Congressional Black Caucus Panel— The Truth About the Green Economy: The Job Killing Agenda and Who’s Standing Behind It

Written by: Shamar Bibbins, Senior Political Associate

Last week, Green For All once again collaborated with Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, to host a forum at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 42nd Annual Legislative Conference.  The panel, The Truth About the Green Economy: The Job Killing Agenda and Who’s Standing Behind It, addressed facts about strong job growth in the green economy, highlighted success stories from around the country, and talked about who’s standing in the way of moving green jobs forward, and what communities of color can do to fight back and amplify the success of the green economy. 

The panel included Gilbert Campbell, Co-Owner of Volt Energy and a member of Green For All’s Sustainable Business Network; Danielle Deane, Director of the Energy and Environment Program at The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and Jeff Johnson, MSNBC Contributor and Commentator on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Michael Strautmanis, Deputy Assistant to President Obama and Counselor for Strategic Engagement to the Senior Advisor, also joined us and provided opening remarks, stressing the importance of federal investments in forward-thinking green infrastructure like offshore wind initiatives and renewable energy credits.

Jeff Johnson made the case that the green economy is a civil rights issue – and that we need to think about creating good jobs that allow us breathe clean air and drink clean water as such. Both Johnson and Gilbert Campbell made the point that the green economy not only offers opportunities to create jobs for our communities, but to support entrepreneurship and create wealth for generations to come.

Danielle Deane offered great examples of how The Joint Center engages a diverse range of stakeholders—from the faith community to grassroots leaders to politicians—through the center’s Commission to Engage African Americans on Climate Change.

After remarks by the panelists, the audience engaged in a robust and lively conversation about everything from holding our elected officials accountable to environmental education and engaging ethnic media to better tell the success stories of the green economy in African-American communities.

Panelists noted that America is already transitioning to a green economy. Today, 3.1 million Americans rely on a green job for their paychecks. And we already have more Americans working in the wind and solar industry than in coal mining. However, despite the promise of the green economy, the oil and coal industries have supported a well coordinated attack on the green economy, in part by collaborating with congressional leaders, special interest groups and the media to stall and block policies and regulations that are aimed at protecting the nation’s air and water.  In 2011 and in the first half of 2012, the Republican-controlled House voted 247 times to dismantle environmental and public health protections. And they have voted 109 times on legislation that would enrich the oil and gas industry.

Last week, before departing Washington until after the November elections, Congress made one final attempt to gut environmental protections by passing HR3409, a bill that would weaken EPA’s ability to protect our air and water and scuttle safeguards aimed at reducing harmful mercury and carbon pollution from coal plants.

Blocking these important health safeguards, and delaying investment in the green economy hurts everyone— but communities of color bear the burnt of environmental hazards and toxins. We cannot afford to drag our feet—if we do, we risk losing out on the next great surge in our economy – the green (clean) economy.

Click here to see a video highlighting some of the workers and businesses from around the country that are making the green economy a reality.

Click here to read about The Green Room Reception hosted by Green For All and others during the Congressional Black Caucus.

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