Our Power Plan Day of Action 1/19/2016
Nearly 40 EPA officials across the ten regional headquarters–including seven EPA Regional Administrators–stepped out of their offices to meet with dozens of CJA community leaders on January 19th, 2016.
Why would Asli and Chinyelu – 13 and 16 year old African American Midwestern teens – travel from Indianapolis to shiver on the sidewalk outside Chicago’s looming Federal Center on a frigid Tuesday afternoon?
Cradling freshly-printed copies of a formal response to the Obama Administration and EPA’s Clean Power Plan, they and 30 others from across the Great Lakes region eventually filed into a glossy conference room on a lower floor. They were there to meet with then-Regional EPA Administrator Susan Hedman and her staff. (Yes, that Susan Hedman–who announced her resignation over Flint’s lead-tainted water just two days later.)
They are part of an overlooked force in environmental activism. A mass movement of people born and raised in the communities hardest-hit by pollution, climate and economic disruption. The Indigenous, African American, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, and working white families leading the Climate Justice Alliance come from “frontline communities” like this all over the United States and Tribal Lands.
On August 3rd, 2015 the United States Environmental Protection Agency committed to reducing carbon pollution from power plants for the first time in history. This Clean Power Plan requires states to bring down greenhouse gas emissions from power plants 32% from 2005 levels by the year 2030. Asli and Chinyelu can tell you that power plants are our single biggest source of climate-disruptive greenhouse gas emissions.
The cramped van ride from Indianapolis to Chicago was worthwhile because–for them–clean energy is not an abstract concept. Nor is it for Kandi Mossett, of the affiliated Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. She grew up in the Fort Berthold Reservation that sits in the middle of the infamous Bakken oil fields. Now an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, she travels the country telling stories like this:
These [natural gas] flares are…everywhere. At home you can stand and see 360 [degrees]: flare, flare, flare, flare, flare, flare, flare. It looks like a war zone in North Dakota. These are cancer-causing chemicals that we’re breathing in every day now. On top of the coal. I never thought we could see more sickness…so many of us are sick. The companies put signs for us that say “Danger! Hydrogen Sulfide Gas – poisonous gas – may be present!” I’m standing there taking a picture of the sign thinking, “So do I stop breathing? What am I supposed to do with my daughter?” …But we come and we gather and we take back the power in our communities. Because nobody else is going to do it for us, right?
This story of environmental racism and resistance is playing out all over the country. In pollution and unemployment-plagued Jackson and Detroit, CJA members Cooperation Jackson and EMEAC (East Michigan Environmental Action Coalition) are leading urban renewals. To disentangle their communities from heavy polluters, extraction energy, and economic dependence they envision eco-villages. Green homes, urban gardens, child care and arts centers. Self-sustaining thanks to local, cooperatively-owned waste management, green construction, grocery, and other businesses. Keeping assets and health-promoting business decisions under residents’ control.
Ordinary struggling people are planting the seeds of this country’s ecological and economic renewal. And now they have turned their gaze to U.S. energy policy.
On January 19th, 2016 —a day sandwiched between the national Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and the final public comment deadline for the Clean Power Plan—130 Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) members and allies across 10 cities descended simultaneously on every EPA Regional headquarters to present Our Power Plan.
The leaders of this national Day of Action were neither policy wonks nor employees of well-known environmental organizations. “They [the EPA] weren’t expecting us to know anything about the CPP,” said Nabeehah Aziz. She led the Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) delegation that drove 13 hours round-trip through snow and freezing rain to make the meeting in Kansas City. “They had intended to show us a powerpoint.” She smiled. “We spent most of the visit asking questions about how they were going to address our issues. It was well worth the drive to let the EPA know that we are aware. And we are watching.”
Nearly 40 EPA officials across the ten regional headquarters–including seven EPA Regional Administrators–stepped out of their offices to meet with dozens of CJA community leaders on January 19th. Even so, no one expects citizen petitioning alone to shift energy and economic policy. Especially not in states where elected officials derive their power and influence from fossil fuel industry connections. This Day of Action was part of a larger call to action.
Ultimately, the Climate Justice Alliance envisions a comprehensive “Just Transition” away from the era of “dig-burn-dump” energy. The playbook includes clean community energy, and also zero waste; regional food systems; public transportation; efficient, affordable, and durable housing; and ecosystem restoration and stewardship. Influencing how states implement the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is one point of leverage in this political moment. We on the frontlines live closest to the consequences of pollution, climate disruption, and economic inequality. But we also offer a transformative rather than corrective vision of environmental justice for all.
Day of Action Organizing Toolkit [Download PDF]
- Follow @CJAOurPower and #OurPowerPlan
- Amplify and follow via social media
- Frequently Asked Questions [Download]
- Agencies, Acronyms & Regs [Download]
- Our Power Campaign Fact Sheet [Download]
Day of Action Sites & Leaders
EPA Region 1 – Boston, MA – Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island
- Contact: Dania Flores, firstname.lastname@example.org (508)-322 8277
- Follow on social media: Facebook Event | Twitter
- Show up: At 12 noon, a youth delegation will climb into a biodiesel bus and depart EJ League of Rhode Island office [1192 Westminster St, Providence, RI 02909] headed for Boston. Anyone who wants to join the delegation for its 2 pm meeting with EPA [5 Post Office Square, Suite 100, Boston, MA 02109] should send an email to Dania Flores so she can arrange for permission. Bring photo id. Group will depart EPA building for press conference and rally outside from 3 to 4 pm. Click Here for EPA Region 1 Directions, Security procedures and more
EPA Region 2 – New York, NY – UPROSE, Ironbound Community Corporation & NY Environmental Justice Alliance
- Contact: Ana Orozco, email@example.com (215) 436-9511 Elizabeth Yeampierre, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact: Molly Greenberg email@example.com
- Contact: Eddie Bautista, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Follow on social media: Twitter-UPROSE Twitter-Ironbound Twitter-NYC-EJA
- Show up: A small delegation will personally deliver the Our Power Plan. Spokespeople will be available for live interviews immediately afterward outside the EPA building (290 Broadway, New York, NY 10007), or any time that day at the UPROSE and NY EJA offices.
EPA Region 3 – Philadelphia, PA – EDGE Philly & Energy Justice Network
- Contact: Elizabeth Arnold, email@example.com (267) 745-7041
- Contact: Mike Ewall, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Follow on social media: Facebook event | Twitter-EDGEPhilly Twitter-EJN
- Show up: Group will rally at 1 pm outside of EPA and hold press conference while a small delegation goes inside to deliver Our Power Report to EPA official Mike D’Andrea. The group will then move on to Lutheran church for refreshments and a strategy discussion facilitated by organized labor leader Stewart Acuff Click Here for EPA Region 3 Directions, Security procedures and more
EPA Region 4 – Atlanta, GA & Jackson, MS – Cooperation Jackson
- Atlanta — Brandon King email@example.com (757) 319-7115
- Jackson — Sacajawea “saki” Hall firstname.lastname@example.org (917) 291-0278
- Follow on social media: Facebook Event | Twitter
- Show up-Atlanta: A Cooperation Jackson delegation will travel from Mississippi to Atlanta to meet with the EPA [Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center, 61 Forsyth Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30303] and hand over the Our Power Plan. At 9:30 participants gather to prepare; 10 am press conference and rally outside EPA, followed by personal delivery of Our Power Plan to EPA Region 4 Administrator Heather McTeer Toney. Click Here for EPA Region 4 Directions, Security procedures and more
- Show up-Jackson: At 10am CST, Cooperation Jackson will lead a press conference linking the Our Power Plan national Day of Action to the Clean Power Plan organizing in Mississippi, and highlight the local Jackson Just Transition Plan. Press Conference will take place at the Chokwe Lumumba Center for Economic Democracy and Development: 939 W. Capitol Street, Jackson, MS 39203
EPA Region 5 – Chicago, IL – NAACP Indiana
- Contact: Denise Abdul Rahman, email@example.com (317) 331 0815
- Follow on social media: Twitter
- Show up: Gather at noon on the 2nd floor up-escalator for rally and press conference at Ralph Metcalfe Federal Building, 77 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604. Then up to 12th Floor Lake Michigan Room for 2 pm Our Power Plan handover & conversation. Press and activists invited to join this public meeting with Susan Headman of EPA regional office. ID REQUIRED for entry into federal building.
Click Here for EPA Region 5 Directions, Security procedures and more
EPA Region 6 – Dallas, TX – Southwest Workers Union & allies in Dallas
- Contact: Arturo Trejo, SWU firstname.lastname@example.org (210) 857 2895
- Follow on social media: Facebook event | Twitter-BMWC Twitter-SWU
- Show up: Delegation will rally at Dallas EPA Regional headquarters (time TBD) and hand deliver Our Power Plan to EPA official. [More details coming Tuesday morning.]
EPA Region 7 – Kansas City, KS – Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE)
- Contact: Nabeeha Azeez, email@example.com
- Follow on social media: Facebook event | Twitter
- Show up: Delegations from St. Louis and Kansas City will gather at EPA offices in Lenexa – a suburb of Kansas City [11201 Renner Blvd. Lenexa, KS 66219]. 11 am gathering. 11:15 press conference. Meeting with EPA officials: Air Division Director Becky Webber and her team; and Althea Moses, Environmental Justice program manager..
EPA Region 8 – Denver, CO – Energy Justice Network
- Contact: Caroline Eader firstname.lastname@example.org (303) 312-6388
- Follow on social media: Twitter-Chloe Henson | Twitter-EJN
- Show up: At 10 am a small delegation will meet with Laura Farris, the EPA Region 8 Climate Change Coordinator, to deliver the report. Press and local activists should contact Caroline Eader if they want to join this meeting or interview organizers afterward. EPA offices are at 1595 Wynkoop Street, Denver, CO 80202
EPA Region 9 – San Francisco, CA – Communities for a Better Environment & Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
- Contact: Shana Lazerow, email@example.com (510) 808-5898 x 106
- Contact: Monica Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Follow on social media: Twitter-CBE | Twitter-GAIA
- Show up: 10:30 am PST in lobby or just outside of EPA building at 75 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94105 for formal handover of Our Power Plan to EPA official, followed by press interviews, rally.
EPA Region 10 – Seattle, WA – Community to Community Development
- Contact: Edgar Franks, email@example.com (360) 391-4561
- Follow on social media: Facebook event | Twitter-C2C Development
- Show up: A large delegation of climate and environmental justice leaders, farm workers and labor, will rally outside the EPA office [1200 6th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101] at 10 am. The group will meet with EPA officials at 10:30 am and then proceed back outside for a rally and 11 am press conference.