Washington, D.C. — The National Wildlife Federation’s Clean Economy Coalition of Color convened for their fifth conversation to discuss challenges and opportunities for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Build Back Better framework to provide resources and elevate the experiences of those living on the frontline. The January special session included advocates and leaders across Black, Indigenous, Latinx/e, Asian and Pacific Islander faith and farming communities.
“Those who provide us with spiritual guidance and the countless laborers and advocates that work with the land are often the people who help foster our ability to respect and connect with Mother Earth,” said Mustafa Santiago Ali, vice president of environmental justice, climate, and community revitalization for the National Wildlife Federation. “We owe it to them and our communities to ensure that these leaders are equipped with the latest information and resources available to continue to feed the body and the soul.”
"Wisconsin Green Muslims coordinates the Wisconsin Faith Communities for Equitable Solar Initiative, an interfaith program, which provides free solar education and assessments for underserved communities and calls for Justice 40 investments now to support energy democracy projects that is community-based, solutions-focused, frontline BIPOC led, and justice-centered renewable energy efforts,” said Huda Alkaff, founder and director of Wisconsin Green Muslims and coordinator of the Wisconsin Faith Communities for Equitable Solar Initiative. “Climate and environmental justice can't wait!"
“As money from the federal government trickles down to states, it’s important for our local communities to stay united,” said Representative De’Keither Stamps (D-Miss.). “If we continue to work together, we’ll be able to leverage more funding and resources for our communities, while ensuring that communities that need it the most are the first to receive federal relief to address environmental injustices. Whether it’s natural infrastructure to address climate-induced flooding or other nature-based solutions, we need to continue to work together on a state and local level.”
“Benton Harbor [Michigan], a community predominantly comprised of people of color, has faced issues with land and water contamination for years, but little has been done to address the environmental injustice we face as a community.” said Rev. Edward Pinkney, minister and president of the Benton Harbor Community Water Council, “Most recently, we’re facing issues with elevated levels of lead in our drinking water, which far exceeds the levels found in Flint [Michigan]. We must ensure that community leaders on the frontline have the tools, resources, and capacity to be able to leverage federal opportunities.”
"No one should be forced to live food, water or housing insecure. You cannot budget your way out of poverty. It is a problem when green plants and black dirt can get water, but little black babies cannot," said Rev. Roslyn Murray Bouier, M.Div., Brightmoor Connection, executive director.
The CECC is an alliance of some of the nation’s most insightful Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, and Pacific Islander leaders and advocates of color that are committed to amplifying ideas, recommendations, and solutions that uplift the priorities and economic interests of historically marginalized communities by guiding clean energy economy policies and implementation. The environmental justice team hopes to uplift equitable policies to inform decision-makers, share resources to build capacity among CECC member organizations, unpack legislation and policies that impact our communities, and highlight leaders of color that are currently operating in the clean economy to share best practices and lessons learned.
Participants in the fifth CECC conversation include:
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