Monday, November 17, 2008

President-Elect Obama Should Question Green Segregation

PRESIDENT'S CORNER: By Norris McDonald. Traditional environmental groups are giddy about the prospects of how an Obama administration can accelerate the goals of our movement. Yet these same groups are as segregated as they have ever been. Before they go asking the Obama administration for anything, President-Elect Obama should inquire about their historical discriminatory hiring and retention practices. Although the vast majority of groups arrogantly ignored our Diversity Survey, one peep from any Obama official will probably get a rapid response. A list of 30 groups recently provided their wish list of recommendations for the Obama transition team. Notice how AAEA is conveniently excluded from their little list. It is partly because we pose this pesky question about their discriminatory hiring practices. One of the largest groups even admitted to us that they had never hired a Black person in a policy position.

I have been around for 30 years and there are as few black professionals working for mainstream environmental groups now as there were in 1979. I was the only black professional working in the Washington, D.C.-based environmental movement then. At a very minimum the $6 billion per year green movement could create Vice President for Government Relations, or Vice President for Outreach or Vice Prisident for Human Resources the same way the industry groups and their associations do it. Mainstream green groups can continue to arrogantly run, but they can no longer hide (I hope). President Obama is going to find out. Now although America has stepped up to the plate, will the environmental movement finally integrate? Or maybe groups such as ours, Green For All, and the National Hispanic Environmental Council will still be necesary and have to carry all the load in getting expanded perspectives included in the environmental agenda. So mainstream green groups, don't go thinking President Obama is going to fall for some 'post-racial' gobbledygook.

President-Elect Obama will not be bamboozled by the enthusiasm of the green groups. America took a great step forward in electing Senator Obama, but the environmental movement is still stuck in the pre-first-Earth Day-segregated 1960s. I voted for President-Elect Obama and so did the members of these groups. Unfortunately, they seem to be secretly proud of their racial exclusivity. At least that is my opinion. I think President-Elect Obama and his transition team should at least take a look at our Diversity Report Card and see if you can help us to get the groups to answer us. We would appreciate it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

AAEA-NY Director Testifies At DEC Waste Siting Hearing

AAEA-NY Director Dan Durett participated in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) public hearing for the Draft New York State Hazardous Waste Facility Siting Plan (“The Siting Plan”) and the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS). Some of his comments are listed below:

First, there is a need for greater involvement from the African-American, and other impacted communities as the DEC moves forward on this issue, not only in public hearings or the solicitation of written comments, but also, and perhaps more importantly, during the various implementation processes that result from these activates.

Second, we are concerned with the major finding that “Before 2002, New York imported more hazardous waste for management than it exported. Since 2002, New York has exported more hazardous waste than it has imported.” We would question whether transferred waste is being sent to communities of concern to AAEA-NY?

Third, we ask DEC to review its observation that states: “Based on the history of hazardous waste management facility capacity and hazardous waste generation trends, it is reasonable to conclude that the private sector will continue to provide sufficient, needed capacity for New York State generated hazardous wastes. (See Chapter 6.)

Finally, we applaud the inclusion of the statement in the draft document that:"Preventing and reducing hazardous waste generation is a top priority for the Department and the State, as mandated by the preferred hazardous waste management hierarchy (ECL 27-0105.) This approach will continue to be used to guide all hazardous waste management policies and decisions of the Department, including permitting and other regulatory activities."