MINNEAPOLIS (May 15, 2014) — The NAACP Minnesota and Dakotas Area State Conference released a new report on Thursday, “Minnesota Just Energy Policies: Reducing Pollutions, Creating Jobs” that assesses Minnesota’s energy policies through a civil rights lens.
A press conference was held at the Kwanza Community Church, where peakers included W.C. Jordan, NAACP Minnesota State President; a representative from Kwanza Community Church; and Jacqueline Patterson, National Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program.
“The Just Energy Policies Report lays out a vision to transition from energy production processes that are harmful to our communities to an energy efficiency and clean energy policy landscape that reduces pollution and improves community health,” states Jacqueline Patterson. “With double digit unemployment and staggeringly stark wealth differentials for African Americans, the report explicitly details mechanisms for ensuring economic gains for traditionally disenfranchised communities and businesses.”
The report shows that Minnesota has tremendous potential to meet the NAACP’s recommended energy efficiency and clean energy standards while increasing job opportunities and energy affordability for its residents. In September 2013, 43.3% of the electricity generated in Minnesota came from coal, while electricity generated by renewable sources accounted for only 18.4 percent.
Minnesota’s Black Dog coal plant in Dakota received a failing environmental justice grade in the 2012 NAACP Coal Blooded Report done in partnership with the Indigenous Environmental Network located in Bemidji, and the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. Coal based electricity production, from cradle to grave, has been proven to be unhealthy to humans and the environment. Increasing Minnesota’s energy efficiency and tapping into vast renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal will help it become a more resilient state.
“As our state moves towards a 21st-century green economy, we must encourage equal access to green economy opportunities,” states W.C. Jordan. “According to a 2010 study, African-Americans spent $41 billion on energy in 2009, but only 1.1 percent of African Americans held energy jobs and only gained .01 percent of the sector’s trillion dollar revenue. Minnesota must expand on its current hiring and procurement policies to ensure that all residents benefit from the energy sector’s expansion.”
Minnesota NAACP is committed to using the report’s energy efficiency and renewable energy policies and analyses, in tandem with economic development and equity models, as tools to transform our energy sector. We will be hosting a series of meetings and events aimed at mobilizing our units, collaborating with our partners, and working with stakeholders in implementing these recommendations, starting with the summit: “Bridging the Gap: Connecting Black Communities to the Green Economy.”