Clean Energy Is A Human Right

Ben Ishibashi

Rev. Tony Pierce and other members of Illinois People’s Action speak out at the EPA’s “Affordable Clean Energy” hearings in Chicago. Photo credit: People’s Action

Our planet is being pushed to the brink. Pollution burns our lungs and our children fall sick while those who profit from dirty energy show no signs of relenting. The time to strike at the heart of our climate emergency is now.

It’s time for bold action for the communities who bear the brunt of our environmental crisis. We won’t settle for crumbs, the half-measures Washington insiders tell us are all we can hope for.

We demand fundamental solutions to rebuild our economy and avert ecological collapse. That’s why People’s Action is proud to join movement allies, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Edward Markey and other progressive leaders in Congress to support the Green New Deal.

Set-asides and carve-outs aren’t enough. We need green jobs that create a path towards economic power for the underserved, and a real end to poverty. We need to hold the Dirty Energy industry accountable for the environmental racism they create, and advance a bold, alternative vision for an energy economy that is 100 percent clean, and also 100 percent just.

We need to upend the current system in which black, brown and indigenous communities that don’t have the political clout to resist dirty energy projects are sacrificed so the rich can get richer.  

Our Commitment

We will fight for a Green New Deal because we know the only path to survival is to dismantle our current energy economy, which is built on injustice. Climate policies must offer more than solar and wind projects in our neighborhoods. We must ensure that all people, especially communities of color and working-class people, experience real economic benefits from the transition to clean energy.

We take this commitment to fighting for systemic change to confront climate crisis seriously, because our dirty energy system is already ravaging the homes, bodies and air of so many of our brothers and sisters.

No More Sacrifice Zones

Last weekend, a foul odor swept through Southwest Detroit. The Marathon Refinery Plant assured the largely African-American neighborhood that this nasty smell was harmless. But this did little to reassure residents, who have experienced nausea and dizziness on a daily basis for years.

The University of Michigan calls Southwest Detroit the most polluted zip code in the state. In 2011, when Marathon planned to expand and emit more pollutants, they offered buyouts to the mostly white residents who lived north of the plant. Black residents of Southwest were offered nothing, and their houses are now worthless.

Southwest Detroit is far from the only community of color made unlivable by profit-driven polluters. Across the country, over two-thirds of Black people live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant, and some two-thirds of Latinx live in counties with air quality that fails to meet the standards of the Clean Air Act.

In Union Hill, Virginia, a predominantly black community founded by freed slaves after the Civil War, Dominion Energy wants to install a compressor station for their Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Virginia officials removed State Air Pollution Control Board members who questioned the project, and has allowed Dominion to run the pipeline through a historic African-American cemetery saying they can’t find it on a map.

People’s Action thanks the drafters of this legislation for listening to frontline communities to ensure community consent becomes an integral part of all new energy projects. That’s why we will fight for the Green New Deal, and a just transition to clean energy where the residents of sacrifice zones get green jobs and public investment first, not last.

Clean energy and climate justice are  human right, and we will not rest until they’re  enjoyed by all.

Get updates in your inbox

Comments