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Environmental advocates can strengthen their argument on permitting reform by framing it as an issue of communities vs. corporate interests. Voters overwhelmingly believe that input from impacted communities should be prioritized over input from industry association groups as Congress considers changes to the permitting process for energy projects. Voters support the Environmental Justice for All Act by a greater than three-to-one margin (69% support / 20% oppose) after reading a brief description of it. By a 65%-22% margin, voters prefer that lawmakers prioritize feedback from impacted communities over industry association groups like the American Petroleum Institute when considering changes to the permitting process. By a 56%-35% margin, voters say that President Biden should prioritize permitting for clean energy projects over fossil fuel projects. Just 16% of voters believe that permitting reform should be attached to the annual government spending bill, compared to 59% who say it should be considered as a standalone bill and 10% who say it shouldn’t be considered at all.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will invest $40 billion total, including $27 billion in direct spending, towards environmental justice communities and low-income residents—despite supporters claiming that the amount is $60 billion. Just Solutions Collective performed its own section-by-section analysis of the IRA’s text, adding up appropriations and other tailored spending to produce its own calculation. In total, the IRA includes $228 billion in appropriations and an additional $324 billion in tax expenditures. Direct appropriations in the IRA for environment, climate, and energy total $145 billion. This is dwarfed by the $270 billion provided in energy-related tax expenditures, through a variety of tax credits intended to incentivize primarily the private sector to invest in different aspects of the alternative energy economy: from mining companies extracting lithium to factories manufacturing inverters to refineries making biomass-based jet fuel to utilities installing solar arrays.
Building long-lasting grassroots power requires centering concrete issues and the humanity of individuals you’re organizing. Many organizations in West Virginia are cultivating organizers, building organizations that can sustainably organize local communities according to their needs for years to come, incorporating mutual aid, and more, in an effort to win and wield political power. In this article, The Forge contributor Mat Hanson discussed organizational strategies with multiple people involved in grassroots power building in West Virginia: Katey Lauer, co-chair of West Virginia Can’t Wait; Nicole McCormick, a founding member of the West Virginia United caucus and rank-and-file leader in the successful teacher’s strike; Dr. Shanequa Smith of Restorative Actions and the Black Voters Impact Initiative; and Joe Solomon, the co-founder and co-director of Solutions Oriented Addiction Response (SOAR), a volunteer-based organization that advocates for harm-reduction strategies to the opioid crisis.
In this training, you will glean insights from Partnership for Southern Equity and their values-based organizing model, contextualized by their short film The 4th Arm which explores how centering values and lived experience is critical to the work of organizing and central to our ability to achieve energy and climate justice. This training will help you:
- Develop the skills necessary to be an effective community organizer
- Gain an understanding of value-based community organizing
- Deepen your understanding of allyship and allies
- Explore what it means to build power and "systems change"
Historic Environmental Justice Victory: City of Los Angeles is creating a pathway to phase out existing oil and gas wells
Residents, community organizations, and health care practitioners organized for over a decade to protect the health of residents on the front lines of urban oil extraction in L.A. In January 2022, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to draft an ordinance to prohibit all new oil and gas drilling and to phase out existing drilling operations throughout the City of Los Angeles. This resource is based on an interview with Wendy Miranda (she/they), a community leader with Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) and resident, about the historic victory. The organizing strategy to get this victory involved various lobbying efforts, rallies, press conferences, petition collections, a wide range of community/organization endorsements, phone banking, and social media outreach. Overall, frontline residents providing public comments and sharing their personal experiences were some of the strongest and most powerful tactics. STAND L.A. will continue to be part of the process to help draft an ordinance and direct the City of Los Angeles on how to lead a genuine community participation process. Miranda shares that this victory is proof that frontline communities can lead the change toward a just, equitable transition to a clean energy future.
New Orleans is in the midst of a green infrastructure revolution. In smaller neighborhoods like Hoffman Triangle, residents are leading the way, house by house, block by block. Year-round, New Orleanians deal with a chronic kind of inundation researchers vaguely call “urban flooding.” The goal of “nature-based” (green infrastructure) solutions is to reduce the pressure on pipes and pumps by using landscaping to slow the flow of water. Projects can store water so it soaks into the soil or slowly flows into a storm drain at a rate the system can handle. Plants can also absorb water into their roots, leaching out pollutants in the process. They also come with various added benefits like improved water quality, mosquito control, and increased open space to cool the sweltering Louisiana air. The Urban Conservancy is one organization in particular doing lots of work on nature-based infrastructure in New Orleans.
73% of initially planned oil, gas, and coal export projects in the region have been cancelled since 2012. Fossil fuel executives from dozens of companies once seemed to be salivating over the idea of exporting massive quantities of gas, oil, and coal from the Cascadia coast—but local communities, Tribes, environmentalists, and local governments rejected calls to turn Cascadia into a fossil fuel export terminal. They protested projects’ abrogation of Indigenous sovereignty, the risk of oil spills and damage to sensitive ecosystems, the pollution spewing from coal trains, the climate harms of extracting, transporting, and burning hydrocarbons, and the safety hazards of transporting flammable fuels through populated areas—and for the most part, they’ve won. Since 2012, fossil fuel interests have schemed more than 50 large projects to export coal, oil, gas, or their derivatives from Cascadia’s coast in British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington, and today, 40 of those—a whopping 73%—have been canceled by project backers who faced local opposition, see-sawing energy prices, and regulatory hurdles.
Help people envision more just and sustainable systems. This article looks at efforts in southwest Pennsylvania to oppose plans for gas and plastics expansion in the region. Activists share their strategies, including raising public awareness about the dangers of fracking and plastic, tracking emissions themselves, and advocating for investments in more sustainable industries.
Understanding the geography and profit-making process of any big corporation are essential to organizing against it. In the case of organizing against Amazon, it has certainly been strategic to organize labor union(s) at the traditional worker level. However, there have also been labor-community alliances built to organize against Amazon, given the way that the megacorporation affects communities beyond its own workers, by its supports of the carceral state and deportation machine, contributions to climate change, and its role in gentrification. The many different people and groups (especially based on where they are located geographically and their role in the economy) impacted by any bad actor (in this case, Amazon) are where any organizing opportunities exist. And understanding the “value chain” of any target (like Amazon) is necessary to understanding what leverage any organized group of people can have. This article details some cases of groups and coalitions building power against Amazon.
In 2020, a group of New Jersey organizers helped get the country's most progressive environmental justice legislation at the time passed. The short film "A Big Win for Environmental Justice Organizers" follows community-based activists from Ironbound Community Corporation in moving the statewide legislation forward. The Lab hosted a conversation with the contributors, sharing their insights and lessons learned from a community organizing perspective, so that other local groups feel empowered to take on statewide initiatives as well.