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Can the EPA’s Lisa Jackson Rally Black Communities Around the Environment?

| Tuesday March 16th, 2010 | 5 Comments

Although environmental harm is disproportionately concentrated in low-income communities and communities of color, so far the green movement has largely been one of white people. The EPA’s latest top gun, Lisa Jackson, is its first African American administrator and also the first EPA administrator unafraid to speak frankly about the important overlap between environmentalism and race.

Although leaders tout the promise of green jobs uplifting urban populations, this heyday hasn’t arrived yet. Instead, the environmental movement has so far failed to meaningfully engage communities of color, though these communities often bear the brunt of environmental sins such as toxic dumping, contamination, landfills and plants that wealthy NIMBYs fought off. For the most part, typical environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Greenpeace have not addressed domestic environmental justice issues, or have only done so narrowly.

Jackson has personal motivation to attack these issues. After growing up in New Orleans’ along cancer alley, her mother’s 9th Ward home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, a crisis whose human toll was made worse by the dense, low income demographic living in environmentally sensitive areas, such as below-sea level wetlands. Perhaps because of these experiences and personal drive, Jackson has made numerous public commitments to prioritizing environmental justice initiatives. In a statement to Congress, Jackson said, “We have begun a new era of outreach and protection for communities historically underrepresented in environmental decision making. We are building strong working relationships with tribes, communities of color, economically distressed cities and towns, young people and others, but this is just a start. We must include environmental justice principles in all of our decisions.”

Jackson has already taken action to change the tone of the EPA on environmental justice. She has made numerous public statements linking civil rights, environmental protection, and economic growth. Jackson successfully identifies the negative economic harm that results from environmental injustice. Speaking to the National Association of Black Journalists in 2009, she explained that toxins in low-income communities exacerbate health issues where there is a particular lack of healthcare coverage, driving up costs in ERs where they seek treatment. She points to the benefits not only of green jobs, but of the jobs that could be created to clean up toxic dumping in urban neighborhoods.

So far, Jackson has made good on these promises, and the EPA is springing back from its repression under Bush. Jackson has continued Obama’s work-on-everything-all-at-once-strategy. Under her leadership, the EPA has finally initiated the regulation of CO2, put roadblocks in mountaintop mining operations, allowed states to regulate tailpipe emissions, breathed new life into Superfund cleanup efforts and has begun to foster relationships with high-risk communities and youth. Here’s to hoping that Lisa Jackson can use the EPA to push the US irrevocably into the green revolution we’ve been anticipating.


▼▼▼      5 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • dewita

    I don't think she can't do it alone.. she would need a lot of help reaching out to community leaders and get 'the' message out..

  • pinklaptop02

    This is very interesting and appears to be a lot of work. I would hope the local city council and other volunteer agencies will help with this agenda. Very very tough assignment though.

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  • Mike

    Blacks have more important things to worry about than the latest ideological fad amongst guilt-ridden middle class white people. I don't blame them for not getting involved. The green agenda is collapsing right now anyway with the exposures of all the fraud surrounding global warming. It had its heyday, its dying. I doubt blacks will jump on board for a losing and disappearing cause.

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  • http://green.apa1906.net Du`Shawn

    Can the EPA’s Lisa Jackson Rally Black Communities Around the Environment? YES!

    Alpha Phi Alpha is stepping up to help her succeed. Alpha has developed the Alpha Goes Green initiative to help educate and involve communities of color. They have established a national partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund and have committed to drumming up support for Administrator Jackson's efforts:

    Alpha Phi Alpha Takes on Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
    Partnership with Environmental Defense Fund will nurture environmental leaders, green campuses

    (WASHINGTON, DC – April 19, 2010) Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the nation's oldest black fraternity, and Environmental Defense Fund are launching a transformational partnership to increase the number of diverse environmental leaders on university and college campuses and in communities of color. The Alpha and EDF partnership will educate the fraternity's student and alumni chapters about climate change, environmental justice, energy efficiency, clean energy and green jobs. Sustainability projects designed by students and alumni will help African American and other populations become more involved in public health and environmental issues caused by air and water pollution and social inequity.

    Academic institutions are among the nation's top energy consumers and often do not have the resources to implement energy efficiency measures. Universities that serve a large percentage of minority students and national environmental groups traditionally have not worked together on environmental and public health issues. The Alpha Phi Alpha Goes Green Initiative (http://green.apa1906.net) is a fraternity initiative that will fill that gap and create a corps of environmental leaders specially trained to work with college students and diverse communities. EDF will provide online training materials to the partnership.

    EDF's Climate Corps works to identify energy improvements that help companies cut costs and reduce emissions. A new focus for Climate Corps is helping campuses increase energy efficiency.

    “Colleges are the perfect place to spread the word about energy efficiency. Alpha Goes Green will be a pipeline for sustainability information,” said Michael Regan, director of the Southeast Energy Program for EDF. “EDF's partnership with Alpha is an innovative way to help college students and communities of color better understand the direct connection between saving energy and money, and living in a healthy and prosperous community.”

    “Alpha Phi Alpha is known for its strong student and alumni commitment to community service, and the Alpha Phi Alpha Goes Green Initiative provides the structure to launch sustainability projects across the country,” said Herman “Skip” Mason, Jr., (national) general president of Alpha. “Understanding how behaviors affect communities – on a small campus or in a major city – will create better stewards of the environment. That's service to the planet we can all salute.”

    “The Alpha Phi Alpha Goes Green Initiative is committed to helping underserved communities impacted by social inequities and environmental issues become healthier and more sustainable through education, capacity building and empowerment. The Alpha Phi Alpha Goes Green website will be an excellent portal and primary means by which members will learn about environmental issues important to the Fraternity and the communities we serve,” said Dr. Sacoby Wilson, chair of the initiative and co-chair of the Alpha partnership with EDF. “The online educational materials will be a reliable resource for members and chapters who are committed to environmental leadership and positive social and environmental change.”

    The fraternity has 5,000 student members on more than 350 US campuses and 95,000 alumni members.

    ###
    About Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
    Founded on December 4, 1906, at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., has continued to supply voice and vision to the struggle of African Americans and people of color around the world. The fraternity has long stood at the forefront of the African-American community’s fight for civil rights through Alpha men such as Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell, Thurgood Marshall, Andrew Young, Edward Brooke and Cornel West. The fraternity, through its college and alumni chapters, serves the community through more than 600 chapters in the United States, Europe and the Caribbean. Visit http://green.apa1906.net and follow on Twitter @apa1906network.

    About Environmental Defense Fund
    A leading national nonprofit organization, Environmental Defense Fund represents more than 700,000 members. Since 1967, Environmental Defense Fund has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems. Visit http://www.edf.org and follow on Twitter @EDFCleanEnergy.

  • http://green.apa1906.net Du`Shawn

    Can the EPA’s Lisa Jackson Rally Black Communities Around the Environment? YES!

    Alpha Phi Alpha is stepping up to help her succeed. Alpha has developed the Alpha Goes Green initiative to help educate and involve communities of color. They have established a national partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund and have committed to drumming up support for Administrator Jackson's efforts:

    Alpha Phi Alpha Takes on Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
    Partnership with Environmental Defense Fund will nurture environmental leaders, green campuses

    (WASHINGTON, DC – April 19, 2010) Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the nation's oldest black fraternity, and Environmental Defense Fund are launching a transformational partnership to increase the number of diverse environmental leaders on university and college campuses and in communities of color. The Alpha and EDF partnership will educate the fraternity's student and alumni chapters about climate change, environmental justice, energy efficiency, clean energy and green jobs. Sustainability projects designed by students and alumni will help African American and other populations become more involved in public health and environmental issues caused by air and water pollution and social inequity.

    Academic institutions are among the nation's top energy consumers and often do not have the resources to implement energy efficiency measures. Universities that serve a large percentage of minority students and national environmental groups traditionally have not worked together on environmental and public health issues. The Alpha Phi Alpha Goes Green Initiative (http://green.apa1906.net) is a fraternity initiative that will fill that gap and create a corps of environmental leaders specially trained to work with college students and diverse communities. EDF will provide online training materials to the partnership.

    EDF's Climate Corps works to identify energy improvements that help companies cut costs and reduce emissions. A new focus for Climate Corps is helping campuses increase energy efficiency.

    “Colleges are the perfect place to spread the word about energy efficiency. Alpha Goes Green will be a pipeline for sustainability information,” said Michael Regan, director of the Southeast Energy Program for EDF. “EDF's partnership with Alpha is an innovative way to help college students and communities of color better understand the direct connection between saving energy and money, and living in a healthy and prosperous community.”

    “Alpha Phi Alpha is known for its strong student and alumni commitment to community service, and the Alpha Phi Alpha Goes Green Initiative provides the structure to launch sustainability projects across the country,” said Herman “Skip” Mason, Jr., (national) general president of Alpha. “Understanding how behaviors affect communities – on a small campus or in a major city – will create better stewards of the environment. That's service to the planet we can all salute.”

    “The Alpha Phi Alpha Goes Green Initiative is committed to helping underserved communities impacted by social inequities and environmental issues become healthier and more sustainable through education, capacity building and empowerment. The Alpha Phi Alpha Goes Green website will be an excellent portal and primary means by which members will learn about environmental issues important to the Fraternity and the communities we serve,” said Dr. Sacoby Wilson, chair of the initiative and co-chair of the Alpha partnership with EDF. “The online educational materials will be a reliable resource for members and chapters who are committed to environmental leadership and positive social and environmental change.”

    The fraternity has 5,000 student members on more than 350 US campuses and 95,000 alumni members.

    ###
    About Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
    Founded on December 4, 1906, at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., has continued to supply voice and vision to the struggle of African Americans and people of color around the world. The fraternity has long stood at the forefront of the African-American community’s fight for civil rights through Alpha men such as Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell, Thurgood Marshall, Andrew Young, Edward Brooke and Cornel West. The fraternity, through its college and alumni chapters, serves the community through more than 600 chapters in the United States, Europe and the Caribbean. Visit http://green.apa1906.net and follow on Twitter @apa1906network.

    About Environmental Defense Fund
    A leading national nonprofit organization, Environmental Defense Fund represents more than 700,000 members. Since 1967, Environmental Defense Fund has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems. Visit http://www.edf.org and follow on Twitter @EDFCleanEnergy.

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