Making Moves: The Push for Climate Change Policy

GFALooking back, 2009 will be remembered as a critical moment in the movement towards a greener, leaner, and cleaner U.S.  Whether we are looking to Michelle Obama’s garden and the growing understanding of why fresh, local, and organic matters or the Cash for Clunkers program, which trades old fuel inefficient cars and replaces them fuel efficient vehicles, this presidential administration has been making moves in the greening of the economy, our society, and our communities.  A critical part of this move has been the introduction and partial passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES).

On June 26, 2009, ACES passed the U.S. House of Representatives.  A critical force in the passage of ACES has been Green for All, which has insured that the act benefits low income communities and communities of color as well as the environment. By linking environmental protection with economic revitalization, Green for All has called for wide-spread support of the act for two reasons. First, it allows the government to  take immediate action to repair our deteriorating atmosphere.  And second, this bill takes a first step not just towards a green economy, but also towards a fair economy.

Recognizing that the bill is limited in its ability to address the issues of emissions reduction and has created an incentive market that could be manipulated by heavy polluters, Green for All has tried to push an equity framework into the act.  As a result the cleaning of the environment will happen hand in hand with the revitalization of low-income communities and communities of color.  The two additions offered by Green for All are the inclusion of direct funding for the Green Jobs Act, which will provide training and employment opportunities to individuals with multiple barriers to entry into the labor market.  The second addition is community-benefit requirements to ACES.  They argue that by ‘mandating that well-trained, local, low-income workers perform a certain amount of the work on ACES-funded construction projects, we can guarantee that these projects do not just improve the local environment, but also invest in the local economy’.

Although the bill is not a panacea for addressing environmental and equity issues, we are definitely making moves towards having low income communities and communities of color breathe cleaner air and access to quality jobs.

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