CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A tour of 10 southern states focusing on clean energy and justice issues kicks off today in Raleigh, N.C.
The Justice First campaign will visit more than 20 cities by mid-August, highlighting environmental, economic, racial and gender justice, among other issues. The Rev. Leo Woodberry, one of the tour’s lead organizers, said the South has some of the most polluting power plants and factories in the country – disproportionately located in minority and working-poor neighborhoods.
He said the time and the place are ripe for organizing.
“If we’re going to deal with the issue of justice, we need to do that where justice is most needed,” Woodberry said. “And millions of people in the last 14 months have taken to the streets. The people are saying we’re ready for this. There’s no better time than now.”
Fossil fuel companies have argued that they provide cheaper and more reliable power that’s good for those communities.
But Woodberry said the shift to clean power is gaining speed as the price of renewables fall. And he said that’s better for both health and job prospects. He said the revolution in power generation offers a rare opportunity – if people are willing to “look under the hood” on clean energy development to make sure the change doesn’t “replicate past models of injustice.”
“That opens up the opportunity to create jobs; to have cleaner, healthier, communities; create businesses,” Woodberry said. “And the just and equitable thing to do would be to include those communities that have been left behind.”