New Coalition Forms to Fight Against N.J. Environmental Racism and Ensure a Just Transition to 100% Clean Energy Future
Seeking to create a truly equitable transition to clean energy that is focused on the health, economic, and justice concerns of communities of color and low-income families, an unprecedented coalition of civil rights and community advocates has joined together to form the New Jersey Progressive Equitable Energy Coalition, NJPEEC.
NJPEEC will focus on creating policies that prioritize Environmental Justice (EJ) communities to help put an end to systemic environmental racism and ensure low income and communities of color have a say in their own energy future.
NJPEEC includes many of New Jersey’s leading civil rights organizations and is being supported by New Jersey League of Conservation Voters (New Jersey LCV) as part of its commitment to expanding environmental advocacy to address the underpinnings of environmental racism that persist in our state.
“NJPEEC is a strategic solution to long standing systemic inequalities regarding energy in our communities,” said Marcus Sibley, Chairman of the New Jersey Progressive Equitable Energy Coalition and Climate and Environmental Justice Chair for the NAACP New Jersey State Conference. “We know that all solutions should include leadership and representation of those impacted and also recognize that background support from a well-known organization like New Jersey LCV is key to getting those voices to the important tables. The time for change is now.”
People of color are more likely to live in neighborhoods that suffer from pollution and that are susceptible to increased flooding and rising temperatures due to climate change.
NJPEEC will work to empower stakeholders and community leaders to implement policies that increase access to clean energy while ensuring that the economic benefits that come from these investments flow to communities that have traditionally been excluded.
“NJPEEC matters to LAN because Latinos are over-represented in areas that are most negatively impacted by environmental hazards and climate change,” said Christian Estevez, President Emeritus of the Latino Action Network (LAN). “NJ PEEC provides a space for the Latino Action Network to fight for environmental justice alongside other communities that fight the same challenges.”
This new coalition will fight to tear down the barriers of systemic environmental racism that block overburdened communities from benefiting from the environmental and economic benefits of a clean energy transition while leveraging these investments to lower electricity costs and promote jobs and economic development.
“The time is now for NJPEEC, a network of community-oriented advocates, to fight for the progressive and sustainable energy policies that will have the greatest positive impact on New Jersey families, especially those who live with the damaging effects of pollution and climate change,” said Nicole Miller, an environmental advocate from Newark who sits on the city’s Environmental Commission and is a member of Newark Doing Infrastructure Green.
“Through 40 years of working on the ground in one of New Jersey’s poorest urban cities, we’ve developed a deep understanding of the challenges underserved communities face,” said Katharina Miguel, Clean Energy Advocate for Isles Inc., a community development and environmental organization based in Trenton. “It is our duty to bring these challenges at the forefront to ensure that our transition to a clean energy economy is equitable and creates real positive change.”
NJPEEC also seeks to build on the work of New Jersey’s landmark cumulative impacts law, which has served as a national model for addressing the disproportionate burden that communities of color have faced from pollution and broken environmental policies.
“For decades, low-income residents and communities of color in New Jersey have suffered from environmental racism in the name of economic progress,” said Maria Santiago-Valentin, Co-founder, Atlantic Climate Justice Alliance. “Over 300 municipalities have disproportionately suffered due to cumulative sources of pollution. This old model of pollution over people must be discarded, and PEEC will be advocating every day to make this happen.”
“As we work to build a healthy and equitable green economy in New Jersey, NJPEEC aims to play a critical role to elevate the incorporation of sustainable environmental values to the over 120,000 Latino-owned businesses, which in turn create thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars in tax revenues,” said Wendy S. Martinez, CEO of Atabey Consulting Group. “This work will help spur a successful environmentally responsible Latino business community.”
“It is stated in the Bible, ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.’ (Psalm 24:1-2). So, it is our responsibility to treat the Lord’s earth with respect and do everything we can to care for and maintain the environment, said the Rev. Bolivar Flores, Vice President of the New Jersey Coalition of Latino Pastors and Ministers. “This responsibility is important because so many communities of color do not have the same access to clean energy as other communities do.”
New Jersey League of Conservation Voters is providing operational support for the coalition as it launches.
“We’re so proud to have played a role in helping to support this committed group of advocates to fight to ensure that communities of color lead the movement to 100% clean energy,” said Patty Cronheim, Campaigns Director of New Jersey LCV. “We stand with NJPEEC as it advocates for policies that ensure that energy is affordable and clean, improves public health and creates good-paying local jobs in all communities across New Jersey.”
To learn more about the coalition, visit njpeec.org.