Home Climate justice Activists call for environmental justice for communities of color – NBC Connecticut

Activists call for environmental justice for communities of color – NBC Connecticut


This Earth Day, dozens of activists gathered at the State Capitol to rally for real climate change, and a central call was for environmental justice.

Protesters say people of color in underserved communities are disproportionately affected by climate change.

“Black lives matter! I can’t breathe!” Tenaya Taylor, executive director of the Nonprofit Accountability Group (NAG), shouted at the rally.

These are words that have long resonated across the country, but on Earth Day they took on a different context.

“I can’t breathe, Ned Lamont!” We need clean air, Ned Lamont! Taylor said.

Residents of the state capital demand environmental justice.

Taylor expressed concern that people in urban areas, underserved communities and people of color bear the brunt of climate change.

“Hartford is affected by pollution,” Taylor told the crowd. “We burn trash from the suburbs that isn’t burned in the suburbs, so I have to breathe in trash from other places.”

Taylor said it’s easy to witness in Hartford. The push for environmental equity is centered on factors such as air quality.

“You can see that air pollutant concentrations are only found in black and brown and poor rural communities,” Taylor said. “So we see it that way, with the burnt waste. Lots of traffic and cars, highways crossing us.

There are health impacts.

“Rates of asthma in children and adults in cities, as well as environmental illnesses, are very high,” Taylor said.

In urban areas, Taylor said black and brown communities suffer the most from high heat and electricity costs and experience the most frequent blackouts. Taylor also said the lack of affordable housing exacerbates the problem.

“If I wanted to live somewhere else, it’s not affordable,” Taylor said.

According to a Princeton University study, black Americans are 75% more likely than whites to live in “gated communities, areas close to commercial facilities that produce traffic or emissions.”

The study indicates that 6.7 million black Americans live in the 91 US counties with oil refiners. One million black Americans face “cancer risk above the EPA’s level of concern due to an unclean area.

More than 13% of black children have asthma, compared to 7% of white children, according to the study.

All of these reasons prompt NAG to hold a community climate event on Saturday at Keney Park’s Pond House, with the aim of putting advocates alongside policy makers who can effect change.

Environmental justice is a shared goal of the organizers of the Earth Day rally at the Capitol.

“From infrastructure clearance to communities recovering or having the hardest time recovering from natural disasters,” said Sena Wazer, director of Sunrise Connecticut. “In Hartford, there are many toxic waste facilities. And it’s a community that’s not white, not predominantly white, it’s predominantly black and brown. It is really important that we act now and prioritize these communities.

Protesters hope change will flourish from the state capital.

“The climate crisis is now!” Taylor said.

At Friday’s rally, protesters also demanded that Governor Lamont direct the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to stop permitting all new fossil fuel infrastructure.

“The scale of the crisis we are facing is the solution that makes the most sense. And it’s absurd that the governor calling our state a climate leader hasn’t taken this on board yet,” said Matthew Plourd, co-director of Sunrise Connecticut.

“It would do a whole host of things,” Plourd said. “This would ensure that people to our Connecticut shores would not be overwhelmed within decades. This would ensure that we have a future we can live with. This would protect our wildlife. It would create millions of well-paying jobs.

Some lawmakers attended the rally, but Wazer said they needed more lawmakers behind their issue.

NBC Connecticut reached out to the governor’s office and DEEP for comment, but did not get a response.