Seeing Green under a Different Light - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

greenlightbulb3Environmentalists claim that the National Conference of Black Mayors is trading the health of their residents for job creation because the NCBM does not support an increase in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act standards. However, George L. Grace, mayor of St Gabriel, Louisiana, and president of the NCBM, contends that “poverty causes bad health also.”

Last June, the EPA proposed to strengthen the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone, the primary component of smog. Exposures to ozone can reduce lung function, increase frequency of asthma attacks, and aggravate chronic lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. The EPA wants to reduce particulate matter emitted by cars, trucks, buses, and industrial power plants from .08 ppm to .07 ppm.

The EPA, however, does not have to consider the economic costs of implementing the standards. Grace says that by increasing the standards the EPA is encouraging placement of plants in third world countries—meaning a loss of jobs, many of which are held by African Americans. “When you can’t feed a family and bring a decent wage to your constituents then a lot of bad health and crime occurs,” Grace says. He adds that the move would also disrupt a program that has decreased emissions by 54% in the last 25 years.

Others disagree. “It is an illegitimate argument to even say that strengthening the Clean Air Act, protecting people’s health, and coming into compliance [with NAAQS] will hurt the economy and black people,” cautions Robert D. Bullard, director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University. “As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite. Our data shows that the [environmental] costs are often localized, but the economic benefits are more dispersed. When companies do leave the U.S. it is not because of strict environmental standards but for cheap labor offshore.”

Companies threaten to leave, but Bullard says it is more threat than reality. “Many of our communities are economically dependent on industries that create the problem. It becomes almost tantamount to a form of economic blackmail,” Bullard says. “We have to get the facts out there and make sure people don’t buy into the jobs versus the environment argument.”

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.