EAST CHICAGO LEAD AND ARSENIC CRISIS PLEA FOR HELP


Indiana NAACP State Conference Indiana State Conference 

Post Office Box 64798

Gary, Indiana 46401-0798

Contact:

Denise Abdul-Rahman

317-331-0815

Inecjnaacp@att.net

Indiana State Conference NAACP

 PRESS RELEASE
EAST CHICAGO LEAD AND ARSENIC CRISIS PLEA FOR HELP

East Chicago, Indiana- The IU McKinney School of Law, located at 530 West New York Street, will be holding Protecting the Urban Environment Symposium on Friday, March 31st beginning at 8:15 am. There will be a panel specific to address The Legacy of Lead in Indiana- East Chicago and Beyond.

 The State Conference of the NAACP, Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, and Twin City Ministerial Alliance, Stand with East Chicago and are calling for the EPA recommended NSF 53 certified water filter donations. We will accept water filters, bottled water and osmosis system donations directly outside the doors of the symposium.

 “The Indiana State Conference of the NAACP remains committed to helping the families in the West Calumet area of East Chicago in every way possible. It has now been 234 days since the residents of the West Calumet Housing Complex received letters informing them of the danger to which they had been and continue to be exposed. Approximately 84 families remain. The residents, homeowners, churches and businesses too, have all been negatively impacted. We want to see justice not just for some, but for all who find themselves victims of the toxic environment.” Barbara Bolling-Williams, President Indiana NAACP State Conference

 The Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb provided a Declaration of Emergency on February 11th to the city of East Chicago and then extended the emergency another 30 days. Recently, a few bills have been passed to provide some degree of relief to the residents. Residents are requesting bottled water and water filters. The residents are concerned about their children finishing school, and therefore want an extension beyond May 30th, the last day of school. Other residents in zone 2 & 3 are concerned about the impact of this situation on their housing values. The residents are interested in options for tax exemptions and buyouts. We have recently petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to replace the lead pipes for the affected residents of East Chicago.


 

“The situation in East Chicago, Indiana is the latest and one of the most egregious in an all too familiar pattern that we are seeing in our communities across the nation, race, economics, and politics which comprises of a cocktail of discrimination and neglect that is resulting in these circumstances. As a civil rights organization, the NAACP stands with East Chicago and other similarly affected communities and will do so until justice is served.” Jacqueline Patterson, National NAACP Director of Environmental Climate Justice Programs

 We will facilitate a NAACP Listening Session and a Crisis Tour on April 5th, featuring Director Patterson from Baltimore, Maryland. The listening session will be hosted by the Twin City Ministerial Alliance. We will be in East Chicago touring the affected sites and listening to the voices of the community. We intend to distribute water filters at the listening session.

 The NAACP founded in 1909, is a civil rights organization committed to fight for equality and the elimination of racial discrimination. The Indiana State Conference is the governing body for the 22 Branches, 6 Youth Councils and Jr. Youth Council, and 6 College Chapters. For more information visit our State Website at http://www.IndianaSCNAACP.org.

 

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NAACP Indiana presentation at Facing Race “Our plight living within a hyper conservative state with hyper conservative policies”

We have over 35 NAACP branches across the state of Indiana. I serve as the NAACP Indiana Environmental Climate Justice  Chair.  I am a third Generation Human/Civil rights Activist, serving as  I am a member of Indianapolis Air Pollution Control Board, Grassroots Global Justice delegate to Paris COP21, and a member of many movements/environmental justice related boards.

Attendees at Facing Race “It Take Roots” workshop.

Julian Bond said, “If you don’t use your voice no one can hear you.” I had already been utilizing my voice, he just gave me full permission.

 

We, as Dr. Robert Bullard eloquently entitled his book, are working to eliminate environmental racism, in a “Quest for Environmental Justice”.  Over 15,000 of us marched  the streets of Paris. The more we connect, the more movement will occur. Our systems are  broken and systemic, not just in Indiana, but all over the world.

We Stand with Flint, We Stand with Standing Rock (See Statement) and We Stand with East Chicago.

Members of Climate Justice Alliance

When Fighting The Bad (Our Context History):  A lot of folks wonder about Indiana, and whether folks of African Descent even exist, let alone our struggle. What could possibly be our plight or oppression?

Our plight is living within a hyper conservative state with hyper conservative policies, with redistricting, so well designed that unless we move out into these rural areas, many times racist environments, making it difficult for us to make compromises within the State House or take over the State House with our agenda.

We are within a heat zone, we are an agricultural and manufacturing state, we are subjected to many tornados and floods.

However, we have high populations of folks of African Descent in Indianapolis, Gary, East Chicago, Michigan City, Fort Wayne, Hammond, and Terra Haute. There is a pattern of oppressive policies, these communities lack resources and investments, no greenways, no roundabouts, high levels of violence, high crime rates due to over policing policies, high unemployment, dismal public education and high poverty.

One of several boarded up and abandoned homes in East Chicago, Indiana

Practically all of these cities are hosting pollution within a 3-mile radius:

Indianapolis- hosting a power plant that just stopped burning coal, but now burning natural gas,

East Chicago– hosting BP Oil refinery, Amoco Oil refinery, and now learning that for over 40 years folks have been living and hosting lead and arsenic contaminated land

Michigan City & Terra Haute- hosting a Coal-fired power plant(s)

Building the new/moving the money: We work within a frame that engages/educates our members and their respective communities regarding resiliency planning, concepts. We have hosted Just Energy: Reducing Pollution and Creating Jobs, Bridging the Gap: Connecting Black Communities to the Green Economy, ReClaiming Our Systems, and Environmental Genocide, Black Faith and Our Power.

 

We’ve fought against bad legislation like fixed rate charges on utility bills, fees on distributed generation (solar&wind). We’ve inserted our voices within the State House, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, and the Electric Utilities, Integrated Resource Planning meetings, where they are planning their energy and infrastructure needs for the next 20 years, and they will request rate increases to support their archaic business model. (a model that wants us to support their burning coal).

We’ve engaged and educated over 80 city officials across the state helping them to identify environmental justice projects that create resiliency. We’ve presented educational environmental climate justice toolkits to educators. We have Public utility toolkits and we have proposed Environmental Justice Commission bill for local and state and a community solar bill.

We’ve changed the story/rules by writing our own op-ed s, we’ve partnered with academia to have their law students, predominately of African descent, provide research and data that is Indiana specific that helps us to tell our story.   We’ve hosted private meetings with only the Indiana legislative Black Caucus and Town halls and we’ve placed ourselves within the State House with our narratives/testimony.

We’ve protested within the City County Council demanding that they amend a resolution that sought to retire a coal-fired power plant by 2020 when we were demanding 2016. (It stopped burning 2/2016). We had our own resolution with signatures from the Black Nurses, Concerned Clergy, NAACP etc.

The State House was driving an ALEC narrative that said folks of African descent believe it is unfair for privileged white folks to have access to solar, and send their solar energy over the grid for free. We proclaimed that this narrative is false. That we in fact believe solar is good for our communities, it can be urban, it can make our communities, healthy, we can become economically empowered with solar once we gain access as the emerging market, and we can obtain the job training for this new green economic model. (See Midwest Energy News)

Building a movement:  We’ve partnered with stellar grass-rooted organizations like Kheprw Institute a brilliant self reliant, cooperative, Just Transitioning model working on aquaponics, hydroponics, systems thinking/social enterprises, food cooperative and varying bootstrap initiatives, intergenerational and academia partners.
We have partnered with our branches to identify what type of environmental just projects that would like to see incorporated within their cities; what resiliency models they’d like to employ within their communities; Our branches have participated in many social media campaigns (Just Energy, Clean Power Plan and Peoples Climate March)

Reverend Phillip Karl James, Mount Zion Baptist Church (October 2015, People’s Climate Movement-Day of Action)

ReClaiming Our Systems with the Phenomenal Pastor Michael Jones

http://praiseindy.hellobeautiful.com/2086989/community-connection-with-michael-jones-friday-may-6th/

Today we spent the first hour discussing Environmental Justice and how to reclaim our systems with the N.A.A.C.P. We had Jacquelyn Patterson (National Director of Environmental and Climate Justice) and Denise Abdul-Rahman (State Director of Environmental and Climate Justice) lead our discussion.

HB 1082 Disproportionately Impact Environmental Justice, Meaningful Engagement&the Clean Power Plan

Source: HB 1082 Disproportionately Impact Environmental Justice, Meaningful Engagement&the Clean Power Plan

HB 1082 Disproportionately Impact Environmental Justice, Meaningful Engagement&the Clean Power Plan

HERE’S WHAT WE PRESENTED TO THE SENATE ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE TODAY ON BEHALF OF ENVIRONMENTAL CLIMATE JUSTICE,IMG_6912

NAACP  INDIANA TESTIMONY HB 1082 FEBRUARY 15TH, 2016

The Proposed Law “No More Stringent Than” will create significant, real obstacles for our state regulators.

First, the proposed law will impose additional costs on state agencies over and above the usual costs of rulemaking, in terms of staff time, money, and available expertise, most state budgets are already strained keeping with Federal regulations.

Second, the proposed law raises tendency to single out for further scrutiny—by executive branch overseers, lawmakers, and the public—proposed regulations that are more stringent than the federal baseline. Although state rulemaking is always a public process, the presumption that seems to underlie qualified stringency provisions is that a more-stringent state regulation is unnecessary or unjustified until proven otherwise.

Third, these provisions can, expressly or impliedly, place an agency in the difficult position of arguing that the federal rule is insufficient to protect the people of the state— rather than simply explaining why the proposed more-stringent regulation is more protective. Together, these considerations create a disincentive for state agencies to pursue more-stringent regulations. And even when agencies decide to proceed in the face of qualified stringency requirements, they must bear opportunity costs in terms of other regulatory initiatives that will receive correspondingly fewer agency resources according to Environmental Law Institute,2013.

According to Abrams Environmental Law Clinic

“no stricter than” law are that federal regulations are not necessarily aligned with the needs and the constituent desires in Indiana, that such a law is just an obstacle when a stricter rule is needed and symbolic otherwise, that such a law prevents the state from being a ‘laboratory’ for environmental policy, and that such a law improperly prioritizes the interests of businesses over individual state citizens.[1]

How Does This Proposed Law Compare to Similar Laws In Other States?       The proposed law, in its current form, appears much more stringent than similar laws in other states. First, by applying the law to all environmental rules under the purview of the ERB and IDEM the proposed law is very broad. Most states with some form of “no more stringent than federal” law in the environmental context direct the law to a specific concern or at least a specific medium (e.g. water).[2] Second, most states with such a law provides an exception that is less burdensome than the specific statutory authorization exception in HB 1082.[3] For example, the state with the closest law to HB 1082, Oklahoma, still has a significantly less burdensome exception. Oklahoma law requires a written statement of economic impact and environmental benefit be submitted to the governor and Legislature before any ‘more stringent’ rules can be adopted

Environmental Justice Perspective-

In terms of EJ concerns, the effect of this proposed law would presumably not be to make disadvantaged communities any worse-off environmentally than under the status quo, but it could impede efforts to improve conditions for those communities. AND OF COURSE WHEN Conditions in EJ communities of concern, would still require action from IDEM if falling short of federal standards.

Yet, if conditions in such communities in Indiana were at the bare minimum for federal standards – or if federal standards specified a larger area of assessment such that the plight of the community of concern is buried in a compliant average – any efforts to improve the conditions would face a serious impediment in addition to the usual political and economic obstacles facing any such effort.

For example, assuming a situation where the NAACP, on behalf of EJ communities reached out to IDEM would have been enough to secure extra monitoring of air quality WITHIN AN EJ COMMUNITY beyond federal minimum requirements under the status quo, the same outcome would require additional reaching out to sufficiently to secure a majority in the General Assembly to authorize this rule, as well as additional time for the legislature to pass the legislation, relative to an IDEM Rule making process, and a time restriction in the form of the Assembly’s legislative session.

MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT NULL AND VOID

This proposed law will dismiss any meaningful engagement, as proposed by the Clean Power Plan (ALBIET IN A STAY WITH SCOTUS), whereas, Environmental Justice Communities will not have the means to effectively reach out to IDEM if what the communities seeks is more stringent than the EPA current requirements for Indiana.  This proposed law will disproportionately impact EJ communities.

FOR THAT REASON WE RESPECTFULLY REQUEST THAT THE COMMITTEE VOTE NO ON HB 1082 OR SEND IT TO A STUDY COMMITTEE.

 

RESPECTFULLY,

DENISE ABDUL-RAHMAN, BS, MBA, HCM,HIS

ENVIRONMENTAL CLIMATE JUSTICE CHAIR

NAACP INDIANA STATE CONFERENCE

Follow us on Twitter:

@indiananaacpecj

@deniseabdul

 

Dr. Amos Brown, III, Me and Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Amos Brown was one of the major Intelligentsia of our community.  I personally admired how he debated positions for justice and equity fully backed by data and research, oh such wizardry.

I so wanted to call him, meet for coffee and ask him how he mastered extrapolating data and research on African Americans within Indiana and Indianapolis, oh so seamlessly.
My brief time with Amos involved seeing him in public and introducing my children to him, to include “Indiana Kid Governor,” getting Kid Governors photo opt, not mine and being on his show, only about five times, and then pushing the environmental climate justice agenda.

IMG_2385
At Governor Pence announcement of HIP 2.0, Indiana Kid Governor meets Dr. Amos Brown, III
The most memorable time was just August the 4th, 2015,  Obama’s Clean Power Plan  as Amos stated “It’s the Presidents birthday.” I felt so honored to be on Amos’s show, although this time I had to phone in from Hampton, MA where I was attending a summer institute with the Center of Popular Economics.

This program was rigorous starting early morning, walking all over Smith College and ending a 9:00 pm at night. But I had to be ready for “Afternoons with Amos.” I had to study and prepare to know “Obama’s Clean Power Plan” and its goals for Indiana. I knew Amos would be beyond prepared and would not be lienent because he had a high standard and I always wanted to meet it and exceed it.

I shared how the Clean Power Plan would produce hundreds of thousands of jobs. I shared how Indiana’s plan is one of the least stringent plans out of all fifty states. Then I had to keep myself from laughing on the air when Amos said ‘wait a minute are you saying Indiana has the least stringent?, The Governor says this is the worse plan …since….for Indiana, well what’s wrong with Governor, did he not read the plan, did he get up on the wrong side of the bed or what?’

I really just wanted to laugh, but had to suck it up and respond, but that was being on Amos, smart, witty with great humor.

Another time I was privileged to air in the studio with Amos, we were introducing a national known African American Environmentalist Jerome Ringo. We were conversing about climate change, and Amos ask me something about Indianapolis Power and Light, he said ‘you have been on IPL so bad I’m surprised they haven’t cut off your electricity just for GP’

No I did not know Amos, personally, but I did get a couple of calls with some advice, and I still wish I had called and asked for a coffee meeting, but until then I will hang on to August 4,2015 when he said ‘Always a pleasure’

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMOS -RIP

This Changes Everything 

This Changes Everything based on Naomi Klein’s Book 
Hosted by NAACP, Indiana Environmental Climate Justice
Thursday, November 12 

7:30PM – 9:31PM

AMC Showplace  Traders Point 12 

5920 W 86th St, Indianapolis , IN, US, 46278 

Click Here for tickets 

We would like additional tickets to share with communities most impacted by climate change.  
Contact Denise to discuss:  inecjnaacp@att.net

 

This Changes Everything