16 Apr 1999 Earth Day No Holiday for Black Americans
Members of the African-American leadership network Project 21 find fault with the beliefs and goals of radical environmentalists who are celebrating Earth Day on April 22. These activists regularly promote drastic regulations that harm the welfare of average Americans, particularly minorities, as solutions to perceived environmental problems.
"Black Americans can no longer afford to senselessly follow the belittling policies of the radical environmental movement," said Project 21 member John Meredith. "The leaders of that insidious movement, if indeed they achieve their ultimate goal, would do far more harm to us as a people than slavery ever did."
Policies advocated by the radical environmental movement would have a disproportionately negative effect on the African-American community. Proposed restrictions on the use of fossil fuels to combat the yet-unproven threat of global warming, for example, would reduce the income of the poorest fifth of the population by ten percent while reducing the income of the richest fifth by only two percent. With the average black income in the United States just $19,722, black Americans would obviously bear an overwhelming share of the burden for these regulations in addition to paying a more significant portion of their incomes for other energy sources like natural gas and electricity. Likewise, population control measures pushed by environmentalists would profoundly effect growing African-American and Hispanic communities while leaving the shrinking white population virtually untouched.
In addition, the Clinton Administration’s enforcement of "environmental justice" policies, rules meant to protect poor and minority communities from "environmental racism," does not take the economic needs of a community into consideration. In 1997, the government invalidated a permit issued to the Shintech Corporation to build a plastics factory in a poor, predominantly black community in Louisiana. Despite that fact that the factory would have created thousands of jobs and had the support of community leaders and the local NAACP, the government was able to stop it because it did not meet federal environmental justice standards.
"To me, Earth Day is merely an annual reminder of the environmental movement’s insensitivity to the needs and concerns of the nation’s minorities the other 364 days of the year," said Project 21 National Advisory Council Chairman Edmund Peterson. "I will not celebrate Earth Day until environmentalists show as much concern for the needs of people of color as they do for the environment."
Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org.