Our guest blogger is CAP’s Susan Lyon.
The Hip Hop Caucus Clean Energy Now! tour kicked off Thursday of last week to amplify the already deafening call for clean energy reform from people all around the country. Sponsored by the Hip Hop Caucus and the Repower America campaign of the Alliance for Climate Protection, the bus tour brings together faith, business, entertainment, and climate leaders in the name of clean energy reform.
The tour started in New Orleans at Tulane University and has now trekked through Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio. It reached Washington, D.C. today for an evening event, before culminating in a rally and performance on Wednesday, February 24 at the Capitol Reflecting Pool at 11:30am. Events feature a combination of speakers and entertainers EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, DJ Biz Markie, Rev. Yearwood, President of Hip Hop Caucus, Actress Gloria Reuben, and other hip hop activists. Each tour stop has included a unique combination of musical events, community rallies, expert roundtables, tours of clean energy job sites, and political speakers. So far, the tour has generated significant local and national media coverage around the country.
Hip Hop Caucus, which was founded on September 11, 2004, is a grassroots non-profit that seeks to harness the power of the hip hop generation to empower youth and combat urban poverty. Its mission is to “foster civic engagement among young people of color on issues of social and economic justice, human rights, the environment, and international peace, so they can attain increased opportunities for themselves and their communities.” The Alliance for Climate Protection is a member of the Clean Energy Works (CEW) coalition. In addition, the Truman National Security Project is simultaneously organizing Operation Free: a nationwide bus tour of veterans whose goal is to “secure America with clean energy” in order to protect our national security.
The Caucus calls attention to the desperately needed benefits that clean energy reform will bring to disadvantaged communities. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, one of the tour’s keynotes speakers, argues:
The clean energy choices we make today will have a profound impact on the environment of our young people and communities of color “” the very people this tour is bringing together and the voices we need to hear. We’re going out and meeting people where they live, work and learn to talk about how we create clean energy jobs, protect our planet, and break our dependence on foreign oil.
Gloria Reuben, longtime activist and actress, expands on the public health and economic benefits that a clean energy economy will bring. She urges:
When dirty, old-fashioned energy sources pollute our air and water, it becomes a blatant public health problem “” one that is especially burdensome for low income and minority groups. When a community doesn’t have strong financial resources or political clout, the people who live there are often victims of environmental injustice. Corporations are poisoning our air and water, while at the same time lining the pockets of elected officials with political contributions.
Meanwhile, our communities are in dire economic straits. During this difficult financial time, the demographic hit the hardest is people with an annual household income of $12,499 or less. In this group, the recent unemployment rate is 30%.
We have to stop this madness. This is not America as it should be.
That’s why the clean energy movement is about empowering these communities. It’s about giving them a voice.
Empowerment and social justice require job creation — and they require pulling this country out of the worst recession it’s seen in 70 years. Clean energy investments made in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will contribute to the creation of nearly 900,000 new clean energy jobs, but these programs are not enough to spur the transition to clean energy and fight climate change. Despite such advances, more can and must be done to create “the clean energy jobs of the 21st century” - Congress needs to pass a bipartisan, comprehensive climate and energy jobs bill.
A transition to clean energy is about making an investment in our future. We can take action today to put people back to work, make our communities prosper, and making life for everyone healthier and more prosperous.
The Hip Hop tour blog can be followed here.