May 14, 2019

Gulf Equity Water Corps: Youth Raising Awareness about Sea Level Rise and Flooding Along the Gulf Coast

The Gulf Equity Water Corps. is an intergenerational project designed to develop climate justice leaders in the Gulf Coast Region. The Gulf Equity Water Corps is comprised of HBCU student interns from Dillard University and Texas Southern University, as well as, high school students from New Orleans, LA and Houston, TX respectively. The HBCU interns are conducting research on drainage capacity and flooding in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans and the Pleasantville Community in Houston, TX. The Interns are assisting faculty mentors and community leaders with research and the development of a curriculum to design a water focused project to raise awareness about sea-level rise, flooding, and water asset mapping in their communities. The HBCU interns will present the results of their research and final curriculum in five (5) stages: (1) interactive training to high school students (2) the HBCU interns and high school students, also known as The Corps, will present via webinar, (3) students give a presentation at a community meeting, and (4) a student train-the-trainer session in the Fall of 2019. The Corps will also have an opportunity to present their research (stage 5) at the 7th Annual HBCU Climate Change Conference, November 13, 2016, 2019. The Gulf Equity Water Corps Project is allowing students to develop the skill set to advocate and become trainers for other youth within their communities. The project goal is to build youth awareness on how to build community capacity and collaboration around the issues related to sea level rise and flooding to improve community resiliency. This project is funded by the Bezos Foundation.  ...

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Apr 17, 2019

Congratulations 2019 Environmental Career Worker Training Program Graduates!

The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) Spring 2019 Environmental Career Worker Training Program (ECWTP) was held at 9801 Lake Forest Blvd in New Orleans East, January 21 – April 10, 2019. The twelve week training consisted of a six-week basic skills training that utilizes a work-based learning curriculum and six-weeks of technical skills training. On April 12, 2019, twenty-five (25) aspiring young men  and women graduated from the training receiving certificates in forty (40) hours hazardous waste operator, thirty-two (32) hours Asbestos Abatement Worker, sixteen (16) hours Mold Remediation, sixteen (16) hours Lead Abatement Worker, ten (10) hours OSHA General Industry, forty (40) hours Construction, and forty (40) hours Weatherization Installer. The graduation ceremony was held at City Park, Park View Terrace. The ceremony featured trophies and gifts for graduates who were recognized for significant achievement by their instructors, counselors, and program staff. Joshua Mitchel was named “Best All Around Student" for his excellent performance in all aspects of the training. The guest speaker this year was, Hakim Kashif, a Motivational Speaker and Life Coach.  Job placement efforts are underway to place graduates into viable and sustainable employment. The DSCEJ has trained young men and women in environmental health and safety for over twenty-four years. The next New Orleans ECWTP training will be held in the Spring of 2020. The Environmental Career Worker Training Program is funded by the National Institutes for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). For more information about our training, please call 504-272-0956 or visit our website at Environmental Career Worker Training Program    ...

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Apr 11, 2019

Rolling Hills Still Plaguing Wedgewood Residents 5 Years Later

 Five years after the Rolling Hills Construction and Demolition Facility had its permit revoked by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the pit is still, at best, a headache for its neighbors. At worst, it's an ongoing health hazard. The pit is polluting nearby ground and surface water and emitting "objectionable odors," according to the DEP. Additionally, residents of the surrounding Wedgewood, Olive Heights and Rolling Hills neighborhoods assert toxins from the pit are causing them respiratory disease, cancer and early deaths. To help give residents the most up-to-date information on the pit's status, the DEP will host an informational open house 5-7 p.m. Thursday at the Marie K. Young-Wedgewood Community Center, 6405 Wagner Road. There will be no formal presentation at the two-hour open house. Instead, DEP subject matter experts will be on hand to share information on the status of the pit's closure, the next steps in the process, the state's ongoing enforcement actions and the groundwater and surface water impacts from the facility. Representatives from Escambia County and Department of Health will also be available to speak to residents.  Read More ...

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Mar 28, 2019

Gas Plant Fight Heads To Court

The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and local groups have sued the New Orleans City Council for violating laws when it approved Entergy's gas plant application. In our lawsuit, we present ten legal errors by the City Council that include violations of constitutional due process, decision-making that is arbitrary and capricious, and violations of local ordinances. We filed this suit in April 2018 after the Council’s vote in favor of the gas plant. The Council delayed the court hearing on our lawsuit twice, but we finally had our day in court on March 26 2019. We are now awaiting the Judge's decision. We are making three main points: 1. New Orleans residents were denied a fair process by the City Council, which violates both the US Constitution and the Louisiana State Constitution. The Council ignored the unfairness created by its utility advisors having a conflict of interest. The advisors wrote the decision for the Council to approve Entergy's gas application after they set up a prior agreement between the Council and Entergy for a new gas plant and, later, advocated for the gas plant as a party to the Council's proceeding. In addition, we are facing a situation where the decision maker -- the Council -- was not neutral or impartial because of its prior agreement with Entergy for a new gas plant that is the same as the one that Entergy applied for two years later and the Council approved on March 8, 2018. To make matters worse, the Council failed to disclose the existence of this prior agreement during its proceeding on the gas plant. 2. The Council would sacrifice neighborhoods in New Orleans East to more than a million of pounds of toxic air pollution each year from the gas plant. The Council would also force residents and businesses to pay the estimated $210 million cost of the gas plant. However, the Council has not evaluated alternative options to determine what is the best choice for New Orleans. The Council simply ignored its own order requiring that this be done. 3. In addition, the Council is violating several local ordinances. For example, two ordinances require the Council to follow sound utility practice and comply with FEMA standards for flood damage prevention. However, the Council approved building the gas plant in a FEMA designated "high risk flood hazard area." FEMA policy discourages building power plants in this type of area and utility companies have established a standard of practice that avoids building in these areas and relocates utility substations and equipment away from these areas. Here’s what we are hoping will happen: the Judge will set aside the Council's decision to approve Entergy's gas plant application. If the Council decides to re-open the process, it would have to follow instructions from the Judge to ensure a fair process for New Orleans residents to be heard and allow for careful consideration of alternative options, impacts on our health and quality of life, as well as cost protections for ratepayers. The City Council’s advisors are representing the Council in the lawsuit. What’s so bizarre about the advisors representing the Council is that the advisors are the ones who set up the prior agreement between the Council and Entergy for a new gas plant, then advocated for the gas plant during the Council's proceeding, and wrote the Council's decision approving the gas plant. So, basically, the people who created the legal problems for the Council are now representing the Council in this lawsuit. The plaintiffs in this case are the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Alliance for Affordable Energy, 350 New Orleans, and the Sierra Club. Entergy is an intervenor in this case. Petitioners Reply Brief...

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Mar 25, 2019

Environmental Justice and Community Science: A Social Movement for Improvement, Compliance, and Action Panel - 2019

Environmental justice (EJ) advocates and activists have for decades used community science to raise awareness about EJ concerns, inpower residents, increase community capacity, and translate research to action. Environmental justice (EJ) advocates and activists have for decades used community science to raise awareness about EJ concerns, inpower residents, increase community capacity, and translate research to action. Panelists discuss their community-driven research efforts to understand and address: 1) environmental justice and military wastes in Alaska; 2) goods movement, ports, and refineries in Oakland, California and Detroit, Michigan; 3) lack of basic amenities in North Carolina; and 4) environmental justice, hurricanes, and health disparities in the Gulf Coast and Puerto Rico. Panelists will describe the challenges of doing community science, detail successes, and share lessons learned, best practices, and issues yet resolved. Click to Watch Video ...

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Mar 16, 2019

HBCU Climate Change Consortium participate in The Climate Reality Leadership Training Corps

HBCU Climate Change Consortium Co-Director, Dr. Beverly Wright organized a delegation of members from the HBCU Climate Change Consortium to participate in the 2019 Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Atlanta, GA from March 14 – March 16, 2019. The Consortium’s partnership with the Climate Reality Project helped bring a diverse group into the Climate Reality Project training space. This year, the focus of the training came from an environmental justice lens. Environmental justice experts, faith leaders, students, and people of color community leaders gave heartfelt and sobering presentations about the devastating impact that climate change is having on vulnerable communities in the southeast region of the United States and around the world. HBCU Climate Change Consortium, Co-Director and Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University, Dr. Robert Bullard, facilitated a breakout session, “A Safe Place to Live, Work, Play and Pray: 30 Years of the US Environmental Justice Movement” and participated on a panel with Former Vice President Al Gore, Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences and Dr. Kim Cobb, Georgia Power Chair, “The Climate Crisis and Its Solutions,” session.  Al Gore said, “We all live in this house (Earth), we can’t ignore the fire in the bedroom or kitchen. The fire impacts all of us. We should not just say, Not in My Back Yard (NIMBY) but NOPE, Not On Planet Earth.”  Members of the Consortium had an opportunity to network and expand their knowledge about renewable energy, community resilience, and green jobs to equip environmental justice communities with the resources and knowledge to develop sustainable and resilient neighborhoods for all. Climate Reality Leadership Training    ...

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Feb 26, 2019

Capitol Hill Panel on the Inclusion of Renewable Energy Economy Powered By Green Jobs

  On February 26-27, 2019, Environmental Justice champions from around the country visited Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to elevate their concerns about the myriad of environmental and health issues disproportionately affecting low-income communities and communities of color. In particular, the EJ leaders wanted the elected officials shaping the Green New Deal to not only understand our concerns with the current resolution but also to build relationships so that they can work with the communities they represent – to ensure that it emerges as a just and equitable Green New Deal for all. The purpose of the hearing was to learn first-hand about environmental issues, concerns, and needs from experts in the field to help develop the budget for the EPA and other agencies. Meeting with Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) of the Senate Climate Action Task Force at the U.S. Capitol Hill Meeting with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and the leaders of the Sunrise Movement and the New Consensus Panel (L-R): WE ACT’s Director of Legislative Affairs Kerene N. Tayloe, Esq. (moderator), WE ACT’s Deputy Director & Director of Policy Initiatives Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice’s Founding Director Dr. Beverly Wright, Power 52 Co-Founder & CEO Rob Wallace, and Green Door Initiative President & CEO Donele Wilkins   Capitol Hill Panel on the Inclusion of Renewable Energy Economy Powered By Green Jobs ...

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Feb 7, 2019

Inclusion of African Americans a Must for a Green New Deal

We celebrate the efforts led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) to move the United States back in the direction of addressing climate change, and call on lawmakers to confront environmental racism that is at the root of climate change. Seventy-nine percent of African American neighborhoods are polluted by the same smokestacks and vehicle exhaust pipes that warm the planet. Many of the places where African Americans live, work, play, and learn are targeted by polluting industries and heavy traffic transportation routes that contribute to missed school days, emergency room visits, and the United States being one of the largest contributors to greenhouses gases. Indeed, African Americans are also most at risk from climate change, and will have the greatest challenge in surviving and recovering from stronger storms, frequent flood events, and extreme heat waves. Pollution is a potent form of racial oppression on African Americans, who are predominantly located in states that refused to expand Medicare and also sued to undermine Obamacare and the Clean Power Plan. The Green New Deal should be a "We Deal." As Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reminded us: "Our diversity is our strength, but our unity is our power." We are stronger together when people who have the most at stake are part of the decision-making on how we move forward to heal our communities and planet. Contact: Dr. Beverly Wright, Founder & Executive Director Deep South Center for Environmental Justice 504-272-0956 Dr. Robert Bullard, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy Texas Southern University Tina Johnson Deep South Center for Environmental Justice 610-864-9929

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Jan 19, 2019

Why Climate Change Would Have Alarmed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As Dr. Martin Luther King's National Day of Service approaches, I had an interesting thought as a scientist, writer, and human being. Climate change is one of the most significant challenges facing humanity, and its impacts stretch far beyond science. Climate change is often discussed from the lens of agriculture, energy, public health, national security, or weather disasters. However, the most recent U.S. National Climate Assessment reportaffirms previous studies that climate change disproportionately impacts marginalized, vulnerable, and disadvantaged populations of all races. The question that came to mind is "would Dr. King have been concerned about climate change?" Click here for full article ...

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Jan 18, 2019

3 Councilmembers Take Lead to Repeal Approval of Entergy Gas Plant: A Positive Step for New Orleans' Energy Future

The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice is committed to an energy future for New Orleans that is shaped by residents through meaningful and effective public participation. To this end, we have opposed a plan by Entergy New Orleans, Inc. to build a gas plant near predominantly African American and Vietnamese American neighborhoods in New Orleans East. The gas plant would continue the pattern of environmental racism by releasing each year more than one million pounds of toxic air pollution near communities of color, increase flood risks, and set back citywide efforts to cut pollution that contributes to climate change. Today, we commend members of the City Council on their announced resolution to “repeal and rescind” prior approval of the proposed    Entergy gas plant. Council members to offer resolution to repeal Entergy power plant, The Lens, Jan. 17, 2019. Dr. Beverly Wright guest op-ed: What Entergy wants versus what New Orleans needs, The Times-Picayune, Mar. 2, 2018.     ...

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