Interview of the Week, Justin Onwenu, EJ Community Organizer in Detroit

This week we talked with Justin Onwenu, a Sierra Club community organizer in Detroit working on environmental justice and the COVID-19 pandemic.  Justin is a member of Michigan Governor Whitmer’s Environmental Justice Advisory Task Force and the Democratic National Committee’s Council on the Environment and Climate Crisis.  Here are some of the highlights.

On Environmental Health Crises

Detroit has also had environmental justice crises.  Water shutoffs.  The Federal government has disinvested in water infrastructure for many, many years and as a result, people have been shut out of water because they cannot afford it.

On Pollution From Detroit’s Refinery

The only refinery in the state of Michigan is located in the city of Detroit.  A refinery that is surrounded by dozens of other heavily polluting industries. And I see first hand working with residents every day, the number of folks on a single block that has asthma and cancer is just off the charts.  One of the things I have been working on with residents is getting the oil company to commit to better protect community health by paying for things like air filtration systems in nearby schools.

Advice for Getting Involved in EJ Issues

It is important for folks to realize how connected environmental and environmental justice issues are to all the other issues that we care about…I think getting involved in great organizations and just connecting all the dots with issues that are a priority.

On Being Part of the Democratic Party Platform Committee

I was ecstatic to be able to participate…we included in our recommendations things like investing in vulnerable communities directly.

Up Next

First African American Catholic Cardinal Supports the Fight Against Climate Change

First African American Catholic Cardinal Supports the Fight Against Climate Change

Wilton Gregory, appointed the first African American Catholic cardinal, is an ally in the fight against global warming. He not only believes in climate change, but he also has supported the Pope’s landmark environmental treatise— “Laudato Si:’ On Care for our Common Home” —when many archbishops in the United States did not, and put together a plan to address the Pope’s concerns about climate change that has been an inspiration for other faith leaders in Boston, Columbus, Minneapolis, San Diego, and other cities.

Why this Matters:  Spiritual leaders across faiths have been taking a stand against climate change. On November 16th, 47 faith institutions— 42 representing Catholics— announced their divestment from fossil fuels.

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Interview of the Week: Adam Kolton of the Alaska Wilderness League

This week, just in time for Thanksgiving, we talk with Adam Kolton, the Executive Director of the Alaska Wilderness League about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Arctic Indigenous Communities, and conserving Alaskan wilderness.  Watch the entire interview.  Here are a few highlights: On the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: “This is the area where hundreds of […]

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Interview of the Week: Indonesian Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan

This week we had the pleasure of sitting with Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, a title he’s held since October 2019. We asked the minister about how Indonesia is balancing the precarious equation of conserving its rich biodiversity while addressing the duel climate and COVID crises.   Now that […]

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