CHEJ focuses on many issues, but climate change ties them all together. The increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) within our atmosphere caused by human development—and in particular the burning of fossil fuels—has been consistent for decades now. We are already seeing its effects: unpredictable weather, major droughts and flooding, melting ice caps and warming of ocean temperatures, damage to crops and agricultural sites, etc.
These changes may seem disconnected from the environmental health concerns that families face every day, but it is in fact all connected. Climate change, wealth inequality and institutionalized racism are issues that are inextricably bound, and our strategic campaign approaches carbon reduction as an equity issue.
Our Greener Power and Safer Water initiative includes a call for a just transition from fossil fuels to renewables with minimum job loss, affordable energy for all low-income people and innovative legislation that attacks climate change on the local, regional and state level. For example, CHEJ member groups are fighting for public utility reform that includes public ownership of power and water utilities, increased use of renewable energy, green and union jobs as well as special utility rates for low-income people.
In New York, we are working with more than 70 organizations to pass precautionary policies which would help “green” the state. CHEJ has formed the Ohioans for Health, Environment, and Justice (OHEJ) a network of volunteers from social justice, civil rights, environmental, faith-based, and organized labor efforts. And in North Carolina, we successfully worked with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League to keep fluoride out of public water supplies—a motion that was passed in 2011. And we are working with grassroots leaders who are battling the drinking water crisis in Flint, MI, Hoosick, NY, Ithaca, NY, Ohio’s Mahoning Valley and more.