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Op-Ed April 22, 2021

How Should We Equitably Power Ohio Forward?

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Written by Tom Roberts, NAACP Ohio State Conference President

There is a vast amount of opportunity in Ohio.  Our auto manufacturing has the chance to lead to an electrified future. According to 1Powering Ohio, embracing new options versus the status quo would result in  $6 billion-plus, potential investments of 9,000 plus middle-income jobs, and 18,000 other jobs.

We are the seventh most populated state in the nation, with ~11.7 million people.  Ohio has a solid industrial sector that significantly contributes to air pollution. The movement of goods by heavy-duty vehicles coming in and out of communities negatively affects their air and health.   Also, 92% of Ohioans drive their cars to work.  Many Ohioans drive to others cities and have an average commute of 22 minutes.  2One of the most prevalent causes of air pollution is vehicle emissions.  The  3American Lung Association State of the Air 2020 Report list several Ohio counties as ranking D and F for Ozone and 2,289,855 people of color at risk for lung disease, followed by 1,278,157 of those in poverty.  As of February 2021, Ohio unemployment in 88 counties ranged from 3.1% low to a high of 8.1%, according to Bureau of Labor Markets, and the 4African American unemployment rate is consistently twice the white unemployment rate.

We can reimagine an automotive and transit system that will pave the way for a just transition and resiliency for overburden and disadvantaged communities.  Such a transition is an opportunity to employ initiatives like the NAACP PowerUp initiative that acts as a conductor for Black to Green pipelines, such as training and job opportunities in the electric vehicle sector and other clean energy jobs.

We can infuse equity that would decrease high unemployment, reduce harmful emissions, particularly greenhouse gases and reduce the economic burdens to affordable access to electric vehicles and so much more.

Equitable transportation systems, access to good jobs, green jobs, and the right to clean air are human and civil rights issues.



Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2M activists. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP.

NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund, also referred to as the NAACP-LDF, was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but separated in 1957 to become a completely separate entity. It is recognized as the nation's first civil and human rights law organization, and shares our commitment to equal rights.

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