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Environmental Racism and Climate Change

WHEREAS, throughout its history, the NAACP has been a champion of environmental, economic and social justice for historically underserved people; and

WHEREAS, building an environmentally just society requires the eradication of discriminatory citing of polluting facilities in and adjacent to communities of color; and

WHEREAS, researchers have recently concluded a landmark examination of 30 years of demographic data and have unambiguously established that the nation's super polluters tend to be concentrated in minority communities, and that pollution has a disproportionately greater adverse impact on African-American communities; and

WHEREAS, there are numerous examples of local issues where climate change interacts with other environment threats such as water pollution to the disproportionate detriment of communities of color. For example, recently a judge ordered a cleanup of a nuclear plant's cooling canals in Miami-Dade County, Florida after concluding that the plant had caused a massive underground saltwater plume to migrate west, threatening a well field that supplies drinking water to Miami-Dade County; and

WHEREAS, the Flint, Michigan water crisis appears not to be an issue of lack of investment in underserved communities but an issue of paltry law enforcement and discrimination in protecting minority communities. Showcasing one of several similar instances of institutional neglect, Waukegan, Illinois residents, who are mostly Latino and African-American, testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about a coal-burning plant that has been running for decades near their homes, without a final permit under the Clean Air Act, that has contaminated their ground water by emission of coal ash waste in ponds; and

WHEREAS, there is a need to focus additional education and action in local communities and build on the partnerships that have been developed nationally.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) will ensure that local branches and state conferences, with the assistance of the Environment and Climate Justice Program, establish local partnerships with environmental organizations who recognize the need for equity to ensure that local environmental efforts include the climate, economic and environmental justice concerns of the African American community and draw attention to critical climate and environmental concerns; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP seeks to improve the quality of lives of those most adversely impacted by high rates of energy consumption, while promoting safer, affordable, and equitable energy alternatives and supplier options; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls on all levels of government to expand their policymaking and enforcement mechanisms to combat environmental disparities tied to race and economic status.