Monday, November 30, 2009

Mobilization For Environmental Justice Protests Copenhagen

Note: AAEA is not a member of MCJ and AAEA supports cap and trade proposals.

The Mobilization for Climate Justice (MCJ) is an alliance of environmental justice, social justice, indigenous rights, forest protection and other groups that have united to address climate-change. MCJ is planning to confront what they consider to be false solutions at the December U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen. MCJ is advancing alternatives that they believe will provide real and just solutions to the climate crisis: leaving fossil fuels in the ground; reasserting peoples’ and community control over resources; relocalising food production; reducing over-consumption, particularly in the North; recognizing ecological and climate debt owed to the peoples of the South and making reparations; and respecting Indigenous and forest peoples’ rights,” the call to action states.

Member Organization in MCJ

Based in the United States, the movement is organizing opposition to false solutions to climate change that impede our ability to find the real solutions, including:

False solutions are those primarily directed at maintaining business as usual and increasing corporate profit, while doing little or nothing to truly address climate change.

False solutions include carbon offset projects, such as industrial timber plantations grown in developing countries, explicitly designed to allow industries in the North to continue polluting. This solution is false because there is no evidence these carbon offsets actually offset the emissions in question.

False so-called “clean” coal. The technology at the heart of “clean” coal is completely unproven and riddled with problems such as contamination of ground water. “Clean” coal is merely a PR scheme designed to allow coal companies to continue blowing up mountaintops, expanding strip mines onto indigenous peoples’ lands and pumping massive amounts of pollution into the air.
In Copenhagen, MCJ will come together from many different associates from many different nations, backgrounds and movements, experiences and struggles: indigenous peoples and farmers, workers and environmentalists, feminists and anti-capitalists. (, 11/29/09)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Black Enterprise Energy Forum: January 12, 2010

Update: AAEA Review of Forum

January 12th Black Enterprise gathers some of the most progressive minds on energy to discuss policy, employment and business opportunities.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has committed more than $80 billion in clean energy investments, one signal that President Barack Obama has placed a high priority on the importance of creating a new economic model around energy. The government hopes to invest $150 billion over the next ten years in new technologies and the Green Economy is now touted as one the strongest areas for expected job growth. What will these initiatives mean for African American professionals and business owners?

hosted by Shell
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
The Liaison Capitol Hill
415 New Jersey Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20001

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

African American Unemployment Rate

October 2009

Unemployment rate............. 15.7%

Men, 20 years and over........ 17.1%

Women, 20 years and over....12.4%

Both sexes, 16 to 19 years.....41.3%

Bureau of Labor Statistics

The New York Times Jobless Rate Chart

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Book on Environmental Justice By Dorceta Taylor

A new book from a University of Michigan professor explores how the centuries-old connections between racism and the environment in American cities.

"The Environment and the People in American Cities, 1600s-1900s: Disorder, Inequality, and Social Change" was written by Dorceta Taylor, left, a professor at the School of Natural Resources and Environment and director of an institute studying the issue of environmental justice its modern context. Duke University Press plans to release the book this month.

"The Environment and the People in American Cities" provides a sweeping and detailed examination of the evolution of American cities from Colonial New York and Boston to recent urban planning and labor reform efforts, outlining the rise of problems like overcrowding, pollution, poverty and epidemics and connecting them to systemic environmental racism and other forms of environmental inequities.

In its coverage of race, class and gender inequalities, the book includes a dimension missing from other academic books on environmental history. Professor Taylor adds to current research on the subject by exploring the emergence of elite reformers, the framing of environmental problems and the responses to perceived breakdowns in social order. By focusing specifically on cities, she offers important clues to understanding the evolution of American environmental activism.

Beyond the contribution to historical literature on the subject, Professor Taylor connects her findings to current issues in environmental policy. The book grew out of an undergraduate class on environmental politics Professor Taylor taught more than a decade ago. After finding no books or articles examining race, class or gender and the environment in a historical context, she decided to write her own. The project eventually grew into two books.

While all-male expeditions and solitary males who retreat to the woods for months or years at a time are idealized in many environmental history accounts, the urban activists receive no such acclaim or glory," she said, noting that female, working class and ethnic minorities were active in environmental activism and affairs. "In the city, the classes, races and genders interacted with each other to create a kind of environmentalism that was very fluid and dynamic.

Throughout her analysis, she connects social and environmental conflicts of the past to those of the present. She describes the displacement of people of color for the production of natural open space for the white and wealthy; the close proximity between garbage and communities of color in early America; the "cozy" relationship between middle-class environmentalists and the business community; and resistance to environmental inequalities from residents of marginal communities.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Congressional Black Caucus Exerting Its Authority

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is using its power to force the House Financial Services Committee to consider including more African American participation in Treasury and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation programs, such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Now if only the CBC would exert this same authority on the pending climate/energy bill, Blacks might actually gain access to energy infrastructure, products and services (besides caulking guns).

The CBC complained to commitee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass) that not only were their constituencies not getting sufficient participation in bailout programs, but that the administration was not doing enough to create jobs for low-income people or preserve minority-owned institutions such as radio stations, lending companies and jobs programs. There are 10 members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Chairman Frank's committee and they have the votes to hold up any legisation under its jurisdiction. They are using that power now to hold up revamping new rules for financial markets until their demands are met.

So far, CBC and Frank meetings with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel have been unsuccessful. The CBC appears to be committed to getting concessions or is ready to kill the administration's initiative to overhaul financial-market rules. Now if the CBC would dig in on energy and climate legislation, African Americans might get a foothold into the energy markets (oil, gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar, efficiency and conservation). (WSJ, 11/20/09)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Majority Black Uniontown Gets Tennessee Toxic Fly Ash

Ruby Hollmes, left, lives across the street from the 1,000-acre Arrowhead Landfill near Uniontown in southern Perry County. The landfill is just off U.S. Highway 80 in Alabama and on many days, 85 to 110 rail cars bring in coal ash from Kingston, Tennessee each carrying 105 tons of moist ash sealed in thick plastic material that Tennessee Valley Authority officials call "burrito wraps." The ash is from the huge spill in Kingston, Tennessee in December 2008.

Uniontown, with fewer than 2,000 residents, is a majority-black town in a majority-black county that is one of Alabama's poorest with nearly half of Uniontown's families listed as living below the federal poverty level. In Perry County as a whole, 2008 census figures show a population of fewer than 11,000, with 33 percent below the poverty level. Ninety-five percent of the county's nearly 1,900 public-school students receive free lunches. The September unemployment rate, nearly 20 percent, was among the state's highest.

So far, based on a $1.05-a-ton fee on material shipped into the landfill, the Perry County Commission has received more than $500,000. Most of the money comes from shipments of the coal ash spilled when an earthen dam collapsed last December at the TVA's Kingston Fossil Fuel Plant in Roane County, Tennessee. Based on what it anticipates receiving during the current fiscal year, the commission has pledged $400,000 each to its two municipalities, Marion and Uniontown, and $550,000 to the county school board. This fiscal year alone, the county should take in $3.5 million from the landfill, mostly because of the ash shipments. That sum nearly equals the county's budget, minus what it gets from the ash fees.

Phill-Con Services, a Knoxville civil construction and operation services company, runs Arrowhead for a group of Atlanta-area investors. Under its permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the landfill operates as a solid-waste disposal facility.

Before the first coal ash shipment arrived July 3, Arrowhead was taking in between 100 and 1,500 tons of municipal, commercial and other nonhazardous waste a day. Since the coal ash began coming in, the daily dump ranges from 8,000 to 11,000 tons. Depending on the volume shipped, the landfill should be receiving coal ash from TVA for the next 12 to 18 months. According to an EPA fact sheet, the facility is taking about 3 million of the 5.4 million cubic yards of ash spilled at the Kingston site.

Some landfill proponents want to get the rest of the spilled ash, for which officials are trying to work out a disposal plan. They would like to get what the Kingston plant is producing now until the landfill runs out of space, as well as coal ash produced elsewhere in the state because no disposal site has the environmental safeguards that Arrowhead does.

Coal ash is a byproduct of burning coal to produce energy. The gray, powdery substance contains such materials as silica, unburned carbon and metals such as arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc. Coal ash also contains radium, a radioactive substance that occurs naturally in coal. (The Birmingham News, 11/15/09, Ruby Holmes photo courtesy Tom Gordon)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

American Media Wants Enmity Between Blacks & Chinese

The Chinese people love Black people from America. We base this assessment on the experience of our parent group [Center for Environment, Commerce & Energy] staff while traveling thoughout China in 2007.

The Washington Post published an article today, "China Confronts Issues Of Race And Long-Held Prejudice," that was so biased against good Chinese/African American relations that we have to respond. The article takes some small negative experiences of one person and exaggerates them into a conclusion that Chinese are racist agasint Blacks. Nothing could be further from the truth in our experiences. Again, Center staff found nothing but love from agricultural areas to urban areas from Chinese people.

Trying to paint President Obama's trip to China with a racist brush is just beyond the pale. One has to bend over backwards to come to such a conclusion. Fortunately, the love that will be displayed from the Chinese people to President Obama will dispel any notions that Chinese people are prejudiced against Black Americans.

What is the motive for such media coverage? Our experiences in China made us wonder why the American media does not cover the love Chinese people have for Black Americans. Is this some sort of perverse move to create enmity between Chinese people and African Americans? If it is, the American media should be ashamed. Regardless, try as you might, the Chinese people and African Americans are not going for any efforts to spread America's unique brand of racism. Chinese people and African Americans are going to bond and will aggressively address the world's problems.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dick Gregory: Godfather of the Environmental Movement


By Norris McDonald

Dick Gregory was working to mitigate environmental challenges before the environmental movement even formed. Dick Gregory was PRE ORIGINAL EARTH DAY. Dick Gregory was telling folk how to eat way before it was cool. Remember "Cooking With Mother Nature?"And Dick Gregory is an unsung hero in the history of the environmental movement. Dick was a founding board member of AAEA. We know who you are Dick and we celebrate you.

Dick Gregory saved my life in 1991. When asthma was trying to kill me, Dick arranged for me to get credit at a health food store and would even give me rides home when I did not have a car. Dick would put his wife Lil on the phone with me to assure me sometimes when I had doubts about the things he was recommending. Of course, Dick was always right. I consider Dick to be my mentor.

Norris McDonald, former Greenpeace
President Peter Bahouth & Dick Gregory

One night Dick had me across the street from the Howard University Hotel in the parking lot with one of his scientists using my car to demonstrate a synthetic fuel. He had his astrologer with him reading the stars and Dick just always 'tripped me out.' Clearly he was Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars way before David Bowie had a clue. Dick was right there helping to get the NO FEAR ACT passed--the first civil rights law of the 21st Century.

Dick could have gained megastardom if he so desired. But Dick chose activism and the human touch. I would walk the street with Dick and he would always put a few dollars in a street person's cup. Dick related to the average guy on the street. We were once in a Rolls Royce when he was driving me home and somebody pulled up to us at a stop light. The guy said, "You look like Dick Gregory." Dick said, "I am Dick Gregory." And everybody laughed. Dick is supercool and never has any bodyguards or entourage with him. Although I know I can never match Dick's performance, it sure does give me something to shoot for.

Norris McDonald with Dick Gregory at Malcolm X Day, Washington, DC 1992

Dick there are many that follow you. But you were the first. The first environmentalist. The Godfather of Environmental Justice. Pre Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" and I bet you even influenced Marvin. Thank you Dick Gregory for your guidance. May I achieve even a fraction of what you did in your incredible life.

Monday, November 09, 2009

African Nations Threatening Developed Nations On Climate

Delegates of 50 African countries to the Barcelona, Spain climate talks staged a 24-hour boycott of the meeting and demanded that the developed countries should cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. The Barcelona meeting preceeds the climate change meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark in December to craft a follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol. The Copenhagen deal would succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which called on 37 industrial countries to reduce heat-raising gas emissions by an average 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. It made no demands on developing countries like India and China.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is deeply frustrated by these developments to crafting a Kyoto II. Scientists say industrial countries should reduce emissions by 25 to 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

African countries, China and India are right to hold our feet to the fire. If any country is culpable in causing global warming, it is the USA. So we need to show leadership in addressing climate change mitigation. We believe a global climate change treaty could be a multi-trillion dollar market stimulator that could revolutionize how energy is produced and used. Yet the U.S. reluctance to pass climate change legislation is getting in the way of this global market renaissance. America must pass cap and trade climate change legislation and must help in constructing an international treaty that will lead to global warming mitigation. (Economic Times, 11/5/09, Yahoo News, 11/3/09)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Why Is The House Environment Hostile To The CBC?

One would think that the U.S. House of Representatives would be more hospitable to its African American members since it is now controlled by Democrats. Not even when the Republican Party was in the majority has the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) been under such assault as it is now. The CBC should be outraged. Is this some bizarre attempt to control them because of their power? Doesn't the Ethics Committee know what they are doing? Don't they notice that all of their inquiries are directed at the black members of Congress?

Representative G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), the only African-American lawmaker among the Ethics Commitees 10 members and Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), must get to the bottom of this. While a substantial number of white lawmakers have been referred for violation, the ethics committee has not yet launched formal investigative subcommittees with respect to any of them — as it has with the seven African-American members.

No wonder there is not black ownership of energy insfrastructure, properties or products in America. The Congress has the CBC intimidated and 'under control.' Heaven forbid the CBC tries to get even some of the trillions of dollars being thrown at Wall Street to create some black energy company owners. So the environmental movement isn't the only sector that ignores blacks and expects them to go along with whatever they say.

Black lawmakers are “easy targets” for ethics watchdog groups because they have less money — both personally and in their campaign accounts — to defend themselves than do their white colleagues. Campaign funds can be used to pay members’ legal bills. Yet two-hundred-and-thirty-seven members of Congress are millionaires. That’s 44 percent of the body – compared to about 1 percent of Americans overall.

The nation’s only black senator, Roland Burris of Illinois, is currently under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. (Politico, 11/4/09, Politico, 11/6/09)

Friday, November 06, 2009

EPA Administrator Jackson's 1st Official Visit to New Orleans

Administrator Lisa Perez Jackson, left, a New Orleans native, is scheduled to make her first visit to the city as EPA Administrator on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 17 and 18.

On Tuesday, November 17, Administrator Jackson will speak at the EPA’s National Brownfields Conference at the Morial Convention Center. Her remarks will be open press.

On Wednesday, November 18, Administrator Jackson will join representatives from local non-profits to tour sustainable development projects in the Lower Ninth Ward. From there, the administrator will travel to Southern University for a roundtable with students and professors. Following that Administrator Jackson will tour a site where green homes will be constructed in Ponchartrain Park. Finally, Administrator Jackson will speak at a Dean’s Colloquium at Tulane University, her alma mater. All of these events are open press.

Tuesday, November 17

9:30 a.m. CST Administrator Jackson delivers remarks at EPA’s National Brownfields Conference
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
900 Convention Center Blvd
New Orleans, La.

Wednesday, November 18

9:30 a.m. CST Administrator Jackson tours Lower Ninth Ward sustainable development projects

12:30 p.m. CST Administrator Jackson participates in roundtable with Southern University students and professors
Southern University

1:15 p.m. CST Administrator Jackson tours site of future green homes in Ponchartrain Park
Tour will start at 5562 Park Drive
New Orleans, La.

2:30 p.m. CST Administrator Jackson Speaks at Tulane Dean’s Colloquium

Tulane University
Freeman Auditorium, Woldenberg Art Center
1229 Broadway Street
New Orleans, La.

Administrator Lisa Perez Jackson grew up in Ponchartrain Park in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. The Administrator went to St. Gabriel the Archangel grammar school and St. Mary’s Dominican High School, where she was valedictorian of the class of ‘79. She also graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from Tulane University. Her mother and several members of her family were displaced from the city when their house was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina.

Monday, November 02, 2009

AAEA-NY Climate/Energy/Air Forum A Big Success

Frank Stewart, Amber Sisson Norris McDonald, Samara Swanston, Craig Wilson

The African American Environmentalist Association New York Office hosted a forum on "Air Quality and Electricity: Why It Matters To You," on Friday, October 30, 2009 at the City University of New York Graduate Center Segal Theatre. The theater was filled with students from the New York High School for Environmental Studies, members of the American Association of Blacks in Energy New York Chapter, representatives from the New York City Council and others.

Panelists included Amber Sisson-New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (NYAREA), Samara Swanston-environmentalist, Frank Stewart-President, American Association of Blacks in Energy and Craig Wilson-Safe Healthy Affordable Reliable Energy (SHARE). The forum was moderated by AAEA President Norris McDonald.

The forum covered numerous topics that were discussed by panelists and audience members. The issues included energy and air pollution in New York, green jobs, the Waxman/Markey and Boxer/Kerry climate change bills, New York Governor David A. Paterson's New Preliminary State Energy Plan, technical aspects of energy production and more. An issues brief produced by AAEA and NYAREA, "New York State and the Waxman-Markey Bill," was distributed at the forum.

Excellent box lunches were also provided to the participants.

The forum was coordinated by Urbanomics Consulting Group (UCG).