[ST. LOUIS] — Last week the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce brought their support for environmental justice and clean energy to St. Louis. Christal Watson, Heartland’s president, co-hosted a community conversation on the impact climate change is having on African American communities, like those in St. Louis. Bishop Calvin Scott, pastor, Believers Temple Word Fellowship, opened the doors of the church inviting community activists; local black businesses and faith leaders to join in and discuss the topic.
Dr. Adrienne Hoard, director of the Black Studies Program at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, joined Ms. Watson and Bishop Scott, delivering remarks on the negative health impact climate change is having on those most vulnerable.
“No one should have to live in dirty air that makes them sick, and it’s especially unfair that our least fortunate and most vulnerable communities – our children and those with lower incomes – have to suffer even more than the rest,“ said Bishop Calvin Scott, D.D., Ph.D., pastor Believers Temple Word Fellowship. “It is incumbent upon us, and indeed our responsibility as God’s stewards, to work together to slow down and reverse the negative effects of climate change.”
Nearly 40 percent of the six million Americans living close to coal-fired power plants are people of color, and are disproportionately African American. The toxins from these plants are responsible for thousands of premature deaths, higher risks of asthma attacks and other respiratory diseases, and hundreds of thousands of missed work and school days. African American businesses are also being excluded from conversations centered on the green economy boom.
Support for President Obama’s Clean Power Plan was center stage during the meeting. The plan sets the first ever-federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants, lowering the amount of health problem-causing toxins released into the air. The plan has public health and climate benefits worth up to $54 billion per year in 2030. It provides an opportunity for us to have a healthier environment and economy by helping communities of color save money on electricity bills. By 2030, the Clean Power Plan is projected to cut the average American’s monthly electricity bill by seven percent and could save consumers up to $45.8 billion on their home electricity bills.
“The Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce exists to support efforts to strengthen the Black community, and this includes a commitment to President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, and to a green economy,” said Christal Watson. “We are happy to bring such important information and the opportunity for greater fluency in the economics of climate change and the health of the Black community.”
The Heartland Chamber event was a part of the larger national conversation organized by the U.S. Black Chambers in Washington, DC. Other cities participating in the discussion included Austin and Baltimore.
Visit www.usblackchambers.org for more information.