It’s a fact. Coal-fired, nuclear, and fossil fuel power plants affect minority and low-income populations disproportionately with regard to the rate of illness and death. In a bold article by Nikayla Jefferson and Leah C. Stokes for the Boston Globe, “Our racist fossil fuel energy system,” published July 17, 2020, it was cited that 68 percent of Black Americans lived within 30 miles of a coal-fired plant…black children have asthma rates that are twice as high as white children.” Science has proven that pollution and climate effects hit minority and low-income communities the hardest.
Indirect effects of dirty energy increase the problem, effects like a decrease in property values and subsequent decrease in school funding and other governmental services—resulting in less educational opportunities for this population.
There is a solution: that is, a move away from fossil-fuel-based energy production toward clean energy like wind and solar energy. Community Solar is a relatively new concept in affordable, renewable, local solar energy that could especially benefit the above-mentioned communities. Community solar programs offer solutions to low income family households to help address these issues.
A solar farm provides people with an easy way to benefit from solar energy without putting panels on their roofs. A solar farm is a power plant whose electricity is generated by capturing energy from the sun. The electricity is then distributed via the utility grid. People can subscribe to a solar farm and receive a credit on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced.
There is evidence that switching to clean energy costs less than pollution costs. According to Science Friday, August 14, 2020, “Climate activists have struggled to convince lawmakers to meaningfully reduce the country’s carbon footprint. Now, new research ties air pollution’s monetary cost to arguments for change.”
At a recent hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Drew Shindell, Nicholas professor of earth science at Duke University stated that air pollution’s effects are roughly twice as bad as previously thought, “…potentially costing the United States as much as $700 billion per year in avoidable death, illness, and lost productivity—more than the estimated price tag for transitioning to clean energy.”
A study published in the journal Climate Change, suggests that, at a time when the majority understand global warming and support government action to deal with it, industry lobbying still has far greater influence in Washington.
“Public opinion is pretty much a minor factor in deciding what Congress is going to do,” said Robert Brulle, the study’s author and a sociologist at Drexel University. Money spent on lobbying, he said, is likely a much bigger determinant of whether federal legislation gets off the ground.
During the period examined by the study (2000-2016), expenditures on federal lobbying aimed at climate issues topped $2 billion, representing on average 3.9 percent of annual federal lobbying dollars. That spending fluctuated by year. In 2009, it surged to more than 9 percent of the total as Congress debated the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would have established a cap-and-trade market to limit greenhouse gas emissions and allow companies to buy and sell permits to pollute. The bill failed in the Senate.
Despite this heavy lobby, there are still things that can be done in the effort to provide clean energy for all, including low income households. See some available resources below.
These model policies provide guidelines for state and local energy policies. Based on industry analysis, these standards are rigorous, yet attainable. If adopted nationwide, these policies will help to prevent climate change, as well as protect the well-being of communities.
The Just Energy Policies compendium outlines how states and NAACP branches can make sure their energy policies protect communities from harmful energy production processes while providing equitable access to economic opportunities like green jobs in energy efficiency and clean energy.NAACP: Just Energy Policies & Practices
EPA’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programs are designed to help energy consumers in all sectors, state policy makers, and energy providers by providing objective information, creating networks between the public and private sector and providing technical assistance. EPA also offers recognition to leading organizations that adopt energy efficiency and renewable energy policies and practices. This includes:
Whether you are an individual or company who wants to save money on your utility bills while contributing toward clean energy for all OR a solar energy developer who wants to provide lower cost clean solar energy, we’d be happy to speak with you. Visit ampion.net or call (800) 277-3641.