Climate Justice Coalition’s National Network Supports House Dems’ Climate Crisis Action Plan

A coalition of nearly 300 progressive groups that span the environmental and civil rights movements have been working together for a year to hammer out the pillars of a climate justice plan they want to see passed, and the House Climate Crisis Committee adopted much of it in the comprehensive Solving the Climate Crisis Action Plan released on Tuesday.  The leaders of the “Equitable and Just National Climate Platform” insisted that any new climate policy address the disproportionate burdens of air and water pollution and the climate impacts that Black and brown citizens face in “frontline and fenceline” communities.  And House leadership agreed.

Why This Matters:  When they work together in a coalition, these groups have real political muscle.  Environmental justice and equity are at the center of the House Democrats’ plan — it takes on environmental racism, economic injustice, and other inequities throughout — these issues are, according to the Plan’s authors, “crucial considerations” in each section.  It may not be THE Green New Deal, but it is a new day for racial justice issues in the environmental movement.  The coalition ensured that the Plan addresses “the legacy of environmental racism while rebuilding the U.S. economy in ways that work for everyone—not just the wealthy few.”  

Key Tenets of the Platform

At its core, the Platform is quite simple.  Their vision is that “all people and all communities have the right to breathe clean air, live free of dangerous levels of toxic pollution, access healthy food, and enjoy the benefits of a prosperous and vibrant clean economy.”  The goals are:

  • A healthy climate and air quality for all,
  • Access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable electricity, water, and transportation for every community,
  • An inclusive, just, and pollution-free energy economy with high-quality jobs, and
  • Safe, healthy communities and infrastructure.

They also recognize that to achieve these goals, they need to actively engage communities, all levels of government, science and research, and businesses and industry and that they would also need new, inclusive strategies “that acknowledge and repair the legacy of environmental harms on communities inflicted by fossil fuel and other industrial pollution.”

The Action Plan on EJ

The top line pledge of the Plan on Environmental Justice is that it will invest in disproportionately exposed communities to cut pollution and advance environmental justice.

  • Enforcement: strengthen enforcement of environmental laws in EJ communities and create a private right of action to sue under the Civil Rights Act for disparate impacts from pollution.
  • Energy:  create a program at the Energy Department to reduce energy poverty, ensure EJ communities have equitable access to energy efficiency and renewable energy, support community energy planning, and promote climate resilience in vulnerable communities plus improve energy efficiency and weatherize homes in low-income areas.
  • Pollution: reduce the threat of toxic releases in storms from polluted sites in EJ communities and increase funding to clean up and reuse contaminated properties and reduce pollution from industrial facilities by setting enforceable performance standards.
  • Carbon Pricing: pair a carbon price with policies to achieve measurable air pollution reductions from facilities located in EJ communities.
  • Green Space and Healthy Foods: fund initiatives to ensure equitable access to parks, public lands, and other natural spaces plus improve local food systems and access to healthy, fresh, and culturally appropriate foods.

To Go Deeper:  Read the EJ summaries from the Addressing the Climate Crisis Action Plan by clicking here.  Read the entire Action Plan here.  And read the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform here.

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