Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The White House Recognizes: Dru Ealons

Each year America recognizes the month of February as National African American History Month. America reflects and celebrates the heritage and legacy of African Americans and many of their achievements. The theme for this year’s African American History Month is focusing on, “Black Women in American Culture and History.” In his 2012 proclamation, President Obama says, “During National African American History Month, we pay tribute to the contributions of past generations and reaffirm our commitment to keeping the American dream alive for the next generation.”


Dru Ealons
Dru Ealons is a Presidential appointee in the Obama Administration. She serves at the Environmental Protection Agency as the Director for the Office of Public Engagement. Dru is responsible for the strategic development and implementation of EPA’s public engagement efforts on behalf of Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

Prior to joining EPA, in 2010, Dru worked as the director of development for Pathways, a homeless shelter for women and children in Birmingham, Alabama. In this role, she served as the chief fundraising officer, managed Pathway’s board of directors and served as the official spokesperson for the Agency. Dru has also worked as the diversity and community relations executive for Southern Progress Corporation, a magazine and book publishing corporation.

Dru received her undergraduate degree in Marketing and Human Resource Management from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama and currently resides in Silver Spring, MD with her husband Corey and her young son, Maxwell.


What achievements are you most proud of being a successful black woman?

I’ve received several awards, from being honored by a service organization in Birmingham as Woman of the Year to Ebony magazine’s 30 under 30. Now that I’m well past 30 and I look back over my life, I’m most proud of the woman that I’ve become. My spiritual life throughout my journey, the trials and the triumphs, have shaped me into the woman I am today. So, make no mistake about it, my greatest achievement is from allowing God to be the pilot of my life. To that end, my success comes from above and I’m very proud of that.

There are countless distinguished and notable black women of the past such as, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, and pioneer Harriet Tubman, which historical figure would you say inspired you the most as a black woman?

I think I’m most inspired by Shirley Chisholm. What reigns as a theme of my life’s work stems from her quote “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” This has been a guiding principle of my life and I hope my “dash” represents the sentiment of this quote.

What service do you feel you have to represent the historically prominent black women that have come before you?

Throughout my career, I’ve always chosen opportunities that provided service to the greater good, rather than an opportunity that would serve me best (financial gain, fame, etc.). I believe powerful prominent women that came before me, always sought opportunities that will benefit the well-being of others. They were selfless servant leaders that improved the lives around them. I only hope that my life reflects the same commitment of service to all mankind.

Many black women were pioneers of their time and serve as role models today. Reflecting on your personal journey through life, what advice would you impart on the next generation of black girls for them to be successful and be the next generation of leaders?

I would tell them, you are more than a conqueror. Recognize you are standing on the shoulders of others and they’ve already paved the way. Discover the strength you have within and know that you have the power to be victorious to achieve your goals. And always ask yourself “Is there anything too hard for God?”

During the State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out his blueprint for an America built to last. Explain what you believe is the most important aspect of the President’s address?

The substance of the blueprint is extraordinary. Our President was clear and concise about the direction and vision he has for our great country. But beyond the substance, which is very important, for me it was the tone in which our President delivered the blueprint for an America Built to Last. It was his fight, his determination, his strength and confidence that he cares for us all. It reminded me of the sentiment of his 2004 speech when he said “I believe we have the righteous wind at our backs and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us”. He reminded all of us, that by putting our differences aside, together we have the blueprint for an America Built to Last. Together we will meet the challenges that face us.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Black History Month

By Administrator Lisa P. Jackson

Black Women in History and Culture

As an African American woman, this has been a time for me to reflect on the women who ensured that my generation would have every possible opportunity.

Without the work of African American women through the years, my life and the lives of millions of Americans would not be what they are today.

During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, the Montgomery Bus Boycotts started with the actions of an African American woman: Rosa Parks, refusing to move to the back of the bus. Throughout the movement, women like Septima Clark, Coretta Scott King, Ella Baker, Myrlie Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer and others marched and spoke and worked to make our nation a more equal place, where men and women of every race had the same fair shot.

The work of African American women through the years shows us how to fulfill the promise of this great nation, and move us all toward a more perfect union. Now it is our turn.

Friday, February 24, 2012

AAEA Supports Obama's "All Of The Above" Energy Strategy


We’re taking every possible action to develop, safely, a near hundred-year supply of natural gas in this country -- something that experts believe will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. We supported the first new nuclear power plant in three decades. Our cooperation with the private sector has positioned this country to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries that will power the next generation of American cars -- that use less oil; maybe don't use any oil at all.

And after three decades of inaction, we put in place the toughest fuel economy standards in history for our cars and pickup trucks -– and the first standards ever for heavy-duty trucks. And because we did this, our cars will average nearly 55 miles per gallon by the middle of the next decade. That's nearly double what they get today.

I said this at the State of the Union -- a century of subsidies to the oil companies is long enough. (Applause.) It’s time to end taxpayer giveaways to an industry that has never been more profitable; double down on clean energy industries that have never been more promising -- that's what we need to do. (Applause.) This Congress needs to renew the clean energy tax credits that will lead to more jobs and less dependence on foreign oil. The potential of a sustained, all-of-the-above energy strategy is all around us.

Friday, February 10, 2012

AAEA Supports Environmental Evangelical Network on Mercury

The Environmental Evangelical Network (EEN) supports the new EPA mercury pollution rules as a “pro-life” position. EEN  is under attack from the religious right over its campaign in favor of EPA’s new restrictions on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants – rules that EEN calls vital to protecting the health of the unborn. EEN states:

“We believe protecting the unborn from mercury poisoning is a consistent pro-life position. An issue that impacts the unborn – that’s where we resonate as a pro-life organization.”
EEN works with the National Association of Evangelicals and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in support of cutting mercury emissions. EEN position is to protect the unborn from both abortion and “pollution that will harm their quality of life.”

The group, whose president testified in favor of EPA’s rules on Capitol Hill Wednesday, is under attack from Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser and a suite of other prominent religious conservatives. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a persistent critic of EPA regulations, also joined the religious right leaders in bashing EEN's campaign.

Republicans and some business groups call the rule burdensome. Republicans are continuing to attack the regulation after the House voted last year to scuttle it (the Senate didn’t follow suit).

EEN’s campaign in favor of the regulations has included TV ads, radio spots and billboards that urge lawmakers – including several pro-life senators – to defend the rule because it protects the unborn.

Mercury harms the nervous systems of children exposed in the womb and can impair learning and early development, among other harms associated with emissions of the toxic substance, according to EPA. (The Hill, 2/10/2012)

Saturday, February 04, 2012

DOE EJ Conference: Is It Needed?


By Norris McDonald

John Rosenthall and Melinda Downing are the principals behind the two environmental justice conferences scheduled for April.  Rosenthall originated and coordinated The Environmental Justice in America conferences for the past five years.  Downing is the U.S. Department of Energy's Environmental Justice Program Manager.  DOE also contributed to the Rosenthall coordinated EJ conference.  The two evidently 'parted ways' sometime last year and Downing apparently decided to organize a separate EJ conference the week after the original conference in April.

I have some questions and concerns about this situation.  Full disclosure: Rosenthall is an old friend and Downing is a professional acquaintance.  How and why did DOE decide to hold a competing conference?  Is the DOE conference an attempt to eliminate the original conference?  Although we cannot have enough EJ conferences, will it be a good thing if the DOE EJ conference ends up replacing the original EJ conference?  Is the DOE EJ conference the decision of one individual?  Should DOE funding be used to eliminate a grassroots EJ conference? 

The National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (NEJAC) that was established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency more or less replaced the grassroots organized environemental justice conferences (1992 and 2002).  It was not until Rosenthall organized The State of Environmental Justice In America Conference 2007 that the grassroots produced an annual conference.  The U.S. Department of Energy was one of other federal agencies to cosponsor and provide financial support for the grassroots EJ conference.  Now, evidently because she no longer chooses to work with Mr. Rosenthall, Downing commissioned a separate EJ conference. 

Is this efficient?  Will this be effective?  Is this the best use of government funds.  Will this give the DOE a bad image in the EJ community? Is this the way to demonstrate private sector job creation?  Two competing environmental justice conferences?  Can Rosenthall compete with a multibillion dollar federal agency?  Will other federal agencies support both conferences or eventually decide to just support the DOE EJ conference? 

I simply think it is the height of folly if a government employee's whim could lead to the demise of what has been a very successful environmental justice conference.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Conservative Black Forum

Monday morning, Florida Republican Allen West brought black officials and community leaders from around the country to Capitol Hill for discussions on issues regarding unemployment in the black community, conservative values, and social disparity in urban communities.

During the event, panel members also tackled the issue of the overall negative perception of black conservatives in the black community. Rep. West urged his African-American Republican brethren to be more vocal.

Following the discussion, panelists fielded questions from audience members. Panel participants included:

• Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC)
• Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)
• Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK)
• Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)

The Lancet Report Measures Global Malaria Rates

Malaria Mortality Burden Larger Than Previously Estimated

Malaria Map
Methods: Researchers systematically collected all available data for malaria mortality for the period 1980—2010, correcting for misclassification bias. Researchers developed a range of predictive models, including ensemble models, to estimate malaria mortality with uncertainty by age, sex, country, and year. Researchers used key predictors of malaria mortality such as Plasmodium falciparum parasite prevalence, first-line antimalarial drug resistance, and vector control.

Findings: Global malaria deaths increased from 995,000 in 1980 to a peak of 1,817,000 in 2004, decreasing to 1,238 000 in 2010. In Africa, malaria deaths increased from 493,000 in 1980 to 1,613 000 in 2004, decreasing by about 30% to 1,133,000 in 2010. Outside of Africa, malaria deaths have steadily decreased from 502,000 in 1980 to 104,000 in 2010. The report estimated more deaths in individuals aged 5 years or older than has been estimated in previous studies: 435,000 deaths in Africa and 89 000 deaths outside of Africa in 2010.

Interpretation: The findings show that the malaria mortality burden is larger than previously estimated, especially in adults. There has been a rapid decrease in malaria mortality in Africa because of the scaling up of control activities supported by international donors. Donor support, however, needs to be increased if malaria elimination and eradication and broader health and development goals are to be met.

Funding: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

AAEA supports the use of DDT and other pesticides to help in eliminating malaria, particularly in Africa.

(The Lancet, See also Wash Post, 2/3/2012)