The National Conference of Black Mayors is on a mission to green their cities. At a Tuesday press conference in front of the Capitol Building, the group — along with members of Congressional Black Caucus and the Hip Hop Caucus — called on the Senate to move quickly on comprehensive climate and energy legislation. Such a measure, they say, will help them create jobs and address health disparities, like asthma, which are caused by environmental degradation in low-income communities. The House passed its version last summer.
Over the next few days, the NCBM plans to meet with House and Senate lawmakers, industry experts and environmental advocacy groups as part of its Green the City initiative, which aims to make their cities more energy efficient, reduce pollution, and create green jobs and businesses. Their message to lawmakers is that they’re prepared to fight to ensure that their communities are not bypassed when funding for training, job creation, and other opportunities are disbursed.
Speaking on behalf of the approximately 20 mayors in attendance, Mayor Ronald Davis, of Prichard, Alabama, said that the BP oil spill and imminent hurricane season make the need for swift Senate action more urgent. Gulf residents, he said, are very worried about how the oil will further degrade their communities once it is mixed with wind and rain.
“When money comes to our states, we have individuals who vote against these collaborative efforts and the money doesn’t trickle down to the communities that really need it,â€ Prichard said. “It’s time for that to stop.â€
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a former Kansas City mayor and NCBM president said that it’s extremely important that black mayors take the lead on green initiatives because they are living in the cities with probably the greatest levels of environmental dangers. He hopes that Green the City will eventually become a model that can be adopted by other organizations such as the U.S Conference of Mayors.