Washington, D.C. – As the national conversation around racial justice continues, Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, raised the issue of environmental justice in a remote hearing of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis focused on building a vibrant and equitable clean energy economy in the United States. During the hearing, Congressman Luján questioned Dr. Ana Baptista of the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance about the impact his Clean Energy Standard Act would have on marginalized communities.
“I’m one of the co-authors of the Clean Energy Standard Act. I was proud to partner with my colleagues in the House and United States Senator Tina Smith. We know that a nationwide clean electricity standard also means less air pollution, healthier communities, and longer lives. What can America do to ensure that underserved, frontline communities, who now are suffering from air pollution, benefit from a nationwide Clean Energy Standard?” Luján asked.
“[W]e know that much of the infrastructure the current infrastructure of fossil fuel infrastructure in the country resides in communities of color and low wealth communities who are impacted not only by the global greenhouse gases that come from traditional fossil fuel energy production but the co-pollutants that have immediate health impacts on those communities. And so when we talk about national clean energy standard, and the shifting of our energy production to cleaner sources like wind and solar, what we see is a concomitant reduction in air pollutants that harm people today,” explained Baptista. “Furthermore, we know that as we shift to renewable energy sources, there are also opportunities created in communities of color and low-income communities that have, historically, not had the same opportunities for employment in these traditional industries, and new opportunities can open up for both economic development and an improvement in air quality and public health for communities that have been hard hit by economic and environmental harms in the past.”
Video of the hearing is available here.
In June, Congressman Luján and House Democrats announced a Climate Crisis Action Plan to address climate change and put the nation on a path toward net-zero carbon pollution by 2050 or sooner. The climate action framework includes vital provisions to build a clean energy economy and includes Congressman Luján’s measures to support National Laboratories.