WE ACT for Environmental Justice Stands with Congressional and Environmental Leaders in Support of a Green New Deal



March 26, 2019
Contact: Chris Dobens, 212-961-1000 ext. 320, chris@weact.org


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Joining Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), and representatives of the Sunrise Movement, Sierra Club, and other groups, WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s Director of Federal Legislative Affairs Kerene N. Tayloe, Esq. delivered the following remarks at a Capitol Hill press conference this morning, in support of the need for a just and equitable Green New Deal to address the global threat of climate change:

“Good morning, my name is Kerene Tayloe, I am the Director of Federal Legislative Affairs for WE ACT for Environmental Justice. WE ACT – founded in Harlem, NY 31 years ago – works to build healthy communities by organizing residents of color and low income people to engage in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT provides leadership within the national Environmental Justice Movement, and works to influence the creation of federal, state, and local policies affecting the environment and public health. WE ACT’s Washington, D.C. office also coordinates the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum with 43 members in 21 states.

While some choose to debate facts and create delay that only benefits corporations that pollute our air, water, and soil, I stand here today to say unequivocally that climate change is real and that there can be no climate justice without environmental justice. Report after report has confirmed what environmental justice communities have been saying for decades that Black and Hispanic communities are exposed to more pollution than their White counterparts.

We must draft legislation and implement policies to protect not just the rich but everyone. We must act now to protect communities like those in Houston who are underneath black plumes and fire as their air is being poisoned by toxic chemicals. We must act now for the people of Flint who have not had clean drinking water in nearly 1,800 days and the countless cities in our country without clean water due to our failure to update our old infrastructure. We must act now to provide a just transition for our brothers and sisters in Appalachian communities who sacrificed their bodies to power our country working in coal mines.

We acknowledges all of the Senators who stand here today in opposition to what history will say was a sham vote to distract us from true progress to protect not only our planet but the lives of those who have a human right to clean air, clean water, and safe environment. We acknowledge Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for their leadership in shifting the politics of how climate policy is shaped at the federal level. Their recognition of the importance of the role of those working on the frontline of environmental and climate justice in drafting the Green New Deal is to be supported and applauded.

We are encouraged to see frontline, vulnerable communities and Indigenous Peoples reflected in the aspirations of this resolution. WE ACT has forged our very own Green New Deal on the ground in Harlem and El Barrio with our Solar Uptown Now (SUN) campaign – which put 270 kilowatts of renewable energy on the roofs of affordable housing buildings in our communities and contributed to employment, lower energy bills, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Solar Uptown Now demonstrates that a Green New Deal can provide a just transition to renewable energy that combats climate change, reduces pollution, lowers energy costs, and supports a “green” economy.

We must also acknowledge that, while the Green New Deal is a positive step forward, there will be challenges in how the sausage gets made. WE ACT looks forward to working with everyone here to draft and pass legislation that has a clear timeline for ending our dependence on fossil fuels – which disproportionately pollutes the air, water, and soil where frontline, vulnerable, and Indigenous Peoples live, work, and play. In addition, we encourage members to avoid technological carbon sequestration methods that are unproven at the scale of the problem.

The time to act is now. Thank you.”

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WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York and Washington, D.C. Visit us at weact.org and follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


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