Environmental Groups Respond To Black Chamber Of Commerce Objections To Clean Power Plan

June 22, 2015  |  

Environmental groups are sounding off on the Black Chamber of Commerce for their criticism of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon dioxide levels. The BCC says the plan will raise the utility costs to poor and Black families.

When our story went up last Wednesday, we quickly got responses from two groups saying that the BCC was off base about their conclusions. We received this from Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome, the director of Federal Policy for WE ACT for Environmental Justice and National Coordinator for the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change:

If we believe for one minute that the air Black people [breathe] is the same as it elsewhere, we are playing ourselves.  A 2011 analysis found that African Americans are more likely to live in counties with the worse ozone pollution.  Ozone pollution causes wheezing, shortness of breath, asthma attacks and even premature death. Our children are twice as likely to have asthma and four times as likely to die of asthma than white children. It should be no surprise that our communities of color and low income communities suffer more. 

Poor health costs! The annual economic cost of asthma is more than $56 billion. With more Black families living in poverty than others, many are already stressed and struggling to make ends meet.  The additional health costs as a result of the dirty, polluted air that we are breathing – an unexpected trip to the ER or missing days of work to take care of our sick children – just adds to the burden.

That’s why it is important that we don’t give in to the hype and let your voice be heard!  Don’t let the National Black Chambers of Commerce mislead you. They’ve aligned themselves with dirty energy providers who are more concerned with their finances than the health and well being of our communities.  Our communities need a fully implemented Clean Power Plan, not more of the same bad energy policies allowing these polluters to put the lives of children in jeopardy.  The Clean Power Plan will NOT raise energy costs, it will not kill jobs.  It is an opportunity for our communities to position themselves to be generators and distributors of clean, renewable energy (like solar and wind), as well as give our “Sister-preneurs” a new segue into the clean energy economy.  Leave it up to the National Black Chambers of Commerce and their allies that produce dirty energy and the health of our communities will continue to get worse as their pockets get bigger. Our children, our health and the welfare of our communities should NOT be for sale. 

And Van Jones, president and founder of Green For All, wrote a rebuttal that we received in our inbox. Here’s a piece of it, which  will also be published on Ebony in full:

Let’s just get this out of the way: The president’s Clean Power Plan will not raise our energy costs. In fact, it’s projected to save families an average of $8 a month on their residential electricity bills.

More importantly, the plan will save lives. It will prevent thousands of premature deaths from pollution-related illnesses, and roughly 150,000 asthma attacks in children each year. This is significant, because one out of every six African American children in this country suffers from asthma.

Our kids literally can’t breathe. And one big reason is because of unchecked pollution from dirty energy plants. Coal-fired power plants kill nearly 13,000 people a year, according to the American Lung Association. These plants tend to be located next to communities of color, so our families are hit hardest.

Obama’s Clean Power Plan will mean fewer hospital trips and fewer missed school days for African American kids, plain and simple. In fact, the health benefits of keeping power plant pollution out of our air and lungs could save our country as much as $93 billion per year.

But the plan will do more than protect our health. It could also increase our wealth. By driving innovation and the growth of clean energy, it will create jobs—about 360,000 net jobs, according to the latest data. We still have work to do to ensure that people of color have access to the best careers in the clean energy economy—but that’s a good problem to have.


Green For All also posted this compilation of supportive comments for the plan.

If you do a quick search of the EPA and this plan, there are no shortage of opinions on the subject. What are some of the environmental issues that you’re concerned with?

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