The Dernogalizer

July 17, 2009

NAACP Supports Climate Legislation

There’s been a lot of noise made about the fact that Senator Barbara Boxer got into a feud with the head of the Black Chamber of Commerce Harry Alford in a hearing Thursday over the merits of climate legislation.  When Boxer cited other African American groups that had contrasting opinions to Alford, Alford blew up over it calling her remarks “racial”.  I myself have written a two-part column about why minorities should care about passing environmental legislation, which can be found here, and here.  Brad Johnson of Wonk Room has a video of the Boxer-Alford fued, which can be found here.  I myself would like to show an article by E&E found on the CCAN website which talks about the NAACP supporting climate and energy legislation.  I might not speak for black Americans, but I think Alford is being disingenuous when he claims  to represent the entire black community on this issue.


Jessica Leber, E&E reporter

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, approved a resolution to support climate and energy legislation at its annual convention yesterday.

“The NAACP will call on our nation’s elected leaders to ensure that the response to climate change can take a higher ground than business as usual — one that ensures that we capture real public benefits from the new energy economy,” the document says.

The action marks the 100-year-old civil rights organization’s deepening engagement in the climate debate. In April, it joined the new Climate Equity Alliance to advocate for a climate bill that both “maximizes the gain” and “minimizes the pain” for low- and moderate-income families.

The new resolution cites the disproportionate effects that climate change will have on African Americans, many of whom live in cities with some of the worst air pollution problems already. It also notes that new policies would create “green” jobs where they are most needed and may relieve the burden of high energy bills for less affluent populations.

Those views reflect one set of arguments in a battle over the African American community’s positioning on climate issues.

David Bositis, an electoral politics expert who works with the Commission to Engage African Americans on Climate Change, said that his recent polling shows blacks are increasingly willing to pay more for electricity in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

African Americans, he said, have over the last three years, and especially in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, been willing to support climate action. And the aging NAACP, he said, has been working lately to recruit younger African Americans, for whom the climate issue may resonate.

But another poll, by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank, found that half of African Americans were not willing to pay any more for gasoline or electricity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The economic recovery was overwhelmingly African Americans’ top priority, that poll found.

In its resolution, NAACP also pledged to work with the National Wildlife Federation in its climate campaigning. Aileo Weinmann, a spokesman for the wildlife group, pointed out that the NAACP’s support for legislation shows unity that will be important as negotiators go to Copenhagen in December for international climate talks.

“Although everyone feels its effects, the impacts of global warming are disproportionately severe among communities of color,” said Marc Littlejohn, manager of diversity partnerships at the National Wildlife Federation. “We need to protect low-income Americans, who spend a much larger share of income on energy-related expenses. We need to help Americans working in carbon-intensive industries transition to clean energy jobs



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