Advancing Sustainable Communities

The NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Department has continued the efforts to end pollution in communities of color and create environments that promote community health and safety. 

In January, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley introduced the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act. The act would create 850 manufacturing jobs in the state of Maryland for five years as well as help Maryland reach its energy conservation goal of reducing 15% of consumption by 2015. With the assistance of the Environmental and Climate Justice Program, the Maryland State Conference was a key leader in coalition efforts to pass the Offshore Wind Bill.

This past February, the Environmental and Climate Justice team hosted their first Black-Green Pipeline Career Fair. The career fair connected communities of color to job opportunities in the environmental field as well as connect environmental organizations with candidates who have diverse skills and backgrounds. 

This past year also saw the release of the Coal Blooded report and toolkit. The report outlined the dangers of coal plants that are often located in impoverished and communities of color, plus shared recommendations for how to regulate coal plant pollution. The toolkit provides guidance to NAACP units and other grassroots groups on a range of activities that can advance a successful Coal Blooded campaign including:  how to conduct a community investigation of the relationship with the coal plant; engage in partnerships; work with universities; conduct a power analysis; hold conversations with plant owners, and conduct town hall meetings.  The Coal Blooded report also recommended the closure of coal plants in communities in Illinois, Virginia, and Indiana and three of the plants cited in the report were closed by the year’s end.

Bridging the Gap: Connecting Black Communities to the Green Economy took place on April 15th as a one-day pre-conference for the Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference. The event brought together people from universities, labor organizations, environmental organizations and entrepreneurs, as well as grassroots organizers and policy advocates to develop an action agenda to reframe the green economy in terms of justice and equity.

Urging the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt standards to reduce pollution from cars, trucks and buses has also been a challenge the Environmental and Climate Justice team tackled. Pollution from vehicle emissions  results in a variety of environmental issues including detrimental health effects for people living in the mostly urban neighborhood that are affected.  Adopting Clean Vehicle Emissions (Tier 3) standards will hold polluters accountable and result in healthier communities.

The NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice department will continue their efforts to provide education about framing the emerging green economy in terms of justice, equity, and community driven initiatives, and reducing pollution in communities of color, now and in the future. The team, led by NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Director, Jacqui Patterson, has produced photosPowerpoint presentations, and newsletters highlighting their amazing work.  Don’t forget to text GREEN to 62227 to join the NAACP mobile activists list and receive updates on the next NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Department programs and follow all the convention happenings with the #NAACP104 hashtag. You can also download the official NAACP National Convention App for your iOS or Android device.