the proud owner of a new energy efficient home built by Habitat for Humanity.

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.