Tuesday, June 30, 2009

EPA Should Study Employment Practices At Green Groups?

A recent protest rally by green groups at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington, D.C. made us think about the relationship between the federal agency and traditional environmental groups. EPA gets really nervous when protesters come to their buildings to assert their complaints. Yet why doesn't EPA ever utilize this strategy? Now we are not talking about retaliation, but we are talking about addressing a legitimate and longstanding structural problem in the NGO environmental movement: discrimination in professional position employment.

Clearly the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Commission on Civil Rights and the Justice Department would be the appropriate federal entities to formally investigate this issue, but shouldn't EPA be the agency to raise it? Shouldn't EPA initiate some sort of study into the segregationist hiring practices of the vast majority of these groups. After all, isn't the employment environment at green groups just as legitimate an issue as other such issues? Quite simply, the vast majority of traditional, mainstream and grassroots NGO environmental groups do not hire Blacks in professional positions. How many of these groups also receive federal funds? If groups receive government grants and discriminate, shouldn't this trigger Title VI of the Civil Rights Act 0f 1964 regarding use of federal funds? Although tax-exempt groups are exempt from the provisions of Title VII employment discrimination (and the green groups know this), they are subject to losing federal funds for such discrimination under Title VI.

AAEA polled groups on their hiring practices in our Green Group Diversity Survey and the results were published in a Green Group Report Card. Only five of twenty five groups responded to the survey. They know they can ignore us. But would they ignore EPA? We want to hold hands and sing Kumbaya next to a camp fire and celebrate 'green everything' too, but it is hard for some of us to break out the acoustic guitar when we know blatant employment discrimination is occurring at most of the green groups. So someone needs to stand up for employment equality in groups proclaiming the virtue of their policies over those of other entities. We believe EPA should at least raise the issue of professional employment discrimination at the green groups. The agency has never raised the subject. At a very minimum, if groups do not correct this historical discrimination, they should not receive federal funds.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Nat'l Black Chamber of Commerce 17th Annual Convention

National Black Chamber of Commerce 17th Annual Convention

"Change Has Come"

July 22nd - 24th, 2009

The Fairfax at Embassy Row

Washington, DC

The National Black Chamber of Commerce is is holding their 17th Annual Convention in Washington, DC, July 22nd - 24th. The convention will be held at the luxurious Fairfax at Embassy Row in downtown Washington, DC. Join this historic moment and become the change!


Registration Information

Hotel Information: The Fairfax at Embassy Row, 2100 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, DC 20008. Special NBCC hotel rate: $189.00 for singles/double. (Rate available until June 30, 2009)

Hotel Reservation or call: (202) 293 - 2100

Sponsorship Information

Exhibitors' Table Information

Thursday, June 25, 2009

AAEA Defends ACES in Essence Magazine Blog

Essence magazine Washington Correspondent Cynthia Gordy wrote a balanced article on the American Clean Energy and Security Act on the publication's blog. AAEA is working hard to get this legislation passed and we appreciate the coverage provided by Essence. Ms. Gordy examines the pros and cons of the legislation in her article entitled, "Is The Climate Change Bill An Assault On The Poor?"

She writes:

"In the opening remarks of his news conference on Tuesday, President Obama mentioned a climate change bill working its way through the House of Representatives, hailing it as “legislation that will finally spark a clean energy transformation that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and confront the carbon pollution that threatens our planet.” One component of the legislation, called the Waxman-Markey bill, requires large utilities to produce more electricity from renewable sources including wind, solar and geothermal power. The President says this will lead to the development of the much-touted green economy, creating millions of new jobs."
AAEA President Norris McDonald supports the legislation in the article and Roger Innis of CORE opposes the legislation.

See Also: Huffington Post

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

600 Communities Have Elevated Cancer Risk Due To Air

According to EPA's National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment millions of Americans living in nearly 600 neighborhoods across the country are breathing concentrations of toxic air pollutants that put them at a much greater risk of contracting cancer. The EPA added the cancer risks from all air toxics compounds listed as carcinogenic or likely carcinogenic to humans. More than 284 million people live in census tracts where the combined upper bound lifetime cancer risk from these compounds exceeded 10 in one million risk and more than 2 million people live in census tracts where the combined upper bound lifetime cancer risk from these compounds exceeded 100 in one million risk. The overall national average risk in the U.S. is 36 in a million.

Parts of Los Angeles, California and Madison County, Illinois had the highest cancer risks in the nation — 1200 in 1 million and 1100 in 1 million, according to the EPA data. They were followed by two neighborhoods in Allegheny County, Pa., and one in Tuscaloosa County, Ala. People living in parts of Coconino County, Ariz., and Lyon County, Nev., had the lowest cancer risk from air toxics. The counties with the least toxic air are Kalawao County, Hawaii, and Golden Valley County, Mont.

The analysis predicts the concentrations of 124 different hazardous air pollutants, which are known to cause cancer, respiratory problems and other health effects by coupling estimates of emissions from a variety of sources with models that attempt to simulate how the pollution will disperse in the air. The information is used by federal, state and local agencies to identify areas in need of more monitoring and attention. (AP)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Black-Owned Oil Company Number Two on BE 100s

CAMAC International Corporation

2009 Rank: 2 (Last Year: 2)

Chief Executive: Kase L. Lawal

Business Type: Oil, gas exploration, production and trading

Address: Four Oaks Place1330 Post Oak Blvd., Ste. 2200Houston, TX 77056

Staff: 300

Year Started: 1986

Website: http://www.camac.com/

Financial Information: 2008 Revenues: $2430.0 (In millions unless otherwise stated).

When Nigerian-born entrepreneur Kase Lawal, right, founded CAMAC International Corp. in 1986, the company traded barley, tobacco, and other grains from the United States to West Africa. Over the years, Lawal retooled his agricultural commodities enterprise into a global energy giant.

Today, the company explores, produces, processes, and trades crude oil, gas, and electric power throughout Africa, Europe, and South America.

Since 2002, the company and its affiliates have consistently earned $1 billion in revenues. CAMAC has held the No. 2 spot on the BE Industrial/Service Companies list for the fourth consecutive year; and in 2006, the Houston-based company was named BE Company of the Year.

With a 51.8% increase in revenues from $1.6 billion in 2007 to $2.43 billion in 2008, CAMAC International Corp. is one of the BE 100s top sales growth leaders. (Black Enterprise)

Black Enterprise Magazine's Top 100s List In June Issue

Register to receive Black Enterprise today. The on-line version is about a buck per issue. A super deal. The on-line magazine is powered by Zinio and is easy to read and navigate.

BLACK ENTERPRISE is a business-service publication targeted to black professionals, executives, entrepreneurs, and policy makers in the public and private sector. BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine has been profitable since its 10th issue and yearly sales are steadily increasing. The magazine has a paid circulation of 525,000 with a readership of more than 3.9 million. It is carried on board most major airlines and can be found on newsstands nationwide.

Earl G. Graves Sr, right, is the founder and publisher of BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine and a nationally recognized authority on black business development. Today he is chairman of Earl G. Graves Ltd., parent corporation of Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., publisher of BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine.

In January 2006, Graves named his eldest son, Earl “Butch” Graves, left, the company’s new chief executive officer. The promotion of Graves Jr. to CEO represents the transition of Earl G. Graves Ltd. to the next generation of leadership. His formal title is president and CEO.

Download Industrial/Services 100 List [requires subscription]

Black-Owned Natural Gas Company

NDR Energy Group L.L.C.

Chief Executive: Rickey Hart

Business Type: Energy management, products, services and consulting

Address: 1000 Seaboard St, Ste. #B-3Charlotte, N.C. 28206

Staff: 7

Year Started: 2000

Website: http://www.ndrenergy.com

Financial Information: 2008 Revenues: $72.0 In millions unless otherwise stated.

NDR Energy Group L.L.C. is the nation’s third largest black-owned energy management and services companies; and North Carolina’s third largest black-owned company on the BE Industrial/Service list.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company, founded in 2000, provides natural gas, petroleum products and green energy consulting to large crude oil suppliers across Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. The company earned sales of approximately $72 million in 2008—down 26.5% from last year. (Black Enterprise)

Black-Owned Solar Energy Company

Unlimited Energy is a Black-owned solar energy company base in Fresno, California. Unlimited Energy has installed hundreds of photovoltaic solar systems throughout the state.

Owner Mr. Tommie L. Nellon Jr., left (red shirt), started his company in 1984 and he is the first and only African-American solar contractor in the State of California.

Unlimited Energy has one of the largest install crews in the state and has installed more than 1 million square feet of solar panels for homes, schools and businesses. That's enough electricity to power a small city. Due to their ability to deliver on-time and under budget, Unlimited Energy is often used by other solar companies to design and install their small and large solar projects.

For more information. Or call 559-486-2266.

Monday, June 22, 2009

CBO: Waxman/Markey Will Only Cost $175 Per Household

A new analysis of the bill by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shows the net annual cost of the Waxman/Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) would be approximately $175 per household in 2020. Chairmen Henry A. Waxman and Edward J. Markey, co-authors of the Waxman-Markey said that .

CBO states "the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the net annual countrywide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion - or about $175 per household."

CBO specifically notes that this figure "does not include the economic benefits and other benefits of the reduction in GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions and the associated slowing of climate change." In particular, CBO did not analyze the energy efficiency improvements and resulting savings in energy costs that will result from the ACES Act's investment of over $60 billion in the next ten years in energy efficiency and required improvements in energy efficiency. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has estimated that the benefits of the energy efficiency provisions in ACES, which generally were not included in the CBO estimate, will save consumers $22 billion in 2020 alone, with cumulative savings of $3,900 per household by 2030. (House Committee on Energy & Commerce)

CBO Report

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Compact Living in an Eco-Conscious World

By Shireen Qudosi

Partly due to the green movement raising an awareness of how much our resources we’re wasting, these days, even the rich and famous are selling off their islands in an attempt to reel in from flushing a green resource of another variety on unnecessary real estate. As for the rest of us, we're trying to cut back on spending habits and downscale from our humble abode, to perhaps an even more humble abode. The trends these days is perhaps not even just to get a smaller apartment, but to get the most compact home possible for your lifestyle.

This comes as a big surprise in an era where we love super sizing everything from our food to our cars. But with the economy spiraling downward and pink slips being handed out left and right, many people are finding that small living is smart living.

Small Room Set Backs

Yet, there are a few possible problems with smaller living, even if you live in a space of 350 sq. ft (and yes, some people actually do!). Some are even choosing to take portable homes and relocate to rural areas, while others hitching them up to their cars and hitting the open road.

There are a few benefits to living smaller, such as a cheaper cost of living, a simpler lifestyle. Some even say that it forces you to forgo domestication, which is sometimes a more forgiving description for "couch potato". On the whole, those living in smaller homes say they actually enjoy their life more since they rarely just sit around the house (considering it starts to feel more like a cage than a home if you're in it all the time).

But unless you're an outback type that can take a more rugged bare-needs lifestyle, chances are you're going to feel a bit luxury deprived, especially when it comes to your cooling needs as we embark on what's expected to be yet another scorching summer.

With summer ready to begin its season long roasting, plus the fact that smaller spaces get hotter faster and tend to retain heat, even the most conscientious of us can end up going a bit stir crazy.
Set Back Solutions

First, be under no delusions that your little piece of heaven will quickly turn into a little piece of hell as soon as summer heat and humidity sets in. The obvious solution is an air conditioner, but smaller spaces normally don't come equipped with a central AC. Installing a central AC is also out of the question because 1) it's not functionally practical and 2) it's far too costly an installment for such a small space. The solution? A portable air conditioner.

A portable air conditioner is a mobile cooling unit that doesn't require permanent installation. Portable air conditioners have two main parts: a box-like frame that holds both the hot and cold side of the unit, and an exhaust hose to expel heat. This exhaust hose needs to be placed near a window vent to ensure that unwanted hot air doesn't get re-circulated back into the room.

A portable air conditioner is a mobile cooling unit that doesn't require permanent installation. Portable air conditioners have two main parts: a box-like frame that holds both the hot and cold side of the unit, and an exhaust hose to expel heat. This exhaust hose needs to be placed near a window vent to ensure that unwanted hot air doesn't get re-circulated back into the room.
Some reasons why portable ac's have been gaining popularity is because they 1) usually come with air purifying filters, 2) are simple to use, 3) offer spot cooling, 4) are energy efficient, and 5) often offer multiple cooling modes, including fanning and dehumidification.

Right Size for Your Small Room

While portable AC's are great for cooling, there's an even better alternative if you're in a desert climate. Desert climates are notorious for dry air, in which case cooling just isn't enough. If you're in a desert zone, what you ideally need is to inject some moisture back into the air. While many people make the mistake of thinking a humidifier is enough, when really your ideal device is a swamp cooler, also known an evaporative cooler.

Swamp coolers produce effective cooling and can reduce the ambient temperature by up to 20 degrees through combining the natural process of water evaporation within a simple air moving system. Therefore, they provide a low-cost alternative to standard refrigerated cooling. Swamp coolers are pretty simple to use, but if you've never heard of one then it can be confusing. wamp coolers have the same effect as a wet towel or t-shirt on a fan. If the climate is dry and the humidity is low, the cooling (and sometimes even chilling) effect will be instantaneous. However in areas with high humidity levels, this process will only result in dampness on the skin and in the air - this is why it's best if these evaporative coolers are used only in dry climates.

And unlike ACs, where you will need to close all doors and windows, an evaporative cooler needs adequate air flow and ventilation in order to evenly and effectively distribute the cool air through the home and expel warm, moist air through window openings.

Choosing the Right Size Unit

Now whether you decide to go with a portable AC or a swamp cooler, you still need to make sure you get the right size for your room.

To figure out what type of unit you need, you first have to start off with the square footage of the area you want cooled - in this case it's 350 square feet. You then can get quick estimate of the BTUs you'll need by multiplying the square footage by 35. In the case of a 350 square foot room, the recommended BTU rating is approximately 8000.

Shireen Qudosi is a green expert working with Air Conditioner Home. A premier online retailer of residential/commercial cooling, Air Conditioner Home is dedicated to raising consumer awareness on green issues & promoting both air purification and eco-friendly cooling.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Clamming In The Hamptons


By Norris McDonald

It rained all day on a recent Friday as I traveled from Washington, D.C. to The Hamptons. But Saturday was a gloriously beautiful day and I went clamming with friends. Samara Swanston and her husband Daniel Newman are great hosts and this was one of many trips where we adventured in both New York City and at this endpoint on Long Island. Their house is in the historical hamlet of Sag Harbor.
Danny, Samara & Cathy Taylor
We caught about two dozen clams on this outing and I even caught a large clam without the drag basket by using a toe digging technique. We were clamming at the Barcelona Neck inlet to Peconic Bay.

The pictures and video below show the fun we had. Nothing like a nice relaxing weekend in The Hamptons.

Thanks Danny and Samara. See you again real soon.

Ownership of Energy Resources and Companies

Blacks do not own any of the energy resources in America.* Hopefully, ownership opportunities will develop in the 'green' energy areas because the traditional energy sectors have been closed to African American ownership. The traditional energy sector represents trillions of dollars in commerce each year in America. This sector also receives billions in federal government subsidies each year. President Obama has ushered in a new emphasis on renewable energy along with conservation and efficiency. Hopefully, with billions in federal dollars going to conservation, efficiency, wind and solar, Blacks will become owners in these areas.

President Obama and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) should apply more pressure to assure minority participation in these areas. The National Black Chamber of Commerce just sent a complaint letter to President Obama and other federal agencies describing how Blacks are being shortchanged in highway employment and contracts. This complaint could have just as easily included oil, gas, coal, and nuclear. Blacks have no ownership stakes in any of these sectors.

AAEA has implemented weatherization audits and retrofits, water conservation retrofits, efficient furnace replacements in public housing, and backed wind and solar projects in the past 25 years. Yet Blacks should not restrict themselves to just the traditional renewables areas. After all, wind and solar represent less than one percent of the electricity delivery marketplace. We are working to increase green jobs but we also want green ownership. Yet we should not ignore the other 99% of the electricity marketplace. Should Blacks own oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear businesses? We say yes. Of course, the traditional mainstream environmental movement would say no, even as they continue in refusing to hire Blacks in professional positions.

AAEA has been working for years to expand ownership in all energy sectors. We have been miserable failures in this effort. Yet we have approached oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries about expanding African American equity in some of their projects and facilities. In many cases, such ownership stakes would improve approval prospects for proposed projects. Yet we have been informed on more than one occasion that projects would rather be lost than including such ownership participation.

AAEA will continue to promote expanded ownership and participation of Blacks in energy and environmental sectors. If Barack Obama can become president of the United States, surely Blacks can gain ownership shares in the energy sector. Environmentalism is about more than simple conservation, it is also about equity in participation in all sectors of society. Hopefully such ownership in the energy sector will include improved environmental stewardship.

* CAMAS International, NDR Energy & Unlimited Energy nothwithstanding.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Heather Jones New Resident Inspector at Vermont Yankee

Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania have selected Heather Jones, right, as the new resident inspector at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vt. She joins NRC Acting Senior Resident Inspector Dave Spindler at the plant, which is operated by Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc.

Jones joined the agency’s Region I office in 2005 after earning a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a graduate of the NRC’s Nuclear Safety Professional Development Program, a two-year training program that provides specialized training in nuclear safety and a broad perspective of NRC regulatory activities. Jones also completed a rigorous NRC inspector qualification program. Most recently, she was assigned as a reactor inspector in the Region I Division of Reactor Safety, performing engineering inspections.

Each U.S. commercial nuclear plant has at least two NRC resident inspectors. They serve as the agency's eyes and ears at the facility, conducting inspections, monitoring major work projects and interacting with plant workers and the public. Resident Inspectors can be assigned to any one site for up to seven years. (NRC)

Greater Union Baptist Church Scopes Catalina Island

AAEA is in partnership with the Greater Union Baptist Church of Compton, California to take youth to experience the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. The initiative is called "Compton To Catalina" and Assistant Pastor Sam Darling recently scoped the island in order to experience the island first hand.

AAEA President Norris McDonald and Assistant Pastor Sam Darling are picture below in front of Greater Union Baptist Church.

Sam Darling's scoping video is below:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

10 Ways to "Green" Your Home

By Shireen Qudosi

Many people thinking "going green" in your home means added expense and hassle. However, incorporating a few eco-friendly habits in your home can not only easily done, but it can save you money and teach your kids valuable lessons on conservation.

1) Rethink Bottled Water

As the world's leading consumers of bottled water, statistics show Americans spent over $11 billion dollars on 8.3 billion gallons of bottled water in 2006 alone. It takes over 1.5 million barrels of oil to manufacture the amount of bottled water Americans consume each year. Add to that the fact that an estimated 38 billion water bottles end up in landfills each year where it takes an average of 700 years before they begin decomposing.

There are many bottled water facts that boggle the mind when we look into the nitty gritty data of this industry, and the simplest way to break this bad habit is to switch to tap water. With one of the best water purification systems in the world, our tap water is just as safe to drink as that bottled variety. However, if you're already twitching from bottle withdrawal, then get a reusable bottle and invest in a water filter that will work with your tap.

2) Alternative Cooling

With a scorching summer right around the corner, the average American household will spend $231.34 a month on cooling alone. Turning on the AC not only kicks up the cost to stay cool, but also does a number on the environment. A great way to keep your cooling cost down and do your part for cleaner air, is to limit central AC use and opt instead for portable air conditioners. Portable AC units cost pennies on the dollar to run - saving your family hundreds of dollars that can be either saved or better spent on family outings.

3) Green Cleaning

The type of cleaning product you use not only affect the environment but also have a huge impact on your family's health. Most cleaners are chemical based and each time you spray to clean, you release toxic chemicals into the air you breathe. Not wanting to poison their own homes, many moms are now cleaning their homes with non-toxic chemical free cleaners. These cleaners are relatively inexpensive and do just as good of a job as the brands you're already used to.

4) Unused Appliances

We all know that we should unplug unused appliances. But did you know that one of the biggest 'appliances' in your home is your computer? Our computers are usually always left plugged in, and turned on. According to EPA, powering down your computer each night (or at least setting it on 'sleep' mode) can reduce energy usage by up to 70%.

5) Good Old-Fashioned Recycling

When we think of going green, we think of recycling. And when we think of recycling, that age old picture comes to mind of separating paper and plastic, of running down to the local recycling center with our bottles and cans. There's no better way to start being green than by doing the things you're already familiar with. So start saving up cans and bottles, old newspapers and magazines, and make a weekly trip down to your local recycling center. This is a perfect "green" habit to get the kids involved with as well. Make them in charge of collecting recyclables during the week, and let them keep the money they earn from recycling each week.

6) Dryer Habits

There are a couple of good dryer habits to help make sure your appliance is performing optimally. First, get in the habit of cleaning the the lint from the filter. This not only helps with air flow, but it'll also help prevent any dryer fires. Next, think about adding a couple tennis balls or dyer balls to your dryer load. Dryer balls not only help keep your clothes from sticking to the sides of the dryer, but they make your clothes tumble around faster, which means they'll dry faster - which means you'll be using less energy.

7) Get Rid of Trunk Junk

Studies show that Americans spend about 233 hours of their life commuting. For a lot of people, their car is like their second home. That being the case, you may want to think about how you can take your green home habits and apply them to your car. One of the simplest ways to do this is to get rid of unwanted or unused good in your trunk. Open up your trunk and take a good look at what's in there. Do you need the extra set of dumbbells, or the pile of books, or even the heavy oversized bag of dog food? The more weight you have in your car, the lower your gas mileage is and the more pressure you put on your car because it has to work that much harder to run. So not only are you reducing your car's aerodynamics, you're also wasting fuel - which harms both the environment and your wallet.

8) "Green" Paint

Traditional paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that release pollutants into the air. However, you can shop around for low-VOC or no-VOC paints. A lot of companies now offer eco-friendly paint that comes in just as many colors and costs just the same as other brands. The plus side is that these 'green' paints don't have the same linger toxic order as older paints.

9) Eco-Friendly Lunches

The average child will produce about 67 pounds of garbage each year from lunch time paper bags, plastic bags, plastic containers, etc. This figure escalates to about 3.5 million nationwide, causing many "Green" moms to opt for "litter-less lunches". So instead of sending your kids to school with a lunch that will inevitably end up in a landfill, moms are now going back to good ole lunchboxes with reusable bottles, containers and utensils.

A few great sites considerations are Kleen Kanteen, Lunchopolis, and Greentainer. Getting your kids to start using reusables, and teaching them how they're doing their part, is a great way to ensure healthy green habits at an early age.

10) Print-out Possibilities

Aside from reusing unwanted print outs, little things like widening page margins to 0.75 can reduce the amount of paper used by about 5%. This small but effective habit can save over 6 million trees per year. Additionally, adjusting your print out settings to "draft", instead of "normal", will save you a considerable amount of ink. Ink may seem like no big deal, but if you consider the plastics it takes to make a cartridge, and the petroleum/oil needed to make plastic, you begin to start seeking how even the smallest tweaks can make a difference.

Going green is hardly ever just about one resource. If you consider all the resources it takes to make one resource, you start realizing the chain of conservation (or waste) involved. Green habits are really easy to develop - start with one or two that seem doable or assign one idea to each member of your family.

Shireen Qudosi is a green expert working with Air Conditioner Home A premier online retailer of residential/commercial cooling, Air Conditioner Home is dedicated to raising consumer awareness on green issues & promoting both air purification and eco-friendly cooling.

Nat'l Black Chamber Protests FHA & DOL Policies

June 9, 2009

Honorable Raymond L. LaHood
U.S. Department of Transportation
West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Honorable Hilda L. Solis
U.S. Department of Labor
Frances Perkins Bldg., 200 Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20210

Re: Executive Order 11246 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Dear Secretaries:

On behalf of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (100,000+ Black owned businesses) and with the encouragement of Johnny Ford, General Secretary of the World Conference of Mayors (700+ Black mayors) and Calvin Smyre, President of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (624 Black state legislators), I write this letter to protest the festering and damaging state of affairs at the Federal Highway Administration in regards to Executive Order 11246 and Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These very precious laws are not being adequately monitored nor enforced by your departments and many thousands of Black firms and millions of Black citizens are being denied equal opportunity.

Enclosed is a copy of the official cancellation of Executive Order 11246 by the Federal Highway Administration dated February 1, 1999. The U.S. Department of Labor has not filled that void. Since that date and at a progressive rate prime contractors of highway funds (state departments of transportation) such as Caltrans, Illinois DOT, Missouri DOT, Oklahoma DOT, and practically all other state entities have hired less and less Black employees to the point of almost nonexistence. Likewise, contractors participating in the procurement of federal monies being let by the state entities have also decreased hiring of Blacks and have ignored Executive Order 11246 without any recourse from either the Federal Highway Administration or the US Department of Labor. States with 8%, 12%, 15%, etc. Black populations have state transportation departments with less than 5% Black employment. In many cases, the number is 3% or less. This is not America! You can take a drive on Interstate 80 starting in San Francisco and drive all the way to New Jersey and there is a good chance you will not see one Black working on a freeway construction project.

This significant lack of jobs attributes to the higher than average unemployment rate of Blacks. It hurts Black households and encourages hopelessness, crime, poor health and all other indicators of lost value of life. What we have is wholesale discrimination under the official management of the Federal Government.

Since the change from 49 CFR Part23 to 49 CFR Part 26 (during the Clinton Administration), state departments of transportation have been allowed to “dumb down” their Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goals from the standard 10% to whatever they want which is usually in the 5% area. As a result of the laissez faire approach, Black construction companies, architectural and engineering firms, do about 1% of the business involving USDOT funds (Federal Highway Administration). 1% of the contracting done by 13% of the population is indeed a severe disparate impact and also promotes even more unemployment as Black firms are most likely to hire Black employees.

In essence, there is no compliance with Executive Order 11246, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We demand that this sad state of affairs be corrected immediately. It has been a long fight but in light of the Stimulus Bill money that is coming down through the above racist channels we must see change and see it now.

To monitor any improvements that might be made in the near future please provide this office with the following: 1. By state, the percentage of the total dollar amount of contracts let to Black firms (prime and subcontracts) by individual state departments of transportation for fiscal year ending September 30, 2008. 2. By state, the amount of Blacks working at each state department of transportation (general staff, management and executive) per the latest Executive Order 11246 audit. 3. By state, the latest Executive Order 11246 audit performed for each of the top 10 contractors (annual sales) working on state highway projects.

We know that we are opening up a “can of worms” but it is the Truth that will set us free. Also, if the Stimulus money is to include the Black population of the nation which is, indeed, the intention of the 111th Congress and our President, then we must address this major hurdle – Jim Crow use of federal monies. It has been 47 years since the issuance of Executive Order 11246 and 45 years since the Civil Rights Act was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson after 400 years of slavery and 100 years of apartheid costing millions of lives and terrible suffering.
Enclosed you will find an example of a typical state, California, and its dismal record. Also enclosed is the justification for Executive Order 11246. The time to act is now and I trust that you will meet this obligation. Thanks for your immediate attention and proactive follow up. 40 million+ Americans will appreciate it.


Harry C. Alford

Cc: President Barack Obama
Honorable Barbara Lee, Chair, Congressional Black Caucus
Honorable Eric Holder, US Attorney General
Honorable Johnny Ford, World Conference of Mayors
Honorable Calvin Smyre, National Black Caucus of State Legislators

Monday, June 15, 2009

Blacks In Energy Decry Cap & Trade

[Note: AAEA supports cap and trade and has formulated an Environmental Justice Allowance Reserve (EJAR) that can be applied to this program to protect vulnerable citizens.]

"Who Will Bear Weight of Green Effort?"


Good intentions are not always good enough. And that fact holds true for a few well-meaning, but not thoroughly researched, efforts to address climate change. Case in point: the cap-and-trade provisions being deliberated on Capitol Hill right now.

A growing body of evidence indicates that this approach to raising the cost of using most fossil fuels would do so at significant expense to our country’s more vulnerable citizens, the millions of Americans who are concerned about the planet’s future but who are also struggling to pay their energy bills.

Additionally it has been suggested that what has been proposed carries with it higher risks, higher operating costs and less efficiency than another, better-understood and better-known approach: a carbon tax.

Despite emitting less carbon, low-income households in Texas spend a higher portion of their income on energy. Not only will utility costs increase, but so will the price of most goods and services. For the elderly, the disabled and families of limited means, too quickly passing an untested policy to meet our climate problem will make cooling their homes — a vital amenity during Houston’s sweltering summers — seem like a luxury expense. And that heavy impact doesn’t even begin to account for the indirect costs related to increasing the costs of using carbon intensive fuels.

So for the many families already living at or below the poverty level, implementation of a federal system to raise the price of energy could further diminish their hopes of ever getting their heads above water. If a federal policy is going to raise the price of energy and disproportionately burden these already vulnerable families, then it ought to do so in the most efficient, most effective way and no more than is absolutely necessary for the circumstances in that particular region.

As it happens, the regions of the country that would feel the greatest impact from the higher energy costs would be the areas that contain the largest concentration of African-American residences and small businesses. These minority families and entrepreneurs would likely be the hardest hit, since they are sensitive to even small market shifts. And unless the policy is designed with substantial foresight, the free market price of CO2 emissions could see the same kind of stock market volatility that has led to much of our current economic difficulty.

Attempts to achieve a cleaner environment shouldn’t come at the cost of pushing poor families even further away from the American dream. Yet, that’s exactly where we are heading if climate change remedies, particularly the transition to clean energy, widen the wealth gap in this country.

Wealthy individuals have the means to buy hybrid automobiles, compact fluorescent light bulbs and Energy Star appliances. They can invest in more insulation or low-emissivity windows.
In contrast, people struggling just to get by will have to drive their inefficient cars and use their outmoded appliances until they cannot be repaired again.

Even if “being green” can’t be a fully shared American experience, we should, at the very least, take steps to ensure that the poor aren’t inordinately punished by our national efforts to meet this environmental responsibility.

There is little doubt that policies should and will be enacted to better preserve the planet. The question we need to answer is whether the responsibility for saving our environment will be responsibly borne disproportionately by the impoverished among us.

Frank Stewart, pictured above right, is president of the American Association of Blacks in Energy and is a member of the EPA’s National Advisory Council on Environmental Policies and Technologies (NACEPT). He worked for the U.S. Department of Energy for more than 25 years.

Nuclear Power Has Become a Republican Issue?

The partisan tilt of the nuclear energy issue to the Republican side just received a big boost with the alternative climate/energy plan submitted by Congressional Republicans. While President Obama is the Pied Piper of traditional GREEN, particularly efficiency, jobs, conservation, solar and wind, the GOP has become the principle promoter of nuclear energy. Democrats mumble support for nuclear power and those with large nuclear capacity in their states or districts will even give a speech every now and then. But clearly the demarcation line has been drawn. The nuclear industry has even increased the activity of former Republican governor and former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman in promoting nuclear power. We guess she is considered to be the antidote to current EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and former EPA Administrator Carol Browner. One thing is sure, this is getting interesting.

We do not particularly like the nuclear power issue becoming almost completely identified with the Republican Party [Note to the industry: the Democrats are in charge of Washington now]. It is probably no coincidence that House Republicans and the nuclear power industry seem to be digging in at the same time against President Obama's perceived opposition to the technology. Yet there is hope on the other side of the isle. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley is being aggressively supportive of the construction of a third reactor at Calvert Cliffs. We are fearful that he will be clubbed into submission on this issue though if traditional environmentalists hammer him as being anti Chesapeake Bay and pro-Republican. President Obama's top advisor, David Axelrod, has worked as a consultant for the nuclear company Exelon's subsidiary Commonwealth Edison--so he knows a little something about the issue. James Clyburn, South Carolina Congressman and House Majority Whip, also supports nuclear power.

Yet the Democrats seem to be allowing the controversial nuclear power issue to be portrayed as a Republican issue (for political gain?). We hope President Obama and the Democrats will allow science to rule in this area. We need both traditional green technologies and nuclear power to provide the emission free electricity that America needs.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Maryland PSC Commissioner Harold Williams

Harold Williams, left, was appointed to the Maryland Public Service Commission in 2002 and currently holds the position of Commissioner. Prior to his appointment, Commissioner Williams' tenure spanned almost twenty (20) years with the Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) Company. In his capacity as Director of Corporate Procurement Services, he was responsible for the overall management of goods and services for Information Technology Department, Retail Services Division, Facilities & Fleet Service Department and Corporate Purchases. Williams directed BGE's Procurement Opportunity Program (POP) Minority and Women Business Program for 10 years and was responsible for developing and propelling BGE's Program to national recognition. Commissioner Williams has served as Chairman of the Edison Electric Institute's Minority Business Development Committee, and the Department of Energy's Minority Business Roundtable Committee. In his capacity as Procurement Administrator for BGE, Commissioner Williams coordinated and directed project contracts for the construction of a $400 million Brandon Shores Power Plant.

Commissioner Williams graduated Magna cum Laude from Coppin State College with a degree in Management Science and holds a Masters Degree in Administrative Science with a concentration in Human Resource Development from The Johns Hopkins University. Commissioner Williams is married and has three adult children. (All Commissioners)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Blacks and Mountaintop Removal

Blacks do not own coal companies, do not lease mines, do not transport coal, do not own the utilities that burn it and do not own the alternative deep mining operations. Because coal is used to generate 50% of America's electricity and Blacks represent 13% of the population, we do contribute to global warming to the extent that we use this product and service. Yet are Blacks positioning themselves to create and own the wind and solar companies that could replace mountaintop removal? What about ownership of the high power transmission lines that will be needed to transport the wind and solar power? Will Blacks miss these new ownership opportunities? Blacks already do not own any of the energy infrastructure in the United States. If wind, solar, conservation and efficiency are the wave of the future, will Blacks take up ownership positions or once again leave themselves out (or be left out) of this 21st Century energy sector development?

The Obama administration is scrutinizing mountaintop coal mining and is seeking to reduce environmental damage during the proposed transition away from this practice to the efficiency, conservation, wind and solar replacement alternatives. President Obama wants to reduce moonscapes in our precious mountain areas and he wants to protect the streams that are destroyed by mountaintop removal. His (and our) challenge is to convince local and regional mountain residents that wind turbines are an attractive alternative to stripped mountaintops.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently found no significant problems with 42 of the 48 mountaintop removal applications, but it rejected six as too damaging. According to EPA, in 2001, 724 miles of stream valley had been buried, which has led the agency to apply tighter scrutiny to about 108 pending applications for mining permits.

Our president, Norris McDonald, was recruited into the environmental movement by Louise Dunlap, one of the authors of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). Jimmy Carter recognized her work in getting this legislation passed in 1977. Yet former President Carter acknowledged that he would have preferred stricter legislation. Unfortunately, the Clean Air Act Acid Rain Program, combined with the weaknesses of SMCRA led to increased use of low-sulfur coal as an alternative to scrubber installation, thus increasing the very surface mining, and mountaintop removal (mostly in the Western states of Wyoming and Montana) that the two laws sought to mitigate. Even though transportation costs are raised, it still beat the expensive installation of scrubbers for utilities.

We point all of this out in order to illustrate that, in a global warming world that includes mountaintop removal as a threat to streams and mountain beauty, Blacks are on the sidelines as electricity consumers and not owners, producers or transporters. Emission free wind power is an easy choice for African American entrepreneurs. Yet local NIMBYs could delay such wind power entrepreneurs right out of business. (Wash Post, 6/11/09)

Monday, June 08, 2009

TVA Digging Itself Into Huge Environmental Injustice Hole

Has the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) ever heard of environmental justice? First there were reports that the contaminated fly ash from the massive December Kingston, Tennessee spill was being shipped to a landfill near a black community in Georgia and now there are reports they are doing the same thing in one of Alabama's poorest countries.

TVA already sent a test shipment of 1,500 tons of the sludge in 15 railcars in May to the Arrowhead Landfill in the mostly black county, where U.S. Census statistics show 31 percent of families live in poverty. Don't they know that these environmental injustice issues are only exacerbating their situation when they have to answer to Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson [chair of Congressional committee with jurisdiction] and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson?

Once again, a big industry is not listening to the advice of AAEA, which could solve this entire situation.

TVA plans to dispose of millions of tons of coal ash from a massive spill in Tennessee at a giant landfill in one of Alabama's poorest counties. Fly ash is not currently regulated as a toxic waste, but the spill is about to push federal officials to change that designation. Unfortunately it places federal and state officials in the unenviable position of not having a legal basis for denying TVA the right to ship and dispose of this ash as a nonhazardous waste. The ash/sludge broke through an earthen wall of the retention pond and spilled water-soaked contaminated ash at the Kingston plant site, covered 300 acres of nearby land and spilled into the Emory River. The final cost of the cleanup is estimated to be almost $1 billion.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management received notice from TVA this week that 3 million cubic yards of coal ash from the Dec. 22 spill at Kingston are bound for a privately owned dump in Perry County. Estimates of the spill are as high as 5.4 million cubic yards. It is one of the nation's largest commercial landfills, located just outside Uniontown about 100 miles from Birmingham. The waste will be shipped 300 miles to the landfill by rail. If EPA aproves, TVA plans to begin shipping 85 railcars loaded with coal ash every two days beginning June 16. About 2.7 million cubic yards of ash needs to be dredged from waters in eastern Tennessee and disposed. Based on the TVA test and figures, shipment of the waste would weigh about 3.9 million tons and require about 35,000 railroad cars to transport. The disposal contract is for a year and could be extended. (AP, CBS News, 6/5/09))

Thursday, June 04, 2009

AAEA Registered to Participate in RGGI Offset Program

AAEA has registered to participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) offset program. AAEA established a Carbon Mercantile Exchange (CMX) to provide an offset trading service. AAEA is also developing projects to produce greenhouse gas offsets. Our participation in the RGGI offset program will serve to enhance our efforts to mitigate global climate change and warming.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Inc. (RGGI, Inc.) has contracted with Perrin Quarles Associates to administer RGGI COATS. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a cooperative effort by participating states to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that causes global warming. More information RGGI, Inc. is a non-profit corporation created to provide technical and administrative services to the CO2 Budget Trading Programs of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Nat'l Black Chamber of Commerce Looking For Green Jobs

The NBCC asks:

"What is a “Green Job”: There has been much talk about “Green Jobs”. It has reached the point of hysteria but now comes the serious part – JUST WHAT IS IT? We are having trouble determining any substance to this matter. If any of you can help identify a true, identifiable existing Green Job or evidence to the actual reality of a new and broad industry emerging, please submit your evidence. We want to believe in it but we cannot until the unmistakable evidence is before us. No hype – just facts. 3 million autoworkers and others want to know where they are. If they exist please show us. Send the evidence to Harry C. Alford No jive, just proof."

Monday, June 01, 2009

Gee Whiz: Minorities Disagree on Climate Change Approach

AAEA supports cap and trade and supports Waxman/Markey. The National Black Chamber of Commerce (our good friends) opposes cap and trade. Environmental justice groups largely oppose cap and trade. And although AAEA supports cap and trade, we oppose auctioning the allowances. Imagine that, blacks and other people of color disagree on the best climate change approach. And the sky is blue too.

A recent study by researchers at the University of California found the effects of climate change will hit the poor in the United States disproportionately harder than others. The study says "people of color and the poor will be hurt the most – unless elected officials and other policymakers intervene.” The report highlights how extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts and floods already impact the poor disproportionately and are expected to increase in their frequency and intensity in coming decades. Minorities and the poor are less likely to have access to air conditioners and other means to prevent health effects of weather extremes. In addition, households in the lowest income bracket spend twice the proportion of their income on electricity as those in the highest income bracket.

Empower Consumers, a group headed by African-American former Arkansas PUC Commissioner Darryl Bassett, has used the very same data points to speak out strongly against the climate legislation and the economic impacts it will have on communities of color and the poor.

The National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) released a new study recently that says the potential economic impacts of the federal cap-and-trade system will be devastating for minority communities and businesses. NBCC President and CEO Harry Alford said the findings add to a growing body of evidence that demonstrates cap-and-trade would make American consumers poorer and the products they buy more expensive.

We all have the best interests of our country in mind and are promoting what we believe to be the best strategies for protecting the planet and the American economy. AAEA seeks to harmonize these interests and we protect minority communities through our proposed Environmental Justice Allowance Reserve (EJAR) program. We support a robust economy, affordable energy prices combined with abundant supplies, a national and international cap on greenhouse gases with a market-based solution (trading) to climate change and protection of vulnerable communities. (Hat tip: Frank Maisano)

CO2 on the Other Side of the Railroad Tracks

According to researchers from the University of Southern California and the University of California Berkeley, African Americans living in Los Angeles have a projected heat-wave mortality rate that is nearly twice that of other Los Angeles residents. The report, "The Climate Gap, Inequalities in how Climate Change hurts Americans and How to Close the Gap" states that people of color will be hurt the most by climate change unless elected officials and other policymakers intervene. AAEA agrees and is promoting an Environmental Justice Allowance Reserve (EJAR) to address this issue.

The California Legislature is considering a bill, AB 1404, that would drastically limit the amount of greenhouse gases that polluters could offset by paying emitters in other regions to cut their gases. AAEA supports the bill and has signed on with other organizations, including the Union of Concerned Scientists. Under loose guidelines adopted by the California Air Resources Board under the state's landmark global warming law, up to 49% of greenhouse gas pollution could be reduced through offsets such as planting trees or capturing landfill gases. AB 1404, introduced by Assembly members Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) and Manuel Perez (D-Coachella), would limit offsets to 10% and charge fees to fund careful verification of their integrity.

The big loophole in California’s otherwise exemplary global warming program would allow polluters to buy “offsets” — credits that polluters can buy for emission reductions elsewhere as a substitute for making reductions themselves. California’s big global warming polluters should invest in local solutions instead of buying offsets and continuing to emit as usual.

The U.S. Congress considering legislation to control greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere and how it is designed will have a major impact on low-income neighborhoods located near refineries, power plants and other industrial facilities that also emit unhealthful conventional pollutants. Many environmental justice groups oppose the cap and trade model because they feel that it will lead to racial 'hot spots' that will remain vulnerable, or even become more vulnerable, to the impacts of higher temperatures and more unpredictable weather. The principal legislation, sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly HIlls) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) ,would allow U.S. industries to offset up to 2 billion metric tons of gases per year, and a majority of the offsets could come from projects outside the U.S. Although we support the California legislation, we believe a very active global trading system needs to be established in order to address this global problem.

The Climate Gap report recommends that federal and state legislation force industries to purchase permits to emit greenhouse gases through an auction system, or a fee system. AAEA opposes the auctioning of allowances.

According to the researchers, offering fewer free pollution permits to oil facilities, which are mostly located in minority and low-income neighborhoods, would be particularly effective in cleaning up unhealthful air that is linked to heart disease and respiratory illness. AAEA is promoting an Environmental Justice Allowance Reserve (EJAR) to effectively address 'hot spot' concerns. (L.A.Times, 5/29/09)

President Obama, Mountaintop Removal and African American Ownership

Should blacks own coal mines in a global warming world? It is a question we are asking in many forums. We always get interesting answers. Mainstream environmentalists never address black ownership of traditional energy industries even though this sector powers America. They insist that we restrict ourselves to conservation, efficiency and renewables. To be accepted, one must conform without complaint. And then there's us.

President Obama has a conundrum when it comes to mountaintop removal. It is less expensive and safer than deep mining. Moveover, there are coal mining jobs at stake and windmill construction jobs have not yet provided an alternative source of employment. Neither has construction of photovoltaic panels. Plus, coal is used to provide 50% of America's electricity. President Obama cannot close these coal extraction operations without threatening thousands of jobs and possibly causing blackouts nationwide. There is also the safety issue.

Unscrupulous companies have given mountaintop removal a bad name and their failure at promised reclamations makes us want to oppose the practice in favor of deep mining. Unscrupulous companies have scarred these bucolic mountain ranges and allowed toxic waste to pollute streams and valleys. Yet the thought of sending miners into those caves gives us pause. We are sure President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jacksonhave given serious consideration to all of these issues. Yet, the jobs, safety and electricity reliability issues are probably why EPA approved 42 out of the 48 mine projects it had announced reviews for back in March. About two dozen ot these permits were for mountaintop removals.

The EPA has the authority to block mountaintop removal under the Clean Water Act. But if the agency raises no objections, the final decision on projects is made by the Army Corps of Engineers, which historically has approved mountaintop mining. Of course, EPA is still reviewing six major pending mountaintop removal projects in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. We hope some general thought will be given to the ownership issue. AAEA intends to continue to raise it.

Although it is being reported that the Obama White House has apparently disappointed mainstream environmentalists, those same environmentalists continually disappoint us by not promoting minority ownership of traditional energy infrastructure. President Obama has no more betrayed them than they betray minorities by ignoring their ownership needs. The minority employment practices of the mainstream environmental groups are also much worse than coal mining companies. So we are conflicted too, because we want to outright oppose all mountaintop removal, but the coal mining industry and the mainstream environmental movement evidently want to keep us on the sidelines cheering for their teams while we have no equity in their respective operations. (L.A.Times, 5/31/09)