Friday, August 27, 2010

Iris Cross: Manager, External Affairs, Houston, BP America

Now appearing in BP television commercials

Twenty five years experience in government and public affairs, with extensive knowledge in philanthropy and community relations. Currently responsible for shaping and implementing BP’s community investment programs.

Tenure with BP also included Director, Community Relations, BP Texas City, where an extensive community relations program was implemented, building relationships among employees, community and city reps.; Director, National Programs, which included managing the company’s national constituent initiatives, administered a $10 million budget, which included local and national recommendations, volunteerism programs, and corporate contributions, planned and coordinated highly visible BP sponsored events; Director, Community Relations, Houston; and Consultant, Community Relations, California.

Prior to the merger of Amoco with British Petroleum, held numerous positions in Chicago, including Program Advisor, Community Relations; Coordinator, Community Affairs; and Secretary of the Board, Amoco Foundation, Inc. (Linkedin)

BP Rejects AAEA's Partnership Proposal

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

AAEA Statement: National Deepwater Horizon Commission

Commission Co-Chair Reilly & McDonald
AAEA President Norris McDonald presented testimony before the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling today. The hearing was held in the Atrium Ballroom of the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.

C-SPAN Video [McDonald statement at 03:55:25]


The Center, through its membership arm, the African American Environmentalist Association, is pursuing ownership stakes in offshore oil drilling operations because blacks do not own any of the energy infrastructure and resources in America. This is an effort by us to gain equity in the energy sector. AAEA is concerned that of the more than 4,000 offshore oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico, none of the leases are held by black-owned companies.

Blacks in Government (BIG) have also raised the issue of few to no blacks in MMS (BOE) management positions overseeing offshore drilling. Citing the lack of diversity among senior managers at the Department of Interior, BIG sees the same cozy ‘good old boys’ network as contributing to the failed oversight that contributed to the Gulf oil disaster. BIG has described in detail this cozy network of attitudes in its recent White Paper on race relations at Interior. The White Paper is entitled “Critical Personnel Issues Affecting Black Employees in the Department of Interior.”

The Center opposes expanded drilling off the East and West Coasts and Coasts of Florida. The Center will continue to work to reestablish the moratorium on expanded drilling.

The Macondo Well should be put into production by a responsible offshore oil production company. BP estimates that the reservoir contains upward of 50 million barrels of oil. A significant portion of the money from such production should go directly to the families of the 11 people killed during the April 20, 2010 explosion. Additional revenues should go to economic relief for the Gulf economies that have been negatively affected by the oil spill disaster.

The Center has opposed the moratorium on deepwater drilling because of the harm to the Gulf economy and our belief that the other companies have been operating responsibly.

The Center supports the efforts of some of Exxon Mobil Corp, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and ConocoPhillips to provide emergency response services for deepwater oil blowouts.

EPA Announces “Green Streets-Green Jobs”

Pilot Grants for Anacostia

The U.S. EPA today announced that pilot funding is available to local governments and non-governmental organizations in the Anacostia River watershed under the Green Streets-Green Jobs initiative. The initiative delivers on a commitment in the Executive Order Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

The Green Streets-Green Jobs initiative demonstrates another commitment in the Executive Order strategy to address stormwater pollution. EPA is providing $250,000 for the grants, which are being offered through a watershed assistance partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Maryland Department of Environment and Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Plans are to make them available throughout the Bay watershed in 2011. The deadline to apply for the grants is September 24 and more information can be found at

The Green Streets–Green Jobs initiative unites a town’s vision for a sustainable future with the tools to accelerate local greening efforts, yielding positive results in watershed protection, community livability, and economic vitality. Through this effort, focused in the Chesapeake Bay – starting in the highly urbanized Anacostia Watershed - the initiative will build a better avenue to support and connect grassroots efforts as exemplified by the inspiring Edmonston, Maryland, Green Streets project.

EPA will sponsor a Green Streets-Green Jobs Forum in early 2011 to engage stakeholders and expand the initiative throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Stormwater runoff is the fastest growing pollution problem confronting the Anacostia River and Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay Green Street-Green Jobs Initiative will provide technical and financial assistance to communities in urbanized watersheds looking to reduce stormwater runoff, improve energy conservation, and promote livable communities through the creation of green streets.

View of Capitol Hill From Anacostia
Ordinarily, roads and highways serve as conduits for polluted runoff. When it rains, dirt, oil and other toxic chemicals that accumulate on streets and curbs are washed directly into storm drains and dumped untreated into local streams, rivers, and ultimately the Bay. Green streets minimize the impact on the surrounding environment by incorporating environmental best practices into the design and construction of roadways.

The strategy, which was developed under the Executive Order for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, issued by President Obama in May 2009, states that EPA shall “[initiate] a pilot grassroots effort, targeting towns and communities in urbanized watersheds to help retrofit and create ‘green streets’ that enable sustainable watershed protection, accelerated implementation of green infrastructure stormwater management through low-impact development practices, renewable energy use, green jobs creation and greater connectedness and access to restoration opportunities.”

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Harry K. Thomas: New U.S. Ambassador To the Phillipines

Harry K. Thomas Jr. is the new United States Ambassador to the Philippines. Mr. Thomas is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and is the first black envoy to the Philippines.

Ambassador Thomas, in the dark suit at right) served most recently as a Special Assistant to the Secretary and Executive Secretary of the State Department. He joined the Foreign Service in 1984, and served as Director for South Asia at the National Security Council in the White House from 2001 to 2002. He served as United States Ambassador to Bangladesh from 2003 to 2005.

His other postings include: New Delhi, India; Harare, Zimbabwe; Kaduna, Nigeria; and Lima, Peru. He has served as Senior Watch Officer, Deputy Director, and Director of the State Department Operations Center, Special Assistant to the Undersecretary for Political Affairs, and Staff Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs. (Black Voices, Black Spin, 4/21/2010)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Condolences To Samara Swanston and Family

Dawn Finnigan, left, the 39 year old daughter of Samara Swanston, passed away from an asthma attack on Thursday, August 12, 2010. Dawn was laid to rest on Thursday, August 19, 2010 at Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens, New York. A touching Eulogy was provided by Samara Swanston at Roy Gilmore's Funeral Home in St. Albans, New York. A memorial service was also held the next day in Albany, New York, where Dawn Finnigen lived.

Dawn Finnigan was born to Barry Toland Finnigan and Samara Swanston on Nobember 26, 1970. Dawn obtained a beauticians license at the age of eighteen, worked at beauty salons in New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Albany and managed a Manhattan Supercuts for two years before going on to own her own beauty salon, "The Beautiful Ones." After ten years in the beauty field, she developed occupational asthma and was advised by her doctor to change fields. She went on to teach hairdressing and styling and barber skills at the Austin Education School in Albany while she pursued her Associate Degree. She became the Dean of the Evening School and ultimately wrote the curriculum for the school. Most recently, she created the first Natural Hair curriculum for women of color at the school and her curriculum was just approved by the State Department of Education.

Dawn was on her way to an old school rap concert when she had trouble breathing and succumbed to asthma.

Dawn's mother, Samara Swanston, is a well-known environmentalist and is counsel for the New York City Council Committee on Environmental Protection.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Black Enterprise/Shell Host Conversation on Energy Part 2

Black Enterprise is hosting Part 2 of A Conversation on Energy sponsored by Shell, in Washington D.C at the Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel, on Nov. 8, 2010. The conversation will take place in two sessions focusing on:

1) Energy Security, where panelists will discuss how to transition from our major reliance on fossil fuels and foreign sources of energy; and

2) Energy Responsibility, to outline ways we can reduce our environmental impact and avoid disasters.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Interactive Training Module

We really like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Division’s interactive application module. The avatar, pictured at right, talks you through the permit application process in a training format.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requires permits for building or developing in, on, or over wetlands and waters, and this interactive module will give you the guidelines and checklist for filling out and sending in a permit application form.

The interactive guide has a stop, pause, and play button so that you can use the help at any time while filling out the permit application form. You can also “Turn Guide Off” at any time if you would like to move ahead on your own.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Program began in 1890 with the responsibility of protecting and maintaining the nations navigable waterways. As a result of changing public needs and evolving policy via new laws and court decisions, protection has been extended to all of the nations waters and wetland resources.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Joint Center Climate Change Forum at CBC Conference

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (Joint Center) is hosting a forum themed, "Critical Issues in Climate Change Symposium," a special day-long symposium on climate change during the 2010 Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. The symposium will take place on Friday, September 17 in Washington, DC. Sessions will explore connecting environmental justice with science, policy and practice; how smart growth can scale up equity in transportation, housing and other related areas; and stimulating trade, investment, technology transfer and development between the U.S. and Africa. The symposium is hosted by the Commission to Engage African Americans on Climate Change in commemoration of the Joint Center's 40th Anniversary.

Opening Plenary 7:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.Walter E. Washington Convention Center 801 Mount Vernon Place, NWRoom 146-C Washington, DC 20001

Main Symposium 1:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.Renaissance Washington, DC, Downtown Hotel 999 Ninth Street, NW West Ballroom, Washington, DC 20001
7:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. SESSION I Connecting Environmental Policies and Practices to Protect Our Places, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Room 146-C

Problems related to environmental justice are expected to exacerbate the detrimental effects of climate change within vulnerable communities, spotlighting the need for the science of climate change to be more closely connected with environmental law enforcement in disproportionately burdened communities.

1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. SESSION II Designing Resilience: How Smart Growth Can Scale Up EquityRenaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel, West Ballroom

Through its long experience in enhancing civic and political leadership, the Joint Center supports the empowerment of people of color to participate in land use decisions and planning as a means of achieving equity within and across communities on the front lines of the environmental justice movement. Through regional development and interagency collaboration, the movement to pursue "triple-bottom line" (revenue, social, and environmental) interests through smart growth holds the potential for solutions that address the unique issues facing African Americans in urban, rural and suburban areas. This session aims to debunk the "Green versus Jobs" myth by describing how regional and cross-sectoral approaches to development that pursue equity through transportation, housing and economic growth can revitalize communities in the present while mitigating the effects of climate change in the future.

3:15 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. SESSION III Stimulating Trade, Investment, Technology Transfer and Development: Making the Case for U.S. and Africa Energy Partnership Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel, West Ballroom

Our dependence on fossil fuel combustion for energy has significantly increased global carbon emission levels, but without corresponding investment in less environmentally harmful renewable energy technology. Accordingly, populations with limited resources not only lose revenue but also suffer from lost opportunities. Given the untapped potential to expand energy infrastructure in African nations and improve energy capacity among low-income African Americans, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies realizes the significance of information sharing through partnerships in order to convey best practices and harness the collective power of these communities.

5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. VIP RECEPTION 40 Years of Research ~ Empowerment ~ Engagement Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel, West Ballroom Foyer

Celebrate, network and discuss innovative ways to generate an abundance of opportunities for all Americans to learn, achieve happiness and live their dreams.

Register online or call (202) 789-3519

Monday, August 09, 2010

Remembering Environmental Justice Legend Dana Alston

Dana Alston was 47 years old when she died 11 years ago on August 7, 1999.

Dana Alston, left, was a leader of the original environmental justice movement that started in the 1980's. She was one of the organizers of the first National Environmental Justice Leadership Summit in 1992. She participated in the meetings to convince the U.S. EPA to open an Office of Environmental Justice. She was a committed environmental justice activist and the movement clearly benefited from her leadership. We remember you Dana. And we will never forget you.

Dana Alston received a Bannerman Fellowship in 1992 in recognition of her leadership in the development of the environmental justice movement. The Bannerman Fellowship Program was founded in 1987 on the belief that the most effective approach to achieving progressive social change is by organizing low-income people at the grassroots level. In 2002, the Fellowship Program was renamed the Alston/Bannerman Fellowship Program in honor of Dana Alston.

Dana died on August 7, 1999 at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Dana was a native of New York and lived in Washington, D.C. She was in San Francisco for treatment of kidney disease and consequences of a stroke when she died.

Her son, Khalil Alston-Cobb, now 17, resides in Clinton, Maryland. He is (or was at 16) a skateboard enthusiast (see videos). Here is how Khalil describes himself on his MySpace page:

"I like Skateboarding, Playing videogames, listening to music, talking to Gurls, surfing the Web, and Chillin wit the Homies."
Khalil is also on Twitter. He has a great skateboarding video on He is listed on Children of the Struggle. Dana would be very proud of her teenage son. All who knew her are not surprised that Khalil is an energetic and productive young man.

Friday, August 06, 2010

U.S. Senate Not Serious About Black Farmers

The U.S. Senate failed Thursday to approve nearly $5 billion for a settlement between the Agriculture Department and minority farmers reached more than a decade ago.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

AAEA Promoting Minority Energy Partnership Act of 2010


HR _____
2nd Session
H. R. ____

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to increase the deduction under section 179 to stimulate mentor/protégé partnerships in the energy sector.


September 7, 2010

Mr. __________________introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to increase the deduction under section 179 to stimulate mentor/protégé partnerships in order to increase minority ownership of infrastructure and resources in the energy sector.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the ‘Minority Energy Partnership Act of 2010’ or the ‘MEP Act of 2010.’


(a) In General- Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to election to expense certain depreciable assets) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

‘(G) Minority Energy Partnerships-

‘(1) IN GENERAL- In the case of qualified minority energy partnerships created during a taxable year--

‘(D) subsection (a)(1) shall be $500 billion over a ten year period.

‘(2) DEFINITIONS- For purposes of this subsection--

‘(A) QUALIFIED MINORITY ENERGY PARTNERSHIP- The term ‘qualified minority energy partnership’ means section 179 property which--

‘(i) has been certified by the Secretary of Energy, and
‘(ii) includes buildings and their structural components, income-producing property and resources (investment or rental property), property held by an estate or trust, property acquired by gift or inheritance, property used in a passive activity, and property and resources purchased from related parties.
(b) Effective Date- The amendment made by this section shall apply to property placed in service after December 31, 2011.


(a) In General- The Small Business Administration shall develop criteria to ensure and certify minority energy partnerships that meet certain standards, as determined by the Secretary of Energy.
(b) Current 8(a) firms and other minority owned business enterprises (MBEs)
with qualifications in the energy sector immediately qualify for participation in minority energy partnerships.
(c) Certification Assistance- The Small Business Administration Administrator may recognize a private entity or entities to assist in the certification using the criteria developed by the Administrator under this section.

Recommended Revenue Offsets. The amendment would pay for its tax breaks with the following revenue raisers:

1) The Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2010 [CLEAR Act (H.R. 3534) --its Gulf Spill/Energy bill response] [Latest Version] contains provisions designed to do away with the ability for companies to pay zero royalties during times of high oil prices. Nick Rahall, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and sponsor of the legislation believes that consumers paying sky-high gas prices that fuel record profits should not face the indignity of receiving no royalty on the sale of the public's oil. These royalties should be directed the MEP Act.

2) Thirteen percent of royalties obtained from the leasing and sale of the public's resources will be used to offset MEP Act expensing.

Monday, August 02, 2010

40th Annual Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc (CBCF) wants you to attend the 40th Annual Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference from September 15-18, 2010 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. People from around the world will gather to discuss the critical challenges facing people of African descent. There will be a jobs fair, National Town Hall, prayer breakfast, Awards Dinner and much much more. Register for the event or call 877-585-6018.

All CBCF-hosted or authorized events will be listed on CBCF’s website as part of the official program or on the “Authorized Events.” Official CBCF Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) events are part of the overall strategy designed to generate support for CBCF’s educational programs and initiatives that take place throughout the year. The conference has become a meetings and events hub for other organizations that are not affiliated with or endorsed by CBCF. Attendees are strongly encouraged to look for official or ALC Authorized events when planning their conference experience. By attending ALC Authorized events, you are supporting CBCF’s mission to develop leaders, inform policy and educate the public.

The CBCF Vision: CBCF envisions a world in which the black community is free of all disparities and able to contribute fully to advancing the common good. The CBCF Mission: The mission is to advance the global black community by developing leaders, informing policy and educating the public. CBCF Will Achieve Its Mission By:

• Facilitating the exchange of ideas and information to address critical issues affecting our communities.

• Developing strategic research and historical resources for the public.

• Providing leadership development and scholarship opportunities.

• Developing effective programs and research to address social, economic and health disparities.