In Spirit of Juneteenth, NV Community Groups Demand Climate Action
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
Members of Nevada's African American community say they're channeling the spirit of Juneteenth to fight for environmental justice.
Church-affiliated groups in Las Vegas hold monthly trainings on ways to fight climate change, promoting programs to make solar panels and electric appliances more affordable. The Rev. Leonard Jackson, director of the Faith Organizing Alliance in Nevada, said it's important that low-income Nevadans benefit from big projects, such as the electric vehicle-charging network.
"We want to make sure," he said, "that it is the underserved individuals that live in these communities, that they're the ones that receive the jobs, as far as installing this equipment, as far as maintaining this equipment."
He pointed out that communities of color often suffer the most from the effects of extreme heat and drought linked to climate change, as urban neighborhoods become heat islands, choked by air pollution from cars and trucks. So, Jackson welcomes efforts to subsidize electric vehicles and put more electric buses on the streets.
Utility companies offer programs to weatherize homes, help people use less water and switch from gas to electric appliances. But Dr. Mary House, chief executive of the Las Vegas faith-based nonprofit CHR Inc., said they need to spread the word at community events.
"People don't even understand these programs and the benefits of them. because they're not going into our community," she said. "Who's going to walk them through the steps? We don't see any of that being done."
Heather McTeer Toney, vice president for community engagement at the Environmental Defense Fund, said the African American community embodies resilience.
"We can link systemic problems of race and poverty to not only environmental concerns," she said, "but also how communities have both thrived and overcome in a number of those areas."
Almeta E. Cooper, national manager for health equity with the group Moms Clean Air Force, encourages Nevadans to get involved.
"We have many projects that, once an individual connects with us, we can empower you to go further," she said, "to connect with your elected officials, to tell them what you need in your community."
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