Denise Blackburn Abdul-Rahman

President Barbara Bolling Williams called on Gov. Holcomb to veto House Bill 1414. All of the members of the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP from across the state of Indiana wrote, called and met with the Indiana General Assembly and Gov. Holcomb to stop HB 1414. 

Our members have actively engaged in the integrated resource planning meetings at many of the various utilities. The process is not perfect but does allow for all stakeholders to present their perspective, participate and inquire about the various scenarios and hope that more clean energy is added, less fossil fuels, call for equitable solar deployment and equitable contracting opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses. 

This legislation is important to us. It is hindering a new beginning. 

We are advocating for our transformation and liberation, from Middle Passage, from enslaved people, through Jim Crow, redlining, mass incarcerated people, to the opportunity to create more just systems and bend an arc toward the green economy. 

African Americans pay $49 billion to the energy sector and hold only one percent of the energy jobs according to “NAACP Just Energy Reducing Pollution and Creating Jobs Report,” referenced “Blacks in Energy.”

This legislation is a means to add chaos to a fairly inclusive process and seemingly effective. A process in which a business, albeit regulated, is making decisions in the best interest of their company and stakeholders. 

These decisions are primarily economically centered, cost effective for their business model and human centered in that it is ethically smart. 

These are decisions leaning toward cleaner energy like solar, wind and maybe even the reliability from geothermal. The irony is that the majority members of the Indiana General Assembly have opted to provide a sort of “social safety net” for the coal industry only. 

The people of Indiana need a just transition, whether they are urban or rural. We need a transition from the polluting systems of coal, and the risk of people’s lives both workers and communities. 

The newly amended HB 1414 completely dismisses this just transition for us all! What about providing a priority “safety net’’ to the communities who are and have borne the burden of hosting these coal polluting industries? The bill completely dismisses the blight, and the negatively impacted property values that are 15% lower because of their proximity, according to the “NAACP Just Energy Reducing Pollution and Creating Jobs Report.”  The legislation completely disregards the asthma, COPD, cancer and heart attacks that have impacted people’s lives and mortality, where are their life supporting and resuscitation measures?

Indiana and the world needs to stop the root causes of polluting systems that emit carbon dioxide and the co-pollutants. We need to have the 21st Century Energy Policy Task Force provide their findings and recommendations. 

We need Gov. Eric Holcomb to veto HB 1414, move us to the Next Level, let us not be the state where you can’t breathe, can’t find an energy efficient home with great solar energy credits or start a business in clean energy. Let’s be competitive around the globe and the nation! 

Denise Abdul-Rahman is an expert in environmental justice and the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP, Environmental Climate Justice chair.

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