Celebrating Earth Day, Calif. Leaders Focus on Water and Pollution – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

Earth Day Celebration, California. Leaders focus on water and pollution

Earth Day celebrations have encouraged black communities to commit to climate change. (Photo courtesy)

Last week, people around the world celebrated Earth Week with remembrances and activities leading up to Earth Day on Friday, April 22.

Activists and advocates in California marked the annual event, stressing the urgency of climate change and why, more than ever, color communities need to be involved and informed.

“We are already in a climate catastrophe,” said Simeon Gant, African-American executive director of Green Technical Education and Employment, an organization dedicated to engaging young black people in environmental justice.

“Every year we have fire disasters, more than we’ve ever had,” Gant said. “People are dying, whole cities are on fire in California and elsewhere.

The ongoing drought in the state, which is now in its third year, is another major environmental problem.

“Here in California, we are already seeing the effects of the climate crisis in the form of droughts, record heat waves and forest fires that have devastated entire communities,” said Barbara Lee (D-CA-13).

“As the United Nations and scientists around the world have made clear, we can still maintain a climate suitable for future generations. But that window is closing fast, “Lee continued. “This year, too, we must acknowledge that our time is running out to save the planet for our children and grandchildren.

Gant agrees with Lee.

“We have water problems in the Central Valley. “Not only are we on land, but the little water that even comes out of the Central Valley is often polluted,” Gant said, before referring to Flint, Michigan and the water crisis the city experienced from 2014 to 2019. .

Gant says water contaminated by fossil fuel drilling in California is preventable.

On Tuesday, the office of Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state would contribute $ 22.5 million to mediate the effects of the drought.

“With the climate crisis threatening communities across the West, we need to redouble our efforts to build water sustainability in our communities in the long run,” Newsham said. “We all need to do our part to deal with the growing drought conditions that are being felt across the state. We are investing critical resources to combat the effects of drought on our communities and ecosystems and to find innovative solutions to address these new realities. “

At the national level, Gina McCarthy, a national climate adviser at the White House, told California’s black media that the Biden administration is committed to tackling clean drinking water.

“The bipartisan infrastructure law will be a way to invest in climate change and will also be a way to invest in abandoned communities,” McCarthy said. “It means extracting lead from paint in homes, it means extracting lead from our drinking water systems, it means investing in communities that don’t have safe portable drinking water.”

But water is not the only environmental problem California faces, Gant said.

“In Los Angeles, they have oil pumps right on the hood,” Gant said. “It’s bad for the environment and bad for the air we breathe.”

There are 5,000 known operating oil or gas pumps in Los Angeles County.

According to Gant, the impact of the oil industry on the environment is also being felt in the Gulf region.

“In the Bay Area, in the Richmond area, where we have a whole community located next to an oil refinery that often has problems, whether it’s fires or pollution and fumes coming from the Richmond oil refinery,” Gant said.

Gant also cited illegal dumps and highways running through California’s black neighborhoods as a cause for concern.

According to McCarthy, the White House is committed to addressing environmental justice, “to ensure that communities that are abandoned will ultimately be the focus of ongoing investment.”

McCarthy says justice is part of President Biden’s Justice40 initiative. The program provides 40% of the benefits of investing in energy and climate to communities that are disproportionately affected by climate change.

So far, McCarthy says, these efforts have been worthwhile.

“We did everything we could, through guidance, through guidance to states and local communities,” McCarthy said.

However, Gant believes that more needs to be done to ensure that the investments made have an impact on the people they are intended to help.

“They take that federal money and send it to the local government, and then leave it to the local government to send to community organizations that are closer to the community,” Gant said. “Unfortunately, this does not reach local organizations in the community in an effective way.”

But according to McCarthy, this is not the sole responsibility of the US federal executive.

“We will also not give up on calling Congress because we need them to act,” McCarthy said. “We need American families, especially those in our environmental justice communities, to know again that the government is working for them.

As for decisions, Gant says education and awareness are central to environmental justice in black communities.

The governor’s office said the state would spend $ 8.25 million to increase the scope and education of water conservation.

Gant says airing homes in California in low-income communities would benefit, as would investing in renewable energy and zero-emission vehicles.

“If we increase the use of renewable energy, not only will there be jobs, but we will also reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we emit into the atmosphere,” he explained.

Celebrating Earth Day, Calif. Leaders Focus on Water and Pollution – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link Celebrating Earth Day, Calif. Leaders Focus on Water and Pollution – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

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