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Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins' Posts

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The Men Who Cried Wolf

If a fire broke out in your office right now, would you know what to do? Would you know where to go? You likely would, thanks in large part to codes requiring fire exits and fire drills. Today, we accept these basic standards without even pausing; they are plain common sense rules government has developed to benefit and protect the public. But, as crazy as it sounds, there was a time when fire codes were considered burdensome regulations by businesses — employees had to risk their lives just to go to work. A century ago this month, for example, near …

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In defense of progress: pushing back the ideologues

Progress is a slog. It always is: occasionally pushed forward by a burst of energy; often knocked backward by opposition. In politics, it's an evolutionary process that depends on gradual re-alignment and re-consideration of views. Consider pollution. At the beginning of the 20th century, the new factories driving the Industrial Revolution emitted a constant stream of smoke and soot, turning the skies over and surfaces of many cities black and hazardous. Consider employment. In that same time period, children worked 14-hour days to bring home a pittance to perennially impoverished parents. The advent of unions that could provide a voice …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Set the Alarm Clock: Don’t Sleep Through the Green Revolution

Originally posted on The Great Energy Challenge "There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution." The revolution Dr. King spoke of in his speech at the National Cathedral in 1968 was one of the most transformative of the 20th Century - the painful transition from a racially divided America to an America stitched together, however roughly. But the sentiment holds true for every revolution. Today, there's another revolution underway - a revolution that is restructuring America's energy future. It's changing the way we work and live. In this time of rapid change, all those caught sleeping, or …

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On your 40th anniversary, thank you EPA

Forty years ago today, the Environmental Protection Agency was created. It’s fitting that the anniversary falls just one week after Thanksgiving, because every American from every state should be grateful for the Agency’s work. Consider that by 1990, the EPA’s actions had prevented 205,000 premature American deaths, 189,000 cardiovascular hospitalizations and 18 million child respiratory illnesses. The EPA has reduced 60% of dangerous air pollutants in the air we breathe. They have transformed 67% of contaminated Superfund Brownfield sites nationwide into livable neighborhoods and active business centers. In the four decades of its existence, millions of lives have been impacted …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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all along the watertower

When I learned that water isn't supposed to have a taste

Our nation’s water infrastructure faces real and immediate challenges.Photo: Kevin DooleyBlog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action. This year's topic is water. I don’t remember how old I was when I learned that water is not supposed to have a taste. I grew up in a town that was surrounded by oil refineries and heavy industry, basically learning that water that tasted like chemicals and metals was normal. This …

Read more: Cities, Living

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Prop 23: Green Jobs vs. Dirty Energy

In our moments of hope, we look to and count on our elected officials to make the right decision. In our moments of cynicism, we fear that they will instead make wrong decisions in order to make nebulously defined "special interests" happy. So when our elected officials take bold action on critical issues, it's important to stand behind them. And when that bold leadership comes under threat from actual, powerful, wealthy interests, it is imperative that we come to our representatives' defense. On November 2, Californians will have a chance to do just that. Proposition 23 is a ballot measure …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins: Five Years After Katrina, the Gulf Is Showing All of Us the Way Forward

As August draws to a close, we face a somber, sobering anniversary. Five years ago, on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The storm — and the horrifying ineptitude of the relief efforts before, during, and after — left the region devastated. Most of those who died or were abandoned to "sink or swim" were poor people, people of color, or both. Since that day, the Gulf Region has spent five years showing us where America is falling short. Starting with Katrina — and continuing with Hurricanes Rita, Ike, and Gustav — we …

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how crude

BP's Gulf oil waste being dumped on communities of color

Where is this gunk going?Photo courtesy Deepwater Horizon Response via FlickrWhen oil was steadily gushing out of BP's broken oil pipeline into the Gulf of Mexico, we were all desperate to stop the flow and get the oil that had already spilled safely out of the water. Sadly, we paid too little attention to where that oil would go once clean-up workers removed it from the Gulf waters. Now we know: far too much of it is being dumped in communities of color. Robert D. Bullard, director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University, wrote last week …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Green the Block and President Obama Are One Year Older: But Do We Celebrate?

by Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, (CEO, Green For All) and Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., (President, Hip Hop Caucus) Cross-posted from Huffington Post A year ago today, Green The Block was born in a ceremony held in the West Wing of the White House while President Barack Obama celebrated his own 48th birthday. It was a tremendous honor to stand on such a grand stage as we launched our new effort to ensure that communities of color have a leading role in shaping America's emerging green economy - an honor we have spent the last year doing our best to live up to. …

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We Won't Accept More Poison For Less Carbon

Written by Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Green For All, and Ben Jealous, President of NAACP As Senators enter the final rounds of negotiations on the climate and energy bill, big utility companies apparently are making unconscionable demands that threaten the health and safety of all Americans. For example, The Hill reports: "Power company officials are now asking for relief from upcoming EPA restrictions on pollution the agency has long regulated under the Clean Air Act, including ozone, particulate matter and lead." Other stories also suggest that big utilities want the United States Senate to somehow bargain away EPA's authority to …

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