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CLARKE INTRODUCES LEGISLATION PRIORITIZING CLIMATE JUSTICE AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09) announced the introduction of the Climate Justice Act of 2021. This legislation prioritizes addressing the inequitable impacts of climate change on disadvantaged and underserved communities.

Communities of color and low-income communities have contributed the least to environmental pollution and the climate crisis. Yet, they are disproportionately affected by climate change impacts, including rising sea levels, more frequent and severe weather disasters, and hotter summer heatwaves amplified by the lack of green infrastructure in disadvantaged urban areas. Simultaneously, communities of color and low-income communities have also received the least amount of investment in clean-energy technologies and resilient infrastructure that protect against climate impacts and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. The Climate Justice Act addresses the deep disparities around climate change by ensuring that climate justice and equity are central to the federal government’s approach to infrastructure investment and tackling the climate crisis.

“Black, Brown, Indigenous communities, and vulnerable communities across our nation, continue to be most severely impacted by the negative effects of climate change. We saw this eight years ago in Brooklyn with Superstorm Sandy, and we see it now with the record wildfires out West, hurricanes in the Gulf, and most recently with the polar vortex in Texas,” said Rep. Clarke. “As we invest in a clean-energy future and modernize America’s challenged infrastructure for the 21st Century, we must ensure that we both protect and prioritize frontline communities that continue to bear the brunt of the climate crisis. My legislation—the Climate Justice Act—will prioritize and amplify climate justice at the federal level by creating a Climate Justice Working Group to guide our nation’s equitable transition to a zero-emission economy.”

Modeled after the New York State landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the Climate Justice Act establishes a Climate Justice Working Group—comprised of representatives from federal agencies, community organizations, cities, states, and indigenous nations—with the mission of helping to guide the country’s just and equitable transition towards a clean, climate-resilient, zero-emission economy. Among its many advisory duties, the Climate Justice Working Group is provided with two key directives. First, it will establish a list of core criteria and metrics that can be used to identify climate-burdened communities in urban, suburban, and rural areas throughout the United States. Second, it will develop a series of guiding principles for federal agencies to ensure that climate-burdened communities see a direct and substantial benefit from each federal initiative to invest in a clean-energy economy and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.

Congresswoman Clarke is joined by 15 members of the House of Representatives in introducing the Climate Justice Act of 2021, including Congressmembers Nydia Velazquez (NY), Nanette Barragan (CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Gwen Moore (WI), Earl Blumenauer (OR), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Jerry Nadler (NY), Jamaal Bowman (NY), Judy Chu (CA), Adriano Espaillat (NY), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE), Barbara Lee (CA), Doris Matsui (CA), Grace Meng (NY) and Mondaire Jones (NY).

“It’s always encouraging to observe members of our Congressional delegation scaling out solutions designed and developed by their constituents. To that end, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest is encouraged by Rep. Clarke’s Climate Justice Act, which draws from the landmark New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in a way that centers disadvantaged, frontline communities in New York and nationwide, providing another tool to address the greatest needs and generate the highest impact by allocating 40% of federal investments directly to them,” said Anthony Rogers-Wright, Director of Environmental Justice at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI). “Climate justice is not just about the outcomes, it’s also about inclusive processes that produce equitable outcomes as part of a legislative proposal’s implementation phase. Rep. Clarke and her staff have adhered to that ethos with this exciting legislative proposal, and, therefore, they enjoy our sincere gratitude.”  

“The Climate Justice Act is a model case for showcasing how state-level policy can transition to federal level policy,” said Jasmine Sanders, Executive Director of Our Climate. “The establishment of a national climate justice working group is another step in the right direction towards a just and equitable transition.”

“Years of grassroots organizing and frontline community leadership won the hard-fought battle for New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act—the most progressive climate policy in the nation—paving the road for models and processes that are inclusive and community-led climate solutions grounded in racial justice and equity,” said  Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE and Board Co-Chair of the Climate Justice Alliance. “The Climate Justice Act builds on decades of work fighting environmental injustices in frontline communities like Sunset Park, Brooklyn. These community-led models serve as a foundation from which the federal government can accelerate a Just Transition.”

“Now more than ever, we need to lift up the voices of the frontline communities most impacted by the climate crisis,” said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. “As a member of the New York State Climate Justice Working Group, the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance is proud to support Congresswoman Clarke and her Climate Justice Act that will take the principles of climate justice and apply them to the federal level. This is not just about climate change, this is about our communities, public health, jobs, and most importantly, this is about justice.”

“This legislation intentionally integrates and concentrates the intersectionality and shared expertise of community representatives, federal agencies, offices, and councils. That means from the streets to the suites, we can collectively establish robust metrics, identify infrastructure priorities, and deliver public health and lifesaving aid, in a more just and equitable way,” said Simone Lightfoot, Associate Vice President for Environmental and Climate Justice at the National Wildlife Federation. “The legislation also helps to ensure that as we are mapping communities we are not missing communities at a time when federal efforts aim to center our most vulnerable people, places, habitats, and natural resources.”

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Yvette D. Clarke has been in Congress since 2007. She represents New York’s Ninth Congressional District, which includes Central and South Brooklyn. Rep. Clarke is a Senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, including the Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee, and a Senior Member of the Committee on Homeland Security.